@

I knew we weren’t going to get good news, so I turned away. Technically, we hadn’t received any news at all—the ultrasound technician had said perhaps ten words the whole time—but that was its own evidence.

When previous scans had been normal, it had been apparent fairly quickly. Because of liability issues, technicians aren’t supposed to say much, but body language and demeanor say enough. When the technician cheerily points out the baby’s head, its chin, its heartbeat, fears are quickly alleviated.

Our technician didn’t speak and hardly looked at us. She stared straight ahead at the monitor. One hand operated the machine’s controls, and with her other arm, she somehow manipulated the ultrasound’s transducer without looking, almost as if she were an extension of the machine.

I first read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in the late 1980s when I was in high school. It alarmed me on the first reading, scared me on the second, and, as I continued to re-read it over and over again that year, made me downright paranoid. It was, after all, the ‘80s and, while the religious right wasn’t born that decade, it had become significantly more high profile during the Reagan years. As a teenager reading The Handmaid’s Tale, the notion of a society taken over by fundamentalists who categorically stripped all of women’s rights did not seem hard to imagine.

On this day of Mothers, let us not just remember flowers and cute cards, or Sunday Brunch. Let us remember:

  • Some women don’t want children. Womanhood ≠ Motherhood and vice-versa.
  • Some mothers love other women. Let them do it with the full authority of the state, and all the benefits and protections that the state gives women who have children with men.
  • Some fathers are the best mothers. Some fathers love other fathers. Let them do it with the full authority of the state, and all the benefits and protections that the state gives women who have children with men.

The last time I drove past the apartments on North 5th, their efficient practicality had been scrubbed up a bit. A nice little fence marked the front entrance. The sidewalk that led into the U-shaped courtyard had healthy plants on both sides. The casement windows had been replaced. Someone had finally taken pride in the boxy old place, built in 1948 to provide post-war housing.

Preface

“Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.”

—LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN

 

Twenty years ago I attended a party at which a numerolo­gist offered to analyze my name. After performing what appeared to be complicated mathematical computations she told me my number was eleven—a “power number”—then looked at me quizzically.

“How strange,” she said. “This is the first time I have ever seen this.”

“What is it?” I asked, genuinely concerned.

“Your numbers tell me that you make money from war.”

I met her gaze steadily as I replied, “I do.”

As an only child growing up in 1950s Philadelphia, I occu­pied myself with warrior fantasies. My imagination soared with visions of knights, kings, and queens who populated the English history books I would get from the library. The dra­matic tales of battles driven by focused energy and height­ened danger excited me. It wasn’t conquest I was after; it was the warriors’ extraordinary sense of mission. I was moved by an empathic connection with the vulnerable and oppressed. I wanted to challenge a great evil power, to lead troops into battle for the most noble of causes.

Unfortunately, the world in which I was living allowed for few grand heroics. Rather than a battleground, it was a special kind of wasteland. I grew up at a time when one’s worth and acceptance as a female were measured by the width of a crin­oline skirt, when French kissing branded you a sexual outlaw, and when little girls’ dreams revolved around their weddings and lessons learned from watching Queen for a Day’s ritual of “improving” one’s life with domestic conveniences. It was a vast wilderness of mothers, teachers, and friends encircling me in traditional femininity, creating a suffocating loneliness that I could not name or understand.

I felt powerless to change my fate until Queen Elizabeth I, whose story I discovered at age ten, finally broke that silence. Her survival skills were legendary: her mother was beheaded when she was three and her stepmother executed when she was nine; she was sexually molested at fifteen; and she spent two months imprisoned in the tower, a hair’s breadth away from execution herself. She learned to carefully scan the political and emotional landscape for signs of potential danger.

She ruled sixteenth-century England by herself, refusing to marry or to bear children. The androgynous strategies of this woman who wanted to be “both king and queen of Eng­land” were unheard of for a female monarch of her time.

