a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Hey there diary,
I’m trying really hard not to freak out! I’m nervous, but the woman who told me about it said it’s really safe. It’ll probably hurt, but it’ll work, so it’s worth it.
Two pills. Well, five really. One the first day with a glass of water, and a day later, four of a different one, stuck in my cheeks to dissolve. That’s what the woman said. She was really nice. She kept talking about “a person” who was going to use the pills, that “she would do” so-and-so. She never once said “you” to me directly. I guess that has something to do with the law, it’s a way for the women giving the info to stay legal and not get arrested. And I definitely support that!
She also talked about “six precautions,” and she made me write them down: make sure you are pregnant (duh!), be less than 12 weeks pregnant, don’t have a serious illness or an IUD, have a plan with someone there, have a hospital nearby, and be sure this is a choice.
I’m good on all six, gracias a dios. I’m three weeks late. Makes me past the state cut-off. I’ll wait a couple days because I tested positive for covid. I got it from sis, who flew here to visit mom, who’s been real sick with the chemo. Once Sonia got here, she couldn’t even see mom for days because of covid. She’s being really careful with mom.
I tested positive for covid but I’m feeling okay, just super tired and a little nauseated, probably from being pregnant. How weird is it, to be getting a covid test and a pregnancy test in the same week!
Sis knows about the abortion—it’s the other reason she came—and she’s gonna stay with me. I don’t want to be alone. No question in my mind this is what I have to do, but it feels kind of sad and I’m glad she’ll be with me. Plus if anything goes wrong, she can take me to the hospital. But I don’t think that will happen.
Wish I didn’t have to go through all this. There’s so much going on now with mom sick and now the covid stuff, and all the pressures since mom’s not working and money’s tight.
I’m so glad I got the IUD out, so I don’t have to go out of state. Of course, that may be why I’m pregnant! We used condoms, but I guess we weren’t careful enough. I’ve got to get something else to use after the abortion, for sure. Word is “nothing in the vagina” for two days afterwards, so there’s time to figure it out, right? LOL.
The delivery person just knocked on the door. My pills!
They’re in my hands now, and I’m crying. Not sad crying, not happy crying either. Just a huge relief, that I can get through this without dying, or getting arrested, or both.
II. AJC LETTER
Dear Atlanta Journal Constitution Editor,
I’m writing to voice my anger and frustration with the state of reproductive rights in Georgia. I grew up in Atlanta, but now I live in California, where abortion is legal, safe, and accessible.
I’m here to help my seven-weeks-pregnant sister get a safe abortion, despite it being illegal in this state. I’m here to help her through a medication abortion, made possible by reproductive justice activists who are sending her the pills.
Medication abortion has been used safely and effectively around the world for over two decades. Abortion pills are on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. Medication abortion was used in over half of all abortions in the United States before June 24, 2022, and will most likely be an even greater proportion of abortions now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, taken away a constitutional right, and revved up a time machine to take us back fifty years.
Yes, abortions will continue, no matter what the “Pro-life” forces say.
Because as long as people have uteruses, there will be abortions. There will be abortions because rape exists, incest exists, birth control fails, and people with uteruses can find themselves with an unwanted, unplanned pregnancy for which they don’t have the emotional, physical, financial, or social resources.
Abortion is a fundamental reproductive right and a central part of women’s health care. Access to safe and legal abortion is key to bodily autonomy, which in turn is essential for women’s and girls’ self-determination. As such, abortion is a social justice and human rights issue for the whole society.
But that’s not how it is in this country at this time. We face racist and misogynist conservative forces that want to go beyond criminalizing abortion to limiting birth control, overturning rights of the LGBTQ+ community, restricting voting rights, and allowing unchecked access to automatic weapons.
Which is why I won’t be signing this letter with my real name. I won’t be giving hints to those who would like to put my sister and me in jail.
And it’s why I use a burner phone to make calls related to abortion access.
I realize you may choose not to publish this letter. But I hope you will remain journalists in a sea of fake news and rampant lies, and will add my voice and my comments to your pages, for your readers’ sake.
III. PARA MARIA
Mi amadísima hija,
My sweet baby girl, I’m writing you from Tia Eva’s, where I’ll be while your sister quarantines. Eva picked me up from chemo today and we decided this would be best, so you and your sister can be at home.
I’m writing because I know what you are going through.
I didn’t want to say anything, because you hadn’t. I know you didn’t want to burden me because of this damn cancer. But a mother knows. I could tell something was wrong.
I’ve decided the best thing is to tell you the truth.
I never told you girls about it. I guess I was ashamed. Which is ridiculous, because there was nothing to be ashamed of. But I felt like I should have been more careful, should have known somehow.
I got pregnant when I was nineteen and I had an abortion.
It was before I met your dad, years before you and your sister were born.
I didn’t tell him about it, or your grandma, only Eva. She helped me find a clinic. She took me there and stayed with me the whole time.
By the time we got it set up, I was getting close to the end of my first trimester. But it was legal then. And safe.
When I was a little girl I overheard stories in your grandma’s kitchen, about friends who “went south” to take care of business. Abortion wasn’t legal then. Or safe.
I remember hearing her cry in the kitchen one day.
“¿Qué pasa?” I asked.
She was quiet for a moment.
“Linda murió,” she said. “Linda died today, at the hospital. She was bleeding so much, they couldn’t stop it, couldn’t save her.”
I didn’t ask what happened. I think I just knew. Linda had gone south and things had gone very, very wrong.
That day stayed with me.
So when I needed an abortion, I was really scared at first. But Eva explained it was legal, not like before, and that meant it would be safe.
And it was. I was fine.
And even though I haven’t wanted to talk about it, I have never regretted it.
When I got pregnant years later with Sonia and with you, I was overjoyed. I was so ready to be a mother.
Now, with the horrible decision by the Supreme Court, it’s like it was in your grandma’s day.
That pains me so much. I always thought you and your sister would be able to decide about having babies. It really upsets me that you have less rights than I did.
But I’m glad there are good people who can help you now, and I’m glad about the pills, which you can manage yourself, and you won’t have to travel out of state to a clinic.
Just let me know what you need, sweetie.
I love you with all my heart.
Te quiere muchísimo
Mariana Mcdonald is a poet, writer, scientist, and activist. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including poetry in Crab Orchard Review, Lunch Ticket, and The New Verse News; fiction in About Place Journal, So to Speak, and Cobalt; and creative nonfiction in Longridge Review and HerStry. She co-authored with Margaret Randall Dominga Rescues the Flag, about Black Puerto Rican heroine Dominga de la Cruz. Mcdonald trained with Al Gore in 2019 and joined the international Climate Reality Leadership Corps. She was named a Black Earth Institute Scholar Advisor and Fellow for 2022-2025. She lives in Atlanta.