Imagine that it is November 7, 2011, the night before a vote in Mississippi that would declare that life begins at the instant that sperm meets egg—which, as you know, happens before implantation. That life begins when sperm meets egg, which means if the zygote doesn’t make it to the uterus, but instead attaches to the Fallopian tube wall, imagine what that means if you wake up in Mississippi in 2012 and have an ectopic pregnancy.
Imagine that you are sitting, staring, at nothing in particular and everything in general. Imagine that you are trying to figure out why, why, this is happening. Now. I wonder if you can imagine what it feels like to be told, again and again, what it means to be a girl. You’re not really a full human being: you’re a sexualized baby-making organism who, once we are post-menopausal and no longer attractive, there really is no use for.
Imagine the way this might tear at you. That you have two daughters, and that you love them with every fiber of your being, but you also know that there is so much more to you than your ability to ovulate, conceive, and deliver a child.
Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.
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Imagine watching others of your gender participate in their own oppression and call you all sorts of names because you question whether there shouldn’t be more to life than this for women. Or imagine being in another country, where not following the status quo can get you killed. (Ask my daughter, who traveled to India last year, about the woman she met whose face had been burnt off by acid.)
Imagine sitting at your computer, sick unto death of a fight that will not go away–seemingly will never go away–and trying–again–to find the words to call attention to the obvious: that women should not be asked to sacrifice their lives to bring another child into this world.
Imagine the trips you have taken through the local cemeteries, which bear testament to what happens when women cannot control their own fertility. Imagine the number of graves with the names of young women and newborn babies you would see. Imagine them, surrounding you. The cemetery on the hill, the one on the other hill, the one down the road, the two that are hidden and overgrown on trails where you frequently walk. Imagine that they all contain such graves.
Imagine that the state that wants to privilege the life of a zygote over that of a woman is also the state with an astronomical rate of infant mortality—one of the highest in the nation. One that increases every year. Imagine all the dead babies that will join this statistic.
Imagine that you have simply been stripped of language, because no matter how you try to parse it, analyze it, understand it, have compassion for it–what you know, is that for a huge portion of the world, including many who live in this country, women simply do not matter.