One thing that really bothers me about the “I support abortion only if the pregnant person’s life is in danger” people is they usually only think in terms of physical health and not mental health. In addition to being physically stressful, pregnancy can and does take a major toll on a person’s mental health. I know for a fact it did to me. I’m still dealing with the consequences of going through an unplanned but wanted pregnancy. I can’t even imagine the state my mental health would have been in had my pregnancy been unplanned and unwanted. Adding in the stress of not being able to get an abortion easily or at all would have made it worse.
I’ve heard story upon story from people who have said that if they had not been able to get an abortion, they would’ve attempted suicide. If that’s not “the pregnant person’s life being in danger,” I don’t know what is. It is glaringly obvious to at least me that in these cases, abortion should be an accessible, affordable, safe, and shame free option available to them. And yet, when it comes to people (especially people of color) seeking an abortion, mental health is never looked at as a “valid” reason for getting or wanting one. (The whole debate about whether there are “valid” and “non-valid” reasons for getting abortions is another debate entirely and will get a post of it’s own sometime in the future.)
I just believe that if you’re gonna straddle the fence on this issue and say that you “only support abortion if the pregnant person’s life is in danger,” you better damn well include mental health in that definition too. Mental illnesses are very real, they’re not made up figments of our imaginations, and they can be just as damaging as any physical illness. I guess what I’m getting at is I’m sick of seeing mental health issues either erased or ignored when it comes to the abortion debate. Along with race, class, gender identity and expression, mental health issues have a place in this conversation.