On January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States, we woke up at 7 in the morning and drove two hours down to Washington, D.C. to go to the Women’s March on Washington. Getting to the march was an adventure in and of itself–we parked a mile from the Metro Station, walked in the cold to the Metro with you on my back in the Toddler Tula and all our snacks in a plastic bag on your stroller, we waited in a line that wrapped around the parking lot just to get in the metro, then we got on a train which took over an hour to get us to our stop. You complained the whole way there that you didn’t want to be in your stroller, but there were no seats for us. The metro was crowded, hot and stuffy, and you ate about half our snacks on the metro. Once we got there, it took at least 15 minutes just to get out of the metro station because it was packed full of people. And then when we got outside, despite my best attempts to meet up with friends of ours who were also in DC for the march, it was impossible to get where you wanted to go because it was so crowded and it was difficult to get in touch with anyone because the cell service was awful. But once we got there, the experience was incredible: thousands and thousands of people, many with pink pussy hats on, many with poignantly written signs, many chanting various chants about democracy, our rights as women, and our dislike of Donald Trump. You are 4, so you asked a lot of questions. The whole way there you asked, “When are we going to be there? How many more minutes?” and I tried to explain to you that we were going to a march with a lot of other women. I wore my “Nasty Woman” shirt and you picked out a rainbow shirt which was perfect for the occasion.
The whole day I tried to answer your questions as best I could, but because you’re 4, you didn’t ask all of the questions, and I certainly couldn’t really explain to you fully why we marched so here is my attempt at explaining to you why we marched together as mother and daughter on January 21st.
When I was little (about your age), my mom took me to two marches… I don’t really remember either of them but I’ve heard the stories. One was about pro-choice issues, and one was a Gay Pride parade. Even though I don’t remember them, I’ve always felt like that was the beginning of my starting to understand why it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and stand up for those you care about. So even if you don’t remember our day, I have pictures to show you and stories to tell you, and even now (almost 2 weeks later), I still love hearing you chant, “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”
When my mom (your Gaggee) was younger, she marched on Washington for women’s rights, the right to choose, equal rights for Blacks and Whites, and other vitally important issues of human and civil rights. We marched on January 21st because it is sickening and disheartening that we are still fighting for these same issues over 40 years later. My mom marched in the hopes that I wouldn’t have to fight the same battles she fought and now I marched for you in the hopes that you don’t have to fight these same battles. These issues should have been settled long ago and we should not be fighting again and again for the same things. (Sure, new issues come up all the time as society changes and technology advances, but we should not still be making arguments about why a woman should be the one to decide whether or not she wants to go on birth control, whether or not she wants to have an abortion. We should not be arguing anymore about the fact that women should be paid just as much as men for doing the same job they do as well as they do it. We should not be arguing about the fact that inner-city Black kids deserve the same educational opportunities that suburban White kids have.)
We have kept you shielded as much as possible from the ordeal we just went through, but if Donald Trump and his people have their way, the decision we just had to make would be illegal, or at least significantly more difficult than it was. Cause call it what you will, I just had an abortion. We terminated an otherwise viable pregnancy. We saw and heard the heartbeat. We saw the embryo with its little “crown” and “rump.” The little thing inside of me could have grown into a baby. There is a small possibility that I could have carried that pregnancy to term, but making that choice could have put my life in grave danger, and could have left you without a mother and Daddy without a wife. Given all the information available to us, I decided that taking that risk was not worth it. Instead, I chose to continue with the other (the “good”) side of my uterus intact in the hopes that some day we can have a healthy pregnancy on that side and carry a little sibling for you to term. Believe me, the decision we made was not an easy one, but it was one we had to make and one we were free to make on our own, as a family, based on our beliefs, our hopes for the future, and with the advice of my doctors, who gave us all of the information they possessed. Nobody pressured us to make a decision one way or the other and I never felt judged for making the decision we made. That is how it should be. NOBODY should ever be allowed to tell another human being (well… with limited exceptions (I’m a lawyer, what can I say?)) what choices they should make for their body. Pregnancy is not an easy thing and nobody should ever be forced to go through a pregnancy that they do not want. I don’t care what the reason is that they don’t want it… NOBODY should be forced to go through a pregnancy that they do not want. It’s your body, it’s your choice. The choice that we had to make was made ever so slightly easier because, from a Jewish perspective, there was only one choice to make. In Judaism, life does not begin until birth and in the case of choosing between the life of an unborn baby or the life of a mother, the life of the mother is always considered first. But even if I just didn’t want to be pregnant, that should still be my choice to make. Even if the condom breaks, it’s a woman’s choice to decide what should happen to her body. If a woman is raped, it’s her choice and her choice alone what to do with her body. And that is why I marched. Because YOU should always be allowed to make the decisions that you want for your body.
Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a mother. I wanted you so badly and was overjoyed when I found out I was pregnant with you. I am so happy I got the little girl I always dreamed of having (a boy would have been cool too, but I really really wanted a little girl!) and you are everything to me. Yeah, I complain sometimes that you’re stubborn like your daddy, and that you’re defiant and too smart for your own good, but you are such a smart, confident, creative, loving and wonderful little girl and I hope you always know how much we wanted you and how much we love you. I marched on January 21st for you, for your future, and to show you that you can do anything you put your mind to. These days you tell us you want to be an Obstetrician when you grow up. If that remains true, I hope you get there some day. But I want you to know that whatever you want to do, you can do it. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl. I marched on January 21st because I love you more than you can possibly imagine and I want you to know that you have a world of possibilities open to you always.