Racism, Patriarchy, and Power: Siri Hustvedt on the Toxic Thinking Behind the Supreme Court’s Destruction of Abortion Rights
Siri writes in Lithub: In 1972, abortion was illegal in Minnesota. One day that year - the exact day has vanished from memory - a 21-year-old man drove his terrified 16-year-old girlfriend to a women’s clinic in Minneapolis. He left her there for a pregnancy test and drove away.
I was the girlfriend. There were no home pregnancy tests back then. The boyfriend’s cowardice still rankles me, but most of all, I remember my fear, confusion, and miserable secrecy about my possible state. My imagination roamed to back-alley abortions. I had seen the results of some of those illegal procedures in grainy black-and-white photographs—the corpses of young women lying in pools of their own blood on filthy sofas and metal gurneys. I imagined myself in a grimy room with a strange man and his gleaming tray of instruments.
I had no money of my own. Had I been pregnant - it turned out I wasn’t - my boyfriend or my parents would have had to secure the funds for an abortion. I feel certain they would have, although none of them had much to spare, and the idea of my father knowing about my pregnancy sickened me. I do not think a flight to New York and the hundreds of dollars needed to pay for the procedure would have been possible, but I never would have gone through with a pregnancy. I would have broken the law.
Sixteen years later, I gave birth to my daughter, Sophie. When I pushed her out of my body, I was in a state of ecstasy I had never experienced before and have not experienced since. I am well aware that birth experiences are hugely various. That was mine. How I wanted that baby.