Saturday, June 25, 2022

North Shore Notes: Abortion

Photo by Caren Jeskey
   Friday was a grim day for Americans who care about freedom. Personally, I took comfort in the belief that going back into the past is not indeed possible, no matter how passionately fundamentalists try. That most people do not want to live in a theocracy where their most intimate life choices are dictated by religious fanatics. And that, as always, those with totalitarian impulses overplay their hand. Yes, this will not stand. But that reversal is years away, and I felt glad I wasn't obligated to sit down and write something.
     North Shore Bureau Chief Caren Jeskey was, however, and in her typical reliability and professionalism did not disappoint. Her report is understandably brief and blunt, reflecting a numb day that was a shock though not a surprise.

By Caren Jeskey 

     "Good ideas come from everywhere. It's more important to recognize a good idea than to author it.” — Jeanne Gang

     A friend lives on Randolph near the lake, and I am lucky to be enjoying her home (and adorable, tiny pooch named Holly after Mrs. Golightly) while she takes a long weekend away. Jeanne Gang’s Vista Tower fills the window in front of me, and her Aqua Tower also adorns the picturesque frame. Whenever I see Gang's buildings I marvel at the empowered woman who made them happen. A modern day superhero. Aqua Tower was the tallest woman-designed building in the world at the time it was constructed in 2007. Her buildings blend in perfectly with Chicago's skyline, and though they are taller than the other buildings around here, they are elegantly understated and delightful to behold. Her structures are eco-friendly with recycled materials and rooftop prairies and gardens. Gang's Harvard trained eye is a great gift to our city.
     At the same time that women's power is being supported in many ways, today we face the day after Roe v. Wade was overturned despite the fact that “Gallup polls show Americans’ support for abortion in all or most cases at 80% in May 2021, only sightly higher than in 1975 (76%), and the Pew Research Center finds 59% of adults believe abortion should be legal.” I called a friend yesterday afternoon and she greeted me in tears. “Did you hear?" Yes, I’ve heard. Lately I’ve been feeling like I do not have the bandwidth to deal with the larger issues our country is facing, then I recall that I have to conjure up the will to care.
     When we were in our late teens, or perhaps early 20's, another friend and I were invited to a Thanksgiving gala hosted by an important person. I can’t say who it was, since I have to be mindful about legal repercussions, so I'll suffice it to say that we were at a party that only a privileged few Illinoisans were invited to. During the dinner and subsequent party, a prominent young man became enamored with my friend, and she with him. They found a way to “see” each other- this word conjures up puritanical suppression of sexuality à la the play Spring Awakening (my first COVID play) that I saw this past Spring at Porchlight. In this heavy and tragic performance, secrecy, shame, and denial killed 2 young people and traumatized others.
     After one long date, my friend became impregnated with her suitor's child. She really liked him but at that point he was done with her. Before she could even catch her breath, he had arranged for an abortion. He was a monied financier, she was a nothing in comparison at that time, as far as privilege was concerned. She felt she had no choice. After the mandated abortion she was dropped off at my parent's house where I was living. She came up to my bed and passed out from exhaustion. She slept off the physically and emotionally taxing removal of the embryo from her womb. It was not yet a fetus, which happens at eight weeks.
     I wonder what her life would look like today, had this person been truly interested in the gem of a woman she is — stunning, brilliant, and now very successful- and they had developed more of a relationship?
     Now we can all be worried about the women who are going to be harmed during back-alley abortions on top of everything else this decade has cursed us with. It's time to help in any way we can. Vote, march, donate money to help women get to Illinois and other safe havens when they need it. And try to stay out of the line of fire of the armed haters.


  1. We all must conjure the will to care. We can’t sleep the SCOTUS decision off. If we do, there’s a chance a Republican Congress combined with a Republican President in 2024 will outlaw women’s choice throughout the nation, going against the vast majority of the population’s desires. I wonder what the climate is in the SCOTUS chambers now. Can the six look the three in the eyes?

  2. Interesting that Caren uses the passive voice, "she became impregnated" rather than the active, "he impregnated her." I think it's the proper choice stylistically, as it's unlikely (though conceivable) that Mr. Bigshot deliberately tried to get her pregnant, but it's clear that -- as always -- the monied few will be able to defy the law without risk, whereas now, in post Roe days, the needy many will either be forced to bear an unwanted child or endure risky homemade procedures.

    Personally, I believe that the government, at any level, has no business enforcing religious tenets, while recognizing the emotional appeal of the crusade to save babies' lives. They are lies, self deluding lies, that refuse to admit that most abortions involve tiny fetuses incapable of surviving outside the womb, neglecting to reckon with the dire consequences of raising unwanted children on the mother, the rest of the family, and society at large.


  3. "He was a monied ___________... she was a nothing. He arranged for her abortion." Caren, it has always been thus.The rich and the powerful are routinely able to flout, ignore, defy, and circumvent the law, law enforcement, and the courts.

    That story is as old as time itself, especially in these Untied Snakes. The robber barons of the 19th and 20th centuries, gangsters like Capone, entertainers like Sinatra, monsters like Trump, and other various and assorted scumbags have always provided "emergency" abortion services and have routinely paid pregnant women to go away and to keep quiet.

    Abortions were...and are...just part of the cost of doing their business. And probably tax write-offs as well. Many of these folks have funds set aside for just such procedures. An account that can pay for a timely doctor visit or a convenient trip to Mexico. For the moderately affluent, the wealthy, and the influential, yesterday's decision changes nothing. It will continue to be business as usual, while poor and minority women either have unwanted children...or die.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.