WAKING up to the news the US Supreme Court had overturned the landmark case that legalised abortion, Hunter woman Bree Roberts was furious.
"We [she and her American girlfriend, Molly, who were on holidays in Sydney] were both devastated and we both knew it was coming, as soon as those documents [the draft Supreme Court opinion] were leaked," said Ms Roberts, adding her American friends felt helpless and fearful.
"Lots of liberal people - meaning liberal in the American sense of the word, not Australian - said it was ridiculous and hysterical, [the idea] that this was going to happen and we were over-exaggerating. But here we are."
Ms Roberts is the public relations director for What Were You Wearing Australia, which organised a June 30 rally in Newcastle to express solidarity with Americans wanting to protect access to abortion, plus call for the strengthening of Australian abortion legislation.
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It was the right time, she thought, to share her unique experience of having an abortion in the United States as well as one in Australia.
"It's still scary [to speak about your abortion], you do worry 'Is my boss going to read this, are they going to think less of me, are people going to judge me?'" said Ms Roberts.
"I thought it was my responsibility to speak up for the younger women - in this context I also include all people with uteruses - and let them know it's not something we need to be ashamed of or something we need to hide. We shouldn't have to.
"It's incredibly important to take away the stigma to make sure the government doesn't ever take this away from Australians.
"It's healthcare. We need to keep it legal, accessible and I think it should be free with Medicare.
"There's still the stigma of 'You should not get pregnant, intelligent women don't make mistakes'. But the fact of the matter is humans aren't perfect and mistakes do happen and one little mistake like that should not mean you have to have a child for the rest of your life that you don't want and probably can't afford.
"If people don't want to have abortions, they should not have abortions. Other people's personal beliefs should not affect my life."
Ms Roberts said her abortions gave her the freedom to live the life she wanted and she had "no regrets".
Pregnancy doesn't affect men's lives in the same way as women's.
"I know that they were the best decisions for me," she said. "I went on to complete my Bachelor of Business, I completed a Master's in Marketing, my salary has more than doubled since 2015. I'm not saying that women can't achieve these things with children, I know lots of women with children who also have several degrees, but I personally would have struggled. I'm not sure I would be where I am now if I hadn't done it and I don't feel any guilt about it.
"I don't want to have children... and this is about bodily autonomy and having the right to decide what I want to do with my body and not be told by anyone else."
Ms Roberts also has premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe extension of premenstrual syndrome.
"Because it's a hormonal issue if I did carry a pregnancy to term I have no idea what my mental state would be," she said.
"Anti abortion people often bring up how abortion affects women mentally...but they never talk about how carrying a child can affect you, especially if you don't want it and feel forced into it, how that's going to affect your mental state."
Making abortions illegal doesn't stop women from having them, she said, it just forces the procedures underground and makes them less safe.
"No-one is deliberately having an abortion for fun, I'm sure you can find better things to do with your day," she said.
Ms Roberts had two medical abortions, using pills prescribed by a doctor.
She said anti-abortionists rarely discussed this method, despite and possibly because it was straight forward, effective and safe.
"It's only just recently that media, as far as movies and television shows, have started at all showing abortion situations where the woman isn't a complete wreck or having a breakdown," she said.
"It's not always like that. Women get abortions and are perfectly happy and fine with it. There's a feeling you're supposed to feel terrible and guilty and everything when it really does not have to be like that. For me it was a relief that I felt I had my freedom and that I was grateful I did."
In both cases, she said, the men were also not ready for a child, supported her decision and accompanied her.
"This narrative that men are all dying to have kids and women are these evil baby killers is ridiculous," she said.
Ms Roberts' first abortion was at Planned Parenthood in Brooklyn in 2011, in the middle of her decade living in the United States.
"I had no money and I did not want a child and that's the main thing," she said. "It's irrelevant whether I could afford it or not. I couldn't, but even if I could, I don't want one.
"On the moral side of things I don't have an issue with it at all. I'm a vegan and I'm against the pain and suffering of sentient life. A fetus is not capable of feeling pain until the third trimester which is around 27 weeks and less than one per cent of abortions take place in that third trimester.
"If a fetus is a person, then it should get child support from conception if that's when a baby is a baby, citizenship, a tax file number or a social security number, et cetera."
Her second abortion was at the now closed Marie Stopes International clinic at Broadmeadow in 2016.
"I had to answer that question 'If you have this baby will it be a serious danger to your physical or mental health?'," she said. "I didn't realise it was criminalised and I said 'Why do I have to answer that?' and she said 'I can't approve this unless you say that it will' and I said 'Well yes, it probably will seriously affect my mental health'.
"I did find it degrading. I remember the guy who was the equal partner in this sat next to me and he didn't have to answer any questions about his mental health.
"The responsibility was all on me, of course, including the stigma of 'Why are you pregnant in the first place?'
"The woman gets blamed for getting pregnant, 'Why weren't you more careful?' et cetera, nobody asks him that.
"In Texas, the fines and the possible prison terms are all surrounding the mother and the abortion provider to a lesser degree, but the father does not have any repercussions."
Ms Roberts said the assigning of responsibility for pregnancy to the mother and not the father was reflected in stigma around abortions being directed in the same way.
"I don't feel at all guilty for having the abortions... the guy is equally responsible for making sure we're not having a pregnancy we don't want.
"People with uteruses just get it ingrained in them through growing up in the patriarchy that we're not supposed to make mistakes and that it's our responsibility, not the man's. We tend to blame ourselves."
Ms Roberts said she was concerned about what the overturning of Roe V Wade meant for her friends in America, where health care including birth control can be expensive.
She said one friend in Dallas - where there are no exceptions to abortion, even for rape or incest - feared repercussions for speaking out about the matter and left voicemails for friends instead of texts so she didn't leave a "paper trail".
"She's legitimately scared that they're going to be forcing women to take pregnancy tests before they can leave the state with these rules of trying to stop out of state abortions."
There are concerns abusers may "easily weaponise" a woman being forced to carry a child to term to keep them in a relationship or plunge them further into poverty.
"It's horrifying, disgusting, dehumanising," she said.
"I do think all of these bans across America are going to increase suicide rates."
She is worried that access to birth control and LGBTQI+ rights could be next.
In Australia each state and territory has different rules about when and how women can access terminations.
They remain under the criminal code in Western Australia. Cost and geography can also be barriers.
"One thing we are marching and that we need to continue fighting for is for abortion to be protected in the constitution under federal law," she said.
"In the last election there were several political parties that were strongly anti-abortion and got quite a few votes, including United Australia, One Nation, the Liberal Democrats and some of the Liberal Nationals and I found that particularly interesting, because several of those parties are 'freedom parties'.
"They love to weaponise the 'My body my choice' thing for vaccines, but they don't think it applies to bodily autonomy for women. I think Australians need to be conscious of the fact that what's happening in America could easily happen here if certain parties got into power. We're not entirely safe."
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