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I Have, Too. I'm Not Ashamed.
Like The Guardian's Zoe Williams, I've had an abortion.

I was in my early 30s at the time, and shuttling back and forth between New York and Los Angeles. I had Kaiser Permanente as my HMO, which was not in New York City, so this very sweet jewelry designer I knew named Annette went with me and drove me all the way to White Plains in her old pickup truck.

It was winter, and very cold and snowy. When we got up to White Plains and found the clinic, there were people in parkas holding up old framed paintings outside. "Look, there's a yard sale!" I said to Annette. Oops, no...they were shouting "Murderer, murderer!" They were religious nutters holding up pictures of Jesus. Assholes. "Hey, I'll give you 50 cents for that frame!"

I've always felt, as Zoe Williams does, that it was important to not follow the lead of the fundanutters, and act like my abortion was something shameful. Sure, I regret not having been more careful about birth control, just as I regret not having been more religious about wearing sunblock during the years I got around New York City on rollerskates.

But, knowing what I know about science (read Michael Gazzaniga's book The Ethical Brain for the specifics on the fetal development timeline) I realized what I was doing was having a small growth of cells removed from my body. It was a potential human, not a person.

I mention it freely, when pertinent -- which means that I don't hide it. For example, I made this comment on March 19, 2006, in response to Crid's remark about how there's this strained silence in the room among certain women when there's talk of abortion:

I've had an abortion -- as have probably many women 40 or over. I have no problem admitting to it or to anything else I've done. As the therapist tells my friend Sue Shapiro, in her book, Lighting Up, "Live the least secretive life you can."

Joan Didion, in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, calls it having "the courage of your mistakes":

Like Jordan Baker, people with self-respect have the courage of their mistakes. They know the price of things. If they choose to commit adultery, they do not then go running, in an access of bad conscience, to receive absolution from the wronged parties; nor do they complain unduly of the unfairness, the undeserved embarrassment, of being named co-respondent.

Zoe Williams writes, "If we can get women to speak about it without embarrassment, we can break the abortion taboo." This doesn't mean we should be proud of having abortions, or vie for lots and lots of abortions; on the contrary, we should work to keep abortion, like other surgical procedures, "legal, safe, and rare."

But, part of keeping it all those things is not treating it like it's some shameful, horrible thing that has to be hidden. This means refusing to follow the lead of the religious nutters who really seek to take from us not just the right to abortion, but the right to birth control. Right now, they're setting the agenda of shame-based silence with their anti-science propaganda. And that's wrong.

Here's what Zoe Williams suggests we all do about it:

Tomorrow night there's a public meeting in the House of Lords in which women who've had abortions will talk about the experience. I've been to many pro-choice meetings, and my line is always the same, to the extent that now I have it written on a napkin: the only people who can break the taboo on abortion are people who have had abortions.

In the normal run of things, I take the opposite view. I do not, for instance, share the view that parents are the only people who understand children; or that you need to be the victim of a crime to comprehend prison sentencing; or that unless you had a family member involved in 7/7, you won't grasp the threat of terrorism. Taboos, however, are different. Gay rights were not won by a load of straight people saying "I don't mind if people are gay"; and abortion rights will not be upheld by a load of people saying "I agree with this right in principle". They will be upheld by people saying, in the words of the Abortion Rights flyer: "I've had an abortion. I am not ashamed." I've had an abortion, and I'm not ashamed in the slightest.

With no one speaking directly for this right, it leaves a gaping silence that is duly filled by anti-abortionists: foetus fetishists, quasi-Christians who don't actually, like, believe in God, but still think termination is a bit icky, misogynists looking for a way to put the boot in, people of genuine faith who don't agree with it ... And the more airtime they get, the more mainstream their views seem. On the other hand, as society gets more permissive, the terms in which we discuss abortion seem to be regressing; even those who support the right talk with hushed embarrassment rather than vivid pride in the women's movement and its achievements.

I'm always preaching to the converted, and rarely expect anything but a friendly clap and some nodding - until Wendy Savage (obstetrician, gynaecologist, pioneer, academic, one of the most impressive people I've met) talked about an open letter to a newspaper, along the lines of "We, the undersigned, have had abortions, and are not embarrassed about it ...". Apparently something similar was done in Spain, where the pro-choice movement gets a lot of oomph from the influx of Italian women, whose doctors, even though legally obliged to perform abortions, widely disdain to.

French women did something similar, too, the "Manifesto of 343 Bitches."

