an After abortion

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Thursday, July 22, 2004

As apparently everyone knows who wasn't outside picking raspberries, Barbara Ehrenreich has a guest column in today's New York Times, Owning Up to Abortion.

Her main complaint in the op-ed is directed against women who don't own up to their own abortions:

You can blame a lot of folks, from media bigwigs to bishops, if we lose our reproductive rights, but it's the women who shrink from acknowledging their own abortions who really irk me.

She first takes issue with the way women who have abortions because of fetal abnormalities sometimes (quite often, in my experience) talk about their choice:

You've been through a hellish experience, but unless I'm missing something, you didn't want your babies either. A baby, yes, but not the particular baby you happened to be carrying.

Then, she directs her ire to women who have had garden-variety abortions:
At least 30 million American women have had abortions since the procedure was legalized, mostly for the kind of reasons that anti-abortion people dismiss as "convenience" - a number that amounts to about 40 percent of American women. Yet in a 2003 survey conducted by a pro-choice group, only 30 percent of women were unambivalently pro-choice, suggesting that there may be an appalling number of women who are willing to deny others the right that they once freely exercised themselves.

Or maybe...maybe what there is is an appalling number of women who, having had abortions, grasp on a visceral level that abortion is ugly.

Isn't that a more likely explanation for the unenthusiasm about abortion displayed by so many women who have had abortions? Does Ehrenreich really believe that 70% of the approximately 25,000,000 American women who have had abortions go around thinking, "Yeah! I've had my abortion, thank goodness, and it was really great, but, hm, I don't think you are entitled to one"?

See Feministing and Amy Welborn for additional discussion.

While I'm here, let's also check in on ongoing Amy Richards coverage. Ms. Musings sounds a little cool toward Amy.

The column by Michelle Malkin that caught a lot of the early attention to this story has beaucoup trackbacks for you to explore.

Katha Pollitt of The Nation weighs in on the issue in this comments box.

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