Monday, January 22, 2007


January 22, 2007 marks the 34th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established the constitutional right of women to choose to have a safe and legal abortion.

Right To Life

A woman is not a pear tree
thrusting her fruit in mindless fecundity

into the world. Even pear trees bear

heavily in one year and rest and grow the next.

An orchid gone wild drops few warm rotting

fruit in the grass but the trees stretch

high and wiry gifting the birds forty

feet up among inch long thorns

broken atavistically from the smooth wood.

A woman is not a basket you place
your buns in to keep them warm. Not a brood
hen you can slip duck eggs under.
Not the purse holding the coins of your
descendants till you spend them in wars.
Not a bank where your genes gather interest
and interesting mutations in the tainted
rain, any more than you are.

You plant corn and you harvest
it to eat or sell. You put the lamb

in th
r coal and the waters run muddy for
miles and years. Fish die but you do not

call them yours unless you wished to eat them

Now you legislate mineral rights in a woman.

You lay claim to her pastures for grazing,

fields for growing babies like iceberg

lettuce. You value children so dearly

that none ever go hungry, none weep

with no one to tend them when mothers

work, none lack fresh fruit,

none chew lead or cough to death and your

orphanages are empty. Every noon the best

restaurants serve poor children steaks.

At this moment at nine o'clock a partera

is performing a table top abortion on an

unwed mother in Texas who can't get

Medicaid any longer. In five days she will die

of tetanus and her little daughter will cry

and be taken away. Next door a husband

and wife are sticking pins in the son

they did not want. They will explain

for hours how wicked he is,

how he wants discipline.

We are all born of woman, in the rose

of the womb we suckled our mother's blood

and every baby born has a right to love

like a seedling to sun. Every baby born

unloved, unwanted, is a bill that will come

due in twenty years with interest, an anger

that must find a target, a pain that will

beget pain. A decade downstream a child

screams, a woman falls, a synagogue is torched,

a firing squad is summoned, a button

is pushed and the world burns.

I will choose what enters me, what becomes

of my flesh. Without choice, no politics,

no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield,

not your uranium mine, not your calf

for fattening, not your cow for milking.

You may not use me as your factory.

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.

From The Moon Is Always Female by Marge Piercy Copyright (c) 1980 by Marge Piercy.
Marge Piercy website

I recently heard the above poem read aloud and thought it remarkable.


Tan Lucy Pez said...

I find it remarkable too.

Thanks for all you do for womens' rights. And thanks, most especially, for escorting women at the clinic. You're brave and you're good.

cooper said...

So great, so true.

Thanks for posting that.

Jodes said...

what a great post. thanks for reminding us all of this.

jillie said...

Great post. I've always been for "our" rights.

You are a noble person and wish more people were NOT afraid to speak up about their rights.

I've gone with a few of my friends to the Women's Clinics and it's hard, can't say that I know what they are going through but I am only happy that I could have been there for them.

G said...

Actonbell, wonderful poem. And a very important day for women and for our country. Scary that it's even up for discussion all these years later.

Kyahgirl said...

this is such an important issue actonbell, I'm glad you brought it up. its a right that is at risk in many areas of the States now too. Very disturbing.