I kept the lessons I learned from Elizabeth close to my heart and my head when I broke free from Philadelphia and came of age in New York City in the 1960s. The time was ripe to pick up her gauntlet and challenge women’s tra­ditional roles. I became a child of one of the greatest social revolutions in history, at a time when it became politically possible for women to legally gain and exercise reproductive choice—the power of life and death. A time when the right to choose became the fundamental premise of the movement for women’s liberation, and when the expression of that truth was every woman’s entitlement. After years spent feeling I should have been born in some earlier, more romantic age, I have come to realize that my life’s work would not have been possible in any other era but this one.

In 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade, I opened one of the first legal abortion clinics in the country and thrust myself into a world that came with battles to fight (replete with inva­sions, death threats, and killings), opportunities for courage and heroism, and the necessity for bold leadership, strategic thinking, philosophical debate, and entrepreneurial skill. There were barbarians at the gate, self-identified as Right to Lifers (anti-choicers, or “antis,” as I call them throughout this book), waving pictures of bloody fetuses and sometimes hid­ing bombs or guns under their coats. My sword was a six-foot coat hanger held high over my head as I declared my sisters would never return to back-alley butchery. I raised a bullhorn to rally fellow soldiers, decrying the clinic violence that swept the nation. This was my historic stage. It was a war, and I finally felt I was living my destiny.

I helped midwife an era in which women came closer to sexual autonomy and freedom than ever before in history. The very idea that women could rise up and act in their own best interest electrified men and women alike during those years, and the foundational works of second-wave feminists inspired millions of my peers. But my feminism didn’t come from books or theoretical discussions. It came in the shape of individual women presenting themselves for services each day. I began to understand the core principle of feminism as I held the hands of thousands of women during their most powerful and vulnerable moment: their abortions.

I wasn’t immune to the physicality of abortion, the blood, tissue, and observable body parts. My political and moral judgments on the nature of abortion evolved throughout the years, but I quickly came to realize that those who deliver abortion services have not only the power to give women control over their bodies and lives, but also the power—and the responsibility—of taking life in order to do that. Indeed, acknowledgment of that truth is the foundation for all the political and personal work necessary to maintain women’s reproductive freedom.

My story is the story of women’s struggle for freedom and equality in the twentieth century, but it is also a personal story of obstacles, survival, and triumphs. Like Elizabeth, I did not want to give birth to my successor. I never dreamed of being a mother, nursing a child, shaping a young life. I wanted—needed—to give birth to myself. And, in the arms of the women’s movement, my delivery was aggressive, even violent, with pressures pushing down on me from every direction at times, crushing and battering me as I reached for the freedom to become. Most painful of all were my terrify­ing glimpses of the all-encompassing sense of being alone. Whatever one can say glowingly about the women’s liberation movement and our “collective problems requiring collective solutions,” this fact cannot be denied: becoming is nothing if not a solo journey. Yet my singular voyage has been enriched with allies, friends, lovers, and family, unexpected intimacies that bear meaning, depth, purpose, and joy.

Thomas Merton taught that there were three vocations: one to the active life, one to the contemplative, and a third to the mixture of both. This book is the story of my mixed life. I am an activist, a philosopher, a transgressor of boundaries. I strive to live in truth—or, perhaps, truths. I have not escaped this war unscathed; like all women who have gone into battle, I am scarred. But perhaps that is the definition of wisdom. Perhaps our wounds, the crevasses and cracks in our inno­cence of perception that come as the price of experience, are our marks of understanding.

How do you feel about being self-interviewed by The Nervous Breakdown?

Intrigued and challenged. I’ve always been tempted to have one (a nervous breakdown)—but that is a luxury I could never afford. There is an unyielding voice in my head urging me to go further, do more, achieve—and that sense of responsibility has never allowed me much rest, or the space to emotionally deconstruct. It is also the reason I don’t drink or do drugs.

 

Why did you name your memoir Intimate Wars?

We are all soldiers (whether we consciously enlist or not) in the great struggle for reproductive justice.

