Innocent

After my abortion, I set about punishing myself.

I was 19 and a freshman in college. It was 1967, six years before Roe v. Wade made abortion a thing that could happen in the daylight. My abortion happened in a dark room on a dark night, everything about it was furtive and secret. Illegal and unclean.

The first punishment was the suffocating box of guilt.

The box was, like my abortion, dark, secret and unclean. I wore it everywhere on campus, unable to move my arms or legs more than tiny inches, breathing only now and then through cracks in the box. It was stifling and small and it was only at the end of the day, back in my dorm room, that I could peel the box off and lie on my bed smoking cigarettes. I listened to Joan Baez sing The Death of Queen Jane for hours in the dark, the lights of the campus casting shadows on me. “Queen Jane she turned over/She fell all in a swoon/Her side was pierced open/And the baby was found.”

People I’d only known a few months since the start of freshman year would ask me what was wrong. I’d changed, they said. They thought I was heartsick because my boyfriend was so far away. They couldn’t see that my abortion had pierced me, it was an event that had run me through.

I couldn’t tell them I was different now. I was marked. By the abortion but also by having sex without being married. I washed my face every morning thinking about it. I was a slut now. That’s what I was. Even if no one knew. I knew. I was embarrassed and sickened by this, ashamed in the deep nauseating way I was as a child when my mother would look at me when I’d done something wrong and quietly say, “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

The second punishment was leaving my boyfriend. And he was a lot to leave. Handsome, tall, strong, capable. He was 19, too, but a fully grown man, even in high school. He drove a Jeep with a canvas roof, scuba-dived in deep quarries, and read books about politics. He was a boxer whose trainer thought our relationship was a distraction; a serious boxer would stay focused, the trainer said. My boyfriend laughed. I adored him.

Then I went away to college and he stayed home. I spent a fortune on long distance phone calls, sometimes, in desperation, charging the call to a made-up number, the first remotely dishonest thing I’d ever done. His letters told about the old boat he’d bought and his plans for taking the boat on Lake Michigan; he loved the life he was living even while I was awash in the misery of a central Michigan winter. But he loved me. I had no doubt. And because of being so sure, I became pregnant.

After the abortion, I couldn’t love him anymore. It wasn’t allowed. It would have to be part of the price to pay. I blamed him for my guilt. He should have given me more options, offered to marry me rather than talking about how we were too young and needed to wait. That I had become a slut was now on his head. That’s what I believed. And he did nothing to make it better; he’d put the abortion behind him as soon as it had happened. He wondered why I was stuck on it. It was done and over. And would never happen again. He would make sure of it. He promised. It wasn’t enough.

The third punishment was dread.

I would have to pay for my sins but it wasn’t clear when or how. A person just can’t do these things, go against the rules like I had, and not suffer consequences. I wavered between thinking the payback would be massive, like I would die, or specific to my crimes, like I would be forever childless or give birth to a terribly deformed baby or, worse, give birth, but have the child die later from some vicious cancer. That there would be a tremendous punishment was certain in my head, there was a score to be settled, by whom I didn’t know.  I’d stand in the shower at night, the water beating down on my head, and think of the many tragic things that awaited me. This wasn’t once in a while. It was every day, every shower. The dread was my punishment; they say fearing execution is worse than the execution itself.

I was 19 thinking these things. Just 19. I felt already that I had lived a terrible life. It was meant for me to feel that way; it was intended for me to feel guilt and loneliness and dread. It was my punishment for making a mistake. And like all punishments of women around the world, this one eventually delivered a strong message.  The message was stamped like a brand on the palm of my hand  but it took decades for the letters to become clear, years of studying my own heart, and understanding the rightness of my ownership of my own body, my own self.

I see the words that were written. They are still there, deep, indelible, lasting. They say this to me and the world: You did nothing wrong.

________________

Photo: Glenn Carstons-Peters

I Hid the Wire

It wasn’t exactly a secret. I just very carefully picked the places where I talked about it. I had to trust that people I told would have a good reaction. Even after decades passed, I couldn’t risk criticism and I really couldn’t gamble on someone asking me why.

I told my husbands but not always the boyfriends in between. I told a few women friends but I never told my family. I never breathed a word of it to my older sister or brother and I would have sooner died than tell my parents. They never knew. If they were alive today, I wouldn’t tell them.

