OK so I’m going to get real raw and vulnerable here, and I speak about all of this in my book too. When I was 18 years old I had an abortion. It was the most horrifying experience. It messed me up mentally for years. Every year I would break down around the birth month. This conversation has been such an intense tumultuous internal struggle for me when talking about pro-choice/pro-life. Because I have had an abortion myself I don’t feel like I can say I’m pro-life though I learned that is a fallacy. Women who have an abortion have insight only they can bring to the Pro Life conversation. I do feel women need access to the option of abortion through the 1st trimester for safety reasons so it is not pushed underground.
What I do feel is missing from the pro choice conversation is the distinction of pro choice vs pro abortion. Pro choice MUST be about actual choice. Which means listening to the conversations of Pro Life as well. Otherwise it’s not pro choice it’s pushing abortion. I am now a mom of an amazing 9 year old girl. When I was pregnant with her I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I’m a single mom, I still struggle, however, I am so lucky and happy to be her mom. Had I had an abortion again, I would not be alive here today to talk about this.
I do believe that we need to have serious discussions about the reality of what an abortion is and the effects of that on the psychology of the woman. The pro-abortion conversations I feel minimize how harmful an abortion is to the woman. Pro Choice must uphold being pro choice and give women the option to hear all of their options that Pro Lifer’s talk about. If we’re really standing for women, they need to know.
Women don’t have the psychological support they need after such a procedure. We really do not know how many women have committed suicide because of abortions. I was very close to it myself and that’s what I mean by I would not have made it had I chosen it again. I believe if we are going to talk about sex education that must also include the reality of the severity of what an abortion is. I couldn’t afford to pay for going under, I was awake while it happened. Abortions aren’t ‘nothing’ they are horrific.
I’ve healed from the experience of having an abortion but the thought of it will never go away of wondering what that child would have been like. For me it all starts with educating young women as to what abortion means. To me the conversation of abortion should be finding ways to minimize the abortion numbers, this has actually been put into practice successfully in Africa. It starts with supporting girls knowing their menses cycles. It starts with a conversation of self care.
What was put in place that has made a big difference in Africa in the conversation of sexual education is abstaining from sex for as long as possible, not from shame but rather from self care and preparedness. I believe we also need to talk about the abortion process. The way we go about talking about abortion today is either from a space of hating women who have done it, or bypassing reality of what an abortion is. Neither works. I believe sharing facts from a space of awareness and compassion can minimize abortion rates.
Perhaps one day abortion will only be necessary for medical life at risk reasons and the only way to get there is to educate. Women need to know what an abortion looks like and that there are psychological affects they need to be aware of and take care with. Along with sharing the procedure of what an abortion is and looks like, we need to be having conversations of self love, self worth and self care with our girls. That there is nothing shameful about abstaining until you are really ready. That you deserve kindness.
I think this is where Pro Life and Pro Choice can work together. Pro Choice must be about women actually choosing what’s right for them, otherwise it’s just pushing abortions as the ‘norm’ mentality, and not caring to find or give space for a woman’s to take her time and feel what her authentic truth is. I think of all of the those who are Pro Life could really put together some amazing programs that support women in their self love and self care and I believe Pro Choice could be a part of this too. Both can really support women. It is possible to make a difference together.
If you are a woman who has had an abortion perhaps you have felt how I had felt about it and had a hard time letting go of shame and self flagellation. While I will never forget the experience, what I can do is be gentle with myself. I did what I felt was right to do at the time, I did what I felt I needed to do to survive. I learned to stop treating myself like a ‘wicked’ woman for having an abortion and start holding myself with love and compassion. Becoming a mom I held onto guilt and feeling unworthy and I let that go too. If you are suffering with depression, please seek help. I wish I had and I hope more women find a way to be gentle with themselves over this. I had to free myself from my self loathing over having an abortion and I did the work to choose self care and self love. This is not an easy conversation, I was shaking as I started writing this. Abject terror of how I would be met for sharing this. However, I love myself, I am kind to myself and anyone’s judgment about me for having an abortion has nothing to do with me. It’s not personal, people just need to process things how they need to process and I also do not need to take on abuse for it either.
Just being kind to myself, I can find compassion for other people’s process about my process. It’s not easy and I’m worth it as at the end I leave myself in peace. The only forgiveness I need is my own and I have forgiven myself. I hope by my speaking about this and coming forward women no longer feel alone. If you had an abortion and whether you suffered it or not, you matter and your voice is valid. If you had an abortion and choose to be Pro Life, don’t be afraid, your voice is valid and it matters. No you’re not a fraud for choosing to come forward in your authentic voice and share why you don’t support abortion, you matter and your voice is valid. If you’ve never had an abortion, try and listen from a new space if you can. I try to challenge myself as much as I can to listen to someone who even if I may not understand their choice, yet I can remind myself to understand they are a human being worthy of love and are not separate from me.
I care about women knowing they are worth taking their time to self care, self love and value their worth. I want women to know they are worth taking their time to find a good partner who is committed to them, they deserve that. The conversation I am is about supporting people knowing they are worthy. That means I support women knowing they are worthy to slow down, self care, not rush into things. I believe the self love conversation can make a big difference in minimizing abortion rates over time, starting now. It will not be instant, and I hope that over time less women will be in this terrifying position. I can’t stress enough that women who are Pro Life who have had an abortion must be listened to as they bring valuable insight that only they can to the Pro Life conversation.
I support the conversation of women feeling safe to choose and that is why I also support the as women have a right to choose and should hear the whole conversations before they do.