Williams continues:

I would love nothing more than to put such a letter together: I would be particularly interested in getting MPs as signatories, for three reasons: first, they represent the summit of respectability, and I think one of the taboo's incremental effects is that people associate terminations with fecklessness - and once characterised as something required only by the irresponsible, abortion will not be taken seriously as a right. Second, many women MPs who cut their political teeth in the women's movement, and got an incredible amount of engine-power from it, have now distanced themselves because, as with a CND past, it would make them sound unfashionably ideological. Third, getting MPs down on paper as having had abortions is a tricky business; there is no political currency in it these days - you alienate voters without winning any. Is there a female MP prepared to sign as a point of principle? There sure as hell are some who've had abortions.

Yes, it's about time women talked about their abortions without shame. Ironically, it's probably the best way to cut down on abortions (as opposed to all the abstinence nonsense -- indoctrination which doesn't stop kids from having sex, it just causes them to take a little longer to get to it, and then be unprepared to protect themselves against pregnancy and disease).

So, who, besides me, is willing to come out? Girls? Guys (if you've gotten a girl pregnant who's gotten an abortion)? Don't let the religious nutters silence you. Come out below in my blog comments -- the Global Village version of the letter Zoe writes about in her piece.

Come on, there's nothing shameful about not bringing a kid into the world you're unprepared to care for, or simply don't want. Just try to be better about birth control in the future, 'kay?

Posted by aalkon at July 7, 2006 11:02 AM

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Comments

Yay, Amy! I'm getting sick of seeing fetus-humpers trot out the same weeping women who decry their abortion and insist it ruined their lives, when there are thousands of women who've had abortions and don't seem to feel the same way. No, I've never had to had one. I hied myself down to blessed Planned Parenthood and got birth control as soon as I was legally able to, but every time I go to refill my prescription I have this twinge of anxiety that they're going to tell me that, oops, the fundanutters triumphed and I, fallen woman, will have to go back to the old-fashioned method of praying and worry. You see, I'm on the nice and effective hormonal birth control...the same type of control that fetus-humpers insist causes a monthly abortion. (Funny, nothing seems to be winking back at me down there!) Not content with outlawing abortions, they want to get rid of birth control all together. I'm perpetually surprised that I don't hear more outrage about this. Trust me, guys, if we have to go back to pulling out and praying, you're going to be getting a lot less action, so I would think it would be in your best interests to get interested in this subject, don't you?
I've gotten so sick of the idea that I'm nothing more than a container with legs for my pweshush womb, and that the cell goop in there is more important than I am, that I'm counting the days till I hit 25 and get Essured permanently. I want to get off the carousel of procreation, thanks.

Posted by: amh18057 at July 7, 2006 6:05 AM

i have been involved with an abortion. And i don't feel bad about it either. i was 22 at the time (not the "i was too young excuse") My girlfriend was 20. She got pregnant the first time we had sex. Told me the news on my birthday. Inside i was screaming "NOOOOOOOO!!" Visions of my music career going up in a pile of Huggies and dancing to the tune of "It's a small world" on one of those wind up rotating crib music boxes with the little plasic elephants just scared the ever living crap out of me. i could just see myself down the road of life being reduced to a resentful loser with a penchant for saying "i could have been successful you know if..." but it wasn't my choice even though i was a participant. i just said "wow....what would you like to do?" all the while wanting to find a high bridge to throw myself from. Of course she wanted to have it. Lucky for me, her mother had a bit more common sense and steered her into having an abortion. Would have been a miserable life for the child and the parents.

Ended up getting married to this young woman a few years after. She had a tubal pregnancy years later (which wasn't from having an abortion BTW) and can't have kids....

Being a parent is a HUGE responsibility and should be for people who really want to have kids and be a parent. Not just because you HAVE to be.

Posted by: Rob at July 7, 2006 6:09 AM

I had an abortion when I was in college and I'm not embarrassed about it but I also don't talk about it much. I think I have been affected by the cultural pressure not to talk about it because it'll make other people feel awkward.

The termination of pregnancy I had (in the hospital, they abbreviate it to T.O.P.) was a brief surgical procedure that I was lucky enough to have done in a big city hospital where I didn't have to deal with any protesters. And my mom went with me, which helped me feel very okay about everything.

I didn't want to be a parent in college and neither did my boyfriend. I still don't want to be a parent, so I've been very good about contraception since then. Fortunately, my husband also doesn't want to be a parent and he was happy to go get a vasectomy 8 years ago so that it would never be an issue for us and so that the burden of contraception wouldn't be all mine. He's a very considerate and responsible man. Don't you think that more men who know they don't want kids should be willing to get vasectomies?

