What Does The Overturn of Roe V Wade Mean to You
#PositivelyPowerstories – July 4, 2022 – Episode 29
Powerstories Theatre stages true stories to open minds and hearts and inspire action worldwide.
As part of our online time capsule, we share submissions or more from our neighbors around the city, country, and globe. While most are the stories that bring a smile to our faces and joy to our hearts, the overturning of Roe V Wade is something weighing heavily on us all. Below are stories, poems, and conversations about this sad, historic moment in our history.
To send us your own story, click the button to complete our form, and upload your own work.
Background art by #theimtiredproject
PRO WOMEN. PRO CHOICE.
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Protest photos submitted by Fran Powers
WE MARCHED 50 YEARS AGO. STILL MARCHING TODAY.
Fran Powers, Janice Nepon Sixt, Cheryl Flowers
Art Submitted by Sandra Ragg
Video Story Submitted by Carolyn Gage
Poem Submitted by Deborah Bostock-Kelley
While we slept
The supreme court shoved bibles into our uteruses
Though we dreamt soundly as they were pushed deep inside
We woke up bleeding, bruised, and swollen
Pregnant with a body that we no longer owned
Forced to give birth to Evangelical verse that only
While inside our wombs
The mother of any age
Of any circumstance
just an oven
Baking the loaf
If one dies during the preparation
There’s always another
This ruling assures it
Poem Submitted by Madison Claire
Story Submitted by Janice Creneti
Turning Back the Clock on Women’s Sovereignty by Janice Creneti Your life belongs to you. You. Independent of what anyone else thinks or believes or wants, your life is yours. You decide what passions to pursue. You decide what you will and will not do with your body. No one else has more authority over you than you. You have sovereignty. I wish this was the overwhelming message I’ve received about my life from our society. It’s not. Just the opposite, in fact. I have struggled for days trying to figure out what to say, where to start. This is about religious liberty. This is about the death throes of the Patriarchy. This is about the lure of the false sense of security that authoritarianism offers. All legit, but they felt too preachy, too much like a lesson or a lecture. Plus, rule number one of a Powerstory: you are the main character. So, I have to be the main character here. I have to tell my story. I am lucky, I guess you could say, to be beyond my childbearing years. The overturning of Roe v Wade will not prevent me from having an abortion should I need or want one. But in my mind, it’s beside the point. The punch I felt to my gut about Roe v. Wade wasn’t about abortion access alone, it was about what the ruling meant. It was about the reshaping of liberty. It was about my very existence as a woman. It’s been a rough road for me as a woman, although many, perhaps most, women have had it rougher. I grew up in a neighborhood that was mostly boys, and I was taunted and bullied by them horribly well into my teens. I was told as a young teenager that I shouldn’t talk about the things I talked about because “boys don’t like smart girls.” I was sexually assaulted by a “friend” when I was 18. In college I was told I had no place pursuing science because women were too emotional to be good at it. As a young teacher I was sexually harassed by the male students in the high school where I taught, they would catcall and whistle at me when I walked from my classroom to the office. When I shared what was happening with my administrator, I was told I should be flattered because “Ten years from now they won’t be whistling, and you’ll wish they were.” I discovered my male colleagues who told me to “lighten up” about the sexual harassment were telling their students that I was so uptight because I needed to get laid. I was chastised by my boss for not taking my husband’s name. In my forties I was told by another boss, along with the three other women also in their forties, that he would never hire another woman in their forties because “they think they know so much.” Don’t get me started on what I went through any time I bought a car. My insurance rates were higher because I might have a child someday. My birth control was not covered when I was younger, and it was expensive on my meager teacher’s salary. I learned to keep my cleavage covered so I couldn’t be labeled as “asking for it.” I learned to be wary of walking by myself at night. I learned I got better medical care from female doctors who would take my concerns seriously rather than chalking them up to “stress.” All in all, pretty run of the mill patriarchal crap. If you’re a woman reading this, you’re probably thinking “yup, been there” or “you got off easy.” As a white woman, my privilege has protected me from the worst of it, but patriarchy sucks, my friends, it sucks. The society I have been raised in has told me in countless ways that I don’t count – because I am a