Your web-browser is very outdated, and as such, this website may not display properly. Please consider upgrading to a modern, faster and more secure browser. Click here to do so.
Sorry, this is probably a stupid question, but what is the AbortStigma thing?
I’m glad you asked!
AbortStigma is a push to end the negative stigma that surrounds abortion. On June 7th, we’re having our first internet storm! The hashtags to use are here. And the places to use them are here. (Tumblr is also a great place to do this!) You can also like us on Facebook.
We are really excited about this! People are welcome to share their stories, support, and experiences. Showing people that they aren’t alone in their abortion is a great way to end the stigma.
I think the reason I’m so angry about the upcoming Gosnell movie is that it’s bound to perpetrate one of the nastiest, lowest anti-choice lies: that all abortion clinics are horrific butcher chambers.
It’s so despicable because even believing these lies, people still go. Even believing they’ll be mutilated with scissors and knives, assaulted with suction 29 times stronger than a vacuum, without anesthesia, surrounded by blood on the walls and dirty instruments, left sterile or traumatized, and shoved back out into the street without so much as a “goodbye,” they still seek abortions.
Abortion didn’t start with Roe v. Wade. People have always sought a way not to be pregnant, no matter the cost. Antis cry about the lasting trauma of abortion, never stopping to think their lies, their shaming, their manipulation, and their harassment and terrorism has a single thing to do with it.
Economic coercion of low-income pregnant people, the political coercion we see tearing Native families apart, social coercion from the stigma perpetuated on all sides against single parents (historically and present-day), and the…I don’t know what to call it - imperialist coercion? of parents from other countries.
It’s time to start talking about it.
I think a lot about the performance that’s required of women and people who make reproductive decisions, and never more so than while watching the reaction to Emily Letts’ video of her abortion. How that performance determines the perceived validity of your choice and your experience. How that performance determines your trustworthiness and respectability, your safety or entitlement to support, or even your humanity or your womanhood.
The assessments from the anti-choice crowd are predictable, of course. For them, it’s usually not so much the performance as it is the simple fact of your decision that defines who you are. Those who think abortion and birth control falsify your womanhood, make you a murderer, signal some obliterated part or whole of your humanity.
(Though in many circles, including crisis pregnancy center counseling services, if you perform submissive regret and anguish, you can find your way back to salvation in the eyes of God and your community. And if you perform it well enough, you can be elevated to a weapon against abortion. They do love stories of redemption.)
What’s more interesting to me are the appraisals from those who consider themselves pro-choice. Those who accept your abortion as valid only if they deem you sad and shamed enough. You don’t have to regret it (in fact, you’d better not), but you do have to have learned your lesson. Those well-meaning activists who prop up victims of rape and incest, whose trauma makes them the most deserving of abortion rights, in a bid to validate our humanity in the eyes of antis. How the intensity of these requirements increase the further along you are, or the more abortions you’ve had.
Emily smiled and encouraged herself during her abortion. She laughed with relief and nerves, thanked the people in the room, and said she felt good when it was over. There’ve been many dissections of her video, but that was what I recognized in her from my own experiences on the table; getting shots, a pelvic exam, and my implant. Though many recognized this as well, still others on either side of the debate seemed furious she wasn’t appropriately terrified or ashamed.
Because we see this in other experiences, too. Someone who uses birth control so they can have multiple sex partners is abusing the “privilege” of controlling their reproduction. A victim of rape who doesn’t perform trauma well enough couldn’t have really been raped. A person in an abusive relationship who doesn’t leave can’t really have it that bad. The list goes on.
And we know all of this happens because we have these notions of what these things are *supposed* to look like. All of these are *supposed* to be traumatic, humiliating, life-changing events. And if they’re not, something must be broken inside you, and that makes you less.
(A whole separate essay could be written comparing the expectation of trauma and repentance between men and women, or perhaps masculinity and femininity instead. I’m not a gender theorist, so I’ll leave that to someone else.)
That’s just not how it happens. That’s not real life. I’ve read hundreds of abortion stories and not one of them is the same. I’ve spoken with and read stories from survivors of sexual and domestic violence at different points in their healing, who may be severely traumatized or just see it as a bad, but not life-changing thing that happened to them. And none of those reactions make their experiences or their humanity any less real or deserving of support.
I think abortion should be legal without any restrictions – no parental consent laws, no mandated ultrasounds, no waiting periods, no bans on late term abortions and no bans on federal funding for abortion. I also believe people should be able to become parents when they want, how they want and without interference from the government. (If you think restrictions on abortion and restrictions on parenthood are unrelated, you are wrong.)
If that were the law of the land, it would also mean an end to rape and incest exceptions – because we wouldn’t need them. Women wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) have to prove that their abortion is of the “acceptable” variety. We wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) have to pretend that women who are forced into sex are somehow more deserving of medical care than women who chose to have sex. We could rid ourselves of the hierarchy of “good” and “bad” abortions.
The decision to have an abortion is personal and complicated, and any legislation that seeks to control such decisions is based on an anti-choice ideology that thinks very little of women. It assumes that women, if not kept in check by the government, are not to be trusted to make good decisions about their bodies and families."
Commenters at the Guardian asked me: Am I actually arguing that there should be no legal limitations on abortion?
The short answer: yes.
Read more here.
Abortion on demand, without apology. If you think that’s outrageous, you have clearly never met a human person or made a reproductive decision.
Think about it.
“Sorrow, quite apart from the sense of shame, is exhibited in some way by virtually every woman for whom I performed an abortion, and that’s 20,000 as of 1995. The sorrow is revealed by the fact that most women cry at some point during the experience…the grieving process may last from several days to several years…grief is sometimes delayed…the grief may lie sublimated and dormant for years.”
Dr. Susan Poppema, abortionist (Poppema, S. & Henderson, M. (1996) Why I Am an Abortion Doctor. New York: Prometheus Books)
These are the things very few people hear - especially from an abortionist - abortion hurts women.
Yeah, because, you know, they can’t possibly be crying from PHYSICAL PAIN that occurs from the abortion.
Right. It HAS to be grief. And you know this, because you can feel what every person feels because you’re telepathic.
I’m glad we sorted that out.
"Women felt more regret, sadness and anger about the pregnancy than about the abortion." [x]
"Even when women who had an abortion felt primarily negative emotions, like regret and sadness, more than 80 percent still said that it was the right choice." [x]
Rocca et al. (2013). Women’s Emotions One Week After Receiving or Being Denied an Abortion in the United States. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 45(3), 122-31.
Some people are sad about the abortion. Some people are sad they got pregnant in the first place. Some people are sad because they want a baby but not right now, or surgery frightens them, or people screamed at them on the way into the clinic, or they were abused or raped, or their relationship is struggling, or their loved ones don’t support them, or because they’re so relieved they could get a safe, legal abortion. And more.
The human experience is vast and varied. You’ll never understand by trying to fit everyone’s experiences into neat little dogmatic boxes. You’ll only end up hurting people.
Page 1 of 5