Dear Mr. VP,
It’s been awhile. This letter has been percolating in my head for weeks. Today, I need a distraction from the nagging sense of unease manifesting in a stomach ache, and so I decided to finally write.
Let me start with a declaration, one which I think should be obvious, but apparently is not.
I am not a container.
Let me explain.
I assume at some point in your life you had a cabinet like this:
Empty and assorted containers, just waiting to be filled with leftovers or lunches. Their sole purpose is, if I can find the top, which is basically never in the same place as the actual container, to hold stuff. They have no other reason to exist.
I, on the other hand, have a multitude of reasons to exist: a kid to parent to the best of my ability, family and friends to be in community with, jobs at which I do good work with young people as they navigate their way to adulthood, the world to see as much of as I can, and an attempt to make my loved ones feel, well, as loved as I can make them feel. Oh, and the ongoing mission to love and take care of myself, and maybe find some fulfillment in my time on Earth, too.
So, I hope you can agree that I have many reasons to exist; I’m not just sitting around in a cupboard waiting to be filled. I am not a container. You cannot purchase me at an MLM party.
Recent legislation in Georgia makes me feel like lawmakers, including yourself, might NOT agree with this pretty basic truth. You know what I’m talking about: the “heartbeat” bill that seeks to ban abortion at six weeks, criminalizes doctors who perform the procedure, and could force people who miscarry to prove they miscarried “naturally” and not because of their own behavior or as the result of an illegal abortion.
What this bill is asking us to do is live every moment of our reproductive lives as if we could, at that very second, be pregnant. What if I’m six weeks pregnant, don’t know about it, and use a sauna or a hot tub? Go out drinking? Eat a ham sandwich? Or unpasteurized cheese? Get a massage? Have an Americano with an extra shot of espresso? Work out vigorously with a very elevated heart rate? Go on a roller coaster? There’s a whole list of things you aren’t supposed to do while you’re pregnant – that’s just a sample.
Then I miscarry, and I seek medical attention for the miscarriage. I’m opening myself up to an investigation into why my pregnancy ended. Let’s say I note that, yeah – last Tuesday, I did all of the things on the list above. (I like to keep myself busy, after all.)
Am I at fault for my pregnancy ending? Am I a criminal?
Should I live my whole life as if I *might* be pregnant? Like I’m just a container, waiting in the cupboard, desperate to fulfill my ultimate destiny? Avoiding listeria tainted cold cuts for all eternity, or at least until menopause?
You’ll say something like “well, we would NEVER take it that far. That would NEVER happen. What an EXTREME.”
Pardon me for not wanting to leave this particular issue up to the interpretation of lawmakers who think you can take an egg that improperly implanted in a Fallopian tube and just stick it in a uterus with good result. Nope: don’t trust y’all.
Imagine if we asked cis white men to live their entire lives as if their bodies were not their own. “Put down the vape pen and the craft beer, bro! Don’t lift so much! Something might be using you as a host!” Can you imagine the uproar? Men don’t expect to be told they are empty containers; that particular dehumanization is reserved for people who own a uterus.
To misquote a movie I’ve never seen, which was quoted by a show I HAVE seen, I am not a container. I am a human being.