Kristen and Layne recorded this feminist rant about abortion rights and the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade back in May, but unfortunately it’s even more relevant now. You are cordially invited to scream with us (and then donate to your favorite abortion rights group, see below for a couple of ours).
Mentioned in this episode:
LAYNE: Welcome to Unlikeable Female Characters, the podcast about women who don’t give a damn if you like them. I’m Layne Fargo, and I’m here with Kristen Lepionka.
LAYNE: And we’re here today to scream about abortion!
KRISTEN: It’s Rant-a-Palooza Day.
LAYNE: Yes, we’re recording this on the same day as our Amber Heard/Johnny Depp trial rant, which aired a while ago. We just had a lot of things to get off our chests, and we thought we would scream all at once. Maybe it’ll be cathartic. But there’s always more things to be angry about, so I doubt it.
KRISTEN: Sad but true.
LAYNE: Sad but true. So much rage, so much rage.
So, as we’re recording this, it is late May. And it was earlier this month that the Supreme Court draft opinion that was heard around the world was leaked. We still don’t know who leaked it. I hope in the future we find out. Cause I’m super, super curious.
But this thing, if you have not read it—and I have not read the whole thing, just seen excerpts—is deeply fucked up. It references, like, fucking medieval, 13th century documents, which is a great basis for laws in 2022. Super, super great. It makes a lot of sense.
Yeah, it sounds like they’re going to strike down Roe v. Wade, which is going to be a disaster I can’t even fully comprehend. I’ve been trying to follow this and be an informed citizen, but every time I read about it, I just get so—like, I get angry, but I also just can’t deal with this. It’s like my brain just shuts it out.
KRISTEN: It’s so big that, yeah, it’s impossible to look at or think about directly. It’s just so scary and crazy. And for any international listeners or people who may not know the ins and outs, Roe v. Wade guarantees the right to abortion nationwide.
LAYNE: Yes. So there are individual states that have laws on the books that protect abortion rights, but they’re very dependent on who’s in power in that state at any one time. Like right now in Illinois, we have a Democrat governor, and he’s very dedicated to protecting abortion rights, and we do have laws on the books to do that. But you know, some conservative asshole gets into power—and we’re right by Indiana, so they’re right there.
KRISTEN: Yes. And I’m here in Ohio, where there is no protection for abortion rights at all.
LAYNE: Yeah. And a lot of states have laws that they’ve passed that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, then immediately it will trigger an abortion ban in that state. And they’re all kind of different levels. Some are like, if the fetus has a heartbeat, and some are like, from the moment of fertilization. Which I’m like, what? That basically outlaws several kinds of birth control. I don’t even—like, what the fuck? What the fuck?
KRISTEN: Yeah. And there’s all these related possibilities, like criminalizing miscarriages, depending on the circumstances. The hatred that these men have for women is so terrifying.
LAYNE: And some women too, unfortunately. They’ve bought into this whole system. And I will say I’ve seen a lot of very, very valid critique lately from people of color that white women, when these things happen, we’re always like, it’s like The Handmaid’s Tale!
LAYNE: And it’s like The Handmaid’s Tale, but The Handmaid’s Tale is like a bunch of shit that has happened around the world, throughout history already, mostly to women of color.
LAYNE: And when we say it’s like The Handmaid’s Tale, what white women really mean is like, now it’s happening to us. Which is some bullshit, so I wanted to acknowledge that.
I think The Handmaid’s Tale is a better reference for those women who are supporting this, who are like the Commander’s wives in The Handmaid’s Tale. I feel like that is still a very valid comparison. They’re supporting this because it benefits them in some way, or they think that it does, or they don’t want to give up the power of, you know, whiteness and patriarchy.
KRISTEN: Right, right.
LAYNE: Even though it’s ultimately hurting them. Yeah, I don’t know. I can’t imagine having that mindset. I was someone who was raised in the church. I went to youth group. I had a True Love Waits ring, all that shit. I promised to stay chaste until marriage.
KRISTEN: How’d that go?
LAYNE: Uh, not great. But what’s interesting is my mom, who is very conservative and personally against abortion. She’s not out there voting based on that, but, you know, that’s her personal belief. Which, to me, that’s fine. You can personally be against abortion. Then you just don’t get one.
KRISTEN: Right. Exactly.
LAYNE: You shouldn’t be controlling what other people do. That’s where the line is.
