On October 2nd, 2021 I had the opportunity to do something extremely important. With my dear husband by my side, I went to downtown Seattle to stand in solidarity with younger women, just as the older generations stood in solidarity with me in years past so that I could enjoy the freedoms I have as a female in this country. I mean, it’s thanks to them that I can now vote, have a credit card in my name, and can’t be married off at age 12 anymore. It’s because of them that most of us now take those things for granted. I was grateful for their efforts, so I thought (and will always think) that it was time to pay it forward, even though I’m no longer of childbearing age.
Hundreds of us converged on Westlake Center, just as hundreds and even thousands converged on 650 other marches and rallies around the country. Many of us may have appeared not to have a dog in this fight. There were a lot of men and older women there, and rightly so. Any assault on human rights is an assault on us all.
And assaults on women’s rights are at an all-time high at the moment. Texas’ recent passing of law SB 8, which turns all citizens into vigilantes, is particularly cruel. Not only does it not allow abortions after 6 weeks, even though most women don’t even know they’re pregnant that soon, but it has neighbors and even strangers taking action to prevent you from accessing healthcare
. Texans can no longer trust fellow Texans. They are forced into feeling like they’re constantly watched and that they’re criminals who should feel shame. That is truly terrifying. It has to be stopped before the 95 percent of us who are pro-choice get overpowered by the 5 percent who are not.
Let me make one thing clear before I go on to describe the event. People who are pro-choice are not out here trying to convince or force people to have abortions. We have nothing against people who are morally opposed to, or simply uncomfortable with, the concept of this medical procedure. We are fighting for your right to make that decision as well. More power to you. I will defend, until my last dying breath, your choice to not have an abortion.
We believe that every human should make their own health decisions. If a man who wanted a vasectomy was told that he couldn’t have one because some other random people found it morally repugnant, his head would explode. There’s absolutely no way that the men in power would sit still for any obstacles put in the way of men’s health care. That’s why it’s easier to obtain Viagra than birth control pills in this country. The people at this protest believe women should have the same right to make personal health care decisions. And since some women will make the decision to have an abortion, we simply want those abortions to be safe, affordable, and accessible to everyone who feels they need one. No one, anywhere, should have to flee in secret to another state or country to access health care.
Oh, and I guess I lied about making only one thing clear before going on to describe the event. There’s another thing that I should clarify, if only to head off the comments that I anticipate from trolls. Pro-choice should never be equated with the freedom to not wear masks, or the freedom to not get vaccinated in the throes of a pandemic.
Public health issues such as trying to prevent the more vulnerable people who live amongst us from dying of COVID, are completely different from making a personal choice that does not impact the health of other adults. Wearing masks and getting vaccinated is the very essence of being pro-choice, because we do so in order to allow others to live to make their personal health choices. So don’t even go there with me.
So, now let’s delve into the thick of the rally, shall we? As so many other people did, I came dressed for the occasion. I was wearing my Nasty Woman t-shirt. I also had on my Notorious RBG pin, and my RBG mask which says, “Fight for the things you care about.” I was also wearing my rainbow jacket, because this is also an LGBTQ+ issue. And of course, I donned my pussy hat even though it was technically too warm for it.
In fact, it was a beautiful, sunny day. Perfect for listening to all the speeches. It was almost as if nature was on our side, because it had been the typical crappy Seattle October weather the day before and the day after, but on that day there was not a cloud in the sky.
And the place was so packed with people that it made me nervous. Thanks to the pandemic, I don’t think I’ll ever be used to crowds again. But every single person there was wearing a mask, and I suspect the vast majority were vaccinated, too. The event was held outdoors. We all tried our best to keep a respectful distance from each other, but had a hard time succeeding in our efforts. Normally I’d avoid putting myself at such risk, but the cause is way too important to me to opt out. I just couldn’t do it.
The energy in the crowd was amazing. As we listened to the various speeches, people were clapping and showing support to the various speakers. There were no trolls in the crowd on this day.
The speakers discussed a variety of things. One told us that she never wanted an abortion, but a birth defect that she was born with meant that a pregnancy would have killed her. She had been married to her husband for many years before her birth control method had failed, and yes, she was more than 6 weeks along when she discovered she was pregnant. It was either have an abortion or die, so she had an abortion. If she lived in Texas right now, she would die.
Another had to go through the process of artificial insemination to have a baby, and it turned out that three of the eggs inside her became fertilized, and the doctor said that if she carried all three to term, her life, and the life of the children, would be at risk. So she had one of them removed, and now has a healthy family.
A third woman talked about how she became pregnant for the first time when she was young and desperately poor and about to go to college to improve her life. She had an abortion. When she finally chose to have children she was more mature and financially able to properly care for them and give them a stable life. She also mentioned that she had no regrets making this choice, and she was not traumatized by the simple procedure. (I wish Hollywood and the media would stop keeping that secret. Most women who have abortions don’t turn into basket cases.)
Other stories were passed through the crowd. One that was mentioned was a severe birth defect discovered in utero that meant the child would not be able to live outside of the mother’s body. No way. The fetus had no brain. So the mother chose to have an abortion rather than have the trauma of carrying that child who would be born dead. In Texas, she wouldn’t have that choice.
And there were discussions of battered women whose batterers attempted to force pregnancy on them in order to trap them at home, or the batters who only become batterers after the woman is pregnant, because the focus is no longer on him. And there’s pregnancies brought on by rape, which is a whole other nightmare scenario.
