Friday, November 14, 2008

"No one ever changes their mind about abortion."

A tiny migraine creeps into my brain whenever people say this. It feels a little bit true and a little bit not true. People DO change their minds about abortion sometimes. When do they change them? When abortion stops being theoretical and starts being as real as a plus-sign on a plastic wand dripping with piss. God’s great punishment in the Afterlife looks awfully far away when visions of dirty diapers and dreams deferred waltz in the mind’s eye. Pious sentiments of "Of course I’m pro-choice, but would never..." Well, never say never, darling.

People also say that people never change their minds about gays/lesbians/bisexuals/transpeople. Categorically untrue. I’ve seen dyed-in-the-wool Republicans, Live-Free-Or-Die shitkickers, and valium-ized Suzy Homemakers alike shed their homophobia like a bad polyester suit.


Because of their gay children.

And lesbian aunts and gay uncles and queer cousins and best friends from elementary school who used to be boys and are now girls (and vice versa). People Mr. Repub and Mr. Shitkicker and Ms. Homemaker love and cherish and would lay down their lives for. When a queer comes out to homophobic family and friends, those family and friends are forced to stare their own prejudice straight in the face. Is their loved one really a monster or a sinner?

Pro-lifers are rarely challenged on this front. Even though one in three American women will have an abortion by age 45,* the operation is invisible to the world at large. No scarlet letter to identify who’s had the "A-word." It’s difficult to ignore Uncle Tony holding hands with his lover at the family picnic. The HIPAA code seals away Cousin Jennifer’s "shame," and she’s free to go to church on Sunday (70% of abortions are performed on women who are Protestant or Catholic; one in five women having abortions are born-again or Evangelical Christians).

Fuck the shame.

I had an abortion. In all likelihood you’ve probably know someone who’s had an abortion, helped someone get an abortion (either because you’re a good friend or you knocked them up), or had an abortion yourself. It’s not an experience I’d like to put on repeat, but it didn’t scar me for life. Junior high scarred me for life, but not my abortion. It sucked (literally) and it hurt like hell, but I haven’t needed years of thumb-sucking therapy to get over my "traumatic experience." I don’t wonder what the little zygote would have looked like now or even remember what date I had it removed.

And I have never, ever regretted it a day in my life.

Even though I didn’t hang out with pro-lifers, I got slammed by some people for being "careless" (one sting I will never forget is the "friend" who immediately snapped, "Are you stupid?"). I got slammed by people who were SLUTTY in comparison to me and had had unprotected sex with virtual strangers.

I can’t wear a sign every day that says, "I had an abortion." But any time someone has said something patronizing or condemning of abortion, I have always piped up, "I’ve had an abortion." It hasn’t happened often, probably a combination of 1) I don’t generally hang out with un-worldly people and 2) I look like the kind of girl who wouldn’t take kindly to such an opinion. Maybe I need to get out there more.

Abortion is not a shameful, dirty secret. If anyone in your earshot starts running their mouth about "murder clinics" or "the new Holocaust" (which, incidentally, is beyond insulting to Jewish people), or even "only dumb sluts get abortions," tell them:

"I had an abortion." Or "My girlfriend/best friend/sister/mother had an abortion." Or simply, "Somebody you love has probably had an abortion and never told you. Would you really call her a murderer/dumb slut to her face? Would you let someone else call her that?"

Would you?

See this link about the “I Had an Abortion” campaign:

Want to drive yourself insane? Read the backwards logic of "pro-lifers" who got or assisted their daughters' abortions:

* Facts on abortion at


Lady Grey said...

May sound backwards, but I'm the product of an abortion. If my mother hadn't made the choice at 19 to wait and raise children when she was ready, I wouldn't be typing this right now. I never thought I'd have an abortion, regardless of my mother's decision, but having had several very close pregnancy scares myself, I know that has changed. Thank you for putting it so plainly, Katrina. :)

Idril said...

Actually, abortion was made legal in France after a media event such as what you describe, making abortion real and public : in 1971, 343 public or famous women signed the "manifesto of the 343 bitches" saying that they had had an abortion in their lives, like many other women, and that it was not shameful and it was one of the first rights for a woman to have a choice over her body and her life. It would be great to have such a manifesto published in the USA...

Lotrimo said...

Found a link to your blog from Amanda Palmer's. And just wanted to thank you for your well-put, thoughtful blog.

s9 said...

How about "I've done volunteer clinic defense work, to protect women from physical assault by people who say the same things you're saying."

Anonymous said...

Beautifully, beautifully put. Your attitude is inspiring.

Anonymous said...

I've always, always been pro-choice. One of my proudest moments has to be when I was fourteen, and in the monthly column I used to write in my hometown's newspaper, I wrote a column about why I was pro-choice...and subsequently received stacks of letters from local fundamentalist women who wanted to "save my hellbound soul."

That said, I used to also be in the camp of "It's okay for other people, but I could never do it myself." That all changed about five years ago, when I discovered I was pregnant. I was also unemployed, a college dropout, a borderline alcoholic, and would have received no support from the father, my family, or many of my friends had I decided to have the child. So the decision was made. And it was difficult, and not one I'd like to repeat, but I do not regret it.

Cassie The Venomous said...

Great post.

I recently saw a video where anti-abortion activists who had been protesting for years were asked what punishment a woman should get for having an abortion if it were made illegal, and none had a response. They said the woman should get counseling or a hug. What other illegal act doesn't have a punishment?

I wish people would stop to think about what they're protesting instead of following the arbitrary rules of their ancient books. Humans have minds and the ability to make decisions for a reason.