woman. I’ve bucked the messaging throughout my life, starting with the purchase of a t-shirt when I was nine years old that read, “When God created man, SHE was only joking.” At ten, my shirt read, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” On one hand, this is funny, on the other hand it is tragic, that I felt the need at such a young age to become part of the resistance but become part of the resistance I did. I started telling off the boys in my neighborhood. I earned a degree in science. I spoke at a conference on sexual harassment in public schools, landing my name in the Washington Post. I parted with a controlling boyfriend. I divorced a man who wasn’t interested in my equity. I marched for the ERA and women’s rights. I quit jobs with sexist bosses. I got an abortion that was in the best interest of my own life, because my life matters first. I got involved with Powerstories to elevate women’s voices. I demanded my seat at the table. But with the Roe v. Wade verdict, I felt the seat get pulled out from under me. The overturning of Roe v. Wade means that women do not have right to the same level of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as men. That’s what it means. Women will be forced to breed whether they want to or not, like livestock. Women will again die from back-alley abortions and non-viable pregnancies. The responsibilities of pregnancy will rest squarely on women’s shoulders as there is no legislation being put forth to hold men to any level of accountability. Of course not. In our current society, men are first class citizens (if they’re also lucky enough to be white, straight, cis-gendered and preferably Christian). Women are once again being asked to take their place two steps behind, to cede their lives to their fathers, their husbands, their religions – bowing to original sin. Women are being asked to acknowledge themselves as the weaker sex, incapable of making appropriate decisions. And if Clarence Thomas makes good on his promise and birth control is next, women are being asked to accept that their sexuality exists solely to serve men and secure the species, not as an expression of the fullness of their own humanity. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking a hard pass on that offer. To quote the Eagles. “I will not lie down. I will not go quietly.” Fifty-six-year-old me has no intention of letting ten-year-old me down. My current t-shirt says, “And you thought I was a nasty woman before? Buckle up, buttercup.” The Patriarchy may be trying to pull the seat out from under me, but I’m not letting go. Because letting go is not an option. Going back is not an option. There is only to go forward. Patriarchy must be toppled. Women across the globe need to regain their rightful place at the table so they can give to the world the vast bounty they have to give. Humanity’s existence depends on it. Find a way to get involved. Donate. Volunteer. Run for office. Use your voice. Look for ways to empower women. If you’re a woman, take your seat at the table and don’t take no for an answer. If you want women to have true liberty and sovereignty, buckle down. If you’re trying to stand in the way of that, buckle up.
Story Submitted by Corynne O’Keefe
Protest Photo submitted by Samantha Ponzillo
Story Submitted by Nicole Evans
Hello Saturday…. Creeping in through the night to cover the bruises left from yesterdays gut punch to the nation. I believe in the good, logical minded majority. Together, we will move forward. We will regain ground lost and go beyond… to a world where women/girls can be born with the rights to their own body no matter where they live or who they are. We are not owned by a nation, state or man. We are free.
Poem Submitted by Allison Fradkin
“Grin and Childbear It”
Once upon a time,
the platitude was:
Beggars can’t be choosers
Today the attitude is:
Eggers can’t be choosers
Why not let her be?
Why take the letter B,
the A for autonomy,
the C for choice?
It’s bad enough that you
de-alphabetize her as well?
But then, the ball is no longer
in her court
It’s being bounced on
and hapless hips.
Because the Supremes’ baby love
has given her the shaft
and the bundle of joy
its reception may result in.
I can just hear the majority humming
your infantilizing victory song
as they over-the-moonwalk on air:
Breed it, just breed it.
Well, she doesn’t have to be
to take control,
so you can beat it
like Michael would roll.
It’s really that simple.
Because when you take the pro
out of reproductive
you get reductive.
So you may not want to
Because she’s going to
Her fight’s not over.
As a matter of fact,
she’s giving birth
to the totally
that yes, she can
and take you down.
support that babe
up in arms.
After all, you believe that
Art Submitted by Amy C. Ragg
Poetry Submitted by Robyn Crosa
Poem- To the Patriarchy
You don’t own us
We belong to Nature
You don’t own Nature
You don’t own the Land
If you continue this behavior
You will die by your own hand!
