End the silence
September 21, 2015 8:57 PM   Subscribe

The Hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion Is Challenging The Stigma Of Abortion

It's time to end the secrecy about our childbearing choices -- including abortion

One in three American women has an abortion by the time she hits menopause. Each of those abortions involves a man—many of whom play an active partnership role in the decision-making process. That means by midlife almost all of us have a close, loving relationship with someone who has ended an ill-conceived pregnancy, or we’ve done so ourselves, or both. Hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. have a story to tell, but a relentless campaign of shame and stigma has most of us keeping secrets—even from people we otherwise love and trust.

Why I had an abortion after 20 weeks

I had a choice. I could try to live with the husk of a child inside of me for more than 100 days, swallowing tears at every cheery inquiry as I grew bigger. Or I could have an abortion. And the choice wasn’t just about me. I have young children who would have had to see their mother endure this torture and give birth to someone they would never meet. So we made the painful, but I believe merciful, decision to terminate.

Six abortion myths debuked

The truth behind late term abortions

Related: A terrifying precedent: Woman to be tried for murder for giving birth to stillborn
posted by triggerfinger (43 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
That's... I have deleted a few responses - that's a hell of a view into the human mind. I have no idea what makes people so poisonously righteous. Don't click on the hashtag if you are not wanting to see into the very worst of humanity.

Abortion is a woman's choice. That's it.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 9:10 PM on September 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

I've never had an abortion and kind of wish I had when things like this come up, because I think it's really awesome and brave to come out as having had one and not being ashamed of it, but I don't have one on the record to be open and honest about. Becaaaause I took advantage of the awesome services of Planned Parenthood to ensure I never had a gap in my contraceptive coverage during the years I wasn't ready to have children, and I was lucky enough to never have my birth control fail. Thanks, Planned Parenthood, for preventing my hypothetical abortions.
posted by town of cats at 9:15 PM on September 21, 2015 [45 favorites]

I've never had an abortion. Three wanted but completely miserable and debilitating pregnancies will make me forever pro-choice. No one should go through that unless they actively choose to. And even then, finding out that I was pregnant with our third did result in some conversations between my husband and me about what continuing the pregnancy would mean to our family, in that we knew I'd be very much unavailable to our older children for a large portion of it due to pregnancy-related illness. We chose together to continue the pregnancy - and every pregnant person should have the right to make that choice.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 9:25 PM on September 21, 2015 [25 favorites]

I have never felt as pro-choice as I did while pregnant -- both the successful one and the non-viable one. Women who face decisions leading them to choose abortions deserve the same respect, caring and compassion that we give pregnant women, if not more. Many of them are doing it to preserve better lives for themselves and other children, current and future. If we gave them support instead of condemnation, they could probably do even better.
posted by St. Hubbins at 9:33 PM on September 21, 2015 [22 favorites]

Oh god those comments. The worst.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:37 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Being pregnant made me more pro-choice than ever. For me it was an ordeal of constant agony and debilitation. I had a common form of hip dysplasia that hurt so impossibly much and rendered me incapacitated. My wife was on near-bed-rest for fully HALF of her pregnancy. No one should have to go through that without their consent.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:42 PM on September 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

I have had two abortions. The first, at 14, my mother forced on me. I wanted to keep it. I thought the father would marry me and get me away from my parents, who were just really worried about me. I felt bad for a year or two but not after that. The guy turned out to be a violent, manipulative bastard.

The second, at 26, happened because I had casual, unprotected sex with a dipshit. I told him to pull out but he didn't even try. Later he said he didn't hear me. Right. That time he wanted the kid but I didn't. He got mad, but it was my choice to make and I don't regret it.
posted by irisclara at 9:44 PM on September 21, 2015 [25 favorites]

[Edited the post to put the Buzzfeed link above the fold, replacing the direct hashtag link, per OP request.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:54 PM on September 21, 2015

Yeah I was very tepidly pro-choice until my wife's first pregnancy. A hemorrhaging scare and etc. convinced me that pregnancy is Serious Shit and removing women's option for bodily autonomy during what can be a very scary and dangerous time is absolute bullshit.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:54 PM on September 21, 2015 [35 favorites]

