ࡱ> rtqG sGbjbjَ sC] \22222222$}q 222222222~222~2$! ^CHRONICLE OF THE UTERO-NAUT A. S. Shawnta noticed some pro-life demonstrators with Banners were stationed down the block From the Margaret Sanger Memorial Privacy Center, as The abortion clinic was named. Fortunately, she Was able to avoid them as she Was dropped off at the entrance by her mother who was On her break, and as for her boyfriend, he said he had To look for a job the last minute and couldnt walk Her inso that meant her mother had to leave work And transport her---as the jolting and the seats of buses were too hard on her In her advanced pregnancy. Feeling a bit abandoned, Shawnta began to wonder if It was such a good idea after all, but she was thereand She thought she might as well go in and take a look Around. The security guard checked her out for explosives and Knives and guns, and she was allowed past to the receptionist. The casual dcorthe usual big potted plant on the floor, the Pictures of multicultural scenesnot one child in them Presented the heroic efforts of women to advance reproductive rights and The right to privacyand some bannersA womans Body is not everybodys Business and Privacy is a Womans Right Echoed what her mother (who had never kept A boyfriend for more than a few years at a time) had told her already, so She was prepared in that sense. But what happened next? She had only vague ideas, Since her mother had not had an abortion, and her friends Who had were few and then didnt want to talk about it. After all, she was only nineteen, graduated less than one Year from high school, and just beginning her Adult life, though she hadnt yet moved out out From her mothers apartment into her own. One thing she did have for surethe support of her Mother and boyfriend, who both agreed repeatedly That she didnt have the time or resources to devote To a baby just now. She was job-hunting, and Going through a training course, and a baby was just Out of the question. Besides, her boyfriend hinted he Couldnt handle the disruption a baby would bring to Their relationship. Her mothers apartment was just Too small too for an additionand so, all in all, It seemed wise to not let it go any further. She had Gone on too long as it was, and was afraid it was too Late. She had the $700 from her mother to pay for it, But was she too late for the procedure? That Was the question on her mind as she gave her name To the receptionist. The girl glanced at her fact sheet, which she filled Out at the counter, and said, No, they can Probably handle your case. I just have to know When you can be available for the counsellor And prep workwhat days, times, and So on. If there is any problem, they can spot It and take care of it then, and nobodys the loser. Well, Shawnta, what works for you? Were operating here 9-5, Monday through Friday. Two days later, she stepped heavily and Carefully off a bus (it was impossible to get another ride and Her boyfriend had just lost his car to the bank that financed it) , she Arrived on the scheduled Day and was Ushered into an office to wait for the counsellor, The receptionist left her alone, shutting the door quickly enough to Dislodge a broom, which fell to the floor with a bang. Shawnta, for nothing better to do, glanced at the furnishings. It looked more in use as a broom Closet than a psychologists officefor there were even buckets Beside the brooms and mops half filled with old, soapy water. There was no window either, which made her feel closed in. Fighting a sense of being trapped, Shawnta shifted uncomfortably On the backless, swivel chair. Why couldnt she shift to the One good chair, while she waited? She wondered. But it Belonged to the clinic psychologist, Dr. Anderson, she Noted, from the various psychologist society certificates and gold-framed university graduation class picture On the wall. She got up with difficulty and went to look at the picture. She couldnt tell which gowned graduate was her counsellor standing In the ranks of hundreds of gowns and mortar boards at Miami Un iversity in 1973. Besides, the class was so young-looking, with the seventish look Of long hair on the men and the sixties still hanging over on The women, with only a few showing wire rim glasses, long straight Hair, and no makeup and bras. Thats me, back row, twenty third from left, a pleasant voice interuppted her, and Cynthia spun around. She saw a tall, thin, graying woman with a horsey face, yolk-like eyes Swimming in large spectacles that werent fashionable any more. I was tall as the men so they stuck me with them, Dr. Anderson explained, as she offered the swivel chair to Cynthia. Fine with me too! While the boring speeches were going on, I had quite some good arguments with the male chauvinists about patriarchal stereotyping! She carried a paper in her hand, and went and sat down at Her desk. She looked over her spectacles to Shawnta, wh o was beginning To sweat in the airless, fr eezing cold room. I am Dr. Anderson, As you already know. You are Shawnta Placentia, I take it. Now please sit and rest. This should only take a minute. Now what are you confused about, dear? Lets get any problem you might have cleared up now. I can answer all your questions. The psychologist glanced at her watch, then back to Shawnta, who was still trying To adapt to the surroundings and feel sure enough of herself to share her feelings. Well, she began, with her usual shy smile, I am getting pretty big as you can see, so I am wondering Report says third trimester, Dr. Anderson interjected. But thats no problem. We process thirds