Slow Adventures in Slothville

December 7, 2006

Fucktard of the Day:

Filed under: Politics, Reproductive Rights — shhville @ 3:47 pm


Carrie Gordon Earll, a policy analyst for the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family, expressed empathy for the Cheney family but depicted [lesbian daughter Mary Cheney’s] pregnancy as unwise.

“Just because you can conceive a child outside a one-woman, one-man marriage doesn’t mean it’s a good idea,” Earll said. “Love can’t replace a mother and a father.”


June 22, 2006

Funny But Not

Filed under: Politics, Reproductive Rights — shhville @ 9:10 pm

Snagged this funny off of a comment on Planned Parenthood's MySpace page:

I'm getting my hair done next weekend, I think I'll give him a call…

November 1, 2005

Answer Day

Filed under: Boys, Celebrity Whoredom, Reproductive Rights, Shoes, Slothyness — shhville @ 1:52 pm

I’ll just let this picture (and my unhealthy addiction to it) speak for itself.

Ok, I said I would answer questions today so let’s get to it!

LiAps asked:
You do NOT really want me to ask you questions about pooping. Do you?
Where is the love, Sloth?

An auspicious beginning!! Let’s just say, LiAps, that if you HAD chosen to ask me a pooping question or two I would have been bound by my offer to answer any questions. In that sense, it is probably best that your question teetered on the edge……and stayed there.

As for the love, it’s fickle and always on the move. Right now I think it’s in the dining room.

Seth asked:
How often is socially acceptable to shave your legs in winter?
If you had to pick year-round cold or hot, which do you choose? You can make up any other parameters. A/C, live on the slopes, or the beach, etc…

The short answer is: NEVER. But there are caveats. If you don’t treasure the heavenly, slippery feel of clean sheets on smooth legs AND you are a single gal, then fuck it. Let it all grow out, be a yeti for a few months (who’s going to know?) and break out the gardening shears come Spring. If, however, you are in a relationship, your significant other may not appreciate this sudden pilary change, in which case it is back to every other day (if you’re me).

Secondly, if I had to pick year-round cold or hot, I’d pick cold. There are simply more fashion choices when layering is involved.

Dave asked:
If I was going to attempt to sell my photos online, is it worth the hassle? And why not? I ask why not because it seems your cart at smugmug doesn’t work, which means the selling wasn’t worth it?

Dave, it all depends on how good your photos are. I think if you have talent and you believe that your vision would look good on someone’s wall, then you should go for it. Set up a PayPal account or request checks/money orders, find a system that works for you and do it up. If you are computer savvy then you can perhaps create your own photo page, but I believe Flickr has purchasing options as well.

There was a brief time when I wanted to sell my photos online and then someone left me a crappy, negative comment on Smugmug and I decided to remove my email address, the price list, and the option to buy from the page. I didn’t intend to be petty, I just decided it wasn’t worth it for me. And, honestly, I was embarrassed at the time that I had ever thought my pictures worth buying. Now the photos are just there for perusing, although, if anyone wants one, all they have to do is ask.

Tot asked:
Can you recommend a winter boot that is practical for this harsh Canadian climate and feminine?

Since you mentioned “feminine,” I went with all high heels. Let me know if you’d like me to recommend some flats as well. Or some with a chunkier sole.

But anyway, the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Oh, and JESSSSSSSSS.

Cooter asked:
I would like to know why my $300 Donald J. Pliner shoes can’t keep their zipper up. They’re so cute, but I’ve stopped wearing them because I ACTUALLY stepped out of one once.

Hmm……I’m sorry to say that I don’t, in fact, know the answer to this question. So, as with many other things…

…I’ll blame it on the dog.

Vince asked:
If you could not be a sloth, what animal would you be? And what would you call your blog?

I would be a sea otter.

I would call my blog “The Kelp Forest” because otters sleep wrapped up in giant kelp leaves to keep them from drifting out to sea. No shaving for me – every square inch of my skin has more hair than there is on your whole scalp I need it to keep warm. Instead of challenging you to best me at my sleeping abilities (as I do right up there under the title), I would challenge you to be ANYWHERE NEAR AS CUTE AS ME. Not possible, friend. Don’t even try.

E-Lo asked:
Why am I so attracted to the color green? What should I name the Fuzz if it’s a boy?

There are times, E-Lo, when a certain color grabs you by the nape and insidiously manipulates all of your decisions about fashion, home decor and baby clothes until you are able to shake it. The colors that are ruling my life at the moment are wine red, winter white, and chocolate brown. I am obsessed with putting together a winter wardrobe that incorporates all of these colors to their maximum possible capacity. I went through a green phase, too. That’s how I wound up with several pairs of green shoes, green pants, scarves, handbags, and etcetera. Last year I could not leave pink alone. Actually, it wouldn’t leave me alone. How many pink handbags does one girl need? Well, according to myself last spring the answer was, apparently, FIVE. So don’t feel bad. The thing is, if you’re careful and prudent (unlike anything resembling me) you will eventually have a wonderful wardrobe of all sorts of colors that you can mix and match. One green scarf and maybe a handbag to go with it are enough.

For boy’s names, I’m partial to Aaron.

Julie asked:
How in the hell do you afford all these shoes, girl?
What maple syrup?

A) Crack whore, shoe whore, same thing and B) THIS maple syrup.

Coco asked:
Are you still escorting at Planned Parenthood?

The answer is……….no. I had to take a fuckin’ break already. Have you ever woken up angry and not been able to figure out why? That was starting to happen to me more and more often. Also, there were a couple of mornings that I just. Couldn’t. Do it. I would wake up at 6 a.m., look outside at the FREEZINGNESS and think, “I can’t stand in front of these hateful people for three hours this morning and be screamed at. I just can’t.” The second time it happened I took myself out of the rotation because I figured it was better to not be scheduled at all than to be scheduled and not show up.

I am not religious or spiritual, as you all know. I am an atheist, simple as that. But at some point I forgot that spirituality is not a black pall of evil over society and that believing in God doesn’t make a person stupid. All I ever saw of religion, for 5 years, was those assholes standing in front of the clinic with veins standing out on their foreheads as they screamed at us and called us murderers. That, to me, was religion in all its glory. My perspective was dark, dark, dark. I forgot the power that belief has for healing wounds and giving strength. I forgot about all the good things that networks of churches do for the less fortunate. I forgot all the positive aspects of faith and saw only the rotten parts. Now, after a few months away from it, I feel a little rejuvenated and possibly ready to return soon. In any case, I sort of feel like I did my time. If I choose not to go back, I won’t feel guilty.

Evil Science Chick asked:

Given the choices of your areas of expertise: sleeping, pooping, and buying shoes…which is your favorite?

Also, if you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one pair of shoes, which pair would it be (can be ones you don’t currently own, if there are in fact shoes in existance that you don’t own)?

The answer to your first question is absolutely and without a doubt SLEEEEEEPING. I am very sleepy and slow and when I’m not sleeping I enjoy ACTING as though I’m sleeping and when I’m not acting as though I’m sleeping I enjoy reposing in a position in which one might sleep while I am reading or watching tv. Girl, I am lazier than Forest Whitaker’s left eye.

As for shoes on a desert island, it would definitely be this pair which I do not, in fact, own. Yet. They are comfortable, airy, and they protect the toes while you are hunting for sea urchins to eat. They can be worn in the water and are made of wicked strong stuff.

Cybele asked:
If you were to create a man, Mr. Perfect, as it were, would he a) share your shoe fanaticism b) support your shoe fanaticism without participating c) not be involved at all or d) other option that you will define?

Option D: He would whole-heartedly support my shoe fanaticism while also paying for it.

The Retropolitan asked:
What’s Sloth sound like?

I will sincerely try to do an audio post at some point soon so you will really know. I’m a little squeaky but I try not to be. Ask Fleece, she knows.

And finally, Pup asked:
What would your stripper name be?

What could be worst than having to travel (for work) on Halloween, the bestest holiday EVER?

A) Spazzy McShavebumps
B) How about THIS??

From today’s celebrity gossip:
Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristin Davis may have to temporarily trade their stilettos for sensible flats. The “Sex and the City” stars have both suffered recent injuries that will make slipping into their Manolos a wee bit painful. “I ran down the block a few weeks ago in these heels, just like I did for seven years, and woke up in the middle of the night in agony,” Parker tells Closer magazine. “And it turns out that I’d torn the tendons in my foot — just from running in heels!” Still, the actress insists she’ll never give up her vertiginous footwear. Davis, meanwhile, tore a ligament during a fall at a Spanish hotel, says Sky News, which quotes her as saying, “I said to the doctor, ‘I don’t have any flat shoes! What am I gonna do?’ I was conditioned, I was brainwashed for seven years that I have to wear heels …”

Aaaaaaaaaand we’re done!!

September 4, 2005

The Turn of the Tide

Filed under: Politics, Reproductive Rights — shhville @ 12:21 am

I am on vacation and have been absent from Blogville.

But New Guy just called to tell me that Judge Rehnquist died tonight.

Bush’s approval ratings are below what Nixon’s were during Watergate, and that is pre-New-Orleans.

If that doesn’t stop him…..ladies, say goodbye to what we have taken for granted as an “educated” first-world country.

You’ve already had to say “hello” to your babies born with brain stems but no brains. You’ve already had to say “hello” to your babies who are doomed to die horrific, painful deaths within weeks of birth.

Now say goodbye to your rights as women, as citizens of the United States, as human beings.

Say “hello” to the United States of Jesus Christ. Unless people wake up. WAKE UP.


July 7, 2005

Blair’s Burden (updated)

Filed under: Politics, Reproductive Rights — shhville @ 9:28 am

London. Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

My first thought was: “I wonder if the attacks were contingent upon London being chosen for the Olympics.”

I went there before 9/11 and was shocked to see police with machine guns. I’d never seen such a thing. Then we flew out of Paris and were evacuated from Orly due to a bomb scare. It was all so strange and frightening. Then it seeped into our country and our subconcious as well. Or I guess it flew in on a couple of planes.

Londoners have been dealing with terrorism for a very long time. Much longer than we have. But that doesn’t make the terrorism any less terrifying. I feel so awful for their city.

*Update: a bit of good news as counterbalance – emergency contraception has been approved for over-the-counter use by a veto-proof margin in Massachusetts. There is NOTHING our Mormon Governor, Mitt Romney, can do about it. Just a tiny ray of sunshine….*

February 18, 2005

Religion, Shmeligion

Filed under: Maybe worth a look, Photography, Politics, Reproductive Rights, Slothyness — shhville @ 9:23 am

In my religion class last week we were asked to think about what our definition of religion is. I gave it a lot of thought and here’s what I came up with: religion is a social construct that uses natural human tendencies toward wonder and worship to control populations of people for better or worse. The following is what Lovisa would probably call a “firebelly” post. It might piss you off, but since my readership has shrunk dramatically since my hiatus, I’m not expecting the kind shitstorm we used to get around here when I talked about God. (They were kinda fun, though, eh?) Have a great weekend everyone!


I went to a Catholic high school. I wore a plaid skirt and a white button-down shirt and sometimes I even put my hair in pigtails. I listened to the prayers before each class and sometimes I even mouthed the words that became so ingrained in me over those four years. I did my homework every day, colored in the circles on the SAT’s and sometimes I even had fun. I’m not Catholic. I’m not even baptized. I was sent to that school because I had been kicked out of two schools before that. I needed discipline. I needed nuns.

I loved the nuns who taught at my high school. They were mostly old and crotchety but that didn’t put me off. They knew I was non-religious and, contrary to my expectations, they respected my choice. They never made me pray or go to mass. During the big prayer meetings I would hang out in the computer lab with Sister Grace and goof off. All of the sisters knew my name and treated me with respect even though I adorned my binder with a fluorescent orange sticker that declared “Abortion On Demand and Without Apology.” They were all about educating the next generation of women and a little thing like me being an alternative, liberal nontheist wasn’t about to stop them. I graduated from that school a much different, much better person than I had been on my first day, but I still don’t believe in God.

I don’t believe in anything for which there is no proof. Not fate, not ghosts, not reincarnation, not auras, not ESP, not alien abductions and most certainly not God. The whole concept of God just seems silly to me. There is a giant force that created the universe and everything in it, that is supreme and perfect and omniscient and if you think really hard at it, it might give you a boat? Or a winning lottery ticket? Or your boyfriend back? What? The thing that amazes me is that so many people are so desperate for a little solace, a little unconditional love and the sense of mattering to someone that they are willing to invent a make-believe “invisible friend” to provide that and then use the make-believe wishes of their make-believe God to tell other people how to live. Again, what?

