eulogy at #StopTheBans

21 May

The eulogy I gave over those who “died” during the die-in at the Louisville Stop the Bans rally today.

Me, with my daughters dressed as handmaids, picture taken by my mom. Three generations of pissed off women, united around the right for all people to have bodily autonomy.

We gather today to remember and to grieve. These people, these women, these human beings who were our mothers, our children, our sisters, our partners, our friends, have died.

We gather in the shadow of death because the spirit of justice demands to be heard.

We meet with sorrow in our hearts, and anger at the travesty of their deaths.

We meet to give form to our grief, to seek the comfort of one another’s presence, to loudly declare that laws banning abortion are an affront to human life and dignity.

We come together with age old questions in our minds, and on our lips and in our eyes – why her? Why them? Why now? Why did it have to be like this?

And in our hearts the deep wisdom, knowing, without answers, that even in the shadow of death, the spirit of justice cannot, will not be silenced.

We know that 65,000 women die each year world wide because they don’t have access to safe, legal abortion. And we know that here in Kentucky, we were the first to pass the bans, we lit the fire to all the bills sweeping across the country.

But those who have died are more than statistics – they have stories for why they could not complete their pregnancies, and their stories demand to be heard.

They are people for whom having a baby would dramatically interfere with their education, work or ability to care for their children.

They are women who have completed their child-bearing years.

They are people who did not feel ready to be a parent or want to be a single parent.

They are women living under domestic violence who are afraid.

They are children who have been raped.

They are women for whom pregnancy will harm their health.

They are people who were denied essential reproductive healthcare, and it cost them their lives.

They are people who should have had agency over their own bodies, their own futures, but who have, in some ways, more bodily autonomy now that they are dead than they did when they were alive.

But the brutality of their deaths started long before the injustice that killed them.

The brutality is found in the denial of comprehensive sexuality education, and in lessons that wrongly teach that abstinence is the only moral answer.

The brutality is found in the lack of access to health-care options as clinics closed around the state.

The brutality is found in the fact that poor women of color will be disproportionately harmed by these laws.

The brutality is found in the men with power who insist that ectopic pregnancies can be re-implanted (they cannot) and in the men who believe that if women just close their legs they won’t bleed during their periods (also false), and in the men who insist that the body has ways of shutting down and not getting pregnant after a rape (ridiculous).

The brutality is found in the outrageous idea that a woman should be expected to know she is pregnant before she has even missed a period.

The brutality is found in punishing healthcare providers for doing their jobs.

The brutality is found generations of white men united in their dedication to restricting our bodily autonomy, who have made political war over those of us with a uterus.

Now the work is left to us, the living, to carry forth the demands for justice even as we grieve. To demand, in the names of those who have died needlessly, that our bodies are sacred, and that we are endowed with the dignity and right to make our own healthcare decisions.

We gather today to remember and to grieve. These people, these women, these human beings who were our mothers, our children, our sisters, our partners, our friends, have died.

To grieve is to love and to love is to cry out for justice where it has been denied.

If so much that is precious can be so easily lost, let us work tirelessly to ensure that not one more follows. We won’t go back. No matter what.

 

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