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The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

It has come down to this, folks.

Link to an article that links to instructions for a Dilation and Curettage.

South Dakota has passed their draconian anti-abortion law. Considering that Mississippi and Indiana are mulling similar laws in committee, with several other red states "exploring" similar legislation, and that conservatives have tipped the balance of the Supreme Court, it's looking more and more that this information needs to be disseminated. Here is another link.

This is bullshit. Women shouldn't need to know this stuff. Women should be able to go to a friendly, understanding health care provider, in complete confidence, and get this sort of thing done safely and effectively. None of us wants to go through this. No woman I know takes abortion lightly. Hell, I don't even like going to get a pap smear. But it's good to know that in the State of California my right to safe and legal abortion is protected. However, California is a wonderful Pacific blue. Safe, legal and RARE is a good frame.

However, women will get abortions. Safe or not safe. Abortion was once illegal even here. Let me tell you a story, which I also told on Daily Kos.

There is still a little pale brown spot on the steps at Hamilton High in Palms, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.

One day in the mid-1980s, when my mother and I were both living under my maternal grandmother's roof, we took a walk together. She steered me to the steps of Hamilton High, on Robertson Blvd.

She pointed at a pale brown spot. "This is where a girl died."

"Was she shot? Was she stabbed?"

"No, she aborted herself in the girls' bathroom."

Apparently a classmate of my mother's had gotten "in trouble." Palms has always been a working-class neighborhood, even though it's very close to Beverly Hills.

Back in the late 1950s, women hadn't many options with regard to dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. If you had sympathetic parents and lots of money, you could find an OB/GYN you could persuade to do a "therapeutic D&C." That was the Beverly Hills way. If you had sympathetic parents but you weren't well-heeled, you took the trip South of the Border to Tijuana, where although abortions were as illegal there as they were here, they could be had.

If you didn't have sympathetic parents you did it yourself. Knitting needles. A stretched-out coat hanger. Drinking noxious chemicals. Douching with noxious chemicals. Throwing yourself down a flight of stairs. Maybe the Curandera down the street could give you Tansy or Pennyroyal or Cohosh or a combination of the same as an "emmenagogue." Or you tell your unsympathetic parents, and they send you away to a "Home for Unwed Mothers" where you had your child away from home and from the scrutiny of your neighbors.

Anyway, the girl had aborted herself, and was hemmorhaging horribly. She panicked, ran out of the main building of the high school, tripped over a step and fell. She died there, on the steps, in a pool of blood. The firefighters didn't get there in time to save her. The coroner took her body away.

A few years later, my mother married her first husband. He was an aspiring actor with James Dean looks and a beatnik soul. He was also bisexual. One afternoon, my maternal grandfather stopped by their apartment, and discovered the aspiring actor in bed with another man. Say what you will about gay rights and the closet and so on, but this had been a secret life the guy hid from my mother. After my grandfather gave him and his friend what-for, a petition for annulment was filed with Family Court. The annulment was easily obtained, because the marriage was entered into under something less than total candor.

However, this didn't stop my mom from being pregnant by the guy. She didn't want to carry the baby to term, because she felt violated by the betrayal of trust and of the fledgling marriage. She took the trip to Tijuana like many other women did. She told me "It was a frightening, frightening experience. Somehow God protected me through it, and I was able to have you when I was in a real marriage."

She was shaking and in tears by the time she finished speaking. "I want you to realize these days weren't so long ago. I want you to know how lucky you are to live during a time where safe and legal birth control and safe and legal abortion is available. And I want you to fight if they ever get serious about turning the clock back."

When I'm in the neighborhood, I often go back to those steps, where there still is a pale brown spot on them. I think about my mother, and what she went through. I think about that poor girl who didn't make it. And I think about the current generations of girls for whom this might become a reality again.

Think about this when the pro-death motherfuckers start sleazing around your state legislatures plotting similar.

And think of the women and girls who will suffer similar fates in the red states where this is either reality or on its way to being reality.