Why the Right to an Abortion Matters for Every Person

I married my husband just a few weeks ago in his home state of Oklahoma. It was a day full of the deepest joy among our closest family and friends, but the bitter irony of marrying in one of the 13 states that had just recently laid out its plans to unequivocally ban abortion once Roe fell—by passing trigger laws in advance of the SCOTUS ruling—was not lost on me. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed nation on earth, and Oklahoma ranks among the worst states for women dying during or shortly after pregnancy. For a “pro-life” state, the pro-living part seems to end at birth for a baby and isn’t ever applied to the person carrying it. 

And now, with the draconian and anti-science and anti-medicine laws being passed there, the Grants of today have fewer rights than the Grants of yesteryear. Oklahoma, in just May of this year, passed one of the strictest abortion laws in the country, prohibiting nearly all abortions starting at fertilization. Confusion reigns, however, because two of the bills given approval there are contradictory—with one ban beginning at fertilization and making some exceptions for medical emergencies, incest, and rape (but the latter only if it is reported to the police), and another starting at the “detectable heartbeat” (a medically inaccurate term) and making exceptions only for medical emergencies. The commonality among these bills? Women have zero autonomy over their own body. No matter their circumstances. No matter if the pregnant woman herself is a child. No matter if she is the victim of trauma. No matter her needs, which none of us can ever know and have no right to judge. No matter.

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But it is not just women and pregnant people who have abortions. It is not just us who benefit from access to reproductive care. It is not even just the people—both partners in a couple—who have abortions that benefit from them. And I use the word benefit intentionally. Because while we all know that abortion can come with a myriad of emotions—relief, sadness, happiness, grief, trauma, exhaustion, power, freedom, safety, and more—the fundamental right to choose your future, and not have the government choose for you, is a benefit of Roe that more than 25 million women have just lost. The long-term benefits of bodily autonomy and privacy—and the ability of being able to plan and choose our families—has been stripped away from us. From our partners too. So many of us may have benefited from now stripped access to abortion care, whether we know it or not. Me, from the abortion of a woman I do not know. You, from the abortion you’ve had or that your partner has had. Countless people out there, from the abortions they know about and the ones they don’t. And this is why we need to tell our stories—men, women, all of us. To remember that our liberty is deeply bound together. Autonomy gives us not only the power to determine our present, in every moment, but the boundless potential of our futures. Bigger. Brighter. More loving. More than we could have ever imagined. That’s what our love story is. More than my then 20-something partner could have ever dreamed. More than I thought possible. And for that, we are both grateful.

Sophia Bush is an actor, podcast host, and activist, and the cofounder of the nonpartisan organization I Am a Voter. You can follow her @sophiabush.

Grant Hughes is an entrepreneur, real estate investor, and founder and CEO of Drink Good Wine. You can follow him @grant_hughes_.

Consent was given by all parties referred to in the sharing of this personal story.

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