Sunday, May 19, 2019

We Can Control Ourselves*

Revolutionary (Angela Davis) 1972, Wadsworth Jarrell at Soul of a Nation
The Broad Museum, Los Angeles

To understand how any society functions you must understand the relationship between the men and the women.
Angela Davis 

It's a rainy Sunday morning in Los Angeles, and I'm listening to Erik Satie because it goes well with rain, with melancholy and gentleness. Last night, Carl and I went out with our friends Jason and Leah. Jason is the co-host of our podcast Who Lives Like This?! and given the intimate conversations we've had together and with the wide array of guests on the show, I feel as if I have known him and his wife for far longer than two years. We met downtown at the Broad Museum to see Soul of a Nation, the work of 60 artists that explores "the historical and cultural influences that define their unique approaches to Black art both as a vehicle for change and an expression of self-exploration." ( It was a thrilling exhibit with a wealth of female artists, most of whom were new to me.

Carolyn Mims Lawrence, Black Children Keep Your Spirits Free

What a weird week of near paralyzing stupidity from the southern states and the Republican party and the religious right. I'm repelled, for once, by the snark of memes, by jokes and satire, my ordinary easy and dogged sense of humor replaced by rage. There's no hilarity in cruelty and oppression, in the stripping of women's rights, in the muscle of the white patriarchy and gross subversion of what it means to honor and protect life. Oliver donated to a woman's reproductive health clinic, unprompted by me. Henry said that he was thinking of volunteering as an escort at a health clinic, but he was afraid he wouldn't be able to control his own anger.

The word channel. Channel your anger, I told him, even as I have to channel my own.

Donate HERE.

* I imagine I have readers who agree with what's going on, and I have no conciliatory words for you. The following words are from an ultrasound technologist, though, a confirmed source -- perhaps you will be moved in your tiny minds.
Abortion issues
So here’s the thing:
This Alabama abortion ban is a big deal, in a very bad way. Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky… I’m looking at you too, but we’re going to focus on Alabama. If you’ve been living under a rock, let me catch you up. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey just signed a total abortion ban into law, the most restrictive law in the United States. The law will ban abortion at every stage of pregnancy for every reason.
This is not OK, not reasonable, and definitely not acceptable.
If you don’t know me well, maybe you don’t know what I do for a living. I’m an ultrasound technologist. My colleagues and I look at babies in every stage of pregnancy every day. I also work in a high risk unit. My unit and I look at babies and mothers in varying states of mental and physical health. If you think an abortion ban sounds good, then I am a good person to ask about why it isn’t.
So, let me tell you:
• About the woman whose baby developed with no skull, and the brain just floating around. Her baby still had a heartbeat, and she would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman whose baby has a rare chromosomal condition called T13. Her baby’s organs grew outside its body, and had a cleft palate so bad that there was no nose. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman whose blood pressure is spiking so high that she passes out and is likely to stroke out before her baby is born. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman with such a severe form of hemophilia that giving birth will probably be fatal to both her and the baby. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the 13-year-old whose school isn’t allowed to teach her science-based sex-education, so she didn’t know how to prevent pregnancy or STIs, but whose body is not developed enough to carry to term without being damaged. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman who was raped by a "friend" who wanted to “make sure she got home safely.” She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman who has PCOS, so only has periods every 3-4 months and can’t find a birth control that works for her. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman whose abusive partner removed the condom without telling her (it’s called stealthing, and it happens more frequently than you’d think). She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman with the cornual ectopic pregnancy that isn’t reliably in the uterus, and could grow to a size that will kill her. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman who has two kids she can barely feed already, and whose birth control just increased in price. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the 18-year-old who just started college and is going to be the first graduate of the family if she can just stay in school. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the woman whose IUD slipped slightly, and is now endangering both her and the pregnancy it was designed to prevent. She would not be able to access abortion.
• About the many, many, many women who just don’t want to be pregnant for reasons that are their own. Health issues, abusive relationships, financial issues, social issues. They would not be able to access abortion.
Some of these might sound like reasonable exceptions to you. And you would be correct. But no one should get to decide what happens with another person’s body, not even to save a life. You need written permission from a corpse before life-saving organs can be taken from them. You cannot be forced to donate blood, no matter how dire the situation. And no one else should get to decide what a woman does with her body -- end of story.
But it’s not the end of the story, is it? Because here’s the kicker: If you consider abortion to be a murder (and some people genuinely believe that!) then miscarriage can be second degree murder. And this is already happening all over the world -- El Salvador, Ecuador, and the U.S. Women are being jailed for miscarriages and stillbirths because they "might have done something to cause it." If you start down this path of jailing women and doctors for making healthcare decisions that affect no one but themselves, then you get women who don’t go to a doctor for a safe procedure, and instead order pills online or use whatever metal instruments they can find to end their own pregnancies. Women who are honestly experiencing a miscarriage (which is medically called a "spontaneous abortion," just FYI) will not go to their doctor for help. They will bleed out on their bathroom floors or die of septic shock. And I haven’t even talked about how this will disproportionately affect women of color, LGBTQA+ women, or trans men. This isn’t about the “sanctity of life” anymore. It’s about controlling women.
We can control ourselves.


