In the Blog

Freedom to Choose

June 10th, 2009     by Anna Leventhal     Comments

Reading the story posted below, I was struck by a couple of things. One is that although we hear a lot of reasons as to why women should have the freedom to choose what to do with our bodies, we don’t hear a lot of stories of actual women making that choice. At least not lately; I remember the good old days of Degrassi Junior High (1987), when Erica got pregnant and her decision to have an abortion sparked controversy and discussion - but at least it was out there. Why is it that we seem to have devolved since the 70s and 80s? Many women are afraid to talk about abortion, for fear of reprisal from anti-choice factions, or even just friends and family.

I’ve been living in a shed for the past two weeks at the Anchor Zine Archive and reading a lot of Doris zine by Cindy Crabb, and remembering just what an amazing writer she is. Her stories of her three abortions are frank and frankly empowering:

When I was pregnant I forced myself to look at the diagrams. Memorize the text instead of blocking it out. The eggs are formed in the ovaries, they go down the fallopian tubes… I only read it when no one was around. I locked the door and was jumpy and nervous, scared someone would catch me. I hid it like pornography. It seemed almost cliche, but learning about my body and the changes going on in it, and knowing that it wasn’t out of control, it made me feel like my body was strong and mine. It was a way I’d never felt before. The abortion itself wasn’t too bad. I had it done at a feminist health clinic and the women there took care of me the way it should be done. They held up a mirror, and that was the first time I’d seen those parts of me. They explained every touch and every second of the procedure. Now you’ll feel the speculum, this is the local anesthetic, you’ll feel some cramping now as she dilates the os, breathe deep. One woman held my hand, talked to me and tried to help me relax. It was the first time I’d had a woman gynecologist and the first time anyone had bothered to explain what was going on. It was the first time I didn’t feel alienated and violated by what was being done. They demystified my body and gave it back to me. - Cindy Gretchen Ovenrack Crabb, from Doris #12

If you want to read more of Doris, there’s a wonderful compendium put out by Microcosm Publishing.

Cindy always reminds me to think about what choice means - yes, it can include choosing to have a baby if that’s what you want, but ultimately the freedom to choose means the freedom to have a medical procedure without guilt, fear, or shame. In a climate where doctors are still being murdered for performing abortions and that’s referred to as “saving lives” by the anti-choice movement, I don’t think we can afford to feel safe in our right to reproductive freedom, and I don’t think we can afford to include anti-choice sentiments as part of the feminist continuum.

What do you think?

p.s. On the lighter side of things, here’s Sarah Silverman reminiscing on abortions past.

Tags: bibliothèque, body politics

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