I Know Women Who Are Glad That They Had An Abortion

24 Aug

I finished reading this post by Lidia Yuknavitch at Rumpus on “Explicit Violence,”  (trigger warning for sexual assault) and before you click on it, let me just say, yes, I think it is an incredible essay. It is compellingly written and it gets to the core of many of the intersections of violence we experience between poverty and gender and sex and sexual orientation. But it is brutal. It is explicit. And it contains images of rape and violence I am going to try and drink away tonight.

I wanted to tell everyone who felt like they could handle it to read it, but then I got to the end, where the author says:

I carry deep shame in my body for the zygotes. I don’t know a single woman alive who is “happy” to have had an abortion. Or two. Or four. And it’s not just me. Other women. Republicans. Democrats. Unaffiliated women. Atheists. Christians. Muslims. Buddhists. Armies of us walking around carrying our body secrets. Our shame over the zygotes. Or maybe there’s something deeper than shame—maybe there’s a second self I had to kill in order to live. The Lidia who believed she deserved it. Could take it. Should. It was a choice.

This needs to be addressed – again.

I know women who are happy about their abortions. Happy. Glad they had one. Maybe not glad that they had to have one, that they found themselves at those intersections of life and sex and often poverty that lead to abortions, but I know people who had abortions because they were giving birth to long-cherished dreams instead of children, or who would have stayed with a man they shouldn’t have and are now very, very glad they had an abortion instead of making a series of mistakes, one of which might – might not, but might – have been a child brought into a home where it wasn’t wanted with parents who did not want to parent.

I know more than a single woman who is “happy” to have had an abortion. And if you read this blog, you do too.

No single experience is the only experience, and we are all products of our own historical moment. The author is, very explicitly, a product of a great deal of shame and violence and a generation of “safe, legal, and rare,” a communications strategy designed to keep women from making their own healthy reproductive choices through deep-seeded invented patriarchal morals right before our generation where they figured out they could keep us from making our own choices by making our options inaccessible.

Some women mourn either their abortion or the fact that their circumstances meant that they had to have an abortion. Some women do not mourn their abortion or their circumstances. Some women experience deep gratitude for their abortion, and even a gratitude to the child they didn’t have for never being born. And some people who have abortions are not women.

There are strategic narratives deployed over which a multitude of gorgeous, fractured, layered, desperate, joyous and despairing real lived experiences cannot be easily laid. People are still reaching for them, because they are accessible to us; these narratives tell us how to tell our own stories. “When you tell about your abortion, tell them you are so sorry it had to happen.” Yes, if you feel that way, do. Tell me everything. I am listening to you with all of my heart. But don’t make your story everyone’s story. So few of us have a platform from which we can be heard, please be generous and say, “Here is my story, now tell me yours.” Allow us to belong to one another.

12 Responses to “I Know Women Who Are Glad That They Had An Abortion”

  1. Amanda August 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Excellent post, Kaitlyn. Like you, I know more than one woman who is happy to have had an abortion. And who doesn’t carry around any shame.

    Lidia and anyone else who wasn’t happy to have an abortion, and who feels shame, deserves to tell her story, and deserves to be supported even if she (or as you point out, maybe he, or however else they identify) feels conflicted. But, that doesn’t mean everyone feels that way.

    And I get so tired of the narrative that says that if you had an abortion, you shouldn’t be happy, you should feel some shame, some conflicted emotions.

    So–thanks for this post, reminding us that there is a wide range of feelings about the experience of abortion, and that they are all legitimate.

  2. Kaitlyn August 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Thanks so much Amanda.

  3. Persephone August 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I have felt nothing but gratitude and relief since my abortion. I’ve never wanted kids and the idea of just being pregnant has always terrified me to my core. When I got pregnant I was so physically unhealthy and mentally unstable, if abortion had not been an option I’m 99% sure I would have committed suicide and just been done with everything. I’m so thankful that abortion was an option available to me, it literally saved my life.

  4. MadGastronomer August 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    I am happy I had an abortion. I have never for one moment regretted it or felt any shame over it. My abortion was an unreservedly good thing. Thank you.

  5. Angie Ommama August 26, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Kaitlyn, thanks so much for writing this! I think Lidia and I need to meet. The day I had my abortion my eyes were opened to so many different things about myself and others. I am a better person for it. I feel no regret, no pain, just peace. I was blessed by my choice.

  6. Elizabeth August 26, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Yeah. I’m happy I was able to get abortions. And I know a bunch of women who are happy they were able to get abortions.
    And clearly the lack of drama and the happiness that we had -for a brief, shining moment- a responsive health care system that made abortion convenient(using that word on purpose…one could say accessible, too) makes us lackadaisical, or maybe too relaxed or something, cause I almost don’t have much more to say than that.

  7. Kaitlyn August 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    The responses to this have demonstrated to me that many people beyond the ones I know are comfortable and, yes, even happy with their decision. It doesn’t mean that everyone is glad they had to make the decision in the first place, but many people are very much at peace with the decision to have an abortion itself. Thank you so much to all of you for engaging with us on this. I really do hope understanding people’s feelings about their choices beyond the typical narratives available to us will help change the conversation.

  8. breggy March 31, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    I’m glad I got mine. I don’t regret it one bit. It was the 3 worst months of my life, morning sickness was horrible. I was young and I know I had choices but I wasn’t about to go through an entire pregnancy for someone else to raise it(adoption) or raise it myself. I’d have a 6 or 7 yr old now if I hadn’t had one. I’ll probably never have a child because I hated the morning sickness and constipation, it was pure hell.

    When I look at my friends with children I think I’m so glad I don’t have a child, they have to pay for it, make time for it, WORRY about it(what a party pooper), it just looks so time consuming and most of them aren’t even 20!… Maybe it’s because I’m selfish but whatever. Now I feel like I have another chance at life. I just want to stick that into people’s faces who say “you’ll regret abortion, you’ll mourn for the rest of your life blah blah blah” if anything, it’s 1 of the best decisions I ever made. Plus I learned that morning sickness is hell.

  9. kim June 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    Happy is a word I find hard to use in the discussion. But I was born to a streetkid. I was adopted into misery. I swore to myself I would NEVER bring a child into the world unless I was ready and prepared to have a child. I was 37 when I found I was pregnant. In perfect health but my then to-be husband was in another country and we were unsure of visas. People tend to make it so easy to accuse. OMG I had never been pregnant for 37 years. But I did not want to bring life into a world without knowing the love of my life would be there. Sure you could surmise that nobody can be sure. But being adopted and having been born to a child who was raped. I somehow think I’m logical in my decision. I’m glad I had the option. It has been painful. I have spoken out. I have not kept it a secret to all. I know some people have judged me and that’s their right. But respect that I have the right to make decisions and to choose what is best for me. Let me tell you, I personally do not respect people who bring a child into the world when they’re not sure they can give that child everything a child deserves. In fact I think my choice was less selfless. Nobody hanged a swan for abandoning an unhatched egg. Maybe you think my reply is an exaggeration but in the wild “would-be parents” make decisions based on an instinctual need to take care of their broods and. But humans oh we’re so logical we will maim a woman for realising she might just not be in the ideal scenario. Oh better to raise a child in an environment that may harm their character or sense of self because a woman did a human thing with a man and a sperm found its way to an egg. I fail to understand…


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