Ultimately women’s bodies are battlefields in the most intimate of wars; that is, the ability to determine when and whether or not we want to become mothers.

 

For a relatively private person, you have shared a lot of yourself in this book—was that difficult for you?

I am comfortable leading marches and defying dangerous forces, but it did take a special kind of psychological courage to look at myself in such a bright light. I gave myself no place to hide, and in the end, I learned that I accepted all of it—who I was and who I am.

 

How did a budding concert pianist end up founding and owning one of the largest women’s medical centers in the country?

When I gave up studying to be a concert artist and began working to create Choices, my mother told me it was a “sin against God not to use the talent I was given.” But I quickly found that the process of creating a new reality from theory, law, and philosophy was the most artistic thing I could do. To define the meaning of abortion in society and politics, to create the concept of Patient Power, and to help to save thousands of women’s lives was the ultimate expression of the “art of the possible.”

 

You write that you are a “philosopher”—which philosophy do you feel most congruent with?

The Stoics. I very much like Marcus Aurelius. He understood the fleeting nature of reality—the drive for fame, ambition, and the importance of being true to your nature. And as an emperor, he had to deal with a lot of administrative issues. He also had many “paid enemies,” so I can relate to that. And of course Nietzsche, whose dictum “what does not kill me makes me stronger” has become my mantra.

 

You have been called a “Hitler” and accused of making a business out of abortion—how do you respond to that?

First of all, I do not take any of these attacks personally. As Elie Wiesel told me:  “You cannot let these words hurt you— people who call you that do not know what the Holocaust was.” And as far as abortion being a business—well, women’s lives are my business, and I make no apology for that.

 

What do you think would astonish people most about you?

That I love country music and dinosaurs, and that I am an armchair mountaineer. Maybe that I belong to the Society of Friends of King Richard III, or that I manage to get at least six hours of sleep every night.

 

I would like to proactively begin this essay with Supplemental Materials to this essay:

OIL ON CANVAS

Jackson Pollack was less an artist than a psychic predicting the Exxon Valdez disaster. Or the captain of that ship, Joseph Hazelwood, drinking all night, wanted to pay tribute to his favorite painter, getting loaded and crashing his vehicle bigger that same way.

I drove much of the way home to Minneapolis that evening. Holding the wheel helped me keep from getting sick. As Dan slept, I began passing billboards in a series along the highway back to the Twin Cities. Each billboard featured a bouncing baby, several months old, bright and expressive.

What! I could smile before I was born, one stated, rather inscrutably.

Hello world! said another. My heart was beating 18 days from conception.

The signs were like slaps in the face—invasions of the quiet peace I had managed to cultivate over the weekend. Did the organization sponsoring the billboards, Pro Life Across America, really believe that women needed to be reminded that the choice to end a pregnancy is a choice against a life of some kind? I knew I might one day choose against seeing my son’s smiles. Against pressing my ear to his chest and hearing his heart thumping like a tight little drum.

Abortions were legal in Minnesota up to twenty-two weeks’ gestation, when a fetus would have fingerprints and hair, suck his thumb, and hear sounds from his mother, but would not be able to survive outside the womb—and certainly wouldn’t wear size-three diapers or grin with billboard-perfect dimples. Against my better judgment, I had been dipping into mainstream books to read about the progress of my pregnancy. Like the billboards, each book eagerly addressed embryonic and fetal development, giving me, week by week, little human characteristics to mourn if we chose to say goodbye to our pregnancy. An abortion following DNA testing would most likely take place at about fourteen weeks, when our four-inch, translucent-skinned fetus might begin to coordinate the movements of his arms and legs.

As the colossal spokesbabies flashed by, I realized that I wanted a book to reassure me of the things my six-week-old embryo couldn’t yet do. I wanted to read a single paragraph that took pains to remind me how far from consciousness, from human behavior, my gestating fetus was: Your baby is one-and-a-half years from being able to interpret simple spoken sentences, and at least two years from speaking phrases on his own. Your baby is at least two years from recognizing himself as a conscious being, and three years from understanding that other people are separate individuals. In five years, he may have the capacity to read written language. He is at least eighteen years from distinguishing information from propaganda.

