I’m not the only woman in the country who once had a partner who took my paychecks and deposited them in an account that I had no access to; not by debit card, not by checkbook. That started the first year we were married, when I was 18 and I balanced our checkbook wrong. Did I get to revoke his bank privileges later on when he would be late with rent, didn’t pay our utility bills, or threw money away on expensive outings and crazy schemes? No.
Years later, at 22, I still had to ask for lunch money every week to take to work, something he’d often conveniently forget about if he was in a bad mood. He was often in a bad mood. My workweek lunch money regularly came out of the change jar and only covered vending machine snacks.
If I’d had a child from that relationship, one way or another, it would have meant two decades of that creep still messing with my head on a daily basis–a fate I was saved from only by a miscarriage brought on by a 2 lb. ovarian cyst, which my Catholic hospital doctor told me couldn’t be operated on unless I did miscarry on my own–so lucky me. And he only hit me once in five years, threatened and starved me, so I didn’t have it nearly as bad as some of the women for whom the Senate abortion coverage restrictions might as well be a hand covering their mouths and holding them down.
The fact is that reproductive coercion, including sabotaging of birth control, pressuring partners into unprotected sex and outright rape are part of the regular toolkit of abusers who want to keep a partner tightly under their thumb. The term “rape exception” in abortion law circles seems to lead people to think that coercive sex is exceptional, unusual, even if women are supposed to always be expecting it, but coercive sex is a common part of many women’s experiences and a third of us will be abused in our lifetimes.
I am beginning to wonder why we accredit Catholic hospitals, given their attitude towards miscarriage.