I love being a doting auntie to my niece and nephew. I love babies and I love teaching little ones to read and explore the world. What makes me sad is seeing all of the children who are brought into this world who are unwanted and neglected, or who are used as fashion accessories by their parents.

Posted by: LynnieJ at July 7, 2006 7:20 AM

I read your blog almost religiously ( I know bad word). I read it sometimes with humor, sometimes respect, others with shock, and sometimes plain old fashion rightous indignation. On this occasion I thought it time to speak my peice. I am a practicing Catholic (practicing because I am not very good at it), but I don't believe that has anything to do with my feelings on this subject. What I believe is right for me is not necesarily right for others. My feelings on this have a lot more to do with common sense and odds. The way I see it even in this country of ours better than nine times out of ten if a pregnancy is let to run it's natural course a child is born. So ninety percent of the time an abortion stops a life from happening once it has started to form. Seems simple to me. I do want you to know that I do not feel people should be judged harrassed or otherwise made feel that they are evil for having to make the hardest decision of their lives (at least I hope it is a hard decision). As long as it is legal to do so they have the right. Judgement should only be theirs and their gods if they have one. I know many woman that have had one and don't think any less of them for having done so, impossible situations some times call for drastic measures. Decisions are made that would be different than my own in the same situation, but by no means does that mean they are the wrong decision. We all must decide what is right for us.
I hope this is at least a little proof that not all people of faith are nut jobs trying to shove religion down your throat. To each their own. Live life as you believe it should be lived.

Posted by: PVM at July 7, 2006 7:41 AM

Oh good grief, I've had two and it never even occurred to me that this was a subject to be ashamed of! Of course, I have been known to spice up normal conversation with true facts like that a horse bit my right nipple off when I was a teenager (I'll show it, too), that I was a crackhead for a few years (freebasing, if you want to get technical) and that I worked in a whorehouse for a hot minute. So abortions? Ha! That's never even been on my list of juicy topics, but now that I realize it's such a BFD, it will be. And while I'm on the subject, it occurs to me that while black guys weren't the only ones I rode bareback, that's the only sperm that ever got me. Hmmm... That said, try and bring yourselves to use condoms, people. I know it's hard, but some of the shit you could get can't just be vacuumed out. I got off easy.

Posted by: Little Shiva at July 7, 2006 7:55 AM

Oh, and by the way, I was drugged to sleep for the first abortion, but for the second one they just gave me a valium or something, so afterwards I asked to see what came out. The doc looked at me funny but said sure. I went over to the sink and looked, wondering if there'd be anything recognizable (it was super early, but still, you never know) and of course it just looked like a small spoonful of strawberry jelly, no big deal. No fish eyes looking back up at me screaming "maaaamaaa!" or anything.

Posted by: Little Shiva at July 7, 2006 8:18 AM

Remember: It's never too late to abort a child. I just flushed an obnoxious 14-year-old brat down the toilet last week.

Posted by: Lena at July 7, 2006 8:37 AM

I call that post-term abortion, and if only adults shouting into cell phones in public places would fit into that very small hole at the bottom of the toilet.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 7, 2006 8:56 AM

I haven't had an abortion myself, but I did help fund a friend's abortion in college. I was happy to start a collection. It was a situation neither he nor his girlfriend could have ever managed to be a parent. Hell, if they couldn't pay for all of the abortion, how the hell could they have paid for raising a child? That's one question I'd like to ask the fundanutters. For the record, they were using birth control...but apparently not quite perfectly. I do not regret for one second that I helped them. I shudder at the thought of what would have happened if I hadn't!

Posted by: Karen at July 7, 2006 9:01 AM

I drove my girlfriend to the clinic to have an abortion in L.A. 25 years ago-- and spent the night with her so if something went awry, I could get her to a hospital. I don't think she eve told the fellow she had been living with that she was pregnant--she found out as they were breaking up.
It was rough and painful for her, but not shameful. Sadness, relief.
Those were the feelings.

