Becky is 30 years old, engaged, and pissed off. She works in an office supplies store and will soon finish her BA in Technical Theater & Creative Writing. Afterward, she’ll probably… continue to work in the office supplies store. She dreams of one day owning an animal sanctuary. She votes in every election, has a laundry list of reproductive problems, and makes a mean from-scratch pumpkin pie. She is owned by 2 cats and 3 chinchillas, and usually sleeps on her tummy with her arm under the pillow.
Possible triggers: images from my trip to an abortion clinic.
In 2005, I had a D&C. In line behind me was a young girl in pink pajamas and fuzzy pink socks.
This child and her grandmother sat across the waiting room from me watching television. Except for that TV, and the occasional whispered conversations between the girls that came with friends or partners, the waiting room was silent.
So it wasn’t hard to hear this little round-faced girl ask, “Grandma, when the doctor’s done, the baby won’t be in there no more, right?”
Grandma, of course, couldn’t lie to the child; it was why she’d brought her past the prayer vigil and pictures on sticks out front in the first place. “That’s right, baby. It’ll be gone.”
Could the room have gotten any quieter, it would have when she asked her next question.
“How’d it get there anyway?”
In that deafening silence, I met the eyes of another young woman a few seats away. We didn’t have to say a word; our faces said it all.
Oh my God. How could this happen?
“We’ll talk about that later,” Grandma said, and went back to her magazine with tears in her eyes. Later, as I left the procedure room and she entered it, I overheard the staff check her date of birth.
This child was thirteen.
In writing this, I went looking for statistics regarding pregnancy rates in American children under age fourteen. I couldn’t find any.
But really, I don’t need any statistics. The numbers are less important to me than the over-arching goal of humane treatment for all people. And all I need to do is think back on that little girl with her fuzzy pink socks sticking out from under the blankets in the recovery room to galvanize myself again.
But there are those vying for power in our country that insist the circumstances don’t matter: to some status-seekers on the nightly news, the potential child within is more valuable than the living, breathing, hurting woman without.
So, when I heard about Mandatory Ultrasound laws and Conscience Clauses debated by cis-male religious political response panels, I started reading.
Then I got pissed.
Growing up, my Dad liked to quote his father, “If you want to be seen, stand up. If you want to be heard, speak up. If you want to be appreciated, shut up.”
As I read, I realized as “a woman of child bearing years” that cannot safely do so, I don’t want anti-humanist political figures “appreciating” me any more than they already do. Their provisions and “concern for women’s health” could actually cause me *more* health complications. So, I decided, it’s time to stand up and speak up, both for myself and the people relying on having reproductive choices to keep them contributing members of our society.
The movement I joined started with a Facebook page, calling themselves Unite Women. It is a national, grass-roots organization staging protest marches all over the country this April 28th, to remind people that “[women] vote, [women] matter, and that [political figures] can’t succeed without [our] help.”*
Every state in the U.S. and its protectorates will have a march that day, because issues like the Blunt Amendment, the ERA, and the systematic political attacks on Planned Parenthood touch us all on a personal level, regardless of our political affiliation, our race, our economic status, or our gender(s).
I didn’t get involved with this movement because I’m “a slut” that uses abortion as a primary form of birth control, like some pundits and talking heads would like everyone to think. I didn’t even get involved only because my county’s under-funded Family Planning clinics have to provide services for over 2,500 people per office (of which, there are 2). I got involved because I’m a firm believer that the Rule of Law has no place in my uterus, and what *does* end up in there should be decided on by me and my doctor. I think it’s time to stand up and speak up, so, I am. I will be called names and ridiculed for it; I know this a month before the march. I also know that women dedicated to the rights of all people to keep Federal law in the Federal forum will be right beside me, standing up for the same thing.
And that, for the first time in 30 years, has made me able to call myself a woman without hesitation. Not getting my first period, not losing my virginity, not my miscarriages, not becoming engaged… joining this fight has made me feel prepared to stand up in front of hundreds of people and say, “This woman that spent 7 hours in a car this morning to get here, and will spend that much again to get home tonight, has had enough of being your bargaining chip!”
Hope to see some of you on the news on 4/28th. I’m driving across the width of New York, from Buffalo to Manhattan, to take my faulty uterus for a walk down Broadway.
Because, in spite of what my uterus and I *can’t* do, I’m a woman, not a wedge issue.
(* NY Congressman Richard Hanna (R), in a public speech regarding the Equal Rights Act, 3/22/2012. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/richard-hanna-gop-congress_n_1373381.html )