I don’t normally post or comment about politics.
I have two reasons for this: First, I genuinely respect and value all people, regardless of beliefs, whether you agree with me or not. I think knowing and caring about people of differing opinions and backgrounds and ways of thinking is what adds color to our lives and helps us to grow as humans. I believe it’s important to be open to another’s way of life and to understand their perspective. You never know what you might learn when you really see and hear people, without judgment, and how that can change your life.
Second, I think we all come to the water to find peace and comfort and I prefer to provide joy and strength to those around me, to the best of my ability. The water isn’t a place for politics or religion or discrimination; we’re all the same when we’re floating, free in the water, grinning up at the sky above and the fish below. I don’t believe it’s my place to blast you with my personal beliefs.
But sometimes, something is so black and white or right and wrong that I can’t bite my tongue. Today is one of those days. My friends know I am vocally outspoken about things I care about, and as a woman, how could I not care about what happened in our country today?
I’ve had a few months to think about this, since we already knew that the Supreme Court was set to overturn Roe v Wade (and Planned Parenthood v Casey). I feel strongly that in this instance it is important to make my stance known.
Once upon a time, I likely would have celebrated today’s court decision. I grew up in a conservative town in Texas, where we put crosses on the church lawn to represent murdered babies and where they showed us pictures of aborted fetuses in jars in Sunday school. My 5th grade math teacher told us Bill Clinton was a baby murderer.
But, I’ve grown. I’ve lived some life. I’ve seen, firsthand, what a right to choose can do for people. I’ve seen forced pregnancies ruin lives. I’ve also seen people choose life and have watched beautiful babies grow up into amazing humans.
And I don’t believe I have any right to make that decision for anyone. I’m not living their life and I don’t know what they can and can’t bear, emotionally or physically. And our politicians shouldn’t have the right to decide that, either.
I have two very personal stories to share.
First, over a decade ago and several jobs ago, I had an employee who was having attendance issues. She was a great worker, who everyone enjoyed, but she was frequently late and was racking up the call-offs. Her manager was frustrated and as I was in HR at the time, I set up a meeting with the employee. As I always did, I framed the meeting asking questions, basically saying: “Help me to understand why you’re having attendance issues. Tell me how I can help you.” I’m not sure that’s how she expected the conversation to go (HR people have a bad rap, after all), so after tentatively testing me out, she opened up to me and shared her story.
She was a young, married, Christian mother of five children. Her husband was an abusive alcoholic. She was doing her very best, but he was of no help getting her children ready for the day and off to school/daycare so she could come to work. She was basically working a minimum wage job, providing for the bulk of her family’s income. She feared for the well-being of herself and her children if she left her husband. She both wanted and needed to work, but had no support at home to make it happen. She knew her attendance was an issue and was debating just quitting.
As we chatted, she began to sob. She’d just found out she was pregnant again, not by her choice, and she had no idea how she’d be able to support another child and continue to work. She was scared.
First, I gave her the contact info for our company’s free counseling services, which she could access confidentially. And then we talked about what her options were. Yes, she’d like to have an abortion, but she didn’t know how to start. Among other things, she was afraid of losing her job for taking time off work for the procedure. I gave her the phone number for her local Planned Parenthood, and cried with her when I assured her we would support her in whatever choice she made, however I could.
I was holding her hand when, a few days later, she called to make an appointment.
I helped her arrange for approved leave from work, so she could have time to recover. She had enough to worry about without stressing about work, too. I can’t describe the look of relief she had, knowing she’d found some support. I could see the exhaustion and sadness on her face.
I am proud I was able to help a woman who desperately needed assistance in understanding her options and to assure her that there were people who cared about her and her well-being. I’ve lost touch with her over the years, but I hope she knows I think of her often and pray that she is safe and well.
If we lived in Texas, I wouldn’t have been able to help her. My heart aches to think about the women who no longer will get the help, care, and love they deserve when battling through the unthinkable.
My second story.
As I’ve shared openly, a little over a year ago, I suffered an ectopic pregnancy. This was a pregnancy we most definitely wanted and to have it end abruptly and traumatically was heartbreaking and life-changing. I’m not sure I have fully recovered from it just yet.
After lots of rounds of blood work and ultrasounds to confirm what we already knew, I made the decision with my doctors and Ryan to terminate the pregnancy through the use of methotrexate. Officially, I had a medically-induced abortion. Had we not caught it and been able to treat it, I would have ended up with internal bleeding and a dangerous, emergency surgery that would have resulted in the loss of an ovary and potentially the inability to conceive in the future.
Ectopic pregnancies are not viable- to have let the pregnancy continue naturally, without intervention, would have put my life at risk. This is science.
I could have died without the intervention of my medical team.
And yet, there are laws on the books in some states that would outlaw the procedure I had done. Politicians don’t understand what an ectopic pregnancy is, mistakenly thinking that my “baby” could have been removed from my ovary, where it had incorrectly implanted, and placed safely into my uterus. Trust me, if that was an option, I would have done it. But, it doesn’t work that way.
Overturning Roe v Wade takes the decisions for situations like this away from us, our partners and our doctors, and puts the power into the hands of politicians who can’t possibly understand the nuances of pregnancy and loss while they sit in fancy rooms and debate other peoples’ morals, legislating the complicated miracle that is pregnancy.
The people making these laws will never suffer the consequences of them.
Overturning Roe v Wade is a danger to all of us- from the low-income women who have no support to those of us who have the knowledge and privilege to make use of our medical teams. There are now laws going into effect all over the country that will make it dangerous, confusing and complicated for women to receive the medical treatment and support they need. My heart is breaking for the people in states who need and want abortions and who no longer have options or means to obtain one.
For 50 years, we’ve had a right to choose what happens to our bodies and to make those choices with our loved ones and medical teams. That right is now obliterated.
I’m grateful to live in a state that still protects my rights, but this new ruling is forcing many people in other states back decades. And what’s to stop a change in leadership in other states from doing the same?
We live in a country with access to quality medical care, and now, many people will not be allowed to access that care.
I’m scared to see the consequences of this decision.
I am heartbroken. I am outraged. I am not surprised.
And I’m writing today to urge all of you to please, please vote. Call your representatives in Congress, locally and nationally, and express your outrage. Vote for people who will protect women and our right to choose. Vote for people who won’t overturn our right to contraception (see Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion). Vote for people who will protect the Human Rights of not only women, but our LGBTQ+ friends and family, whose rights are also being questioned. Vote for people with good intentions. If the Supreme Court won’t protect us, we need people in other places of power who will help.
Do not stay silent.
And if anyone needs someone to hold your hand, cry with you, and help you figure out options, I am here for you. I love you.