My Body, My Choice

Washington, D.C. is not my favorite place. Since the government buildings and monuments are visible from all over the city, I spend my time there in a kind of continual rage brought on by the way these monuments smugly celebrate the pack of lies that passes for American history. There’s something about the streets of D.C. that reminds me of a half-full mid-priced hotel. There’s not much nightlife, grit or soul. My least favorite thing about Washington D.C., however, is that it’s the seat of a government I loathe and distrust.

But there is one way I enjoy visiting Washington. I like to get on a bus at 6:00 a.m., ride down there, spend a total of four hours within city limits screaming my grievances at this government I loathe and distrust at the top of my lungs with several hundred thousand like-minded people, and then get back on the bus and make it back to New York by 11:00, including rest stop in Delaware. This past Sunday I got to take one such ideal jaunt to our nation’s capital, where I marched with 1,150,000 other people who care about women’s lives, and indulged in such wholesome activities as snarling, “You keep praying, I’ll keep screwing!” at the pro-life counter-demonstrators.

All I could think the whole time was “Why are we going home just because we’ve marched past the White House for four hours, while the Moron Puppet of Evil is probably golfing at Camp David? Why don’t we just stay here until they promise not to overturn Roe v. Wade, agree to lift all the sneaky, incremental laws that make abortion effectively illegal for many American women, reverse the Gag Rule, admit there is no such thing as “Partial-Birth Abortion,” give more funding to AIDS research and treatment, and fund sex education that really works? Just stay until we get what we want? Why are we going to go home and pretend that registering our friends to vote is going to keep this administration from a) fixing the election again and b) calling us a “focus group” and ignoring the fact that the majority of America is pro-choice?”

The sheer power of numbers was awesome. For a moment, I naively believed that the government couldn’t ignore a million people at its doorstep, until I remembered that it ignored 50 million voters, millions of worldwide antiwar demonstrators, and it continually ignores an American majority that is far less conservative that its government.

The March for Women’s Lives gave me an opportunity to crystallize some of my thoughts on reproductive rights, and these are ten of them:

1. It infuriates me that what seems to me to be the most private aspect of my autonomy is up for debate in this country. This is a country where the right to drive an SUV–which does affect other people, if “other people” can be taken to mean, “the entire planet and the future of the human species”–is considered God-given and inalienable, but the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, which affects one person (maybe two people, if the man in the situation knows and cares about it), remains continually in question. No one walks up to men and asks them, “Can I help you make some decisions about your penis? Would you like to hear my opinion about what you should do with your penis? Can you please explain to me your complex opinion, complex with legal and theoretical justifications, of why your penis is private, because I’d like to explore the possibility that it belongs to the state.” And that really pisses me off.

2. It also pisses me off because I’m kind of a prude. I don’t like to go around saying things like, “my coochie.” But when I feel like government is trying to get inside it, I get angry and am forced to say things like, “Why do these perverted motherfuckers want to crawl all up inside my coochie?” And then I become violent and say things like, “I am against violence and guns in general but maybe I will get one so I can DEFEND MY COOCHIE.” And then I am all embarrassed because I said, “coochie.”

3. If Congress belonged in anyone’s uterus, then C-Span would depict the government meeting in a dark, wet, pink place. Last I saw, the (largely) rich (largely) white (largely) men entrusted with the job of not representing us and killing people in other countries in the name of our so-called freedom appear to meet in a wood-paneled room decorated to convey the two most important values of our government, having a lot of money and being really old. When Dick Cheney bangs a gavel on a Fallopian tube and Bill Frist is adhering to Robert’s Rules while knee-deep uterine lining, they’ll have a better argument on that front.

4. The only womb that would be even vaguely appropriate for George W. Bush to want to crawl inside of is Barbara Bush’s. (Ew. The only thing sicker than Republicans having sex is Republicans having Oedipal issues. Ewwwww.) They have therapy for that kind of thing. I refuse to see the rights of millions of women around the world restricted because this man would rather be in a prayer circle getting money stuffed down his pants like a stripper than lying on a couch where he belongs.

5. I would bet money that one of the Bush twins has had an abortion, or at least taken the morning after pill. Lots of money. I don’t like to be judgmental, but those girls look like whores. Not that these measures are for whores, as the fact that practically EVERY WOMAN I KNOW has availed herself of one of these options or another. And I don’t think I hang out with whores. Sluts, maybe, but not whores.

6. The Bush Administration claims that one reason they refused to release the file on his military service for so long was that it revealed that he was treated for a hemorrhoid. They felt that this information was private and should not be shared with the American public. Thirty years later, the Attorney General is attempting to get women’s confidential medical records. It’s kind of an achievement when you can not only be fascists, but fascist hypocrites.

7. Are we actually supposed to believe that the administration who has killed 10,000 Iraqi civilians and going on 800 American soldiers (let alone the victims of the AIDS epidemic–now growing in number in part because of the gag rule, let alone the victims of the war in Afghanistan, let alone the manifold other casualties of the American empire) believes that “all life is sacred”? You want to save children? STOP DROPPING BOMBS ON THEM. You want to save children? FUND THEIR EDUCATION. I really don’t buy that it’s about the potential life of a tiny embryo. There is a lot of potential life in an Iraqi child, or the 1 in 5 American children who lives in poverty. You believe all life is sacred? Then stop destroying this planet, on which all that sacred life has to live. No one who builds a bomb believes that all life is sacred.

8. If all the anti-abortion people in the world adopted every single orphan in every orphanage, every drug-addicted baby, every AIDS baby, every female child in China, every orphan whose mother died of AIDS, every orphan whose mother died of an illegal abortion, and then they stopped every government in the world from manufacturing guns, bombs, grenades, landmines and other things that kill people, and then they removed all the poisonous gases from the air and contaminants from the drinking water, made and enforced laws that keep power plants from giving people living nearby cancer, removed all the lead paint from all the buildings where little kids get brain damaged and die from it, recalled and fixed every toy that can kill a child, researched and solved the heartbreaking mystery of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and figured out a way to prevent child abuse from ever occurring, I might listen to them for ONE SECOND. But then I would go do whatever I want because IT’S STILL MY LIFE AND IT’S STILL MY BODY.

9. Also, if life does begin at conception (and for the record, I think life begins whenever the woman whose body the life grows in and depends on parasitically to survive says it does) why stop there? The zygote is an awfully arbitrary point to begin life. Why not begin with the oocytes? The gametes? You know, the good ‘ol egg and sperm? Sperm are alive. They swim. They have a will to survive, though sometimes they bump into things and die cruel deaths. It’s heartbreaking. One minute the little tiny sperm is swimming around, and the next minute this tiny creature is DEAD. A man doesn’t even have to go to a doctor to kill a sperm. He can do it at home, without any input or oversight from the moral authority of his government or God. How come no one stands outside porn shops where men prepare to expel four hundred million potential humans in single ejaculation screaming, “Don’t kill your four hundred million babies! All four hundred of them are sacred life!” How come nobody says, “Masturbation stops a swimming sperm!”?

10. We have a word for when one person forcibly invades or penetrates another person’s body, or forces a sexual experience upon them against their will and consent. That word is “rape.” It is an act of violence and we accept that it affects the victim for the rest of his or her life. I don’t see how it matters whether a stranger on the street forces you to have sex with them or your government forces you to carry a pregnancy to term. Both are physical, sexual experiences forced upon you against your will that alter your life forever.

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