I can still picture my mother’s eyes nearly popping out of her head when I asked to go on birth control. I was 16, and though she loved me very much, and she wanted me to own myself and my body the way her generation hadn’t quite been able to, contemplating her only daughter and sex in the same thought likely terrified her. Sex, however, was not my priority. Even if it had been, it still would have been nobody’s business.

Though I didn’t know it by name then, premenstrual dysphoric disorder had been wreaking havoc on my mind and body for some time. Physically and emotionally heavy menstrual cycles had taken their toll, and nothing sounded more perfect than the idea of skipping that last little row of pills and continuing on into the blissful realm of no more periods.

For a time, it actually was pretty delightful. But growing up in small-town northern Maine, where one’s personal business can all too quickly become the subject of rumors, I was both scared of and irritated by the judgment that would now and again find me from both stranger and friend, elder and peer, so many of whom believed my body to be their business.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court reminds me of being 16. Despite his title, however, my biggest fear now is not that I will be judged. Instead, I fear being controlled, having mine and others’ personal autonomy taken away, and seeing an end to reproductive rights and health care for all.

It is my hope that when a decision must be made about whether to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, our senators remember that we each alone control our bodies and ourselves, and that no one has the right to violate our agency.

Kate Muriel


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