But my mom, even though she’s very conservative, and I was going to church twice a week and youth group and all this shit, for all of my childhood and teenage years, she was very pro-birth control. Talked to me about sex, talked to me about protection, talked to me about all the different ways to prevent pregnancy. And I was on the pill for many years before I actually had sex. And I really thank her for that, cause I didn’t get that education at school. A lot of people don’t.
And I think that should be the minimum. Like, if you are anti-abortion, you want to reduce the number of abortions, you should be pro birth control, pro comprehensive sex ed. That makes sense. That reduces abortions. But none of these motherfuckers—and that is how you know that it’s all about controlling women’s bodies, not about preventing abortions or saving poor little innocent babies at all.
KRISTEN: No, not at all. Because if that were the case, they would be the first ones to say yes, birth control, throw it out every single teenager in America.
LAYNE: But then sluts might have sex and enjoy it, Kristen, and we can’t have that.
KRISTEN: Cannot have that.
LAYNE: Can’t have the sluts enjoying themselves.
LAYNE: Ugh. What would happen to society?
So, yeah, I have never had an abortion, but the reason I’ve never had an abortion is because I had that sex education from my mom, and, you know, since I’m a white middle-class person with insurance, I always had access to various kinds of birth control.
I was on the pill for many years, and then I started having really bad side effects from it. So I had a copper IUD, which was terrible. I don’t know if you’ve ever had one of those, but it’s not fun. You have cramps like all the time.
KRISTEN: Oh, no.
LAYNE: Just, on a random Tuesday, cramps. But I didn’t want to get the hormonal one because—well, for a couple of reasons. One, because I think the hormonal pills had been giving me side effects, and I didn’t want to have hormones in my system, but also because the hormonal IUDs stop your period. And because I was having sex with a man, I need to know every month that I’m not pregnant. So I would have been taking pregnancy tests every month because I just had to know.
I’m genuinely terrified of being pregnant. It’s something I’ve done everything to avoid. But if I got pregnant—which, like, I have my tubes tied now, and we can talk about that more in a minute, cause that’s like a whole thing—but I have my tubes tied, and it has a 99% effectiveness rate. But I know women personally who have gotten pregnant—it’s usually ectopic—but who’ve gotten pregnant with their tubes tied. If it’s ectopic, you have to get an abortion or you die, you know, spoiler. But if I somehow got pregnant with the tubal ligation, you bet I would get an abortion, immediately. I wouldn’t even have to think about it.
KRISTEN: Yeah. I mean, same. I haven’t had an abortion. Luckily there are no men near me anywhere.
KRISTEN: Thank you.
LAYNE: You have really made the right choices in your life.
KRISTEN: I ****really have. But yeah, if I was in that position, absolutely. That’s what you should have the choice to do. Period.
LAYNE: Period. That’s it. People do a lot of talking about, like, oh in cases of rape or incest, or the life of the mother is at risk. And obviously yes, abortion should be allowed in those circumstances. But it should also be allowed because you don’t want to be a mother for whatever reason. Because you don’t have enough money, because you don’t have enough time, because you already have a bunch of kids to take care of, or you don’t want a kid ever, like me. I do not want a kid. It is, like, the most horrifying thing I can think of.
KRISTEN: Sometimes I see plots on a TV show, where there’s some woman who’s just, like, longing for a baby. And I think to myself, I am so glad that I have never once felt that.
LAYNE: No, I’ve never felt it. Part of the reason I got my tubes tied, though, was I had heard a lot of women say that they didn’t want kids, and then they turned 30, and the biological clock or whatever kicked in and then all of a sudden they did. And I was like, oh, we’re outsmarting going to shut the whole thing down. It’s over. Cause I would be a shitty mom, like real bad.
KRISTEN: I can barely take care of myself. I’m very selfish and invested in doing whatever I want to do at all times. So.
LAYNE: Same. Yeah. We’re good moms to pets. We have rescue pets. We take care of them. We write books, we have great and full lives. But like, nope, I would scar a child for life. It’s too bad, cause Nate would be a really good father, but he picked me, so.
KRISTEN: So that’s on him.
LAYNE: That’s on him, that’s on him. He said something, when all this stuff from the Supreme Court was coming out, we were talking about like, oh God, what if abortion was completely illegal? And he was like, what would we do if you got pregnant? And I’m like, if abortion is completely illegal, what makes you think you would ever come inside me ever again? Like, never, ever, ever. Like, on the tits, forever, because I’m not risking that.
These are the things you have to think about when you’re having sex with men.
LAYNE: I’m so sorry to expose you to this.
KRISTEN: I mean, I feel very good about my current life situation, and the men not being near me. That’s for sure.
