Don’t Tread on Her Right to Choose

It was a snowy night in 1972 when I received the call from my best friend.  She telephoned me often in those days.  We were just two mid-western women in our early 20’s who had been best friends since we were in junior high school.

Her voice was shaky as she announced softly into the telephone that she was pregnant and wanted me to go with her to the clinic to have an abortion.  It was clear that this was a choice she had to make, and she knew I’d understand because I’d been there before her.  The only real difference was that the clinic was a few miles from her home, and when I needed a clinic back in 1971 I had to drive 500 miles to find one.

That was a long time ago, but I never forget either of those moments in my life.  They represent so much more then choosing to terminate a pregnancy.

In 1986 I remembered those moments when my friend Jean wanted me to go to Washington DC to show support for a woman’s right to choose to be pregnant.  There had been a lot going on around these issues during that time because there was a challenge to the law that was being addressed by the US Supreme Court.  Jean arranged for another friend of ours, and myself to go onto the local radio station to talk about Roe vs. Wade and our personal experiences.

That was the first time I talked about my experiences in public.  Sure, I had found the courage to tell Jean…she was my dear friend.  My ex-husband knew, my mother guessed, and my husband knew, and, of course, my best friend.  That was it.  In those days it just wasn’t something women talked about if it was their personal experience.

But it was clear that some of us needed to come out into the open so that those around us could see that abortion was not something that happened to someone they didn’t know.  Our abortions didn’t take place in a back alley, and the choice was not made lightly.

Even today women will whisper to me when they tell me they’ve had an abortion.   Whether the conversation is in a restaurant over a meal, or in the car driving to the movies, the statement, “I don’t normally talk about this, but…” comes just prior to sharing their stories about the pain of making the choice to terminate a pregnancy.

It’s a shame that many of us are afraid to talk about what’s important.  I made up my mind quite early in life that I wouldn’t go quietly, and I haven’t.  This has been demonstrated repeatedly by speaking up, speaking out and attending get-togethers or public gatherings about issues that are important in my life.

The one thing I will confess though is that sometimes when I meet a young person who is in their mid-30’s I think to myself that if I had not had an abortion my child would be that age.  I don’t regret making the choices I made in those days – they were right for me, and for the child I already had birthed.

It might be easy enough to look the other way, now that becoming pregnant isn’t an option since I am past that point in life.  I don’t need to remind myself that there are millions of women behind me who will be faced with the same challenges of poverty, abuse and lack of options, AND they need to have the freedom to have options.

I plan to keep on speaking up, and speaking out.  I hope you will join me.

A Different World

Last night we watched a documentary on one of the dates that this film maker believes is part of the “10 Days that Changed the World”. Each of these dates had to do with the roots of greed, childish conclusions, and not taking “no” for an answer. And they were about various stages of the history of the U.S.

It all made me wonder, “When did we, as a nation, become so into ourselves that nothing else really mattered?” I come to this question because the film documentary lays out this conclusion in each of the episodes – Shay’s Rebellion, Antetum, and the Gold Rush. It seems we might have been founded on the principle that we have the right to do whatever we want at the exclusion of everyone else…that makes me uncomfortable in the core of my being.

The first time I became aware of this issue was when I was 19 and I took the bus to Montreal Canada. It didn’t seem like that long of a bus ride, but then it’s been awhile since I was 19.

Montreal woke up my mind, my senses and my thinking. I was searched at the border before I left the U.S. Everything was in French so I had to try to translate menus, door signs, and everything else that was written down. That also meant that their history was different from mine as well. The Queen of England was big news in Montreal. I’d barely heard of her in those days. The money was different and there was something called an exchange rate. I wasn’t allowed to have a cold drink in the bar because I was a woman.

Trips to other places later in life brought on more of this new thinking…Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Russia, China, Germany, and many more destinations. Each place has different ways of cooking, different foods, different ideas about governance, and they all seemed to love their kids.

Every time I came back from one of those amazing places I was changed by that travel experience. There were new words in my everyday speech, new recipes, new thoughts, and sometimes new tools for cooking or making things. The biggest change was that my mind was opened wider and wider by meeting new people and exchanging ideas. At some point my mind was opened so wide that I became a citizen of the world and there was no going back to being just an “American”.

Maybe this traveling to new places, and getting to know folks has some merit for creating peace in the world. If all of our kids had to go somewhere new each summer while they’re in school, and it was paid for with tax dollars, so there is no barrier to going, I can’t even imagine how this would change the selfishness of the policies of this nation.