I have 2 kids out of 7 pregnancies. I have just had the damnedest bad luck with carrying to term--and that's a misery that's hard to comprehend if you haven't experienced it.
That being said-- When I was in the early stages of gestation with last child that never made it , I was in my 30's. I had 2 kids, one of whom was a fairly needy kid, and I didn't want to risk having a Down Syndrome child. Knowing that I could have the tests early and terminate the pregnancy if the genetic markers showed a problem gave me peace of mind like you wouldn't believe.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at July 7, 2006 9:04 AM

I just have to say, it's so great that everybody's coming out and commenting.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 7, 2006 9:41 AM

Amy is right on the money about this. My 18 year old son got an unethical, maniacal girl pregnant and then tried to hijack his life. I offered to not only pay for an abortion and hold her hand through it, but because she had such a shitty family life, I offered her money to start a life away from her mother, who was actually condoning this tragic yet all too common situation. They were both on welfare at the time, and looked set to continue this way of life. Was it unethical for me to do this? Not when I thought about a little kid living with this terribly confused and sick girl who was looking for salvation through a baby, and what she saw as a potential meal ticket, and was threatening to ruin my son's life. As it turns out, she had a miscarriage, and the relief my son felt was immense. He learned, almost too late, how important it is to avoid desperate girls who offer sex on the first date, and who you hardly know! What a close call. At the same time she was considering options, and she was 90% sure she wanted to keep the baby, the girl was seeing a counseling group that some nutbag directed her to (CareNet) and were advocating having the baby, telling her how wrong abortion is, and how my son was responsible and should be held to account (he doesn't deny he screwed up here by not using condoms or avoiding her & her type altogether; she had told him she was on the pill (yeah, right!)). Note to all young men: Don't be naive - use your condoms!! She was only 18 and poor as a church mouse and did not have an ounce of common sense. They should have been giving her directions to the nearest Planned Parenthood, but their deal is to get a pregnancy to term, and who cares what happens to these babies afterwards?

Posted by: Ally at July 7, 2006 10:04 AM

There are so many people in the world who shouldn't have kids. People are fallible and they make mistakes. If abortion weren't something we're so hush-hush about, there'd be more of a healthy, open discussion about stuff like what Ally's talking about, and, I think, fewer "mistakes." I tell guys this all the time -- in my column and on the radio. Ally makes an important point I often do: don't have sex with psycho girls you don't know or trust. A world of bad can happen to you from it...rape accusations, pregnancy, 21 years of wage garnishment, and more. And bring your own condoms, boys, so you know nobody's done any duty on them with a straight pin. Cynical? Perhaps. Better cynical and safe.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 7, 2006 10:49 AM

i really think this issue is important for men as much as women since unwanted children can ruin a mans life as well as any woman....

Excuse me....i really must drag my club to the nearest campfire and knaw raw meat off the bone now....

Posted by: Rob at July 7, 2006 10:55 AM

there are so meny people who would have been better off if never born.

Posted by: whatever at July 7, 2006 11:02 AM

My sister had an abortion when she was 16. She was young and stupid-in-love with a guy. She had an abortion (paid for by our anti-choice Irish Catholic father), and while it wasn't a joyride, she's never regretted it. She's now 48 years old, has a daughter who's applying for grad school at Columbia and a son who's planning on being President.

Posted by: Lena at July 7, 2006 11:49 AM

Lena, do you think a 15 year old would fit in the toilet? He's not that tall.

Anyway, not only am I not ashamed, I don't even care for relating it to "the courage of your mistakes." I got pregnant twice in college with copper 7 IUDs, which I was assured were the state of the art in birth control. How is that a mistake?

But thanks for addressing the subject anyway, more people need to. If only I could find a way on a food blog...perhaps I could review the Chinese movie "Dumplings," about women who eat aborted fetuses in tasty soup dumplings to beautify their skin...Sorry, I truly have no shame.

Posted by: Pat at July 7, 2006 1:22 PM

Never had one and after three children not sure I could at this point, at least emotionally. But rejoice in the freedom I get to make the decision for myself. I wouldn't want someone to pick out my furniture, or my clothing or my next beach book or the make or color of my next car, and that stuff is mundane compared to the choice of having a child.

Oh, and here's a link for you re: a solution for cell phone usage in public.

http://www.salemiindustries.com/

Personally, I don't know what the problem is. I usually only use my phone in my car, where I do most of my cursing and other sundry personal body noises. And when we are in our home in France I go out to the street. That seems to be where I am 90% of the time anyway.

Posted by: Bev at July 7, 2006 3:46 PM

So's there is balance. There are fundamentalist mind-set types on the pro-abortion side as well who have no compunction in approaching people with children and sneering "breeders". It's been done to me and my daughter. No side should go overboard.


whatever 11:02

Are you the one to decide who? If not, remember, you might be one of those considered "better off".

Posted by: Oligonicella at July 7, 2006 4:10 PM

"Lena, do you think a 15 year old would fit in the toilet?"

If his head gets stuck, just stomp up and down on him for a couple of minutes.

