So it is Mother’s Day again. I am generally opposed to holidays that seem to exist primarily to support the greeting card industry (I know, I know, Mother’s Day started as an anti-war thing, but let’s face it, it is not celebrated that way any more). The other day, though, I saw my friend Jenna soliciting advice on Facebook for a reproductive rights place to which she could donate on behalf of her step-mother, who had asked for such a donation in lieu of a Mother’s Day gift.
As it happens, I’d been thinking just the other day about how grateful I am that I have never been pregnant and thus have never needed to get an abortion. And that got me thinking about what I would do in such a situation now that I live in the boonies. I grew up in Iowa City, home of the fabulous Emma Goldman Clinic, which currently makes its home in the building once inhabited by my pediatrician’s office. My sophomore year of high school, I joined 400 or so other Iowa Citians outside the clinic when 40 members of Operation Rescue came to town to protest. Someone across the street put Madonna on their boom box and aimed it out the window, and a bunch of us went over to dance to “Papa Don’t Preach,” an odd choice, I suppose, in the circumstances, except that it does contain the line, which we all yelled loudly, “I made my CHOICE!” There’s a newspaper photo of me standing at a Roe v. Wade anniversary rally on the history wall there, and when I used to go there for an annual exam, they’d all say how much they’d liked my most recent column.
Well. I do not live a few blocks away from Emma anymore. In fact, as it turns out, in order to get an abortion, I’d have to go to Billings, two and a half hours away and in another state. I’d have to take a day off work, and get someone to drive me up there, and come up with the money (given that my health insurance won’t pay for psychiatric care, I can’t imagine that it would cover abortion). It would be a pain, but I could do all that. I have money, and friends, and sick leave. Not everyone is so lucky.
Shortly after the passage of Roe v. Wade, my great-grandmother, Harriette Glasner, had a similar realization, and she started Emergency Medical Assistance, a fund that still helps poor women in Florida get abortions. It is one of many such funds around the country, many of them small and local, dedicated to trying to provide the kind of options that I have always taken for granted to women who have never had those options.
So this year for Mother’s Day, with their approval, I made a donation to the National Network of Abortion Funds in honor of my mother and grandmother, and in memory of my great-grandmother. These are the women who raised me, a child who was very much wanted and who was loved and helped out at every turn. My wish for Mother’s Day is that every woman be able to make the choice to become a mother, and that every child be wanted as I was, and have mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers like mine.