Your comments to Part 1 of this post on my jury duty have lent me courage.
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. (By the way, My Jury Duty Pt 3 is here.)
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.
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.
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?
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).”
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…
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?