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Friday, June 24, 2011


by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

Abortion rights, that is what my mom and I fought about.
Babies, she says. And she’d know. Three kids in four years:
Caitlin, Kevin & me. That was the 1970s and this is the 2010s,
Decade of Instability, of Anxiety, of Anger. Laws are being passed:
Each abortion must be proceeded by an ultrasound; Listen to the
fetal heartbeat
, they say. It’s a baby. Your baby. Now it’s your choice.
Generation mom came from fought to be in the workplace. Now,
housewife is a career that women choose. Mom feels mixed.
In the 70s, we were born. In the early 80s, Mom raised us,
just her. In the mid-80s, she went back to work. She was both:
kitchen & nursery, stay-at-home, housewife, etc... And then,
latchkey & overtime, on sale business suits, working mother.
Mermaids and Princesses, my mom says, that’s all girls want to be
. I say that I think it’s about value. Women aren’t valued,
or aren’t valued enough. I say this ties into that heartbeat law,
pregnant women needing to jump through all these hoops, not
quite seen as being smart enough to realize they are pregnant.
right? Make them hear that heartbeat before the abortion,
so they can finally understand it? Mom says again, It’s a baby.
That heartbeat is a baby, is a precious life. And if they need an
ultrasound to understand, well…
We disagree, my mother and I.
Valuing women begins at home, I suppose. My mother and I are
women. My heartbeat once lived inside of her. Even now, I’m a
xerox copy of her as young woman. Well, almost. We fight & love.
Young women like you, she says, need to keep up the fight better.
Zealots shouldn’t be your focus. Look in the mirror. Start there.

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Everything is Everything (Write Bloody Publishing, 2010), as well as the nonfiction book, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam (Soft Skull Press, 2008) which Billy Collins wrote “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.” Aptowicz is currently serving as the 2010-2011 ArtsEdge Writer-In-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and was recently awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry.