In 2020, country singer Amanda Shires penned an essay for Rolling Stone in which she revealed that she had an abortion — a “10 minute” procedure that came with frustrating and “invasive” questions.
Despite the many questions as to why she was undergoing the procedure — which she described as having “cells removed” despite trolls labeling her a “baby killer” — Shires wrote at the time, “The reasons that I chose to have an abortion are personal, and they are mine.”
It’s a sentiment that Shires has echoed many times since. In a June 2022 follow-up, the artist detailed for Rolling Stone her experience of ending a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy in August 2021. The experience — coupled with the current climate surrounding a person’s right to choose — further fueled her passion for standing up for abortion rights.
“I decided to write the op-ed for Rolling Stone about my abortion because I feel like destigmatizing abortion is helpful, but I was also noticing there was a good chance we were regressing, going the wrong direction,” Shires explains to Leak Herald Life. “I feel like the God that I believe in gave me the brain and the thinking and the knowledge to know what I should be able to do with my body. … And I think that if I didn’t have the wherewithal to make those decisions they wouldn’t have been given to me by some creators in the first place.”
Shires knows that people have different opinions on abortion, which will become almost entirely illegal in Tennessee due to trigger laws should Roe v. Wade be overturned. In fact, the friend who took her to have the medical procedure in 2020 “didn’t view” Shires’s abortion the way she did — but she did believe that Shires should have the choice to do what’s best for her.
“She still took me,” Shires says. “I think the result wasn’t necessarily a change of her mind, but a realization that people make tough choices, or not tough choices, [because] it was an easy choice [for me]. When you’re talking to someone close to you, I think it makes it a little bit understandable. … It turned it from being so black and white to being so grey. We are still friends, and I know she believes that we should all be allowed to make our own choices. It might not be what her choice would be, but it’s all good.”
It was that connection that inspired the singer’s 2020 song “The Problem.”
“The Problem,” which she sings alongside her husband, fellow country music star Jason Isabell, details a woman deciding to have an abortion. The powerful track features questions like, “Is it even legal here?” and “Do you need a reason why?” The conversational nature of the song, Shires says, was intentional.
“I brought Jason in because I didn’t want to speak for him in a way in order to reach more people,” she says. “You need different folks and you know he’s a white man with a bigger platform. We need more people talking about it and more people trying to change minds.”
Another conversation that Shires is more than open to? One with the couple’s six-year-old daughter, Mercy. She explained her ectopic pregnancy and why it had to end.
“I explained to her that you know, when you get pregnant sometimes, if you get pregnant outside of the uterus it is definitely not safe and it’s dangerous,” she notes. “And when that happened to me, she knows that that was a life or death moment.”
Ultimately, Shires is concerned about the future of abortion rights — and wants more people to stand up for the freedom of choice. She knows that there will be people just like her who may not have easy access to an abortion — ones who may lose their lives because of it.
“Your husband may be without a wife and your daughter may have no mother who cares,” she stresses.
That’s why she’s unapologetically using her voice to speak up.
“My mom instilled in me a ferociousness about occupying my space in maintaining my morals and ethics as best as I could while at the same time realizing it’s not all fair the way it’s supposed to be,” Shires says. “And it makes it fulfilling to talk about these things. Because if I didn’t, I would not be able to sleep at night and be if I was to be silenced. I would be doing something false. Let’s be free to be ourselves.”
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