I was an eighth-grader, living in a Muslim country where my dad was stationed. Lia, whose husband was also in the military; visited our household often. She was a feminist, and I hung on her every word. For my thirteenth birthday, she brought me a hyacinth, and a copy of The Female Eunuch, by Germaine Greer, which I pored over. At school, as part of a series on current events, I convinced my teacher to invite Lia to come and speak about abortion. At an assembly of military kids, she described how she was part of a group of women who’d bravely signed a public statement saying they’d had illegal abortions, spurring legalization of abortion in the United States.
After her talk, the kids scandalized their families by discussing abortion at the dinner table. As a result of inviting Lia to speak, I was nearly kicked out of school—which radicalized me instantly. Years later, while an art student at the San Francisco Art Institute, I became pregnant after a faulty condom broke during sex with my boyfriend. I had an abortion. It wasn’t easy or painless, physically or mentally—but, mercifully, it was accessible and legal. And I could return to school.