You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your abortion. But with so many women being shamed, shouldn’t we speak out?
Thursday 20 November 2014
I know a woman in her 30s: she’s married, she has a toddler, and she desperately wants a second child – but a dangerous medical condition means that having another baby would be life-threatening. Despite being careful, she got pregnant. She had an abortion because she wasn’t willing to risk her life and leave her child motherless, but she still feels a deep sadness.
I know another woman, in her 20s, who had a shitty boyfriend (but no kids) when her birth control failed and she found herself with a pregnancy she knew she didn’t want – a pregnancy she wasn’t ready for. She was upset about the situation, but had no doubts about what she wanted to do and, after the abortion, no regrets. She rarely thinks about the pregnancy or the abortion anymore.
If you’re like a lot of people, you probably have much more sympathy for the first woman than the second. Though the majority of people in America and Northern Ireland and so many other places believe abortion should be legal, too many of us still think about reproductive rights as if there’s a hierarchy of good and bad abortions – the kind that women “deserve”, and the kind women should be ashamed of.
But those two women? They’re both me.
On Thursday, the 1 in 3 Campaign (a hat tip to the fact that 1 in 3 American women will have an abortion) launched a live-streamed, national abortion speak-out featuring people like Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, comedian Lizz Winstead and artist Favianna Rodriguez – and me.
I’ve written about ending my wanted pregnancy and the turmoil I faced with the decision, but I’ve never before spoken publicly about my first abortion – not because I was ashamed, but because it truly didn’t have that tremendous of an impact on my life. If anything, being able to have that abortion made my life better: I was able to publish my first book, meet my now-husband, cultivate the life that I’m living and build the family that I love.