New | A TSC Special Literary Response to Roe vs Wade | TSC Series

A TSC Special Literary Response to Roe vs Wade

Edited by Kevin R. Pennington, Abhimanyu Kumar, Shaiq Ali, Zeenat Khan, Bishweshwar Das 

1. Editorial | Kevin R. Pennington
2. Poetry | Suzi Kaplan Olmsted
3. Poetry | Christian Garduno
4. Poetry | Lynn White
5. Poetry | Carol Alena Aronoff 
    Artwork | Inder Salim
6. Poetry | Lynne Bronstein
7. Poetry | Amy Garner
    Artwork | Inder Salim
8. Poetry | M. B. Elliot
    Artwork | Inder Salim
9. Poetry | Lorrain Caputo
10. Poetry | Marc Olmsted
      Artwork | Cynthia Yatchman
11. Poetry | Kevin R. Pennington
12. Poetry | Renee Williams
      Artwork | Cynthia Yatchman


Editorial: On Abortion in America | Kevin R. Pennington

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Abortion is not an easy topic to talk or write about. Passionate opinions rage on both sides of the issue. On one side are the predominantly white male lawmakers and the conservative voters who elected them and on the other side are the women whose healthcare and reproductive freedoms are being ripped away. For decades, Roe vs. Wade gave women the federal right to an abortion in the United States. Many states like Texas passed extremely restrictive laws, but they could not ban abortions entirely. In February 2022, the unthinkable happened. The United States Supreme Court overturned the longstanding Roe vs. Wade ruling, which provided for women's reproductive freedom and the federal right to an abortion.

The Roe vs. Wade precedent gave women across the nation the right to make informed medical decisions about their own bodies, including the right to end an unwanted pregnancy. However, in a post-Roe America, instead of women having a single federal framework for abortion issues, each state may regulate women’s reproductive rights individually. While it sounds good on paper for each state to make their own abortion laws, what overturning Roe vs. Wade has done is open a deluge of extremely restrictive abortion laws in conservative states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida. These laws are so restrictive that the window of time when an abortion can legally happen is often over before the woman is aware that she is pregnant. Other states passed Heartbeat laws that require physicians to detect if there is a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion.

The nation’s most stringent abortion laws are in Texas. There are currently no legal abortions allowed in Texas. The state’s abortion law is designed for zero tolerance and gives no exemptions for rape or incest victims. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the political figure who spearheaded Texas’s abortion law, states that women who are raped can use the Plan B pill, which is a medication designed to prevent a pregnancy during a tiny and specific window of time. He also suggested that Texas law enforcement will prevent rapes from occurring in the first place, however, the data does not support Abbot’s aspirations for Texas law enforcement. Instead, Texas is one of the states with the most rape complaints.

Drugs like mifepristone, an FDA approved abortion medication, are currently the target of GOP politicians who seek to leverage legislation against all abortion methods. In April 2023, the Supreme Court ruled mifepristone will remain widely available and blocked a lower court’s ruling to restrict or ban the drug, however, they also sent the case back to the lower court, even though it is very likely to be sent back to the Supreme Court.

In various conservative states, abortion is so weaponized that doctors are afraid of what will happen to them if they perform abortion procedures. Many of these laws hold physicians responsible, with jail sentences for conducting the procedure. This causes most doctors to resist performing necessary abortions. There are examples of women not receiving care, even in the narrow cases that an exemption permits, because the hospital staff were unsure how to legally proceed with the operation. Often, the decision for abortion is not decided by medical providers who take the mother’s health into account, but by lawyers who lean toward legal safety for the doctor instead of the medical safety of the patient needing the procedure.

