Abortion

Grace is a beautiful thing. Basically I think grace means choosing not to act like an asshole when one might have a good reason to act like one. Grace is a window; righteous rage is a locked door, and this beleaguered nation seems to be making another turn toward gracelessness judging by the leaked draft of a Supreme Court document overturning Roe v. Wade.

I don’t like talking about abortion even though, right now, I am. I remember the heated arguments of the early 70s which were nearly as hot as the heated arguments over Vietnam. I’ve lived through the entire interval and all the continuing arguments and violence against clinics and doctors. People with money went to Mexico, people without? I remember the grim jokes when (and it happened) we’d see wire coat hangers beside the road, casualties of a house move gone wrong, but we’d say, “Uh-oh. Another illegal abortion.”

How this issue continued to be fought, debated, even murdered over is beyond me. Roe v. Wade should have put the whole question to rest so we could move on to all the huge problems in this nation that could be addressed through law, all the pressing concerns of our world. Instead, the Supreme Court is concerned with which government entity has the right to say what an individual woman (family, doctor) is and is not allowed to do with her own very private parts, her very private life.

Plenty of animals practice a kind of retroactive abortion — including bald eagles who deal with over population in their nest by letting the stronger chick eat its weaker brothers and sisters. Coots lay a LOT of eggs and then feed ONE chick. But humans? The vast vast vast majority of humans DON’T and never would use abortion as birth control.

While I have no direct experience, you don’t teach English to upwards of 10,000 post-adolescents, of whom at least 50% are female, without having more than one anguished office conversation about, “What do I do?” from a young woman who is afraid to tell her parents, doesn’t have parents, lives on the streets in her car.

“I can’t tell you what to do, Student. But I’ll listen. Then, I think you might want to go to counseling services and health services and talk to them. I’ll go with you.”

“OK.” Then I heard the whole story which almost always had little to do with the guy; everything to do with her fear, her poverty, her lack of preparation for her future, fear of the boy”friend,” her fear that she’d raise her child alone without any income, her fear that she and her baby would be living on welfare just the way she and her mom — who’d been a single mother — had. Some of the stories these girls told were harrowing.

Sometimes the story ended in a baby. Sometimes the story didn’t. Sometimes I didn’t learn the end of the story because the young woman dropped out of school. A few times the woman came to class bruised and battered from a difficult “conversation” with one of the two powerful men in her life.

I won’t even mention the extreme cases of rape, incest and the sick molestation of those unable to give consent to the sex act and are taken advantage of. I do know that NO woman goes into the decision to have an abortion a happy camper. “Whoopee! I’m having an abortion! Waaa-HOOO! Can’t wait!”

As I looked at those young terrified and confused women in my office, it was completely clear to me that of all beings? They should be given grace.

“I say móre: the just man justices; 
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces..”
Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”


Here’s a thoughtful analysis by historian and writer, Heather Cox Richardson. Whatever you have to do to read it, please do. https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-3-2022?s=r

51 thoughts on “Abortion

  1. This is excellent, Martha — I think you ought to send it to Colorado’s state and federal legislators at all levels, with as many additional signers as you can muster — I’ll definitely be on that list.

      • I understand! I have spent the entire morning looking for an answer about our up-comng primary election that nobody seems to know — should be an easy answer. When Harris became US Vice President, Padilla was appointed to complete her term in the Senate. We are now being asked to vote for Senator for the remainder of the term ending 1/2023 as well as for the following term ending 1/2009. Nobody knows why, and Padilla’s office can’t tell me because “it’s a campaign issue.” I’ve tried election offices, reps’ offices, governor’s office, and Padilla’s office — I don’t know who else to ask!

  2. I am too angry to write. I thank you for putting out the words that are stuffed into my chest and have tied up my stomach. I do know that I will be MUCH MORE active politically than I have every been. Someday, maybe, my stomach will loosen and my chest will clear–someday.

    • ❤ I'm very angry and very very very disappointed in the people of "my" country for being ignorant, unenlightened, holier-than-thou savages lacking in compassion and perspective. I'm also sad. I guess our hope lies in 1) maybe this won't be the final draft? 2) not every state is going to limit abortion rights 3) many companies have created policies that pay their employees if they must travel for an abortion. THIS is government overreach.

  3. I was there, too, and very pro-abortion at the time. I’ve heard the debates: Is a foetus part of a woman, or is this a separate life?

    I’ve watched with interest as this issue has played out through the years. One feminist said circa 1990, “Abortion was supposed to benefit the poor, but stats show middle- & upper-class women are far more likely to go this route.” One doctor said not so long ago that he could see the single pregnant teen; he had a lot more trouble agreeing when the upper-class working woman is seeking an abortion because being pregnant may spoil the holiday she & her spouse have planned. I’ve read about aborted babies born live and being killed by lethal injection, and partial-birth abortions: stabbing a baby in the brain as it’s being born.

    I worked with a girl who had an abortion at 15 and, at 18, was about to have another. I had a couple of friends who, in their teens, had abortions. The long-term result in all three cases was not good. Sterilization & some guilt. It’s just not a simple procedure –women should be made aware that there may be serious complications.

    We adopted our daughter, so I’m very thankful a young woman took the time to give her life. I know many young couples who ache to give a child a loving home. There are no simple answers and I can’t judge anyone for their choices. It’s a complex world.

