At some point last week, I must have fallen into a black hole. Had a bad dream I didn’t wake from. Was cast in an episode of the Twilight Zone. Discovered time travel and was transported back to the 1970s.
By now, most people have weighed in on Friday’s overturn of Roe v. Wade. I needed a few days to read, digest, process before I felt I had the right words to express where I stand.
I know, accept, and expect that I will lose some of you as followers after what I write here. But honestly, I don’t give a damn. This post is an honest reflection of my own personal thoughts, opinions, and feelings. And as a mother, it’s what I’m called to write for my kids. When we sit down to share a post-dinner drink one Christmas twenty years from now, and the conversation turns to reflecting on history, I want to be able to show them exactly where I stood at this moment in time.
So, here it is: A Letter to My Children Re: The Fall of Roe v. Wade
Dear Avery & Christian,
The world has felt heavy this week. You wouldn’t have known it - you spent your first week of summer vacation frolicking about, bouncing between pools and swim days, enjoying post-dinner ice cream outings, and being a kid.
But many of us were in mourning. Many of us were grieving a world and a reality that no longer exists. One in which women were entitled to particular rights and sovereign rule over their bodies. A world where women had a say in their reproductive rights.
Overnight, that right was robbed of us. We awoke to a world in which states and their governing bodies now had control and regulation of a female’s anatomical structure. The debate over abortion has been raging for decades, and many of our family members and friends stand on opposite sides of it. Opinions, research, religious beliefs have all found their way into the conversation and it is a topic that has divided many.
You’re too young yet to know all the particulars, but to put it simply, a few days ago the highest court in our land decided that women no longer had a constitutional right to decide whether or not they should carry a fetus to term. I know you don’t understand some of this vocabulary, but you will in time.
I am one of the lucky ones. I have never been in a position to need an abortion. I grew up in a supportive environment, had free access to birth control, and despite sexual assault, never found myself pregnant as a result. I married and had two healthy, planned pregnancies. And when I decided my body was done reproducing, I opted to have my tubes tied to ensure my future was absent of any surprises. And then I doubled-down on my efforts by going back on birth control, too. But there are many women who are not as lucky as me.
See, from your perspective, in your naivety, a person decides to have a baby, the woman gets pregnant, she bakes it for nine months, and out pops a beautiful bundle of joy. But soon, all too soon, you’ll learn that’s not the reality of the world. Sometimes that baby is not a bundle of joy, but a result of a horrible event that left a woman with an unwanted reminder of a traumatic experience. Sometimes that baby is not healthy and carrying it to term would only lead to its very short-lived life and excruciating mental pain for its parents. Sometimes the risk of carrying the baby poses a threat of death to the mommy, and families are forced to make the heartbreaking decision between risking her life against that of her baby’s. Sometimes the woman carrying the baby isn’t ready to be a mother - financially, mentally, physically. No matter the reason, a baby is not always a blessing.
And for the past 50 years, the United States of America has agreed that the decision to have that baby should involve two people: the woman carrying it and her doctor. That is, until last week. Now, in many states, a woman will no longer have an option BUT to carry that baby to term. She won’t have a choice.
I know for years now I’ve drilled into both of you that it is YOUR BODY, YOUR CHOICE. And now I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. Because as a society, we have failed you. It is no longer YOUR choice, but that of a small group of people who will deem what is best for you, despite the fact they’ll know nothing about you, nothing of your particular situation, or have any emotional stake or connection in the matter.
Now, you’re privileged to live in a state that believes in protecting women’s reproductive rights. So at least for the very near future, you’re safe. Should life throw you an unexpected curveball, you’ll have options. But what if you grow up and move away? What if your life journey takes you to Texas, Alabama, or Mississippi? What if your future spouse lives in a southern state where your rights won’t be protected?
As a mother, I worry, all the time, for both of you. But now that burden has an added layer I didn’t think would ever come into play. I worry for your futures, beyond where you’ll go to college, what kind of career you’ll choose, or who you’ll pick for a partner. Now I worry about your bodily autonomy. I worry that the world we’re creating reverts back to a time period we fought so hard to leave. I worry that we’re creating a post-apocalyptic type of world that mirrors the dystopian fiction novels I teach at school. I worry that we are not leaving this world better than when we found it, that you and your children will spend your futures fighting and repeating history.
But as much as this country is trying to suppress your rights, control your choices - you DO have some say. You hold so much untapped power and that is what gives me hope. The future of this world is up to you and your peers.
I pray that as daughters, you’ll all grow up with the confidence to fight for what you want, what you believe, what you deserve. I pray you’ll be ignited with the fire and passion and spirit of the thousands of sisters who have traveled this road before you. I pray you'll learn from their hard-earned wisdom and use it to help you slay each and every dragon. I pray you’ll have strength to climb when the mountains seem insurmountable, daunting, and never-ending.
As sons, it is my hope you grow into men who are loud. Men who scream from every corner of the earth. Men who stand up for and stand by the women they love. Men who fight on behalf of their mothers, sisters, wives, fiancés, daughters, cousins, nieces, friends. You have been privileged, as a male, from the day you were born. Now, use that privilege to fight for those who are not. Do not be shy or passive in your support.
I am sorry the world you have inherited is not everything I’d dreamed it would be for you. As a mother, I can promise you that I will continue to fight for you, loudly, for as long as I’m able. And I’ll do my best to ensure you’re well-equipped to carry on the fight long after my generation. Because I fear this is only the first battle in a very long war ahead. But if the rest of your generation is anything like the two of, well, God help those who oppose you. You’re a formidable force, separately and together, and I know that given the right guidance, knowledge, resources, and space to speak, you’ll help lead the fight and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to move this country and our world forward again.