See Birthright A war story. The bad old days are back and harming women and jailing women for reproductive decisions.
Excellent article, this information has been edited out of social discussion, many young women have no idea what Roe Vs Wade is or why it is important. It is way past time for this discussion.
Thank you for this powerful piece Marge Piercy. And thank you for your poems.
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
― Marge Piercy, To Be of Use
QUOTE: “What happened when a teenager (and remember, contraception was hard to come by in those days if you weren’t married and in some states, even if you were), a young unmarried woman or a married women whose family could not support another child, what happened when any woman discovered she was pregnant and could not have the baby?”
Could not have the baby? You are saying that the only answer is to kill the child? That there is no such thing as adoption? Those days are over. There are literally thousands of homes and ministries which help young women in trouble. Killing the baby is not the answer.
QUOTE: “Another friend was finally pregnant after almost giving up. But in her fifth month, she began miscarrying. When she went to the hospital, she was questioned for an hour while she was spasming and bleeding. Then she was left on a gurney in a hallway for hours, in intense pain and despair. No one did anything; rather she was treated as a criminal, since she might have aborted herself. She was devastated and the aftermath ended her marriage.”
This is horrendous and inexcusable, but it is no justification for killing a child. Someone should have sued the pants off those hospital employees to teach them never to treat a human being like that. No matter what you may or may not have done, you are a human being first.
QUOTE: “Many myths circulated in high school, in college dorms and typing pools about how to get rid of an unwanted fetus. Few worked and several were dangerous, even life threatening, such as douching with Lysol. The other option was to find a back-alley abortionist or, failing that, to abort yourself with some tool. I aborted myself at 18 and almost bled to death. Afterward I was pale blue and weighed 80 pounds.”
What were you doing having sex at 18? What were you doing having sex outside the boundaries of marriage? Sex is for having babies. That is what it does. If you don’t wish to be pregnant, tell the man to get lost until he comes back with a ring and a promise to love you forever. Do not let yourself be used as a toy for his enjoyment.
QUOTE: “Back alley abortions were done without anesthetics and often in far from sterile conditions.”
You mean like the s++thouse in Philadelphia where Kermit Gosnell did his work and killed a woman? You mean like the many Planned Parenthood facilities which have shut down because they were filthy, dangerous, and didn’t care about the woman, but only the money? Do you not realize that Planned Parenthood’s first concern is not women, it is money?
QUOTE: “If you were having sex and not trying to get pregnant, every month when you expected your period was a time of high anxiety. Every time you went into your bathroom or a toilet stall, you hoped, you prayed for blood. If it wasn’t there, you felt doomed. Maybe you’d share that fear, or maybe there was no one you could trust. I cannot overemphasize how powerful that fear was, how it controlled you, how you could not escape it. Some women never had sex again.”
Wow!!! Do you realize what you just said in that last sentence? You just admitted that given the right motivation, people can control their urges. We are not animals, we are human beings with the ability to choose to do the right thing. The Playboy mentality, a pack of lies sold to us in the 1960’s, has taught generations that unless we have sex, we will certainly never be happy. It is a damnable lie. People can live happily and control themselves.
QUOTE: "No sexual freedom existed for women when we could not control our bodies, when love could kill us. "
You have no idea what love is. Love is sacrificial. Love does that which is the best for the other. Love means giving yourself to another sacrificially and making a commitment (i.e., marriage). Any man who wants sex without marriage is a liar when he says “Baby, I love you” and wants you to slip out of your panties. You have it all backwards. No, what you are talking about is lust, pure and simple, the scratching of an itch because you are told by Playboy magazine that you cannot control yourselves and that life is not worth living unless you have sex.
QUOTE: “Abortion became legal not because justices one day woke up and changed their minds but because women took to the streets in huge demonstrations, spoke out on to what media we could, hired busses and harassed state and federal representatives. Because we fought until we won.”
And slowly but surely, more and more young people are realizing that Playboy and the Sexual Revolutionaries of the 1960’s sold us down the river with a pack of lies. They are becoming aware that life is more than a weekend romp in the hay. And we will continue to fight for women and babies until every abortion clinic is closed and every woman is treated with decency.
Edward A Hara, you are a complete jerk. The first abortion I ever heard of was performed on a 13-year-old girl raped by her grandfather. The next that I heard of was on a married woman in her 40s, in poor health, who had three children and two disabled parents to care for. She decided that she couldn’t take on another baby. The third was on a friend of mine–a virgin when she was raped in her own building, coming home from work.
And you pontificate (I choose the word advisedly) that sex is only for having babies within marriage. As far as waiting for a man to give you a ring and promise to love you forever–hah! the divorce rate in this country is around 50%. Men abandon their wives and children all the time. Women rarely abandon their children. You have no idea what it’s like to get pregnant, carry a fetus to term, and go through childbirth. So stuff it.