I have written about my second trimester abortion here before. I don't really care to find the story to link to it, but it's there. tl;dr it saved my life, literally, by getting me out of an abusive relationship. My daughter was conceived when I was on the pill, and I made a different choice then, and married her dad. My own dad is Irish and doesn't do emotions, but one day, as I was feeding my infant daughter, he said to me "You know, you made the right choice before, and you made the right choice now." And damn if it wasn't the best conversation I've ever had with him. But my abortion was a huge turning point in my life. I don't hide it, but I'm not really rah rah sharing it, either. It's one thing to share the story here, but I don't have it in me to post it on Facebook, you know? I wish I could be that brave, because, really, it's how I got to who I am today.
posted by Ruki at 10:12 PM on September 21, 2015 [16 favorites]

[Couple of comments deleted. I'm going to suggest that, especially if you're not a person who can become pregnant, this thread is not going to be a good place to strike up an abstract conversation about the need for balance and compromise and why this issue isn't as important as people say.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:13 PM on September 21, 2015 [87 favorites]

Even though I know my privilege probably would have protected me from ever being prosecuted if I had become pregnant and had it go wrong, articles like that last like terrify me on a gut level. I react physically to them; it's like a low-level traumatic stress response, and I say that as someone who has needle phobia/PTSD and has been treated for it as a condition of hospital admission. I am so very grateful that I never became pregnant.
posted by immlass at 10:14 PM on September 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

My mother should have had an abortion. Instead, she carried my brother to term with a chest cavity that didn't close. He died shortly after birth. It did permanent lasting damage to my mother and to our family. Once non viability is established, there should be nothing in the way of someone ending their own pregnancy if that's what's right for them.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:16 PM on September 21, 2015 [24 favorites]

Thanks for the post amendment, LobsterMitten and apologies to everyone for linking to the full-on ugliness of the hashtag. When I first looked at it, I had the Top Posts view and I don't think there was quite as much nastiness on there.

The reason that I think (and I've always thought) that its so important for people (women AND men) to speak up about their experiences with abortion is because the culture of silence and stigma bullies and intimidates women into saying nothing; which obviously allows the very worst of the trolling to go on essentially unchallenged, giving it more power. This despite the fact that abortion is incredibly common. I'm really glad to see people starting to speak up. I have never had an abortion either, but if I had I would definitely talk about it. And I am well aware that the only reason that I never had to have one is (as town of cats mentioned above) because I had good and fairly unrestricted access to birth control from my teenage years onward, because I live in a liberal state and my town had a teen clinic. There are millions of women and girls who don't have that luxury and they are made to suffer mightily for it, in a number of ways. This has got to stop. It is so important for all of us to push back against it in any way we can. And the best way we can start doing that is to bring our experiences with abortion out into the open by talking about them and refusing to be shamed. In this regard, I think there's some safety in numbers. And there are too many women and girls who suffer when we stay silent.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:16 PM on September 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

(To clarify, I'm in favor of everyone having unfettered access to abortion. I just have a very emotional response to people being forced to carry non viable fetuses in particular.)
posted by stoneweaver at 10:19 PM on September 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

One in three women in the US will have this legal medical procedure. The shame and stigma we place on them is disgusting.

Those speaking up are heroes.
posted by saul wright at 10:25 PM on September 21, 2015 [14 favorites]

apologies to everyone for linking to the full-on ugliness of the hashtag
Is there ever a meaningful hashtag anymore that DOESN'T get dragged down by the Legions of Very Very Bad Men?

I still find it hard to believe these are 'just guys in their spare time'. Somebody must be paying for these campaigns to poison the Internet.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:03 PM on September 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

A terrifying precedent - Jesus, yes. Steven Hayne, Mississippi, there are no words for you.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:05 PM on September 21, 2015

I had an abortion at 34-ish. It wasn't - by any means - a hard decision and I have no regrets. In the moments between when the anaesthesia kicked in and I passed out, I focussed on the doctor standing over me and said something like, "thank you for doing what you do, I appreciate it so much." I remain extremely pro-choice. With the decline in numbers of abortion doctors, I wish I had gone to med school with the purpose of becoming a doctor who could perform abortions.

I don't feel ashamed about my abortion and I wish that it wasn't a shameful thing in any context. I'd love to be able to wear an "I had an abortion," t-shirt without being judged.
posted by bendy at 11:08 PM on September 21, 2015 [15 favorites]

I had an abortion. And that's it. No justifying it or telling anyone of the circumstances. I felt I needed one, so I had one.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 11:18 PM on September 21, 2015 [47 favorites]

I have two family members that have had abortions. They were both far, FAR, too young to have become mothers. Neither regrets it, and they both have three kids we all love. Nor was it a casual thing for these young women. I very simply cannot imagine what they went through, emotionally and physically.

