There were three things on my homie's mind last month. She couldn’t write it into a poem, so she needed to say it. So, for open mike poetry, she told her stories related to Buddhist articles she was clearing out of her attic, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and the murder of Dr. George Tiller.
She said the third thing was probably the biggest, and to me, it was the most powerful. I asked her if I could transcribe it, and she said yes. We'd had a powerful conversation over lunch in which she said the worst thing by far is people telling her how she should feel, and that we don't hear these sides of the story because of that. Indeed, our other close friend could not believe she hadn't buried deep grief, and tried to push her into acknowledging that. He, ex-Catholic, was greatly disturbed at the idea that any person wouldn't have trauma over this. My homie and I are as close as friends could be who don't live together, and this was news to me, and certainly I don't know of anyone else who will say she had an abortion and is glad about it. Any time this subject comes up, there seems to be an obligatory regret involved.
So here is the transcript of that third part of her open mike. If you wish to listen to the whole thing, go here and then go to minute 32. For this part, go to minute 35.
I have been almost incoherently angry about the shooting of Dr. Tiller. So I thought I’d tell you what it was like to have a somewhat legal abortion in Oregon in 1970. This was three years before Roe vs Wade, and three years after an Oregon law passed permitting abortion due to rape, incest, mental or physical problems. I was lucky because a friend of mine who had an abortion shortly before I did (I met her a long time afterwards) …the only way she could get hers was to spend a week in a county mental hospital, which at that time was up at OHSU.
I was 19. I was ignorant of many things. I had not been taught by anybody what was going on and the only thing I knew was passion. Of course any education at that time was ‘abstinence only’…get married. Abstinence only equals ignorance only. I remember my mother giving me a book with rabbits fucking in it. ::laughs:: OK what does that mean!
I was shy and depressed and had low self-esteem. I’d moved out 5 months before that. Broke up with my boyfriend then got back together then began living together. We had a minimum wage job lifestyle…we sometimes used birth control. I was in denial about being pregnant. I finally went to Outside In, which still exists and still does good work. I remember getting the phone call with the results in the Agora Coffee House, which was in PSU down in the basement of the Koinonia House. They told me and I said, “What am I going to do, I don’t want this baby, I don’t want to do this,” and I was totally enfolded by people who were willing to, if not break the law, stretch the law.
I had to have an affidavit by three doctors saying that I was not mentally fit to have a child. I never saw these doctors…they were just somewhere signing papers for us. I had to go talk to the Assistant District Attorney…along with my boyfriend…because I was considered a minor, even though it was legal for me to live by myself outside of my parents home. I had to talk to the Assistant DA Harl Haas (who later became the DA and then a judge) and become ward of the court for a day--the day of the procedure. I remember him telling us to quit playing house. I had a stack of legal documents half an inch thick. I kept them for a long time, I finally threw them out. I kinda wish I hadn’t now.
So Outside In made all the arrangements. There were no clinics at that time. You had to have everything through the hospital. My mother found out from my soon-to-be-former-best-friend and showed up on my doorstep, pleading and screaming. I said, “No.” This was the first time I ever stood up to her deliberately. I’d always snuck around standing up to her. “Come home, get married.”
“No…I won’t. If you try to force me, if you try to get in the way, I’ll commit suicide.” …because basically I raised her kids while she was doing other stuff. I’d had enough kids. My boyfriend John borrowed money from friends. It was about a month’s pay at the time.
I had total anesthetic. The only thing I remember about it, an angry nurse tried to jab an IV in my hand and the other nurse chewing her out.
So I’m grateful to all these people I never met and I have no remorse. And I’m glad. I hope this is being taped, I don’t care who hears it. It’s time for this shit to stop. I’m really tired about being peaceful about this shit. I’m really tired of everybody trying to play nice with these assholes so…
Bring. It. On.