The Color of Our Rights: A Reproductive Rights Collaboration


“The blood moving through my veins turned cold, freezing me from the inside out. That was the fear. That was the hatred. That was what awaited me. Every day, and every night.”

© Sarah Doughty

See the full collaborative effort of writers on their responses to the recent legal battle on reproductive rights on Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen. It was an honor to be among these incredible voices.

Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen

I will wear red
for my sisters whose health is at risk
for my sisters who have been raped
for my sisters who have been battered
for my sisters who are already struggling
to feed hungry children
for my sisters who need to finish
middle school
high school
grad school
for my sisters who are just not prepared

I will wear crimson
for their lifeblood
that will spill in back alleys
that will stain
wire hangers
knitting needles
other unsterilized implements
that become their only choice
in a country that questions
their ability
their very right
to decide

Christine E. Ray


I have been seeing colors of all hues in my mind lately.

I walk down my street and notice the full bloom of the flowers.

Yellow daffodils.

Pink sunsets.

The rain brought growth and vitality.

Green grass.

My stomach turns as I am pulled from my…

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Devotional Battlegrounds

“Surviving isn’t just about
learning its price and paying for it.
It’s about fighting through it,
even when all hope is lost.”

Maybe the most interesting part about us is how devoted we are to each other. Not because we aren’t kindred spirits with hearts that still know how to bleed and fill up with a limitless supply of love. But like we were forged on the ground of a battlefield, still simmering with smoke and the coppery scent of blood lingering in the air. And I suppose in some ways, that’s exactly what happened. We learned to fight for our lives when we were supposed to be children, laughing and playing beneath the sunlight. We learned the price of survival early. It wasn’t pretty. Surviving never is. But a little agony is worth it if it means we will pull through. And that is what keeps me going.

© Sarah Doughty

And until my last breath,
I will remind you
about everything still
worth fighting for.


Reading Thoughts

“You leaned forward and kissed me.
It told me everything I needed to hear
and everything I wanted to say,
all at the same time.”

There’s just something about the way you move. The way the lines of your face seem to sharpen or soften, depending on the light. And oh, how much I want to take in every last detail of you. In a way, I feel out of my element. Exposed. You can see it written all across my features as I gaze at you. There are so many words I want to say in this very moment. How much I love you, even after all of these years. How much you have shaped me as a person. How you have become a part of me that I can’t bear to lose. As you read every thought that passes through my mind, despite the fact that no sound escapes my lips, you still know. And you didn’t need to answer. You just leaned forward and kissed me with a fervor that told me everything I needed to hear and everything I wanted to say, all at the same time.

© Sarah Doughty

So darling, please don’t
ever stop kissing me like that.


Dangers Of Caring

“I wanted you like nothing else.
And I knew my life would
be in ruin by the time you left.
But I just couldn’t bring myself to care.”

This danger I feel, when I’m with you is nothing like anything I’ve experienced before in my life. You blew into my world like a hurricane, and it was only fitting that you left destruction in your wake as you passed on by. Maybe that’s what drew me in like a moth to flame. The uncertainty. The intrigue. Or maybe, it was morbid curiosity. Either way, I wanted you like nothing else. And I knew my life would be in ruin by the time you left. But I just couldn’t bring myself to care.

Perhaps I should have, but those stories are worth telling. Those stories are worth knowing. Loving. Just like you.

© Sarah Doughty

Just like you.


No Future

“I loved you with everything I was.
But I think, deep down, we both knew
there was no future for us.”

I think, deep down, we both knew there was no future for us. The odds were stacked on top of pain and histories that permanently altered us both in different ways. We tried the best we could. And in the end, not even our love was enough to save us.

© Sarah Doughty

And I think that
is my biggest regret.


Cradling Me

“My love, even now, when you cradle
my face in your hands, I need to kiss you
more than I need air.”