LAYNE: Yeah, congratulations.
LAYNE: Honestly, just like, congrats.
But as far as my tubal ligation, so I had thought about it for a while. The IUD was making me miserable. Like I said, cramps all the time, no fun. And I knew that I didn’t want kids ever. And the reason I got an IUD, instead of Nate getting a vasectomy—he would have, if I’d asked him—but at that point, he was like, well, maybe someday I might want a kid, but I don’t think so. And we were like, okay, well, if you decide later that you want a kid, we will get divorced.
Since then, he has worked at a science museum for over a decade, and he does not want children at all anymore.
KRISTEN: So now he’s good.
LAYNE: He’s good. Surrounded by screaming children all day. He’s, like, all set. But because of that and because—this sounds weird to say, but it felt like my body being fertile was something wrong with it. That was just not something I wanted, so I loved the idea of shutting that whole thing down. And I honestly have not regretted it for a second.
But I was so lucky to find a doctor who was willing to do it, because that’s extremely unusual. Even women who have multiple kids, they’ll ask for a tubal ligation, and the doctor’s like, what does your husband think? And sometimes the husbands have to sign a waiver or you have to go to counseling. It’s some bullshit.
So I did all this research and I found this female doctor in Chicago. And I went in and I was ready to argue my case. Like I didn’t have a PowerPoint, but that was the energy I was bringing to this interaction.
LAYNE: And I went in and, within a minute, she was just like, yeah, okay. You seem like you know what you so here’s how it works and we’ll schedule the procedure. And I kind of was like, wait, what? And she was like, oh, did you think we were going to argue? No, you seem really sure. It’s fine.
KRISTEN: You’re like, but my slides.
LAYNE: My slides! My bullet points, ma’am!
But that is such an uncommon experience. Like, even in big cities. Cause I was only 28, and, you know, childless obviously. So I was very, very, very, very lucky to be able to get that done and to have insurance. It was free basically. And I have never, ever regretted it. Like, there has not been that like an instant of my life. Like It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself, truly.
KRISTEN: True self-care right there.
LAYNE: True self-care, yes. So I wish that that option was available to more women—or I should say, people with uteruses, I don’t want to be exclusionary here. But people who can get pregnant, it should be an option.
There are a lot of things you can do in life that you might regret later, like having a kid. People think that’s okay, but they’re like, oh no, you might regret it, or what if you end up with someone who wants kids? And it’s like, well.
KRISTEN: Right. Then we’ll have a conversation about it.
LAYNE: And sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
KRISTEN: Right. It’s very creepy, how it’s held up as the universal experience of being a woman, like you are fertile, you want babies, it’s your job to have them. If you don’t want them now, you’ll change your mind. I don’t understand how is such an ingrained belief still.
LAYNE: I don’t either. And beyond that, the idea that if you get pregnant, you just have to deal with the consequences and carry the child to term and give birth. I mean, in a country where we don’t have universal healthcare, not even like good healthcare. I have friends who’ve given birth with insurance, full benefits, all that shit, and they owe thousands and thousands of dollars to the hospital. And it’s life-threatening, changes your body permanently. It’s not just like, oh, nine months and then you’re done. It’s this huge thing with consequences, financial, emotional, physical. And if someone doesn’t want to go through that, they shouldn’t have to fucking go through it.
LAYNE: Plus, if they really cared about children and babies, there’s nothing worse than being a kid who’s abandoned, or you could tell that your parents didn’t want you. You’re just, like, setting them all up to be traumatized.
KRISTEN: There’s literally nothing to take care of all of these precious angel babies once they are born. Our country is garbage for providing access to childcare, healthcare.
LAYNE: Maternity leave.
KRISTEN: Literally anything.
LAYNE: We’re running out of formula.
KRISTEN: Like, my God. Can we have a more on the nose metaphor for this situation?
LAYNE: Oh, my God. And the fact that this opinion was leaked right before Mother’s Day. And then the next week, everyone’s talking about the formula shortage, and I’m just like, what is going on? Again, like, where’s the asteroid?
KRISTEN: We deserve it. We need to welcome it. It’s bad.
I remember when I was in middle school, for a time I was like, I’m going to be the first female president. That was a goal of mine.
LAYNE: That’s adorable. I love it.
KRISTEN: And my friend Katie was like, I’ll vote for you, but only if you outlaw abortion. And I was probably, like, 12, I went to a Catholic school. But at the time, I remember thinking, I cannot do that.
LAYNE: Good for you. Cause when I was 12, I was still deep in that evangelical life, and I probably would have been like, of course I’ll outlaw abortion, it’s murder.