Not since I graduated high school have I seen a manifestation of faith that seemed like a good thing to me. Ok, I’m exaggerating. Jon Stewart interviewed Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the Daily Show and the profound love and kindness that the Archbishop exuded from every pore was so astounding that I cried. I know a woman (yeah, Regan, I’m talkin’ boutchoo) who believes that God is feminine and goes to church because she loves the people there and gets a kick out of belting out hymns in the choir. That’s not a bad thing by any stretch. What I mostly see, though, is thinly disguised bigotry, hatred, and downright stupidity masquerading as faith. Masquerading as the moral high road. As God’s will.

As an escort for Planned Parenthood, I see the ugliness in faith. I see the violence and the entitlement and the anger. As a liberal democrat, I see the fallacy in faith – the cruelty of using God as an excuse to manipulate social policy in ways that hurt the people we should be helping. Faith usually looks like a bad, scary thing from where I’m standing and I am almost blind to the humanity inside “believers.”

I believe religion is a social mechanism by which the powerful few control the powerless many. Make them afraid, make them ashamed, give them a place to go and be penitent, provide the shame alongside the promise of a release from that shame, and you have a populace under your thumb. It is also a salve. A way to feel better about living a finite life by simply denying that life is finite. A way to have a friend when one has no friends. A way to be loved when one is unloved. A way to be right. A way to be chosen. I would probably be happier if I believed, but I could never let myself be such a sucker. I would rather face my fear of death and loneliness and inconsequence than live my life a fool. Perhaps that makes me a fool. Is it better to be skeptical and discerning or is it better to be happy? Are they really mutually exclusive? Somehow I think not and I hope that I’m right.

January 31, 2005


Filed under: Family, Photography, Politics, Reproductive Rights, Slothyness — shhville @ 9:51 am

Remember Felix? My lazy, crotchety, 17-year-old cat? This is a picture of him half asleep and it's pretty much representative of how I felt for much of the weekend. I don't know if this is normal, but Vicodin gets me totally blissed out. Who knew I could be even more slothful than I am in my natural state? I love it. I wish I could go home and pop some right now. Alas, I must be a productive member of society and earn a living and not be a deadbeat. No fun!

The parentals visited this weekend and we had a great time. Excellent dinner at Washington Square Tavern and then to the Sanders Theatre for Paquito D'Rivera. On Sunday we made popovers, scrambled eggs, mimosas and watched the Australian Open which Lleyton Hewitt lost, much to our enjoyment. They met the boy, even though I'm not sure we're legitimately at the meet-the-parents stage and, thanks to a flurry of activity immediately prior to their arrival, my apartment is sparkly-clean. Squeaky, even!

There are lots of big things happening in the world. As a democrat who loathes our president with an unprecedented animosity I am reluctant to admit this, but admit it I must. If I lived in Iraq, I don't think I would vote. I think I would be a scaredy-cat and stay home and hide until the election was over. But seeing how brave all these people are, and seeing the women smiling and dropping their ballots in the boxes is pretty damned inspiring. Talk about courage! It doesn't change my mind about our president or about what I consider to be his poor decision-making skills and appalling ignorance, but I'm glad that the carnage during the voting period has been kept to a minimum and I'm glad that people chose to be strong and exercise their new rights. It's about time something hopeful happened over there.

I'm also very excited about this new development. Gentlemen, if given the option of never accidentally getting a woman pregnant again, would you consider sedating your soldiers? Would you consider taking the responsibility of birth control, so long the burden of the woman, into your own hands? I hope you would. It's only fair, eh?

November 15, 2004

Distressed Sloth

Filed under: Reproductive Rights — shhville @ 10:54 am

This past Saturday at Planned Parenthood was particularly stressful. I've been escorting for four or five years now and this ranked among the top five most difficult shifts I've ever worked.

I, in particular, get a lot of flack while I'm working because I look at least five years younger than I am and I'm small – just over five feet tall. Sometimes the protesters tend to single me out because I look like the runt of the litter; the most vulnerable. But I'm not. I'm like the guard at fucking Buckingham Palace. You can't faze me. I'll admit, when I first started escorting I did find the personal heckling very distressing. But now, I've been doing this so long that it really takes a lot to get a reaction out of me, which is what they want. A reaction. They're just ACHING to get into it with us. Only once have I ever lost my cool, and I learned that day what a giant mistake it is to show a chink in your armor.

