I realize I am lucky.
One day during Bush's (second) presidency, I happened to have good healthcare. I had been reading about his attempts to enshrine "conscience clauses" into the Department of Health and Services Rules & Regs. I had fairly recently had an ectopic pregnancy, during which time I held my breath waiting to see if my tubes would explode and I would be rushed to an ER...an established bad venue for appropriate treatment for ectopics. All I knew was that my failed pregnancy was not, like some women believed, "an angel in heaven" -- but rather an out of control entity actively trying to kill me.
So I exercised my privilege, like those of us who can do, and found an urban doctor who was willing to sterilize a childfree woman without any trouble. I paid $10 for that tubal, even though it was performed in a hospital and I had about six hours of post-op monitoring due to the fact my bladder was too sleepy.
About a year after my procedure Obama was elected. I wondered to myself whether I had been too hasty. Not that I rushed to get sterilized and regretted it. But rather, I felt compelled to do it because all of a sudden I was scared. I was scared that my government was suddenly interested in making sure I was not able to control my own reproduction. That my personal values would be overridden by those of my government. I knew I didn't want children, ever, and what if I needed an abortion and couldn't get one? What if I went to get pills filled and the pharmacist declined to fill that script?
(I am a trained boxer and mixed martial artist, and I honestly don't think I would trust myself to walk away from a smug face that told me I was a slut because I wanted birth control pills.)
And then the Republicans started with the attacks. Attacks on the clinics I worked for, attacks on women just trying to get their annual exam, bomb threats to disrupt clinic operations, attacks at the state level with their FACE laws -- laws cloaked in "health preservation" but were really attempts to drive abortion providers out of business.
Then there was the murder of Dr. Tiller in his own church.
Do you know that I once spoke with Dr. Tiller myself?
I did. I sent him a desperate patient.
I worked at Planned Parenthood. Almost every day for the last several years I heard how horrible we are. I knew many providers who would go everywhere with a protection dog, and bullet proof vests. Or they wouldn't wear them because they were finally fatalistic. I remember one abortion doctor saying, "they all know to aim for the head now, wearing a vest is pointless."
And honestly, people yelling at me for my job choice phased me not at all. Well, that's not exactly true. It made me quietly angry. I drank a lot. But knowing that I was making people who hate women angry? There was some kind of satisfaction in that.
But there was no satisfaction in making sure that my parents or husband didn't open packages they weren't expecting.
Most recently I moved on, and I no longer work for Planned Parenthood, but I still work in healthcare. And I moved from a state that is having the pharmacist argument to one that no longer entertains such stupid things, and choice is enshrined in the Constitution of the State. So theoretically, hey, screw you, I got mine. I could say that. So many people I know say that. There are actually days in which I can go without thinking about attacks on reproductive rights, especially if I don't watch Ryan and Romey lie to me on my tee vee.
But what I don't understand are those Democrats who say they are so disappointed in Obama they don't plan to vote. Yes, he is a politician and he talks and doesn't deliver on anything. But not voting because you are angry at him? Or voting for someone who has no chance? Wrong answer.
You are not affecting me, because I'm privileged. I'm white, I could pay for a tubal, I have money, and if I strangely needed an abortion I would get myself one. Even if that means a plane ticket to Europe. You are affecting your own daughters, nieces, mothers, and sisters. You are affecting poor women in abusive relationships. You are affecting teens who cannot talk to their parents. You are affecting women who have a fetus who will not survive due to deformities.
You know, I do wish that I could think what so many other people think. Fuck you, I got mine.
But I can't. I've seen the faces of desperate women and girls.
Don't vote because you are upset at Obama for real or imagined failures?
Well, then, in the next few years, let me know when you know someone who needs a life or sanity-saving abortion. Hopefully I'll still know someone.