Why talking about abortion access also means talking about parenting, unique families, and domestic violence.
In 2011, an artist and activist named Megan Smith launched the Repeal Hyde Art Project.
"I had been working in abortion access and I wanted to try and find a way to create more dialogue around unaffordable and inaccessible abortion care,” Megan told Upworthy. "In addition to that, as an artist, I was searching for related feminist images but couldn't find any that mirrored the resistance and resilience of people who overcome barriers to care everyday."
The Hyde Amendment is a little-known law that bans the government from using federal funds to cover abortion. Passed in 1976, it's a provision on the annual appropriations bill, not a permanent law. This means that every year, there’s an opportunity to not include the Hyde Amendment. But every year, it gets passed again. Combining her art with some activism seemed to make sense.
The Hyde Amendment has the biggest effect on low-income families, Megan explained, many of whom use Medicaid health insurance.
If someone on Medicaid becomes pregnant and decides to terminate the pregnancy, for example, they won’t have insurance coverage for the procedure because of the Hyde Amendment.
"For each barrier that politicians put in place, there are hundreds of people fighting past them,” Megan said. "I wanted to have that conversation and to honor those experiences.”
Megan's art isn't just about abortion access though. And there's a reason for that.
Her art also tackles issues like mental illness, sexuality, and immigration and how they affect our reproductive lives.
"We can't talk about abortion access without talking about poverty, or violence, or food security, or who is deemed by society ‘fit’ and ‘unfit’ parents. When someone makes a decision to have an abortion, there are so many other factors in their lives, factors that are influenced by structural forces, that come into play.”
Intersectional oppression is the idea that forms of oppression are linked and influence each other. This is central to reproductive justice, and to the Repeal Hyde Art Project. In many cases, the struggle to access abortion and the struggle to parent on one’s own terms go hand-in-hand.
"It's because of feminists of color like Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Patricia Hill Collins, among many others, that we are talking about how issues are related instead of siloing ourselves. We owe them a great deal,” Megan said.
Megan's art is meant to remind us that reproductive justice affects all of us. It includes environmental justice.
It includes paid family leave.
It includes respecting the parenting decisions of other parents, no matter their gender, situation, abilities, or age.
Reproductive justice is also about feeling safe from racial violence.
Megan’s art is shareable for a reason.
She posts it for free on Facebook to help create new conversations about reproductive justice, and she even encourages people to make their own art for the Repeal Hyde Art Project.
To help spread the word about the project, she also created a bird template, symbolizing self-determination and resilience, so that the message to Repeal Hyde can be publicly visible all over the world.
Since its creation, Megan's project has grown and spread, creating more awareness about the Hyde Amendment’s effects on low-income communities.
"I've continued to experiment with different ways to spur conversation around abortion access and interconnected issues using art as a tool,” Megan said.
And while the Project will continue to evolve, Megan said that one thing remains at the heart of every image that she makes:
"I create each image and message to mirror a person back to themselves, to let them know that they are beautiful, worthy, and seen.”