For one thing we’d hold our own language to be very dear because we’d have to learn to speak other languages – really speak them. Our systems would become stronger, and our kids happier because everyone would see that there is more then one way of solving our challenges. And, we’d finally see that we don’t have a corner on the market for loving our kids, worshipping God, or enjoying life.

Now if only I were the one in charge…but I’m not in charge of anything but “me”. So, in spite of living in a country that is rich in resources and poor in the happiness factor, I can walk my own steps of peace by following what I believe. And I believe that we all need each other so I vow to work from this premise every day of my life.

Women Invisible in NPR report

Lisa Chow – discrimination in workshop
Lisa; Your report was almost investigative – brave perhaps if you think about all of those advertisers who might not like your implications, BUT where are the women, white or otherwise, in your report? We might be lumped into the “minority” category you mention, but more likely we’re the folks who are shoring up the entire business, and I bet some of us are a variety of colors. It was disappointing not to hear women mentioned since we hold up more then half of the sky. I guess reports including women will be relegated to National Women’s History Month reports…does anything ever change?and I bet some of us are a variety of colors. It was disappointing not to hear women mentioned since we hold up more then half of the sky. I guess reports including women will be relegated to National Women’s History Month reports…does anything ever change?It was disappointing not to hear women mentioned or interviewed since we hold up more then half of the sky.It was disappointing not to hear women mentioned or interviewed since we hold up more then half of the sky.

On Death & Dying

This was blogged by Richard Carlson.  It describes a horrible act of butchery that took place against us – killing our precious llama Michelle Belle.

I’m fascinated with friends.  At some points in my life I have neglected family completely to be involved with friends.  They don’t need to be 2 separate groups I guess, but there seem to be significant differences.  That would need to be a different essay.
I don’t think I’ve had a lot of friends since junior high school, although I don’t count or usually compare myself to other people in this regard.  I’m not very good at making friends or keeping them…but the ones who have hung around I really treasure.  I hope I tell them so enough…but I’m sure I should do more.  And I should tell my family I treasure them too.

Sometimes people have shown up in my life who are so incredible, and even famous, that I can’t believe we even know each other.  I don’t understand how that happens, and I don’t want to tempt the fates by asking.  I just tiptoe along in gratitude.  I hope you know people like that too.

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Fete de la Musique

Every year on the weekend before the longest day of the year the French have a party in every town across the nation. It’s not just any party though, it’s an all out music festival with music of every kind scattered on little stages throughout the downtown.

The café’s and restaurants spill onto the streets because there are no cars to dodge on the cobblestones on this night. We started the evening out by playing a game of cards (Jeu de Carte) under the canopy in the garden. . Every time any of us has free time, Bernard or Jay usually will suggest a quick game of cards in the garden. We often play at Bernard’s in the late evening. Even at 10:00 (22 hour in France) we sit in the garden watching the swallows swooping for bugs and listening to their lovely calls to each other. If it gets late enough the resident bat comes out too.

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Let’s Give ’em Somethin to talk About

January 13, 2010

Is it me, or has the world around us gone mad?

I hate to break the news to pseudo liberals, but even National Public Radio has gone over to the dark side? The news readers interview each other as if they ARE the news, or the experts on issues. NPR news coverage has a limited number of themes…financially you’re screwed…culturally your screwed…and the war report…this followed up by their “sponsors” on “commercial free radio”.

With no broadband access (we’re lucky to live in a blacked out area that may never see access until the “you’re screwed” culturally report changes), and no television viewing capability, NPR used to be our major news source. That is about to change though.

Each morning the radio kicks on automatically at 6:30 AM. Tomorrow I’m setting it to “alarm” instead of “radio”. This is my last morning to listen to the “you are screwed report” as I slip in and out of sleep. All that crap they’re pushing – metaphorically speaking – is being incorporated into my subconscious as I dose. I prefer the blare of the alarm to that.

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Ain’t Gonna Study War No More

I am thinking seriously about going on a bus trip that Tim Chavez and the Iraq Veterans Against the War are organizing to Washington DC to walk for peace to end the wars. The bus leaves on March 19th from Columbus at midnight and returns on March 21st at 3 AM. (SEE THE DESCRIPTION AT THE END OF THIS RAMBLING FOR MORE INFO) There have been so few opportunities to speak up in a true sense. I thought that would change with the election of Obama – I was wrong.

Showing up matters – because it matters to you, and all of us to speak up. This world is so full of so much that doesn’t matter, but you matter and what you believe is the stuff that makes the world worth fighting for. AND protesting is not a mainstream action anymore…everyone sends email to voice their disapproval. AND, my last and final argument – this will be the stuff to tell the young people that follow you in this life.

Continue reading Ain’t Gonna Study War No More