There's really nothing more I can add that isn't in the links. I'm glad those who are comfortable telling their stories are doing so. I respect those who choose not to. As a man with 0% chance of being involved in creating a pregnancy, I just want to add my voice in support of any woman's agency in making her own decisions about her own body, and yes, I've been directly affected by abortion because I love and care for the people in my life.
posted by wallabear at 12:57 AM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Abortions should be legal and available to any pregnant person who wants one without reservation. I'm most angry at the bans on third trimester abortions, as those are most often ones for wanted pregnancies and the idea of forcing more grief on an already grieving family makes me incandescent with rage.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:57 AM on September 22, 2015 [28 favorites]

and yes, I've been directly affected by abortion because I love and care for the people in my life.

This mirrors my thoughts. I wish the stigma and harsh judgement didn't exist, and that access to reproductive health was universal; it is intensely angering that the world is otherwise.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:03 AM on September 22, 2015

Not my gender, not my life and definitely not my call...
posted by jim in austin at 5:34 AM on September 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

Many years ago, through common carelessness, I got my girlfriend pregnant. We had much discussion about what to do. We decided to have an abortion. With our financial situation it would not have worked out to have a baby. I took her to the clinic and she had an abortion and I did my best to take care of her afterwards. None of it was easy but it was the right thing to do.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:59 AM on September 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

I know there is an excellent argument to be made that the slogan "Abortion on demand" is a scare-mongering anti-choice slogan. But seriously, abortion on demand without excuses.

I've never had an abortion but I've sat with friends and talked with them in the days before or after their abortions. I've always been grateful they had friends who just nodded and said "let me know if you need anything from me."
posted by crush-onastick at 7:20 AM on September 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

I don't feel comfortable speaking on behalf of my wife, or presuming to tell our stories on her behalf, but this is definitely a topic close to me and my heart. It's worth noting in passing that it isn't only shame that keeps people from speaking out on this subject. It may not be true for every person and in every situation, but the choice to have an abortion can also come with a lot of heavy emotional baggage that's a lot more complicated than simple shame--regret, disappointment, sadness and grief, among many others. This is not meant to disparage or criticize the project the FPP is about in the least, as it seems like a really positive and important thing. But it does seem to me that, culturally, we're a bit preoccupied with seeing shame as a sort of one-size-fits-all bogeyman for all our personal and social ills right now. Shame is a real part of the stigma, but there's so much more to our emotional lives than shame, I hate to think we might sometimes focus on overcoming shame to the detriment of other aspects of our emotional lives and personal development.

Great post and thanks for starting and keeping these kinds of important discussions going.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:26 AM on September 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

I had an abortion. I don't at all regret the procedure but I regret that it was something I needed. I don't feel shame about it but I also haven't ever told my mom or some of my closest friends.

It's cognitive dissonance all the way down.
posted by Saminal at 9:54 AM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I never had an abortion but was thankful to live in a state where I could have had one, if I needed it. I accompanied two friends, on separate occasions, to their abortions and I again was thankful that each of them had the opportunity to end her pregnancy accompanied by someone who cared about them. Again, thankful for the ability to end pregnancy when needed/wanted.
posted by Lynsey at 10:00 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had a second trimester abortion in a state where it is increasingly hard to access them. As I have said previously, "I hope that in a few years, when I am prepared for it, I will have an awesome baby! In the meantime, I remain totally convinced that I did the right thing for me to do. In the meantime, I defend everyone's right to make the right choice for them - and thank all the folks who defended my right to make the right choice for me." And I will keep fighting back against these aggressive, punitive, anti-women laws people are passing in the name of Life.
posted by SockMarionette at 10:10 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was raised as a Jewish girl, am queer and trans, and I loathe children and child-raising. I have helped over a dozen women (and two men) legally, medically end their pregnancies and I am proud to have been there for an unpleasant procedure. I have helped dozens of folks access fertility control. I have physically defended and financially supported abortion and family-planning clinics. I have dated three doctors and nurses who were abortion providers. I am the kind of person the theocratic forced-birth fascists vilify, and that makes me smile.

I support ANYTHING that safely allows ANYONE to manage their fertility. Because of where I have lived part of my adult life, I have been one rape away from being forced to bear a child against my will. I didn't use birth control because I've never had the kind of sex that could lead to pregnancy, and the morning-after regimen was not available until after I was well into my fertile years. NO ONE should have to worry about having a child they don't want, can't support, will risk the mother's health, or who will not survive.

