Mistakes in the Texas Era

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about mistakes. Parents spend an awful lot focused upon them (how many we make and how to help our kids feel okay about theirs). The role model of the first grade teacher misspelling something in the morning letter to class and the first grader informing her and her responding seamlessly with a little palm to head and exclamation of “Oh, you’re right!” is the one I cling to as best as I can when I’m moving through my errant days.

Not every mistake is so easily remedied. That so many people recognized the “mistake” and more so the underlying racism after the Trayvon Martin shooting—and complacency about it—has been disturbing and moving in unequal measures. Hoodies are a quick symbol to represent such devastating truth.

Advocates for women remind us that poor women are especially vulnerable and that more women have found themselves poor as our society pulls what is often called “the safety net” out from under right when the ongoing employment picture remains uncertain at best. In case you didn’t know this, a woman’s quickest route to poverty is to have a child.

This past week I wrote a piece at Huffington Post after reading a heart-wrenching essay in the Texas Observer. Long story short: hers was an intended pregnancy with severe medical complications. The news was sudden and because of it, her abortion, too, was sudden. Given the new laws in Texas she was forced to endure an unnecessary sonogram and accompanying narrative about the profoundly ill child she could not carry to term (the doctors firm about this). Her experience, eloquently described, revealed the cruelty of this law.

It’s no less cruel for a woman trying to have an abortion because she cannot—for whatever reason, including because she chooses not to—have a baby to go through a medically unnecessary and unwanted procedure and lecture like this.

Not understanding this on the deepest level is how people slow to become outraged by an extreme right wing that’s passing laws like these got here. And will continue to venture further into territory that’s unfathomable unless we stop judging some mistakes—the ones we think out of our hands like severe medical complications—more honorable than others—like poverty or simply being young and in denial about the possibility of getting pregnant (in a country that doesn’t even offer comprehensive sex education across the board nor access to contraception).

This is why I’m bowling for Abortion Access in April as part of the National Network of Abortion Funds’ bowl-a-thon. You can join me, in real life (Team Pretty in Pink & Blue), on April 15th or you can donate online. I’m doing so, in part, so that women can make mistakes without being punished for them in such horrific ways.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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