KRISTEN: Even at that time in my life where I certainly would have been like, well, yeah, abortion is bad, I still could not be like, but no one should ever be able to have one. I find it really confusing when people do the whole, well, except in rape or incest, the health of the mother, whatever. As you said, of course you should be able to get an abortion in those situations, but that sort of undermines their central argument. Either it’s murder or it’s not.
KRISTEN: It doesn’t make any sense. Their own arguments don’t make sense.
LAYNE: No. And they do a lot of scare tactic things, where they talk about partial birth abortion like they’re yanking the baby out and stabbing a knife into its little head.
Partial birth abortion, late term abortions are almost exclusively for women who wanted this child, and there’s some horrible medical complication, and they have no choice. It’s not like someone was like, I thought I wanted a kid, but I changed my mind. So let’s just stab it.
KRISTEN: I got almost to the end, then I changed my mind. So please just, like, suck its brain out.
LAYNE: Or when people talk about like, oh, people are using abortion as birth control, like who? What?? It’s fucking expensive—and painful, I assume.
KRISTEN: And also, if you really believe that, maybe you should make it easier to get birth control.
LAYNE: But then the sluts will enjoy themselves. Can’t have it.
KRISTEN: Cannot have it!
LAYNE: The sluts have to deal with the consequences of their actions, but the men don’t have to.
KRISTEN: No, the boy sluts don’t have to. Only the girl sluts.
LAYNE: Yeah. Are there boy sluts? Is that a thing?
KRISTEN: No, of course not. They’re just boys being boys.
KRISTEN: This world.
LAYNE: I like that argument that makes the rounds every time this comes up, about how men should have to get vasectomies when they are young and then get them reversed if they prove themselves to be responsible and I’m like, you know, you’re making some points.
I don’t really think we should do that. But as an alternative to what’s going on now, I could accept it. Sounds good to me.
KRISTEN: Yeah. Fucking men. Just gross.
LAYNE: You’ve really made the right choices. You don’t have to worry about birth control. That’s the life.
Yeah. Nate and I were even talking about, he might get a vasectomy now, because I’m like, it’s only 99% effective, my tubal ligation. We need more. I am so scared of being pregnant. Ughhh.
KRISTEN: I mean, it would be the worst thing.
LAYNE: Yeah. I went through this phase around the time we were first married, we were talking about like, oh, maybe we can have one kid. And I was like, I’ve never wanted kids, I’m really gonna think about it. So I did a lot of research, because that’s how I think about things. I read more about birth and pregnancy.
And it was like the worst horror movie. I know it’s supposed to be beautiful and life-giving and whatever. And like, if you feel that way about it, great. But not for me. And I remember having this whole conversation with Nate where I was like, did you know that you can, like, tear down there? And then you can, like, shit on the table while you’re giving birth?? And he was like, yeah, my mom told me that. And I was like, why didn’t you tell me?!?
KRISTEN: Yeah. When someone told me, yeah, everyone shits during childbirth, I was like, what?
LAYNE: My mom had a C-section, so I don’t think she had that beautiful life-giving experience. She had an emergency C-section.
KRISTEN: Oh, shit.
LAYNE: Like she started hemorrhaging and had to be put completely to sleep. She was rushed into the ER, and it was a whole thing. So yeah, I mean, no big deal. Just, you know, nine months and then whatever, like, leave it at a gas station.
KRISTEN: Nine months, then emergency surgery, then—of course you should have to deal with that matter what. Are you kidding me? I don’t understand.
LAYNE: Yeah, it’s control. It’s about controlling women. And it’s also about keeping people impoverished.
LAYNE: Keeping people in a cycle of poverty so they can’t, you know, rise up against capitalism. Which, the older I get, the more of a socialist I am.
LAYNE: The more I’m just like, fuck capitalism.
KRISTEN: For sure. For sure.
LAYNE: Aren’t we supposed to get more conservative as we get older?
KRISTEN: Yeah, that’s not happening.
LAYNE: That’s not happening to our generation.
KRISTEN: No. It’s because everything is so bad.
LAYNE: So bad. The worst.
KRISTEN: Yeah. So it’s a really scary prospect that this legislation that’s been out there for, like, almost 50 years, standing in the way of all of the terrible impulses of the petty Republicans who might be in power in each state. Without that protection, you might be in a situation where half the states in the country have just outright banned it. Or more.
It’s weird too, because you can see how it could potentially change a lot, depending on who’s in power and how bulletproof they’ve written their legislation. It’s such a mess.