Then one late afternoon in August 2012, after I’d heard yet another news report attacking women’s rights, I sat down at this computer and I wrote the story of the illegal abortion I had in 1967. The essay wrote itself, poured on to the page fully formed as if it had been waiting somewhere to be released and, all the while it was waiting, coming closer into view until I could smell my wet wool pea coat and remember scratching the frost off the inside of the bus window on my way back to Mt. Pleasant from where the abortion had occurred in Detroit.

The essay was published on my blog Red’s Wrap as The Wire. I also decided to put the essay on Open Salon, a now defunct platform operated by Salon.com. Later that night, after the essay had gotten hundreds of hits on Open Salon, the OS editor contacted me to request permission to post the essay on Salon.com where it appeared as My Illegal Abortion.

But even though I’d written the story and published in places where I knew a lot of people would read it, I was afraid of what people would say. My husband read the comments. I hid from them. I was waiting for someone to call me a murderer.

Then a young woman, a student at Central Michigan University, contacted me via Open Salon. She asked if I’d speak at the campus Planned Parenthood Chapter’s abortion speak-out. They would be happy to pay for my travel. My response surprised me. Yes.

So a few months later, my husband and I drove to Mt. Pleasant. While he waited at the Motel 6, I went to the CMU Library. It was a building that hadn’t been built when I was a student there. It was beautiful and serene like big university libraries are, with a lot of glass and heavily framed paintings of distinguished professors. I walked with the young woman who invited me and then sat in the audience while she stood at the podium and introduced me to the students who had come to hear me.

I’d brought my essay to read, thinking it said all I needed to say and already knowing that the words and sentences made sense. I’d read my own essay a thousand times at least. I wanted its protection.

I read a paragraph of my essay and then I looked up and just told my story. I told them  how it was to be a young woman in 1967 at CMU. But it was hard information to convey. Describing the social customs, what was acceptable and what wasn’t seemed like explaining ancient Egypt. This is how it was, I really wanted them to know how it was. And how it was determined how I was.

I was a product of those times. So the shame of becoming pregnant without being married and of getting an abortion was still part of me. A small part but still a part. But amazingly, it became the tiniest black pearl in my pocket as I talked, a shiny, glowing jewel that spoke of courage and survival. Pride in my life and sisterhood with all women. In that one moment, on that stage at CMU, I stopped being ashamed of something I had done nearly fifty years before. I owned my life, all of it, with no apology and no looking away.

When I finished speaking, a woman in the very back of the auditorium raised her hand. “Did your parents ever find out?”

“No,” I said. “They never knew.”

CMU1

 

_________________

Written in response to The Daily Post question: What’s the most significant secret you’ve ever kept? Did the truth ever come out?

I’m 1 in 3

Today is the national 1 in 3 Speak Out, part of a multi-year movement to reduce abortion stigma by asking women to tell their stories.

I know this is a powerful thing because I did it. Twice. After I wrote an essay that got a lot of attention, I was invited to speak in October 2012 to the campus chapter of Planned Parenthood at Central Michigan University, the school I was attending when I had an abortion in 1967, six years before Roe v. Wade. Last month, I went back to CMU, this time to be the opening speaker at an Abortion Speak-Out, a 1 in 3 event coordinated by students.

At both events, I stood with a microphone in my hand and tried to describe what life was like on their campus in the late sixties. I joked that I was there representing Life before Time. Even that reference was too historic for them. These were people who were ten years old ten years ago, being carted around to soccer practice. I was fifty-six ten years ago, wearing some of the same clothes I have now and almost driving the same car. Now, I am clearly older, thinner, deafer, but also more certain, with more courage and less regard for consequences. These students didn’t need to know that, though. The empowering nature of aging from fifty-six to sixty-six could not have been more irrelevant or uninteresting to them. In their eyes, I had just simply crossed over and I had probably done it, not ten years ago, but twenty or thirty.

I stood there and felt like I was calling to them from across the Grand Canyon. I want to tell you how it was, I said, my voice echoing in the auditorium. They looked at me so respectfully, so ready to listen.

And I tried. I told them about the different rules for male and female students, how premarital sex was a bad thing for women but an expected thing for men, how there was no access to birth control, that a woman had to be married to get a doctor to prescribe birth control pills. I told them about the extraordinary stigma about unwed pregnancy, that girls in high school and college would just suddenly be gone, visiting their aunt in another state, so they said, never to be heard from again. There would be rumors about babies being born and put up for adoption, but nothing was ever confirmed. All of it was shadowy, not discussed.

