Abortion Legislation is a Sign of a Suffering Society
There is a lot being said about Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio with their recent anti-choice legislature.
Much of this focuses on the action itself, the politics, and outrage over the policing of women’s bodies.
I want to speak about the layers beneath the “politics,” what I see as the conditions that cause the symptoms which express as authoritarian political decisions.
Not that a woman’s right to control her body or her future is a matter of “politics” but rather I am speaking to the way we address our legislative process and the direction of our society.
When I sit down with a client I know that the challenge they are trying to address goes beyond the parts of life they are addressing it in.
They come to me for smoking, anxiety, that last cup of wine they can’t say no to or a feeling of not knowing themselves.
Usually, they are well versed in one or two methods to work on this struggle.
Few people struggle against a thing without trying to understand it. The trick to their healing is in realizing that the thing they are struggling with has ties to many other parts of their life.
There is the physical; nutrition and exercise, the care for the brain and body.
There is the emotional; stress and traumatic triggers, our ability to cope and manage our emotions.
There is mindset; the stories we tell ourselves, the way that we think of ourselves, the way that we make our choices.
There is deep conditioning; the unconscious aspects that cause us to choose a thing we don’t want to choose anymore.
Anti-choice legislature goes deeper than the laws themselves; these states are suffering.
Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio are not the healthiest, happiest places.
My theory is that just like the people I work with when we’re stressed or ill, when our nutrition is suffering or our mental health is suffering, we don’t make the best decisions.
In fact, we often follow up unhealthy behaviors with unhealthy narratives.
On an individual basis, these are unhealthy beliefs, too much self-doubt, inner conflict, blaming of others, self-hate, anxiety or worry.
In a larger system, this becomes the cultural story we tell ourselves for why we’re so concerned about what a woman does with her body.
I believe a lot of our political frustration occurs because we are constantly trying to address the “thoughts” of our political body without doing enough to address the political “body” itself; its nutrition, its bodily and physical health, its stress, and the narratives of propaganda that get fed to sick, scared, stressed people.
Alabama is 2nd in the nation for hypertension at 41.9% of the state’s population.
It is 3rd for diabetes (14.1%)
5th for obesity (36.3%)
6th for physical inactivity (32.1%).
Georgia and Ohio are both marked as some of the worst states for these measurements, consistently in the top 20.
Alabama ranks third in the nation for poverty with 19.2% of its population below the poverty line.
Georgia is 6th, Ohio 19th.
Alabama is 44th in the nation for high school graduation. Georgia is 39th with Ohio at 24th.
Georgia is 4th in the nation for incarceration with 1.16% of its population behind bars.
Alabama is 5th in the nation with 1.01% of its population imprisoned.
All three states rank in the top 20 most stressed states with Alabama taking 8th for poor health and the fewest mental health providers per capita.
Ohio, Georgia, and Alabama all rank as some of the heaviest anti-depressant users in the country.
In a county by county analysis, many counties listed that 21–30% of people on Medicare use an SSRI or SSNRI of some type.
Why these numbers?
A person’s ability to make well informed, grounded, decisions such as who to vote for and what policies are best for the country, requires a healthy brain, body, and life.
Obesity, hypertension, and diabetes have all been linked to poor nutrition.
When we lack the building blocks to build a healthy mind it’s a struggle to have healthy thoughts. Focus, awareness, and the presence of mind to see the bigger picture and not get triggered requires chemical components that are derived from our food.
A lack of healthy nutrition means a scarcity of the chemicals necessary for healthy cognitive processing.
Obesity, hypertension, and diabetes have also been linked to stress and trauma. Both of which affect the way we think.
Trauma and stress often lead to dissociation wherein we’re highly suggestible or hyperawareness wherein we look for threats that may not be there. Both conditions create a mental state that is susceptible to propaganda and manipulation.
Poverty is a measurement of stress and the trauma that comes with it. Crime is also greatly correlated with poverty, stress, and trauma.
High incarceration rates with little rehabilitations reinforce the cycle of trauma and stress not only for the incarcerated but their entire social network, the local community, and any who suffer from the crimes.
A lack of education means people are not trained on how to move forward. They are not given the tools to do their own research, to understand how their mind and body work, how society functions, and the ways that each of these affects their decision making.
Poor graduation rates is also a sign of the poverty, stress, and trauma occurring in the society.
Depression and addiction are other signs that the society is not healthy. The brain has become convinced that shutting down or chasing the next high is a better survival strategy than dealing with the struggles and pains of the world around it.
All of these data points have been correlated with trauma through multiple studies, the most famous being the ACE study program which links trauma to mental and physical health challenges, addictions, and criminality.
The lived experience of the data above feeds into itself. The stress and trauma of experienced mental and physical health challenges, poverty, lack of social mobility due to a lack of education, and criminality perpetuate each of these data points.
These are signs of an unhealthy society, one wherein people are pushed to the extremes of stress and fear with few to any resources to manage their health. This experience leaves them vulnerable to manipulation.
Pro-life as a political narrative rather than a religious one.
Poor physical and mental health, trauma, stress, and a lack of education make it easier to propagate narratives and inner stories that don’t make sense.
This then allows for the creation of a voter block that is controlled through the conditioning of propaganda and the twisting of religious beliefs.
In the case of anti-choice legislation, it is a passionate topic that gathers votes for people who then cut taxes for the rich as well as funding for education, poverty assistance, rehabilitation, mental and physical health.
The very things that need more funding in order to improve the lives of the people.
Nowhere in the Judea Christian text is there mention of abortion.
