“I’m doing this to de-mystify abortion,” she says. “I’m doing this so other women know, ‘Hey, it’s not nearly as terrifying as I had myself worked up thinking it was.’ It’s just not that bad.”
These are the words of Angie Jackson, a blogger and mother of a 4-year-old son. Her IUD birth control failed; she is four weeks pregnant and writing about her abortion on YouTube, her personal blog, and on Twitter under the hashtag #livetweetingabortion. Last Thursday, Jackson visited a Planned Parenthood where her doctor gave her the first dose of RU-486, the abortion pill. (Note: The abortion pill is not the same as the morning-after pill.) She had to take four more pills — swallowing two and letting two others dissolve in her mouth — on Friday and Saturday.
She hasn’t taken to her various media platforms to show the graphic parts of her abortion. Instead, Jackson is chronicling how her abortion feels physically and emotionally — as she puts it on YouTube, “It’s just not that bad.” It’s almost like guerilla sex ed.
Angie Jackson is the first person that I know of who has live-tweeted her abortion on Twitter — if I am incorrect about that, smart Frisky readers, please correct me in the comments — and I think it’s brave of her to share something that will make her a bulls-eye for anti-choice activists. Obviously, people who are against abortion are criticizing Jackson on Twitter and on her blog, calling her a “killer” and all those things. It takes a certain toughness to not allow oneself to feel judged by strangers and a certain magnanimousness to want to help other people even while being judged.
I can see how some might think abortion should always be personal, or Jackson must just be some major publicity whore (you might recall the negative reaction to blogger Penelope Trunk, who tweeted her miscarriage). But, though it might look shockingly cavalier that she’s live-tweeting her abortion, Angie Jackson is not even close to being the first woman who has publicly “demystified” her own abortion for other women:
- In 2005, I interviewed Jennifer Baumgardner, author of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future, and filmmaker Gillian Aldrich, who had just made the documentary “I Had An Abortion,” for a newsweekly called Fairfield County Weekly. (Unfortunately, my original article is no longer available online, but you can read a little about it on Feministing.) In “I Had An Abortion,” the filmmakers spoke to women from their teenage years into their 70s, hearing their personal stories of abortions both legal and illegal.
- Baumgarder also conceived an idea for T-shirts that say “I Had An Abortion,” in hopes that the wearers would normalize abortion and maybe lessen the stigma.
- Since 2003, women who have had positive experiences with abortions — meaning, they do not regret having an abortion — also have a website called I’mNotSorry.net. Contributors to I’mNotSorry.net share personal essays about their abortions, which are divided into sections for pregnancies that were terminated legally and ones that were terminated before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion. The “I’m Not Sorry” women have a Facebook group, as well.
Don’t misunderstand what I mean to say by numbering all of Angie Jackson’s predecessors: I am not suggesting she should have kept quiet at all. Instead, I mean to point out that what she is doing is not so shocking — the only thing different this time is the modern media of her blog, YouTube and Twitter.
Will Angie Jackson help other women by live-tweeting her abortion? It’s impossible to say for sure. Let us know what you think.
ADDENDUM: After writing this post yesterday, I contacted Angie Jackson and interviewed for an exclusive Q&A. You can read that interview here.