    • Every person who seeks an abortion is an individual. I’m not judging anyone. And no one is “pro-abortion.” The most a person can be is pro the freedom to make that decision ones self. All the debates miss the point. It’s not about defining about what is and is not a human. Those arguments are distractions. Everyone knows that from the moment of conception a human is forming inside the uterus of the woman. That isn’t the question, but it’s been made a question. The question is something only answerable by an individual woman who will, whatever she does, live with the consequences of her decision. I don’t think any woman who enters into this decision thinks it’s “simple.” For that matter, giving birth can present serious complications. LIFE is NOTHING but serious complications, if you think about it, no matter how much we try to over-simplify something. In my role as a teacher, I never advocated for or against. I advocated for information, offered a caring but neutral ear, and listened. For me this issue is NOT about abortion. It’s about government control of something very, very, very private and personal.

  4. It angers me that men are making this decision, but it really makes my blood boil that women are not supporting other woman. Explaining this is like trying to talk to a supporter of ‘the big lie.’ You can’t get through and it all becomes a futile effort. Florida is there already. It is absolutely shameful.

    • Yep. My “representative” to Congress is very happy about this, and she trades on her youth and (marginal) beauty because she has no education and no ideas. You really cannot get through to these people about the erosion of human rights. I honestly don’t understand anything any more, if I ever did…

      • I was anxious to see the voting results from Ohio last night and was so sick to see JD Vance won. One voter had the damn gall to say, “I didn’t know who to vote for but Trump said, ‘Vance’ so that’s who I voted for.” What in the hell? We have become a people who cannot even think for ourselves. And then this leaks out. Where is our hope, Martha? What in the heck is going on?

        • SOME OF US have become people who cannot even think for THEMselves. I was discouraged to see Vance got the nomination — now we have to hope that disaffected Republicans abandon the party and don’t vote for him. (I emphasize the US and THEM only to indicate that I can’t include myself in the group that has become people who can’t think for themselves.)

          Personally, I have always found DJT so incredibly repulsive, even just physically, that never in a million YEARS would I do something because HE did it, I say that and a time or two I didn’t disagree with the guy.

          I think you might like following Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter. Her take and analyses on stuff is thoughtful and — because it’s intelligent — encouraging.

          https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com

  5. Your post is so spot on. I can’t agree with you more. What is happening to throw out all that has been accomplished…just can’t wrap my head around it. Life is not perfect or easy or simple. It’s a woman’s body. End of story. It is that simple. All that is messy in making decisions is part of being human and part of this too. Nobody else’s business to make that decision or judge what is right or what is wrong for anyone else. This (still) makes me furious.
    My daughter’s generation has taken this right for granted (she is 40) and now this. They have to fight the fight again for their daughters. Again. It breaks my heart.

  6. This is a beautiful post full of truth and grace. 💛I read Heather’s article as well. I saw the clips she wrote about on the news as well. To me this is not an argument of the conception of life. It’s about greed and overreaching power. I just get up and think each day, “what’s next?” I’ve already been ostracized because of my stance on our constitutional rights. I often think of the female students I’ve had and personal situations with family and friends. Abortions are not going to stop. We’re increasing the risk of a mother’s life too.

    • ❤ Nope, abortions are not going to stop. And truly, when I see a bent-out-of- shape wire coat hanger I think of abortion because that was a reality before Roe v. Wade. It's awful, but true. Back alley abortions killed people. I think this is part of the ongoing civil war in this country and I'm very sad.

  7. Will Congress work up a tiny bit of spine and pass useful legislation to mitigate this?

    Will Biden cowperson up and appoint two more justices?

    Will the pro-choice movement finally understand that the courts can be fickle friends? That their real opponents are the women in the prolife states who helped get Trump and a$$hat state officials elected and stop blaming the “patriarchy” for everything?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

    • It seems to me that .those women are participating members of the “patriarchy.” You know, like that smarmy female Supreme Court justice who was appointed toward the end of fuck wad’s term in “office.” So-called women like Boebert and Greene who ran on the “I’m a feisty firebrand who adores DJT because he’s a MAN and the messiah.” And then all the stupid fucks who seem to think that legal abortion is the same as mandatory abortion. Really the stupid people come out on this issue which is a very minor irrelevant issue except as over-throwing Roe v. Wade with the language the Alito has thrown at it affects other civil rights. I’m just hoping it galvanizes the resistance. I had the worst migraine yesterday and while it’s gone today, I’m so finished… Sigh.

    • P.S. Congress is working on legislation, but whether it’ll fly or not… And I think Biden needs to do just that. It could backfire down the road, but fuck. We don’t live down the road.

  8. As a person with no stake in what happens in your country, I have the feeling that the reason everyone there keeps having the same conversation without ever moving forward is that the 1% fund the politics that keeps a few emotive issues constantly on the boil. If you always have to keep getting angry about these, then you don’t get the time to think about other things that could really change circumstances.

    • You are exactly right (in my opinion). This is a political ploy to distract people from the fact that Biden’s administration has been adding jobs like crazy, the debt has gone down by billions, etc. and problems are being solved. BUT if the people looked there, well? I am 100% sure the document wasn’t “leaked” but rather it was given to the press by one of the politicized justices of the Supreme Court. It makes me think of Mao’s methods of keeping things stirred up…

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