Our right as women to body autonomy: Perth women speak out on how US abortion ruling is felt by all

The ripple effect from a decision made in the US Supreme Court last week has been felt all over the world — particularly by Perth women who have gone through the ordeal of having an abortion.

Announced in the early hours of Friday, June 24, the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that ensured the constitutional right Americans have to abortion was overturned.

The decision means that individual states in the US can now legally outlaw or restrict abortion.

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28-year-old Perth woman Emily Elliot said she was “heartbroken” after hearing the announcement.

“I hate using this word, but after hearing the decision was overturned I was just so triggered,” Ms Elliot said.

“I sat on my bed and was just beside myself because I was thinking about the women who’ve now had this very personal choice made for them.

“And my thoughts were just spiralling because the number of women who are now going to die from unsafe abortions in the US is just going to rise.”

Ms Elliot this week bravely shared with PerthNow her traumatic personal story of having an abortion in an effort to create awareness.

Despite being on the pill, it was a home pregnancy test that confirmed Ms Elliot’s pregnancy of just five weeks.

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She said as soon as she found out she was pregnant, she immediately struggled with “the right wing rhetoric” of taking away a life by considering abortion.

“Although we do have the choice in Australia to go through with abortion, there is still so much stigma and nowhere near enough support for women who do choose to go through it,” Ms Elliot said.

“But I was only six months into my relationship with my now husband Scott at the time, so at the end of the day I had to weigh up if I wanted to bring a child into a home that wasn’t ready for one.

“There were many different things that went into it — I didn’t have the financial means and Scott didn’t want a baby and neither did I.”

Ms Elliot contacted Nanyara Medical Group, a licensed abortion clinic in Rivervale, to schedule her procedure that would cost $500.

She said she cried all the way to the clinic and the entire time she was there.

“I’d been through a lot of traumatic moments in my life with childhood trauma, but this was the most traumatic experience of my life,” Ms Elliot said.

“I just remember lying on the bed and looking up at the roof and there was a picture of a little flower that had writing around it that said ‘just close your eyes and everything will be OK’.

“I’m glad we live in a country where we have access to the services to get an abortion, but they’re not where they need to be.

“The entire way through it I just felt so guilty and so judged, so it was confirming that it was almost the wrong choice to make.

“At the time deep down I knew it was the right choice to make — abortion is not a bad thing, there just needs to be more acceptance and support.”

Hundreds of protestors took to the US Consulate on Monday in anger over abortion rights being stripped from women in the US.

Among the protestors were signs stating ‘No uterus, no opinion’ and ‘Healthcare is a human right’.

But online, opinions were divided among Perth residents about why Australians were reacting so strongly to a decision in the US which presumably had no effect on Australian women.

This was when Ms Elliot took to social media.

The Facebook post Ms Elliot wrote on Monday, June 27, in response to backlash seen online.
Camera IconThe Facebook post Ms Elliot wrote on Monday, June 27, in response to backlash seen online. Credit: Supplied

“I just got really frustrated because people were saying ‘oh it’s in America, it’s so far away from us’, but that’s such a naïve way to look at it,” she said.

“I wrote the post because in my opinion, the same men that have/could/do benefit from women getting abortions were not speaking out against Roe v Wade.

“Stripping away women’s rights and therefore their reproductive rights in any country is a humanitarian issue, not a country issue.

“And people keep saying it will never happen here and I hate to be cynical but I just don’t believe that — South Australia only decriminalised abortion last year.

“So what’s to say our rights here will be taken away? Roe v Wade being overturned shows us that it only takes a few people in power to have the last say over an entire nation of people.”

A rally for abortion rights will be held this Saturday, July 2, at 1pm in the Murray Street Mall.

Ms Elliot encouraged everyone to attend the protest in the hope that it would continue conversations around abortion ruling, particularly in WA where just this week Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson acknowledged the State’s abortion laws were outdated.

“Going to a protest even on a micro scale, it makes ripple effect changes,” Ms Elliot said.

“Everyone should be working together to fight for the right to make informed decisions about our bodies, no matter what our gender.

“People need to understand also that abortions aren’t just for people who don’t want a baby, it can also be for miscarriages.

“I sometimes hear people talk about abortion as this thing that women just decide to do for fun and it’s not — I had my abortion in 2017 and I’m only now just starting to feel OK.”

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