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Friday, December 13, 2013


by Tricia Knoll

     Both chambers of the Michigan legislature have passed a measure banning insurance coverage for abortion in private health plans unless women purchase a separate rider. In a charged hearing Wednesday, Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer told the story of her own rape and called the legislation “one of the most misogynistic proposals I’ve ever seen in the Michigan Legislature,” according to the Detroit Free Press. The fact that women are required to plan in advance to have an abortion, Whitmer said, “tells women who are raped … that they should have thought ahead and bought special insurance for it.”
     “The fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive,” she added.”
      --MSNBC, December 11, 2013

I avoid dark places, those parks where willows
hang over the sluggish river, you know the ones, where
many a young couple has hung out in the summer
time listening to the river flow

but in winter, fall, even hot summer nights there’s
sometimes anger afoot and maybe bad men too. I don’t
open the door to my house unless I can see the person
on the stoop, but then sometimes I do if he is in
uniform or a man with a clipboard who may want
my signature to end war.

I’m old so maybe I don’t need
rape insurance. Oh, that’s right I had a hysterectomy
twenty years ago so even if I were raped, I wouldn’t
need an abortion. Just kindness. The insurance
wouldn't pay for pain and suffering.

Daughters, nieces. The girl next door. I don’t know
what deductibles they carry for theft,
collision, fire. What is the rape deductible?
Self-confidence? Trust? Esteem?
The premium?

Would they sign up for rape insurance
or assume that avoiding lonely places
under overhangs, locking car doors,
looking backwards over cloaked shoulders,
was enough?

Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet.