I first wrote about my abortion in the spring of 2012. At that point, it had been seven years since my procedure, and something that never crossed my mind. Although the majority of the responses were overwhelmingly positive and other women took to the comments section to share their own abortion stories, those who were against my right to choose were, of course, cruel and heartless in what they had to say. For the next several days, I was attacked on Twitter and emailed threats by religious zealots, and was event old that my mother should have aborted me so I couldn’t abort my baby. (Someone explain that logic to me, please.)
A week later, despite all the hate being thrown my way, I wrote a follow-up piece declaring that I was happy that I wrote about my abortion, because I was. I was just as happy that I wrote about i as I was that I had the abortion in the first place. It was an election year with women’s reproductive rights at the forefront of many candidates’ platforms. It was this fact that made me write about my abortion; I wanted to put a name and face to the issue. I wasn’t ashamed. Looking back, whatever guilt I felt the day of my abortion was guilt that I didn’t feel guilty at all. I had gotten pregnant accidentally despite having been on the Pill, I was in no way emotionally or financially ready to have a child, and abortion, for me, was not just a solution, but a gift. My abortion, in many ways, saved my life.
But even before I publicly wrote about my abortion on the internet, I never treated my abortion as some kind of dark secret. I had always been vocal about it. Granted, I wouldn’t steer the conversation toward my abortion when people were trying to discuss other important matters, like where the best cupcakes in New York City are, but if the topic came up, I’d share the short version of my experience. It’s surprising how many people, even in a very liberal city like New York, kind of give you a side-glance when you tell them that you’ve had an abortion. I’ve far too often found myself apologizing, not because of my choice, but as a means to sort of soothe whatever discomfort my statement had caused. In 2013, “abortion,” despite vast efforts to rip the stigma from it, is still a dirty word. But abortion is not a dirty word.
When I read this week’s New York magazine cover story entitled “My Abortion,” I was disheartened to see that, as the piece mentioned, 40 years after Roe v. Wade, there are still women who, although willing to share their stories with the magazine, would only do so if their real names weren’t used. While I would never tell a woman she should bear her soul about what is both a personal choice and personal experience, I wish that more women would speak up about their abortions. Only in standing strong with our decision, our choice, will we be able to strip the word “abortion” of stigma, guilt and shame. It’s not a shameful act to choose what’s right for you and your body.
I tell people about my abortion for many reasons. For starters, I never have the slightest twinge of regret about my choice. It’s part of my past, it happened, and it’s one of many experiences that helped shape who I am.
I tell people about my abortion because seeing Gloria Steinem in her “I had an abortion” T-shirt moves me to tears. Having the right to choose is a beautiful thing. It’s not something for which we should have to fight and so many women are denied that right. I tell people about my abortion because I don’t want to forget how lucky I was to have it as an option.
I tell people about my abortion because I’m sick of people dropping the volume of their voice when they say the word in conversation. Every time we do this, it just contributes to the stigma we need to erase.
I tell people about my abortion because we live in a country where women’s reproductive rights are constantly at stake. Because between 2011 and now, 26 states in this country have passed over 111 provisions that restrict abortion on many different levels. Because Wendy Davis had to stand for an 11-hour long filibuster in the hopes of blocking a bill that would make access to abortion even more difficult, just so Governor Rick Perry could sign it into law anyway.
I tell people about my abortion, because my body has nothing to do with your politics and your religion. Because this is my uterus and I’ll do with it as I choose.
I tell people about my abortion because I want people to see that I’m okay. I’m better than okay. I’m great. My abortion didn’t destroy my insides, didn’t make me barren and didn’t give me cancer, contrary to the lies too many women are told by anti-choicers. When I’m good and ready, I’ll be able to have a child, and it’s going to be awesome.
I tell people about my abortion as a nod to all the other women who have also had abortions, but are terrified to be vocal about it. If I can make at least one woman feel less alone in her choice, then the negative backlash I receive is worth it.
I tell people about my abortion because abortion is a fact of life. Almost half of all pregnancies are not planned, and no one, absolutely no one, should be forced to have a child that she isn’t ready for and/or doesn’t want. I tell people about my abortion because not only was I not ready to have a child, but I didn’t want one. I tell people about my abortion because I’m lucky enough to live in a place where I could walk into a clinic, free of judgment, get the procedure and be out the door an hour later. I tell people about my abortion, because I want this freedom for women everywhere.
I tell people about my abortion, because I don’t want any daughter I might have one day to have to worry about a bunch of politicians robbing her of her right to make decisions about her own body and health.
It is not my place to tell anyone what to do or how to live their lives. But I want to encourage more women who have had abortions to share their stories. We need to drown out the voices that try to condemn us for our choice; we must refuse to be shamed or punished.
That’s why I’m telling you about my abortion.
Please keep it civil in the comments or I’ll close ‘em. — Amelia