Leave my Uterus Out of This — Let’s Talk About Your Kidneys

A 3-Step Plan to Get Our Bodies Back

Kate Bracy
Age of Empathy

--

Several women protesters standing in the street, one blonde woman with a black mask holding a sign saying, “Our Bodies, Our Streets.”
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

I am oh-so-tired of hearing abortion framed as a women’s issue. Or even a women’s healthcare issue. I’m equally exhausted with all the when-do-we-become-a-real-person debate. (The point at which we get a soul seems to be when we choose a political party, as far as I can tell, so maybe age eighteen?) Anyway, these are distracting, wrong-headed, barking-up-the-wrong-uterus wastes of our energy and talents.

The conservative right has worked for decades to get a court that would overturn Roe v. Wade. They made a 3-step plan and then they stuck to it with a strategy that would make the Queen’s Gambit look like hopscotch. They played fifty years of chess while we went merrily about getting abortions after rapes. They knew what they were doing. (You think they actually wanted to elect the Orange One? Nope. They held their noses and elected a new supreme court. And it worked. Toss in a little January 6 frolic on the side, and we’ll be cleaning up for generations, if we do manage to get our democracy back at all.)

It was a simple plan, and its execution was torturous, steady, Machiavellian, and successful.

The plan was this:

1. Make the fetus a person.

(Heck, toss corporations into that basket while you’re there…)

2. Convince a bunch of people that saving the lives of these little cell-swarms is noble work.

GOD WANTS THIS!

3. Elect state and federal politicians who talk a lot about the sanctity of life,

but don’t mind taking food out of the mouths of other deserving children and who don’t give a rat’s ass about healthcare for pregnant women or what Jesus actually said or didn’t say.

No matter how long it takes, do those three things. When any one of them is set back, call a prayer meeting, buy another politician, and march on.

And it worked.

They made a 3-step plan and then they stuck to it with a strategy that would make the Queen’s Gambit look like hopscotch.

Voila! Women are tossed back into servitude where they belong, and we can spend public money on guns and drugs and keeping our planet-extinguishing oil companies humming. i.e. our current congress.

Stop it. Just stop it right there. Yes, go protest in front of the Supreme Court building. (Note that suddenly protests need a safety buffer. Something they voted down for abortion clinics and their clients.) Write your congresspeople and everyone else’s. Campaign for pro-choice candidates and give rides to “campers who want to camp in another state because theirs is getting too hot.” Do all those things and more, for ourselves and our sisters.

But we also need a plan. And I have it. But before I share it, I want us to stop framing this as an abortion issue. (And while you’re changing your word habits, try “gun reform” instead of “gun control.” It’s harder to shoot down.)

This is not an abortion issue. It is something much bigger and much broader. This is an A BODY SOVEREIGNTY issue. (You know how gun nuts shout “It’s a MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE!!” every time a bunch of elementary kids are decapitated with gunfire? Well start yelling “IT’S A BODY SOVEREIGNTY ISSUE” every time someone says “abortion.”)

And you know what else it is? (You can also yell this.) IT’S AN ORGAN DONOR ISSUE. Keep saying that. Believe it. Have you ever borne a child? I can tell you that it is nine months of that little rascal borrowing every organ you have in order to sustain their little life. Honestly, your heart, your liver, your kidneys, your blood — all working for two. Everything works harder while it’s on loan to the little one, because it has to keep the big one chugging along as well. Anytime you are debating a right-to-lifer, throw the word pregnancy in there several times. Then, pivot to organ donation and body autonomy. It not only confuses them, it’s true.

Doing the above lays the foundation for the 3-step plan that will get us out of our current woman-hating, return-to-the-patriarchy mind fuck.

If we had time for a drum roll, I’d put one here, but we don’t have that kind of time. Here is a plan that will clean up this mess.

1.Make the woman a person. Ratify the ERA. Until it’s in The Constitution we can argue and rail and demand equality, and men will pat us on the head, chuckle to themselves, and go on subjugating us as they have for centuries. Do whatever it takes to recognize women as legal human beings.

