Last Thursday night, I had the pleasure of attending Students for Choice Abortion Speak Out. I sat in a room full of people — teenagers, students and adults alike. I listened to a dozen brave, powerful voices share their stories, some for the very first time. The two hours passed like seconds — each moment filled with immense emotion, each story told with a profound sense of individuality and ownership unlike any that I had ever witnessed before.
Needless to say, when I left that room, my head was rushing and my heart was pounding. I felt so many things on such an utterly deep and real level. I felt frazzled and confused, experiencing a range of emotions at a speed that I couldn’t quite comprehend.
Looking back, the most prominent feeling floating around in my brain that evening was an incredible sense of sonder, which is a word and concept that may be slightly unfamiliar to some. Essentially, sonder is an understanding that every person you encounter has their own individual life and story, complete with emotions and experiences that are as deep and complex as your own. It is an understanding that every human being on this planet has a timeline, a head, a heart, a sex drive, a voice inside their head, a personalized moral compass — a story.
Listening to the voices on Thursday — the beautiful, unique and complex voices — I could feel this sense wash over me. Every story gave me a small glimpse of the depth that was tucked underneath the surface of each person, at the individuality that each of us has and the power that accompanies that. I was in awe. I was completely captivated by each soul that so bravely stepped up to the microphone and by each story that was shared.
But after a phone call with my dad, several conversations with my politically charged friends and hours in my room filled with pacing, journaling and frustration, this feeling slowly evolved. I thought about all that I had heard — every expression of gratitude regarding the choices that these people had, as well as every mention of the current, restrictive legislation and the politicians who are doing everything in their power to take this choice away. My comforting sense of sonder warped into something different entirely: outrage.
I left that room, as I sit here now, with an overwhelming sense of outrage.
My outrage is not only over the fact that there are people — strangers — who are currently attempting to gain the power to make decisions about my body. It is over the fact that there are people — strangers — who want to make decisions about all bodies. It is over the fact that there are people — strangers — who believe that one decision, the same decision, can be the right decision for all women in every instance for each of their individual existences.
How can anyone justify that? How can anyone claim that they have the right to tell all women how to govern their bodies? And how can anyone argue that all bodies can and should be governed in the same way?
By taking away choice, you are viewing the right to abortion as merely a political issue, when in reality it is much more than that: It is a deeply personal one. When you take away choice, when you categorize all women under one umbrella and claim that you know what will be best for each of their unique bodies and lives, you are denying the existence of the individual experiences that every woman has, as well as the personal attention that every woman deserves.
Emily Zonder is an LSA freshman.