Over 800 people marched down Main Street in Northampton, MA, on Saturday, October 2nd, banging the drums (literally) to protest the vicious assault on abortion rights underway in state legislatures, like Texas and Mississippi, and at the U.S. Supreme Court. There were hundreds of these marches around the country. https://www.npr.org/2021/10/02/1042707939/womens-march-abortion-protests-washington-texas
I was one of fifteen speakers at the post-march rally, most of them heroic local activists and all of them powerfully revved up for the fight. Dr. Shirley Jackson Whitaker gave a harrowing poetic eulogy for a friend who died from a botched abortion. Marisol Pierce Bonifaz and Edy Savage, two 15-year-olds from local high schools, made my heart pound with joy--their youth, their intensity, their deep insight that freedom begins with control over one's own body. Carrie Baker, Smith College professor, writer, and feminist thought leader, talked about the legal and extralegal movement to make abortion pills widely and cheaply available. As she said, if we can't count on government or the courts, we've got to do it ourselves. Every speaker was riveting.
I was the only one to talk about her own abortions, and. I was surprised to get a text later from a lawyer friend praising me for my courage. I told her it didn’t feel like it took any courage at all–no more than saying I had a BLT for lunch. I was kind of joking but really, what the hell is there to be ashamed or afraid of? I hate to think that the slimy, pious creeps who keep insisting that a fetus is a baby have managed to sleaze their indefensible sensibility into the minds of otherwise levelheaded people. I don’t blame anyone for being cautious–hey, these same creeps bully and threaten people, and the most fixated of them murder people. But for some reason--maybe because I was in Northampton, Massachusetts--I didn’t feel any fear. And I definitely don't feel any shame. What I feel is grateful.
Here's how I opened my 60-second speech.
"I’ve had two abortions, one in 1963 and one 20 years later. My first abortion was a crime. My second abortion was a constitutional right. I wrote this novel, Helen in Trouble, based on my experience in 1963, when pregnancy was capital punishment for unmarried girls who had sex and when a criminal abortion saved my life."
Roars of appreciation to Congresswomen Cori Bush, Barbara Lee and Pramila Jayapal for telling their stories to the world. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/30/congresswomen-personal-abortion-stories-cori-bush-barbara-lee-pramila-jayapal
Let's all start talking more about our abortions.