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The Day After- Roe v. Wade Overturned - Julia's Reflections on Saturday Morning June 25, 2022

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The Day After (Julia’s musing on the Reversal of Roe- Saturday, June 25, 2022)

I was sitting at my desk working, and all of a sudden notifications on my Apple watch were coming in non-stop. When working I usually ignore them until after I finish, but I could not ignore the message, “Roe Overturned” or some version of that same message. I just sat there in silent meditation. It wasn’t a surprise by any means; but knowing the end is near is one thing, and yet when it happens you still grieve the loss. 

I enjoyed sexual exploration and as a young woman, and I wasn’t always careful to make sure that I took the pill every day. I knew that my male sexual partners wouldn’t be faced with the same consequences if I found myself pregnant. That was true then and it’s true now. I did get pregnant at age 19. Yes, he did the “right” and married me, but I backed out of the wedding date at least three times because I knew for sure I didn’t want to be married at all, certainly not at that point in my life.

Thinking back to 1969 when I was pregnant and unwed at age 19 and feeling very unsure about my future. I knew abortion was illegal, so I never considered any option but to give birth and do the best I could to make life for me and the baby the best it could be. I didn’t go back to the clinic for prenatal care until I was showing. I was clueless.

I married at age 19 with no real plan but knowing I really didn’t want to be married. I ended up secretly leaving this marriage four years later in 1974 to avoid physical abuse that had begun to happen.  Needless to say, that in 1973 when Roe v. Wade's decision came down. I was happy to think that a woman faced with the lack of options I had in 1970 would now have more choices about whether she was ready to be a mother or whether she ever wanted to be one.

Julia, 1969-70 age 19

Fortunately, I’ve always felt that I had agency and control over my body, so making the decision to give birth was mine. In fact, when I left Mississippi at age 16, it was because my mother's live in partner tried to molest me and after taking a cast iron skillet to his head to protect myself, I got as far away from him and Mississippi as I possibly could. Given my own personal spiritual beliefs, I know for sure that my choice was to keep my child, and I don’t feel I had no choice. However, I do feel if I had wanted to seek an abortion, what was available was either a danger to my health or what was available was too expensive for me to have done safely. I personally feel that given the choice to give birth or not, most women choose to give birth even with the hardships that may come with that decision. When a woman feels she made the choice, whichever choice she makes, she's also feels better about contributing to her family and she feels better about herself.

 I didn’t know it at age 19 but have come to realize that female sexual freedom and sexual pleasure are constantly policed and socially criticized, or it’s cooped by gendered violence either through rape or incest and for many women being pregnant means increased financial insecurity, all within a hetero-patriarchal society that’s reluctant, or in some states, refuse to adequately provide the societal care and support of the child after birth.

When I consider what it means to Love the Body You’re In, I think it’s most important that we women do not admit defeat and give up our desire to sexual exploration and pleasure that everybody deserves; and if a woman become pregnant as result of her own sexual explorations or if she becomes pregnant a result of unwanted or forced sexual encounter, the choice of whether to give birth should be her choice and her right!  

Like many other women, I’m committed to work within my state (Pennsylvania) to ensure that women’s reproductive rights including the right to an abortion remains legal and to support organization throughout the country that have been working on women’s reproductive rights over the last several decades. In fact, I use to be an Airbnb host and have a guest room that could be used to provide a temporary stay for a woman in need of abortion services where I live. As I plan to do, I suggest you seek guidance from one of the on the ground organizations to make sure you’ve considered all that’s involved in doing so. I’ve posted links below of a few organizations that may provide information about what’s most helpful and how to best get involved:

Planned Parenthood 

Center For Reproductive Rights

While it may feel very discouraging, as an African American and a woman, I know all too well what it means to keep faith and keep fighting for our rights. 

I encourage you to remain hopeful, keep fighting and helping in any way you are able. I’m also including a link to a collaborative project of hand painted and printed bandanas called "Portals "with my daughter who lives in Oklahoma, a state where a woman’s right to have abortion has been outlawed. The site is TRIAL AND ERROR where profits from the sale of the bandanas are going to the Roe Fund.

If you would like to get involved, please go to any or all of the organizations’ links above to find out how you can help. Please leave comments and subscribe to the Love the Body You’re In blog.