In the US or elsewhere, I fervently support women's rights of self-determination, full control over their own bodies, and the social and economic circumstances that make those possible. Women are more than half the world'ls population, and choosing when and how many children to have is up to each of us, and no one else.

Closets confine or kill their inhabitants. Be out and loud about the realities and needs of our female bodies.
posted by Dreidl at 10:54 AM on September 22, 2015 [23 favorites]

For anyone who didn't see anitanola's story a few years back, you should go read it here.
posted by phunniemee at 1:46 PM on September 22, 2015 [12 favorites]

When I was in my first trimester of my first (viable) pregnancy, I was pregnant for triplets; a singleton and twins. Because the twins had not separated in a normal way (ie they were monochorionic, or, sharing the embryonic sac) there was some question as to whether they were sharing the umbilical artery, which could have led to all sorts of medical problems. On top of which, triplets are typically born around 32 weeks (as opposed to 40 weeks for a singleton). We simply did not have the support system in place to care for three medically- challenged babies, if, in fact they did all survive to begin with. With a pregnancy of this nature it also put me at a significantly higher risk category, and in extreme cases the life of the mother is in jeopardy as well. In the end we chose the life and health of the singleton over keeping the entire pregnancy, and we had what is euphemistically called a "reduction" performed, where the same chemical that is used to carry out death penalties is injected into the heart of the fetus.

It sounds horrible, and it is. It was a gut-wrenching decision to make. We saw six specialists and took several weeks to discuss the decision. We had every diagnostic test that we could in order to give us some insight. And we came to the conclusion that we came to.

When my son was born I sat down and wrote a letter of thanks to the doctor who performed the procedure. She's the only doctor in the area who does it. I thanked her for allowing us to have a healthy child. I thanked her for her work that allows women to have a choice. I thanked her for her bravery, because I'm sure she's faced scary moments. I am so grateful for the work she does and the life her work has allowed us to give our children.

And still, I won't talk about what I consider to he a medically-necessary abortion in public, because it's simply way too touchy of a subject. So I doubly applaud anyone who would step forward as these women (and, I hope, men; I haven't read through the hashtag) are doing, to remove the stigma of decisigns that they made that I personally know were hard to come to.
posted by vignettist at 2:12 PM on September 22, 2015 [28 favorites]

When I had my abortion, in the days between the phone call and the appointment, I could not stop thinking about my foremothers. Untold generations of women who didn't have a choice, couldn't even conceive of the double-edged blessing/curse of motherhood as a choice. Wombs so central to women's humanity that every social construct regulating their lives from cradle to grave were (still are!) articulated around that traitor organ.

When the deed was done, I wept not for the baby-that-wasn't, but for all those who didn't really have a choice. For the countless Anitanolas resolutely terrified on kitchen tables, the witchy gardeners with their pennyroyal secrets, those convents full of nuns who didn't love Jesus that much but loved children even less, for Norma "Roe" McCorvey who did have her baby in the end but fought so I wouldn't have to have mine. I was exhilaratedly grateful and resolved to stretch all the freedoms I enjoy to their fullest, to honor all those who couldn't.

Rationally, I know that reproductive choice is a right, but it's also an immense privilege enabled through technological and cultural advances, no less awe-inspiring than the ability to fly.
posted by Freyja at 6:42 PM on September 22, 2015 [11 favorites]

Amelia, who is a friend of several friends of mine, is starting to get the gamergate sort of internet treatment here. Her facebook account has been cracked(and possibly her email to do so?) and several people freaked out thinking something worse might have happened.

She's fine, but ugh, some people are really dedicated to shouting this down and shutting her up.

Seeing the immediately and tremendous local support and response to this has been really awesome and inspiring though. It's not just something like "yea i mean, duh". It's "fuck YES". There's already been a huge button making party everyone wore shirts and costumes to, tattoo shops doing flash sheets for it, and there's a lot more coming.
posted by emptythought at 3:03 AM on September 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

I know this will come as a huge surprise: Why the founder of #ShoutYourAbortion had to go into hiding
posted by rtha at 7:19 PM on October 6, 2015

Bonow herself is critical of that article: Amelia Bonow's Response to Today's LA Times Front Page Story about #ShoutYourAbortion
posted by homunculus at 7:30 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bonow herself is critical of that article: Amelia Bonow's Response to Today's LA Times Front Page Story about #ShoutYourAbortion

That is a fantastic article and Amelia Bonow is amazing. Thanks for sharing.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:07 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older sidecarcross   |   Woodblock GIFs Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments