Quite literally, while we were sleeping, women’s rights were attacked. And let me start this by saying, while I’m interested in dialogue, I am not interested in arguing if an embryo is a human. The “Fetal Heartbeat” bill is an exagerated attempt to contort the narrative around life. Embryos do not have hearts. This is an attempt to control. This is an attempt to continue to marginalize poor women and black women. This is an attempt to wrap something up in “human” and not in personhood (while performing in-human acts late at night). This is an attempt to have the Supreme Court chip away at Roe v. Wade.
While I chose not to get an abortion when my own pregnancy had complications, looking back I am happy I had the option. I am sad (as I’ve said) that I did not take it when it was offered to me. No person chooses abortion lightly. I was broken. I was confused. And ultimately, I made a decision that left years of un-published scars. Scars that I de-tangle year after year. And yet, at the same time, when I got pregnant with River and decided to continue on with my pregnancy, I knew that I was equipped to handle my new role. I knew I had the money. I knew I had the help. I knew, that my choice was one in which I could handle personally. And I often think about that choice when things are difficult in parenting. That choice allows my kids to have the life they have. Life, from the time we are little to the time we are adults, is about choices. And those choices, whether you agree or not with them, are up to the person.
In light of this, I have been digging through all of the years I’ve made choices or was given a choice. I’ve been thinking about how as a mother these choices are so important for my daughter’s coming of age. I knew I couldn’t be the only one, so I asked a few of my friends to share about a time they realized they could make a choice about their bodies for themselves…
“On the first day of my first period, my mom passed me a super tampon (no applicator) and gave me a quick rundown on how to use it. “Push it all the way up until you don’t feel it.” I spent a few minutes in the bathroom by myself, empowered by her to complete this challenge. Afterwards, I quickly changed and went to ballet class, never missing a beat.” Lauren, 40
“My high school friends and I had a ritual of skinny dipping together on summer nights. We’d ride our bikes or pile into someone’s parent’s car and head to a secluded beach in our hometown to swim among the moon jellies. It wasn’t something we were supposed to be doing, but it was something we could do and and it made us feel alive and poweful and beautiful. I wish every teenage girl could experience even just one minute of the joy and freedom I felt on those nights.” Erin Boyle, 34
“I grew up very strict. There were many religious texts and everyone around me made decisions for me and my body. I remember at 16 years old my friends were gathered around in study hall discussing something I thought was taboo, STI’S. I sat back with nothing to say but was amazed because I couldn’t believe how cool their parents must’ve been to go with them to the clinic. My friend laughed and told me she didn’t need her parents permission. I sat their shocked about the lack of parental involvement surrounding her decision to check out her own body. My friends told me that my parents aren’t obligated to know what I do with my body. She said if it’s something serious the doctors will step in and contact them. They made it clear, that I’m the owner of my body, not them. That sudden discovery, it hit me in the chest. It felt deeper than any ocean. I can do what I want with my body. I’m in control. It was more than going to the clinic for check-ups. It was my friends inviting me into a moment that changed my view on my personhood. I taught me that I was allowed to take away the authority someone has over your body. Any choice I make for my body, is always a responsible choice. Like making sure my body has a clean bill of health. it felt good the next day to walk into the clinic and make a responsible choice without anyone’s permission.” Christy, 28
“When I went to college I was surrounded by women who chose not to shave. And it was then that I felt comfortable growing my own body hair. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that it was okay way before that, and not to wait so long to accept it.” Josie
“When I got pregnant last year at age 33, I made an educated and measured decision that it was not the right time for me to grow my family, and decided to have an abortion under the care of a doctor.” Anonymous
” I got my period when I was 14 in the back seat of my mother’s car. I knew I had stained the seat. My cheeks were hot and I felt ashsamed–I quietly told my mom. She parked the car, smiled at me, and we cleaned it together. We walked home hand in hand while she made sure I knew how natural my period was. It changed the course of my relationship with my period and understanding that I didn’t have to be ashamed of being a girl. And that carried me through womanhood.” Nicole
Here’s a fact, we can not make decisions for other women based on our own beliefs and privileges. We can not rip babies and children away from their mothers at the border, and then choose to call ourselves human. We can not attempt to force women to have babies they do not want or have the means or mental capacity to care for. And as a result, not hire them, pay them proper wages, complain with they’re recieving welfare, cry that they’re stealing our land and our jobs and still, humiliate them at the food stamp office.
Making abortions illegal does not stop them. Women will still try and recieve them. Making abortions illegal just means the maternal mortality rate (which is especially high for black women) will rise. No matter what you personally would do or not do, bans and restrictions are not the answer-ever.
“No matter what men think, abortion is a fact of life. Women have always had them; they always have and they always will. Are they going to have good ones or bad ones? Will the good ones be reserved for the rich, while the poor women go to quacks?” Shirley Chisholm
Having wonderful, simple, and also, complicated choices has made me the women I am. And I hope my daughter gets to continue to make choices for own self-whether they are wild and free or complicated and painful.
We have donated to The Yellowfund to help. If you are in any of the states that have moved forward with abortion bans, you can still make an appoitment and recieve one!
Hearing my friends stories has really helped me. Seeing that their is power in having autonomy. When was the first time you realized you could make a choice about your body for yourself?
Art by Ashley Seil Smith for The New York Times. Fetal Heartbeat link via Joanna.
Thank you for sharing your powerful voice and your personal story. I could not have said it better. Indeed, this is a continued attack on us all, especially on poor women and black women.
Thank you for reading. it is hard to digest and even more difficult to articulate.