CNN reported on this abortion issue in an article¹ dated April 25, 2023. The CNN article details problems in Oklahoma where contradictory laws filled with non-medical terminology make it impossible for hospitals to perform abortions, even when it should be allowed due to an exemption. The CNN article describes a study where researchers called hospitals acting as prospective patients and asked the hospitals what the abortion policies were. The researchers got different answers from the various hospitals. The CNN article states:

 “The researchers said that none of the hospitals they contacted in Oklahoma was totally able to articulate clear, consistent policies for emergency obstetric care to potential patients.”

In the state of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, who has announced a run for President, recently signed a law banning abortions after 6 weeks instead of the state’s previous 15-week ban. However, the 6-week ban was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court.

In the direct aftermath of Roe vs. Wade ruling, the editors of the Sunflower Collective curated a literary response to the Supreme Court’s decision with plans to release an anthology. The anthology is still moving forward, however, due to the overwhelming importance of these poems at this particular juncture in time, we made an editorial decision to release them on the Sunflower Collective blog. The collection of poems, mostly written by women, including Suzi Kaplan Olmsted, Lynne Bronstein, and Amy Garner, as well as other important poets, raise their voices against the patriarchal hegemony that treats women as a lesser sex and regulates their reproductive rights. 

Kevin R. Pennington 

Co-Editor of the Sunflower Collective

July 4, 2023





Poetry | Suzi Kaplan Olmsted


Blood Fall by Peter Rejcek (Source: wiki commons)

Young enough to see the ice caps melt


I wish it was all a metaphor

That I was a symbolic poet

What I remember most clearly about my abortion

Is getting the money from Social Services

I didn't have the cash or income at the time

I wouldn't ask my parents

And I'm wasn't the sort to depend on a man

Or ask for help

Even if I loved him

He was a useless, unreliable piece of shit

Who made my pussy clench

He smelled fantastic of amber, musk, sandalwood and manly welding sweat

I knew he’d break my heart, and I told him he would on our second date

He agreed

He tore it out with his teeth, repeatedly

The worst kind of dilation and curettage

But I was young enough at the abortion clinic

That 10 milligrams of Valium made me a happy, giddy patient

The pitchers of margaritas afterward

On the back patio of my favorite Castro restaurant

Kept any feelings at bay

No regrets here, though

Not about the abortion

I wonder what the idiotic people celebrating the fall of Roe v. Wade are really thinking, though

I'm back to wondering when the mother ship is coming

My abortion would be in its 30’s now

Young enough to see the ice caps melt

Watch billions die from sea rise, heat, fire, floods, hurricanes, drought and famine

Civilizations fall, pestilence prevail, mass extinction of countless species

Dystopian reality pending, while we argue

I'm less concerned about when life starts

I'm thinking

We're aborting everything


Poetry | Christian Garduno

Guernica by Pablo Picasso (source: wiki commons)

They Said It Couldn’t Happen Here


They said it couldn’t happen here

they were always saying that

don’t look now but the nails are being driven in

in one hand is the Holy Bible and in the other is Mein Kampf


They’re letting you know

Father knows best

they’re telling you to dig your own hole

if you know what’s best


I wasn’t there when it happened

but I saw the livestream when I got home from work

they took down the stars and stripes from atop the White House

and raised up the Swastika


They are politely letting you know

that Father knows best

and if you don’t like it, Junior

you’re welcome to leave with the rest


Blood oaths are taking place on 5th Avenue

the faithful are slavishly drooling on one another

the Seig Heil’s were heard from coast to coast


 Poetry | Lynn White

Ghoulish Apparitions (source: wiki commons)

 Birth Or Death


Death begins at birth

for pro-lifers.

The birth day




is lost


in those post foetal

post natal


which move us


into hours


into days


into months


into years


into decades



our death day.

They’ve long

lost interest

these pro-lifers.

They say that life

must be lived

according to

the law of God

as it is written

and dispatched

to them

in nightmares

and dreams.

Only break it


they’re back

with interest

and concern

those pro-deathers.




Is it ghoulish

to think

that life

is more

than a small collection of cells

in a uterus.


