I had an abortion.

I had an abortion.

I’m not going to tell you how old I was when I had it.

I’m not going to tell you what the circumstances around the pregnancy were.

I’m not going to tell you whether birth control was used or not.

I’m not going to tell you whether it was a wanted or an unwanted pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you how far along the pregnancy was.

I’m not going to tell you whether there was a genetic abnormality, or whether my life was endangered by the pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you any of those things because I think answering those questions, creating the situation from which my experience unfolds offers someone, everyone, anyone, the chance to say, “She deserved to access abortion,” or “How dare she get pregnant and have an abortion,” or find some pity in┬átheir heart for whatever piece of my situation offers them the opportunity to justify their judgment, or their sense of false safety.

When I was in high school (so many years ago) we had a speaker come to talk with us about HIV and AIDS. He told us about what living with AIDS was like. What it was like to defecate in his bed at 3am and be unable to move by himself and having to call for his parents to come clean him. To live with the stares that people gave him when they saw the sores on his arms. To be asked, over and over and over, “Well, how did you contract the disease?” He said it was a question he never answered. Because the answer would muddy his message with pity or feelings of false safety. How he contracted the disease was irrelevant to the fact that he had it.

This is how I feel about my abortion. None of the, “How did it happen?” matters. It’s irrelevant.

What matters is that I was able to access abortion when I needed to. When I wanted to. When I was pregnant and had the need to no longer be pregnant. When I was desperate to not be pregnant.

I walked past anti-choice protestors with their signs, and listened to their shouting, “Don’t do this! Think of your baby! We’re praying for you!” I pushed past them as they blocked the sidewalk.

The facility that did the abortion had, what I’ve come to understand is, an abortion doula. She held my hand, asked me if I was okay. If I needed anything. She tucked the stray hairs from my ponytail behind my ear and told me that everything was going to be all right.

When it was over, I threw up.

I have never regretted my abortion. For a long time I didn’t talk about it. In fact, I’m only just beginning to talk about it. I’ve always felt that my experience was just that, my experience and didn’t need to be shared. (I will admit, I did fear negative repercussion. I feared facing hostile judgement.) But I’m learning that things we don’t talk about – abortion, miscarriage…are things that we NEED to talk about. *I* need to pipe up when I hear someone struggling and say, “I’ve had this experience, too. This was how it went for me.”

Silence equals shame. And I am not ashamed.

28 Comments

Filed under feminism, Uncategorized

28 responses to “I had an abortion.

  1. I’m glad you were able to make a decision about your own body, and I’m happy that it was the right decision for you :)

  2. This is powerful and so brave. Thank you.

  3. Jen

    All women should be able to make decisions about their own bodies and not be denied what they need, nor have to explain themselves. Thank you for sharing your story.

  4. Thank you for sharing this post. I haven’t considered the issue of “justifying” actions a woman takes during pregnancy as an issue itself. I have to think over how I feel about this, I’m trying to sort it out right now in my head but it’s difficult to separate history from action…if you’ve me thinking, it’s a great post :)

  5. bebehblog

    I love you T. You’re amazing.

  6. Jay

    I am in tears because you have spoken such a deep truth – for yourself, and for our daughters. Things we need to talk about. Yes.

  7. MistressofBoogie

    Really excellent post – and a good riposte to the attitude embodied by the recent article we had over here in the Daily Mail by Bel Mooney. Basically, women who have abortions ‘because they can’t be arsed with contraception’ are dirty whores who should be put to death (I paraphrase) – except for her; her ‘abortion circumstances’ were totally different: she ‘mislaid’ her Pills because she was moving house. See? Totally different…
    The why isn’t important. Spot on.

  8. Pingback: And Why did You have an Abortion Exactly? « Adventures in Boogieville

  9. Thanks for being brave enough to speak out about your personal experience. Unfortunately, we live in a society where it takes a lot of courage to share the decisions we make about our own bodies and our lives. I am glad you had a caring hand back then, and I know that your words will provide care for others who need it.

  10. nicholle

    I did, too. Because it’s Canada, I went to a hospital, there were no protestors or anything like it (the very idea shocks me), and it was covered under our universal health insurance (included in my regular monthly fees; no extra costs). I didn’t even know enough yet to realize it wasn’t the same for women in other countries. Now I am so, so thankful.