But instead, the authors of some popular pregnancy guides actually identified which circumstances might justify an abortion. “If testing suggests a defect that will be fatal or extremely disabling,” one said, “many parents opt to terminate the pregnancy.”

These passages always caused me to call into question my reasoning. HED wasn’t directly life threatening. Our affected son would be unlikely to die as a child. And I didn’t know what “extremely disabling” meant, but I suspected that the authors of the book would not characterize HED that way. Neither would I.

Dan slept in the passenger seat with his head tipped back and his jaw gently open. My frustration grew as the city lights drew closer. I felt angry that my society had made a taboo subject of one of the most important journeys of my life. An abortion—a story that would belong to me, shape me, become a part of me—would henceforth divide people into those who could handle a relationship with me and those who couldn’t. It seemed I would have two choices: I could live as if I had a terrible secret, or I could live marked.

The next morning, I phoned my friend Eula, who described a woman’s rights in words I hadn’t considered: “A pregnancy falls within the mother’s domain, and no one else’s,” she said. “Not the public domain, not the church’s, and not the state’s.”

Now that I was carrying a baby, I viscerally felt what Eula meant by “a mother’s domain.” I had a moment of physical sickness just thinking about the idea that anyone else might try to claim authority over my pregnancy. Imagining such a thing was one of the most confining, frightening feelings I had known as a woman who had grown up carefree and safe in a nation of so many freedoms. It was the feeling of persecution. Someone might as well steal my hands and face, I thought, and call them their own.

“But I still feel so guilt ridden,” I told her, “to consider ending a little life just because it is imperfect. This baby would live, and he could quite possibly have a good life. I just can’t know.” But “I’m doing this for the baby,” I reminded myself out loud, “not for Dan and me.”

Eula let my words hang in the air. Then she said, “Why don’t you feel you deserve to have the child you want?”

I was struck. Her words touched into the thinking that seemed most dangerous to me, most immoral. Could it possibly be all right, in my America or in some other life in some other place, for parents to want healthy children for their own peace of mind? I thought of my ancestors who, like millions of modern people around the globe, needed plenty of healthy children with strong backs to ensure the family’s survival—and with any luck, prosperity. Dan and I had no plans to rely on our children for a livelihood; we wanted children just for the joy of it, just for the journey. Even though we knew a baby without HED would save us tens of thousands of dollars in medical and dental bills, our choice to become pregnant, and our desire for a healthy child, could not be rationalized as economic necessity. It was closer to emotional luxury.

But thanks to Eula’s question, I saw folded deep in my heart a tiny possibility. Maybe, I thought, I should want a healthy baby for myself, and for Dan, and for our marriage and future. It might be noble to shoulder a burden, but it is also good to forestall harm and strive for plenty.

I kept the thought to myself, holding close its kind whisper of acknowledgement that this was, after all, about me, too. I felt a glimmer of self-love—something I had not allowed before. It marked the beginning of a turning for me, but my transformation was slow. I still read pregnancy books like an addict. I couldn’t pull my mind away from the details about how much bigger and more vital our baby was becoming.

“I’m due at the end of May,” I told my sister over the phone. “It’s the strangest thing to look into my future just seven months and see such different possibilities.”

“You know,” my sister said slowly, “you’ve started the journey toward having a baby, and it’s really not going to be over until someone is born. The way I see it, you’re going to be pregnant until that child arrives, whether that’s eight months from now, or twelve, or twenty-four. This might not be the baby we hold. But you’re on your way.”

She was right. I felt as if I had jumped into a lake and started swimming, not knowing when I would reach the opposite shore, or even how far it was. I had been thinking of my pregnancy as three months long at minimum, about ten at the max. But my sister helped me stretch my idea of pregnancy to include another sense of the word: meaningfulness in waiting.