Ruth. She's……..sofuckinghorrible. I can't tell you how this woman drives me up the wall. She stands right inside the buffer zone SCREAMING at the top of her lungs all the usual stuff about you're a mother, mothers don't murder their children, you're doing an evil thing, blah blah blah. Well, this one day she had a gigantic umbrella that was basically blocking the whole doorway. Even though the fine print of the law does allow her to stand inside the buffer zone (didn't know that, did you?) she can't block the entrance. But the cops that are supposed to watch the clinic and help us out don't seem to care much about a woman's right to choose and convincing them to get off their butts and enforce the law is like trying to get hair off soap. It's just not happening. So I was already mad. But then she poked one of the escorts in the eye with her umbrella and I just kind of lost it. I angrily told her to get her umbrella out of the doorway and watch where she was standing. BIG MISTAKE. That goddamn woman dogged me for the next two hours, yelling in my ear about killing and murder and going to hell and blah blah blah. They finally had to send me home because she was rendering my presence entirely ineffectual, which I suppose was the whole point of her being there.

So anyway, I woke up at 6:30 this past Saturday morning and it was bucketing snow outside. I was like, fuck this, I'm not going anywhere. Then I laid in bed arguing with myself for half an hour until I finally decided that if I was this loathe to go to Planned Parenthood, then maybe none of the other escorts would show up either so I had better get off my ass. When I got there I encountered a protester who I had never seen before. She was Latina, very beautiful, probably in her early forties, and she was an extremely effective protester. I was the first escort she singled out, but she eventually accosted everyone one at a time and then made her way back to me again. She got right up in my grill and begged me to "educate myself" and find out what was really happening in that "death camp." She said, "You're young, you don't know what you're doing, you think you're helping women but you're hurting them," and then she started crying, blah blah blah.

Try to imagine this for a second. You're an escort standing on a freezing cold sidewalk and a woman is hollering in your face in a way is actually sort of embarrassing. You can't speak because you have a job to do and you have to stay focused. She wants to distract you, she wants to get into it with you, she wants to keep you from doing your job, she wants to make the patients more vulnerable by effectively taking out one of the escorts. So you look past her while she's yammering away at you and you try not to lose your cool. That's stressful enough. Then add a woman who thinks she's the next Ann Coulter, orating for two hours straight, nonstop about evil, baby-hating liberals, Ruth with her giant umbrella (which she was blocking the door with again) and the big prayer group that shows up on second Saturdays with the podium and the loudspeaker and the singing off-key. It was just a nightmare.

And then the new protester, the one who was all in my grill, followed one of the escorts home and went into her building and threatened her and the escort ran all the way back to the clinic without a coat on and we had to call the cops and it was a big mess and the whole thing was just very very stressful, blah blah blah. Sometimes I wonder how many more years I can keep this up.

August 9, 2004

Baby Killer

Filed under: Photography, Reproductive Rights — shhville @ 4:29 pm

This is a photograph that I took from the deck of my parents' house in Portland one day when I lucked out and the clouds were just right.

Good afternoon boys and girls – today I want to tell you a story about a foolish sloth.

As many of you will recall, I am a volunteer escort for Planned Parenthood. We get a gaggle of protesters every Saturday, sometimes more, sometimes less. The story begins with a few examples of the people who populate that particular piece of sidewalk every weekend…

Ruth: For sheer volume, no one can compete with Ruth. She is an older woman with dyed brunette hair, bright red lipstick on thin, crinkled lips, a waifish figure, and a voice that could compete with a fog horn. She stands in the middle of the buffer zone (no, it is not enforceable), bible in hand, and hollers at the top of her lungs,


The Nuns: These women (in full habits) come rushing at us in a swirl of black, like a great, dark blanket flapping in the wind, screaming "MOTHER!! MOTHER!! MOTHER!! Let us help you! We can help you, mother! What do you need? Just tell us what you need, mother!! You're a MOTHER – DON'T DO THIS, DON'T DO THIS!!!!"

Rock For Life: The gang leader of this group is a kid who thinks he's punk rock and expresses that by having a green mohawk and a chain wallet. He also wears a shirt that says, "I Would Die Tonight For My Beliefs," which for some reason always cracks me up. They are all teenagers and they spend a lot of the time goofing off but they give me the creeps because they're the next generation of these people.