LAYNE: Such a mess. And all the people in Congress, there have been various times when they could have made this into a federal law, and they didn’t want the heat basically. They just weren’t bold enough to do it. And now it’s this emergency and of course, they’re not going to be able to. Because of Joe Manchin, who’s actually a Republican. Fuck you, Joe Manchin.
KRISTEN: Fuck him. The worst.
LAYNE: So what can people do?
LAYNE: We should shout out favorite local charity organizations. One I want to shout out that’s in my area in Chicago is the Midwest Access Coalition. They help arrange transport and a place to stay and that kind of thing for women who are coming into Illinois, or traveling around the Midwest, to find abortion access. I think generally that’s the best organization to give your money to, cause they’re on the ground doing the work.
KRISTEN: Here in Ohio, Women Have Options is an organization that’s good to support. And definitely I think anything that is about access, and education around access, and providing the ability for people to safely get abortions, no matter where they’re located. Like, this is not something where call your reps is going to matter a lot. The Supreme Court is fucking scary.
KRISTEN: You can’t call them and tell them, don’t do it. It’s not like that.
LAYNE: We should talk about, though, there’ve been protests going on, specifically at Brett Kavanaugh’s residence, and he’s very upset. And some of his own neighbors were organizing the protests, which I think is hilarious.
KRISTEN: That is amazing.
LAYNE: I know it’s probably a bad precedent to go harass public officials at their place of residence. But the idea that Brett Kavanaugh is having a bad day and looking out and seeing all these people angry at him, out of his living room window or whatever, just brings a spring to my step and a smile to my face.
KRISTEN: Yeah, it’s hard to feel bad for him.
LAYNE: Sure is. I’ve seen a lot of rhetoric that’s like, this is why we need to vote. And it’s like, we did!
KRISTEN: Right, we voted! We voted, it fucking sucked.
LAYNE: It fucking sucked. And I’m worried that, especially a lot of younger, more idealistic voters who haven’t been crushed by reality and just everything being so horrible, the way that people our age and older have, this is really going to turn them off of the Democratic party. Which, yes, the Democratic party fucking sucks. They’re useless. But like, the alternative is so much worse. So until we have a better alternative, we have to vote for them. Like, that is what we have to do.
KRISTEN: Yes, we have to keep like signing ourselves up for this and smacking ourselves in the face and voting for them because like, the idea of voting independent is just useless.
LAYNE: Useless. I wish it wasn’t. I wish that we had more parties that were viable. Obviously that would be amazing, but that is not the situation.
LAYNE: So it’s like, yeah, Democrats or Handmaid’s Tale.
KRISTEN: Right. And it’s really frustrating and scary to look at the Supreme Court. Because in a vacuum, in a perfect world, there’s something very pure about the idea that the Supreme Court is not about deciding what’s right and wrong, it’s about deciding whether or not something violates the Constitution. There’s something good about that, because it should not be about this kind of stuff, like politics, at all.
But of course, they’re engineering this, because they decided, first here’s what we believe, now let’s figure out a way to argue it. And that is not the point of the Court at all. That should not be happening.
LAYNE: Donald Trump got to pick three of them. And now we’re all fucked.
KRISTEN: Now we’re all fucked for a generation.
LAYNE: We don’t even have time to talk about Clarence Thomas and his insane wife.
KRISTEN: Oh my god.
KRISTEN: Yeah. Wow.
LAYNE: I’m depressed now. But yeah, support your local organizations that help women get abortions. I’m really glad that I live in a state where these things are protected, but even those of us—unless you’re in, like, California, I feel like you’re pretty safe out there—but all the other states, I feel like it could just turn on a dime. And that’s why we need a federal law protecting it.
Because this shit is something that should be a woman’s private decision that she makes with her doctor. It’s a medical procedure. There should be no government interference in this. And it’s the same people who think it is violating their rights to have to wear a mask for five minutes, they want to force women to give birth.
KRISTEN: The audacity of that belief.
LAYNE: The audacity.
KRISTEN: It’s just like what? Wear a mask for five minutes, carry a baby for nine months, have a painful, potentially dangerous medical procedure, and then have a kid for 18 years, that you have to take care of.
LAYNE: Yeah, that’s fine. But wearing a mask violates their personal autonomy and their rights, and it’s their body, their choice. Sure okay.
KRISTEN: Yeah, it’s just unfucking real.
LAYNE: UGHHH. Asteroid, please come.
KRISTEN: Please come. Dear asteroid, we deserve you.