ABOUT TWO MONTHS ago, I started shifting my attention away from Alienhood to begin writing full time for Politico Magazine, where I’ve been covering the intersection of politics and the law and also contributing to our race and identity newsletter, The Recast. I’ve been incredibly heartened to see more and more subscribers finding their way to this newsletter, even though my posting hasn’t been as frequent. I hope this can remain a personal platform where I can share my writing with you and exchange ideas about the ideas and issues that are top of mind for you.
It’s an equally exciting and harrowing time to be writing about politics and the law: The institutions and systems that constitute democracy’s architecture appear to be losing legitimacy, and globally, illiberal actors are still ascendant. We’re still finding some reasons to be hopeful, though. Just this past cycle, the country elected the first gay immigrant to Congress and the first trans man to a state legislature. The victories of two Latino secretaries of state thwarted election deniers in Arizona and Nevada. In Kentucky, voters rejected an amendment that would have paved the way to an abortion ban.
One of the aftershocks of the Dobbs decision has been that many families across the country have been at a total loss for how they would react to an unexpected pregnancy. If they live in one of the thirteen states where abortion is fully banned, they would have to travel out of state to find an abortion provider. That may not be feasible, or affordable. Contraceptives like IUDs and birth control pills may lead to painful effects, and it’s not clear that those may stick around a lot longer. So some women started turning to their husbands and asking: What if they got a vasectomy? After all, they’re the ones that are fertile every minute of every day.
I recently traveled to Missouri, the first state to ban abortions, to see how families are approaching contraception by asking what men can do to prevent pregnancies, rather than just assuming that women will just shoulder that burden. There, I met Esgar Guarín, a Colombian immigrant and family doctor who has performed at least 3,000 vasectomies in the last few years, including his own. For three days, in partnership with Planned Parenthood, he traveled to rural areas in Missouri to perform free vasectomies, out of his vasectomy truck, on men who decided it was time to take charge of their reproductive health. The resulting article came out yesterday, and I really hope you’ll read it:
This summer, I also had a chance to read a book that doubtless many of you have come across: SOLITO, by Javier Zamora. It’s an eye-opening chronicle of Zamora’s journey to the United States from El Salvador as a 9-year-old unaccompanied minor. I reviewed it for The Nation, placing the memoir in a larger canon of undocumented literature that has grown this year. As I explain:
In a world that is not this world, I can walk into a bookstore and the memoirs about being undocumented and about the experiences of the migrant are not found in the “immigration” section. They don’t occupy the space next to a highly technical volume on the “root causes” of the mass migration of millions to the north each year. There is no card next to it on which one of the store’s staff can laud the book for how authentic it is or how it goes beyond the headlines to entice those with no connection to the issue to open their purses. In such a world, perhaps an undocumented canon does not exist because no one is undocumented at all.
Although that’s not the world we live in, books like SOLITO help illustrate the rich and devastating complexity of the undocumented experience. I hope you’ll read the review (my first major book review!) here:
I don’t know where the next few months will take us. Twitter, a platform that enabled vast networks of writers and readers to connect each other, may well be on its way out. (Personally, I think it’s more likely that Elon Musk will sell it for the best price he can get before he goes bankrupt, but I can’t pretend to know what wealth does to the brain.)
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I hope you enjoy these pieces—and if you have any thoughts, it would mean a lot if you left them below!
(Also: I passed the bar!)
Thank you so much for sharing it via your newsletter. It is beautifully written and does a wonderful job of telling the very human stories impacted by Dobbs. This kinds of writing/reporting/story telling is crucial to change and survival for that matter. Thanks again!
P.S. congratulations on passing the bar!
I read the vasectomy piece today without realizing you wrote it. Great piece! It resonated. I’d love to see vasectomies at all Planned Parenthoods. Pairing men’s family planning options with women’s so closely - literally- has potential to educate voters and elicit empathy on many levels.