You can read this series from the beginning here.
"Radio silence," Aunt Joan said.
"That’s intolerable," Monique said. "Planned Parenthood deserves our immediate, unqualified support."
The right-wing video ambush people had put together a heavily-edited video that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials talking about selling organs of fetuses. It was a hateful attack, designed to destroy the careers of the dedicated Planned Parenthood doctors who worked hard to ensure women had access to reproductive health. Planned Parenthood had debunked their claims, but that didn’t stop the entire right-wing commentarial from spreading disinformation and hatred. The intern leadership committee was meeting with Aunt Joan to try to figure out what we should do about that.
"We’re talking about selling body parts from dead babies," Aunt Joan said. "I know this is Planned Parenthood, but they got themselves into this mess. They can get themselves out."
"We can say something," I said. "Put out some memes."
"We are doing something," Aunt Joan said. "The Justice Department is going to jump right down the throats of these trolls, you watch. We can yank their tax-exempt status. We just can’t do it publicly, that’s all."
"The former Secretary should be front and center on this," Monique said. "It’s the one issue where she’s always been reliable. And it’s not like she’s going to offend any donors by supporting Planned Parenthood."
"Don’t be so sure about that," Aunt Joan said. I assumed she was thinking about the Arab sheiks.
"We need single female Millennial voters like we need oxygen," I said. "They’re the natural constituency for Planned Parenthood. The former Secretary picks up major credibility in that demographic by supporting them now."
"And loses major credibility from anyone who wants to throw up when they hear about Planned Parenthood selling itsy-bitsy livers from unborn babies," Emma said.
"What the hell are you talking about," Monique said.
"No, no, she’s right," Aunt Joan said. "There will be plenty of people who react this way. It’s an emotional issue."
"It’s an emotional issue for me," Monique said, "because I don’t like threats to my reproductive freedom based on an emotional attachment to a tiny clump of cells. Unborn babies, please. Let’s not adopt their terminology."
"Did you watch that video?" Emma asked. "It was horrid. It was sickening. I don’t care how much good Planned Parenthood does, they have to realize how this plays out with normal people."
"Are you saying I’m not normal?" Monique asked.
"Okay," I said. "Emotional issue here. Let’s all just calm down."
"We’re discussing my reproductive freedom, and you’re telling me to calm down!" Monique’s face was growing an alarming tinge of red. "I can’t think of anything more sexist."
"Then I’m saying it," Aunt Joan said. "Calm down, young lady. You’re going to pop a blood vessel if you’re not careful. I think Emma has grasped the political issue here. Planned Parenthood is engaging in some morally shaky behavior here, and I’m not comfortable with it myself. Having said that, I think that Monique is right and that the former Secretary should make some comment about supporting Planned Parenthood. We can phrase it as attacks on Planned Parenthood are attacks on the right to choose, that sort of thing."
Monique and Emma looked at each other with mutual disgust in their eyes, but neither of them said anything.
"What we need to avoid, though," Aunt Joan continued, "is trivializing this discussion with a lot of memes and jokes. So what I said stands. Radio silence on the issue. Focus on Trump, if you please, since he’s the frontrunner. That ought to take up most of your time. We’ll let the former Secretary handle the Planned Parenthood issue and decide just how far she wants to support them. Understood?"
"Understood," I said. Monique and Emma didn’t say anything, but we all got up together and headed down towards the elevator.
"Don’t even start with me," Emma said.
"If you’re not with us, a hundred percent, you’re against us," Monique said. "Reproductive freedom is too important an issue not to have total solidarity."
"Tiny itsy-bitsy livers sold for profit," Emma said. "You want to have solidarity with that? Be my guest. You can support reproductive freedom and feminism without buying in to every gross thing that’s done in their names."
Emma and I got into the elevator. Monique didn’t follow us. "I respected you," she said. "Once."
The elevator doors closed.
"Bitch," Emma said. "I hope she breaks an ankle walking down the stairs."
"She has a point," I said. "The right to choose doesn’t mean anything if there’s no Planned Parenthood to provide the means."
"I really don’t want to have an ends-justify-the-means conversation about this with you," she said.
"You want to go out to dinner tonight?" I asked. "We could go back to that Moroccan place."
"I guess," she said.
We ended up not going to the Moroccan place. We ended up staying home and Emma got Subway sandwiches, which are not the official sandwiches of this blog but maybe should be. I got an organic locally-sourced hard cider out of the fridge and asked Emma if she wanted one, and she said no.
"Beer, then?" I asked.
"No. Justin, we need to talk."
"If this were a movie," I said, "I would put all the clues together. You’re having emotional attachments to unborn babies. You’re not drinking. Q.E.D., you must be pregnant."
She was sitting at the table, and she’d pulled her six-inch turkey sandwich halfway out of the plastic wrapping. She sat the sandwich down on the table–it was a nice IKEA table, a STOCKHOLM, one of the few pieces of her furniture that we’d kept when she moved in. And a tear rolled down her face, and then another, and then another.
"You’re not serious, are you?" I asked. "I was just joking. You’re not pregnant."
I tried to sit down next to her, and she raised up her hand to ward me off. She took a Subway napkin and blotted the tears from her face.
"You can’t be pregnant," I said. "We were careful."
"Careful, yes," she said. "Perfect, no."
"You’re not serious," I said. "You’re yanking my chain over this abortion stuff."
"Don’t say that," she said.
"Say what?"
"It’s my choice. Whatever I choose, it’s my choice. Not yours. So before you go saying anything about doctors, or clinics, or anything like that, remember. It’s my choice. And that means something."
"All I want is for you to be happy," I said. "Whatever you want to do, I’ll support you. What are you going to do?"
"I am going to eat my sandwich," she said, "and go to bed, and go to work tomorrow, and think about things. And sleep on it, and pray about it, if I’m still allowed to do that. I’ll make my choice in good time, based on what I think is best for me. And I do not need you trying to make this all about Justin Fairchild, or Fairchild International, or your parents, or my parents, or about money or inheritance or anything like that. Got it?"
"Got it," I said.
We ate our sandwiches in silence and went to bed the same way. It was her and me and a tiny clump of cells all in the bed together, and I had to keep reminding myself not to form any emotional attachments. It was harder than I thought.
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