Posted by: Lena at July 7, 2006 4:33 PM

On the same subject but a different theme, I read years ago in a London newspaper that some group had abortion vans roaming through the poorest villages of India, offering free abortions to destitute women who already had more children than they could cope with. I believe that it was western missionaries that had them shut down. Probably Mother Teresa, that Catholic despot, had something to do with them shutting down.

Posted by: Ally at July 7, 2006 4:47 PM

PVM, while I appreciate that you are religious yet not completely nuts, I think your logic is kind of flawed. I'm not sure your "9 out of 10" statistic is right but even if it is, your logic suggests that we should let nature take its course. So by those terms, should we be treating terminal illness like cancer? Should we be curing diseases like syphillis? Should we perform blood transfusions to the critically injured? There are all sorts of natural accidents that we "fix" but somehow I don't think you'd advocate that we not use medical science in other arenas. Like you said, we each have a right to our own beliefs, however we form them but this sounds less like common sense and more like lack of examination to me.

Posted by: Christina at July 7, 2006 5:53 PM

Dayum, Red! So THAT'S what happened to Mao Jr!

Posted by: Mao See Tung at July 8, 2006 5:03 AM

Christina, That is an interesting concept. But I can not equate the birth of a human life with cancer. You seem to be stretching the point. I don't think that I will convert anyone here to my way of thinking nor would I try. Life is to be cherished and fought for. That is why we treat diseases with modern medicine, if we can cure it we do. But to compare that to terminating a pregnancy. I think you are trying to use an arguement that equates two things that are opposites.

Posted by: PVM at July 8, 2006 8:00 AM

Christina, You are right about the nine of ten thing, I was referring to the infant mortality rate in this country. I did not consider miscarriges. My apologies.

Posted by: PVM at July 8, 2006 9:21 AM

> I believe that it was western missionaries
> that had them shut down

Contrarianism has limits, y'know? Until the left stops describing the verge of abortion legality as forgone harvest, it will never recover moral superiority on this issue.

Furthermore, I believe that here in the States (if not India), all the abortion freedoms you can imagine (including $2 D&Cs in the high school nurse's office after lunch) will not meaningfully reduce the suffering that comes from people having babies incompetently. The impulse to create another generation no matter what comes from nature, not policy... People are shits.

Posted by: Crid at July 8, 2006 10:18 AM

Count me in.

I've had an abortion, and I'm not ashamed of it at all.

It was the right choice at the time, and it's still the right choice.

I'm not sorry for it, I don't regret it and I refuse to be made to feel guilty.

Fuck you if you try.

Posted by: Rachel at July 8, 2006 1:32 PM

Did you ever notice...

People who make healthy and (dare I say) wise choices get torn down by people who are trying to justify their own reckless behavior. Nowhere in Amy's post does she refer to people of faith without throwing in an insult or three.

When is not having extramarital sex considered a "missed opportunity" or a "bad choice"? If you are trying to convince yourself that choosing to have sex is just like choosing not to have sex, that neither is morally more correct, you are only deluding yourself.

Posted by: gus3 at July 8, 2006 8:35 PM

Um, why would sex without marriage be considered a bad choice? Because somebody told you the Imaginary Friend said that? This is dumb stuff, just like not eating pork is just silly. Jews have a higher incidence of Crohn's disease, probably for that reason (lack of immuno-exciters due to absence of worms in the diet). Sure, in biblical times, that made sense, not eating pork, because people didn't have refrigerators.

Why would choosing not to have sex be the moral thing to do?

In fact, it seems rather disrespectful of life not to live it to the fullest. Well, then again, I don't believe a load of horseshit about the world (nobody has ever seen or experience) that is supposedly beyond this one.

Frankly, if there were a god, don't you think god would want you to fuck yourself silly?

Gus, Gus, Gus...in biblical times, women had no birth control. Carl Djerassi wouldn't come along to invent the pill for CENTURIES. If a girl got knocked up, Daddy would have to pay for her. Hence, the prohibitions against premarital sex. It's as idiotic now as not eating pork. Well, for us non-primitives who use our minds to think, and don't just reduce them to hat racks. I suggest you try it sometime, much as being told what to think and simply believing it might seem a lot less work.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 8, 2006 9:56 PM

Wow.

You are so bent on justifying your own behavior that you can only trot out the tired old "differnt times, different needs" argument. Extramarital sex is just like eating pork? That's quite a reach, even for you.

As for the world beyond this one, just google "death experiences". But you've already dismissed every person claiming NDE out-of-hand, haven't you?

I think I'll start some off-shore betting. How many weblog posts per month on ag.c will insult (a) Christians, (b) Jews, (c) everybody who believes in the supernatural?

