My Body, My Self

-FASHION STYLIST & CREATIVE DIRECTOR-

Image courtesy of: http://elizabethajomale.tumblr.com/post/106274743769

“Embedded in the American Constitution was the right to privacy. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well- meaning but without understanding.”  ~ Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

What is women’s fundamental freedom?

PRIVACY

Our stories are personal and parallel

Reproductive and Sexual

It is my mother’s in 1962: Age 24

Whose kidney disease left her unable to bear more children

BECAUSE IT WOULD KILL HER

When abortion was illegal

No option for a tubal ligation

Instead she was placed on medication

THE PILL

It is my mother’s in 1981: Age 43

A missed period and a pregnancy scare

When abortion was legal

An inevitable decision she would have had to make if the results had been positive

BECAUSE IT WOULD KILL HER IF SHE DIDN’T

It is mine in 1998: Age 37

  Mother of two beautiful boys

Abortion is legal

BUT

Loud, violent, deadly protests

Fierce and frightening gauntlets

form to block entrances to care

I fear a failure of birth control

An accidental pregnancy

I want a permanent procedure

The experience felt like a Prohibition speakeasy:

sordid and secretive,

a place of secret codes and knocks.

Why is it that we vainly celebrate,

freely flaunt,

and strongly sanctify,

men’s sexual freedom and prowess

without risk of consequences?

They have unconstrained access to

inexpensive condoms,

erectile dysfunction medications,

and vasectomies.

 While women’s vaginas and uteruses

are held under lock and key

by legislative laymen

intent on keeping women either virtuous or vilified.

WE WANT A SENSE OF OUR OWN AGENCY!

A woman’s right to privacy begins and ends with her body.

A woman’s body is her house.

She has a right to stand her ground

against all unwanted intruders

whose sole aim is to take away

her freedom, safety and privacy.

 

Day 9: Much of this poem has been lifted from a speech I gave before the state Constitutional Review Commission last spring. There had been an attempt by the Religious Right to amend the right to privacy.  All State Supreme Court cases involving abortion had hinged on this fundamental right. Thankfully,  the  Commission decided not to take up their attempt at an amendment. However, this legislative session and new governor are bent on restricting access to care for all women. As I write this, bus loads of advocates have driven to the state capital to lobby against proposed legislation related to further restrictions. Interestingly, the quote from Justice Brandeis was from a case about Prohibition!

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