Last week, my son and I headed south to Austin, Texas. The prior week, Senator Wendy Davis stood on her feet for thirteen hours to block a bill, if passed, would have affected women’s health issues, restricted women’s choices, and closed 37 of the 42 clinics in Texas. As women, whether we support the Pro-Life campaign or the Pro-Choice campaign, we should not let our campaign choice impair our judgment of a fellow comrade who is a resilient, courageous woman that was willing to stand for THIRTEEN hours for her belief and her right as an American citizen.
I will tell you that I tend to lean more towards the Pro-Choice campaign. Just by my past choices, I am by default, a Pro-Choice specimen.
I, myself was an unplanned (illegitimate) child of the 1960’s, during a time of heated debates. Even though I was too young to rally and protest injustice for the Civil Rights and the Women’s Rights Movement, it seemed the seed was planted inside me waiting for the moment to sprout. When Wendy Davis called for supporters in Austin, I eagerly wanted to stand with my sisters and fellow supporters. After all, this is what historical moments are made of and I wanted be a part of history. I wanted to show my support and honor all those women who came before me; the ones who fought for my right to vote and my right to choose. I wanted MY voice to be heard that day. No, I wasn’t on any stage and I wouldn’t have a microphone in my hand. Nevertheless, my voice and applause was in collaboration with all those others souls who were standing in support to honor the lone, Wendy Davis who stood on her feet for thirteen hours! I mean thirteen hours, on your feet with no meal breaks, no bathroom breaks, and no leaning on your desk, all the while, talking non-stop about one topic. This one woman along with others by her side did this remarkable task all because she believed that every woman should have the right to fair treatment and the right to choose.
As an author of a book that conveniently is titled, One Woman’s Choice, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share my book information. I had post cards printed up with the book cover on one side and added my Twitter account at the bottom along with a one line sentence at the top that read, “Supporting women and the choices we make.”
Just outside the gates, protesters were standing and holding their creative, political signs, sharing their potent words. As we walked through the capital gates, Planned Parenthood had tables set up just inside along with other Pro-Woman advocates, handing out flyers and requesting for us to sign in so they could get a head count. Without hesitation, I leaned over, grabbed a pen and signed my name to be counted for their roll call. Apparently those supporting Pro-Choice and Wendy Davis were supposed to wear orange clothing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memo. I had on a navy blue polo shirt. So they gave us a little orange sticker dot to place on our shirt to show our support. Cool, we’re all good now.
My son and I trek down into the crowd, looking around in amazement. I take a deep breath and I begin to hand out my flyers. I’m met with some reluctance and a little resistance. I understand that these activists have lots of campaigners asking them to look at something, take something, sign something, or sign up for something. I am somewhat of a meek person usually. I don’t have the car salesmen personality and I am better at servicing customers than attracting customers. Hey, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. But sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zone especially when we need to accomplish a goal. This was one of those times.
About twenty minutes after arriving, the music stops, one of the guest speakers gets on stage, the mood of the crowd shifts, and the rally begins. The crowd roars in unison with every valid point the speaker makes. After a brief respite, the crowd quiets down and I continue to hand out my post cards. But the activists now seem less friendly and less interested in what I have to share. I’m wondering what it could be. I’m feeling a little insecure because neither Jaren nor I have on orange clothing. Are they judging us by our colors? Seems crazy right? All these years we have been drilling into our American society to “not judge a person by their color but rather by the content of their character” and here we have a protest between two opposing sides suggesting that their followers wear a specific color so others can tell what side you represent. As I walk among the orange shirts, I feel somewhat like an outsider. But hey, I have on my little, round- orange sticker.
I pull my chin back up, muster up some more courage and begin to hand out more post cards. That’s when I met this one young lady. I handed her a post card and she replies, “You do realize my uterus is my property?”
At first, I was taken back and to be honest, offended. When she saw me, she made her quick inaccurate assessment and judgment. I replied, “Yes, and my book is called One Woman’s Choice. I’ve made the choice to have an abortion. I’ve made the choice to give birth and raise my son who is right there (pointing to Jaren) as a single parent, and I’ve made the choice to give life and be a birth mom. That’s what Pro-Choice is all about, isn’t it? Supporting all choices women make?”
She said, “As long as we are on the same page.”
I said, “I have on an orange sticker.” To which she replies that the “others” were also wearing the orange sticker so they could mingle among the Pro-Choice activists and get their Pro-Life campaign pamphlets out.
As Jaren and I walked away, I was fuming. Jaren tried to smooth over the situation. I said we came here to support this cause and this is how we get treated just because we didn’t have the right color shirt on. I wanted to shout out to her and ask her what choices has she made? Has she ever had an unplanned pregnancy? Has she ever struggled as a single mother to support her child? Has she ever had an abortion? Has she ever had to say good-bye to her infant baby because no one in her family offered to support her?
I am thrilled that so many Americans came to support Senator Wendy Davis. But I also know that not every man or woman who supports Pro-Choice has ever had to make a life changing choice or experienced an unplanned pregnancy. I respect all those who gather to support a women’s right and freedom to choose the path she feels is best for her when an unplanned pregnancy occurs. But don’t come at me with your premature judgments. I don’t just believe it. I don’t just speak it. And I don’t just protest it. I have actually lived it!