• Emma Louise Alvarez

“We are Fighting for you:” Portraits of Resistance


© Photography by Anja Schütz


Access to safe abortion services is a human right - legislation and education that says otherwise threatens freedom of choice.


This article is the final instalment of INJECTION’s Roe v Wade project. And while this project may be coming to an end, our fight for freedom is nowhere near over.


It's important to understand that there's a fine balance between self-care and continued activism, despite the latter's ability to drain us emotionally. And it can be so easy to turn off the news. To not read what’s happening elsewhere in the world. To not consider the greater impacts of other countries’ specific political decisions.


But there is an illustration I wandered upon online, by Tara Shannon, about Rabbit and Bear, that somehow perfectly encapsulates why it matters; why we should all care.


“Do you know what’s happening over there?” asked Bear.

“It has nothing to do with me.” said Rabbit.

“Oh, but it does.” said Bear. “What happens over there will be felt everywhere.”


And that's fundamentally the case with the criminalisation of abortion. The overturning of Roe v Wade is an attack on bodily autonomy, on choice, and on freedom. The complex decision to have an abortion is already riddled with guilt, fear, and sorrow, and to take away that choice is unacceptable. There has even been discourse in other countries, including the UK, where there are conversations taking place that women do not have an 'absolute' right to bodily autonomy. And in world where there is hope, and intellegence, and independence, you'd hope that we would be taking steps forward, not backwards.


I want to reiterate what Anja Schütz explained in our interview: “I happen to be the one who is given the privilege of sharing their stories. This really isn’t my project, so much as I am the channel for all these voices.”


These are the stories of why access to abortion healthcare matters. Why having the choice is a right, a freedom, that should never be taken away. And to those who have been affected by the overturning of Roe v Wade, or those who have had to make the incredibly difficult choice to terminate a pregnancy, we stand by you. This is for you.


Sunny; now a mother, and the woman in the headline photo:


“I asked Anja to photograph me during my third trimester in the surprise pregnancy I *chose* to carry out. Six years ago, I made a different *choice.* And by deciding not to become a mother then, I allowed myself not only the opportunity to now bring a child into the world that will be supported and surrounded by joy and love, safe and secure with a roof over their head and food in their belly. But I also allowed myself many more opportunities, outside of becoming a mother, that would not have opened their doors to me had I not chosen abortion. I am sad and scared to raise my daughter in this country knowing that one day should she need access to a safe and legal abortion, she may not get to choose the way I did.


To my daughter and the rest of Gen Alpha, we are fighting for you.”



© Photography by Anja Schütz


Mace;


"When I was 17, I went to the gynaecologist for the first time. I was in constant pain and knew that something was off. They sent me to get routine ultrasounds and sure enough I had polycystic ovaries. My doctor then prescribed me to be put on birth control. On my 18th birthday I came in to pick up my prescription and that’s when I was also told I had endometriosis and a bicornuate uterus. I was heavily advised to not have children because it could result in my child’s death or even my own. I never had any desire to have/want children, so I asked about getting a hysterectomy to which they replied, “you’re too young and still in your childbearing years.” I sat there stunned because I was just told that I shouldn’t have children BUT shouldn’t have the choice to take away my chronic pain.


Fast forward to March 2020, I came out as non-binary and started taking testosterone. Once medical offices started to open back up to non-emergency appointments, I called to make an appointment for a gynaecologist check-up. At that point my voice had dropped drastically, and I sounded more masculine. I was denied an appointment because they thought I was a cisgender man and they thought it was some sort of joke. Trans men and non-binary folks such as myself deserve the basic healthcare that we need. To be denied that set me back sooooo much mentally and made me feel helpless in a sense. Abortion at the end of the day is basic healthcare. But if you want to talk about rights, it’s reproductive rights, NOT just women’s rights."


© Photography by Anja Schütz


Jess;


“I was educated in a deeply conservative and religious school community in the Midwest for 13 formative years. We did not have a health class or any sex ed program. Instead, high school girls were brought to the library one afternoon for a special program about abstinence. We were fed fearful tales and misinformation about sex. We were told that our value was contingent on our sexual purity and remaining “unspoiled” until marriage. Anyone who was not a virgin was asked to stand up. These girls were singled out and told to pray for forgiveness in order to become a “born-again virgin.” I will never forget how it felt to sit in that room—confused, mortified, and ashamed, burdened with the weight of simply being a girl.


I did not learn about sexual health that day. The lesson I learned was to be “good” or be publicly shamed, and I just wanted to be good. I felt proud to march alongside my friends at a Pro-Life rally in our town. We thought we were marching for the sanctity of life—but it was never really about life. It's painful to look back and realize that we were taught to devalue—or not even consider—the life of a living, breathing human carrying a pregnancy. How can a life already in progress somehow matter less, and have fewer rights under the law, than the unborn?


When I finally recognized what that meant, it gutted me. I could finally see the deep misogyny and patriarchal supremacy that was at the core of the movement. We were indoctrinated and manipulated to view a very complex issue in a way that dismissed the rights of over half the population. We were never taught to fight for our rights and lives. We were never taught about our own bodily autonomy—and that was purposeful. My educators controlled the information and narrative around sex, sexuality, and gender, and through it, they manipulated how we visualized our potential and purpose in the world.

As an adult, I continue to identify and untangle all of the ways I was indoctrinated to accept and perpetuate oppression under the guise of Christian morality. The layers of ingrained messaging around purity, righteousness, sex, and morality that I have carried for so long are tools that serve patriarchal supremacy. While I am still processing my past, still learning to trust my voice around these issues, millions of people—all genders and ages—are subjected to the same harmful messaging, and I can’t stand to see it.


I was raised amidst those who weaponize Christianity to maintain power for the benefit of (mostly white) men. They have been working toward this moment, and they won't stop with Dobbs. Reclaiming our bodily autonomy and reproductive rights, demanding science-based sexual health education that does not shame, defending the right to choose our partners, to live according to our values—as free and equal citizens—is what it truly means to fight for life.“


© Photography by Anja Schütz


Pam;


"I asked a man recently, are you a feminist? He said no, then he said I don’t know, then he said, I haven’t really thought about it.


What a luxury. He just doesn’t think about it. He doesn’t have to think about who might control decisions regarding his body, or if he should be paid equally or offered the same opportunities, or if he should even know how to read and write or be able to vote.


I really can’t exhaust myself explaining to another man why they need to drop everything and think about what being a feminist means, but every man needs to stop what they are doing and stand up for women’s rights RIGHT NOW. We cannot win this fight without them.


And as a white woman, I am putting my focus on my own privilege. People are going to die because of this ban. People who want to live, and the disparities between white and BIPOC will be large. How many people will have to suffer and die before white people and men “have to think about it?”

© Image by Anja Schütz


We are not untouchable - we are ruled by politicians who are out of touch with us. May we always fight for freedom. Fight for the right to choose. The right to bodily autonomy. The right to abortion healthcare. For choice and freedom, for future generations, this is for you.


"My body, God damnit embodies autonomy."


This article is the final instalment of a three-part article project. We want to thank all of our collaborators for making this project possible. Thank you Anja Schütz for the work you do and for allowing us to share these stories.

PROJECT COLLABORATORS: Emma Louise Alvarez

Sinead Campbell Victoria Applegarth