At Clever, we spend a lot of time talking about our interior lives. And while we’ll never turn down an opportunity to wax poetic about the virtues of maximalism or travertine, we’re also the first to admit that the concept of home has much more to do with the community you live in than the paint color on your walls.
When you’re searching for a new place to call home, your gut feeling about whether or not you'll belong in the community matters. So, what happens when your hometown or state starts to change around you?
This year, several states have passed, or have attempted to pass, more restrictive abortion legislation. Last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill that would make performing an abortion illegal once a heartbeat is detected. This week, we watched Alabama’s State Senate pass what could become the strictest abortion law in the country.
So, in the spirit of real talk, we reached out to women in Georgia and Alabama to find out how these recent changes impact their opinion about living there, if at all. Are their neighbors talking about abortion legislation in coffee shops and grocery stores? Is everything just business as usual? And, most importantly, how do they feel about it? Would they ever consider finding a new place to live because of changes in legislation? Here’s what they had to say.
Rachel in Alabama
It’s a frustrating place to be right now. I don’t feel like I can put myself out there as a small business owner. I can’t share what my beliefs and thoughts are.
It’s a sensitive time in Alabama. I grew up here, and surprising things come up now that I live here as an adult, when I'm interacting with people that I didn’t grow up with. My husband and I moved back to Birmingham after living in a few different, maybe more progressive, cities in the South. There are more shops and businesses here now, and it’s a fun place to be. But there’s still this overarching feeling here that the country is seeing now.
In the last few days, I’ve been hesitant about sharing my political views. I’ve talked to my close friends, and that’s been comforting. But I feel like that’s not enough. I’ve been so shaken personally. We have to keep having these discussions to see change.
Would I ever move? I am determined to stay here because we all have to be part of this gradual shift in thinking, even though it's a painful thing to sit through. I’m hopeful.
Amy in Georgia
These laws certainly impact not just how I feel about living in Georgia, but how I am considering doing business here. Our eyes are wide open. And yes, we are discussing it all at the dinner table. Ultimately, I believe choices about where we put and contribute money, about where kids will attend college even, will be influenced by these new laws. More important, perhaps, is understanding those who will be most affected are people who can’t afford to consider leaving. We need to keep this perspective front of mind.
Muriel in Georgia
I believe that running away from Georgia won't solve the problem. This is a national issue that will soon reach the highest court in the country. Georgia's recent election for governor was full of issues—from voting rights violations to broken machines, closed precincts, and more. Did that make me move? No. We must remain here to make sure we vote them out of office and turn the state purple.
I've always been politically active and actively donating to causes close to my heart, such as women's rights and immigration rights. I've been an American citizen for two years now, and I have shown up every time. Georgia is here to fight and make sure this law doesn't go into effect in 2020. Our community is stronger than ever, especially in Atlanta. Our blue dot in a big red state is working hard to protect the health of women.
Gia in Alabama
I was born and raised here. It’s changed tremendously in the last few years. But like most Midwestern and Southern cities, Birmingham is a liberal spot in a really red state. No, I’m not happy. I’m appalled and horrified. I think women assumed that issues like this were put to bed in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. But it doesn’t make me want to move—it makes me want to stay here and fight. If we all up and leave because of these issues, what are we left with?
I come from a family with all sorts of different religious beliefs, and I try to make a conscious effort to respect all different values, so we don’t talk about things like this. And this doesn’t change my mind about my community at all. I love Alabama. It has a bad past—a very bad past—that it’s trying to come out of. And I’m hoping this is just a blip in our history. If I don’t stay and vote and let my voice be heard, how will that ever change?
Lia in Georgia
I find the new change really disheartening, especially since I just gave birth to a daughter seven weeks ago. I was already not thrilled about bringing a child into this current climate and this is an added layer of concern for her future. It would be incredibly hard for us to leave, though, despite the terrible law. Our roots are planted here, and sadly it seems like laws like this are becoming more common. I've already donated to Planned Parenthood Southeast. The combination of this law and now having a daughter whom I want to set a good example for motivates me.
