Opinion: An Open Letter to My Girls in a Post-Roe World
A mother explains why she left Texas and what she pledges to do to provide abortion care access to her children
Dear Leonie and Odelle,
I'm sitting in the dark nursing you, Odelle, while you sleep. Your little hands are cradling my breast. It's sweet and unremarkable in its habitualness. But now it's not just unremarkable, because I see the news that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. Now I will remember this moment, you in your daisy romper, the fan blowing cool air on my streaming hot tears, the ding of your sister's footsteps outside the door. This is the day that you both have fewer rights over your body than your parents and the previous generations before you (wise and poignant words from your dad).
We've just moved four weeks ago to Evanston, Illinois, leaving behind a state governed by detestable white men who have done everything in their power to eliminate access to abortion, setting the gold standard for how to be the worst state for just about everything.
Dad and I moved away from Austin in large part because it felt like an unsafe place to raise two kids, particularly two girls. During the previous Texas legislative session, Dad and I began in earnest to talk about moving. You're both young and we have no idea how either of you will identify, who you will love, and what medical care you may need or want access to, from gender affirming care to abortion care. What we do know is Texas, and now arguably this whole country, is no longer a safe space for anyone. But Illinois is better.
Yesterday the Supreme Court overturned a law restricting concealed carry of guns in New York. In these back-to-back decisions from the Supreme Court, we will have countless deaths from gun violence, forced pregnancy, and attempted home abortion care. We may have mass incarceration for folks wanting abortion care in states that criminalize it. There is nothing pro-life about either decision and as a parent I feel more than ever that I have to protect you against these dual affronts on your future bodily autonomy.
I'm so sorry this is the country you're inheriting, the country you'll grow up in.
While I believe your generation and future ones will take this fight on, you shouldn't have to. The burden to fight for the right to access abortion should not be on your shoulders, but it will be. Your generation has the burden of fighting for so many other overlooked human rights that my generation and previous ones have failed at. You will have to fight deliberately ruinous legislation and lack of legislation from voting rights to climate change, and now we have added on a colossal blow. I fear there will not be time enough to fight for abortion care when faced with the ever impending and tangible forces of climate change, or vice versa. But I believe your generation will not stand for the lackadaisical "democracy" that has enabled this country to arrive at this embarrassment today.
I will do what I can. I promise to continue to be civically active and responsible in voting people into office who will fight for the right to abortion care. I promise to continue to donate to abortion funds and clinics who are about to face a massive onslaught of logistical hurdles. I promise to donate my time to help those who cannot access abortion in their state access it in our state and others. I promise to always provide a home where abortion care is easily accessible to both of you. If that means moving again, so be it.
I'm so sorry.
I love you both forever and always.
Savanna Essig-Fox is a dedicated public health advocate with a master’s degree in health policy and analysis from New York University. Savanna worked at Jane’s Due Process fighting for abortion care in Texas and later in HIV Prevention at the Texas Department of State Health Services. Savanna recently moved from Austin, Texas, to Evanston, Ill., hoping to raise her two girls in a state where access to abortion and other medical care is protected.