Posted by: gus3 at July 9, 2006 12:02 PM

Wow.

You are so bent on justifying your own behavior that you can only trot out the tired old "differnt times, different needs" argument. Extramarital sex is just like eating pork? That's quite a reach, even for you.

As for the world beyond this one, just google "death experiences". But you've already dismissed every person claiming NDE out-of-hand, haven't you?

I think I'll start some off-shore betting. How many weblog posts per month on ag.c will insult (a) Christians, (b) Jews, (c) everybody who believes in the supernatural?

Posted by: gus3 at July 9, 2006 12:03 PM

Sorry about the double-post.

Posted by: gus3 at July 9, 2006 12:04 PM

Justifying my behavior? I was careless. I had to have a surgical procedure because of it. It was the first and last time. A pity the religious nutters are still preventing easy access to the Morning After pill -- requiring other girls to pay for their carelessness with unnecessary surgeries.

Prohibitions against premarital sex are like prohibitions against eating pork in that we have the science -- birth control and refrigeration -- to prevent pregnancy and trichnosis. You're living as if you were born shortly after the invention of the wheel. Give us a call when you decide to joint the 21st century.

Because somebody sees funny stuff when they're near death is no evidence of anything. I heard a presentation explaining these things when I was at the recent evolutionary psych conference. I'll have to dig it up. Do you see a medical doctor or a witch doctor? After all, lots of people believe in witch doctors. It appears you base your beliefs on peer pressure, so why not?

You should be more worried that you believe in the supernatural than that I'll put up posts rightly noting such belief, without evidence, is silly, primitive, and the reflection that the believers are using their heads as hat racks rather than for actual thought.

Do you really believe in god? Or do you, as Daniel Dennett suspects of many people, believe in the belief in god? I mean, what rational, 21st century human being believes that there's some big guy in the sky moving him around like a chess piece, and engaging in some Santa-ish naughty-or-nice investigation of his behavior?

I do have to reiterate again, the total hoot of a belief that Adolph Hitler gets to go to heaven if he adopted Jesus as his savior, but Virgina Postrel, who just gave one of her kidneys to a friend, will have to go to hell if she doesn't.


Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 9, 2006 1:19 PM

PVM- If you had said that "life is to be cherished and fought for" as your reason to be against abortion, I wouldn't have had anything to say, as that is an opinion. Not really an opinion I agree with, but still an opinion. You implied, however, that because an abortion stops a natural process from happening, that because a body, if left to its own devices, could produce a human, that abortions are wrong. My apologies if I misunderstood, but that appeared to be the logic you were using. I think in the end it comes down to which is more important: a potential human being or an actual human being. And that to me seems like a fairly obvious choice.

Posted by: Christina at July 9, 2006 6:35 PM

"So, who, besides me, is willing to come out? Girls? Guys (if you've gotten a girl pregnant who's gotten an abortion)?"

In regards to abortion, shame and living the least secretive life we can, I'd be interested to see how many relationships survive an abortion. I've never impregnated anyone, so I'm not speaking from experience, but I think it would be difficult for a woman to hang on to a guy after she aborted...

...to be honest, maybe it's me that would have a problem staying with a woman who did that. Ever heard that you shouldn't take it personally when someone breaks up with you? What a silly suggestion!

How can a man not take it personally if the woman he's with looks at the possibility of having his child and raising it with him and just plain decides against it? I'm not a fan of shaming women into carrying children they don't want, but I suspect there are few men who'll go public with being so thoroughly rejected. (I also wonder how many women stay with men who first react to an unexpected pregnancy by suggesting an abortion.)

Nothing I know about evolution makes me think that men are likely to go public with being rejected either as a genetic specimen or as a provider. ...and I'm comin' up blank tryin' to think of some other way to interpret an abortion.

Until someone invents a birth control method for men that's 100% effective, men have to accept the responsibility for raising a child every time they have "conventional" sex. I don't think it's possible for women to surgically reject those obligations and not take out some of what most men think of as what it means to be a man.

Posted by: Ken Shultz at July 9, 2006 10:57 PM

Christina,
One last comment then I will leave this alone. My belief is that it is wrong for me and mine, and any one else with like beliefs. What other people believe and decide is totally up to them and they themselves are the only people qualified or with the right to decide if what they did was right or wrong for them.
But what I don't understand is the last comment, why should we have to make a choice on which is more important: potential or actual? Do they have to be mutualy exclusive? Can't we have both modern medicine to save a life, and potential human beings become actual human beings? In my beleif system (which doesn't neccessarily coincide with the churches) birth control is something you do before conception, after conception you should realy have an agonizing decision in front of you. Because to make either choice is a life altering decision. Either yours or the "potential" one.

