Have you had the chance to sit and chat with a woman who was forced to give birth to a child?
Can I call you Donald, at least for now?
I loved “The Apprentice.” My mom and stepfather (let’s call him dad because I do) watched too. Sometimes when we got together we’d chat about the most recent episode and laugh at your hair. For a while, when it got late, my dad would say to my mom, “You’re tired!” in that same sort of drawn out way you’d tell a wannabe apprentice, “You’re fired!” It sometimes seemed a little mean, but I kind of thought you’d found your thing there, in entertainment. You kind of made a difference, too—at least in the world of these folks who were on TV because of you, and, honestly, making American families laugh is a really important job.
My dad’s funny but he doesn’t think you should be President. My real father doesn’t think you should be President either, by the way, and he doesn’t usually agree with me on this stuff.
I went to your place once, Mar A Lago. See, I mostly spent my 20s working in fundraising, as it’s known in some organizations—advancement in others. I worked at a couple smaller organizations, as a grant-writer, and at a couple bigger organizations, as a development officer.
It was one of those bigger advancement offices that brought me to Palm Beach. Cocktails were by your seaside pool, and at the end of the night I sat in a gold chair by one of the 12 fireplaces. I took my shoes off. We had raised lots of money for healthcare programs that would benefit the people of Boston.
You know what I just realized? I was at Mar A Lago working at a fundraiser for the hospital where I later had my abortion.
See, I spent my 30s becoming a mom. I went off of that little birth control pill I had taken for more than a decade. Our first son came along pretty quickly, after a solid year of trying to conceive.
My first son was born at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and so, when I learned my daughter had Trisomy 18 and would likely not survive pregnancy or have a first birthday, I chose that same hospital to say goodbye. If you visit, you’ll see the protesters outside on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My appointment was on a Thursday morning. I worked the next day.
Listen, abortion care is a constitutional right. Since I turned old enough to vote I’ve been pro-choice, but I got a C in Women’s Studies, Donald. I admit it. It wasn’t until I had my own abortion, three days after I turned 35, that I truly understood what it meant to have this choice.
What it meant was that I was able to go on working, raising my son, and loving my husband. We had a second son. That’s why I had to write this note. Last night, when he told me I’m the best mom in the world, I thought of you.
Donald, do you know if there are women in your family who have experienced reproductive loss? It’s a pretty common experience, so chances are, there’s someone. Have you ever asked her how it affects the body to which it pertains?
It sticks with you, Donald. And it makes you a little bit angrier than you used to be. It makes you even more protective of the children you have. And honestly, it makes you care a lot about the world they live in and how they’ll relate to that world as adults. It makes you care more about their role models.
Donald, have you spoken with my sweet friend, who had to schedule a flight (and lie to get on it), and come up with $25,000 to lose her baby?
Have you spoken with another woman I met, who was raped and couldn’t imagine her life with a piece of that horrible monster with her forever? It would also be interesting to ask, have you had the chance to sit and chat with a woman who was forced to give birth to a child?
Have you chatted with her child?
It might seem like I am rambling, but these are the hardest parts of life, aren’t they? Now that I’m almost 40, I think I get it. These parts don’t fit into even the most gorgeous homes, even those with 50-something bedrooms, between the ocean and the lake. These parts of life don’t fit in the largest of endowment funds.
Women cannot have the children they cannot have, Mr. Trump. It’s really that simple. And we won’t. It cannot be suggested that a woman will be punished for making choices about her body. That is absolutely the kind of thing our kids—my sons—can’t hear. And it doesn’t need to go back to the states for review. It needs to go back to the pregnant people.
I don’t think you get it. No one is banning abortion, Donald, or turning us into criminals for having one. No way.
Let’s go back to that woman in your family for a moment. Maybe it’s your mother. Maybe it was your grandmother, or an aunt. Perhaps one of your wives. Ask her where she carries the story. Where does she still feel it? It might be low in her belly, or at the top of her heart. Perhaps when you ask her, it will spill into her tears.
I wanted to punish myself, Donald, and the stigma in our society sure can make a girl feel sad. I read plenty of stories of people who carried pregnancies to term after receiving the same diagnosis, to deliver a stillborn baby or hold their child for a short time. I also read stories of babies who did survive. I imagined what my baby’s hair would have felt like. Would it have been curly like my mother’s?
And then I read more. I looked at the pictures again. My daughter, had she survived beyond a year, wouldn’t have been able to live independently. This world would have been much too cruel for her. And I couldn’t have cared for her—along with the son I already had—physically, financially, or emotionally.
My story lives in my belly and my heart, and yes, sometimes in my tears. But I made the right choice for my family and me. I think you said it yourself, Mr. Trump: This is complicated. Yet, even though it might not pertain to you, it’s simple to lots of us. It’s about compassion, because no matter why someone chooses abortion, this is what we deserve.
Jacqui Morton is a doula and writer in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in places such as The Rumpus, Salon, Cognoscenti, and the Guardian. She is the author of a chapbook of poems, Turning Cozy Dark (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and the creator of Holding Our Space. Please visit Jacqui here or on Twitter.