Abortion – Not for Kids!

By Rosalie Tirella

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Rose, left, and her kid sister on Rose’s graduation day from the University of Massachusetts.

United States Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will be sitting in Notorious RGB justice’s seat on the Supreme Court sooner than you can say: NO MORE ROE V WADE! Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat on the highest court in our land is still warm!, her final note, written just a few weeks ago, just before her untimely death, its ink still wet! No matter to the Repubs and their mad dash for re-election.

Ginsberg was respectful but adamant in her note to Congressional leaders: PLEASE DO NOT FILL MY SEAT UNTIL AFTER THE NOVEMBER 3 ELECTION. Please let the new President – whoever that may be – CHOOSE his/her own nominee to the Supreme Court.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg – an American icon who fought for – and won – equal rights for us women (and our moms, sisters, daughters, best gal pals, cousins …) – is now a DEAD American icon. Her final note, her dedication to THE FREEDOM of all women, is a joke to Republicans in Congress, unread, un-respected, disrespected … by Mitch McConnell and Trump minion Lindsey Graham – they are ramming Coney Barrett’s confirmation down American women’s throats – with politeness, fake erudition. With brutality wrapped in politician-speak. Trump, so desperate for re-election believes Coney Barrett is THE #2 GIFT to his campaign. After his COVID 19 super-spreader Rally Reality TV Shows!

Let’s be honest: Amy Coney Barrett is a good woman, a wonderful mom who has, with her loyal husband, adopted two Black children and loves them as dearly as the gaggle of kids she’s given birth to. But Coney Barrett is passionately pro-life … really, truly, deeply. No way around it. So she is blind to so many women’s realities. So… this is the end of Roe V Wade. The end of every American woman’s right to control her OWN body – her right to a safe, medically/socially sanctioned MEDICAL PROCEDURE performed by doctors trained in MEDICAL SCHOOL. To safely remove a fetus – If she’s been raped and does not want her rapist’s baby. If she’s 17 and not ready to be a mom. If she is poor and her boyfriend – the one with the job – got scared and dumped her. If she is the older woman who had the one-night stand, but there was a birth control mishap, and now she is pregnant. She does not want a baby. She already has a life, her own life patterns.

Or: She’s a young, beautiful free spirit at UMass/Amherst … in Massachusetts – an older undergrad with wild, curly black hair – a magical sprite with a bit of a limp, who reads all the Beat poets and who bikes everywhere on our big sprawling UMass campus … her curly, black hair blowing in the wind, that Western wind that loves to sweep across her high forehead.

Joannie loves to discuss philosophy/LIFE, she is into women’s rights and is double majoring: English and the still new WOMEN’S STUDIES. Joannie has joined the super cool food coop run out of the UMass student union building. She calls me up the day they are serving their big vegetarian lunches… Me! Rose! One of her closest college gal pals: COME ON OVER FOR LUNCH – ON ME! she yells into my phone receiver. I can picture her smile. I laugh OK! and I, the young, uncool, untried, tentative 19-year-old freshman-hick, Rose, I run straight outa my dorm room, across the big quad, to my friend in the student union to the huge room and adjunct kitchen in the round student union building. Run to my best grrrl HERO, the coolest chick I know, the bravest woman I know. Not a lesbian. Just INDEPENDENT AND FREE like I have never seen. Three boyfriends – but not easy. Loves the smart men. The hikers and mountain bikers (she rides a sleek racing bike). Joannie Loves Sex. She describes her orgasms, talks about masturbation … asks me about my boyfriend’s sexual proclivities … “Rose, have you ever?” she queries AS WE STROLL BY MY ENGLISH PROFESSOR! Joannie! I scream at her, red-faced, … then I tell her everything.

Once, as we walked by the grocery store in the middle of Amherst, Joannie, as poor as I was, steered me into the grocery story … to the dairy section. She grabbed a Land o Lakes box of butter and shoved it into my jacket and zipped it up. LET’S GO, ROSE! she hissed into my ear and we booked it outa the automatic front doors. Once outside, I said, still not knowing what hit me (the Joannie hurricane!): JOAN! WE JUST SHOP-LIFTED!