The shame and the fear of shame were gargantuan. I tried to convey that to young people who, rightfully and thankfully, had no idea what I was talking about.

I wanted to bring them into the head of my 19-year old self but everything I said sounded like a caption under a black and white photograph in a history book someone left on the bus in 1970. There was no way for me to tell them that the girl I was then hewed to all of the gender stereotypes that existed, rebelled against nothing, felt powerless a good share of the time, and had no compelling direction. That girl was a sliver of the person I am now, the thinnest specimen that could possibly be extracted from a living organism, put on a slide, it would barely be visible, that’s how small a part of me she was. But still I remembered how she thought, how she careened around the alternatives after she found out she was pregnant and knew right away that an abortion was the only option.

I told them the overwhelming feeling of being trapped by having gotten pregnant and my realization, only many years later, how I was trapped alone, my partner in crime, as it were, able to stroll away with no repercussions. The unfairness made me indignant all over again but I think my young audience thought I was just being political, harping on gender inequality as they knew it, their world full of the tiny micro-aggressions that have become so popular to spot and denounce.

So I finished telling my story and they applauded. After we waited several impossibly long minutes, a young woman got up in the back of the auditorium and walked down the aisle. She sat on the carpeted stairs of the stage and told her story. Hers was more recent. The evening progressed that way. Long waits, silence, and then someone else stepping forward. It was a show of patience and listening, remarkable and precious.

Since then I have been going over what I said, wondering why I wasn’t able to get those young people to see what it was like, to understand the walls of gender roles, and to really understand the horrible stigma of not being married and having a baby. And then I realized it’s because the stigma is gone. It just simply doesn’t exist anymore. The creature I tried to describe has become extinct, there is no conveying how its huge ragged wings attached to its furry hide.

What that tells me is that stigma that makes people ashamed, gets them sent away, means that they never speak about what happened to them can be lifted. If it can happen with women getting pregnant and not being married, it can certainly happen with women who have had abortions. Having had an abortion can become something that happens. It doesn’t have to be a stony, ugly secret that takes forty-five years to unearth.

So if you have a story, tell it. If you don’t have a story, listen to one.

We can change this thing, we already have.

#1in3Speaks

 

Telling My Story Again for Roe v. Wade

Reposting this piece from 2012 because it’s the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The piece was originally published on Open Salon where it’s been read by 115,000 people and then was picked up by Salon. I don’t know how many people read it there. Despite writing it and having it read by a lot of people, the piece is hard for me to read. It was just a terrible time.

After this was originally published, a young woman at Central Michigan University, where my story took place, contacted me about coming to speak at an event sponsored by the campus Planned Parenthood chapter. So I went and told my story standing on a stage with a couple of dozen people in the audience and it was then that I realized that these stories really need to be told. No one born after Roe v. Wade can really understand the awful choices facing women when abortion was illegal. Safe and affordable abortion is fundamental to women’s rights. Here’s my story.

The Wire

It wasn’t a coat hanger. It was a wire.

The theory was that by inserting the wire through the cervix, moving it around a bit and then removing it, an infection would result and the pregnancy would be aborted. It worked. It was March 1967.

Afterward, after I watched the ‘doctor’ wash his hands with one of those little soaps wrapped in white paper, after he tilted the bedside lamp just so and after he said, “That should do it,” I got dressed, left the motel with the flashing vacancy sign, made my way to the bus station in downtown Detroit, and rode in the dark in the eerie silence of a mostly empty Greyhound all the way back to Mt. Pleasant, the tiny Michigan town where I was a freshman in college. Curled up next to the window under my black pea coat, I wondered how long it would take, whether it would be on the bus or later. I worried that something a lot worse than being pregnant would happen to me because of what happened in the motel room, that I’d get sick or bleed to death. I wondered if I would ever feel right about what I had done and if there had been choices that I hadn’t considered. I remember feeling like a mouse that had found the tiniest hole for escape while a giant tomcat loomed. I was distraught, empty, and alone on that bus. Back in my dorm room, Jane, my roommate held both of my hands in hers and said, “It will be ok. You’ll see. You’ll have lots of children when the time is right.” It was a gesture of kindness and compassion that even now brings tears to my eyes.

I was 19. I had slept with my boyfriend just a single time. When I missed my period, I ever so reluctantly made an appointment with the town gynecologist who confirmed the pregnancy and then quizzed me incessantly about whether I knew who the father was. Did I know who the father was? Of course. There had only been one person ever. Yes, I knew.

