My coworker snorted when I told her I'd be blogging about the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade today."I'm not big on the fem movement," she said. "And 37th anniversary? Meh. Such an obscure number…maybe on the 40th."
I celebrate Roe v. Wade every year, I told her. Every day, maybe. Every time they don't succeed in reversing the decision is cause for celebration, as far as I'm concerned. (Just like every month I can go to the pharmacy and have my birth control prescription filled without being hassled by the pharmacist is fantastic. Hooray, another victory for women that, dear GOD, we shouldn't have to even think about.)
So. It's the 37th anniversary of this huge decision. Huge. The decision that allows a woman to decide for herself. And today, for the fifth year in a row, NARAL is sponsoring Blog for Choice Day. "In honor of Dr. George Tiller," the website reads, "who often wore a button that simply read, 'Trust Women,' this year's Blog for Choice question is: What does 'Trust Women' mean to you?"
Like so many other women, I have these rights but am completely ignorant to the people who championed them before I was even born. Roe v. Wade is 37; I'm 26. So I Googled.I went on Google images to find a photo of Tiller wearing that button — in part because I actually didn't know who Tiller was, for a moment. (I feel enormously stupid now, of course, because he was in the news for months in my home state after his murder last May.) The first photo that came up when I typed "Trust Women"? It's here. I won't even link to it. Other photos on that page link to stories about 50 Cent and the ShamWow guy, who was arrested in Miami last year for allegedly beating a prostitute after she bit his tongue. Three actual results related to this topic, the rest about hopeless misogynists who don't trust women. Sigh.
Trust Women. And start early. A lot of fathers have The Talk with their sons as soon as puberty hits, maybe earlier. Soon enough, that familiar Magnum ring is worn through the leather of their teen-years wallet; they strut around emboldened with the power of protection and knowledge. Parents, trust your daughters with the same. Even if it seems unseemly to have that conversation, unladylike for them to possess such knowledge. Tell them about sex. Tell them it can be a good thing. And tell them what happens when you're stupid about it. Tell them how to be smart; tell them you support them. Don't expect that ignoring sex — not talking about it, denying that your child would ever engage in that before she's married and carried over the threshold of the white wedding suite in the tropics — will stop it from happening.
As adults? We are not the corseted, seemingly helpless ladies who lived centuries ago. We aren't shoehorned into a handful of professions We don't fan ourselves frantically or need smelling salts to revive us after a particularly shocking bit of gossip. We're independent, modern women. We are police officers, politicians. Personal trainers, celebrity chefs. Rescue workers, journalists, teachers. Underwater basket weavers. Sanitation workers. Trust us to make decisions that suit our lives. Trust us to be responsible in our own way. Disapprove all you'd like, but move along quickly and worry about yourselves. And trust us to live with our decisions, whatever they may be.
The idea of a baby not being born when it had all the potential in the world breaks my heart. There are few things I love more than babies (though puppies and raw cookie cough are right up there). But I also know that a lot of those babies would be born into awful lives. They would have the odds stacked against them for the rest of their lives. Or they'd be born with debilitating defects that could wind up killing them anyway. I don't know who gets to play God where all this is concerned, but the women who would have to care for these children — or put them up for adoption, or abandon them outside a church or in a Dumpster somewhere, if they felt they had no other option — seem more worthy than the self-righteous, judgmental assholes who think they know best because of some obscure biblical passage they wrapped around their warped sense of morality. God's not going to take care of those unwanted babies after they're born. Neither are those people who sit outside the abortion clinic on North Elston, huddled at a folding card table, just waiting to descend on those poor women. Women who are already scared out of their minds and lost and doubting themselves, they aren't going to be helped by images of the Virgin Mary or mangled fetuses. If you can't get behind their decision to have an abortion, maybe you should have been there with condoms or better sex education when they were growing up. Or maybe you should go to work as a counselor in a clinic and help them understand that they do have other options. That they wouldn't go to hell. That they're not alone. Trust them enough to let them lean on you when they need someone.
I made some stupid decisions during my summer awakening in 2008. I'm lucky I didn't wind up pregnant. Lucky, looking back. No thanks to my straight-laced upbringing in the snow-white, WASPy suburbs. And I'm not sure what I would have done if I had gotten pregnant. After deciding to hate myself forever, of course. Because I'm just not that girl. But then again, how many women who wind up in this situation are that girl to begin with? Do we become "that girl" when faced with the choice? Well, that's not what this is about. I have an option, for now. A choice. Every woman should, now and forever. Trust me.