Roe v. Wade Overturned: Address Grief Over Decimation of Bodily Autonomy

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I was just checking in with folks about what they might want support around and the issue of Roe v. Wade being overturned is coming to mind and hearts for so many people. Patients in sessions are having to process what it’s like to have their or their loved one’s bodily autonomy reduced. I know I discuss things like being nice to your LGBTQ teen or letting people have bodily autonomy and I wonder if I’ll get scary backlash like I have on TikTok, and I believe in sharing what comes up in and between sessions with you in case it could support you even just a little. For that reason I strongly recommend you check out Breaking The Couch Podcast today to learn more about Roe v. Wade from trauma therapists’ perspectives where Dr. Dowtin and I discuss more. I’d especially recommend hearing Dr. Dowtin’s points on racism and patriarchy concerning Roe v. Wade being overturned.

This “how to” may not be a one time article is certainly not a one size fits all suggestion for how to address the trauma coming up for you around this decision. If you’ve helped a friend go to the clinic, supported a loved one in making a decision for their body, or simply care about AFAB people and other people then this article may help you during these times. (You probably know, but if not, AFAB means Assigned Female At Birth, and has to do with folks who were said to be female upon birth, likely because of what the doc saw, and then now identify as a woman, or any gender expansive ways including nonbinary, man, etc.)

I know it had me remembering stories and thinking about bodily autonomy of myself and loved ones I care about. I know it has patients worried. I know social media is in an uproar too.So if you’re AFAB, a trans woman, or simply care about people you may feel hurt, scared, terrified, angry, or a list of other understandable feelings around the decision to overturn our protections to do what we need to do, and what is sometimes medically necessary, for us to do with our own bodies. So if you’ve experienced reproductive trauma, including being told you cannot get an abortion you need, I hope you’ll be gentle with yourself with this tragedy of a set back of the US revoking people’s rights to medical care with this overturning of Roe v. Wade. Here are some specific ways you might be easy with yourself if flashbacks or thoughts or dreams arise around times you may have had to get a termination or times things may not have gone as you wanted them to with your journey around this stuff:

  1. Tune into what’s coming up for you. Whatever it is, it makes sense. Simply tune in even if it doesn’t really make sense or feels confusing. If you can breath from the bottom of your belly (not your chest) then take a few slow bottom of the belly breaths, see where you’re at and how that feels in your body.
  2. Take breaks in doing this check in and do some of your favorite coping strategies that work for you.
  3. Don’t stay too long alone in it and share it with someone. If you have a very safe and trusted person to talk with about what’s coming up then share that with your safe person. For example, if you know a friend who also had an abortion and understands the complexities and nuances and will love on you when you share that when you checked in with yourself you noticed some tension in your shoulders then tell her. Tell your friend about what came up for you in step one rather than sit in isolation for too long. If you prefer to process alone what are ways that work for you? Writing it out? Dancing it out? Crying?
  4. Whatever comes up I hope you’ll be so gentle with yourself, even when that’s hard. I hope you’ll talk with yourself like you were talking to me or a friend or someone you don’t know, but want to be nice with. Be nice and gentle on yourself during this time.
  5. Finally, note energy levels. Sometimes folks experience grief in waves. You might be going about your day without a thought of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and then it might hit you and you feel sad all over again. It’s so understandable for grief to come and go so you can recycle any of the four things above if that’s helpful. It’s also okay for none of the above to fit for you.

Sending you kindness today.

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