all the time here. Nothing to difficult for our expert Privacy team! Shawnta shifted again in the impossible chair, wh ich was hurting her now. But it May have grown quite a bit by this time, so I was just thinking.. Dr. Andersons eyes turned up. She leaned forward, her elbows on the desk. Who Put that silly idea in your head? Nonsense! She fumbled for something in her upper desk drawer, then Rushed it in person to Shawnta to look at. With the picture or graph in her face, Shawnta tried hard to see what it was. Dr. Anderson st arted explaining it immediately, her voice slow, measured, And very caring as if she were talking to a little child. See, dear. This is a third trimester fetus. Its not much more than a blob of tissue, as you can see yourself. Uninformed, uneducated people claim its a person, who want to save thirds like this one! How absurd. Its a blob of protoplasmthats all. A blob! Even with the picture so close, Shawnta couldnt see the blob as well as Dr. Anderson. The photocopy was dark, Somewhat smeared, and she could only barely make out the outlines of a blob in the picture. Dr. Anderson whisked it back to her desk. I can understand your concern, the psychologist continued before Cynthia could comment further on the poor photocopy, but it is not founded on the facts. Medically, youre well within the permeters of a safe privacy procedureI can assure you that! Well, now, we are running out of time for this interview, Im afraid. Do you have any more questions, dear? Lets get everything perfectly clear before you go in to the prep roomyou dont want to disturb us all here by wanting to leave the last minute or postpone the procedure or something like that, right? A girl who did that upset everythingand then she came back the next week saying she had reconsidered. You can imagine, how difficult that made it for usrescheduling her and all. You wouldnt want to follow her example, would you? We cant run an efficient clinic without cooperation from clients. Dr. Anderson smiled so sweetly, waiting for the expected response, that Shawnta found it almost Impossible to speak her own mind., as she really wasnt sure of it herself. Why wasnt Her boyfriend supporting her decision by being present? She could understand her mom Being absent, having to work, but her boyfriend hadnt found a job in monthsand Welfare was all that was coming in these days for herwhich wasnt enough To buy him all he was demanding from her. II cant tell from the picture. My baby may be more grown than the one I think I see in this picture More grown? Dr. Anderson interrupted with a bit of testiness in her sweet, caring voice. But molds and mushrooms and tumors grow toowhich doesnt mean we shouldnt deal with them as soon as we can, so what are you saying, dear? I dont quite understand your delaying what you said yourself was necessary for your applying as aide to Senator Kantwell. The word finally came to Shawnta, struggling with tears of impatience and frustration and fear. Developed, I mean! she blurted out. How do I know it isnt thinking and feeling things by this time? How do I know It wont know what is happening to it An abyss seemed to open before Shawnta as she felt something yawn before her opened womb, Waiting to devour what strange, nameless people dressed in pale green hospital smocks were tearing out of her. That is absurd! How can a simple mass of tissue think and know anything? It simply cant! Youre afraid of nothing at all! Its all be over in a few minutes. It isnt developed, it is just what I showed you in the photographa nearly formless blob of tissue.. Dr. Anderson glanced again at her watch. We really need to be going over the prep procedures with you and get started, as the Privacy Team will be waiting for you every minute you are late, she said. Shawnta, who hated her boyfriend at this moment for not using condoms and letting her go through this Alone, squirmed. :But wait a moment. I am not sure about this. If there is any chance It will feel and think anything, I just couldnt do this. Dr. Anderson, went to her bookshelf and pulled out a book. She showed it to Shawnta, flipping the pages rapidly. There! All the worlds most expert gynecologists on record in this anthologyall stating the same thing its a blob of tissue, no more than that. Look for yourself! She riffled the pictures and articles, rapidly as before, than whisked the book away and back to The bookshelf, where it stood alongside a small gold bust of a middle-aged woman, with Margaret Sanger, Founder of the Privacy for Women Movement inscribed on the base. Dr. Anderson caught Shawntas gaze and moved in between the bust and Shawnta. In less than a minute, it will be too late to take you today, for we have other cases back to back that cant be delayed even ten minutes.. Why not get this over with now, dear? It is so convenient to do it now, and not postpone it another day. What good would that do? You want to be free to take that exciting, new job for the senator, as you wrote down here, and you arent prepared financially to be a single parent and a job holder, so you need this procedure. Your medical history also indicates a family tendency toward high blood pressure and diabetes, and this pregnancy has already given you diabetes, correct? Shawnta could not deny it. But my family doctor said it will probably go away after The baby is delivered, she Said as if in defense of her pregnancy and the blob squirming inside her. Dr. Anderson grinned. Well, if you terminate it now, the diabetes will go away all The sooner, right? Just another good