Deeper Story: Texas (Or Why I’m Thinking about Abortion these Days)

This is an old post from Deeper Story, and felt pertinent again as we face state-mandated legislation that continues to impose on the rights of women like Purvi Patel who was recently convicted of feticide because of a miscarriage while killers like George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson, and the police offers who shot Tamir Rice, John Crawford, and strangled Eric Gurley walk free. We’ve seen much miscarriages of justice this last year. #repealrfra #fixfeticidelaw 

Wendy Davis.

Abortion.

Human rights.

The drama in Texas as of late has been time-consuming. During the summer when all my shows are absent and I’m tired of reruns on Netflix or Hulu it is easy to get swept up in it. Late at night I squint at my Iphone following various conversations on Twitter and then catch up on summaries and opinions about it the next morning. I find myself reacting to photographs…cringing and angry at people posting pictures of aborted fetuses in the palm of someone’s hand. Angry at the loss of life. Angry at feeling manipulated by these pictures. But, also heartened, and bolstered by images of Wendy Davis standing, but also sitting in a gallery, a sea of men, and the women sitting in the gallery in solidarity, resisting, and speaking, embodying the voiceless.

Something huge is stirring there. And, it feels like a microcosm of the general unrest all across the country. Trayvon Martin. Death Row. The Asiana debacle. Gay marriage. It’s all a bit staggering trying to keep up with voices clamoring for attention. Is there a majority voice? A minority voice? Does that even matter?

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I’m taking Monday mornings “off” now (quotes because are we really ever off, especially with a cute almost-5 month old sleeping near me that will awake at any moment) and trying to get out somewhere – anywhere – to feel normal. I’m sitting in the Bakehouse, which is the local version of Panera-Cosi surrounded by students and retirees with big screen TVs showing some road race. The town is big into cycling with the Little Indy and well, just watch the movie, Breakaway.

I’m drinking a leisurely cup of coffee. This is an insanely huge treat to not have to toss into the back of my throat so I don’t lose my chance at caffeine. And baby#3 has fallen into what looks possible like a deep sleep. And…there’s a family behind me with a screaming toddler. I think it’s a toddler. I don’t turn around because I know how it feels to be looked at when in public with a very unhappy and vocal child. My shoulders are tightening up. It’s not so relaxing anymore. I’m starting to gulp the coffee as if it will disappear like a use-it-or-lose-it arrangement. The little voice sounds so similar to the twins it feels like I’m at home with them trying to ignore the latest scream-debate over the broom or my flip-flops.

How can something so small be so loud?

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When I was lying on the table as they reached in and plucked the twins out of the place that was their home for almost 9 months – my impossibly huge belly – I tried to imagine the sound they would make with their first breath. D had a low, wide cry that would remain the same even until this day, and Angelpie screeched as they lifted her up. I laughed. My first words – I was drugged up, mind you – was, “She sounds like a cat!” If I could go back I maybe would have tried to muster up something more meaningful.

But I cried, too. Their cries were God. Something divine and eternal happened in that moment, a thin place, a place where heaven and earth touched briefly. Likewise, when Oz was born and we had no idea whether boy or girl when I heard his wail, it immediately brought tears to my eyes. Hearing his voice meant he was real. Because even up to that point – what with infertility issues and a surprise pregnancy – I still didn’t believe he was real. His voice cut through all those doubts, and I was thinking, rather cheerily, the words to that Beatles song, I’m a believer…

I get it now.

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The sight of the two embryos getting sucked up by a microscopic needle in preparation for the embryo transfer – on a huge flat screen TV – while I lay on the table is forever burned in my mind. There goes Anna. (Swoooooop)There goes Desmond. (Swooooooooop) They were little dots in a petri dish. Now they are flailing limbs, teeth, wrinkled noses, and sweet hands. I can’t help but think what would we have done if later in the pregnancy something happened where it wouldn’t be a viable option to continue to sustain them? Some kind of genetic disability? Or what if one was somehow viable, and the other not, and one needed to come out early, otherwise we would lose both? These are horrible scenarios, I know, but I have heard they are real. I don’t know what I would have chosen to do if that happened to us. There’s far worse that could have happened to me, too, and that happen to women on a daily basis, their bodies.

All that drama. To try to decide who has rights, who has nerve endings and feels pain, who has a soul. To try to decide who gets to choose what happens to the little blip on the screen until the first breath, the first cry.

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There’s no answer. No one answer. But what this has to do with me right now is the conviction that the struggle for life – whether at the embryonic or community levels – is one that must be engaged by all. It might have to do with race, or with gender, or with economics, but it impacts all. I’m sounding preachy. I’m not meaning to lecture because this is pretty obvious. I think I’m writing it out to remind myself that like a friend posted on Facebook this morning I can’t just post a couple of links or say a few words here and there because a revolution needs to happen that is real and changes people and institutions. For now, that resistance happens at home and in coffee shops…I pray God to give me courage to carry that resistance into other places, too, at the courthouse, at church, and the streets.

“A social movement that moves only people is a revolt. A movement that changes people and institutions is a revolution.” – MLK Jr.