News & Politics » Deanna Isaacs on Culture

A play about abortion that’s Remarkably Normal

The 1 in 3 Campaign brings its Vagina Monologues-style piece to Chicago.

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Imagine a world in which men, not women, are the ones who get pregnant. They'd be buying their abortion pills over the counter at the drugstore.

Maybe at the grocery store too. No prescriptions, no restrictions.

If they needed to go the surgical route, it'd be no more complicated than a trip to the dentist.

Legal repercussions? If they were the ones who had to carry the pregnancy for nine months? Suffer through an excruciating delivery? And then be saddled 24/7 with the care of another person for, oh, 20 years?

There's no way they'd make it criminal to opt out.

As for moral issues: The social benefits of responsible family planning and the even stronger imperative of population control for the good of the planet (suddenly perfectly clear to everyone) would make terminating an unplanned pregnancy a selfless and laudatory act.

It would be the conscientious choice—the one God wants them to make.

In other words, the ridiculous discrepancy between cause and effect in the matter of pregnancy would be dealt with routinely, and in any corrective way necessary. Without a hint of stigma.

However, since men do not get pregnant (at least not yet), we're still dealing with people and laws that seek to make women bear children they didn't intend to have.

The strategy among antiabortion forces—in the face of the constitutional right established by Roe v. Wade in 1973—is to chip away at that right until it disappears. The Supreme Court could make a decision this month on a Texas case regarding a law that, by setting stricter standards for abortion providers, would shut down most of the state's clinics and would in effect invite other states to enact similar restrictions.

"In Texas, a state with 5.4 million women of reproductive age, they'll go from about 42 clinics to about nine," says Lorie Chaiten, director of the Reproductive Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. There's no scientific evidence that those stricter standards would be beneficial to women's health, Chaiten says. On the contrary, what's needed now "is for the Supreme Court to make it absolutely clear that states cannot impose medically unnecessary restrictions that interfere with women's ability to access abortion care."

Meanwhile, abortion is so common that, according to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly one in three American women will have had one by the time they reach the age of 45.

That commonality is the theme of Remarkably Normal, a Vagina Monologues-style play that's touring the country and will be in Chicago Wednesday. It's a multicharacter docudrama based on interviews done by the playwright, Jessi Blue Gormezano, and on the true stories written or shared on video at the website for the 1 in 3 Campaign, operated by Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on access to sexual health information and services. The mission of the 1 in 3 Campaign, according to its website, is "to ensure that abortion remains safe, legal, and affordable."

Audiences at Remarkably Normal will see five actors depict 11 characters, each with an abortion story to tell—including a doctor who remembers what it was like when the procedure was illegal. They represent a wider range of backgrounds, circumstances, and reactions than you might expect.

The point is to start a discussion. The 60-minute show will be followed by one that'll include ACLU staff attorney Emily Werth and the audience. v


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