Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog for Choice 2013: Generations of Choices

Anonymous Guest Blogger (Harvard Law School, Law Students for Reproductive Justice) 
This post is part of Blog for Choice 2013, launched by Boston Students for Sexual and Reproductive Justice (BSSRJ).

I have been a Reproductive Justice activist since high school. In fact for someone who has never been pregnant, it’s sometimes funny to me how much my life revolves around others’ pregnancies and abortions. One of the odd things that comes with this work is being part of or learning about others’ private medical decisions – both on the abortion hotline I volunteered for, and because of people’s tendencies to share their own abortion, contraception, or pregnancy secrets with me. This includes my own family.
When I was 16 I helped organize a bus from New Jersey down to the March for Women’s Lives in DC. While my friends and I were coloring in our homemade signs, my grandmother called me up to the front of the bus where she was sitting.  She sat me on her lap, and began to tell me about the moment she found herself pregnant with my mother. At 20, she was newly married with few economic resources, and had a new baby, who was born premature after a pregnancy with several serious complications. She was terrified and felt unprepared to handle another pregnancy. The year was 1958, so with abortion illegal, she and my grandfather conspired with her parents to find a doctor who would give her an abortion in the hospital under the guise of a D and C (by the time they were able to schedule the procedure and wait for the date, my grandmother found her second pregnancy much easier than the first. So they did not go through with it, and my mother was born).
Eight years later, I called my mom on my way home from escorting at the Planned Parenthood down the street. I laughed to her, “This protestor kept asking me how I’d feel if my mother aborted me and to be thankful my mother that you didn’t have an abortion so I can be alive. Isn’t that ridiculous? If you aborted me, I wouldn’t really have an opinion, would I?” She responded, casually as she always does when she is revealing something important, “Well, you’re alive because I did have an abortion.” She was 15 and in an interracial relationship her parents did not approve of. Barely managing to avoid dropping out of high school, my mom knew that having a child was not an option for her. The year was 1974 – Roe had just become the law of the land and the Hyde Amendment was not in effect. So, her aunt and uncle brought her to the clinic, and she had a state subsidized abortion. She graduated high school, went to college and met my dad.
I was born in 1987, and my family started teaching me the importance of reproductive autonomy as earlier as I can remember. We talked about my privilege as a middle class white girl with understanding parents and access to health services, the importance of controlling one’s body to control one’s destiny, and their pride in my great-great-aunt, who had been a midwife in the Lower East Side before Roe and performed illegal abortions. But it wasn’t until I was in the Reproductive Justice movement that they began to sit me down and tell me just why it was so important to them.

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