an After abortion

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Thursday, February 27, 2003

Ashli (go read her) blogged on this a few days ago and so did ProLifeMensch.

There's a relatively new website called I'm Not Sorry, where women who do not experience negative feelings after abortion can share their stories.

Katha Pollitt, who writes for The Nation, contributed some comments to
the Guestbook
at "I'm Not Sorry".

What she writes is: "Very interesting stories, full of complexity and real life. They make a great counterweight to the much-hyped stories of women who regret having abortions, feel guilty about them and blame their abortion for whatever's gone wrong in their lives."

Well, that's a bit hostile and over-the-top.

For those who aren't familiar with the reality of abortions, the stories posted at "I'm Not Sorry" are important and eye-opening. Katha Pollitt says that the stories are full of "real life" and they are, indeed, expressive of the reality of life for many in our damaged and damaging culture.

Virtually all of the women who have posted stories there were already in very bad life situations by the time they experienced an abortion.

Some random examples:

"I was unemployed, uninsured, penniless, living with a good-for-nothing slacker, and still being actively stalked by my estranged husband."

"He quit his job as soon as he realized I was pregnant to deny me any support."

"[My boyfriend's children] would have been better off never being born. I lived with him and his junior delinquents for 4 years. I was so stupid, it took me that long to realize that I was nothing more than a maid, babysitter, sex partner and extra paycheck to this self-absorbed pothead."

There's a lot of anger here, and it is so legitimate. Often women in situations like these (regardless of whether an unwanted pregnancy and abortion happen) have also experienced earlier abuse, perhaps in childhood. That is to say, women raised in homes where they are honored and valued usually do not find themselves in relationships with abandoning, abusive, neglectful men.

Consider Katha Pollitt's attack on women who "blame their abortion for whatever's gone wrong in their lives" in light of the above. It can take a lot of work for an individual to sort out the areas in our lives that need to be looked at, grieved, and healed. One tremendous benefit of looking at and healing from the particular wound of abortion is that by freeing ourselves from this particular emotional morass we are able to confront other, earlier, areas of emotional damage. In other words, we are able to stop thinking "If I feel crummy, it must be that abortion" and are instead able to say "I've really healed a lot around my abortion and if I feel crummy, maybe it's time to look at these other areas in my life."

Quite a few of the people who signed the Guestbook at the "I'm Not Sorry" website report that they were referred to it by the Child Free section of the Living Journal website which is a community of people who write things like:

"The one good thing about working in a porn shop (okay, there's a few, but for the purposes of this anecdote, there is only one) kids" and

"I say we institute mandatory tubal ligation for all girls from the moment they start menstruating until at least age 25."

Having heard about "I'm Not Sorry" from that area of the 'net, many of the stories at "I'm Not Sorry" are tinged with an anti-child flavor that many people will not be able to relate to. One of the more moderate examples says:

"I am a high honors student in college, married to that wonderful man who drove me to the clinic on that day, and lead a wonderful childfree, kitten and ferret-filled life--none of which would be possible if I had had a kid."

My experience in post-abortion healing is that many men and women report that the reality of abortion as a child-loss experience did not hit home for them until they did have other, treasured, children.

Another trend in the stories at "I'm Not Sorry" and also in other abortion-positive stories that you can find on the NARAL Pro-Choice America website are stories from people who after their abortion became fully immersed in abortion-positive activism. One such story reads:

"What a relief to find this site, after all the endless antiabortion blather. I've never regretted my abortion, nor have any of the women I know who've had abortions. I work at an abortion clinic and know well that, while feelings after abortion run the gamut from joy to despair, the positive emotions are much more common."

This sounds angry--and judgmental--toward those women, like me, who sincerely regret our abortions and have identified this as an area of struggle in our lives.

I also note the discrepancy in her account, where she says on the one hand that some women experience despair after abortion and on the other hand, that she knows no one who has ever regretted an abortion. I wonder, as an abortion clinic worker who has a lot invested emotionally in the idea that abortion is something we don't regret, how she responds to those in despair at her clinic.

I know two women who told me that even at the clinic, in the recovery room, they sat and screamed, "I want my baby back." "Give me my baby back." I wonder how this woman would have responded to them.

[Update: I sent the above blog to Ms. Pollitt and look forward to her response.]

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