Anti-Abortion Extremists Are Going After Our Friendships
I can’t begin to imagine where I would be without my girlfriends. My chosen family, as I affectionately call them, has been there for every crisis, every celebration, and all the brunch dates, exercise classes, and late-night group chats in between. Friends motivate us, support us, and even help improve our health. They hype us up, catch us when we fall down, and have no problem telling us when we’re wrong.
My friendships are deeply important to me, and I am very protective of them. So naturally, when I see anti-abortion extremists targeting the basic rights and freedoms of me and my homegirls, I get a little upset. As if eradicating our bodily autonomy is just not enough to satisfy the patriarchy, they are now on a crusade to make sure women feel alone, isolated, and socially outcast while our rights are being stripped away—by going after our friendships.
The latest misogynistic attack comes out of Texas where a man has brought a wrongful death lawsuit against his ex-wife’s friends who allegedly helped her terminate her pregnancy before the couple’s divorce was finalized in February 2023. He accuses his ex-wife’s friends of wrongful death and conspiracy, demanding damages in the amount of at least $1 million from each defendant.
It’s quite obvious the lawsuit is just a plot to avenge a failed marriage, as the plaintiff’s petition reads less like a persuasive legal document and more like the bitter ramblings of a male chauvinist hellbent on retaliating against a woman who has made the decision to move on from a toxic relationship allegedly fraught with abuse and manipulation. The plaintiff pieces the facts of his case together using sketchy, illicitly obtained screenshots of text conversations he claims are between his ex-wife and the defendants, discussing a plan to obtain the pills required for a medication abortion.
But since facts and basic legal principles seem to be outliers in Texas (see: the recent mifepristone ruling), it serves as a fitting venue for a long-shot lawsuit of this nature to gain traction within the courts. And it should surprise no one that the plaintiff’s attorney is none other than Jonathan Mitchell, the man behind SB 8, the outrageous Texas “bounty hunter law” that allows practically anyone to sue friends, family, even Uber drivers who are believed to be involved with an abortion.
The resilience of friendship has long been a thorn in the side of anti-abortionists who would love to convince every pregnant person considering abortion that such a decision will outcast them from society and alienate them from loved ones. Since the Dobbs decision there has been an increased effort to shame abortion, criminalize abortion, and put fear in the hearts of anyone who would dare consider getting or even helping someone get an abortion.
These attacks are not new, and just further evidence that this war on women is not about the rule of law or any moral authority. It’s not even about abortion or reproductive health care. It is, and has always been, about power and control. Anything that stands in the way of male dominance―even something as pure and innocent as friendship―is perceived as an enemy of the patriarchy.
When I first heard about the Texas case, I immediately thought about the numerous times I dropped everything to help one of my besties through a difficult situation, which were, more often than not, triggered or exacerbated by men. The texts included in the lawsuit mirror the heart-to-heart messages of support and tough love shared within my circle, reassuring each other that we don’t have to navigate our struggles alone.
This bond of sisterhood is a connection that virtually all women―regardless of race, politics, sexual orientation, religion, and economic status―can appreciate. Our girlfriends stand by our side through thick and thin, through good times and bad. They are there for first dates, graduations, weddings, and baby showers―heartbreaks, funerals, miscarriages, and yes, abortions. And every time we lean on each other for support through hard times, our bond grows even stronger.
It is this strength that threatens the anti-abortion movement, dominated largely by old white men, who can’t stand to see women making their own decisions and living on their own terms, even in the face of threats and coercion. They want us to feel isolated from one another, so lonely that we revert to that “knight in shining armor” to save us. Their desperate campaigns are designed to deter women from standing together against the injustice and inequality facilitated by bigotry, misogyny, and white supremacy. But what they continuously fail to grasp is that we will not back down, we will not give up, and we will keep fighting for gender equality and reproductive freedom for all. Because that’s what friends are for.