I first shared that I had an abortion with a few friends that I trusted greatly. I never thought that nearly two years later, an anti-abortion group trampling onto campus would urge me to become more public with my experience, which would be my first push into activism. With anxiety-shaken fingertips I tweeted #ShoutYourAbortion, joining a virtual network collectively fighting toward destigmatizing abortion through dialogue. I had no idea that a few months later, a journalist would ask if I would be willing to share a little more about my experience after finding my tweet through the hashtag.
I was hesitant at first, in fact I was even rude to her. Putting yourself out there is nerve wracking, and I originally believed that she may have been anti-abortion as well. After a few emails, I agreed to a phone interview and what would turn into my being included in April’s issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, following an article titled “How to Have a Safe Abortion.” The article goes through the steps of seeking a safe and legal abortion at any stage of pregnancy, including the ins and outs of appointments, finances, and what to expect. Five other women and myself were able to share about the choices we made, supporting the safe abortion article.
The trip was an amazing and eye opening experience, one day out of my realm and being surrounded by women I could relate to changed my life more than anyone could have imagined. Everyday women, a statistic more similar to 1 in 3, have had an abortion or will have one in their lifetime. Everyday women, like you and me. Exactly like you and me. I was connected with women that had stories different than mine, but all with one same variable; our lives, here and now, needed to be put first before adding a baby to the picture.
I kept the reason for the trip very vague, intending on coming out about the article I would be in around the time it came out in print. Finally getting around to posting about it on social media, I received mixed reactions, more supportive than anything though. I didn’t anticipate a lot of the backlash. Comments like “you’re disgusting,” “should have kept your legs closed,” “baby killer,” “abortion should be more expensive,” “I’ll never look at you the same,” and many other rude comments circulated about me. Numerous women even posted snapshots of me and collectively bashed me on my local websphere.
And I’m not upset. I hope you never look at me the same. I did not share my abortion with the world for people to pat me on the back and tell me good job; I shared my abortion to say “it’s okay and you’re not alone” to all of the women forced into being ashamed for the choices they have made for what was best for their lives. I shared my abortion with the world to say that as a woman, I am in charge of my body. I also want to relay the message that just because abortion isn’t something you would do, doesn’t mean that there is any room for judgment upon another woman if it is something she would do. If anything, the negativity I received just fueled my fire to speak about my abortion, or abortion in general, more. It is clear there is a cloudy gap of misunderstanding when it comes to abortion, leading to the stigma around it.
I will continue to stand through all of the canons fired my way about decisions made for my body and my life, and I will continue to push back against the patriarchy and everything it imposes upon women. Sharing my abortion was the first tumbling, falling, shaky baby step to a marathon, and I won’t stop until the last woman is through the finish line.