This Is Not About Food
Sometimes food is personal. In 2003, while I was recovering from surgery, my Catholic father-in-law went all out and attempted to adapt the family Easter Meal for his Jewish soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Instead of stuffing the Chicken Rolatini with the planned feta and spinach, he cooked up egg whites with the spinach and rolled it inside of two servings. Just for me. Through this simple act I saw I was loved, that he was adapting even though the changes were outside of his normal practice. Most importantly, and closest to my heart, is the knowledge that he had made space for my Jewish values in his Catholic home. If only this held true about politics. Too often, it seems that those with the power to enact law and practice are trampling over the rights of those they are sworn to protect and represent. The political powers that be are currently using Women's Health as an election year wedge issue, and there is nothing kosher about the attacks that are raining down upon those who are brave enough to speak up in our stead.
Our voices seek a place within the public discourse, yet we are blocked from the room deciding our rights as a male-only panel speaks on our behalf. Worse yet, those who do gain the opportunity to speak out are called sluts, prostitutes and round heeled in the public square. We are told that if we expect our private health insurance to provide medically necessary treatment, we must return the 'favor' by posting videos of our sexual encounters to public websites. For me, this is very personal. I am diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). In 2003, at my in-laws on that Easter, the surgery I was recovering from was the removal of my right ovary. It had become weighted down by cysts and twisted, cutting off blood supply to the organ. It had become gangrenous, had swollen to the size of a man's fist, and was in danger of rupture. The ovary was removed in an emergency surgery. For me, from 2003-2006, hormonal contraception was a medical necessity, controlling the PCOS until I was ready to be a mother. In 2006, I was able to become pregnant with our Naomi, who was born in May 2007. Hormonal contraception again became a medical necessity, suppressing the PCOS while simultaneously delaying my next pregnancy until both my body and our family were ready to support another life. In November 2009, Dina was born. My pregnancy had been dangerous, due to a different medical diagnosis. My delivery nearly killed both of us, with my blood pressure dropping to 52/38 and Dina's heart rate in the 70's. I cannot be pregnant again. Now, this contraception keeps me alive. I have so many words for Rush Limbaugh and any others who would seek to claim my sexuality as their prize for my being a woman in need of contraception. But I know that my words would fall of deaf ears. These men are not worthy of my engagement. But, I will fight back. And I will use my words as a tool. So, I write to you. You reading this right now. I encourage you to seek out opportunities to add your face or your name or simply your solidarity to this cause, to this fundamental need in the fight for Women's Health. Stand up and tell your story. Make this debate personal for someone who hasn't yet grasped why 'all these women' are so angry. Throughout the web, petitions are springing up. Seven advertisers have pulled their funding from Limbaugh's show as of March 5th, 2012. Keep fighting. Our very lives are at stake. And that is no exaggeration. Leah Wolff-Pellingra is the Cantorial Soloist and Family Worship Coordinator at Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady, NY, and a student in the Executive Masters in Jewish Education program at HUC-JIR. This post first appeared on her blog, Noshing Confessions.