Reproductive Justice

I told the Archcrone that I would blog about reproductive freedom issues today but I got busy doing other things.  I do, however, want to point you to her post and to Rachel’s post.  Reading them together gives you a pretty scary picture of where we are as a state.  For instance, in Rachel’s post, we learn that folks are all upset about Planned Parenthood having a fund-raiser for Mother’s Day.  In the Archcrone’s post, we learn that there are 19 counties in Tennessee with no ob/gyn.  Our infant mortality rate in 2004 was 8.6 per thousand births and we don’t even track pregnancy-related complications that kill the mother.

But here’s the thing I cannot stop thinking about: this report that the Archcrone links to.  In 2006 just over one in ten girls between the ages of 10 and 17 in the state of Tennessee gave birth (3552 births or 11%) but almost 14% (4378) of girls between the ages of 10 and 17 were pregnant.  One hundred and twenty of those girls were younger than 14.  In Davidson county, there were twenty of these girls.  In Shelby county, there were sixty-two.

I will repeat that.  In 2006, there were 120 girls younger than 14 in Tennessee who were pregnant.  Twenty of those girls came from here.  Sixty-two came from Shelby county.

I was reading the Helter Shelter archives over at the Scene and the dude said something about how the trouble with contractors from Tennessee is that, like all Tennesseans, they have an independent streak a mile wide and, if they don’t know something, they’ll just make it up.

I keep thinking about that, from a lot of angles, when I look at trying to figure out how we might fix this stuff.  I mean, when you think that thirteen percent of teenage girls were pregnant in 2006 and that that’s an improvement over where we were ten years ago when the rate was one in five or back in 1990, when it was over one in four (and if you want to think about something scary, think about how the pregnant teenage girls in 2006 are, in part, the daughters of the pregnant girls from 1990, which means, women my age becoming grandmothers), how can you not despair when you think about them trying to make a better life for their families?

It’s just a fact: if an individual woman cannot decide for herself what happens to her body, she cannot be free.  A woman cannot decide for herself what happens to her body if she is not taught about her body and how it works.  A woman cannot decide for herself what happens to her body if she does not have access to the healthcare she needs when she needs it. And a woman cannot decide for herself what happens to her body if she is being preyed on by evil jackasses (dudes who fuck 11 year olds).

And if a woman cannot decide for herself what happens to her body, she is severely hampered in her abilities to achieve economic independence and security.  I mean, if she’s not in control of herself, how can we even talk about economic independence?

I don’t know.  I’m tired and I’m angry at child-fuckers and I’m so damn tired of this state playing “It’s all about saving the babies” when there are at least a hundred living breathing little girls every year who needed saving from the fuckers who exploited them and knocked them up and we didn’t do jack shit for them.

I know, I know, it’s so much easier to love an ideal, to love the little babies in your imagination, all pure and innocent and deserving, and much less easy to go to the mat for actual people who frequently let you down.  And so we all get in our vehicles and drive through the streets of Knoxville mourning our great tragedy while meanwhile we revel in our abstinence only education, we glory in our party bunkers while family services go under funded, and so on and so on.

But hey, whatever.

Happy mother’s day, y’all.

May next year, the number of children joining the ranks of mother continue to decline.

After a While, It’s Hard to Say Which is Which

After a while, the houses all start to run together.  The street names–Greenwood, Woodlawn, Greenland, Riverwood, Creekwood, Woodwood, Woodforest, Forestwood, Forestforest, Forestlawn, Lawndale, Dalewood, Woodgreen, Greenwood–all seem to come full circle after a while.  Did we drive down this street already?  Did we look at that house already?

If we bought that house, could we fix it with a coat of paint?  Is that house too close to Briley Parkway and the new Home Depot or will that be a selling point in the future?  Sure, we could walk to FUBAR from here but is it safe to walk to FUBAR from here?  Why is that house surrounded by a fence with barbed wire at the top pointing inwards?  Is tinfoil really a good substitute for blinds? If you’re living on a block with a $500,000 110 year old house on it, isn’t that house always the burglar magnet?

It’s frazzling, to put it mildly.  I’m waffling between being excited and being a little overwhelmed.

In other news, we finally have a new neighbor.  He seems nice, but also frazzled.  His cat ran away when he tried to put him in the house.  We tried to make him feel like there’s a chance the cat will be back.  I hope so anyway.  Losing your cat like that is rough.

My Secret Identity

Oh, I forgot to tell you the weirdest, funniest part of this whole thing so far.  So, I’m talking on the phone with the banker, going over my credit report and she’s asking me about this charge and about that charge and there, on my credit report, is a loan of my mom’s and my mom’s Discover card (thank goodness my mom is also all about the timely bill paying).

But I explain that, because my mom co-signed on my first car loan and because she’s Betty [Our Last Name] and I’m Betsy [Our Last Name], our credit has been entangled for almost all of my adult life, though we keep repeatedly going to the credit bureaus and saying “This is her stuff” “This is mine” and they keep claiming to have it straight, this stuff still keeps popping up.

And then she says, “Oh, well, that’s probably because this credit bureau has you listed as aka Betty with this different social security number.”

Like I’m sometimes running around the world pretending to be a sixty year old woman!

Maybe my mom is trying to pass on her whole identity to me, as is rumored Marie Laveau did, so as to seem somewhat immortal or at least unnaturally long-lived.

It’s funny to me, too, because we find ourselves at similar life stages at the moment as well.  She and my dad are also going to be buying a house in the next few years and are going to be moving at the end of June out of a parsonage and into secular housing.  They’re very excited about the house that they’re renting until my mom retires.  They sent me pictures of it last night.  It’s very cute.

You know, my mom did have a run-in with Marie Laveau.  Do you all remember that?  When we went to New Orleans that summer and we took the cemetery tour?  Remember how my mom had those spots in her lungs and the doctors didn’t know what they were?  And how, there we were, walking through this concrete city of the dead in the hundred degree heat and my mom leans against this tomb, just to get some respite from the sun, and when she pulls away from the tomb, there are three red crosses for wishes granted, transferred from the tomb to the back of her white shirt.  And then we moved to the front of the tomb only to learn that it was the final resting place of Madam Laveau.

My mom, of course, is not one to wonder at stuff like that.

But I am.