The doctor told me to tell my parents but I couldn’t. My mother who had suffered for almost her entire adult life with severe depression was so deep in her terrible place, on the couch or in bed all day, sleeping or staring, that I almost cancelled my departure to college. The last child at home for many years, I had become her driver and caregiver when these episodes occurred. Leaving seemed like the worst kind of betrayal and yet the pull of the relief I knew I would feel being out from under her mental illness was irresistible. I really wanted to be in a place where people were happy. The thought of going home, sitting down on the couch, where I knew she would be, to tell her I’d gotten pregnant was unfathomable. Without question, I could not do that. My problem, then, was mine to solve.

My father, matter of fact as he was about everything, would line up a Justice of the Peace and get us married but my boyfriend had already nixed that plan. He had a friend who had a friend who knew about the ‘wire’ plan. We didn’t have the $250 it would cost to pay a bonafide illegal abortionist so the only option was amateur hour. There was no real discussion. The wire became the path we would follow. I was cornered. I knew I was alone with the consequences whatever they would be. My boyfriend could walk away and no one would ever know. He was free. I was cornered.

I grieved and was wild for a full year after that. I broke up with my boyfriend, realizing right away that any man who would advocate the wire wasn’t lifetime commitment material. I drank too much, bounced from guy to guy, and remember not much from that time except long times in the shower crying in grief and guilt. For years, I counted the days and months – how old the child would be if the pregnancy had not been terminated. The guilt was overwhelming. But as I matured, I recognized the decision for what it was – what I believed was right. I accepted responsibility and forgave myself. In the truest terms, I did what I had to do.

But what I had to do was a dreadful thing. The lack of safe, legal, and affordable abortion put me in a dingy motel in downtown Detroit to undergo a risky, unsanitary procedure that could easily have maimed or killed me. That I lived to tell the tale, to write about it on this page, is a small miracle of my life.

Six years later, abortion became legal in the United States. Of any accomplishment of the women’s movement, this one was always at my core. It wasn’t right for women to risk so much in order to be in control of their own reproductive lives. It wasn’t right to punish women who have been cornered by circumstances – unplanned pregnancy, no job, no money, no options – by daring them to find the $250 illegal abortionist in their city or worse. It wasn’t right that women should have to pay for a mistake with their fear, risk their future health and their very lives while men could walk away and be free. I was happy, so happy about Roe v. Wade. At last, I thought, this one thing for women – at last.

Twenty-five years after my abortion, busloads of anti-abortion protesters came to my town. Each morning they would pick a different abortion clinic and turn out by the hundreds to harass women coming for their abortion appointments. The crowds could be enormous with people waving signs with what they claimed to be pictures of aborted fetuses, and singing “My God is an Awesome God” verse after verse, hour after hour. Right away, I signed up to be a clinic defender and each morning I’d get up at 5, pick up a friend, and go lock arms with hundreds of like-minded folks to ‘protect’ that day’s abortion clinic and the women who needed its services. We’d stand there silently while the protesters yelled at us and sang their hymns. They’d call us baby killers and murderers.

Sometimes it would be nose to nose, shoulder to shoulder. The protesters would bring their children, too, and they would be singing “Jesus Loves Me” between choruses of “Awesome God.” We’d all be standing in a giant scrum while morning traffic zoomed by, horns honking in support of both sids. Special protectors in orange vests would shepherd each woman into the clinic for her appointment while protesters surged to scream at her. I couldn’t believe how evil and cruel it was to be screaming at a woman when she was in such a terrible situation., when she was cornered. I wanted to yell at them, “HASN’T ANYTHING BAD EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

Where is your loving kindness?

And here we are again. Demonizing women. Limiting birth control. Shrinking access to legal and safe abortion. Daring women to go find the wire. All while men can walk away and be free.

It makes my 64-year old soul angrier than almost anything. The extreme hatred for women voiced by politicians, the talk of legitimate rape, the unbelievability of the idea of an ultrasound probe, the intent to demean me/us – it all puts me back on the bus in the dark, by myself, cornered and alone.

It’s so wrong to treat women this way. So wrong. We just can’t go back.

