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Archive for July, 2010

The Right to Life

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

My life is a non- negotiable demand. My story, the story of all women everywhere, can’t be said better than Marge Piercy’s words in The Right to Life:

A woman is not a basket you place
your buns in to keep them warm. Not a brood
hen you can slip duck eggs under.
Not the purse holding the coins of your
descendants till you spend them in wars.
Not a bank where your genes gather interest
and interesting mutations in the tainted
rain, any more than you are.

You plant corn and you harvest
it to eat or sell. You put the lamb
in the pasture to fatten and haul it in to
butcher for chops. You slice the mountain
in two for a road and gouge the high plains
for coal and the waters run muddy for
miles and years. Fish die but you do not
call them yours unless you wished to eat them.

Now you legislate mineral rights in a woman.
You lay claim to her pastures for grazing,
fields for growing babies like iceberg
lettuce. You value children so dearly
that none ever go hungry, none weep
with no one to tend them when mothers
work, none lack fresh fruit,
none chew lead or cough to death and your
orphanages are empty. Every noon the best
restaurants serve poor children steaks.

At this moment at nine o’clock a partera
is performing a table top abortion on an
unwed mother in Texas who can’t get
Medicaid any longer. In five days she will die
of tetanus and her little daughter will cry
and be taken away. Next door a husband
and wife are sticking pins in the son
they did not want. They will explain
for hours how wicked he is,
how he wants discipline. (more…)


Friday, July 16th, 2010

I had my abortion in 1962. Back then, abortion was illegal, and taboo. Not stigmatized like today, but completely taboo. You didn’t do it, but more so, you absolutely didn’t discuss it. Quickly after I found out I was pregnant I began attempting to find a doctor that performed abortions. Through a friend of a friend, I found one, and my boyfriend drove me to New York City to have it performed.We were both eighteen, and I was six weeks pregnant.

The abortion cost 400 dollars, which, even by today’s standards, is expensive. I went to a doctor’s office after the practice was shut for the day. The doctor was kind. We paid him in cash and my boyfriend sat in the waiting room while I followed the doctor through the empty office. The procedure took about forty minutes and was excrutiatingly painful. The doctor told me I would have to be quiet and I somehow managed not to scream. I remember feeling that I deserved the pain, that I had called this situation upon myself.

Afterwards, I rejoined my boyfriend in the lobby. The doctor told us to have a good meal and then gave me a bag of candies. I’ll always remember that. I always wanted to know- who were those candies intended for? Did he give them to all his “patients?”  Several years later my boyfriend and I married, and two years later I gave birth to a daughter. I had two more children, another girl and a boy.

My children have grown older, and the world has changed. I’ve watched abortion become, however debated, legal, and watch as generations of women accept the right to choose as a give-in. I’ve volunteered at women’s clinics and taught my children about the importance of birth control and a woman’s right to choose. I’ve often thought about the child I didn’t have.  But more so, I think about how grateful I am that I no longer have to carry around the burden of a taboo- that I can speak publicly, or online, or with my family and not be fearful of judgment, let alone legal consequence. But I’m also saddened about the women who still don’t have access to legal abortions and have to face the fear, dangers and complications of illegal abortions.

First Steps

Friday, July 9th, 2010

How I felt at the time…

Not really present, ashamed, scared someone would find out.

How I feel now…

Relieved. Grateful.

My story…

First off, I should say that I was raised in a very religious family. Strangely enough, eventually my parents got divorced and I lived with my mom for most of my childhood. I was seventeen when I got pregnant. My mother had no idea I had been having sex with my boyfriend of three years, and I didn’t really want to get into it with her. Almost immediately, I knew I wanted an abortion. It was strange, considering how I spent most of my life hearing that abortion was the quickest one way ticket to hell. It’s strange to say, but I think that was my first real step to being my own person- I knew I didn’t want to be the person I was told I should be. I knew I wanted to get out of the town I lived in and sadly, away from my family. I just always thought my boyfriend would be a part of the great escape plan.

There weren’t many people for me to tell. Well, there were a lot of people, but none that I could actually tell about it. That part was hard. I hate lying, and there were suddenly a lot of lies to tell- covering up for feeling sick, for not having money (I was saving it), for why I wasn’t drinking at parties. It was almost disassociating- like I had already taken steps away from the life I was a part of. Finally there was the biggest lie- where was I spending a whole weekend- one day with my boyfriend at Planned Parenthood, another to recover. I told my mother I was going with friends to visit a friends sister at college. She had a fit and I held my ground. None of this made anything any easier. (more…)

Triumphant Woman

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I made this piece in mexico, when I was 19, before I had had abortions. It was a tree I saw that looked like a triumphant woman mid pose. It reminded me of the power of the woman and our strength in our relationship to the earth.  In retrospect it relates to the medicinal knowledge midwives have, in that power to induce abortion that has been present for generations upon generations and been happening out of the view of the men.  I was staying in the jungle in mexico and  this woman I was staying with, 16 years old, she was asking me about condoms (she had heard there was this thing you could use to stop the semen and not make babies).  Part of my agreement in being present in this village was to not give anything to the people – to avoid desires that were unecessary or conflict amongst people who received gifts and who didn’t… But I really always wanted to give her a stash of condoms.  Cause she had this thing with this boy there, but they couldn’t act on it unless they wanted to get serious… I realize now that this picture relates to access to birth control, and the power of birth control, and the difference it can make in a life.