I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the first person worldwide to sign up for Lenny Letter when Lena Dunham and Jenni Korner announced they were coming out with the pro-choice feminist e-newsletter. Having read the most recent preview of the soon-to-launch Lenny Letter, “Lena Dunham and Jenni Korner Ask Jenni’s Mom About Her Abortion Before Roe,” I have to say, the girls have exceeded all of my expectations…and then some.
The subject line speaks for itself: Jenni’s mom had a “criminally illegal” abortion in Mexico when she was 19. Lucky for her, it was a success. The reason Lena and Jenni tell us Ronnie Konner’s story is to spark a dialogue nationwide about the way things were—talk about the extremes to which women had to go—before the Roe vs. Wade decision legalized abortions back in 1973. Lena and Jenni are doing this now, because—to Ronnie Konner’s shock and dismay—we’re currently at risk of ending up right back where we were in the ‘70’s.
In Lena and Jenni’s own words, “#Askyourmother is wide open to interpretation…Ask all the women in your lives who remember life before safe and legal abortion was an option. Because talking about it keeps it from being shameful. It reminds us where we’ve come from and why we can’t go back there.”
After reading that, I did #Askmymother about abortion before Roe. and this is what she said:
I was in college in the 70's at a very liberal, open college in the Northeast. Women were owning their sexuality and feeling free to experiment in many ways. Even for the women at my college, the fear of pregnancy was a reality as it has been from the beginning of time. What was absent for the women of my generation was the idea that access to abortion was a real possibility. We lived and breathed Gloria Steinem and yet the right to choose was not yet our right.
During the summer of 1976, while working on Martha's Vineyard, a co-worker of mine told me that she had become pregnant after a condom broke during intercourse. She was many miles away from home (she was from the west coast) and asked me if I was able to help her and her boyfriend find a doctor.
What is amazing to me as I recollect this event is the fact that I picked up the phone and called my father, a physician in nearby Providence, R.I. He immediately helped secure an appointment for her with an OBGYN who provided abortions and within hours my friend was on the next boat heading off the island. My parents welcomed her into my childhood home and drove her to the doctor's office. In fact, she stayed the night with my parents and returned the next day to our workplace.
My parents are immigrants to this country. They are from a very conservative country in the Middle East. Yet, in 1976 they were open and supportive of the fact that a woman's right to control her body was a paramount right. There was no judgment, or discussion.
I know that my father helped many women find their way to a physician that would help them in their time of need. Helping women keep the right to control their bodies and hence their destiny is as much a man's issue as it is a women's issue.
My Dad is no longer alive today - but if he was, he would have been deeply troubled to see that the right to an abortion is being debated in 2015.
Thank you Dad for all your support always.
I had no idea if my mom was even going to remember anything about what abortion access was like back in the 1970’s, but I am so glad I asked. I am proud to support organizations like Planned Parenthood and a women’s right to choose now more than ever, and I urge you to #askyourmother and join the fight for the rights women deserve.
- Meika, Co-Founder, Sustain