MY ABORTION STORY
WHY I AM A PRO-CHOICE SUPPORTER AND ALWAYS WILL BE
I’ve never had an abortion. I am a man. A guy. A gay guy. So, I don’t have the proper internal equipment to become pregnant, although I have to say that my partner does a decent job of trying three or four times a week! Well, except for those periods when we have been separated for a couple of months and upon reunification his impregnation attempts dramatically increase! And no way am I going to discourage him from his attempts anytime soon! (Should I tell him the truth?) But I digress.
As most of you know, I am very much a Pro-Choicer in the scheme of things. Yes, abortion is bad. It's a decision that I am thankful that I will never have to make (partner's attempts notwithstanding!) and one that has to be one of the most difficult, gut-wrenching, shame-inducing decisions that a woman will ever make. I have posted several pieces about the current Red State attacks on funding for Planned Parenthood around the country including one the just the other day. ("I was Wrong") the latest chapter in the war on legal abortion was the House Committee on Government Oversight recent hearings brought to us courtesy of that right wing, freedom loving, champion of women’s rights, Tea Bagger Congressman from Utah, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). The fact that only Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood was subjected to the grilling by Chaffetz and the other Right Wing Members of the Committee, I found the whole pretty amusing as the hearing sort of collapsed upon itself from the calm, cool and intelligence of Planned Parenthood's CEO. After all, even the multitudinous although ultimately foolish and futile Benghazi Hearings, featured a wide array of folks sitting before Darrell Issa (R-CA), the House Committee on the Judiciary, House Committee on the Armed Services, House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, Senate Select Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senate Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senate Select Committee on the Armed Services and, FINALLY, the Clinton Ball Buster of them all: Senator Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) 12 hour grilling from the dais of Senate Select Committee on Benghazi.
But the Chaffetz hearings - like the Gowdy hearings - grilled a single female for hours (and featured the display of patently bogus charts and other propaganda props) but not any of the folks who actually created the bogus “Planned Parenthood Sells Baby Parts for Profit” videos that so enchanted Chaffetz, The Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party and Right-To-Lifers-Until-Actual-Birth conservative minions around the nation.
But I digress. Again.
Flashback to 1967. I was an undergraduate student on a path to snag a Bachelor of Architecture Degree at Howard University (yes, I am White, but that’s a whole other story for a different time) and decided to take a public speaking course as a lark and a break from my required Structural Analysis, Physics for Dummies (it was a special section for folks who were not science majors, met at 7:30 Saturday mornings in one of those multi-tiered arenas that held maybe 500 students, was freezing cold and was taught by a aged professor who stood about 10 centimeters away from a blackboard as he scribbled some hieroglyphics resembling formulas and notations that none of us could see much less decipher) and the other less than scintillating subject matter that I was required to take. And it worked.
The Public Speaking class (an easy “A” as I saw it) held about 20 students and was taught by a very handsome, imposing (6’2” was my guess), erudite and loquacious gentlemen from Trinidad and Tobago. I enjoyed the class, it helped me to become less self-conscious of my status as a lonely White speck in an otherwise oceanic sea of Black faces. (Not true. The “Sea” was comprised of young men and women who had skin colors than ranged from whiter than me, to light-bright-and-almost-white,” to French-style café-au-lait, Mixed-Up-Heritage Tan, Caribbean bronze, Medium Sepia, all the way to rich, dark, African Ebony. Needless to say, I was in multi-cultural, One World heaven!)
|HOWARD UNIVERSITY DOUGLASS HALL|
Among the twenty of us was a stunningly attractive, statuesque, could-be-a-model young woman from Texas. I was so intrigued and captivated with this beauty, that after the first class, I made sure to sit next to her and I immediately befriend her. I don’t recall if she was from Dallas or Houston or one of those far west trailer trash Texas towns, but in addition to her remarkable beauty, was her equally remarkable accent, a kind of sweet, honey, “come-hither” Texas drawl that instantly captivated me. It wasn’t the sloppy, nearly incomprehensible accent one heard back then in D.C. from West Virginia hicks and North Carolina KKK-ers. No. This was like some melodious song of Bernadette that wafted across the room every time she spoke. And, now that I think about it, she bore an uncanny resemblance to Beyonce.
But there was a problem. Not from my point of view mind you. But from our Professor’s. Not to disparage the insight of this guy (I’ve totally blocked his name from my memory) but he spoke with a very sharp British accent, growing up as he did in a former colony of Great Britain. I didn’t mind, although occasionally I did strain to catch some instruction or other. Well, as un-typically as his accent was, he had a giant problem with my friend’s Texas drawl and reminded her of it every chance he could. I remember that after one in-class speech – it was a midterm – when we got our grades I noticed that my friend had tears in her eyes. I approached her, asked what was wrong and she handed me the grade sheet. She had scored a C-. I, naturally, was furious. I found her speaking voice so mesmerizing and hypnotizing that if she had been a saleswoman she could have sold me a lifetime supply of Celestial Black Diamond bleaching cream to lighten my skin color. And I would have paid whatever she might have demanded.
A couple of weeks after the midterms, she didn’t show up in class. Next week, same thing. Had she dropped the course as a result of Caribbean King's English Trinidadian Professor's constant carping? At the end of class, I went over to a young women I knew to be her friend, and asked if she had seen my Texan beauty. She looked at me a bit startled, I’m guessing from this skinny White dude asking about her and not understanding that even though I was not an intimate, I loved her. She said: “Come with me.” We exited that classroom, stood in the hallway away from other students. Then she asked: “Did you know “Texas Beauty” well? Are you a friend of hers?” “No” I replied. “I only know her from this class but we liked one another and chatted often.” She pondered. Thinking. “Why?” I asked. “What’s up?”
“Please don’t tell anyone, but she had an abortion a couple of weeks ago and didn’t make it.”
She was dead. Gone from my life. She never would she have the chance to become an Imam, or Beyoncé or Barbara Jordan or Maya Angelou. No. Her life was over at the age of 19 or 20. I was devastated. Do I know how she became pregnant, unmarried young woman that she was? Who knows? Maybe she was a wanton slut letting any man fuck her with abandon. Maybe some beefy Bison football halfback or running back pinned her down one night and forced himself on her. I don’t know. I never will know. I don’t the how or the why or the details of her impregnation and I don’t think it’s is all that important. Not to me, anyway. But what I do know, nearly 50 years, after my having lived an entire lifetime, I can still see her lovely face sitting next to me in that second floor Douglas Hall classroom looking so beautiful, so glowing with life, so full of potential. And while I don’t have a mind image of what she went through that fateful day, I can’t help but imagine her life as ending in a cold, dark, room with some medical fraud-hack preying and enriching himself on the fear, terror, and shame of a young woman from Texas as her blood, her life, slowly leaked away in pointless oblivion.
An there you have it. Full disclosure: why I rage against the Right to Lifers. The story of my bias. Sure, I might be able to forgive Ohio Right To Life President, Mike Gonidakis, (see previous post) for his opposition to abortion because he didn’t live through all the horrors of those long, murderous times when abortions were illegal (Actually no, I won’t). He was born about the time the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is legal under certain circumstances in 1973. But Kasich? (see previous post) He’s old enough to remember the women who died – were killed – each year pre- Roe v. Wade and going back to those times is not just an insult to all women, it is a condemnation to return to the back alley, quack abortions that took the life of my Texas friend. And that, to my mind, is unforgivable.