Our freedom is at stake

I don’t have an abortion story, I have a pregnancy story. And pregnancy is much more dangerous, much more risky than abortion. A pregnant person is 14 times more likely to die in childbirth than someone undergoing an abortion. And that statistic is disturbingly higher for Black women.

Charity Clark
Charity Clark

To deprive a person of their basic right to an abortion is an outrageous affront to their freedom, privacy and right to control their own body and life. Like most women, my body remains transformed by my own pregnancy and childbirth. Forcing someone to endure pregnancy and childbirth against their will is inhumane and anathema to the freedoms America stands for. Now only portions of this country are free, thanks to the protections fought for on the state level.

As a woman and a mother, I stand with every Vermonter and American enraged and personally affected by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overruling Roe v. Wade. And I am proud and grateful that in Vermont abortion access is protected under state law, and that our state will be voting this fall to enshrine our right to an abortion in the Vermont Constitution.

Like all pregnancies, mine changed my body and my perspective forever. My pregnancy was typical — I spent more than 40 weeks in various stages of nausea, acid reflux, joint pain, sleeplessness and fatigue. The nausea was particularly challenging for the first 20 weeks. Water made me nauseated so I kept popsicles in the work freezer, which I would eat at all hours.

My pregnancy thankfully ended with a longed-for and healthy baby — after 30 hours of hard labor during which time I was in so much pain that if I sat down, I vomited. I lost so much blood that my co-parent later told me he thought I was going to die. And then my body began to recover — while it transformed into, for six months, the sole food source to my big, cherished baby. Eventually, I lost the 47 pounds I had gained.

My experience is likely familiar to many people who have gone through pregnancy and childbirth. And it has deeply affected my perspective on the impact of Dobbs.

Now is the time for all of us to be formulating our responses to this devastating decision. As the first woman elected to be Vermont Attorney General, I would work closely with legislative leaders to ensure Vermont remains a safe haven for abortion access. I would help craft legislation that will ensure anti-abortion states cannot punish people in Vermont for assisting with abortion access for anyone present in our state. Some businesses have already developed policies to support employees.

It is time for all leaders in our state to stand up for people harmed by this decision. We must use creativity, courage and all available tools to protect anyone affected by the loss of the right to an abortion. Our freedom is at stake.

(Charity R. Clark is a Democrat running for Vermont Attorney General.)