Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Choice, Infertility and Reproductive Rights

Last night, sometime around 9 pm, I set down the leftover beer and pita chips I was carrying, kicked off my shoes, sat on the couch and let out a "phew" And meant it.

I threw my very first grown up party. For a cause. At the fancy B&B next to our place. Catered and everything. And people came, despite the rain, despite the jillion other fundraisers and events that go on in a capital city on a session night. And we did grown up things like networked and shared business cards and made donations (!) and most importantly, made a commitment to identify pro-choice women that could become viable political candidates in 2012, to encourage them, to support them and to get them to this amazing 3 and a half day training event in January.

The best part about last night, I mean, besides the artichoke dip which was banging, was M whispering in my ear before he slipped out to let me "do my thing" - I'm really proud of you.

Asshole. He always makes me teary.

About a year and a half ago, when I started to feel somewhat human again, when I was willing to take a chance of venturing out into public again and believed I could probably carry on a conversation without sobs, at least most of the time, I sat down with a colleague of mine - someone who's considered a bit of a grand dame of lobbying for women's issues in these parts - and asked her, basically, what am I supposed to be doing with my life?

At that point in time I wanted to run away from my job, define myself as something other than someone that people whispered about (you heard what happened right? poor thing.....). I wanted to prove to everyone and myself that I was greater than my grief.

I just had no idea how.

She asked a very basic question: "What is important to you?" Find it. Define it. Immerse yourself in it. Volunteer.

So I did.

The chance to create and shape my family is important to me. To know that other women have this right - that is important to me. To know that no one will take away my ability to make the choices that are right for me and the people I love - that is important to me. Choice - this is what matters to me.

And some people got it. They really did. And supported me 100%. Others were baffled.

After all you are doing to try to have a baby, why are you doing this?
You've seen heartbeats - how can you support something like this?
You want to be a mother - what mother would be ok with this?

And on that last note, by the way, you might be surprised.

But what it comes down to, as I said in a post I published for the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade back in 2008, is this: Choice is not just about the “choice” to have an abortion.

Mississippi's attempts to redefine "personhood" reshaped this conversation for a lot of people. What's worse than learning that your attempt at IVF or a frozen embryo transfer resulted in yet another negative? What hurts more than knowing you are still so far away from the child you want so badly? It might be knowing that some people would classify you as a murderer for jeopardizing the "lives" of those little blastocysts.

What do you mean only 2 of 4 made the thaw? Why did you choose to risk that little embryo knowing your womb is less than hospitable? Who are you to choose which blast gets a shot?

Which one of us doesn't torture ourselves with these decisions each time we venture back into trying to conceive? Which of these decisions are done carelessly or without thought?

Which one of us would want these options taken away from us? Which one of us would want to be punished for "choosing" alternate methods like third party reproduction to build a family?

Not me, homey

So this is why I fight for Choice. This is why I give my time and my money and my efforts to groups like this one. Mississippi is why I think it is so critical to get more progressive women into office. Who do you want representing you when your state goes weird like Ole Miss?

I am in my state's capitol building almost daily. I can tell you who I see in the halls. Who I meet with. Who I plead my case to. Who I try to convince. I can tell you not many of them look like me. Or think like me. And as kind as they are to me in their offices, as nice or as smart as they tell me I am, I know many of those very same people don't trust me enough to make my own reproductive choices.

I know. I've seen the votes.

Let's fix this.


Stats show that the average female legislator needed to be asked six times before she even considered running. Six times! Look around you. Look in a mirror. I bet you know some smart women. I bet you know a lady or two that would kick some serious ass in a statehouse. Have you ever thought of asking her to run? Have YOU ever thought of running? I'm just sayin'

I think you should consider a run.


Katie said...


Danielle said...

You ROCK!! I mean, I already knew that, but this is just an extra heap of awesome.

Actually, I periodically toy with running for state office. I have always ruled it out on the grounds that my reproductive history would disqualify me. But that's kind of your point, isn't it?

Elaine VanDRiver said...

Way to go! And by the way, you are a fantastic writer!! This post reads like a friend is taking to me, and a great message about getting women into action to boot! You are a trip and I can't wait to see what you say next!

Two Shorten the Road said...

Hey, congrats on your big event! I'm glad it went well.

I was so happy to hear the Mississippi initiative failed. There was so much in there that was completely wrong. And it really annoyed me to hear the whole "it's a person from the start" BS when 40% or more don't make it more than a couple of days into a pregnancy. Makes no sense. But we aren't talking about rational people here.

Two Shorten the Road said...

Great post over on blisstree.

BTW, you shorted yourself one year of Catholic education. I distinctly remember you as a classmate in kindergarten as well.

m said...

Thank you, Katie and Elaine! I cannot wait to dip into your blogs.

Danielle, lady, you are the rocker. And I would vote for you in a new york minute, as it were...

Hey Shorten, you got me on kindergarten. Hey, (warning: tangent) were you there the day I showed up for Halloween in my kooky spooks get up one day early? I just told that story to someone and I'm feeling like they don't believe me. I need some eye witnesses.

dana said...

Excellent post. And as always, you've got me thinking.

Anonymous said...

I am your newest follower and all I can say is YOU ROCK!