Posted by: PVM at July 10, 2006 6:47 AM

"How can a man not take it personally if the woman he's with looks at the possibility of having his child and raising it with him and just plain decides against it? "

Um, half the genetic material is hers, too. I don't think most people have abortions out of self- or other-loathing, but because, as in my case, they find children loud, smelly, and expensive.

Moreover, I didn't find having an abortion an "agonizing choice." I just found myself pretty stupid to be in a position of needing to have surgery. I don't want to have children. I have no interest in having a child. No agony there. Just a realization I'd better be near-paranoid about having the birth control thing double-covered from then on, as I seemed to be something of a human fertility icon.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 10, 2006 8:13 AM

I don't know where the religious nuts came up with their anti-abortion idea. Let's open THEIR Bible and see what THEIR alleged god says about pregnant women. How about Hosea 13:16 for starters; it kind of says it all: "Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up." Hell, let's throw in one more for good measure; Psalm 137:9: "Happy shall he be, who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock." Where in the Bible does it say that Biblegod is against abortion? He hates kids and just about everybody else!

Posted by: Bill Henry at July 10, 2006 9:20 AM

Bill...thank you for finding that. Great stuff.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 10, 2006 9:58 AM

Amy, If your going to fight these nut cakes you have to be able to go right after them with their own damn book! So many times (like about 100%) they never get challenged by the press when they show up with their BS in the media. I love it when Mormons or JW's stop by. I start off by hitting them with some of the history of their group which most of the time makes them feel as I must be one of them. Then I whack 'em with the big 'HOWEVER', saying that their religion is just another pile of BS because of.....(out comes the bible)stuff like THIS! Of course they are shocked to learn how a clean-cut, non smoking, non drinking, non drug using guy like me could possibly be a dreaded ATHEIST! Currently, I am praying to the Goddess Amy that Mormons will show up sometime in the next couple weeks while we still have a clear plastic sheet up between our kitchen and the new addition that's almost done. If they show, I will be able to invite them in to make a mockery of their "through the veil" nonsense, where a devotee is pulled thru a slotted curtain into a "Celestial Room" (our new addition!) during one of their silly rituals in the temple. I can just see them now(they always travel in pairs): "HTF did this guy know about THAT?" I simply CAN'T respect nonsensical beliefs that have kept mankind in a fucked up state for centuries. Just don't tell 'em you reject it and walk away, tell 'em WHY you don't buy it, and use THEIR book to point out the reasons. Embrace the Bible! It's the greatest weapon against Christinsanity that I've ever seen!

Posted by: Bill Henry at July 10, 2006 10:47 AM

Feel free to post more of the hypocrisies. They can only help!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 10, 2006 11:43 AM

Um, half the genetic material is hers, too. I don't think most people have abortions out of self- or other-loathing, but because, as in my case, they find children loud, smelly, and expensive.

Generally speaking, I suspect most men also find children (infants in particular) loud, smelly and expensive. ...that doesn't mean you'll find many to take a public bow for being rejected.

Psychologically, there's a huge difference between rejector and rejectee. In every abortion, the man (as genetic specimen and provider) is the rejectee--given the possibility of having his child, for whatever reason, she'd rather not.

I'm sure many men are thrilled to dodge responsibility for children they don't want. ...that doesn't mean they're thrilled to go public with being rejected so.

Posted by: Ken Shultz at July 10, 2006 12:09 PM

I'm with you, Amy - it wouldn't be an agonizing choice for me, either. Also, I don't see the comparison between extramarital sex and eating pork to be the least bit of a stretch. They have two things in common: 1) Neither of them are moral issues, and 2) A lot of people think they are, anyway.

There are a lot of folks who are horrified by the idea of sex as a recreational activity. In their minds, sex is for making babies, and any enjoyment that comes with it is just a bonus. That's why they trot out the line that if you aren't prepared to get pregnant, you shouldn't have sex in the first place. There's just no point in arguing with them - most of their beliefs are rooted in religion.

