On the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade...
I do not blog for choice.
I blog for reproductive justice.
Her name was Anna Brown.
She was 29 years old and lived in my hometown of St. Louis city.
As I gaze at her mug shot gazing back at me from the online news article, I can’t help but wonder if I ever crossed her path…if I ever drove by Anna and her 2 children or sat beside her on the train.
I blog for the right to have children.
Anna Brown lost her home in the 2010 tornado that hit the area.
She lost her job at a sandwich shop sometime after.
She lost her children when child welfare agents determined that the ramifications of poverty and unemployment created unfit living conditions.
I blog for the right not to have children.
And Anna lost her life, after hours of unimaginable agony due to blood clots in her legs, on the floor of a jail cell in St. Louis County.
Anna Brown arrived in that jail cell because she refused to leave the emergency room at St. Mary’s Health Care.
I blog for the right to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments.
St. Mary’s felt that Anna was trespassing. In a statement after the circumstances of Anna Brown’s death were made public, the hospital all but admitted that her impoverished state was a factor in the poor care given and the callous disregard paid to Anna Brown.
“The sad reality is that emergency departments across the country are often a place of last resort for many people in our society who suffer from complex social problems that become medical issues when they are not addressed. It is unfortunate that it takes a tragic event like this to call attention to a crisis in our midst.”
Some people hear the tale of Anna Brown and think that she got was she deserved…an agonizing death on the floor of a jail cell caught on tape while police officers ignored her moans of pain.
Others feel that Anna’s story is a sad reflection of the limits of medicine…they buy the lie that Anna’s care was not related to her poverty and that the hospital would have done the same shit if Anna Brown had been a middle class white soccer mom.
But many of us in the movement know better…just as we know that far too many people have a pro-choice battle plan even though we are fighting a reproductive justice war.
There can be no peace…no rest…no big win or huge victory.
There can be no celebration until the Anna Brown’s of the world are given care and support.
Until the Sybrina Fulton’s of the world can welcome their son’s home instead of plan their funerals.
Until the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments guides our public policy and is our communities' focus.
Until then and because of all that and so much more, I blog…I work…I act for reproductive justice.
For Anna, I pledge to never forget and never give up.