Is it ghoulish

to think


the life of the mother

and the spillage

of her blood

count for less

than the small collection of cells

in her uterus

that are unable to bleed.


Is it ghoulish

to think

that infant life

needs love

as it grows

and support networks

and things that cost



through life

if it does not supply them.


Is it ghoulish

to ask


the highest court

in the land

was taken over

by ghouls.


 Poetry | Carol Alena Aronoff

Searching the Womb by Inder Salim 

Estranged Fruit


Forced birth to increase

domestic supply of infants

for adoption. Not oil, not

chickens– children. Ty


Is birth control next

to be sacrificed on the altar

of false piety– our bodies

offered up to the state?


Anger–too small a word to

contain my feelings of  betrayal,

despair at the sufferings, deaths

to come, at memories triggered:


Of being told to steal a diaphragm off

the doctor’s desk because he couldn’t

prescribe contraceptives in sixties’

Boston even to a married woman.


Of being molested by a Harley Street

physician as I lay on the table awaiting

an abortion, of being told he was doing

sex research as I must be a loose woman.


After years of struggle, lost and damaged

lives, are we once again commodities

to be exploited, trees forced to bear fruit,

to be plucked and plundered, driven

underground to early and unmarked graves?


Poetry | Lynne Bronstein

Slave Shackles (source: wiki commons)

Damn Your Shackles

49 years

During which I was a full human being

And now, it’s over.

When freedom was given us, I was young.

Now I am not in need of the choice.

But if my sisters are not free

Then I am not free.

You may try to throw

A new chain over me.

If I were you, I’d take heed

Of the power of the wrath

An old woman can wield.

There are a thousand ways I know

How to bend the steel.

Your laws can’t touch my body

Or hold down my mind.

Sorry. I learned a lot

During the years I was free.

Your bigotry-forged shackles

Just won’t fit.


 Poetry | Amy Garner

Searching the Womb by Inder Salim

What Faith in Mankind?


I peer into our past and see our demons’ gleeful grins, snapping the chains that drive our future forward.

Don’t like that you can’t own her when your loins go all aquiver?

Cover her.

Anonymize her.

In the streets of her own village.

No woman was ever safe.

Don’t like that your wife won’t share her wealth?

Insane asylum.

Lobotomize her.

In a five-star luxury hotel room.

No woman was ever safe.

Don’t like how your boss spoke to you today, made you feel small?


Savage her.

In her own home, in her own bed.

No woman was ever safe.

Want to be wealthy without all the work, and need fresh labor?

Rape her.

Impregnate her.

In the rude hut feigning shelter.

No woman was ever safe.

Don’t like that she owned land and was a respected healer?

Accuse her.

Hang her.

Confiscate her lands and goods.

No woman was ever safe.

Don’t like her choosing her own lover with her own heart, mind and body?

Hide her.

Drown her.

Never let her see the light of day.

No woman was ever safe.

Wanted the dowry but not the marriage with which it came?

Burn her.

Eliminate her.

Hide the money and slither away with a sleazy smile.

No woman was ever safe.

Feeling low, unappreciated, with a need for power to make yourself feel on top?

Attack her.

Force her.

Feel no shame, merely gloat with your atta-boys.

No woman was ever safe.

You want someone to be beneath you, less than you, worthy of your sentence and your spittle?

Outlaw her.

Imprison her.

Make her body your property.

No woman was ever safe.

The enlightenment is over, and the chink of women’s chains is only one of many links being forged.



Poetry | M.B. Elliott

Searching the womb by Inder Salim

She Sees

Once you meet her,

The cretens that you worship, Will be seen,

for who they are;

Withered and useless thieves, Left to steal

The light from stars.

Justice comes, Wrapped in truth; It’s a coat,

They cannot break. Their useless talk, and scattered stock, Know only

How to hate.

They take your good intentions,

And tax them,

with their laws,

Intending to imprison,

Every woman, for their cause.

