My Abortion Story + Jury Service Pt 2

Your comments to Part 1 of this post on my jury duty have lent me courage.

On Olvera Street, you can buy stuff like these Calaveras-style (skeleton) caricatures and plush versions of Mexican pastries. Photo by da-AL.
On Olvera Street, you can buy stuff like these Calaveras-style (skeleton) caricatures and plush versions of Mexican pastries. Photo by da-AL.

In posts and comments here and elsewhere, I often mention the importance of blogging, how delighted I am that social media and our freely commenting allow us to become closer to each other. The simpler it is for people to express themselves into the ethers, the smaller our the world becomes. When we speak from our hearts and personal experience, we see we all need each other and that every single one of us linked in doing our best to get by each day.

All that, and still I left out a vital bit of my own story last time. In that post, “My Jury Duty Pt 1 + Infidel753 Works for Justice and Freedom to Choose,” guest blogger Infidel753 told of his experience as a volunteer for an abortion clinic. As a “pro-choice escort,” he navigated women past the intimidation efforts of anti-choicers. As a result, some readers were inspired shared their views on abortion rights.

Pico House, across from downtown Los Angeles' historic Olvera Street. Photo by da-AL.
Pico House, across from downtown Los Angeles’ historic Olvera Street, was built in 1870. Photo by da-AL.

My Story

When I was in my mid-20s, I terminated two pregnancies. Within the same year, I got pregnant twice, each time using different forms of birth control. At the time, I’d been living with a boyfriend since I was 18, a sweet, intelligent man I loved dearly.

We were surviving on sporadic work, earning hardly above minimum wage. For that and many more reasons, I didn’t feel like I could give a child the kind of start on life that I would have wanted.

The procedures were expensive and weren’t covered by my health insurance. Each was horribly painful. Afterward, I ran fevers of 104 and was forced to take days off from work, which I could barely afford.

The picturesque old church across from Olvera Street. Photo by da-AL.
The picturesque old church across from Olvera Street. Photo by da-AL.

Fortunately…

I had a kind lover to help me through. Never have I regretted my decisions.

In addition, in my 30s, I was sexually assaulted. Good luck, as if the term can apply to any part of such a trauma, is the only reason I didn’t get pregnant.

Throughout, I’ve enjoyed sheer fortune. What I mean is, the freedom to choose is easy for lucky women, regardless of laws. Those to whom life offers stepping stones and opportunities, circumstances that allow them respectable status and money — they can always spend enough to choose when and if they have children.

Part of the fun of jury duty was walking the local sights, like these stalls of Olvera Street. Photo by da-AL.
Part of the fun of jury duty was walking the local sights, like these stalls of Olvera Street. Photo by da-AL.

Choice

When people are eager to control others, they often interject comments about the for people to “be held accountable.” Their fingers continually point, and always away from themselves.

When we kid ourselves that we know what’s better for our neighbor, it’s easy to view the world as “them” vs. “us.” It’s not so very long ago when United States medical officials decided it was ok to pretend to treat black people for syphilis when really they were studying the full progression of the disease. (Check out that real life horror out here.)

If a woman is resource-poor, network impoverished, lacking in status, uneducated, plain ol’ poor and any of the rest of the often insurmountable challenges life can present — the option to decide whether she bears children is often beyond reach.

What if you’re very young and your family is the opposite of a Hallmark card? What if you’re not emplyed? Or your job doesn’t provide insurance and sick days? What if the rape was more than you could bear? And you don’t want the added burdens of facing the police, defending your reputation as well as your case, can’t afford a good lawyer, and don’t want to confront whoever assaulted you in court?

It was closed when I strolled by, but here’s where you can go up to see a David Alfaro Siqueiros (one of Mexico's greatest muralists) mural that was hidden for many years. Photo by da-AL.
It was closed when I strolled by, but here’s where you can go up to see a David Alfaro Siqueiros (one of Mexico’s greatest muralists) mural that was hidden for many decades. Photo by da-AL.  

Accountability and Responsibility

What if, what if, what if? No, it’s no one’s business why or how many times any woman has an abortion.

When statistics tally how many people consider abortion acceptable, they sidestep the real question. What begs to be asked is whether government is entitled to rule the female body.

It is neither your right nor mine to decide who gets abortions, to force anyone to get sterilized, or to force them to bear a child.