P.S. Why don’t you go preach to men that they should stay virgins until a woman agrees to marry them? And that it is shameful for them to have sex outside marriage? And that if they do get a woman pregnant, either in or out of marriage, it is their responsibility to support the woman through pregnancy and childbirth, until she is ready to go back to work, and to support the child until it is old enough to earn a living?
Yes, it’s simple - to be of use, not to be used. This poem is right on!
This is a story I have shared with NARAL Pro-Choice and Cosmopolitan.com:
Republicans are using abortion bans to take us back to illegal, unsafe
abortions. I know, because I had one.
By Adele E. Zimmermann
In my early twenties, I found myself pregnant. It was 1965, and I was 23
and new to sex. There was no sex ed in schools, so I was never taught how
easy it could be to get pregnant. This was back when having a baby out of
wedlock was shameful, and women who did so were hidden away until
delivery, and their babies were labeled “bastards” the rest of their
lives. Babies were often surrendered for adoption, since there was very
little support for single mothers. I was terrified.
My only alternative was abortion, and it was illegal. If you managed to
find someone to do the procedure, they were not usually a medical
professional. The procedure was not done in a sterile – or frequently even
clean – environment. While I was fortunate enough to have the procedure
done in my apartment, the person who performed the abortion was so worried
I would be caught that he made me wear a blindfold the entire time, so I
never knew what his face looked like.
Even though the procedure was relatively safe, and not a coat hanger as
was common in those days, something was wrong. I could not stop bleeding
afterwards. I bled for days alone in my apartment, terrified to seek
medical help for fear I would get arrested. I didn’t realize how serious
my condition had become–another day of bleeding, and I might have died.
Eventually the bleeding stopped, and I recovered, by some sort of miracle.
This is what it was like before Roe v. Wade. These are the choices women
had to make, if you can even call what I faced any kind of choice. And
this week, Republicans in the House of Representatives threaten to take us
back to these dark, terrifying days. They’ll hold a hearing on a bill
they introduced that would ban abortion at 6 weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant. Make no mistake: this bill would effectively ban abortions.
This abortion ban is wholly unconstitutional, and while Republicans are
obsessed with rolling back our reproductive rights, no abortion ban this
extreme has ever been introduced, heard, or voted on in Congress until
now. The Supreme Court made very clear in Roe v. Wade that bans before
viability violate a woman’s right to privacy, and established a
constitutional right to abortion as a result.
As a woman with a personal experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone, I feel
that it is beyond shameful that the GOP-led Congress is spending its time
on an abortion ban that I know will put women in danger.
Beyond putting women in harm’s way, these abortion bans attack our
independence by gradually taking away our ability to make decisions about
our own lives, bodies, and futures. I have seen the dangerous conditions
abortion bans create for women. I cannot believe Republicans are using
women’s ability to create new life as a tool to oppress us, and return us
to the restrictions of the first part of the 20th century. Their
anti-choice ideology has no place in my body, nor in any laws.
When you seek to put oppressive restrictions on women’s reproductive
choices, you are in effect seizing control of their bodies. And after what
I’ve been through, I can adamantly say that no out-of-touch politician has
a right to control my body or make decisions for me.
As long as anti-choice politicians continue their shameless attacks on our
basic human rights, I’ll continue working with organizations like NARAL,
joining over one million members to organize and mobilize to protect
reproductive freedom. Seven in 10 Americans believe abortion should remain
legal and accessible. This majority stands on the side of abortion access
and reproductive freedom for all.
Women will not go back to 1965. No out-of-touch politician will prevent us
from controlling our own bodies and our destinies. Whether openly or in
secret, we will always seek access to comprehensive reproductive health
care. For many women, this abortion ban will be a death sentence,
returning us to the days of unsafe and illegal abortions–I know, because
I’ve had one.
Absolutely, totally, completely agree with you. Men are responsible for this mess. It was a man who started the “
Sexual Revolution” of the 1960’s with his filthy Playboy magazine that turned women into nothing more than pieces of men for men to get their jolllies. It is the whole pornographic culture in which we live which sells us on the idea that if you aren’t having yards and yards of sex as a man, you aren’t really living. It is our Capitalist economic system which tells us with so much inuendo that if you use this product or that product you will surely get laid.
You are right. But we are going to have to change the culture. Are you willing, or when someone in the government closes down all pornographers, starts executing rapists, and begins to ban Planned Parenthood for teaching fornication to 7 year olds, are you going to go along with these changes for the better, or will you start screaming about censorship?
The system we have is not only not working, it is hurting women. Liberals are going to have to accept it as it is, or be willing to make serious changes to how we promote immorality and indecency. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.