Abortion is under threat of becoming illegal in the United States. Affordable health care -- including availability of birth control and prenatal care -- is becoming harder and harder to obtain. It feels as though womankind is under siege, with our ability to control our childbearing and our fertility slipping, slipping, slipping away through our fingers.
Here are a few thoughts.
I know multiple women who have had abortions. Each woman's story is unique, and not one made their decision lightly.
The college student who needed to finish her degree in order to be able to make a life for herself and her future children.
The young single woman whose strict family would have made her life a living hell for having an out-of-wedlock child.
The married woman whose fetus carried a severe genetic defect.
The married mother whose new pregnancy triggered a fast-growing gynecological cancer, who had to choose between trying to bring the pregnancy to term before dying, or terminating the pregnancy to receive treatment and live to see her toddler grow to adulthood.
The mother whose birth control failed just as she had begun a new fast-paced job that would enable her to dig herself out of the post-divorce financial hole.
These are just some examples. As I wrote them out, I found myself writing their explanations -- as if it is only acceptable to terminate a pregnancy for Certain Good Reasons. Yet: each woman has a Good Reason for herself. Whether her reason is a "good enough" reason for the rest of the world is immaterial.
So much shaming of women for being sexually active. "They should just close their legs."
Well, that's (disgusting) oversimplification.
Sex is part and parcel of the human condition; a vast majority of men and women have sex. I cannot speak to male motivations, only to female ones -- and women seek out sex for so many reasons. For intimacy, acceptance, a feeling of being loved and desired. For escape from the banality or difficulty of daily life. To please another person. A biological urge. Because when done right, it feels good. Because of pressure from peers, a lover, or a partner. Because they feel as if they have no choice. It's a complicated, multi-faceted decision, even when some of the choices are made subconsciously.
Why do lawmakers get to legislate what circumstances and reasons are acceptable for a woman to have sex? And why are they hell-bent on ensuring it is difficult for women to prevent (let alone terminate) pregnancy?
Women aren't getting pregnant by themselves.
Where are the men in the policing of sex? What is the impact on men? Simple: None. Men are always free to walk away; to refuse to acknowledge a pregnancy; to decline to pay child support; to ignore a child.
Why do men get a free pass, and women bear (literally and figuratively) all? And what is so threatening to them about women being able to choose when, and if, to give birth to a child, that it is being made increasingly difficult for women to do so?
We can exclaim that it is a power play based on a desire to keep women subservient. That might be true. There may be other reasons as well -- for example, a deep-rooted urge to control what other people do and don't do. Why? I do not know.
I can hardly bear to think about these things. They fill me with despair. And with fear for womankind.
For the road trip I mentioned earlier this week, I journeyed forth to Offspring the Third's college, helped him pack up his possessions, and returned home with him. He is relieved to be home. I am relieved on his behalf, that the grueling semester is over and he can relax and decompress.
When I arrived at his dorm suite, he was not yet there (he was helping a friend move an art project). I entered his bedroom in the suite, and looked around at his clutter and disarray. In truth, it was a little overwhelming to me -- I am not a visual person, and I find myself stressed by the sight of too many things all at once. Nevertheless, we were on a deadline to pack up and get out, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. He arrived shortly thereafter, and reviewed for his last final exam while I continued. He went and took his final exam and I began moving the packed bits into my vehicle. All told, it took about six hours to pack and empty the room. And then he was done.
As I packed, I thought about the level of faith that Offspring the Third has in me: he knew that I would not judge him for his mess or the multitude of his miscellaneous possessions; he trusted me to take care of the things that needed doing. And I did. I know how overwhelmed he has been. Doing this act of service was an act of love.
I'm sure I've made mistakes as a parent -- it's inevitable, when navigating the mysterious waters of raising another human being while being a fallible human being oneself. Nevertheless, I hope that I have succeeded in teaching them that when they are overwhelmed by a task at hand, I will pitch in and help them get through. I'm not here to judge them for being anxiety-laden or sad or overwhelmed or paralyzed by uncertainty or exhaustion: the rest of the world will do that. I'm here to be their backup; to be a safe place to land.
The world can be a cold, hard place. Everyone needs a place of safety. As long as I can, I shall be a sheltering tree for those I love.
I lay down in the grass this evening. I am tired, physically and mentally (see previous posts on the difficulties of May), and the grass was just right for rejuvenating. The small dogs were a bit perplexed, and stayed nearby. The moon was a pale orb looking down. It was nice.
NinjaHead resides with a sesquipedalian woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains solely a minuscule and rather cranky middle-aged chihuahua. Someday, there will be more critters, for she loves them tremendously.