According to the Christian religion, God him/itself was incarnated as Jesus Christ and was never once quoted as speaking about abortion.
The practice, however, was not foreign to the times of Jesus or the people of the region. It is mentioned by Greek historians, doctors, and philosophers such as Plato in Theaetetus.
The first evidence of abortion goes as far back as 1550 B.C. in the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus.
Clearly, the people of Jesus’s time would have been familiar with the practice and yet the figure of the divine in the Christian tradition had no desire to talk on the subject.
Abortion is not a Christian concern, at least not one based on its founding tradition. It would appear to be a political narrative implanted in a vulnerable, stressed, poorly educated, and impoverished population.
A population already on the defensive due to their stress, trauma, poverty, and the crime happening around or through them.
It serves the purpose of increasing loyalty and support for political candidates whose other policies perpetuate the cycle of stress and suffering in the lives of their constituents while promoting the success of a select few.
If we want to change the legislation we need to change the lives of the voters.
We know from neurological studies that when people are in a stressed state the parts of the brain most responsible for rational thinking become less effective.
With repeated exposure to stress the brain’s structure itself begins to shift, creating more neural connections to the amygdala as the connections to areas such as the prefrontal cortex diminish.
This doesn’t leave room for shifting perspective as the amygdala won’t be thinking through new data as much as feeling through the old narrative.
This is why anti-choice advocates focus on conception and the concept of the embryo as a child, a child being killed.
As soon as that image becomes the accepted narrative the person isn’t thinking through the data of low adoption rates in Alabama, Georgia, or Ohio.
They’re not processing the numbers of children in foster care or how a pregnant teen will manage to raise a baby, instead, the voter is having a visceral experience in response to the thought of a child being killed.
There is no way to argue against this. In their minds, in their stressed brains, in the neural circuits of the amygdala, there is a murdered child and no one wants that.
We will not change the minds of people voting against pro-choice by arguing against their stories and narratives or voicing our outrage.
How often does arguing against our irrational thoughts, our fears, and paranoia in a moment of stress work?
How often does getting mad or outraged at ourselves work?
We need to change the political body.
We need better education, better policies on crime, better mental and physical health support as well as better education in these topics ranging from nutrition to emotional coping strategies.
We need to address the economics of a country that leaves up to 20% of its population in poverty while others are millionaires and billionaires.
We need to address the state of a country wherein over 10% of its population takes prescription antidepressants in order to cope with life and society.
Clearly, we are living in depressed times but people do change.
I wasn’t always pro-choice.
I argued against it in high school debates as a conservative Christian who thought the only source for morality was the Bible and the interpretation that religious leaders derived from it.
Abortion was a dirty word.
Time, education, lived experience, a greater focus on my mental and physical health and thinking through my narratives from a healthy standpoint rather than the fears and traumas I grew up with.
A loved one of mine was raped and when she took a pregnancy test we at first thought it was positive. I fell on my way to her. My knees buckled, it was too much to bear.
As I watched her go through her mental breakdown in response to her trauma it triggered mine. I had been sexually assaulted myself and both of us had plenty of other traumas from our youth.
I dedicated myself to learning how to heal and work on these things and through that educative process, my beliefs began to shift and change because scientific data supports specific political and social actions.
Healthy change requires more than our votes, the whole society needs to shift.
The answers to many of these challenges are not mysteries, there is research on how to improve mental and physical health; there are other states and other countries actively doing it.
There is research on how to reduce crime and addictions; other places do it.
If we can not affect the voting outcomes of Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio we need to affect the voting outcomes of the nation to implement policies that create a healthier political body that in turn fosters healthier choices across the map.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Political change and legislative action take time. If we acknowledge that the thoughts floating through the political sphere originate from the political body we can begin to see just how complex political change is.
The more we can increase awareness around healthy nutrition and coping mechanisms in society in general, the better it will be.
The more nonprofits, corporations, and individuals supplement state financing for education, physical and mental health services, economic hardships, and policies that reduce crime and reintegrate people back into society, the better off these places will be and the healthier their voting practices will become.
Politics is not a war of ideas amongst rationalists. If it were, data would be king and there would be no debate. Instead, politics is a series of memes, narratives, propaganda, and the ability for the mind and body to see through false narratives or become subject to them.
If we want a healthier political environment we desperately need to improve the health and lives of our citizens in every way imaginable and that goes far beyond who we vote for.
A healthy society requires more than voting, it is grown and cultivated from a healthy culture, with citizens that foster that culture with their attention, their actions, and support.
It’s who we buy from and who we donate to. It’s who we follow on social media (giving them social capital).
It’s how we raise our children and the messages we pass on. It’s how we support our communities and work to bring them together.
It’s the time we spend volunteering, mass organizing, spreading wealth and education.
It’s the career we choose; the mission statements of our life.
It’s the compliments we give, the prestige we give for who works where, who does what and the value we are declaring with those praises.
Do we praise people for their position and income, for the size of the company they work for or for the good they do in the world?
This is a question of the books we buy, the ones we read, the ones we pass on. It’s the message disseminated from the TV shows we support with our viewership.
It’s the brands we buy, the ones we rep, and the value we place in branding.
There is a lot that we can do to create change.
Voicing public outrage without taking informed steps to make that change happen, isn’t one of those ways.
It becomes in its own way the same process that motivates anti-choice laws, we’re stressed, we’re anxious, we’re fearful at the state of things and we’re running our narratives about the “Other.”
Let’s educate ourselves. Let’s use our coping skills. Let’s think through the next step and take action.
What about you?
What is something you can do to take direct action in making the lives of our voting citizens healthier and better?