No two women have the same story, and therefore no white male legislator should have the right to dictate what she chooses to do with her life. Women do not owe explanations or excuses to anybody.
As one sign, being carried by a much older woman, said, “I cannot believe we’re still having to fight this sh*t.”
Speaking of signs, people really got creative with their activism at this rally! Here are some of the ones I observed in the crowd:
- We are not ovary-acting!
- Abortion on demand without apology!
- Women of color tried to warn us.
- Bans off our bodies.
- Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.
- Angry people will change the world.
- Men of quality do not fear equality.
- Abort the court.
- Abortion IS health care.
- Don’t mess with
- Choice for my daughters and granddaughter.
- We need to talk about the elephant in the womb.
- I’m with her (with arrows pointing in all directions, and held by a man).
- If only an abortion was as easy to get as a gun in TX.
- Texas, where a virus has more reproductive rights than I do.
- I am a person, my body is my own.
- Stand with Planned Parenthood.
- My favorite included a picture of RBG and said, “The future is Ruthless. ACT appropriately. Your choice is supremely your own.”
- Forced Uterine Containment * Texas!
- Mind your own uterus.
- Women’s rights are human rights.
- I am more than just a womb.
- I march 4 women who can’t.
- Do NOT mess with the grandmas!
- History repeats himself. (with coat hanger) We are better than this.
- He has no right to tell a woman when to create one.
- This is why I left Texas and moved to Seattle.
- I didn’t want an abortion. I NEEDED one.
- No one is free when someone is oppressed.
- My body, my decision.
- Protect Roe v. Wade 1973. Not your body, not your choice.
- Texas: American Horror Story.
- Logic of the GOP: (Mask picture) My body, my choice. (Uterus picture) Your body, my choice.
- Pro-Life Pro-Child Pro-Women Pro-Choice.
- Pro-choice is NOT Anti-life!
- Focus on the living!
- I am a woman, not a womb.
- If you cut off my reproductive rights, can I cut off yours?
- Mandate vasectomies.
- Arrest the owner of the sperm!
- Planned Parenthood saves lives!
- Grab ‘em by the patriarchy!
And the best part was that every single sign was carried by someone who cares. Please, dear reader, decide what matters to you and stand for it. It’s the most important thing you’ll ever do. What a day!
As everyone was disbursing, people started singing Country Joe and the Fish’s Vietnam Song. So you can hear the dulcet tones of this song, as it was sung at Woodstock, here. It left me feeling like we were connected to a long, long line of righteous protest. And that felt really, really good.
Enjoying my view? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5
10 thoughts on “We Rallied for Reproductive Justice!”
I’m proud of you!
Thank you. I am, too. 🙂
RBG will be proud of your efforts once she stops turning in her grave over Texas efforts to embody The Handmaid’s Tale. You donned your warriors’ gear, embraced and survived the battle. Prepare to face many more before this war is done. Birth control was very unreliable for me, so after a difficult, risky pregnancy I was advised to tie my tubes, but the law required your husbands permission, which he refused to give. Subsequent pregnancies permanently damaged my health. My girlfriends parents flew her to New York for a legal abortion she couldn’t afford otherwise. I’ve already lived this horror, but here we are again fighting for our freedom from the tyranny of a few ignorant, cowardly males. Real men don’t control or oppress. Love the signs strong words, but we need to back them with equally strong actions. Beautiful Bette Midler had a seemingly nonviolent suggestion: women can refuse sex with men in protest, but some men will see it as a challenge to their perceived rights to “their” women’s bodies and just rape them. I’ve lived that scenario. My stomach has been in knots since this law passed, forcing me to relive all the moments (of which there’s far too many) a male has violated and desecrated my body, mind and soul by denying my human rights. Europe’s efforts to fight misogyny and sexism: https://www.coe.int/en/web/human-rights-channel/stop-sexism We need mandatory classes to educate the ignorant in basic human rights. Start with lawmakers and politicians. Males and females.
I’d love your thoughts on this, Lyn: The groups we oppress are always easy to spot. Skin color. Eye slant. Breasts. We don’t discriminate due to eye color, because people could wear colored contacts. We don’t discriminate due to hair color because people can dye their hair. But we do make a fuss about hair texture. So unless women evolve not to have breasts and curves, and start to grow a bulge somewhere else, this will be an ongoing fight for all eternity. But we women are up for it. Mandatory classes sound good, but my employer requires we take two classes o race and social justice a year, and I can always tell the people who are attending resentfully, and they refuse to take any of it in.
Thank you for participating and writing this. Mass peaceful protest is the most effective way of challenging an authoritarian state. I’m afraid we’re all but there, so it is important to protest as often as you can.
Mass protests are also one of the most effective ways of mobilizing and energizing the base. Science fact: the side that had the most and largest protests wins the following elections. We need all the energy and mobilizing we get to counter the voter suppression and nullification laws.
Now, if we could just get the Democratic Senate to move.
The senate is encased in stone, literally and figuratively. Here’s hoping for more and larger peaceful and righteous protests!
We’re going to need them that’s for sure. Last year I was urging people to take non-violent resistance and protest training because it seemed so likely that we were going to need mass non-violent protests after the 2020 elections. Now, I’m thinking it is even more important for the 2022 elections.
Good counsel. The world is going mad.
Thanks for the mention, Jack! And, uh, aren’t I your ONLY bridgetender? We’re rather thin on the ground, after all. 🙂