My Day with Bob Evans

This incredibly flattering and beautifully composed photograph was taken this morning after breakfast at our beloved Bob Evans restaurant, this one just north of Lansing in DeWitt.  We were driving south on US127 from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant where, the night before, I’d given a long anticipated talk to the local student Planned Parenthood chapter about the illegal/unsafe abortion I had gotten while a student there in 1967.  I looked a lot better than this when I gave the talk.  Really, I did.

Afterward, I emailed my daughter: “It went well.  I was pleased.”  This seemed an overly economical way to say that I was deeply and thoroughly grateful that I could stand on a stage with a microphone and tell my story without shame or blame and with a level of understanding that took 45 years to simmer to that night’s perfection. I knew I could do it having been taught by many, including my stalwart husband/driver/friend/partner in all things, that one must just plant your feet and say it, be who you are, and be glad.  So that’s what I did.

So this morning, the morning after as it were, we got up early, walked our dogs in the dark outside our Super 8 (this whole trip was extremely first class), packed up and headed south to our next key marker in our trip:  Bob Evans.  We headed for Bob Evans eschewing the dry (free) bagels, and the dry (free) muffins, and the makeyourown waffles (the knack of which I’d finally picked up on a cross-country jaunt we made last month).  That says a lot because we’re in to travelling cheap unless we’re on an expensive trip, if you get my concept.

Bob Evans is a Michigan thing — it’s basically all about eggs and sausage and stuff that nobody should be eating.  We love it.  The biscuits just make you forget your doctor’s name altogether.

Anyway, after that, we headed to Hastings.  Because we’d missed the annual trip to my parents’ gravesite on Memorial Day, it was essential to stop.  So we left the freeway and motored through the farmland on M43 until we hit Hastings, turned right up the hill and ended up at Riverside Cemetery.

There I set to scrubbing off the moss that had grown in the letters of my parents’ names, using my husband’s Green Bay Packers long sleeved T-shirt which he had gallantly offered from the dirty laundry bag. Then I looked for stones, a way to let them know I was there, and gave them a kiss on the top of their headstone. And I remembered a question from the night before, “Did you ever tell your parents?” “No,” I answered, “They never knew.”

The kiss, my annual kiss, had every bit of my missing them and the feeling was so strong that it was physical.  I could feel it in my cheeks and my lips, feel the tears welling up, and then it was over and I looked around for my husband who had trailed off into the woods with our our two dogs, leaving me to scrub and kiss stone unobserved.  Bless him.

Our next stop was St. Julian’s Winery in Paw Paw.

St. Julian’s and the other wineries along I-94 in southwest Michigan are really popular with tourists (and probably the locals, too) because they pour free shots of wine.  St. Julian’s is a favorite place of mine because I’d always stop there to stall for time on the way from Milwaukee to visit my parents in Michigan.  I’d sample wine and buy cheese soup mix in a little box with a tiny bottle of hot sauce fastened with a red ribbon.  I need to bring a gift, I decided.

All of Michigan is my life, even the places I’ve never been. It’s the trees and the hills, the way things look, the moss on the headstones, the lakes on either side of the road, the house on the corner with the stone foundation, the high school at the end of Main Street, the college I left, and the cheap wine at St. Julian’s.

I’m plenty grateful for this day with Bob Evans.  Can you tell?  I’m plenty grateful.
___________________________________

The Wire

It wasn’t a coat hanger. It was a wire.

The theory was that by inserting the wire through the cervix, moving it around a bit and then removing it, an infection would result and the pregnancy would be aborted. It worked. It was March 1967.

Afterward, after I watched the ‘doctor’ wash his hands with one of those little soaps wrapped in white paper, after he tilted the bedside lamp just so and after he said, “That should do it,” I got dressed, left the motel with the flashing vacancy sign, made my way to the bus station in downtown Detroit, and rode in the dark in the eerie silence of a mostly empty Greyhound all the way back to Mt. Pleasant, the tiny Michigan town where I was a freshman in college. Curled up next to the window under my black pea coat, I wondered how long it would take, whether it would be on the bus or later. I worried that something a lot worse than being pregnant would happen to me because of what happened in the motel room, that I’d get sick or bleed to death. I wondered if I would ever feel right about what I had done and if there had been choices that I hadn’t considered. I remember feeling like a mouse that had found the tiniest hole for escape while a giant tomcat loomed. I was distraught, empty, and alone on that bus. Back in my dorm room, Jane, my roommate held both of my hands in hers and said, “It will be ok. You’ll see. You’ll have lots of children when the time is right.” It was a gesture of kindness and compassion that even now brings tears to my eyes.

