ARTwitch #143

By Jenn Stanley

2 min read



It’s been a minute. I had a baby! When you’re pro-choice and you have a baby, the anti-choice misogynists in your life rejoice that you’ve clearly found your way back to Jesus and aren’t a slutty lost soul anymore. Well, I’m happy to report that by their measures I’m still a slutty lost soul, but I’m dismayed that my little one may not enjoy the same freedoms I have.


The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision to legalize abortion almost certainly will not survive to its 50th anniversary with the Court’s current conservative supermajority. While hearing arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health (the case that threatens to overturn Roe) Justice Amy Coney Barret questioned Roe’s legitimacy because it focuses on the burden of parenthood, and relinquishing a newborn for adoption is legal in every state. But painting adoption as the morally superior answer to abortion is a cruel lie that does a disservice to everyone who’s been involved in adoptions, abortions, or both (we contain multitudes).


Before embracing my life as an unemployable art witch, I had a full-time job covering barriers to abortion and other sexual health care. I heard stories from birth mothers who placed babies for adoption, and people who were pro-life activists before needing abortions themselves. I recorded stories of folks who had abortions and it was no big deal, and those who had abortions and were devastated. Still, nothing has reinforced my support for reproductive freedom as much as becoming a parent.


While I consider my pregnancy and birth positive experiences, they could easily have been traumatic if circumstances were different and I lacked support from my partner and care team. Birth is transformative, hard work, and so is parenthood. The government should not control, force, or take away the fundamental right to choose if and when to procreate.


I started the ARTwitch column back in 2020 to honor our innate creativity and challenge hierarchy in the art world. In part because that hierarchy upholds an oppressive, hegemonic society, but mostly because it makes for a boring and decaying arts ecosystem. Just like I don’t think you should need to pass any tests proving you’re competent to parent (or choose not to), I don’t believe that art is something for a few special people to make, designated by a ruling class with less than noble intentions.


The Supreme Court will announce its decision on the fate of Roe in June. Until then at least, ARTwitch will highlight local artists whose work explores reproductive and sexual justice. I worry what the world will look like when my kid is old enough to begin grasping its cruelty, and to have to navigate some of these decisions herself. I want her to know we tried, we’re still trying, and that some amazing, if not “special,” people expressed that struggle with beauty.



*Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #143 February 2022

 

Check out all the art and columns of February's Boston Compass at www.issuu.com/bostoncccompass