Amanda in Georgia
I just moved back to Atlanta after living in New York City for five years. I am actually the seventh generation in my family from Marietta, Georgia, and the fifth generation to go to University of Georgia, so Georgia runs deep in my personal history. That’s why it hurts me to watch the new abortion legislation come to pass, as I can see such a better future and potential way of life for the state. I also believe the majority of Georgians want a better and more progressive Georgia. We got really close with the election of Stacey Abrams, who had her election stolen through voter suppression tactics used by Brian Kemp and the Georgia GOP. It’s important to note I am a white, straight, upper middle class, college-educated woman. I was raised in a bubble filled with people similar to me, and even in moving to Atlanta, I am still mainly surrounded by people similar to me. So my views are definitely affected by this, seeing the world through this lens.
What’s interesting to me after living in NYC is how different the culture is surrounding politics. In New York, politics were a main tenet of my conversations, spanning close friends, acquaintances, coworkers, or someone new at a bar. In Georgia, my experience is the opposite, as there is much more diversity, in terms of conservatives and liberals. The majority of my friends here are pretty liberal and vote Democrat, but when it comes to actually talking about politics out loud, it’s a bit more hush-hush, perhaps even considered impolite. It’s more of a conversation that is had one-on-one or with smaller groups of close friends that you know definitely think similarly to you. With my family, we avoid the topic completely.
I keep seeing people on Twitter telling Georgian women to leave and move somewhere else. I disagree with this sentiment for a number of reasons:
- The sentiment is innately privileged. The majority of women do not have the resources, mobility, or network to be able to leave. Funny enough (or not), a law like this will disproportionately hurt underprivileged and marginalized women. Wealthy, white women will continue to have abortions, whether they are legal or not. Women without these privileges are the ones who rely on abortion being offered as a legitimate health service. Then the cycle will continue, with the state forcing babies to be born, but then continuing to ignore the health care and educational needs of these children after the fact. So it’s not really “pro-life” and more just about policing women’s bodies.
- You can’t outrun the patriarchy. This shit is happening everywhere. While there are still “progressive oases” in New York or California, what happens in Georgia or Alabama or Ohio will have an effect on everyone, especially if the end goal of all these legislations is to have the supreme court overturn Roe v. Wade.
- This is my hometown and where the people I love are. To run away would be, in my opinion, a selfish and cowardly move.
My wish, and this is also on me, is that people in these privileged bubbles (like mine) would stop skirting around the issues and get comfortable talking about how we can enact change. People should be talking about this in grocery stores. And then, at the next opportunity, vote Kemp out.
Rebecca in Georgia
I grew up in Georgia, so this doesn’t push me to leave; it makes me want to dig in. We live in Atlanta, which is a sort of a liberal bubble. I would be interested to see what people think outside of the city. Most people I know are truly outraged and horrified. It feels like it’s the only thing people are talking about right now, certainly among my peers. No one knows what to say. I’m pregnant, and people have assumed that my opinion [on abortion] has changed. But my pregnancy doesn’t change how I feel about it.
Overall, it seems like people are hopeful, that this is something we will be able to change. Plus, I feel like this isn’t the one event that makes me what to be more politically active. This is just one more reason to make sure that I'm voting and talking about it.
Arvilla in Alabama
The United States is supposed to be the place where people come from other countries to start a business, to have rights they've never had before, and to live the American dream. But it seems more and more of our rights are being taken away from us. My daughter may not have the right to choose what's right for her body. And that is a reason for me to consider moving. Not only are my rights under attack, but my daughter's rights are as well.
No matter where I live, it's my body and I should be able to decide what's right for it. I choose what to wear, I get to decide who I love, and I get to decide what's right for me. I will continue to fight among people in my community: marching, calling legislative officials, sending postcards, and educating myself about how we got into the state we are in right now.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest