WORD PAINTINGS #121 - (How I Came to New Mexico and learned about Art and Life - "What if Life begins at Ejaculation?"
Two weeks ago I read the remarks by Clarence Thomas in regard to the public's response to Justice Alito's leaked decision to overturn Roe vs Wade. Shocked and surprised by memories of another life, it was time for me to put the pieces together and admit to myself the unromantic truth of how I came to New Mexico 55 years ago. Broken and confused I had no idea of the long and amazing journey just ahead for my little family.
What is so disturbing to me is that pregnancy seems to be some form of immaculate conception used as a cudgel against the woman and her rights. Some states are proposing laws that will charge a woman, her doctor, or any helper with homicide with a sentence of ten years in prison. The Texas law that offers a $10,000 bounty if there are any attempts to obtain an abortion. This same law has recently been adopted by Oklahoma. This is the wild west of political power and a woman's worst nightmare - losing control of her body and her very future. This is the complete opposite of freedom. What is missing here? We suddenly find a government that refuses to acknowledge a man's contribution to abortion. Men and their fertile sperm are never mentioned! The failure to hold a man accountable in any way for his part in the pregnancy and support of the woman and the child is mind-boggling. Crusty old men are making decisions that will forever impact a woman's power to make choices. Some salvation in the form of birth control is next item on their list of things to repeal and catapult us back to the Dark Ages of women's health care. Question: Does birth control contribute to fewer abortions? Why ban birth control?
Men are one-half of the baby-making process! Many men do it right and take responsibility for the babies they help bring into the world. Others seem to have no idea what makes a baby and prefer to blame the woman for getting pregnant in the first place - especially the Supreme Court Justices and the men they choose to ignore. Struggled with myself whether or not to tell my truth at this time....it is now or never!
My labor pains began at four in the morning of December 9th 1966. Only five minutes apart we had no time to waste getting to the hospital. My parents came to watch our 18 month old son until our regular babysitter could step in. My husband taught English Literature at a small Catholic college in East Chicago, Indiana and our babysitter of some months was one of his students. Leaving the house that morning I had no idea that this was one of the most significant days of my life. Revelations and changes would crush all my cozy dreams of a happy marriage to a highly regarded English professor, raising our babies together, and creating a good home for us to share - all vanished in one devastating phone call.
That call came one evening after dinner. Our babysitter's mother told me that her daughter was pregnant and my husband was the father of her child! Apparently she had gotten pregnant in my bed while I was in the hospital giving birth to the twins. My son was in his crib across the hall. And, she asked, what was I going to do about it? Exhausted from giving birth, I broke down and went to some dark never-land where I wanted to stay forever. Called our physician who kindly made a house call and talked with me for a long time. He counseled me to leave. Gratefully trauma has always led me to a level of numbness which allows me to go through the motions until I can gain my equilibrium. Leaving was not an option. The girls were only weeks old and on a every three hour feeding schedule. Their baby brother was in shock at not one but two new midnight howlers. And there were a few more surprises to come!!
The babysitter and her family were strict Catholics. Abortion was out of the question. She was given an airplane ticket to Florida where she gave birth to a baby boy. Her father was a made man and there was a contract put on my husband's life if he ever set foot in East Chicago again. He lost his job. We had no money. A good friend lived in Santa Fe. He rented a little adobe house for us. I had one week to pack up the house before we could make our "getaway"! We arrived in Santa Fe in August of 1967, about one month before the birth of his fourth child (in two years)! That is the truth of how I came to New Mexico and Learned About Art and Life!!! But wait, there's more.
The father of my children secured a teaching job at a local college. Days after our divorce was final, he married one of his students, adopted her daughter and fathered two more children in a short span of time. They eventually divorced. In a few short years he found himself the father of seven children none of whom he supported in any way!!! Yes, Justice Thomas, life does begin at ejaculation! Many years and three more marriages, I'm certain he gives no thought to the wreckage he has left behind.
What was lost in all this drama was my being able to live the fullness of life with my babies. Most of the time I was terrified that we wouldn't have enough food, or that we would be evicted because I couldn't pay the rent. If there were sicknesses (and there were many) I was the responsible party and had to pay the hospital bills instead of the utility bills. Too early in their little lives they were latchkey children. Anytime I had to take him to court for child support I was made to feel guilty for the divorce and expecting their father to be financially responsible for his children. On the days he said he would visit he would "forget" and they would stand at the front window and sob. These things will never be forgotten - it isn't even my job to forgive....I leave that to a higher authority.
Being raised Catholic, abortion was never an option for me. Having friends who have had abortions, I know it is the most difficult decision anyone ever has to make. During my high school years back alley abortions were common. The wealthier families sent their daughters to some secret place to give birth and the baby was put up in "closed" adoptions - never to know their biological mother or father. The boy was sent away and his name was never to be mentioned again. Dark secrets forever.
Even though I am old, if I put myself in the position of young women today I am beyond rage at the patriarchy that continues to hold women hostage. I am pro CHOICE! If most of our politicians were seriously questioned regarding their Christian principles, I am sure you would come away knowing in your heart it is only about the next election cycle. How dare they?