I felt better with the idea that my swim could be all one long, blind backstroke to a distant shore, instead of several dogpaddles from the sand to the dock and back. I liked water, but swimming to actually get somewhere had always been exhausting and difficult for me. Holding my pregnancy—the figurative one and the physical one—felt no different. Yet in my dreams, I had been swimming almost every night. I swam through floods, under ice, through choppy shipping canals, and across the bows of ocean liners. I was never afraid. I always knew I would make it. Sometimes I rescued other people who believed they would drown.

I was bursting to talk to my mother, who lived 2,000 miles away in Seattle. She was an avid dreamer who would relish helping me explore my nighttime swims. But it wasn’t just for the pregnancy news or the dreams that I wanted to call her, go to her. I just wanted to be close to her. I took my daily walk, shoulders slumped, wishing that she would appear around the next bend, waiting with a hug for me, a rub for my hair. A phone call to Seattle wasn’t going to give me the connection that I wanted. And I was tired of words. I knew if I told my mom about the pregnancy and our plan, it would rend her heart. It would pry open years of her own questioning, leaving her with a daunting emotional project. After all, she was a carrier, too, having received the gene for HED from her father, who lived a too-short, too-difficult life. And she passed the gene not only to me, but also to my brother, who now lived with the disorder. If I told my mother about my tentative pregnancy, with modern medical choices she never had and perhaps never would have wanted, I would be forcing her to reexamine her own secret sadness. At that moment, I didn’t have room in my head or heart for the guilt I would feel if my pregnancy became anyone else’s burden. Someday I would be ready to share, but not now. Not halfway through week seven, when my lungs burned from swimming and my baby’s heart had just bloomed into four perfect chambers.

Ballsy choice, picking that particular excerpt from Carrier to run online at TNB.

Ballsy how?

 

You’re the one who’s always trying to be so careful in interviews and talks, making sure people see your memoir Carrier: Untangling the Danger in My DNA for what it really is. I’ve seen you bending over backwards trying to keep folks from getting hung up on the fact that you talk about abortion in the book.

I just feel that the real story in Carrier is the struggle: how my husband and I made our way to parenthood despite the obstacles we faced.

 

Doesn’t everyone face challenges when starting a family?

Yes.

 

What were yours?

I happen to carry a genetic disorder, which has run in my family for generations. Dan and I had to decide how seriously to treat the risk. We had to choose whether, and eventually how, to avoid passing the disorder to our children.

 

What is this genetic disorder?

The main symptoms of hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (HED) are sparse hair, few teeth, no sweat glands, and a slightly unusual facial appearance. There are secondary problems, including chronic respiratory sickness and other kinds of infection. HED is X-linked, which means that female carriers (like me) have no symptoms, but with each pregnancy there’s a 25 percent chance of conceiving a son who is fully affected. Compared to many disorders (since that’s what we’re doing here, right?) HED may not sound so bad—and for some affected individuals, it may not be. That was part of what confused me initially, motivating me to learn more about people who had suffered from HED—especially my grandfather, Earl. Researching his life story, I discovered how the disorder turned a brilliant man into a tragic figure. It became clear to me that even if HED isn’t directly life-threatening, it can be profoundly life-altering. Dan and I had to decide how far we’d be willing to go in order to keep our children’s lives free from that risk.

 

What choice did you have?

We considered everything: worrying about it, not worrying about it, a childless life, adopting. But eventually we came to see that despite the risk, we both wanted to try for a healthy biological child. Our options then boiled down to two: In-vitro fertilization (IVF) with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)—an expensive process with a lot of hassles. Another choice was to become pregnant the usual way, and then to test fetal cells between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy with chorionic villus sampling (CVS), or in the 15th week via amniocentesis. Results would come 2-3 weeks later, along with the possibility of an excruciating choice.

 

Sounds like the same guarded rhetoric you’ve been using all along. So I just have to ask: How did you feel about that NPR interview?

So you heard that.

 

Some people think Liane Hansen missed the point of your book—the journey, as you say. She only wanted to talk about one little part.