I was 19. I had slept with my boyfriend just a single time. When I missed my period, I ever so reluctantly made an appointment with the town gynecologist who confirmed the pregnancy and then quizzed me incessantly about whether I knew who the father was. Did I know who the father was? Of course. There had only been one person ever. Yes, I knew.

The doctor told me to tell my parents but I couldn’t. My mother who had suffered for almost her entire adult life with severe depression was so deep in her terrible place, on the couch or in bed all day, sleeping or staring, that I almost cancelled my departure to college. The last child at home for many years, I had become her driver and caregiver when these episodes occurred. Leaving seemed like the worst kind of betrayal and yet the pull of the relief I knew I would feel being out from under her mental illness was irresistible. I really wanted to be in a place where people were happy. The thought of going home, sitting down on the couch, where I knew she would be, to tell her I’d gotten pregnant was unfathomable. Without question, I could not do that. My problem, then, was mine to solve.

My father, matter of fact as he was about everything, would line up a Justice of the Peace and get us married but my boyfriend had already nixed that plan. He had a friend who had a friend who knew about the ‘wire’ plan. We didn’t have the $250 it would cost to pay a bonafide illegal abortionist so the only option was amateur hour. There was no real discussion. The wire became the path we would follow. I was cornered. I knew I was alone with the consequences whatever they would be. My boyfriend could walk away and no one would ever know. He was free. I was cornered.

I grieved and was wild for a full year after that. I broke up with my boyfriend, realizing right away that any man who would advocate the wire wasn’t lifetime commitment material. I drank too much, bounced from guy to guy, and remember not much from that time except long times in the shower crying in grief and guilt. For years, I counted the days and months – how old the child would be if the pregnancy had not been terminated. The guilt was overwhelming. But as I matured, I recognized the decision for what it was – what I believed was right. I accepted responsibility and forgave myself. In the truest terms, I did what I had to do.

But what I had to do was a dreadful thing. The lack of safe, legal, and affordable abortion put me in a dingy motel in downtown Detroit to undergo a risky, unsanitary procedure that could easily have maimed or killed me. That I lived to tell the tale, to write about it on this page, is a small miracle of my life.

Six years later, abortion became legal in the United States. Of any accomplishment of the women’s movement, this one was always at my core. It wasn’t right for women to risk so much in order to be in control of their own reproductive lives. It wasn’t right to punish women who have been cornered by circumstances – unplanned pregnancy, no job, no money, no options – by daring them to find the $250 illegal abortionist in their city or worse. It wasn’t right that women should have to pay for a mistake with their fear, risk their future health and their very lives while men could walk away and be free. I was happy, so happy about Roe v. Wade. At last, I thought, this one thing for women – at last.

Twenty-five years after my abortion, busloads of anti-abortion protesters came to my town. Each morning they would pick a different abortion clinic and turn out by the hundreds to harass women coming for their abortion appointments. The crowds could be enormous with people waving signs with what they claimed to be pictures of aborted fetuses, and singing “My God is an Awesome God” verse after verse, hour after hour. Right away, I signed up to be a clinic defender and each morning I’d get up at 5, pick up a friend, and go lock arms with hundreds of like-minded folks to ‘protect’ that day’s abortion clinic and the women who needed its services. We’d stand there silently while the protesters yelled at us and sang their hymns. They’d call us baby killers and murderers.

Sometimes it would be nose to nose, shoulder to shoulder. The protesters would bring their children, too, and they would be singing “Jesus Loves Me” between choruses of “Awesome God.” We’d all be standing in a giant scrum while morning traffic zoomed by, horns honking in support of both sids. Special protectors in orange vests would shepherd each woman into the clinic for her appointment while protesters surged to scream at her. I couldn’t believe how evil and cruel it was to be screaming at a woman when she was in such a terrible situation., when she was cornered. I wanted to yell at them, “HASN’T ANYTHING BAD EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

Where is your loving kindness?

And here we are again. Demonizing women. Limiting birth control. Shrinking access to legal and safe abortion. Daring women to go find the wire. All while men can walk away and be free.

It makes my 64-year old soul angrier than almost anything. The extreme hatred for women voiced by politicians, the talk of legitimate rape, the unbelievability of the idea of an ultrasound probe, the intent to demean me/us – it all puts me back on the bus in the dark, by myself, cornered and alone.

It’s so wrong to treat women this way. So wrong. We just can’t go back.