You don’t own the land
You will be buried beneath the ground
If you continue on this course
You will be lost and never found
Let the sword of Damocles fly
Let it rain fire from the sky!
No baby is illegitimate
The man who abandons his partner is
This is the truth but you have hidden it
Your heart is filled with lies
Let the sword of Damocles fly
Let it rain fire from the sky
Story Submitted by Barry P. Silber
Of Condoms, Controversies, and Compassion
It was the early 1980’s and I was in my early 30’s. My significant other at the time was a lovely, yet shy person. It didn’t take long before we became sexually active. Olivia made it clear that she did not like the Pill, as there were some potential health hazards. So, condoms were our chosen birth control method. I had no problem with this, as I did not want to take unnecessary risks or be a part of a pregnancy. As we got to know each other, as couples do, we shared our personal histories. I told Olivia that I was so shy during high school, I never had a date, let alone any sexual experiences. She revealed that during her freshman year of college, her boyfriend did get her pregnant. She knew that as an 18-year old, she was not in a position to become a single parent or have her life disrupted. However, this was Florida in 1971, and abortion was illegal. Through her personal contacts, she found a minister from a liberal denomination, who would fund her trip to New York, so that she could terminate her pregnancy. Olivia made it sound like a whirlwind undertaking: she called in sick that day to school, took an early-morning flight, had the procedure, and returned that evening. Despite the stress involved leading up to that day, and having a momentary life disruption, there was no evidence of any regrets or enduring trauma for Olivia. During the two years we dated, Olivia made it clear that, despite practicing an effective form of birth control, that if an accident happened, she hoped that I would understand that abortion was still her choice, as she was not ready for parenthood. I willingly complied because I felt I was also, in my mind, too young to be a parent and it was not my burden to have to carry a child to term. We both knew that abortion was now legal and would not be difficult to attain. During a romantic vacation trip to Key West, we mutually agreed that we were tired of using condoms, and decided to risk having unprotected sex. We believed it was a safe time of her cycle. However, this Sword of Damocles did hang over our heads for about six weeks. Olivia and I were attending a New Year’s Eve party, where she excused herself to use the facilities. Upon her return, she whispered to me that she was not pregnant. We both breathed, almost in harmony, a shared sigh of relief. As time passed, so did our relationship. I think we would both agreed, without bitterness, it was best to go our separate ways. I did keep in contact with Olivia’s sister, who disclosed that Olivia married a college professor, moved up north and had a daughter. I did manage to reach out to Olivia through social media, and we shared our personal stories electronically over the past forty years. I told her about getting married at the age of 45, having two stepchildren, and now experiencing the joy of being the grandparent to two fantastic grandkids. And now we are faced with the overturning of Roe v.Wade. This attack on a woman’s personal freedom will impact people in so many ways. I can’t help but wonder how many more “Olivias” will there be? How many will have the resources to travel to a state that allows abortions? How many will be left without choices, due to financial or social limitations, travel impediments, and be forced to carry their pregnancies to term? Worse yet, how many will seek extremely unsafe answers to terminate their pregnancies? I am angry, confused, and grieving this turning back the clock to where a human right over the control over one’s body, has ceased. As my favorite singer/songwriter, Laura Nyro, said: “I got fury in my soul, fury’s gonna take me to the glory goal.” I hope so.
Story Submitted by Erin Newsome
Story Submitted by Kathleen Finderdon
I’m 75, so why am I in the verge of tears? After all, I will not need an abortion. And I think that many Americans will shrug this aside, this giant affront to women. This absolute assertion that OUR rights do not matter. This statement that cells which depend entirely in us are more important than we are. Why is that? Why are the cells which depend on our bodies for nourishment, for life, for being, for meaning, more important than I am? Because they may be male? They may be White(r)? They may be anything except a woman? I am so sick of this. So sick and tired of being told that my sex/race/creed/color/age/whatever demographic makes me unable to make and live with my own decisions. I’m 75 years old. I have lived here my entire life. When will I be a full citizen?