I couldn’t sleep the night after the interview or the night after that. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad thing. It was what it was, and I rocked that interview.

 

What “was” it, then?

Up to that point, I had been trying really hard not to alienate potential readers who would ignore my book if they knew I considered ending a pregnancy. (Like the gal who wrote this “review” on Carrier’s Amazon page: “Just listened to the story on NPR. What a selfish person! That’s all I have to say! I would never buy this book!”) But after my interview hit the airwaves, I started hearing from women who shared facets of my experience. I realized that in being vague, I was keeping at arm’s length another audience: those who might come to my story for the things we had in common.

 

Some of those listener comments on your NPR interview were tough.

For the most part, they weren’t anything I hadn’t dealt with before. But I thought Kansas Kid said something interesting: “It was a failure of journalistic honesty to call an abortion a ‘procedure.’”

 

Right—Liane never used the word “abortion” in the interview, and you didn’t either. She said “procedure,” and “terminated.”

And the content of the interview was perfectly clear. The following week, Liane read a letter on-air from a listener who criticized her for avoiding the word. I think Liane was simply trying to be sensitive to me as a person by not using loaded terminology. She seemed to recognize that I’m a human being, not a debate topic. If there was anything political about her word choice, it seemed like an attempt to keep from politicizing my story.

 

What’s sensitive about not saying abortion? What’s political about saying it? And by the way, can you say abortion?

Abortion.

 

You did it!

Yes, but I’ll admit, that word feels like “conservative agenda” in my mouth. It’s got so much propaganda plastered all over it that I feel like it needs a good pressure-washing. It’s so damn loud no one can hear anything else in the room. Why didn’t Kansas Kid eat it up when I called my 12-week fetus a “baby?” He wants the word “abortion” because that is the word connected to all the negative imagery. If you say “end a pregnancy” or even “decide to terminate,” the highway billboards don’t necessarily pop to mind. The screaming politicians don’t leap into your ears. Shouting protesters don’t wave their signs in your peripheral vision, and the pope doesn’t start breathing down your neck.

 

Tell me how you really feel.

Okay, I currently live in Holland, where abortion is not a political issue, and therefore the word is neither loaded nor taboo in conversation. Abortion is seen as a personal medical decision like all others. (Incidentally, Holland has the lowest abortion rate in the world due to frank sex ed and high contraceptive use.) Living here has shown me that “The Abortion Debate,” which used to seem cosmic, is actually just localized in America.

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the Dutch that women are incapable of handling their own decisions. But in the U.S., the message is clear: American women can’t be trusted to understand the significance of their actions. Therefore they must be cornered into watching ultrasound images, forced to hear tiny heartbeats, goaded to pronounce a word that feels in the mouth not like flesh and blood and life and death but woefully less: politics and religion, money and power. I can say “abortion.” But I can share so much more with someone who will listen.

 

I’m listening.

That makes one of us.

 

Maybe that’s what you get for writing about abortion.

Carrier isn’t about abortion.

 

Then what’s it about?

It’s about people.

 

 

SACRAMENTO, CA-

For the past several hours I’ve been staring into the darkness and begging myself to shutup so I can get a bit of needed rest. But I’m too anxious and my mind is racing. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping until this damn election is over. It’s not so much the presidential election that has me worried. It’s all of these ballot measures that are so important but have somehow been forgotten in the higher ratings mud-slinging and fear-mongering of the presidential candidates (Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still completely freaked out about the presidential election, especially after seeing all the crazies on TV and YouTube).

I cast my ballot about three weeks ago by mail and was then able to convince myself that I had done my part and I would just have to wait for the results. That was, until tonight (or, last night, as it were). I went to a Proposition Party with my boyfriend. No, this was not a party where people proposition you. It was a party where each person was given a ballot proposition to research and discuss with the group so we could each make educated decisions about how we will vote on Tuesday. And that’s when I realized how truly scary this election is, at least here in California.