What is your business and mine is this: it’s their body. End of story.

Is it still legal to get an abortion?

How sad that anyone needs to ask. Mercifully, the answer in the United States is yes, in good measure due to the work of Planned Parenthood.

The organization offers all kinds of affordable health care, mostly but not all concerning reproductive health, to all genders, all ages, all over the world. Interestingly, in 1970, President Richard Nixon signed into law funding for family planning services, Planned Parenthood included. According to Wikipedia, Nixon decreed, “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

Remember, however, it’s not enough to win our rights — we must continually work to retain them. Unfortunately, the right to choose is continually endangered by anti-choicers.

Need proof we can’t rest on our laurels? According to Wikipedia, here’s what happened elsewhere: “Poland is one of the few countries in the world to largely outlaw abortion after decades of permissive legislation during Polish People’s Republic. About 10-15% of Polish women seek abortion in neighbouring countries due to the strict restraints in their own country. Poland’s abortion law is one of the most restrictive in Europe, along with a group of other traditionally Roman Catholic countries of the region (Malta, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Vatican, Monaco and Andorra).”

In non-Covid-19 times, the plaza at the mouth of Olvera Street is filled with performers and audiences. Photo by da-AL.
In non-Covid-19 times, the plaza at the mouth of Olvera Street is filled with performers and audiences. Photo by da-AL.

What about Pt 2 of my jury duty?

It was a holiday weekend, so we all stayed home that Monday.

Since my car was in the shop, on Tuesday my husband lent me his car. Ten minutes away from home, his “check engine” light blinked on.

Fortunately (a word I don’t use lightly, as explained several headings ago), I had another car I could borrow. My mom lives with us and she was away visiting my brothers who live in different states. Can one take a vacation when one is retired? Regardless, her generosity allowed me to continue jury duty, albeit half an hour tardy that day.

Today’s post was an emotional one and it took a lot out of me so I’ll leave off here and fill you in on the rest of my jury service next time…

Here's one entrance to the Olvera Street outdoor mall. Photo by da-AL.
Here’s one entrance to the Olvera Street outdoor mall. Photo by da-AL.

In the meantime, since the courthouse was in the Los Angeles Historic District, these photos are of Olvera Street. I walked there during our lunch break. According to Wikipedia, it’s “been the main square of the city since the early 1820s, when California was still part of Mexico, and was the center of community life[ until the town expanded in the 1870s.”

How much control do you want your government to have over your body?

42 thoughts on “My Abortion Story + Jury Service Pt 2

  1. Da’al, I admire your courage in sharing your abortion story and your determined voice in the rights of women to make their own choices.

    My grandmother came from a tiny shtetl in Poland to the United States in the early 1900’s. She escaped the violence of Eastern Europe that plagued the Jewish communities and kept them poor and frightened. I’ve never been able to find the details about how she came here other than it was on a ship that docked at Ellis Island. She married young, to another Polish Jewish immigrant, and was pregnant within their first year of marriage. She bore 7 children and suffered two abortions at the hands of what she could afford – a street abortionist. It’s probable that she also had miscarriages. She had many health issues, including a terrible car accident that gravely injured her and killed two other pedestrians. She died when she was about 50. Though she died when I was 26 months old, I remember her as a loving, sweet grandmother who couldn’t wait to hold me in her arms and call me sweet names in Yiddish. She made decisions that allowed her to feed her 7 living children but she loved all of them, even those she could not afford to bear. I will always consider my grandmother to be a woman of courage, faith, and honor.

    Thank you for letting me tell her story.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, most women who are past 50 or 60 like me, know that life doesn’t always happen as we wish.
    People describe in comments everything as a terrible trauma, it might be, and it might be not if we move past it. I don’t know where I’d be if always dwelling on what happened at some point. I’ve has a horrible share of everything, just never attached trauma to that. Back then, up to 2000 and in soviet Latvia, nobody ever mentioned something like that, you just lived on and eventually forgot about that.
    It is very much worth to stand up and not allow anybody to control somebody’s life. Women have been there often when all kinds of laws put all kinds of restrictions on them. I remember what happened when abortions were prohibited: women went to illegal nurses or doctors, still got the thing done, but many of them got horrible infections, became disabled and sometimes simply blead out. No shortage of decision makers when it comes to somebody else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sadly, very true, Inese. as far as trauma, labeling it, dealing with, etc is very personal as well & we have no right to judge others as well — I try to assume we’re all doing our best…

      Like

  3. Oh da-AL, I’m so sorry for what you went through at such a young age, too. I can see why the circumstances weren’t what you would have wanted for a child, even with a man you loved dearly. It seems, to me at least, a painful insult that women have to then go through not being able to afford the procedures for termination, the judgement from others or the need to keep it all secret, and the hideousness of the procedures themselves, all during what must be a very emotional time.

