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Bodily Autonomy

In 2018, a doctor moved into the Bond House. As fiery Southerners, we had an immediate kinship. She had moved to Boston from New York to start her OBGYN residency program. Four years. Four years is how long it would take to get the stamp of specialization approval. Four years of late nights, no sleep, cups of coffee, missed holidays, painful evaluations, surgeries, births, deaths, social work, relationship strain, love, despair, learning, teaching, and many, many sketches of vaginas. On Friday, at last, she was 1 of 4 residents to graduate from a prestigious program. On Friday, the United States Supreme Court stripped women and people who can become pregnant of their right to bodily autonomy. Fifty years down the drain. Our grandmothers’ legacy? Forget about it. The states decide. Because that always goes so well.

My friend is a doctor, a surgeon, and an advocate. She knows a lot about wombs and fetal health. She loves babies. She’s also told me a lot of scary stories about emergency abortions and miscarriages that make me never want to have children. She’s going to be a mother. I’m not sure she’s ever wanted anything more than a child, yet she’s performed (and will continue to perform) abortions because abortion is healthcare. It was devastating to see the lifesaving work she’s done for so many years come under attack in such a fundamental way.

When I went to Planned Parenthood to get an IUD a few years ago, it was so painful that I had to go to the recovery room. It’s a comfortable space with recliners, blankets, and those snap-activated heat packs. The nurses bring you anti-nausea medication and crackers. Mostly, they leave you alone to wallow. While I was there, a young woman was walked in and sat across from me. She was ashen-faced and looked exhausted. We made eye contact for a moment and then turned back into our respective pains. There was nothing special about either of us. Both of us came to the doctor and received care. That’s it. At the end of the day, we ate crackers and drank ginger ale out of tiny cans.

I’ve never had an abortion, but I know women who have. If I got pregnant and wasn’t ready for a baby or didn’t want one, I would have an abortion. If I didn’t live in a place where I could get an abortion, I would go anywhere to have it done. If I couldn’t go anywhere, I’d do my best to take care of the problem myself. If that didn’t work, who’s to say what I would do? If you take away my right to choose what I do with my life, you might as well put me down like the dog you must take me for.

Here’s the truth: Abortions will still happen as they always have; abortions will not be safe. Rich people and politicians will still have access to abortions when someone in their life gets pregnant with a baby they don’t want. People will die. People from marginalized communities will suffer even more.

That’s okay, though, isn’t it, Brett? Because, Brett, if you force the breeders to breed, you’ll have a source of machine-gun fodder and voters no matter the season. You won’t feed them or allow their parents the dignity to care for them, so you’ll blame someone else (someone poorer and darker, of course) for your choices. “Life is precious!” you’ll say. “The heretic should be burned at the stake! Better yet, firing squad. I’ll control your uterus, but I’ll be damned if you take my guns.” Damned, indeed. That’s the old song and dance. They’ll never get tired of that.

Dear friend in a state where you can’t make choices about your future: my home is open to you. Despite what people say, Massachusetts is nice any time of year. My house has a comfortable guest room and is close to such historic sites as the Freedom Trail and Planned Parenthood. I know the best places to eat and where to buy good wine, soft cheeses, and raw fish.

If you don’t think women deserve bodily autonomy, disrespectfully, I don’t care what you think. Nothing will change your mind. No amount of personal anecdote or logic or data will make you shift your perspective. “This is about the innocent!” you’ll cry, even though you truly do not care what happens to that fetus once it has been jettisoned from its mother’s body. It doesn’t matter that the abortion you or a relative got in secret was somehow morally just while everyone else is a sinner destined for Hell; you won’t change your mind about what this is about. This piece isn’t for you. Get the fuck off my website and burn some ants with a magnifying lens, you sociopathic piece of shit.

This is not open for discussion. I’m tired of being civil.

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