The people who write these ballot measures are probably happy as pie that the presidential election has stolen the spotlight because some of their propositions are going to get passed just because people don’t know enough to vote them down. Before I voted I took the time to read the voter’s guide so I had a pretty good grasp of the issues when I voted (and I’m proud to say that I didn’t change my vote on any of the propositions after having them explained in more detail). However, those initiatives on which I voted ‘No’ are much scarier to a left-leaner like myself than I had previously thought.

Take Proposition 4, for instance. This initiative is a California constitutional amendment to make it illegal for anyone under age 18 to get an abortion without the doctors first notifying an adult relative. Or, in extreme cases, the girl can take her case to court and ask a judge for permission to get an abortion. Now, I can see how parents would think this is a great idea. And, really, it does sound pretty good on paper. I know I’d want my daughter to tell me if she was going in for an abortion.

But then, I’d hope my daughter and I would have an open and understanding relationship and that she’d be coming to me to help her through such a difficult decision. There are girls out there who don’t have that type of relationship with their parents (I know I didn’t) and whose parents would likely punish them and force them to make a different decision. And there are the cases of abuse. Or the cases where the girl would rather commit suicide than to face telling her parents.

Even so, I can see how parents can be worried that their daughters wouldn’t come to them with such a serious decision. What bothers me about this amendment is the small print (well, OK, the big print too. I obviously voted on this before I knew about the small print, but the small print would have changed my mind had I been leaning toward a ‘Yes’ vote). Small print: This amendment gives parents the right to sue doctors up to four years after they find out about an abortion, even if their daughter tells them after she’s an adult. This will likely raise legal and insurance costs for those doctors who perform abortions – even before they ever get sued. Also, this amendment would make public all judicially decided non-notification of parents, putting judges’ jobs in jeopardy if they judge too often in favor of girls seeking abortions.

And what about the whole going in front of a judge to ask for an abortion? Even though I know I have the right to choose, I still know abortion is an unpopular decision in America and I would not want to face the protesters and the public on my way to court. Nor would I want this to become a public matter. I can imagine that making the choice to abort a fetus is not an easy decision for anybody. And I, for one, would want it to remain a very private matter (isn’t this what got Roe v. Wade passed in the first place?). Forcing teenagers to make this public, even if just to their parents seems to violate everything the Roe v. Wade decision put in place.

Californians voted against this proposition in 2005 and 2006. Both times I sat at my computer refreshing the results screen every two seconds to reassure myself that the measure would be defeated. Luckily, this time around Proposition 8 (the gay-marriage ban) has somehow usurped the attention of the religious right and has kept the anti-abortion legislation out of the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t still going to be voting on it. And the fact that we haven’t been hearing much about it really scares me because it could be keeping the closet pro-choicers in the dark as well.

And this is just one of the issues that’s been going through my head all night. I’m still horrified by the abundance of anti-gay-marriage people there are still in this state – one of the bluest states in the union. In 2008. When I first saw the gay-marriage ban on the ballot I thought, “Yeah, but this is California. There’s no way that would pass.” But the last few weeks have really shown me how wrong I was. I’m terrified of these Yes on 8 people – not just because they’re voting Yes on 8, but also because so many of them seem to believe taking away civil liberties is the only important thing on the ballot this election season. I’ve seen interviews with some 8 supporters who say they don’t even plan to vote for president because that’s not what’s important right now. The presidential election. Not important. But taking away the right to marry is?

There’s also Prop. 3 and Prop. 9. And Prop. 6 and Prop. 7. There are so many propositions that sound great at first, but just below the surface there’s something there saying, “Neener, neener, neener! We got one past you!” And now I can’t sleep at night.

I know the world will keep turning if the election doesn’t go the way I want. I know all of the propositions will be challenged in court, regardless of which way they go. Or they’ll end up on the next ballot, yet again.

And I know we’ll survive four more years with an ineffective president.

I just want something more.

-Becca

P.S. I’m curious about what’s going on in other states. What are some of the big propositions you’ve got on your ballots?