Freak Family: This is two parents and a daughter who looks to be about 12 or 13 years old. She has long dark hair, a pixie face and precious freckles on her nose and cheeks. The parents shout at the patients while the daughter sits on the sidewalk and cries. For three hours. Does anyone comfort her? No. Does anyone touch her shoulder and try to wipe away her tears? No. What they do instead is stand a few feet away and watch this little girl as though she is Joan of Arc, sobbing for the dead babies in a state of martyrdom to rival the most pious saint. It's obvious that they would be thrilled if she suddenly started bleeding from her hands and feet. They whisper among themselves about her goodness and bravery to come and mourn for the dead babies. Obviously they missed the time she looked at me like Linda Blair and called me a bitch. Not very saintlike after all, hmm?

Susan Collins: Wench. She's one of the worst. If she's not standing in front of us holding a poster of dead baby parts covered in blood or floating in formaldehyde, she's punching an escort in the stomach with an umbrella handle as she muscles between them and a patient. All of the other protesters are in awe of her because she wears Chanel suits and enormous fancy hats and she has run for office (like she would EVER win in Massachusetts). She knows she's smarter than the rest of them and it's obvious that she enjoys being the Queen Bee. She's the only one I'm actually sort of afraid of. Or she was. Until now.

There are lots more people but you get the flavor. The last person I'll tell you about is a man who my friend R. calls the FBI Guy. The FBI guy doesn't yell at anyone or say anything. He doesn't even come near us. He stands under a tree in a suit and sunglasses, holding a rosary and praying quietly. He looks like he's on a stake-out. I've always kind of liked the FBI Guy, mostly because in contrast to the other protesters he's downright sweet. No elbowing, no shoving, no nasty names, no "they'll rip your bowels out in there," no threats, no nothing. He just stands under his tree and prays.

Now, because I am a sloth and have a peculiar nature, I am always looking for a shred of humanity in everyone. It's hard to find, believe me, in any of the people who scream and stomp and spew vitriol in front of Planned Parenthood. But I crave it, you know? I want to see it. I want to have hope that they aren't ALL bad. And maybe because they are so angry and ignorant and aggressive, I had sort of come to appreciate the FBI Guy for being the antithesis of that. I thought, maybe he really just believes that abortion is murder and he comes to pray for the souls of the mothers and babies he thinks are going to Hell. Maybe he is just so concerned for their well-being that he comes here, stands under his tree, and prays his little heart out for their well-being. Maybe he's a good guy, you know? Maybe he's just trying to do what he thinks is right.

Maybe I'm a fucking idiot.

When the FBI guy showed up at the clinic this past Saturday, R. noted his arrival as he made his way to his shady spot and pulled a maroon rosary out of his pocket. I mentioned idly that I sort of like him in a he's-not-as-much-of-an-asshole-as-the-others kind of way. She just looked at me. What? What? I wanted to know. Do you not know why he stands under that tree? she asked me. No, I don't know anything, what do you mean? He stands under that tree, she said, because he is under a restraining order. He's not allowed within so many feet of the clinic because he did jail time in the south for his involvement in a clinic bombing. She couldn't remember which state.

I don't know why I felt so sad right then. It was like this optimistic veil I was trying to lay over the world was in tatters. Everything was crooked and cracked and I just felt so stupid and defeated. Hollow. Naive. At that moment I turned my head to look at him. He was looking right back at me and for the first time in all the years I've worked there, he pulled a camera out of his pocket and put it to his eye. We stood facing each other and I waved as he took my picture. Posted by Hello

July 15, 2004

Warning: Serious and Personal Post

Filed under: Maybe worth a look, Reproductive Rights — shhville @ 5:02 pm

Ok, this post is kind of heavy, so hold on to your hats.

I hate abortion. I hate thinking about it, I hate talking about it, I hate dealing with it. I even hate the word. Ah-bore-shun. I’m sick of hearing those three syllables slipping out of the television screen, sliding out of my radio, knocking around in my head. I wish I could substitute that word with something else entirely. Something soft and pleasant like…. Freesia. But calling abortion something else doesn’t make it something else. Abortion will never be soft or pleasant. Everything about it is difficult and tense and exhausting.

Everyone is anti-abortion. There is no such thing as “pro-abortion.” No one wants abortion to be necessary because it’s icky and confusing and not fun. The doctors who perform the procedures would rather be doing almost anything else you can think of. The women who opt for the procedures, even more so. I get up at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings to stand in front of Planned Parenthood and escort patients through the gaggle of protesters in front of the clinic. Believe me, I’d rather be home in bed. We all would. The doctor, the patient, the escort and the protester would all rather be home in bed. But we get up and we go to the clinic and every one of us does it because, for whatever reason, we are unable to turn away.

