“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth” 
Henry David Thoreau

Americans in a certain respect are under-read and over-exposed thanks, in part to social media,  thereby producing a population that has a highly personal and ego-centered view of themselves and the world.  This makes many conversations very difficult.  One of them is an open discussion about abortions.  Arguments rather than discussions ensue because they do not begin at point of inquiry or investigation, they start from the viewpoint of opinion, deemed self-knowledge.   Often this position is vociferously espoused as righteous.  Yet, one is reminded of the wisdom of Mark Twain, I paraphrase, “It’s not what you know that is the problem, it’s what you think is right that just isn’t so, that gets you in trouble.” 

Having babies, having sex, seeking it, lying about it, and registering opinions about it are as old as time.  That’s largely how the human family — such as it is — got us to now. Only recently, that is, in this part of the century, has the conversation about women —  in my opinion — taken on any measure worthy of greater introspection.  I learned very early that the brand of feminism as described and espoused by the burgeoning brand of this school of thought — largely driven by Caucasian women — did not jibe, hold muster or was greatly incompatible with my own sense of the idea.  As a Black woman, my idea of feminism was almost wholly different from what I heard and saw in print. I deemed my branch of the discussion as “womanism,”  in perhaps a futile attempt to make a philosophical distinction from the aforementioned.

Some 49 years after its Decision,  Roe v. Wade is still being bandied about and stalked by some states and advocates doing enough forward-backward motion on the subject to make the cha-cha look like the merengue.  There are so many more aspects to the man-woman-child thing than a court’s decision could ever possibly consider.  The results, nevertheless, are swept up in the long term, particularly the woman and the child.   Now, however,  the highest court in the land will have a go as to whether we move societally forward well into the 21st century or backwards into earlier times.

     The High Court, in my opinion, should only consider cases in light of being the ultimate protector of the citizenry given the constant movement by “the system” — primarily its economic thrusts — to devour various parts of the vulnerable among its people.   In my mind’s eye, that would keep the most predatory aspects of “the system” at bay.  But it doesn’t and it won’t. 

        There are several cases underlining the High Court’s current review of the abortion issue.    The Roe v. Wade case is the seedbed of these cases which are in various stages of review.  There is Texas S.B.8  which is the legislation allowing and enabling vigilantism.   Dobbs  v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, initiated by the state of Mississippi, clearly puts the question of abortion squarely on the table.   As important as all of the rest of 40 years’ worth of argument is, where is the country headed?  And, by whom?  If it is for the better, then how is that case being made? 

So, now at the Bench are those who are most vulnerable — the mother and the child. I think that  men should stand outside of that circle,  as this is a step too far.   That means that the six robed jurists who sit on the High Court ought not be deciding on abortions per se.  If anything, they should be deciding if state and local jurisdictions are way beyond their boundaries in making laws that hold women and children hostage.   And, the female jurist who thinks like the men should also step aside as that viewpoint has already been represented.  So that in my Supreme Court, that’s down another one, seven so far.  Now will the women who think on behalf of millions of women in all walks of life, stand up?  Hmm . . . , only 2 are standing.       

I find it interesting, first of all, that men would think that they have the right to discuss a woman’s body, but the converse — that women discuss men’s bodies — never holds,  it never gains traction in the public discourse of things male.  Surely, this reluctance is either the by-product or a tenet of gender-based possession and ownership, an essential cornerstone of patrimony.  Make no mistake, women buttress this thinking as well as men.  They just can’t let it go!  Or, better yet, examine the idea and the failures of the patriarchy more closely.  Having neither heard of nor been a part of any national discourse that was honest, insightful, and well-honed, I am not expecting to hear one now.  But, this is an opportunity to say a few things, so here we go.

First, men have enough trouble with their own bodies, their roles and responsibilities particularly their work in families to devote themselves entirely and in entirety to those elements, never mind the women.  As a gentle reminder, it is due to them that a child is even conceived.  If the men spruced up their relationships and rose to their responsibilities better, we might not be having this conversation at all.  In the many ways men engage in conversations about sex and its aftermaths,  99 times out of 100, theirs is not the consideration of long-term consequences.   Need I remind you of the popularity of the “little blue pill”  advertised ad nauseam for the single purpose of encouraging sexual engagement by men.   Please, do not quote any mishmash about adoption being a viable alternative for unwanted, full-term babies.    Were it that simple!  For those who say that women should make better choices, I say mothers should raise better sons and fathers should be better dads.  However, this is NOT that chicken and egg question.  The point is, for women for whom the question rests, there should be choice.  Period, end of discussion!

Women do not face abortion like going to the movies or like johns hunting for a prostitute.  There’s no joy in this.  Men who never had a child do not realize the medical risks taken in childbirth, in full or partial-term.  That is part of a woman’s biology and we are extremely grateful that the medical profession has stepped up to the plate on that!  This comes with the full knowledge that medicine like all of the rest of it has a ways to go and that what we know has come at great cost.

I am bewildered why so many people who have nothing to add or support or do not care about the life after birth have so much to say while the child is in the exclusive province of the carrier, its mother.  Where a couple has decided and committed themselves to parenthood is not the issue here.  Whatever and however they handle their business we presume will be fine.   They will work it out.   We are talking about the others, where problems are recognized early on, where this is not going to have a good end, where the carrier is alone and cornered, where there is no love and maybe none of the other essentials for good and decent home life. . . no other way out.  This is a woman’s dilemma regardless of marital status, whether of high or low birth across time.

This conversation may have barbs, it should.  Realities are different from ideals, but some of us work diligently to homogenize the two as much as possible. Let’s talk.   I’ve put some things out there, so when are we going to have the discussion on raising better men?  Now don’t get all silent on me, boys.

Muriel Tillinghast
December, 2021