First-time moms Melissa and Kimberly Connelly of Cleveland planned for every detail of their daughter’s arrival, from her pink elephant pacifier to the Korean American firefighter whose sperm they used to conceive.
But when the Supreme Court struck down the right to abortion just days after their baby shower in June, the life Melissa had dreamed of for her child suddenly felt threatened.
“I wanted to bring a daughter into the world knowing that she could be anything, and that starts with bodily autonomy,” she said. “To have that right stripped a month before she’s born, and then to know she has more rights as a fetus — it’s absolutely absurd to me.”
Filled with outrage, despair and pregnancy hormones, she posted a missive to her 30,000 followers on Instagram, joining scores of expectant parents across the country who are using maternity shoots, birth announcements and baby registries to stump for abortion rights.
“They say a fetus can hear at 27 weeks. Do I tell our daughter that right now she has the most rights she’ll ever have?” Melissa wrote under a photo of herself beaming at her wife as the pair spread stripes of rainbow paint across her belly. “When is the right time to explain to her that her parents’ marriage could be overturned? ... Must be nice not to worry about these conversations.”
The post received thousands of likes and hundreds of messages of support. But it also brought backlash.
“We’re talking about you being upset that your power to kill a baby like your daughter has been heavily limited now,” one commenter wrote. “She doesn’t possess value just because you happen to want her.”
Like baby feet, pregnant bodies have become a metonym for antiabortion views. Those who oppose reproductive rights paint expectant parents who support them as unfit, baby-hating hypocrites.
Now, with abortion under threat, many of those parents are putting their bellies on the line for reproductive freedom.
“We’ve had [pregnant] people do social media campaigns for us for fundraising, and we have individuals list us in their registries in lieu of gifts,” said Sylvia Ghazarian, executive director of the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, a national abortion fund. “People do it all the time.”