Shortly after a leaked Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade last month, Amanda Shires shared some personal news on social media. “Recently I had an ectopic pregnancy,” she said. tweeted. “On August 9, 2021 my fallopian tube ruptured. On August 10 my life was saved… these are dark days.
Shires, an incisive songwriter and solo artist and occasional member of her husband Jason Isbell’s band 400 Unit, spoke about protecting women’s right to choose in the past. In 2020, she wrote an editorial for rolling stone why the right to abortion is important. In a new interview, Shires — who returns with their latest album Take it like a man in July — delves into its own experiences and calls on artists, especially those in Nashville, to start using the platforms they have been given.
When I wrote my first song for rolling stone, I had already had an abortion. Since writing this op-ed, I have had reproductive health care – which some might call an abortion – when I was hospitalized in Texas on August 9, 2021, with a ruptured fallopian tube caused by pregnancy. ectopic. For those who do not know, it is impossible for an ectopic pregnancy to go to term. I’d be dead; my daughter, Mercy, would have lost her mother; my husband, Jason, would be a widower.
I was lucky. This happened to me two and a half weeks before the Texas abortion ban went into effect. And I still had to deal with everything of it two and a half weeks later. I mean, it’s only now – nine months later, which is quite interesting – that I’ve regained normal periods. This fight is not limited to abortion. I think that’s what people forget.
The majority of people are in favor of women’s reproductive rights and health; it’s the others we’re trying to reach. But I think people forget that access to abortion and reproductive health care is not just about terminating an unwanted pregnancy. People forget that if you take away their access to reproductive health care, you will kill mothers like me. I would have died if this procedure had not been accessible to me. Where would that leave my own daughter?
We have had legal abortions for 50 years and now suddenly a long held right will be illegal. How are we going to control this? People will have to prove that they were raped. And any policing will disproportionately affect people of color, low-income people, and other marginalized groups. This is yet another thing that when policing exists is going to happen randomly and ruin lives. Where does this leave us with our Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights?
When Roe is knocked down, some healthcare workers may be afraid to help people. Someone who miscarries may have to fly to another state just to keep themselves or their doctor out of legal trouble. People are still going to have abortions, and we’re going to have to keep people’s secrets, and house people, and try to do the best that we can. When we overthrow Roe, we risk going back to “Oh, now gay marriages can’t happen.” Interracial marriages cannot take place. Privacy rights will disappear.
Demographer Diana Greene Foster conducted a 10-year study of people who had abortions and those who were denied abortions. His study basically proves that when people can’t have an abortion, it affects their mental health, their economic situation, their general well-being. Ninety-five percent of study participants who had an abortion maintained their decision. It’s as you might expect, but now there is actual scientific proof. In the past, white men have said otherwise.
Since the publication of my editorial, I have heard of people in their eighties. And that, to me, was incredible, because they had abortions in what was a pre-Roe v. Wade and they are just sharing their stories for the first time. I’m happy to be a listener and also happy to see people of these generations supporting the right to choose. It made me think, “You know, I bet our grandmothers are more pro-choice than everyone leads us to believe.”
Ultimately, it sparked conversations within our own families. We discovered that, yes, our grandmothers are pro-choice. They might not have had a voice before or could have been thrown out into the street with no place to sleep if they had mentioned it earlier in life. But finding a voice now and sharing their stories now is as good as anytime. Hearing these stories, I think it strengthens your spine. It makes it look like you’re tough enough for the fight, to the bone.
I also received replies from trolls. I had people threatening me. But whatever. It is no more threatening than the idea of taking away the services and work of doctors and nurses. I don’t care if anyone wants to target me. I would not go back and change it. If we tell our stories, it helps others feel empowered. It de-stigmatizes the conversation. If you share your story or share your beliefs, you are going to have haters and trolls. But if you don’t, you’re going to ask yourself, “What didn’t I do? What did I not say that could have helped change your mind? I can’t live with the idea of not talking.
We need to work hard now to mobilize and help people vote. The election is November 8. You don’t see a lot of men speaking up, and every voice helps. Which begs the question, why Jason and I, and Margo Price, were the biggest celebrities – quasi-celebrities – at the Nashville Walk? Why didn’t more people show up and speak? I know everyone is afraid of losing their place on the ladder, but there are more important things, I think, than your fame. Saying nothing doesn’t help. Not standing up for people doesn’t help and it’s not right. I’d like to think that fans can hold their favorite role models and musicians accountable. Do not support artists who do not defend your rights.
I would like to challenge other people who have rigs to actually use them. Where are the fucking others? We have Olivia Rodrigo and Phoebe Bridgers speaking, and Ariana Grande. Where are our Nashville people? They don’t help. Will they just sit and drink beer? I want Garth Brooks to tell people that women’s health is a priority. That’s what I want. Why not? What has he got to lose?
My best hope is that people keep getting angry and that those who have been fighting so hard for so long and are already tired find the strength to keep fighting and also to mobilize others, especially young people, in the process of road. I hope if Roe v. Wade is overthrown, it will cause such a fucking uproar that we will end up with more rights than before.