The blood of menses,

Scares them,

Something they must protect,

They want to hold us down,

Their boots,

Laid out across our neck.

Remove it,

Stated Ginsburg,

She was counted,

In this fight,

Bathed in freedom’s glory, Not the fear,

Made by the right.

If you take away

Our freedoms,

We’ll remove you

From your throne,

When you scoff

at the wombs,

that made you mortal? Then you’re not

Fully grown.


Poetry | Lorrain Caputo

Hope II by Gustav Klimt (source: Wiki Commons)



—for our mothers & our mothers’

mothers & their mothers & theirs . . .


I am a girl, seventeen, a high-school force-out

I am now a wife

I will be a mother


Am I African-American

or Native American?

Am I Latina

or Appalachian?

Am I native-born

or immigrant?


Does it matter?


We are migrants to the city, in search of work

Here we have no family—only your cousin once-removed

I scrub rich people’s floors, my knees roughened & reddened

my womb heavy again


I fall & lose those twins


&you want to know

Am I

or am I?

Am I

or am I?

Am I

or am I?

Does it matter?


I am a mother of one two & now three

There is no birth control I can use

There is no money for the doctors who will tell me

I am a wife


I am a wife . . .

. . . of a drinking man


Am I

or am I?

Am I

or am I?

Am I

or am I?

Does it matter?



I work as a check-out clerk

I am a wife—unhappy

I am a lover—of a married man


I am pregnant—again

I am a wife—abandoned

four kids, no education, no support


I am a mother

There’s the rent to pay, a house to heat in these cold winters

There’s four kids to feed what little I can

The littlest faints from hunger in her classroom

My son is ill

There’s no money—

my lover the marries man gives what little he can

There’s no birth control I can take

There’s no money for the doctors who will tell me




I am an abandoned wife

I am the lover of—& yes, he beats me

I am pregnant again

I have four kids

I work two jobs, still clerking with a forced smile

&scraping grease from fast food grills

I have no choice


& I am pregnant again

. . . Again I visit . . .

I am pregnant yet again

. . . that back alley . . .


It’s almost Easter

. . . I help another woman . . .

The snow is heavy on the ground

. . . who is pregnant again . . .

The pussy willow buds are soft

. . . to that alley . . .

My girls will have patent leather Mary Janes

&my son Thom McAns

&they will have new dresses, a new vest & pants

&this year real baskets with chocolate bunnies

&marshmallow eggs nested in cellophane grass


Am I

or am I?

Am I

or am I?

Am I

or am I?

Does it matter?


I am tired, I am stressed—I beat my kids

I am scared—I drink

I am so frightened—please don’t let them ever find . . .

. . . don’t let them ever take my kids away

I am alone

in the growing mounds of bills

in the laughter, sobs & screams

of five       & quickly six       kids


I still work

. . . Hey kids, I whisper into the phone

ringing up a cash register

. . . the boss is gone, come quick . . .

I still work

. . . take this       & that

with a forced smile

. . . & a little treat for you, too . . .

filling people’s orders

At night my legs ache from my veins gone bad

&my mind wondering how . . . how


&yet the bills grow like my six kids


I still have my lover who’s still married

&this one       & that one

&one who will even bring a cake for the children


What must I do

to feed my children?

What must I do

to get the medicines for my son?

What must I do

to give them shelter?


Do you want me to confess my sins?


Then I will


Forgive me, father, for I have sinned

I have loved

I have committed adultery, laying with another woman’s man

I have given birth to bastard children

Forgive me for I have tore three lives from my womb


Forgive me for

I have stolen from my master to feed my children

I have laid with other men to clothe my children

I have lied & cheated to take care of these children


Forgive me, father, for I have sinned

I have sinned for these children you see before you

Forgive me . . . Forgive me


Damn it, father

I am tired

I am tired of scrubbing rich people’s floors

I am tired of scrubbing their toilets

I am tired of picking rich people’s hairs from their seats

&my teeth


I am just flat-out tired damn it


& I see that question, father, in your eyes

set in a face of contempt


Am I from the hills

or from the hood?