  1. There have been so many, many heart-wrenching stories and examples of why abortion needs to be safe and legal and the ones you've shared here are some of those. But you know what? I am sick of women having to come forth with these experiences which they must wrench from their souls and present to the world as reasons that abortion should be legal.
    Sick of them.
    The bottom line is this- NO WOMAN SHOULD HAVE TO DEFEND HER CHOICE TO GET AN ABORTION. In fact, she shouldn't have to share that reason with anyone. Not even the man who got her pregnant as far as I'm concerned. Her body, her choice. Wasn't Roe v. Wade decided as a right to privacy issue?
    Why should a woman have to go through the experience again to defend herself and the right to choose?
    She shouldn't have to.
    I'm pretty sure that almost every woman who ever gotten an abortion went through some sort of great and difficult process to decide that this was not the right time for her to bring a baby into the world. Why would anyone think that this is a casual decision? And see? Now I'm doing it too.
    Her body. Her choice. Period. That's it. And if these lawmakers can't understand that trying to legislate what a woman can and cannot do with her own uterus is a form of slavery then why should we expect them to understand what an ectopic pregnancy is? While we lambast a senator for using the phrase "consensual rape" we need to get more directly to the point- A WOMAN'S CHOICE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM.
    I'm sorry. I am just so fucking angry.
    And you're right- we have to find ways to channel that because if we don't, it'll eat us up and make us unfit to fight.
    Let me add that if women want to share their stories to try and educate people, that's fine and I admire them tremendously. But they should not have to. Not when it happened, not now, not ever.
    Anyway, that's what I think.

    1. Everything Mary just said. I'm so angry, horrified, disgusted....just fucking furious....I don't know how to handle it. If a human being doesn't have the ultimate say over what happens to their OWN GODDAMN BODY then are we even fully human? According to these GOP evangelistic nutjobs women are not fully human and are under the dominion of men. Well, FUCK THAT.

      Sputtering here. Sorry.

    2. I agree -- with all of the above. How men think this is any of their business is perplexing (and enraging) to me.

  2. The ultrasound Tech's words were profound. It is about controlling Women and the majority of Women would be unanimous in agreeing that Yes, we can control ourselves!

  3. Grassroot efforts everywhere give me hope. The Yellowhammer Fund gives us something we can do to help make sure that there is a place where a woman can obtain a safe and legal abortion until this retrograde trend against a woman's right to choose runs its terrible course.

  4. All those stories and cases listed by the ultrasound technologist mean nothing, absolutely nothing to those who introduced these new cruel laws. I lived in Ireland during the 1980s and that's what the situation was - until last year when Ireland voted to repeal these laws.

    I can tell you - and I think you know - this has nothing to do with individual cases of suffering, nothing that could be influenced by medical expert surveys or learned opinions or even legal decisions, no this is meant to Put Women Down. This is meant to show us who is boss, this is meant to intimidate, to scare us.
    But possibly/hopefully also: this is the last gasp of (frightened) old white men.

  5. Speechless. America, land of the free? What a joke.

    Greetings from London.

  6. Thanks, Elizabeth. Here it is. This is why the fundamental Christians voted for the current POTUS, holding their noses. And this 'cause' was cooked up by the Republicans years ago to rile up the populace. Here we are.

    I agree with all the comments. I've worked with women and their reproductive rights all my life. I've worked in two abortion clinics and I've delivered hundreds of babies. I've provided birth control to hundreds more. Birth control fails. Women are raped and violated. Mothers become dreadfully ill when they are pregnant and sometimes those illnesses are life threatening. And there are babies whose lives will be brutal and short because of genetic and developmental errors. What is happening is so horrifying and dangerous and wrong. And heartbreaking.

    I feel ill for all vulnerable women. This is a disaster.

  7. The sublime art and the profane abortion bans. These laws are about creating women as an underclass, unable to challenge the power and authority of men, and they can all go fuck themselves if they think we are going to let it happen. I am so furious I can't even see straight. Thank you for your anger, and for raising boys who know how to channel their anger, too.



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