Excerpt of The Nation op-ed co-authored by GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.
On August 24, 2022, Mayron Hollis sought an abortion after receiving news that her pregnancy was endangering her life and its continuation would likely result in uterine rupture and organ damage. Unfortunately, August 24 was also the day that Tennessee’s near-total ban on abortion went into effect. Denied care in her own state and unable to travel to one where she could get the care she needed, Hollis was forced to endure a dangerous pregnancy and birth, where she ultimately suffered severe hemorrhaging and lost her uterus, destroying her ability to give birth to any more children.
There are many terms to describe Mayron Hollis’s experience of being denied an abortion in Tennessee—harrowing, agonizing, unconscionable—but we should also call it what it is: torture and cruelty.
Torture often evokes images of individuals being interrogated in detention settings—a prisoner of war held in isolation. However, under the international human rights framework, torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (also known as “ill-treatment”) encompass a broad range of acts that cause severe physical or mental harm, including—in certain cases—the denial of abortion services. It’s past time that we acknowledge and treat cases like Hollis’s as torture and ill-treatment.