Abortion as a Sacrament (Celebrating LIBER: A FEMINIST REVIEW)
In Celebration of my Abortion Ritual in the new issue of LIBER Magazine
Yesterday, during the first session of my class on “Scanning Great Poems,” poet James Gregorio asked me to talk about how I became so deeply involved in poetic form. As I answered, I was struck that— when I finished writing The Ghost of Meter and realized that I had to commit to writing in dactyls if I believed the ideas I had developed in that book—I chose to initiate myself into dactylic meter by writing an epic poem about abortion.
I had not (yet) had an abortion myself when I wrote that epic, called Among the Goddesses. But from a feminist and cultural point of view, I understood reproductive freedom as the area of life that seemed most to crave that transformative empowerment. For the same reasons, I could not have been more thrilled to be commissioned to write an abortion ritual for the current issue of my favorite feminist magazine LIBER—a delightful, inspiring, delicious, insightful compendium of culture and ideas to which I hope you will subscribe!
In honor of the publication of this ritual in LIBER, I wanted to share here a meditation on the context in which I began to develop abortion rituals.
ABORTION AS A SACRAMENT
There is great insight in this feminist truism from the 1970s: “if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” According to Faye Wattleton’s memoir, this pithy remark was first spoken by a female cab driver as she drove Wattleton and Gloria Steinem to a feminist rally in New York City. We might think of the sacrament part of the quote as an ironic joke, an over-exaggeration for comedic effect. But I began to take the remark much more seriously after I had an abortion myself, as a 42-year old witch and a mother of two, and encountered a profound spiritual depth in the experience. It was then that I finally came to understand the complex web of will, mind, body, heart, and spirit, of family, self, and society, of future and past, that may be summoned and considered and experienced in the choice to end a pregnancy.
By the time I had the abortion, I had