This is a follow up after reading some of the responses to Sarah’s essay. I was not able to have children, something I did not realize until it was far too late and would have costs thousands of dollars to attempt.

But here’s the thing: my pro-choice, if you will, pro-abortion position was set in stone when as an 8th grader I read Pearl Buck’s novel “The Good Earth”. In that novel, the Chinese peasant family is forced to go into one of the cities to beg during a famine. The wife, Olan, is pregnant. Her family is already starving. She makes everyone leave their hovel while she gives birth alone and then kills her infant. I had a new baby sister at this point in my own life. I had just started my own menstrual cycle. I knew how women talked about other women who had “too many” children. As a Black girl in the late 1960’s the power and fear of my sexuality and my own potential to shame my familly were almost too much to handle. And then I read what I read in The Good Earth. Of course Olan has to pay for her sin: her next pregnancy results in a child who is profoundly developmental disabled and then Olan’s body swells as if she is pregnant and then she dies, most likely of uterine cancer.

I am quite certain I was not supposed to get the idea that there was an alternative to Olan’s fate that allowed a woman to act on her own agency but I did.


Veteran Cat Servant

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