“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity," wrote T.S. Eliot. To help make productive use of our self-isolation and social distancing, Lit Cleveland is offering free writing challenges each week via our newsletter. The following piece is a response to the "How To" prompt.
How to get an abortion during a pandemic
by Elaine Schleiffer
First, take a deep breath. You are strong, and smart, and capable. Lean on your partner for assistance, after inserting a homemade mask of paper towel and an old t-shirt between you.
Next, transform your body into the body of what the state terms “the mother.” Your life and health no longer belong to you, congratulations! For many families, this step is a smart time to prepare a last will and testament, just in case your quest fails. Candice Keller and Peggy Lehner would be glad to explain the intricacies of white postfeminist guilt that resulted in their personal quests to close clinics, if you invite either to your funeral.
Next, you’ll need to think about the funds for your abortion. Insurance will not cover any part of it, you got laid off this week, and your toddler doesn’t understand what “running out” means when it comes to Cheerios. Take the cubic feet of fear currently sandwiched between your rib cage and your intestines and roll it out on your kitchen counter; this will be sticky so use plenty of flour. Halve the dough, roll it out again, etc., just like making apie, except this time turn it into paper money by taking that food directly out of your family’s mouths.
Many patients get stuck in our next step, so call your local clinic now and let the hold music keep you company as you keep moving forward.
Ponder your impending pregnancy, delivery, and birth. You will attend every prenatal appointment at a hospital full of infectious patients while wearing a homemade cloth mask even as your own immune system tanks to support the pregnancy. Your doctor will be harried and rushed, and will not have the appropriate personal protective equipment they need. Perhaps you contract COVID-19 from your repeated exposure; perhaps you only contract auterine infection, which in 2019’s medical care environment would have been easily treated, but in 2020 you will struggle to see a doctor for it, be tested for it, fill a prescription, and heal from it. The stress, anxiety, fear, and sadness in your body will have physical effects: your heart, circulation,muscles, and mental state are all impacted, as is the fetus. You may not continue with your preferred physician throughout your pregnancy as doctors are drafted to the front lines of COVID care. When you deliver, you will not be allowed to have anyone with you, even the midwife whose voice has been the only clear sound in your ears as pain rises from the guttural center of your body.You will call out for your partner, your own mother, and you will be alone.
Decide what is right for yourself. No one else can know the right answer except for you.
Finally, remain on hold with your local clinic, even if just to verify—we are open. We will remain open. For you, and for all of us.