“Excuse me, are you pro choice?”
”But it’s not your body.”
-as told to Emily by a young white man in front of the Supreme Court
It’s been a long month since I last posted. A long time since Kieran died, since his funeral, since his mom started to meet each day without him. It’s been an honor to bear witness to some of her grief, to sit with her in it, to see a community rally together to help in any and all possible ways.
The past two weeks alone have felt horrifically oppressive. We have seen our “president” cross the 10,000 lies to the American people mark. We have seen Alabama and Missouri pass draconian anti-abortion bills; no abortion after six weeks, no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, heinous punishments for any woman who seeks an abortion and any doctor who dares to help her. Meanwhile, the rapist can have parental rights. These bills were voted on by majority-white Christian men. Here’s the Alabama slate responsible:
Do they look like people who have uteruses? Who can become pregnant from rape? They don’t and aren’t. And I am SICK TO FUCKING DEATH of other people, especially sanctimonious, right wing Christian men and women, attempting to regulate what I may decide to do with my body.
If you don’t remember, the right to abortion was decided in 1973. Forty-six years ago. And yet, for as long as I can remember, my mother has hoped desperately that women never need relive the pre-Roe years. I volunteered for NARAL while Tom and I lived in Boston, and marched in their March on Washington in 2005. I have listened ad nauseam as far-right pro-life supporters have demanded that I live by their rules and values while simultaneously denigrating mine and acting in stunningly hypocritical fashion all the while.
See: all the uber-Christians at my high school who sent out conversion caravans and preached abstinence but concurrently held the mantle of highest teen pregnancy rate in my town and area. Consider the one who had a painful, scary miscarriage in the toilet stall next to me in the school bathroom.
See: Alabama governor Kay Ivey carrying on about the sanctity of life as she signs the anti-abortion bill but who has also, while governor, executed seven men on death row. Alabama is notorious for the systemic racism that puts innocent men behind bars, including on death row. This is why the Equal Justice Initiative and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the lynching museum, are housed in Montgomery.
See: the publicly pro life GOPers [Tim Murphy (a PA senator and Elliot Broidy (former RNC deputy finance chair, for example] who have decried abortion while paying for their mistresses and girlfriends to have them. (And if you don’t think serial adulterer Trump has done the same, your head is buried in some dark sand.)
Perhaps most revoltingly, I have become aware that for way too many pro-life folks, pro life really only means pro birth and, ideally, pro-white birth. Just look at the lack of willingness to support programs for hungry children, diaper banks, free- and reduced-lunch plans at school, early childhood education programs, and so on.
Sixty percent of Alabama women seeking abortions are black. “Alabama is tied for fourth-worst place in infant mortality,” according to this article in the Los Angeles Times. In this piece you’ll find that “more than a quarter of Alabama’s children live in poverty; 30 percent of those children are under the age of five. Only half of Alabama’s 67 counties have an obstetrician.” The state has no equal pay laws protecting women from discrimination.
It’s utterly despicable to force children into this world and then refuse to care for them or their mothers. It is sick and cruel to force a girl raped and impregnated by a family member to have the baby and then share custody rights with her rapist. Read this heartbreaking article if you want a firsthand account. That’s not pro life. That’s pro birth and then shit on the mother and shit on the kid. This is anti-woman and control the women at all cost crap.
This morning, I hurriedly coordinated with two regular Resister Sisters so that we could attend the #StopTheBans women’s rights rally at the Supreme Court. All of us canceled or shifted plans, grabbed or made signs, water bottles, and backpacks, and headed downtown. I riffled through my library of protest signs past before remembering that I’d been forced to leave my favorite pro choice sign outside of the Senate building before entering last time.
I scrounged up a half sheet of foam core, Sharpied “I didn’t vote to live in Gilead” on one side and “If it’s not your body, it’s not your choice” on the other, pulled on my resistance shirt, and left with my friend Karen.
Initially the turnout felt small, but by the official start time, the rally was thrumming with energy, camaraderie, outrage, despondency, and determination. My friend Julie arrived, and she and I set up camp just behind the speaker’s lectern, over to the left. This was fortuitous because in addition to the wonderful NARAL and Planned Parenthood speakers, including the wonderfully fierce Dr. Leana Wen (PP’s new president), a long line of Senators and Congresswomen and men, joined us and spoke.
Senators Klobuchar, Hirono, Wyden, Murray, Blumenthal, and Schumer. Congresswomen Pressley and Speier and Congressman Swalwell. Bernie was there but left before speaking. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, and because of early school dismissal I had to leave before the rally ended, but it was really an excellent turnout of support.
Julie felt pumped up and grateful to be in the company of like-minded resisters; Karen and I enjoyed ourselves, but really feel the bleakness of women still being treated like such non-beings. Things feel hard and as if nothing will ease in the near future.
Which was why I was beyond enraged when a young dress-shirt-and-tie guy came up to me and said, as I quoted at the start of this piece:
“Excuse me, are you pro choice?”
”But it’s not your body.”
Yes it fucking is, man without uterus.
Karen sputtered and said, “Bless his heart,” before we turned around with utter disgust.
“It’s not your body” is really the essence of all this, isn’t it. If you see women as equals, with agency and selfhood, you couldn’t possibly divorce one’s physical self from one’s emotional self, reproductive desires and choices, and independent plans for life. You couldn’t possibly tell her that her body isn’t hers.
I am not just a goddamned vessel. No woman is UNLESS she chooses to be. The choice should be each of ours, as should safety and respect.