My grandmother came into this world in 1918, before American women had the vote. She has seen a lot of change over the years, and unlike some older people, she's not terribly nostalgic. There are good things she misses, but also bad things she's happily left behind. What's at the top of her "good riddance" list? The lack of reproductive rights for women.
Grandma was raised by a mother who did things women weren't supposed to, like smoking and driving. She was an athlete, loving every minute she could get of track, tennis and swimming. She would take the streetcar to downtown Cleveland to see vaudeville shows and movies. She had an enormous amount of freedom for a young girl.
Once she married her childhood sweetheart, however, that freedom disappeared. She had three children in four years. She loved her kids, but not being able to plan the number or timing of her children was hard on her. She's told me that once she was out with her three little girls, and a woman from Planned Parenthood approached her to talk. She really wanted to hear what the woman had to say, but as a "good Catholic" wouldn't talk to her.
Years later, things are different. You will not find a more passionate supporter of reproductive rights for women. I remember calling her from the 2004 March for Women's Lives on the National Mall so she could hear the crowd. My normally reserved grandmother sounded emotional. She wished she could be there with us all.
So after today's vote in the House to cut funds for Planned Parenthood programs that don't even include abortion, I don't look forward to telling her what's happening in Washington. My grandmother may be 92, but she's as clear as ever, and she's going to be angry.
But it's not too late to save the funding as the bill must go to the Senate. Join me in standing with Planned Parenthood. No woman in 2011 should have the same struggle my grandmother did back in World War II.
Update: My grandmother died last Thursday. Healthy to the end, she went quietly in her sleep. She'd been pleased to hear about this blog post and that it was my most popular, having been promoted online by the Detroit Free Press and by Planned Parenthood. I have added a new post about her: In memoriam: What my Midwestern housewife grandmother taught me about social justice. I'll miss her like crazy, but I'm so grateful to have had her in my life. -- Tracy, September 22, 2011