I’ve been wanting to write about this subject with everything I’ve been seeing in the news lately, but have been scared of judgement…even from the readers of this blog…but it has kept me up at night recently, so I guess that’s the final push forward I needed to speak my truth.
I’m serving a sentence for 2nd degree murder, 18-50 years, for the death of my stillborn daughter. Now I know that sentence reads weird. Hey I’ve always thought it sounded strange since the first time I read it in the local paper…but this isn’t a woe is me. Let me tell you everything that’s wrong with my case type of story. It’s just relevant, so I’m giving you background.
I was 22 years old when this happened, a full grown adult, right? But, because of the things I had been taught growing up, that I hadn’t yet been able to untangle in my heart and head, I thought being pregnant was WRONG. That I was disappointing my Dad and the rest of my family. That I was a bad person. So I didn’t tell anyone. Sometimes when I think back on that time in my life I think I had almost managed to hide it from myself, crazy as that sounds. So when tragedy struck in the form of a placental abruption, it wasn’t hard to take on that mantle of blame, to eventually be worn down into accepting that I in fact was at fault/guilty when they heaped it on me. I’ve just managed to speak my truth in recent years, and it’s still hard.
There’s a lot of women in here for charges that have to do with the death of their children; it’s sad, simple fact of life. The number will only grow at an alarming rate with abortion bans, birth control controversy, and an all around fuck you to women’s rights that is happening in every state’s judicial system at one level or another right now.
I correlate these two things together because earlier when I explained how I hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that I was “bad” for being pregnant, at 22 YEARS OLD, because of my upbringing, I think about how many young women in the coming years will be ashamed to even mention birth control. They’ll inevitably become pregnant, and we all know scared young kids don’t make carefully thought out decisions. It makes me sad, how many families will be shattered because of shame. The careful shaming that is going on for the very idea that a woman should be able to make her own reproductive decisions.
Where have we gone wrong as a society where we are more concerned with the rights and freedoms of any ethnic or cultural minority, the proper pronouns being used for how any human person identifies, but we’re not seeing the awful shameful way we are ripping the most basic human rights from half of our society. The government has the right to tell everyone’s Mother, Sister, Daughter, Aunt, Wife, all of us, what we can do with our bodies for not just 1 or 2 year but decades of our lives? How is that equal and fair treatment for all?
I grew up in an environment where I was able to go to the health department, without my parents’ knowledge, at the age of 16 and get contraception This was incredibly hard to do because I felt the stigma attached from my family that I shouldn’t even be thinking about sex, but I was able to. Why is nobody thinking about what’s going to happen to all these teenage girls being told through the court systems and media that the want for birth control or any reproductive knowledge or choice is inherently bad? They’re not going to be celibate until marriage, get married, have the perfect amount of babies, and then never have sex again until menopause kicks in. No, they’re going to make bad decisions, get scared, make more bad decisions and end up in prison; not because they’re criminals, but because a crime occurred. And believe me there is a difference.
This is a huge, giant, ugly burning building that everyone is looking at and walking on down the street. Not enough attention is being paid to it. Look back at history. Even with the women’s rights movement there was still a struggle. We’ve now in one fell swoop taken all our girls backward decades. A 13 year old girl growing up right now has a tough road ahead of her, depending upon what state she lives in. The choices the 65 year old men in charge of her basic civil liberties now choose to make for her determine just how tough it will be. Why do we want that for anybody? We’ve stood up as a nation against so many different types of bigotry, and if not completely overcome, at least put out the fire and let it be known that this will not stand here. We have to stand for every girl who is too scared to speak up because the end of the road for scared girls ends here, I know from experience.
Women’s Huron Valley Correctional (MI)
Read Ashleigh’s previous post “The First Year Without My Dad” I began lettersfromchristopher in 2019 to draw attention to the plight of America’s incarcerated. Thank you to all of you for following week after week. Please share these posts with others.