Joan, especially pale that day, gave me an exasperated look, opened up the butter box and gave me one of the four sticks of wrapped butter.

Joan. I would have done anything for her. For her approval. She was exciting!!

Joannie, the most knowledgeable female friend I had ever had! The great girl with all the great ideas: socialism, cubism, veganism … The gal pal who gave me my first copies of OUR BODIES OURSELVES, DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET…THE NEW WOMENS GUIDE TO OUR BODIES … If she was late with a term paper, she asked me for one of my old term papers. I gave her one to copy verbatim. And she got the better grade, too!

JOANNIE! I CAN STILL PICTURE HER RIDING HER BIKE THRU CAMPUS, IN THE RAIN, HER PLAID RAIN PONCHO covering that strong but skinny body – those knock knees that never slowed her down one bit! Ever!

So when Joannie told me she missed her period and feared she was pregnant and that I was to perform her abortion, with our mutual pal, Laura, I, stupidly said: Sure! Ok!

Joannie had read a book. It gave directions. There was this new method – a mini-vaccum hose you run up to the uterus … and easy peasy you just vaccum the snot out. Joannie had sent out for and got this special do it at home abortion kit. It was so early in her pregnancy, the fetus she kept reassuring me “was the size a snot.” Plus we could do it in her pretty bohemian room she rented in town, with her fave folk music playing on tbe stereo, the lights low, Laura could be downstairs baking brownies and the extra hands if needed.

This, when told to me by Joannie, all seemed to make holistic sense. Peace, quiet, Joan Baez music, young women empowered …

When I explained it all to Laura, who liked Joan, she said: ARE YOU CRAZY?! THIS IS WHY WE HAVE ABORTION CLINICS!

I said: BUT YOU’RE MAJORING IN PUBLIC HEALTH, LAURA!

EXACTLY! THAT’S WHY IT’S NO!!!! Laura, long haired, and just as smart as Joannie but without all the beauty and pizzazz, stalked off fuming.

This gave me pause. As Joan gave me the abortion instruction pamphlet to read one afternoon, I timidly asked: Hey, Joannie, did you get your period? My friend said no. I grew afraid…began to hope the day would never come – even though I knew my wild child friend WOULD NEVER WANT A BABY.

The days rolled on… I begged Laura to help, be by my side: HEY! YOU CAN DO THE ABORTION! I’LL BE THE ONE WHO BAKES THE BROWNIES! Laura, in her long hippie skirt, twirled around and looked me straight in the eyes: NO. CANCEL THE ABORTION ROSE. Take her to the student health center…

I looked at Laura. I thought: It is not a baby, just a two week old piece of snot. How hard can it be? Joan has the little plastic kit… I was raised a Catholic by my strict conservative Catholic mom, Cecelia but we stopped talking a year ago. The Generation Gap writ large. These were my waters to navigate. And I loved my friend.

One day, as I was in the local park, reading a book of poems – by feminist Adrienne Rich for strength – it hit me: I CAN’T EVEN KEEP MY LOOSE LEAF BINDERS ORGANIZED FOR MY AMERICAN REALISM CLASS …HOW CAN I PERFORM A MEDICAL OPERATION PRACTICALLY? I would have to break the news to Joannie …I closed my book and headed for home.

And just as I was rounding the hill to walk back onto campus, Joannie was running to me, ecstatic, flailing her arms, skipping with those knock knees, beautiful …I GOT MY PERIOD!! she screamed. I GOT MY PERIOD! I was weak with PURE JOY! … YOU GOT YOUR PERIOD! I SCREAMED TO THE HEAVENS. YOU GOT YOUR PERIOD!!! Then we rushed into each other’s arms and danced in the sunlight.

THIS IS WHY ROE V WADE MUST NOT BE STRUCK DOWN BY soon to be Supreme Court Justice AMY CONEY BARRET.

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Joni❀❀❀❀:


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