Watching Rachel Maddow recount the views of many Republican candidates who emerged from last night’s primaries, I realized that most of you, younger than I, grew up taking the right of a woman to choose for granted. But the current crop of Republican candidates for the fall elections does not. Many of them believe a woman should have to bear her child even after a rape. Most don’t believe in abortion for women with serious illnesses.Their goal is 100% live births. And one of them believes in convenant marriage — no divorce ever. (Although I don’t always agree with Rachel Maddow, I have learned to trust her research.)
But you are not outraged. And that’s because you don’t seriously believe this right will be taken away. To you, it was always there.
Let me tell you a story.
Just after I graduated from college, I was working at a publishing company and Carol, the girl at the next desk, with whom I used to eat lunch, got pregnant by a married dentist. This was in the “Mad Men” days, and it was an overwhelming situation from which I distanced myself, having no counsel to offer. She wasn’t even a good friend, just an office buddy.
And then she told me she had arranged to get an abortion in New Jersey, and she asked me to come with her. I said yes, because although I never imagined that I, a “good little girl,” would ever be in that position, I felt sorry for her. Meaning I was glad it wasn’t me this time.
We had to take the subway to a place where we were picked up by a “nurse” and driven to a place we were not allowed to see the outside of. We were driven around the back. No one even gave us the address, just the directions. We were both young, about 21, and we were terrified.
When we got inside the dark building, they took Carol away from me into a back room. I waited, afraid to breathe. When she came back, she was pale and silent, but stoic. She was so proud of herself, and she thought she had made the married dentist happy. He paid the bill, although he wasn’t there, in cash up front.
We got back on the subway, and Carol began to bleed. She bled all over the subway, all the way home. By the time we got off, she was almost too weak to stand, and we got in a taxi to her house. I was freaked out. I had no idea what to do. She called the dentist to ask what to do.
She did not die, but it was very close. There was no 911, so I called the hospital nearby. They told me what to do for her, and said she should come in. They took her in, and I went home, terrified, and told my parents.
Days later, Carol came back to work, depressed and miserable. Soon after, I went back to graduate school, where I forgot about it all until I got pregnant myself nearly ten years later. And then, although I was not married either, and the father of the child still was, I had the baby. And became an abortion rights activist. Just seeing someone have an illegal abortion made me one, even though I never had an abortion myself.
Years later, when I was a foster mom, my sixteen-year-old foster child got pregnant. I marched her down to Planned Parenthood, where they gave her the “morning after” pill. I never even asked permission of the agency that licensed me. I had seen enough. She is now a mother herself, but at age 26, and she still thanks me for taking her to Planned Parenthood that day.
Life is complicated, women. Protect your rights. Believe me, you won’t want to be without them.