A few weeks ago I went to a panel discussion on abortion politics at the Kennedy School Forum at Harvard University. The place was packed with college students on both sides of the issue and the panel was evenly split. One of the pro-choice panelists was Kate Michelman, the former president of The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. At one point during the discussion she said something that took me by surprise.

“Every woman knows that abortion is the end of a life,” she said. “We are not stupid. We know that if we have an abortion a life will end. A person who would have been will not be.” She went on to speak about the value of a life – a woman’s life – and the value of freedom and privacy and empowerment. And all of that was true. But I was glad that Ms. Michelman didn’t shy away from that other truth. The truth that is harder to take.

I know many pro-choice activists who claim that a tiny bundle of cells on a uterine wall is not a life. That the notion that life begins at conception is false. Perhaps they feel that this makes their convictions easier to defend, but I disagree. Four cells may not look like life, but if left to their own devices, those four cells will likely become a person. That is life. And to claim that it isn’t does a disservice to every woman who is faced with the decision of whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. This is no coin toss. This is no should-I-take-the-bus-or-the-subway. This is a very big deal.

I know an abortion-rights activist who is also a faculty member at a prestigious university in Boston. He told me a story from his days as a resident physician in the early seventies, before the advent of Roe v. Wade. A patient was brought into the ER one evening suffering from severe sepsis. Her dark brown skin had turned a lighter, purplish/mahogany color. Her lips and fingernails were a light, dusty blue. She was unconscious, slick with sweat and her abdomen was horribly distended. They knew immediately what was wrong with her. They had seen complications from botched illegal abortions before. With the severity of her condition, the only solution was a full hysterectomy. She was rushed into surgery. When they opened her up they found that her abdominal cavity was filled with pus from a punctured and infected uterus. They siphoned out the pus and removed the woman’s mangled reproductive organs. The operation was made more difficult by the fact that her tissues had developed the consistency of wet toilet paper. She was coming apart and the sutures would not hold. They did the best they could and, after nine hours, she was placed in a bed in post-operative intensive care. This man I know stopped by her room later that evening to check on her. He found the surgeon holding her hand as she lay comatose. The surgeon was still holding her hand, hours later, when she died. She was seventeen.

The bundle of cells that was removed from that girl’s womb was a life. But was it more valuable than her life? Women have proven time and time again that they will do horrifying, inhumane things to themselves in order to end a pregnancy that they do not want. If we humanize the fetus, we dehumanize the woman who carries it. But the messy part – the confusing part – is that if a fetus was not a life, abortion would not be an issue. If a pregnancy would result in a woman giving birth to a coffee maker or a grapefruit or a ribbon candy, she would never risk her life to stop it. No way that seventeen-year-old girl would have died for a grapefruit. It is precisely because it is a life that could become a person that abortion is such a volatile issue for both sides. Otherwise, none of us would give a damn.

I had an abortion in 1996 when I was twenty-one. During the short time that I was pregnant I did a lot of throwing up and a lot of crying and thinking. I knew that I was too young and too poor and too messed up to have a child. I knew that an abortion was the right decision for me. But that didn’t make it any easier. It was an awful, lonely time, those couple of weeks. And going to that clinic was one of the most difficult things I have ever chosen to do. But I did choose it. I chose an abortion and I have never once regretted that decision. Of course I have felt some whimsical twinges here and there over the years. Of course I have wondered fleetingly what that child would have looked like. But I have never wished that my life had taken a different path. I’m glad that I was pregnant and I’m glad that I had an abortion because it allowed me to feel empathy for other women who are faced with the same colossal experience. When I see the women who come to the clinic on Saturday mornings, wearing sweatpants and carrying pillows, I can almost smell their fear and I remember exactly what it felt like. Some of them are sick. Many of them are in tears. And I can place my hand on a woman’s back and tell her with absolute conviction that she is going to be alright, because I would know. I hate abortion. It is scary and painful and I wish I didn’t have to think about it. But a woman’s life is no trivial thing. She is not a bag of blood and nutrients. She is not an animal to be bred. She is a person whose rights and freedoms must be protected or she could die. That is the reason that I cannot turn away.

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