Hilary Plum: Abortion is Thinking. Thinking is Banned.

Nan Goldin, Amanda crying on my bed, Berlin, 1992. Source: nytimes.com 

When Roe fell, I felt what lots of people felt. My feelings were common.

I felt that the lives of everyone I knew had been made possible, in the forms we know as ourselves, by access to reproductive healthcare. Everyone, most especially women and trans and nonbinary people. The job I have—the shape and status and income and independence of my working life—was barely available to those of my mother’s generation and unheard of to my grandmother’s. This is all so obvious it’s almost embarrassing to state, but apparently these days we must. Contraception and abortion are perfectly material. But the profound ways that access to them shapes us—the structures of our relationships and workplaces and society and politics, the nature of our opportunities, our ideas of who we are—aren’t easy to quantify, or even to think.

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Julian Gallo: Hoxha’s Children

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Alex Majoli, Scutari, Albania, 1997. Source: magnumphotos.com

Tirana, Albania — April 11th 1985

1

The foremost leader has died.

National mourning. Black flags flutter from the windows along side our national flag. Tears, agony, grief, everywhere one looks.

The television shows nothing but tributes to our fallen comrade.

I sit in the café, sip my coffee, watch the grief stricken faces of my fellow comrades. I look out the window at everyone just standing around, consoling one another, seeking comfort in another’s embrace.

I turn my attention back to the interior, continue to sip my coffee, occasionally watch the old films of our foremost leader when he was young, healthy, strong.

The café is crowded but most people don’t speak, most sit with their own thoughts, grieving, as if a member of their own family has passed. In a lot of ways, one had.

A woman sits by herself at the far end of the café. She isn’t crying or gazing at the television. She simply stirs a spoon in her coffee cup, smokes a cigarette, gazes out the window with no expression. She looks sad but there are no tears. Thin and pale, deep lines  crease the corners of her mouth. I can tell that she must have been very beautiful once but either time or hardship had nearly erased all traces of it. It isn’t until she glances my way that I realize who it is.

I can’t look at her.

If it weren’t for those eyes, I would have never believed it.

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