Many of you Frisky readers have read the post “I’m Live-Tweeting My Abortion” about a Florida woman named Angie Jackson who has taken to Twitter, YouTube, and her personal blog to, as she put it, “demystify” abortion. After discovering her IUD birth control had failed them, Jackson and her boyfriend went to Planned Parenthood last Thursday to get a prescription of RU-486, the abortion pill, as well as Vicodin to deal with the pain. Since she began tweeting about the abortion last Thursday, Jackson said hundreds more people began to follow her on Twitter, and she created the YouTube video over the weekend to address them.
I tracked down Jackson over Facebook for an interview. After she put “The Backyardigans” on TV for her 4-year-old son, we settled down for a chat …The following interview has been edited for length and for clarity.
The Frisky: What compelled you to tweet about your abortion? Why even “demystify” it for people? A lot of people consider an abortion something that should be private.
Angie Jackson: I guess I was so terrified going into this that it was going to be horribly painful, that I was going to hemorrhage. And I don’t want to be flippant that those things don’t happen [but] what I was trying to say to people who find themselves in this position is that I was relieved to find out that I had this non-surgical option [the abortion pill] and that I was early enough [in my pregnancy] to get it. I was so relieved to see how simple it’s been. The actual process has been like a menstrual period. It’s not foreign or scary.
The Frisky: You were on birth control — an IUD, correct? What happened to it?
Angie Jackson: It can fall out during heavy flow periods, which going by the dates and everything, my last period was about two-and-a-half weeks before I got pregnant, so in that period of time, I was thinking I was using protection but probably not. By the time I got the ultrasound, the IUD was not in there anymore.
The Frisky: What does that mean? Where is the IUD?
Angie Jackson: In my case, [the IUD] came out of me. My boyfriend and I do use condoms, but not completely faithfully, because we’re monogamous and living together.
The Frisky: I’m curious that you say were so scared about taking the abortion pill. Why do you think you were afraid?
Angie Jackson: I grew up in a very fundamentalist Christian home and there’s a lot of misinformation and lies [about abortion]. They do attempt to terrify women. They try to make abortion sound so scary that women are too terrified to do it. And that’s really what I wanted to say, from my personal experience, this was not as bad as labor and birth.
The Frisky: You’ve gotten a lot of press in the past few days, not just on The Frisky, but also Salon.com, Drudge Report and ABC News. What has the reaction from people been?
Angie Jackson: I’ve been astonished. I had imagined, naively, that people would accept it because I’m in a committed relationship. I was monogamous. I was using protection. I had a kid. I have health risks. We paid for this out of pocket and not out of any taxpayer means. If I can’t talk about my first trimester abortion, which was legal and in my case life-saving, then who the hell can talk about her abortion? Or his abortion story, from the women he was with? … I’ve just been astonished by the level of hatred and death threats and threats of violence against my son. It’s been a very ugly side of people to see.
The Frisky: Death threats?
Angie Jackson: In the YouTube comments. A lot of them are sort of these throwaway statements in the comments of conservative blog and things like that. “Someone should put a bullet in her,” or “If the whore can’t keep her legs closed …” People have threatened to call Child Protective Services and take [my son] away from me because [of the abortion]. They’re either calling me a killer or calling me a monster, which is their right, but … I think we need to say quality of life matters. I don’t think an embryo gets to trump the life of my live son. I see this as risking my life.
The Frisky: You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, but what exactly are the health issues you’re referring? People are probably going to be wondering what you mean.
Angie Jackson: The last time I was pregnant I had trouble keeping on weight. I was in and out of the hospital for fainting spells and severe nausea. I lost 10 lbs while eight months pregnant from a severe stomach virus. My blood pressure was crashing, I was on bed rest. My heart nearly stopped twice and we lost the fetal heart beat a few times. And I was molested as a child, which I’m very open writing about on my blog, and that did extensive damage that led doctors to say I’d never have children. So my son was a surprise to begin with.
I’m very very grateful for the son that I have. From the moment I saw the sonogram, I thought of him as my son. [Medically speaking] that is what I’m afraid of. When I say I could die, that’s [it]. Racing to the emergency room is not fun, esp when you’ve got to pack a toddler up in a car seat.
The Frisky: You don’t have to answer this if you’re not comfortable with it, either, but you’ve mentioned that your son has special needs and I’m wondering what those are, too.
Angie Jackson: He started talking one week before his 4th birthday. He [has] speech development issues. It’s not a major disability, so I guess people have decided [in comments on You Tube and her blog] he’s not special needs enough. But even if I was a healthy mom, I have personally already decided I want one kid. I think family size is a very personal issue everyone should get to choose.
The Frisky: So, you’re very blunt in the YouTube video, saying that you’re not ashamed about having an abortion. You just flat-out say, “I’m not ashamed.” Where does that come from?
Angie Jackson: I think any time that we are silent about things or secret about things, it is unhealthy. I say this as a sexual abuse survivor. When I stopped keeping secrets [about the sexual abuse] and starting telling somebody, life got better. I have kept that throughout my life And I’m an autobiographical blogger. I am very open with the internet about how I am. I am very open about who I am with parenting and mental illness … For me, this wasn’t very different. This was about me talking about who I am openly. For me, talking about things is just how I approach all the taboos of life. I think that secrecy is unhealthy. We don’t get help when we don’t talk about things. For women who do need counseling or support or love or understanding after an abortion, if they have to stay quiet out of shame, then they won’t get that help. I think talking about things really can make a huge difference.
I feel that I was reasonably responsible. This is a possible responsible answer to this problem. In my case, I do feel like this is the best decision. I talked it over with my son and my boyfriend, who are the only people besides me who get a vote. It’s still my choice, but I’m going to talk it over with the people that I love — not that my son understands it much. But I don’t see why I should be ashamed that I’m saving my life. I don’t think that I’m being a killer; I don’t feel like I killed a person. And I’m sure if I did, I would feel guilt. And that’s why [anti-abortion activists] try so hard to convince you that it is.
The Frisky: I wanted to ask you more about your boyfriend and how he has been throughout all this.
Angie Jackson: He’s been completely supportive. Of course he took me to [an] appointment and paid and all those things. And he’s helped getting prescriptions and around the house and with my son. He’s trying to do a bit more, but he works a lot so it’s hard. But he is, of course, completely behind my decision. We had made the decision before we started sleeping together, that if we got pregnant, we’d have an abortion and he would pay. I don’t have $500 on hand. I think this is important to discuss with your partner — how would you cover the cost if something like this came up?
The Frisky: Thanks, Angie.