Story Submitted by Madison Levine
Today, at 17 years old, I’ve learned I cannot trust my government. I’ve learned I do not matter to them. I’ve learned that my body is not mine to have autonomy over. When I learned Roe V. Wade was overturned I was a kind of devastation I never thought I’d face in my life time. A devastation that meant my future was gone. I was at lunch with my mom when I learned the news. That was a somber car ride after lunch. I cried the entire way as my mom yelled in frustration over the loss of hope for my future. We ran to amazon to purchase as many Plan B pills as we could before they were out. We made the executive decision to put me on birth control as soon as possible because, God forbid, if I’m at a party, and get roofied and raped I would not be getting pregnant. Because now, I’m faced with the horrifying thought as a Florida resident and woman that if I were to get pregnant, I would be bringing that pregnancy to term and altering the rest of my life. I feel hurt. I feel betrayed. And I can’t wrap my head around why. Why a 16 year old girl with a boy friend who experimented for the first time in her life will be forced to deal with that consequence for the rest of her life? If your pro-life, shouldn’t you be pro her life as well? Why a working class mother struggling to support the children she already has will be forced to handle the burden of another child or feel the pain of giving a child up for adoption? Are you pro her life as well? Why a mother who miscarries will be forced to bring her dead child to term, risking her own life in the process? How, as a woman, can I feel safe in America ever again? Today, there was a line drawn in the sand. Today, the government turned their back on us for the last time. Today, at 17 years old, I’m fighting harder for something than I ever have before. Because I am pro life. Pro my life. Pro my future. and that means being Pro Choice and fighting for my future. It’s mine to take back.
Story Submitted by Anonymous
I was 25 & with a person I thought I’d marry. Then I ended the relationship after realizing I didn’t want that anymore…but we kept a toxic cycle for a little. Then I started getting sick. I was dizzy. I was nauseated. I had a hard time standing because of the lightheadedness. Couldn’t keep weight on. Couldn’t keep food down. My friends, my coworkers – Are you okay? What’s going on? [It’d been a few weeks & I had dropped 10lbs from my already petite frame] Finally, my best friend sat me down & says “I think you’re pregnant. It’s the only thing that makes sense. We can go together. I’m here for you.” After 2 excruciating minutes…I already knew in my gut what it’d say. I have the video of that moment buried somewhere when I read “+.” I couldn’t stop crying. I was scared. My heart dropped. “He’s not going to believe it’s his. He’s not.” Were the first words out of my mouth once I could speak. Reality was disheartening. When I told him, my gut was right – his immediate reaction was “It’s not mine. You cheated on me.” I was an absolute mess. I was heartbroken that the person who at one point was so good to me wouldn’t believe me. Then came the cycle of the avoidance. Leaving me alone when all I wanted was to be helped through the toll the pregnancy was taking my body. He chose everyone else over me & had the audacity to say we keep what was inside of me even though he still didn’t believe it was his. I went to my first prenatal appointment – I was 9wks. I had no desire to raise a child with a person who chose to be out all hours ignoring my existence. Eventually, I got him to bring me to the clinic. The staff was kind. I was called into the back & given the ultrasound to look at the fetus before making my final decision, in case I changed my mind. I was almost 12 wks. I felt nothing. I went ahead with the process. I had given so much to a person who didn’t care about me. I didn’t want to have his child. I didn’t want to be sick. I didn’t want to have a child I couldn’t support. The abortion was the right choice for me. I’m a year from the procedure now & have no regrets about my decision. I wouldn’t be where I am now in my life. I’m thankful I had the choice. I don’t care what your personal beliefs are & I’ll fight for your rights to those beliefs, but you don’t have the right to use what you believe to dictate the choices I make for myself when we don’t believe in the same things. It’s my body and I am so lucky I had the choice. This ruling makes me terrified for the future of other people. To those who’ve had their choice taken from them. I feel lucky, but I also carry a bit of guilt knowing that I was one of the few people who were able to have a choice before it got taken away. Why an abortion is chosen or why it isn’t is no one else’s damn business but the person who is making that decision. We need a huge dose of mind your own fucking business. Stay out my uterus and let us have our choice.
Join us online and in the theatre for the second annual Voices of Women Theatre Festival, showcasing eight local and national playwrights to a global audience. The festival is a combination of two live-in-theatre plays on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, and virtual productions, both full-length and shorts.
The festival runs from Tuesday, July 19 through Sunday, July 24, 2022; however, guests can begin viewing the opening show on July 17.