Am I from the rez

or from the barrio?

Am I from the island

or from the moon?


Does it matter?


Damn it

I am a Mother


Poetry | Marc Olmsted


Flower Art by Cynthia Yatchman 



Forbidden Planet 


When science



baby has a


separate from

inside mom, then

we can talk

about life





Sea of Red


The shrouds decide

short-tooth grin or bliss-Christ eyes or shut-your-mouth glare

The judges are a bad comic book Justice League &

America’s a dead baby

in the clothes hanger toilet

4th of July sparklers

it's Gojira in the wires of America

(Japan’s dragon martyr we renamed like everything)

roaring movie spine aglow twin A-bomb eyes

coming to incinerate a court near you

radioactive x-rays - that dark spot is your karma

The Statue of Liberty has gone

beneath the sea

torch sputtering in the final short

GIANT CLAW descending





Poetry | Kevin R. Pennington


The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins (Source: wiki commons)

 The Way Things Are Now

(for all the women in my life)

A coat hanger

dripping with


A back alley


you can’t


to be



A women’s




The law doesn’t

stop anything—

it just makes it

more dangerous.



is the ultimate

black market deal

when raped

11-year-old girls

can’t get an

legal exception

and the physician

is afraid to do the




Poetry | Renee Williams

Flower Art by Cynthia Yatchman



Though we never met, we were friends for years.

Your dog had a peritoneal hernia just as mine did, so you joined an online forum.

We became more than acquaintances, through shared experiences, both joyful and harrowing.

Our lives intertwined: you entered my March Madness tournament, and we teased each other during football season, with you always rooting for those Georgia Bulldogs and me, following those Buckeyes.

We shared sentiments and concerns regarding our parents, dealing with declining health issues and the like.

And when your grandson was born with spina bifida, we prayed for him, and over the internet I watched him grow and thrive…and also consoled you during the setbacks, too…

For I, too, knew what it was like to spend long nights in hospitals, wishing, crying, and begging God for help.


Though politically we had our differences—and they were vast—never did I dream that my speaking out would be enough for you to step away.

But unfriend me, you did, the very minute that I supported those affected by this Supreme Court ruling.

Even though you suspected that I might’ve, could’ve dabbled in witchcraft, that didn’t bother you.

Even though I embraced getting the vaccine, that didn’t bother you.

But then I never made a show of my ideological leanings…until now.

For so long, the other side has made its wishes known, loudly, proudly, without relenting.

And even though it troubled me, I had room in my head and in my heart for both sides of the conversation.


But on this one issue, this very, very important matter of choice, I cannot let my voice go unheard.

Never one to make others feel uncomfortable, I kept my mouth shut for so long,

Probably deep down knowing and fearing that for some,

There isn’t room for another voice,

And even though the other side has won,

And has pushed back rights that I never thought I’d see lost in my lifetime,

My voice must be silenced still.

Because there isn’t room in your head or in your heart to tolerate it.


So I ask myself, were you ever really a friend?

I regret that I won’t see your grandson mature.

I realize how important this topic is to you because if your daughter had listened to some, your grandchild never would have been born.

But it’s a choice that was offered and given to her.

Do you ever worry who will care for him when he ages and you are gone?


When a pregnant friend of mine learned that her baby had fetal hydrops, she had to make an awful decision: risk dying of sepsis herself when her baby would perish within her womb, watch her child be born and then die, or preserve what precious sanity that she had left and remain healthy to care for her seven-year-old son, if she engaged in the other option.

Her life was in danger, physically and mentally.

What choice did she have, really?

Isn’t that between her and God?

What would you have done?

What would you have asked your daughter to do?

And why should it be any of our business at all?

Or, is this something that we can’t talk about, either?

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