    While I’m glad no pregnancy arose in your 30s after the assault, I’m so very sorry that happened to you. I’m angry reading this, angry you were subject to such a vile act. And yet despite your experiences, you are a beautiful soul with a heart kind and compassion and humour.

    I’ve got to say, I’m unaware of the syphilis treatment events. I’ll take a read of that story in a minute so thank you for linking to it.

    What I think it so often sadly boils down to, such as in the case of abortion laws, is that the people making the decisions are narrow-minded, often men and often those who won’t be hurt by the fallout of their decisions.

    Sending hugs your way,
    Caz xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • your kind words are much appreciated, dear Caz. I suspect you’re right… & in addition sadly, women can be each other’s worst oppressors, of themselves as well as of their fellow women

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is so brave of you to share your story, da-AL!! This is not an easy subject to talk about, nor an easy topic to explain, because it is so deeply personal, and the complexities of these choices are known only by the individual woman who is affected by them. We need quite a bit more understanding in the world regarding the painful experiences human beings endure, and quite a lot less moralizing and judgement about the choices people make. It is people like you, da-Al, who courageously share your stories, who help educate us all, and hopefully make us more understanding and empathetic. And I am so sorry that you were sexually assaulted earlier in life. This is, to me, one of the worst crimes a person can inflict on another. Until we can eliminate this type of violence, no one has any moral authority (and certainly not a politician or a priest) to be telling someone they have no right to make decisions about their own body. For them, it’s not about “the child” (if it was, they would be doing far more to prevent abuse, sexual exploitation, hunger, poverty, and war, that so many children around the world endure every day). No…For them, it is an issue of power and control. And that is not their right. Thank you for sharing your story – and thank you for being YOU! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My dear, this was a terrible read, not the abortions, for which you don’t owe anybody an explanation, but the assault. This must be a trauma that one would never completely shake off. Unfortunately there is still the prevailing attitude that the fault must be with the woman, even women think that way, it is unfathomable. So I do understand, when assault victims don’t want to go through a trial.
    Let me give you a big hug, dear DA-AL … ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Have you read Jodi Picoult’s A Spark of Light? It is about abortion. I include my review in case it is helpful to readers.
    I have been reading books by Jodi Picoult for many years and especially enjoyed Salem Falls and Plain Truth. When I read Leaving Time, I felt that the usual twist at the end was more of a trick. I also did not enjoy small great things, probably because it was so difficult to read about the Aryan supremacists. So…I wasn’t sure what I would find when NetGalley and the publisher so kindly gave me an ARC of this book.

    Ok, the drought is over! I found a spark of light to be a well-crafted, character based story. As was true in Nineteen Minutes, Ms. Picoult helps the reader to empathize with those who represent all sides of a complex moral and societal issue. There are many in the story: an abortion clinic owner, a nurse, an artist, an elderly woman, a young girl seeking birth control, a person in need of an abortion, a doctor, protesters, infiltrators, a hostage negotiator and more. Each of their stories is told in a narrative going backward in time. Interconnections between characters become clearer as the reader turns the pages.

    The primary setting is an abortion clinic that is under siege. It remains unclear who will live and who will not. There are some surprises at the end.

    The book is heavily researched. The reader will learn a lot about restrictions, types of terminations, pregnancy counseling, etc. Some times these felt a bit heavy handed but then I imagined what it might be like if I were a young girl and this was the one place that I could find a lot of facts.

    I highly recommend a spark of light. It will make you care and it will make you think.

    Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks for the heads up — yes! — I haven’t read any of her work, but I’m totally on board with your belief in fiction. too many people opt for non-fiction, as if that’s a more constructive use of one’s time, yet novels teach us compassion in ways that other formats can’t 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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