by Jill Greenwood
Sorry for the blog silence, folks. When we started O+U, we never really ironed out our schedules. For a while, Erika did the calendars, but when she was selling her house, I took it over . . . and I’ve forgotten the last few months. No real reason other than life. But that’s not to say that we haven’t missed posting here. Some months are easier than others; occasionally, we’ll come up with an idea relatively quickly. Other months . . . takes forever (remember February?). Anyway, there’s no real theme for this month, and truthfully, I haven’t even posted a calendar yet, but I’m running with this one: politics. That dirty little word that no one wants to talk about: politics. A subject on which everyone has an opinion: politics. If there’s any one subject that’s rife with opinions and tons to talk about it’s . . . politics. And my own personal political issue is reproductive health. That’s right. I’m talking about vaginas and uteruses (kick it old school and go with uteri if you want) and birth control and abortion and children and cervixes and cancer and disease. And I’m calling bullshit on the politicians. PS – If you don’t like the f-word, walk away now.
Whenever I say that I’m pro-choice people automatically assume that I’m pro-abortion. Honestly, I don’t think that I’ve ever met a person who is pro-abortion. Have you? No one that I know ever has said, “Hmmm . . . what haven’t I done this summer? I know. Get an abortion!” Contrary to what Wisconsin Senator, Mary Lazich, says, you don’t need an abortion to be a woman. No, Senator, you need a uterus to be a woman. Having a vagina helps, too. You can get away without the boobs. Then again, what do I really know . . . I’m not a doctor, so I could be wrong. But wait! Neither are you, Senator.
So back to me. I’m pro-choice. I believe that, when given a choice between having a child and raising it, having a child and giving it up for adoption, or having an abortion, that choice should be mine and pretty much just mine except for the people that I choose to share it with. In the summer of 1990, I was in that very spot. Just finished up my sophomore year in college and having a blast in the summer. I was working at three jobs and taking a few classes. Thoroughly enjoying my summer. And then I got pregnant. For some reason, I always say, “I got pregnant,” when in all actuality, it took two people to get to that point and a compelling lack of condoms, but I got pregnant. My friends found out first because they were in the bathroom when the stick changed colors. The next person? The father. I really had no idea how that conversation would go because let’s be honest, not much physically would change for him. He could, if he wanted, deny everything and be a real dick. Tell me that it was pretty much up to me what happened. Tell me to go fuck myself. Tell me to do whatever I wanted. But we talked and talked and talked, and in the end, chose to have the baby. The first place we went was Planned Parenthood, and true to Planned Parenthood form, they offered me – wait for it – prenatal vitamins. Not an abortion. Or literature to read. Just prenatal vitamins and the opportunity to listen to the baby’s heartbeat because the obstetrician wouldn’t see me until I was 12 weeks along (fun fact: only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s activities have anything to do with abortions; the rest is all about women’s health). And in April of 1991, our daughters were born because by then, there were two bambinos floating around in the “aquarium” that was my ever expanding belly.
I had every hope that my daughters would grow up in an era that respected them as equals with the boys around them. For the love of god and all that is holy, hadn’t Free To Be You and Me already established that boys and girls were the same except for the bits and pieces down there? For a little while, it seemed like we were good. I’m not even sure when the tide started to turn, but it did. All of a sudden, things shifted away from making a choice to “protecting the lives of the innocent” at all costs (which also involved vilifying any need for public assistance, by the way). Plan B? Better hope you can find a pharmacy that’s willing to stock it. Comprehensive sex ed? Not in school . . . you only need to know how to abstain. An open dialog about sex? Right here – at least I had that covered. Thankfully, getting birth control wasn’t a huge issue because we lived in a state that didn’t make us jump through too many hoops.
Last summer, I felt like I was 20 again. Not because I found I was filled with all the energy and vigor of a 20-year-old but because I thought I was pregnant again. You know what? It sucked all over. I didn’t want to be pregnant. I had no desire to have another child. I was older, which brought about all sorts of risks. All these thoughts running through my brain and just one way to squash them all: take a pregnancy test. So I went to the store and called my husband on the way. He reacted much calmer this time around (that will happen when the last time you had this kind of conversation was before Bill Clinton had been elected), but it was clear that he didn’t want another child either. I bought a test – did you know that they keep the pregnancy tests right next to the diapers? If that’s not a great big, Fuck You!, I don’t know what is – came home and found out that I was not pregnant. The relief that washed over me was unexplainable.
But had I been pregnant, the only person’s opinion that I would have given two shits about would have been my husband’s opinion. Not my state senator’s or my governor’s or my children’s or my extended family’s. Just his and mine. Because ultimately, the only two people raising the baby would be the two of us. And honestly, it’s none of Lisa Boscola‘s business if I choose to have a child or not. Pennsylvania has a 24-hour waiting period, and there are “informed consent” laws that serve only to add to a woman’s guilt. But like it or not, if I were in fact pregnant and I wanted to have an abortion, I would have had one. Because the 24-hour waiting period wouldn’t affect my bottom line in any way, shape, or form. My husband would be there to hold my hand the entire time. Hell, I’d probably even have my children with me. But not all women have the luxury of taking a full two days or have a support system in place to help.
Other states are worse than Pennsylvania. Everyone has focused on Texas and Senator Wendy Davis‘s filibuster regarding Rick Perry and his version of what kind of health care women in Texas should receive (hint: there’s a lot more at stake than abortions but it’s not “sexy” to focus on cervical cancer or that it really only will affect poor and/or minority women). Senator Davis did a remarkable job with her filibuster and was only ruled “out” after three very bogus strikes, but the Texas legislature at least put the bill to a vote . . . unlike a state that I was once proud to call my home. Because Ohio’s governor didn’t put it to a vote. He allowed it to be attached to the budget and quickly signed the whole package (although thankfully he did help out the spider monkeys and their owners by removing them from regulations: spider monkeys – 1, women – 0). So, Ohio women, welcome to the following:
- Want an IUD? Fuck you . . . it’s an abortion.
- Had a miscarriage and need a DNC? Fuck you . . . it’s an abortion.
- Still hellbent on getting an abortion? Fuck you . . . wait 48-hours.
- You were raped? Fuck you . . . only clinics that don’t mention abortion will get any money.
- Your life is in danger? Fuck you . . . Gov. Kasich decided what that means (and good luck if you are in danger because chances are it really isn’t danger according to the governor’s list).
There’s more, but really they all amount to a giant fuck you because clearly the governor knows better. People fixate on the abortions after 20 weeks and how horrible a woman must be to abort her baby that late in the game. I’ll let you in on a little secret: those are usually the most wanted pregnancies out there. They are a beyond gut wrenching decisions of all – a baby that you desperately want only to find out that nothing will be able to save the life of your unborn child and that continuing with the pregnancy would do nothing but cause more heartbreak for everyone.
I’m unabashedly pro-choice. Because every option should be available to women . . . have the child, find adoptive parents, terminate the pregnancy. Ultimately, it’s not my choice to make. It’s yours. And whatever choice you make, I’ll respect that. Because you are the one to live with the outcome. Not me. I made my choice 23 years ago, one that I have never, ever regretted. I’d seriously love to hear your points of view . . . just keep it civil.