Thursday, July 16, 2009

I dream of chatty ovaries


I do research so you don't have to do what you currently have to do, is no longer a pick-up line.

I do not wish to iron your blouses either.

Abortioneer: You mean to reduce unintended pregnancy?

Interested acquaintance: No. Abortion.

Abortioneer:  To clarify, we are speaking of abortion as a safe alternative to full-term pregnancy and giving birth, of women seeking the assistance of a skilled expert in uterine cleansing? So long as an abortion is a safe and accessible option to every woman of childbearing age, I don’t believe unnecessarily targeting abortion as a culprit to our dysfunctional planet is a fair use of time and energy.

Still interested acquaintance: I don’t think abortion should be a means for birth control and I have been working for years all over the world where women have abortions frequently.

Body language continues to reflect a growing and devout interest in this uncomfortable conversation where I begin to wish I hadn’t just gone to the bathroom, stepped outside with friends, been introduced to this man, then returned and settled to finish a new drink—lest I dismiss myself modestly and not forthright on the grounds of not having the energy to find common ground for abortion. As in, oh please don’t make me have this conversation when my horoscope suggested I might actually bond with a kindred spirit and I have finally peeled myself away from abortion care to toast a Friday night—who the HELL told this dude I work in abortion care because I did not.

Abortioneer:  I want to be clear that I understand—while not completely—the plight of women all over the world. I understand that some women wish to give birth but must choose an abortion. I understand that women wish to prevent having to have an abortion. I understand that abortion care is not care-full, safe and regulated primarily by women everywhere, and therefore could stand to improve for a plethora of incredibly heart-breaking reasons. Beyond these grave acknowledgements, I find speaking of abortion in negative terms to be counterproductive in an evolving society. I believe abortion helps women and I currently provide direct service to women who cannot access abortion care so feel strongly that work should be done to increase abortion care services, as well as maternal, fetal and child care services. When we speak of abortion in physically, emotionally or spiritually degrading terms, we degrade women who have abortions within the thirty odd years that they may tirelessly try to not get pregnant.

Too interested, obstinate acquaintance: But I am researching other, better means of birth control. The president has made a profound difference by repealing the Global Gag Rule.

Abortioneer:  That is excellent and I agree. I commend what you do. It sounds like we share a lot of similar goals and I admire your mission. We seem to be seeking a similar end point where humans are healthy and balanced and free. I do wish that the Global Gag Rule was not a prop in the political tug of war…

Acquaintance: ?

Abortioneer:  Oh. Well, you know how it’s repealed then reinstated? Democratic presidents repeal it in their inaugural January and Republican presidents reinstate or whatever it in their inaugural January. When will someone take it off the table and commit to it—as in, women’s lives are worth saving all day every day any day you name it and it matters.

Acquaintance must like my eyes or the way I talk—earlier he had observed my midwestern drawl sweetly: I think it’s so important to promote birth control services and eliminate the need for abortion. I think it’ s not a good thing for women to terminate their pregnancies.

Abortioneer:  Contraception is a vital feature to improvements to family planning and certainly we need unbiased sex education. Controlling fertility is a tricky science but I think we all know it’s not entirely scientific. Because we are so unique and changing, so will our desires and methods change over our lifespan? I support elevated access to family planning, but for some women, synthetic contraception or not having an abortion can be a terrible thing. In addition to your good and necessary work, don’t you think that abortion will still be necessary?

Note: This is not a question. The answer is yes. I am trying to be diplomatic.

Acquaintance: Have you ever had an abortion?

The bar is loud. Throughout the process of this *conversation,* the acquaintance inches closer to me. We play that conversational interaction game where I speak near his ear and he speaks near mine. I sense all along that he views this conversation as an attractive back and forth but I was resistant to debate and exhausted about abortion before he approached me, and in-between these sound-byte transcriptions, made several attempts to turn the conversation to something like flowers or food or music.

Abortioneer:  I’m sorry but this bar-talk is strange.

I dismiss myself on the grounds of my inability to find common ground for Abortion and turn to face the baby doll propped behind the bar, among the bottles—its head torn-off and displayed upside-down. It is holding a kitchen timer shaped like an egg.

I try to avoid Abortion Conversation with strangers because I cannot engage them without declaring my adoration for liberalized reproductive health care and sex education.

I want desperately for us to be happy in these bodies. I cannot stand to know that women are raped and beaten and bleeding or rotting to death all over the world right now. I take it personally because I believe the Earth would bestow great gifts of peace and thanksgiving on us eternally if we nourished our women, our gatekeepers and let Her breathe.

I try to picture a society where abortion is completely unnecessary and then I wander through my vagina, my cervix, my uterus, my fallopian tubes, to my ovaries. I try to listen to my inner flow that has been punctured many times by worldly toxins to locate the sound of my egg dropping and the speed of its pursuit. Indeed, if I could pin it precisely, ELECTIVE abortion would be unnecessary.

A woman, in consultation with the universe, all possible higher powers and her health care attendants, would reign delicately, tenderly, devoutly supreme over the cycle of human life within her body.

That is, assuming researchers didn’t continue researching how to extract her knowledge and know-it-alls didn’t continue negotiating her cycles as if they were rights and capitalists didn’t continue funding researchers and know-it-alls in hopes of selling her rite back to her and staying filthy rich forever—unless she can’t afford it.

Most importantly, I find common ground in my dreams.

Painting by Susan Seddon Boulet


  1. i love everything about this post. why do men think this is what we want to talk about at night, after work, when we are clearly trying to relax? i work for a domestic violence center, and although it is not quite as controversial, the way men want to talk about it(at a bar or party no less) makes it more so...

  2. I love this post.

    I recently started taking hormonal birth control for the first time (at the ripe old age of 25), and for the first time I feel the real fragility of this negotiated idea that I'm "safe" from getting pregnant. I have always been pro-choice but I recognize now more than ever how safe and legal abortions will always be a necessary tool, even if we have a perfect system of sex education, free birth control of all types, and so on and so on.


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.