By Tulis McCall
Ahem. Abortion is a stupid word. We should call it something else. Alison Leiby knows this for two reasons. She is one smart cookie. And she had an abortion. And she will make you laugh so hard that you bark.
Not only has Leib nothing to hide, she has a boatload of stuff to share with you. Share as in – these are ideas that would like to make a home in your noggin’ and then you can share. See how this works?
Leiby delivers her material as if it were just wandering through her head as she is speaking. We all know the conclusion of the tale so there is no need to rush to get there. We can take a few detours, as in the fact that Leiby never wanted children. First of all – she can barely keep plants alive and has no sense of monetary responsibility. More important, she has seen enough of her friends who are mothers, and it has not gone unnoticed that motherhood is an impossible job.
When she was a kid, the first real role model what Leiby had as Barbie. A bit stiff as we know – but she had about 40 careers while Ken was treading water as a lifeguard. Sex was one of those things that was never explained in detail. Boys and Girls were separated. Girls were given a list of things to do, to learn, and memorize. Boys were pretty much left to play with themselves. In other words – no one talked about what actually happened to girls every month. Except the gross parts – well, no one talked about those either. The result was that being female was a mystery and a shame.
Medicine makes no real attempt to help out. Some birth control causes blood clots. IUD’s can cause hemorrhaging. But hey – it’s a tough situation, right?
What about male contraception? We can create a vaccine that saves hundreds of thousands of lives so how about a contraception that would lay the responsibility of conception on men? Oh gee – they would complain about it in that way that guys do. “I ran a marathon ten years ago — let me tell you about it.” Women spend about six years of their life menstruating and are encouraged to zip it when it comes to complaining — unless it is just us gals of course.
Pregnancy is a constant in a woman’s life. Our decisions around that subject define us. First we are afraid. Then we wonder “if”. Then we decide. Choosing not to have children is a kind of branding. Tick-tock tick-tick goes OUR clock. If we choose not to – who are we? And if we choose to have children are we anything more without multi-tasking up the wazoo? Either way, women are defined by their motherhood. Men, rarely – and in any case they are not the bearers, the producers. On a good day they are the partners, which does not define them.
By stepping back from this responsibility Leiby has freed herself up to be an observer as well as a participant. She walks through the chaos and wreckage we in this country have made over the argument of who has control of women. She is aloof and involved and funny-smart at the same time.
She is sympathetic, empathetic, thoughtful, cryptic, specific, transparent, and fucking funny when we don’t see it coming.
Oh, right — just lake a damn woman.
Leiby comes to no conclusion other than the conclusion of her tale.
“I had an abortion, And it was all okay.” The Senate was not made aware. DItto Justice Alito, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott. And still, it was all okay.
GO-GO-GO-GO — Get your butt over to the Cherry Lane Theatre.
Oh God, A Show About Abortion, written and performed by Alison Leiby, Directed by Lila Neugebauer
Lighting design by Amina Alexander, sound design by Margaret Montagna.
Thourgh June 4
PS — Ms. Leiby does not hesitate to spread the word for friends and organizations.
SPECIAL OFFER: Take 15% off your purchase of the book with code OHGOD
Edited by Shelly Oria—author and editor of Indelible in the Hippocampus—this explosive, intersectional collection of essays, fiction, poems, plays, and more, explores the universality of human reproductive experiences, as well as their distinct individuality. I Know What’s Best for You is a collaboration with the Brigid Alliance, a nationwide service that arranges and funds confidential and personal travel support to those seeking abortion care. I Know What’s Best For You will be released in spring 2022
REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS RESOURCE GUIDE
Abortion Care Network via the Keep Our Clinics Campaign funds independent community-based clinics that provide abortion care, covering tangible expenses like increased security, building repairs, PPE, and hazard pay for staff working during the pandemic, legal fees, and community education and advocacy.
ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project through litigation, advocacy, and public education, the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project works to uphold the rights of individuals to decide freely, without governmental hindrance or coercion, whether or not to bear a child.
The Brigid Alliance arranges and funds travel, along with related needs, to support individuals across the country who are forced to travel for later abortion care. It works closely with the community of abortion funds, specialized clinics, and partner organizations across the country to ensure that abortion services are accessible when barriers arise.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is a global human rights organization of lawyers and advocates who ensure reproductive rights are protected in law as fundamental human rights for the dignity, equality, health, and well-being of every person.
Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, high-quality text-based mental health support and crisis intervention by empowering a community of trained volunteers to support people in their moments of need. Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor.
INeedanA.com provides a simple, up-to-date, and localized source of information for people seeking abortions using 3 non-personally identifiable pieces of information. Its goal is to make finding applicable information and resources as easy as possible, without sifting through noise, misinformation, or stigma from anti-abortion organizations.
If When How seeks to transform the law and policy landscape through advocacy, support, and organizing so all people have the power to determine if, when, and how to define, create, and sustain families with dignity and to actualize sexual and reproductive wellbeing on their terms. It also runs the free, confidential Repro Help Line that provides legal advice and information on self-managed abortion. Visit ReproLegalHelpline.org or call 1-844-868-2812.
Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice – New York is part of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, serving to amplify the Latina/x voice, organizing, and advocacy presence in New York. It works with activists and leaders throughout New York City to inform, organize, and mobilize the Latino/x communities on reproductive justice issues that impact their families and lives.
The Liberate Abortion Campaign is an effort comprised of more than 150 reproductive justice and rights organizations, groups, and abortion providers working in coalition to fight for abortion that is available, affordable, accessible, and stigma-free for anyone who needs it.
The M+A Hotline provides free, expert advice on self-managing a miscarriage or abortion. All communications are confidential, private, and secure. The hotline is available 8AM to 11PM in all continental US time zones and can be reached by phone or text at 1-833-246-2632.
NARAL Pro-Choice America organizes and mobilizes to protect reproductive freedom by fighting for access to abortion care, birth control, paid parental leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination. NARAL works to ensure abortion access is not only protected but expanded, pushing back against fear and disinformation.
National Network of Abortion Funds builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a long-standing, trusted provider of reproductive health care. PPFA provides community healthcare, leads the reproductive health and rights movement, and advances global health with over 55 unique, locally governed affiliates nationwide and more than 600 health centers.
Planned Parenthood of Greater New York is a leading provider of sexual and reproductive health services and information as well as an advocate and partner in advancing equity and improving health outcomes for all. It envisions a world where everyone has full access to innovative, high quality, affordable, evidence-based sexual and reproductive health services.
Shout Your Abortion in 2015 as the viral hashtag, Shout Your Abortion has evolved into a decentralized network of individuals talking about abortion on their own terms and creating space for others to do the same in art, media, and at community events all over the country.
SisterSong is a Southern-based, national membership organization. Its purpose is to build an effective network of individuals and organizations to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the reproductive lives of marginalized communities.