I Support Abortion Providers. I Support Women Who Have Abortions. I Support Abortions. So There.
So. Today is National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. And even though we don’t really have enough of an audience yet for many people to read this, I feel like it’s important for me to stand up and participate. The National Abortion Federation Website collecting names, photos, and videos of allies. Before you even finish reading this, please head over to the site and add your name to the list. (Thanks to Pursuit of Harpyness for making me aware of this in the first place!) I went to the site and added my name to the list of allies immediately.
There was a time in my life when I would have been afraid of adding my real name to a list like this. And there was a time in my life when I would have been afraid of admitting to anyone that I was a pro-choicer. But I didn’t hesitate to add my name tonight – and I won’t hesitate ever again to open my mouth when someone tries to tell me abortion is wrong.
From a fairly young age I decided I was pro-choice. It felt right to me somehow. At least in my head. But I knew that the topic was charged. And I knew that if I took a side, I had better be able to defend my position. After all, that position was an unpopular one amongst my family and friends, my peers down here in the Deep Deep South. To fight for the unpopular opinion, I had to find the perfect argument, be the perfect writer and orator, find the zinger that would convince the world.
I couldn’t do this. Of course I couldn’t. There is no such thing as the perfect argument. Any time I tried to explain my position, I could hear the detractors screaming inside my head. “But it’s MURDER! You aren’t for MURDER, are you?” I knew that it wasn’t. I knew they were wrong. But I faltered every time. And without that perfect argument to hold in my hand, to thrust in the faces of my detractors, all I had was myself: a small, scared girl. And so I stayed silent.
As Harriet says at Fugitivus, “Silence is a master; it doesn’t serve anybody.” For all those years that I held my views at bay, silence was my Master, and it slowly began to erode my beliefs. I stayed silent for so long that I began to doubt my own convictions. If I wasn’t willing to tell anyone that I supported a woman’s right to an abortion, what good was I doing, just believing in it quietly? Maybe I didn’t really believe it at all.
What I didn’t realize was that, by silencing myself, by convincing myself that one “small, scared girl” wasn’t good enough to say her peace, I was buying into the premise at the very foundation of anti-choice rhetoric. I was listening to those who imply that a woman is nothing but a baby factory, a conduit for continuation of the species. I was treating myself as though I were less than, as though the detractors screaming in my head were somehow the only ones entitled to their beliefs.
And then, a few things happened.
I was sexually assaulted by someone who felt he had the right to my body, regardless of my protestations.
I shed a relationship with another man – different from my rapist – who believed he too was entitled to my body and my mind, at all times, in all situations.
And then George Tiller was killed.
Suddenly, I didn’t care about my perfect argument anymore. All I cared about was the rage building in my gut. I knew what I believed; I had always known. The words would come when I needed them. All I had to do was open my mouth and escape from all that silence.
I believe in a woman’s right to abortion.
I believe in a woman’s right to protect herself and her body.
I believe in a woman’s right to choose.
I believe that we live in a world where privileged men presume entitlement to women’s bodies and women’s lives. I will fight this sense of entitlement until I am nothing but ashes.
Thank you, abortion providers. Thank you for being brave when I was not. Thank you for providing such an invaluable service in such a dangerous climate.
I am glad the silence didn’t win. I am glad that I will be able to stand with you, out loud.