To me, that's like saying that if you aren't prepared to die in a car accident, you should stop driving to work. I unabashedly admit that I see sex as something that exists for fun, and pregnancy (like STD's) is an annoying side effect that must be prevented to the greatest extent possible.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at July 10, 2006 12:47 PM

PVM, you are welcome to your beliefs and if you and yours have to deal with an unexpected pregnancy, it's obviously a decision for YOU to make. I'm not advocating abortion as birth control here. Of course birth control should be taken care of before hand. Most people prefer that, if only because taking care of it after is way more expensive and difficult. Abortion is and should remain an option in case you are human and have made a mistake, or been raped or whatever. As for why we should have to choose, because it's life and that happens. Sometimes you have to choose. And yes, we can have life-saving medicine and people who choose to have children but that's what it should be: a choice. Having children should not be a consequence of someone's carelessness or misfortune. It should be a choice, a welcome blessing and a gift, not an 'oops, now I have this child to rear and mess up because I'm not prepared, capable, or willing to do the best as it deserves'.

Posted by: Christina at July 10, 2006 12:52 PM

OK, Amy, here's a couple more Bible "goodies". How about JC's position on slavery? Open yer Bi-bull's to the booka Luke, chapter 12 verse 47...and Jeezus said,
Luke 12:47
"That servant, who knew his lord's will, and didn't prepare, nor do what he wanted, will be beaten with many stripes, but he who didn't know, and did things worthy of stripes, will be beaten with few stripes. To whoever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked".
Now, brethern, turn to Isaiah 16:11 which sounds like some of the happenings on the Howard Stern show: "Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh". Oh, and then there's the recipe for delicious bread in Ezekiel 4:12: And thou shalt eat it as a barley cakes and thou shalt bake it with the dung that cometh out of man, in their sight." There's no end to the bullshit in the Bible!


Posted by: Bill Henry at July 10, 2006 5:31 PM

Boy, if given a choice between eating shit and eating tofu, I'd take tofu. No wonder some Jews and Christians become interested in eastern religions.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 10, 2006 8:06 PM

Go ahead and "break the abortion taboo." The more women like you, who can kill without remorse, brag up their abortions, the less sympathy the public will have for you. You make prolifers jobs easier with your efforts.

Posted by: Christina at July 11, 2006 8:16 AM

Do you know the difference between a scraping of cells the size of one of these letters in this comment, and a person? Read a little less Genesis and a little more Fundamentals Of Biology.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 11, 2006 8:20 AM

Via Hit & Run, it seems that some hyper-conservative anti-abortion site took umbrage at someone else that came out of the clinic with pride.

...the funny part is that the person upon whom these nuts hurled their righteous indignation wasn't even a real person--she was a creation of The Onion!

Whole thing here.

Posted by: Ken Shultz at July 11, 2006 4:55 PM

I've also been involved with an abortion, in a roundabout way.

When I was in college, I was friends with a... well, rather easy girl who lived next door. (It never occured to me to try to score with her like every other male did. But the romantic dumbassery of my youth is a topic for another post.)

Anyway, one day she asks me if I can drive her to a women's clinic, as she had picked up a little condition she'd like not too many people to know about. Being Mr. Overly Nice Guy, I agreed.

That day, it quickly became clear to me that she wasn't going to get treatment for crabs. I pressed her, and she admitted she was going for an abortion. And that she wanted to hide it from the father, whom I knew to be a dangerous psycho.

I was livid. Not because of any strong feelings on abortion, but because I'd been lied to, and dragged into an affair I had nothing to do with.

Mind you, this woman already had an illegitimate child, whom her parents were raising while she screwed around in college. The last thing she needed was another kid she had no interest in raising, especially when the kid's father was constantly in and out of prison.

I realized that I would decide the fate of this unborn child, or unviable tissue mass (take your pick). To make a long story short, if I refused to drive this woman to the clinic, she would have to admit the pregnancy, and family pressure would result in the child being born. If I drove her to the clinic, it would not be born.

I had met this child of hers, a daughter. I thought about her. My actions would determine whether or not she would have a little brother. I have a little brother, whom I love dearly. This figured prominently in my thinking.

I pulled the car into a parking lot, to make my decision. After about five minutes, I realized that it was not my place to decide this child's fate. The mother should make the decision. I drove her to the clinic. The abortion took place.

I had nightmares about it for a brief time. And I slept with a Louisville Slugger in case psycho dad found out and came after me. But it eventually blew over.

Did I do the right thing? I think I did. I still don't know if abortion is "right" -- I still have some misgivings about the practice -- but I do know that it wasn't my decision to make. I wasn't the one whose life was going to be affected by this pregnancy. It was wrong of me to judge.

Pro-lifers, the pregnancy decisions of other women aren't yours to make either. Women in this situation need to decide for themselves what is best for their own lives. So kindly butt out.

Posted by: Gary S. at July 11, 2006 10:58 PM

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