“I am not your cornfield, not your uranium mine, not your calf for fattening, or your cow for milking… Priests and legislators do not hold shares in my womb or my mind. This is my body. If I give it to you, I want it back. My life is a non-negotiable demand.”

Marge Piercy, writer and activist

2. Convince a bunch of people that men are also responsible for pregnancies. All pregnancies. And therefore, have responsibility for these pregnancies. Pass a bunch of laws making men equal partners (“Equally Fucked” Initiatives — EFIs) so that pregnancy is as joyful or burdensome to the daddy as it is to the mommy. Child support and financial responsibility for prenatal care start at conception (or heartbeat — you call it, Senator). Stop making abortion laws, people. Make “pregnancy responsibility laws.” If you need an example from the Bible, point out that Joseph really took one for the team. He was completely responsible, and he didn’t need a DNA test to rope him in. Pass laws to make it a felony offense to abandon your offspring. (You know, like it is for THE WOMAN in certain states.) Call them “Joseph Laws.”

Hands of a woman and man holding a pair of tiny baby sneakers between them.
Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

3. Elect politicians who understand body autonomy and who treat their staff like human beings. Fill state houses and congress with people who are familiar with body sovereignty and who plan to prove it. Use “Resistbot” and hound your current representatives endlessly. Send them this plan. Elect women’s health practitioners to office. Elect women to office — women who are not Stepford wannabees, but have a brain in their heads and a uterus in their pelvis. Elect trans people to office. No one has more at stake in the “body sovereignty wars” than they do. And they are not strangers to trolls and haters.

Drawing of person in surgical scrubs carrying a cooler labeled “Human Organ for Transplant.”
Image by author using befunky photo software

Then begins the work. Start testing the right to privacy at every turn. Whenever a family member backs away from offering a kidney, blood, bone marrow or a slice of their liver, it’s off to court we go. Build a great big body of case law that says NOBODY USES MY ORGANS WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. Full stop.

HINT: This will be easy. (The seminal case in this matter was McFall v. Shimp [1978]). In that case, a man refused to give bone marrow to his dying cousin, a viable human. And cousin would DIE without the marrow. A Pennsylvania court ruled that Mr. Shimp did not have to part with his bone marrow, even though his cousin’s life hung in the balance. And bone marrow regenerates!!! This was a temporary inconvenience — much like pregnancy is a temporary inconvenience — to SAVE A VIABLE HUMAN LIFE. The court said that [forcing a person to donate bone marrow] “would defeat the sanctity of the individual and would impose a rule which would know no limits, and one could not imagine where the line would be drawn.” So his viable cousin died. Now, you can call Mr. Shimp a selfish bastard if you like, but you can’t make him give up his body parts — even when it’s temporary — to save a life.

Take the abortion laws to court as organ donation cases. Push for case law that defines and codifies “the sanctity of the individual.”

Stop making abortion laws, people. Make “pregnancy responsibility laws.”

Make this totally a goose/gander proposition based on the same sound reasoning. Bottom line: No one — not even viable humans or darling blastocysts — gets to use my organs without my consent. If women have to donate organs for nine months, men have to donate dispensable organs to their biological progeny. (Spoiler: The courts will NEVER tell a man he has to surrender so much as a hangnail to save the life of another person. Body sovereignty, Baby!)

Stick with it for decades. (It may not take that long, but pledge allegiance to it just in case.)

There’s your plan. Simple as one, two, three — and hanging in for a generation or two.

1. Make women equal.

2. Make men responsible.

3. Elect the right legislators and test the rights to privacy by making people donate organs to live (viable) children who need them. Frame abortion cases as “organ donor” cases, and press for body sovereignty laws at every level of government.

Please — legal scholars, women’s advocates, true equality allies — do this.

For my granddaughter and her friends. For the future of the planet. For the sheer joy of telling men “you don’t own me.”

(“You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore, Released in 1963, back when our bodies were not our own. Like now.)

--

--