Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Uncommon Courage

If you are like me and watch "The Rachel Maddow Show" on a regular basis, then you probably are familiar with Princeton Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell. She is a frequent guests and she gives very informed and many times witty takes on racial issues as they relate to politics. Well today she has a very powerful, moving, courageous, and just about any other positive adjective you can think of post up at "The Nation" about the assassination of Dr George Tiller over the weekend. On Monday there Rachel had Dr. Susan Wicklund on TRMS who had this to say.

We have to get women to start standing behind us as providers. We need the 45 million women who have had abortions in this country Roe versus Wade to stand beside us as providers and clinics now and come out of your homes, come out of your comfort zone and talk about it. Make everyone know how common this is.

At the time I thought to myself that Dr. Wicklund was absolutely right, but what she was asking of many of these women might be too much for them to bear. Well Ms. Lacewell shows that there are women out there willing to tell their story in order to push back against the anti choice crowd.

Forty years ago my mother was part of the movement of individuals who helped desperate women find safe ways to terminate their pregnancies. This network provided safe houses, transportation, and follow-up support for women who had to cross state lines to obtain abortions. She was willing to risk her life and livelihood to protect women's reproductive choices.

Nearly twenty years ago my older sister was diagnosed with cancer during the second trimester of her pregnancy. Her religious commitments led her to refuse her doctor's advice to terminate. She risked her life to ensure that she would not have an abortion. She and my niece are both healthy.

When we were 14-year-old, high school freshmen my friend decided to have the baby of a boy she'd had sex with only once. It changed her life forever, but she graduated from school and made a life for herself and daughter. In my twenties I stood by dear friends who simply could not afford emotionally or financially to carry their pregnancies to term. Their decisions to seek abortions were difficult and painful, but they faced them courageously.

I'm a 35-year-old, educated, black, divorced mother. Like so many other women my age I have faced my own tough reproductive choices. I've had a child, an abortion, and hysterectomy. I love and respect women who have chosen many different paths. Their stories and my own are part of the reason that I am a committed supporter of reproductive rights.

The murder of George Tiller is personal to me. It is not just a matter of politics or policy. I am an aunt to three teenage girls and the mother to a daughter. It is critical to me that their health, safety, and choices are protected.

I HIGHLY recommend reading the full text of her post because it definitely deserves your attention. I can't imagine how much courage it took for Professor Harris-Lacewell to tell her story but I hope she is an inspiration to other women who have a similar story to tell.


  1. I used to read her blog at the Root. She's the kind of person the MSM should hand the mike to more often. Not for nothing, she's also easy on the eyes.


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