  11. Thank you for sharing this. I have no words to express how thankful I am that you shared so, a simple thank you seems so inadequate.

  12. This is something that cannot be overstated. Thanks for putting this out there.

  13. Kate

    This truth cannot be overstated: You don’t need a set of specific tragic circumstances to have a moral abortion. To demand that justification undermines the moral agency of all women. You cut through that mentality so eloquently, THANK YOU.
    I worked in abortion clinics, I was a doula to thousands of women while they had their procedures. I’m glad you had a hand to hold too. Everyone deserves that little bit of human comfort, don’t they?
    Our national debate is so pale next to the ethical dilemmas real women work out in their heads and hearts long before they get to the clinic. I hold the complex true story of abortion sacred — the profundity, the relief and terror and grief and compassion and humor and holy deliverance of this unique but common experience.
    I’m now presenting workshops called Coming Out About Abortion to help people forge the courage and find the words to tell their abortion stories, like you are doing now. 1/3 of the women in the country get an abortion at least once. Many more people have supported a loved one who when she had one. We are legion, but so shamed into silence that men and women in power who have NO IDEA what abortion is really about get to decide for all of us. Unacceptable. The only solution is to tell and tell and tell our truth until it breaks through.
    Well done, righteous woman. Way to be brave.

  14. Elizabeth

    Yep, yep and yep. There are no “good” abortions. There are no “bad” abortions. We need to stop justifying why we have them. We have them. It’s that simple.

  15. Bravo. Thank you for sharing. Beautifully written and absolutely true.

  16. Yes, I had an abortion too.

  17. Darrell

    Observant self-kindness in intense circumstances. The absence of ideology, and the presence of humanity. Thank you.

  18. steve

    Good for you! Abortion rights – without restriction, without compromise, without apology. All women should be entitled to this. And the more women who speak about their abortions, the more it will be accepted by the public.

  19. Donna

    I had one too. Almost 30 years ago. I remember the ladies in charge of the clinic…..telling the dozen women waiting for their turn ……to remember the rights you have today and to always fight to make sure they are there tomorrow. I never imagined we would really Need to fight for them again.

  20. Amazing. Took my breath away. What courage. You inspire me.

  21. Mother Tereasa said something like this about those she took care of who had HIV…I don’t ask them how they got here..I just take them where they are…I think about this so much and it has taught me about judging others..

  22. M

    Thank you so much for this. It is a perfect example of the way we as women need to be talking about abortion: fearlessly and without shame.

    My own experience was different in that the doctor at the abortion clinic I went to was harsh and confrontational with me for whatever reason – she seemed very stressed out in general – and there was no one there whose job it was to comfort and reassure patients. I’m glad to hear that other clinics provide that service, because for me it would have made the whole thing less of an awful ordeal. I hope that practitioners reading this will be reminded they are dealing with women in a particularly vulnerable position. I know that seems like a no-brainer but it apparently wasn’t for “my” doctor.

  23. Megan

    Thank you for this. I think more women need to speak up about their abortions. Last year I became pregnant and it wasn’t until after I had my abortion that the women closest to me finally admitted their abortions. It really bothered me because they knew what I was going through before I had mine. I spent weeks weighing the pros and cons, trying to make a decision and no one said anything. It would have been comforting to hear that I wasn’t the only one who had to make that decision. I promised myself afterwards that if I ever came across another girl or woman trying to decide if they wanted to terminate a pregnancy that I would tell them my story. Women need to support each other more and not sweep these issues under the rug.

  24. Reblogged this on Kink and Other things and commented:
    “Silence equals shame. And I am not ashamed.” Amen.

  25. CAO

    I had an abortion, too. thank you for sharing yours.

  26. Laurie Wheeler

    Me too. And I agree, it doesn’t matter the reasons, and there’s no cause for shame. I had hope that once my daughter became an adult this subject would be past debate. But she’s 19, the debate still rages, and so I tell her friends that I had an abortion, if nothing else to open the discussion past the inane and judgmental place so many go.

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