Feminist Writing. Fourth Wave. For Women.

All I Want For My Birthday is Your Donation to Planned Parenthood

(Written on 6/30/22, the night before my 45th birthday, in response to Roe having been overturned)

All I Want For My Birthday is Your Donation to Planned Parenthood ©
Cara Sergio

I don’t like telling people what causes they should donate to.  What right do I have telling you how to spend your money?  I don’t like making politically-charged statements.  What makes my political views more important than yours? I don’t like telling f***ed up, sordid, sad stories about my past...I know such stories aren’t for the squeamish, all they accomplish is to make some people pity me and others back away from me, absolutely repulsed.

I don’t like telling people what causes to donate to.  I don’t like making political speeches.  And I really don’t like to dredge up my past.  I don’t like these things, and yet I’m about to do all of them at once.

For my birthday this year, what I want is for you to donate to Planned Parenthood.  Yes, they do abortions at Planned Parenthood, and I know some of you don’t like abortion.  You love your kids and you wouldn’t trade them for anything, were adopted yourself and/or you have adopted children and you’re pro-adoption.  But you don’t have to like the idea of abortion to donate to Planned Parenthood, OK.  They don’t JUST do abortion there.  If you don’t want your money funding abortions, donate and think of it as an investment in healthcare and education, cuz all of that happens at Planned Parenthood.

It’s really important that you donate, though.  Cuz the conservatives in this country want to take away a woman’s right to choose, restrict our access to reproductive healthcare, and Planned Parenthood is working to make sure we continue to have access to reproductive healthcare.  You don’t have to like abortion and you don’t have to have an abortion yourself if you don’t want one.  But when you take away everybody’s right, you will create a contingency of desperate women.  And now it’s time for that sordid tale of my past I warned you about.

When I was 15, I laid down, on the shag carpeting in my aunt’s basement, with the 27 year old “acquaintance” of my cousin’s 23 year old boyfriend.  I was 15 (too young to consent), and having spent that whole morning guzzling my uncle’s vodka (Uncle Nick, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I drank up all your Absolut) I was too goddamn drunk to consent.  That day (I had a “snow day” from parochial school) was the first and last time I saw him.  He was...a grown ass man who sat on my aunt’s sofa, watched me mainline vodka (and had to have known I was ossified), and I remember he told me a bullshit story about his mother abandoning him at birth, to make me feel sorry for him.  Thirty years later and I’m still embarrassed about having willingly taken off my clothes for such bullshit.  I told him he was my first, he told me he was single, and while he never caught me in my lie, I caught him in his before we were done.  And because he had a girlfriend, who lived with him, he wanted no part of me when I called him the following month and screamed that I was late... I was late and he was the grown up and I demanded that he do something.  He hung up on me, is what he did.

My mother was terrifying.  She threw me a beating if I folded her laundry wrong, what would she have done if I asked her to throw me a baby shower?  And then I had my grandfather to consider...I didn’t want to parade around in front of him pregnant with my tits all swollen, cuz he would’ve taken such behavior as a come-on.  And of course my father was f***ing oblivious.  He had no idea how much I drank back then, or who I spread my legs for.  He never got off his ass, didn’t move a muscle to keep mother, or grandfather, off me, so he certainly wasn’t going to keep either of them off my bastard child.

I needed an adult, and the adults at home weren’t going to help me.  I called the Planned Parenthood, and they said that because I was a minor, under the age of 18, they could not treat me without my parents’ consent, which brings us back to “I needed an adult and the adults at home weren’t going to help me.”  I’m sure the sort of disreputable “doctors” who would break the law to treat a minor without parental consent existed thirty years ago, but I could neither locate nor pay for one of them.

I was wildly unqualified to be somebody’s mother.  I was scared shitless of my own mother.  I was desperate.  Of course there have never been any wire hangers in my elitist mother’s bougie house where everything, from the living room furniture nobody was allowed to sit on, to the heavy wooden hangers in our cedar closets, had been carefully chosen to create the illusion of a normal suburban family, when we were anything but.  No wire hangers, so what I did is I waited until I had the house to myself (we had a lot of snow days that year, which means I was unsupervised a lot of the time), and I killed a bottle of my father’s scotch in ten minutes flat, climbed the stairs to the second floor, and threw myself down.  Yes, I could’ve killed myself.  I drank up all the scotch so I wouldn’t feel any pain from the fall.  And it worked.  Anesthetizing myself with Chivas Regal and throwing myself down the stairs was an effective way to terminate a pregnancy.

I was desperate enough to do something that could’ve killed me because I was unable to access reproductive healthcare.  Yes, I was too young, too stupid, and too immature to have been in a position to need reproductive healthcare, but I needed it and couldn’t get.  When you take away everybody’s access to reproductive healthcare, you will create a very large contingency of desperate women, and underage girls, all of whom will be just as willing to risk their own lives as I was to risk mine that day I threw myself down the stairs.  And that’s why your donation to Planned Parenthood is so important that it’s the only thing I want for my birthday this year.

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