Our Bodies, Ourselves

By Pamela "Priya" Barr

I’m about to turn sixty-three, and I’ve never told anyone what I’m about to tell you. That doesn’t make it special or newsworthy. I mention that only so that you know this isn’t an easy conversation for me to have. But I'm sharing because I fear that young people have no idea of what might lie ahead.

I had my first abortion when I was in my late teens or maybe twenty—I'll let you do the math. I was in a small town in upstate New York. An abortion wasn’t easy to get those days. There was no Planned Parenthood. I couldn’t talk to a school nurse. Hell, there weren’t even pregnancy test kits in the drugstore, and, even if there were, no girl in her right mind would take a chance on buying one, since Lord knows who might see you. Ditto condoms, by the way. I know it's hard to believe, but times were different.

So, my parents suggested a local OB-GYN, and I got in the car and drove to his office, which was closed. Nevertheless, he opened the door and let me in. Most of the lights were off and the staff had gone home. He did a pregnancy test, and I waited for the results while I sat in the waiting room. It came back positive. Within moments, I was lying on the table in the examination and he was performing an abortion without my consent, without anesthesia, without so much as a word about what was going on. I can still hear the sound of the machine, feel the agonizing pain, and, to tell you the truth, my hands are shaking as I type. It was, as the saying, goes, a closet abortion.

When it was over, I got up, got dressed, and drove myself home. My parents didn’t say a word about it to me—not then, not ever. In fact, they didn’t even look at me. So I buried the hurt, the confusion, the shame, the horror, and got on with it. I got very good at doing that for the rest of my life. Only yoga can break me open, but that's the subject for another blog.

Amy Coney Barrett may soon be sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court, and, if she is, there is a strong likelihood that the conservative court will overturn Roe v. Wade. The rich, white, powerful Republican MEN who have been trying to control our bodies before and since that 1973 landmark decision will try take away our RIGHT to have an abortion. And, I fear they may succeed.

I’m not sure there’s anything we can do about Barrett at this point, but we can certainly voice our disgust, our outrage. We can also vote on November 3 for the party that stands behind Roe, and maybe we can take back not only the presidency but also the Senate. If we can do that, maybe, with a little luck, we can take back our rights to our bodies, too, one state at a time.

Priya is an art historian, trained at Yale, who was employed as a senior editor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for about thirty years. She now works as a freelance editor and counts The Warrior Flow Foundation among her clients. When Priya was two, her mom began teaching her yoga. Priya is a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaj-ji) and often sings with Krishna Das' Cosmic Kirtan Posse. She divides her time between Manhattan and upstate New York and has a special "home" in a small village in Belize.


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