The Things I Can’t Say

2 Jun

As a vocal prochoicer, I am not able to always speak my mind.

Every single time I tweet, blog, email or post a comment somewhere, I have to carefully look over each and every word, to ensure that I haven’t said something I “shouldn’t.”

What are these things I “shouldn’t” say? Well, basically it’s anything an antichoicer could jump onto, take out of context, or otherwise use against me. Against us. Against Planned Parenthood. Against women.

I hate that I have to guard my speech. I hate that I have to turn conversations onto random tangents over word use. But if I don’t do these things, antichoicers will run away with my words and ignore anything I say after that.

Well you know what? I’m tired of letting antis decide what I do or do not say.

So what if a woman calls a fetus a baby? So what if I follow her lead and say the word baby too? I shouldn’t refrain from using words that the woman is most comfortable with. If after her abortion she feels that her baby died and became an angel, then why can’t I agree with her on that?

I’m not the only one who feels their language is limited sometimes. And for other people, it’s limited not only by antichoicers but fellow prochoicers. For example:

I got this email in the Spectrum Doula Collective inbox earlier this week:

I know you think you’re doing good, but you are not. You are doing a grave disservice to the pro-choice movement by believing the lies from the anti-choicers. Please email me back, we can talk more about this, but please consider what you are doing before you proceed any further.

Wow. What, exactly, are we doing wrong? What sort of disservice do we do by believing pregnant people need compassionate care while undergoing surgical procedures? Or, at the very least, that they might want a bit more emotional and informational support while they undergo a highly mystified and generally misunderstood surgery?

How are we “believing the lies from the anti-choicers” by recognizing all reproductive experiences (and the emotions surrounding them) and believing that they are valid? (from Exhale is Pro-Voice)

We cannot all hide behind the statistics (“most women aren’t depressed after an abortion”). The facts are the facts, and they will remain the same. But abortion is about more than the facts; it’s about the people involved and the emotions those people feel.

Prochoice advocates aren’t the only ones silenced by antichoicers. Women who have abortions, who believe their abortion was the right thing for them but who also feel sadness afterward are stuck in between a rock and a hard place; especially when her prochoice friends feel they can’t recognize that sadness because antis will it up and run off with it. Both the woman and the advocate/friend suffer. Sometimes, the woman just refuses to share her feelings with anyone because she’s afraid of her friend’s response or, again, that antis will take her words and run away with them (See: Why I Blame the Antis).

I will not let antichoicers control my speech, and I will not allow them to have a monopoly on emotions.

Women do not fit into our stereotypes. Not all women feel regret after an abortion, as antichoicers say. Not all women treat abortion as a lightheaded, easy matter as some prochoicers say. Some women do both these things, while some do neither.

As a prochoicer, I will work to acknowledge all these feelings and emotions before, during and after an abortion. Will you?


3 Responses to “The Things I Can’t Say”

  1. Not Guilty June 2, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    I agree. I edit my blog posts to make sure I didn’t “slip” and say baby. But I refuse to discount the experience of any woman, even if she feels guilty after her abortion. If she had all the information beforehand and made an informed choice, she can feel however she wants and she should be acknowledged without anti’s interfering. It is the anti’s who discount the feelings of the women who have abortions and don’t feel the appropriate amount of guilt. Pro-choice acknowledges and counsels ALL emotions. I am tired of self-editing but I will keep at it because it is a small price to pay to take away their ammo.

  2. Kripa June 2, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Exactly why I’m thankful for Exhale. I do NOT want anti-choicers running with the fact that some women (possibly many) *will* in fact, struggle with their abortions and have some emotional consequences to sort out. I’m so glad there’s at least one organization out there that will support women through that *without* making the leap to “WIMMIN DEZURV BETUR THAN ABORSHUN”. So props to Exhale 🙂

  3. Serena June 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    Great post. I can definitely relate. I often feel like I have to “stick to the talking points” when I am out in public. Talking points are a good start, because they give you a framework. But I also think that people need to feel like they can speak from their hearts.

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