#StopTheBans Day of Action for Reproductive Rights

“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:

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 6.22.39 PM.png

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.

Damnit, and next

I spent Thursday morning and five hours yesterday going from Capitol to Senate to Supreme Court. I took the tunnel from Dirksen to Russell twice and was even admonished for inadvertently finding my way to the Senate subway in some subterranean space. With two friends, I visited the offices of Senators Leahy, Feinstein, Collins, Corker, Murkowski, Flake, Manchin, Cruz, and more. I wrote notes to almost all of them, left a not-in-your-fan club note in Cruz’s guest book, and spoke my mind politely but very firmly in front of a crowd in Manchin’s office. I was interviewed by NPR, Splinter, and Arizona PBS, and the only reason I share any of this is because none of it seems to have mattered. But I still think it does.

For way too long, I and so many of us have taken democracy for granted. It’s what America is, right? No. It’s what America can be if enough of us fight for that. Right now, we’re fast luges on an icy decline to an authoritarian state run by white Christian men (and not a few women) of the GOP. That would NEVER be a country that represents me or my husband or my children or most people I know and love. And, as such, it is unjust and intolerable to me.

Yesterday at the Senate, I heard a rape victim share her story as well as the fact that in doing so earlier that morning, she had been laughed at -laughed at to her face!- by a group wearing Women For Kavanaugh and I’m With Brett shirts. The cruelty in that renders me speechless. I am still speechless.

And today, when I listened to the roll call of senators casting votes for Kavanaugh, I wasn’t surprised but I was crushed.

I know that so many of us feel hopeless. That we should just give up. But to do so is to abdicate our democratic duties. To do so is to prove the naysayers’ point that democracy is but an idealistic figment, a farce.

If all I witnessed yesterday and Thursday and last week and all the days I’ve protested and marched and rallied and called and canvassed is any indication, democracy is tenuous but worth desperately fighting for. There are so many of us out there demanding change. What needs to happen now is that ALL OF US VOTE. Change can happen only if we storm the voting booths and make our voices heard.

Yes to every doubt you’ll likely raise: gerrymandering, voter suppression, cheating, PACs and other dark money, toxic everything, politicians who only care about their own positions of power.

But also: the rising tide of furious women who will not go back to anything except what we choose to; folks like Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams and Jacky Rosen and Jahana Hayes; the people who have already done what everyone said they couldn’t (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example); the people who will (whoever runs against Susan fucking Collins).

We saw in the Senate signs I never thought I’d see (see photos) and met so many staffers who thanked us and thanked us some more for being there. One of my dear friends flew in on the red eye from Portland so she could protest all day Friday. Another dear friend essentially moved onto the Capitol steps last week and may finally return home tonight.

All of us, regardless of what side you’re on, deserve better than what we’re getting. We deserve better than mealy-mouthed cowards (like Jeff Flake whose office door we found locked on Friday) and Lisa Murkowski who talked a big game but pulled her vote today because “Gaines would vote Aye if he were here so our votes would cancel each others out anyway.” We deserve better than old pissy white men like Grassley, Hatch, and Graham, who never bothered to take Dr. Ford or the FBI “investigation” remotely seriously but instead impeded both at every turn and in every way. We deserve better than the two-bit cheating imbecile who is our “president.” And we certainly deserve better than the angry liar who was just given what is arguably the largest honor with the greatest amount of sway in our country: a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

We have FOUR AND A HALF WEEKS until the midterms. How will you spend your time?

If you care at all about our democracy, you will do everything in your power to register and get people to vote. You will make calls, write postcards, knock on doors, and donate what you can. You will talk to neighbors and friends and people in the carpool lines and you will politely beg them to vote. If you’re uncomfortable, do it anyway, or do it quietly or with your checkbook. If you have daughters, do it so they won’t have to be assaulted and then disbelieved. If you have sons, do it because you want to raise men who would NEVER treat women as sub-human toys. If you’re an adult, question the ways you were socialized as children. If you have any hesitation, consider the rest of your life being run by people like these:

H/t Daily Kos

H/t Daily Kos

Change the narrative, y’all. Demand better. Demand different. Demand more. If you’re angry, stay angry. There’s a fuckload to be angry about, and as so many people have correctly noted, from righteous anger can come enormous growth and change.

We have four and a half weeks. Focus. If the Democrats don’t gain back at least the House, I think America buys itself a second Trump term. I do not think we can afford that in any way. Everything you feel now? Use it.




Host a Flip the House postcard-writing party: Flip the House

Swing Left

Some great candidates to support:

Beto O’Rourke (TX/Sen)

Kyrsten Sinema (AZ/Sen)

Jacky Rosen (NV/Sen)

Joe Donnelly (IN/Sen)

Heidi Heitkamp (ND/Sen)

Bill Nelson (FL/Sen)

Andrew Gillum (FL/gov)

Stacey Abrams (GA/gov)

Sean Casten (IL-6/House)

Mike Levin (CA-49/House)

Jahana Hayes (CT-5/House)

Let me know of folks you support, too!

This is what democracy looks like

Yesterday’s heartbreak and rage led to today’s feelings of nausea and fury, and so really, I had to do something. After a meeting and a doctor’s appointment, I met up with a friend -the aforementioned Pilates teacher- and hauled ass to the Supreme Court where we met up with another friend of mine, my Supreme Court-protest buddy, and then saw my forever resister sister.

After a vigorous rally on the steps of the Supreme Court, three of us marched to the Senate buildings for another protest. After walking in the damn front door and politely asking, “Can we come in?” a friend and I led a large group into the Dirksen building with the intention of visiting Lisa Murkowski’s office. Looking over the directory, however, our eyes froze over Mitch McConnell’s name: Russell building 317.

Can you imagine where we headed? Third floor.

On the way we met one of Senator Durbin’s aides, a delightful man who showed us exactly where to go and thanked us for being there. We cheered him with wild abandon. Guards helped us when we were stymied by the many buildings’ twists and turns, and before I knew it, we were marching through one of the underground tunnels and into Russell.

It’s a beautiful, grand place. The marble halls of power, the rotundas of history, the old school formality, the flags and medallions. In some awe, in hushed tones, we persisted. Right to 317.

I haven’t any idea how I ended up as the apparent representative of our group, but before I knew it I was writing a letter -on a red leather bound legal pad embossed “Senate”- to McConnell that we all signed. It ran the gamut from “sir, you serve your constituents” to “we remember the ‘let’s make Obama a one-term president’ obstruction” to Merrick Garland and here we are today.


It wasn’t lost on me that prior to my protest I had a GYN appointment and then had to leave the Senate building to get home in time for carpool; what women do. But it all felt so very therapeutic, a way to put rage and fear to work. This IS what democracy looks like, and I will fight to the end for it.

In the cab on the way home, a text came in: Flake has reversed course somewhat and is calling for an FBI investigation. Bless the women that confronted him in the elevator and all the Americans who have called, faxed, tweeted, written, and showed up in person. Murkowski supports his call. We have one week.

Make it count.

Senator Murkowski: 202-224-6665
Senator Collins: 202-224-2523
Senator Flake: 202-224-4521
Senator Manchin: 202-224-3954
Senator Heitkamp: 202-224-2043