Reproductive rights are under threat around the world—Elizabeth Senja Spackman reminds us of their deeply personal implications, in a handwritten, illustrated account.

Every day, countless women decide to get abortions and even more decide not to. This decision is never an easy one and could, in many places including my home state of Alabama, result in you being branded a baby killer. The infamous title is spat in the faces of helpless women who chose to terminate their pregnancy as well as those who support the right to choose. I have been called it many times and still get chills when I remember one of my daily political discussions in AP Government turning to the subject and finding myself the lone blue dot in a room full of devout Christian Republicans, and trust me teenagers can be ruthless. Now, with Alabama becoming one of many states to pass strict bans on abortion, the world is being taught, or reminded, how conservative the South truly is and how women are viewed.

But laws are not, and have never been, the only thing restricting women from their right to choose what they do with their body, and restrictive norms are not contained just in the American South. The social pressure on women to become that fairytale image of a mother is rampant across the country and across the world. For poet and theatre director Elizabeth Senja Spackman, the opportunity for a safe abortion was right in front of her while on a trip to NYC from Kenya. She documented her honest reflections on her experience in a diary. The drawings Spackman made to accompany her words were later colored with pencil by her friend Jackie Karuti III. In Spackman’s account, we can see that access and acceptance are two drastically different concepts which both are vital to truly give women a choice.

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