Saturday, May 7, 2022

Abortion: Only For Those Who Need It!

NOTE: This post contains my opinions on Catholicism based on my experiences as a child in the 1960's and 70's. Take what you like and leave the rest. I mean no disrespect to anyone who is happy with their faith, but the Supreme Court leak has shaken me to my core and dredged up some old demons. 

In 1977 I was a senior in high school. Roe v. Wade was four years old, and the Catholic Church was hopping mad. At the end of that school year I would finally break free from the prison I had been in for twelve years. But they weren't done with me yet.

For those twelve years, all us good little Catholic girls and boys were marched to church on the first Friday of every month and for various religious holidays to pray for our miserable souls and beg God's forgiveness. I had stopped going to church on Sundays when I was eleven. There were no adults at home to force me, but of course it was near impossible to get out of those perp walks with the rest of my sinning classmates and armed guards nuns keeping watch. We weren't angels, but it was drilled into our heads that we were definitely sinners. After all, we were born in sin thanks to some chick with an apple who took some bad advice from a talking snake and convinced the guy from whose rib she was created to go along with her. We were screwed from the start, and only the grace of God would heal us. But the nuns never explained exactly what that meant. They called it a 'mystery'. All I knew is that I couldn't find it, and by the time I was a senior, I didn't give a shit. Drugs and alcohol were making me feel a whole lot better than the Act of Contrition ever could. God hadn't helped me all the times I cried out in the night, dutifully said my prayers at mass or a zillion Hail Marys after confession, or brought in all the change from my piggy bank to 'buy' starving babies 'over there' in some nameless country while my own refrigerator sat practically empty. No, grace seemed to only be attainable by real saints who were burned at the stake or crucified or shot through with arrows like poor St. Sebastian over there.

I remember the priests at mass telling us to pray for all the unborn children. "Wait a minute, what about me? Who's praying for me?" Surely the nuns knew my home life was a train wreck, they must have known how bad it was. Why weren't they praying for meWhy weren't they helping me!? I guess all of my problems were my own fault because, you know, ORIGINAL SIN!!!

So, on a particular spring day in 1977, our church decided to hold a special 'pro-life' mass that all the students in my high school were supposed to attend. I was told by my art teacher (who was one of the coolest people I knew at the time and was just following orders), that senior AP art students were to create anti-abortion signs. My hackles went up. Until that point, none of my friends ever had to make that extremely difficult choice (that I knew of), but there were a couple of scares. And no one—especially a bunch of men and women hiding behind robes of hypocrisy—was going to force me to take a public stand against something as profound as bodily autonomy. What to do? 

The words came to me pretty quickly. I grabbed a piece of poster board and a marker and wrote:

Only for those who need it!

I don't remember going to the mass or what happened to that poster, but I do remember two of my very good friends refused to attend. They were suspended and their parents were called. Heathens!

Over the years, I tried a few times to return to the church because my connection with my higher power was, and still is, very strong, but each time, I was met with acute hypocrisy. I tried to focus on that relationship, but the priest sex abuse scandal was the final straw. To be fair, there are many Christian organizations that do tremendous work helping others, and with the majority of Americans supporting abortion, it's safe to say that not every Christian wants to return to the days of Hester Prynne. Along the way I found one priest—one—at a particular church who made a point of saying at the end of every mass, this is the church of Jesus Christ, and all are welcome whether straight, gay, married, divorce, black, white, yellow, pink or blue. That's what Jesus would have said. That is true Christianity.

I think about my own daughter at the dawn of her adult life, and I am grateful that we live in a state (NJ) that respects the right of women to make their own healthcare decisions. I think about the women—and men—I know who have had to make that terribly difficult decision because they were not in a space to raise a child. And while the Christian right wrong touts it as the killing of a human being, isn't it also a death—albeit a slow, painful one—to bring a human being into a world where they will not—for whatever reason—be able to live a full, productive life?

While I was born into a loving household, that safety and security dissolved very quickly and life was dark and scary for many years. There should have been social services to help me and my siblings, but there weren't. And now, almost 50 years later, the wealthiest nation in the history of this planet still does not have an adequate social safety net to help women, children and families living on the edge because a very vocal minority has gamed the system in their favor and those in the majority seem to be afraid to offend them.

The US already leads the world's wealthiest nations in maternal mortality, and the states most likely to ban abortion are also least likely to provide adequate, affordable healthcare, including contraception, pre- and postnatal and infant/child healthcare. Pregnancy is a 50-50 operation, yet women are blamed. We—like Eve—are the original sinners and we must pay while men still get their Viagra. As Abraham Lincoln said in his famous anti-slavery speech, "A house divided against itself cannot stand... this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free."

If this Supreme Court decision goes through, this nation will have come full circle. The slavery of all women will be legal. Forced childbirth is slavery. Period.

Artwork by me

Mad? Me too. 



  1. Good piece. Unfortunately, we have to accept the fact that this country is in an awful place right now. I don't know what to do or say abou except that somehow it's got to be part of the evolution of our species. These battles have to take place.

  2. I am still so proud of you!