It was that playlist. You remember the one. I shuffled them to play in a certain order. A slow increase in intensity. The beat moving faster in a crescendo that wouldn’t be difficult to follow no matter what we were doing. And then the ending, where the beat slowed to a crawl. The afterglow, as you once called it. I remember dancing with you in your bedroom that summer and we laughed as our bare feet landed on each other’s toes. Perhaps it was that I didn’t know how to let you lead the dance. Or maybe we were both terrible at it. But we never seemed to mind. Especially when you rested your palm against my cheek, letting your fingers slide through my hair at the back of my head. Just above my neck. Did I ever tell you how it would always catch my breath? Even now, when you cradle my face in your hands, those same shivers wash over me. It’s in those moments that I have an uncontrollable urge to feel your lips against mine. When I needed to kiss you more than I needed air.

© Sarah Doughty

So don’t forget the music. Don’t forget those
little things that makes us
who we are when we are together.


Exhausting Behaviors

“Isn’t it exhausting, living like this?
Using people to your advantage?”

How many times must I say
that in forgive you for all you’ve done?
How many times do I need
to be reminded that you
are still trying to catch my attention —
and not in a good way?
Isn’t it exhausting, living like this?
Using people to your advantage?
Tossing them away once they’ve
served their purpose or begin
to see the ugly that lurks
beneath your skin?
You see, I know you for what you truly are. And that’s okay. I still forgive you.
Just please, find a way to move on,
because I have, and there’s
no reason for me to ever look back again.

© Sarah Doughty

Just stop trying to break me.
I’ve been through much worse.


Born To Be

“I wish I was born bulletproof.
But here I stand. Not as a victim,
but as a survivor.”

I wish I was born bulletproof. I wish I was stronger. Even though no child should ever have to bear such weight in her whole lifetime. But, here I stand. Weary from war and covered in dust. Riddled with way wounds. Memories. The only visible evidence of my pain is the streaks of tears down my face. You see, I was born to be broken. I was born to be beaten. Ravaged. And I was born to be nothing. But that was where he fell short. I refused to give up. And that was when I was reborn. Not as a victim. Not as something fragile, meant to be pitied. I was reborn to be a survivor.

© Sarah Doughty

And that’s what I do
every day.


Fool’s Choice

“‘How can you say you love me
when it will end with tragedy?’ I asked.
‘Because I know what I want. You.'”

Don’t be a fool, baby. You don’t know what I’ve been through. But I can say one thing: loving me will only lead to tragedy. Don’t you see? This life of mine has been riddled with hidden mines, waiting for the tiniest misstep. Waiting for the next person to come too close. This life of mine has been filled with nightmares and squashed dreams. All aspirations meet with roadblocks, bullets, and shadows with razor sharp teeth. Everything I’ve ever touched — anything I’ve ever craved has been reduced to shattered hearts and ashes. So how can you say you love me when we both know loving me will lead to tragedy?

Your answer was simple. “Because I know what I want. You. I’d rather risk everything to be with you than walk away without you.” In that moment, tears slipped from my eyes. Not because I was unhappy. But because of the emotions. Despite the odds, you loved me back. Despite everything, you made the choice to be with me.

© Sarah Doughty

How could I ever
turn my back on that?



“I’m struggling. To stay balanced. Present.
All I can do is remind myself
that tomorrow is another day.”

So here’s the thing. I’ve been falling behind. I’ve been inundated with scattered thoughts. Illnesses. And life throws hurdles at me from every direction. It’s come to the point that I’m struggling just to keep my feet on the ground. Just to stay balanced. Present. And not worry about all these things I could do two years ago that seem impossible now. All I can do is remind myself that tomorrow is another day. And it will give me a chance to push away all the dust and rubble that surrounds me. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to get some semblance of my life back to the way it was. When the words flowed out of me like water from a faucet. When the stories that needed to be told could be put to paper in a matter of days, rather than sitting in my head for years, waiting for the right time. Perhaps that “right” moment will never come, and I’ll have to carve another path for myself. I have to. Because when I’m able to write, I’m able to get out of my head and become my words. Become a part of the story. I become silence. And that is when I’m finally able to breathe.

© Sarah Doughty

So maybe, I’ll find my footing
once again. And with luck,
I’ll be able to breathe again.