reason to do it now, rather than risk the diabetes Hanging on and causing all sorts of complications. The swivel chair, by this time, was killing Shawnta. She had to get up, so she rose somewhat Weakly, her head dizzy with the lack of blood that was all going to her middle. She felt Dr. Anderson catch her arm almost immediately. But thats what they all say, Dear. They dont really know if it will go away or not. You dont want to risk it hanging on after the birthdiabetes leads to amputation, blindness, even death due to a heart attack It would be the end of any kind of quality of life for you, and youre so young, just Starting on a grand, exciting career with the government! Shawnta, feeling faint and dizzy, felt herself escorted from the office and down the hall By Dr. Anderson. Told to sit, she found herself sinking down in a comfortable chair, with Several nurse-dressed individuals, male and female, With Dr. Anderson no where in sight, Shawnta tried to get back some control of her life. But I wasnt through with the doctor. I was Trying to explain something That was as far as she got. They were too busy to hear her, it seemed. The prep work and then the procedure itself took place as Shawnta continued to struggle with her feelings And doubts about what they were doing to her. The two nurses, the anesthesiologist, and the doctorwhose name was so foreign sounding she couldnt take it in--were very quick and routine with all they did to her. An hour later she was in the recovery room, or what she thought was a recovery room. She was laid on the single table, a sheet draped over her naked body. Where her clothes were, she had no idea. She felt so strange, with the anesthesia still numbing her lower body parts. She felt her tummy, and it felt like a collapsed beach ball to her. The feeling was so awful after having felt months of Movement there she jerked her hand awaythe blob was really gone! Gone forever! The discovery made her almost pass out on the table. She didnt know what to Think. Then a realization crept over hersomething was wrongbut what? She had known mentally, what they would doand had requested it, after all, but Now that it was doneit wasnt what she had expected. She hadnt really Expected what she felt nownot at all! A nurse cracked the door, then came in. She smiled brightly, Checked a few items on a report, then said she would be right back. Please Rest a bit more and well give you some medication and instructions for post-privacy procedure care. . Shawnta tried to rest, but her thoughts were churning. She badly wanted to Get dressed. It would make her feel more human, more like her old self, She felt she had somehow lost a part of herself in the cliniclike she wasnt Shawnta Placentia any more. But, then, who was she? There was mirror. She got up slowly, sliding off the tall table. Maybe the mirror would tell her, she thought. Holding the sheet around her, she took a look. A stranger looked back at her. Who was this puffy-faced, dead-eyed Zombie in the mirror? Who? What had happened to herself? What Had they done to her in the other room? What she sawor, rather, did not seemade her scream, and scream, Until the door burst open and nurses grabbed her hands and Stuffed something in her mouth that made her choke. When she awoke, she was lying stretched on a table, fully clothed, and Dr. Anderson was drumming her fingers on the arm of her chair. My dear, you were quite upset about something a few minutes ago, and so you had to rest under a sedative we administer in such cases. I do hope, after your little rest, you feeling better, so you can make it home, or should we call a cab for you? Groggy, feeling ashamed of herself for screaming (for She could still hear her own screams), Shawnta only wanted To get away. No one had never dressed her, not since she Was a little girl! Why had they done this to her? She wondered. She never wanted to see any of the people Again in the privacy center. After what they had done to her Taking away the person she had been, then clothing the stranger She had become--what were they but monsters, the whole lot of them? How could they justify what they had done to her, and then Smile and act like everything was normal? She rose by herself, heading for the door. No, I can Get home myself. Dr. Anderson pushed a packet of instructions for Post operative care at her, along with some medications. These are yours, dear, and you can read over the instructions at home. If you have any questions, please call immediately. We are here to help you anyway we can. You do believe that, dont you? Shawnta, I am asking you a questionShawnta Nodding to the female horse in womens clothes, Shawnta fled from the room with the Packet in her hand. She hardly glanced at the receptionist in passing. The street with its noise and cold, raw air and exhaust And roar of traffic were heaven to her after The stench of pine sol and antiseptics and, worse, the reeking sterility of the privacy clinic. Dirty and deafening, it was real lifeand she felt, even with her Legs and lower body so numb she couldnt feel the pavement, that she was Shawnta Placentia again and could make it Home on foot if she had to. She got two blocks away from the clinic, then something went wrong. Her shoes got slushy, and she had to stop to Look. The packet of instructions and medications Dropped from her hand to the pavement. People came running toward her as she Knelt down, her bloody hands over her face. Why wasnt she screaming? That was all she could think. 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