When my obstetrician suggested my husband and I terminate my first pregnancy, it took a second to decide. I was glad I had the choice. During my second pregnancy, when the doc suggested the same because my life was again in danger from pre-eclampsia and my quality of life (and certainly those around me) was greatly hindered by my antepartum depression, it may have taken three seconds to decide, but I was glad I had the choice.
“You were lucky,” they said.
But let’s go back a bit because choice is much bigger than that, isn’t it?
When I was an undergraduate and the boy of my misguided dreams said a condom would keep him from feeling connected to me, I eagerly spread my legs so he would love me. Of course, when he didn’t and I was waiting for that first period to come and hindsight was already laughing in my face, I was glad I had a choice about becoming a single mother or carrying a baby to term and having to hand my innards to someone else to raise (to think of part of me going on in life without me), I was glad I had the choice.
“Girl, smarten up,” they said.
While working on a master’s degree, I went on a hike and accepted the shots of Jägermeister a different he offered me. Yes, I was training to be an aerobics instructor and an avid swimmer but he might as well have been captain of the wrestling team the way he held me down. To an onlooker, had we not been miles from where anyone could hear a scream, you probably couldn’t even tell I was struggling to get free, the way he flipped me like a hotcake, crossed my arms at my chest, and let the weight of his upper body relax to keep me pinned. In the moments that he tore through flesh, I raced through what I still had left in a drunken assemblage of a life raft. At least if I got pregnant, I thought, I’d have a choice about carrying his sperm around for nine and a half months. At least my belly wouldn’t swell, like a giant boil, exposing my wounds. I wouldn’t be forced to propagate his genes. Hey, at least I still had that choice.
“Get over it,” they said.
When I was still in graduate school and old enough to know better but young enough not to have seen it coming, I arrived at my thirty-four year old boyfriend’s house to find him in bed with a fourteen year old girl. In the moment that my upper lip stiffened, I was glad I had a choice should our night before have resulted in pregnancy despite the condom and pill. And though I hated that big-eyed girl in his bed at the moment, I was glad she had a choice as well.
“Come on girl, get up,” I said.
When I was definitely old enough to know better, and seasoned enough to watch for what might come, and the love of my life left me for an ex-girlfriend, I was glad I had a choice. I mean, what if? What if birth control had failed at some point since my last period? Were the three of us going to raise a baby together?
“No fucking way,” I’d say.
Now, I’m glad I never had to exercise my right to choose, except to birth my two daughters. With daughters and three nieces, a couple of them old enough to make these choices on their own, I’m glad they have the right to their own bodies, at least to the extent that they can control.
My No-Trump vote is dedicated to all women and girls. May we one day end misogyny and rape culture. May we all continue to have a hint of indemnity from our own poor decisions. May we maintain our right to choose.
Together we say, “No Trump.”
Rachelle Ramirez is a writer, editor, mother, sister, friend, granddaughter, and coffee lover. She is the former executive director of Oregon Writers Colony. Rachelle is working on her second book, White Girl, Black Sheep, her memoir of a teen-punk in 1987, Oklahoma City making the choice between giving her baby brother up for adoption or raising him as her own to the detriment of her plans to get the guy and escape her mother’s house. It’s a tale of addiction, mental illness, and surprising wit and sexuality.