We Should Support Those Who Tell Their Personal Stories about Abortion
Especially those of us who consider ourselves pro-life
In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that many women on Medium have posted stories about having an abortion, some with the hashtag #youknowme. The reasons in each story for the unwanted pregnancy varied. One tragic story was told by a woman who was raped as a teenager, blocked out the experience, but was forced to later deal with the resulting pregnancy. Another talked about being young, and feeling as though they were not able to financially handle parenthood. A third story discussed social acceptability, writing about two abortions, both of which followed unprotected consensual sex. All three were different and yet some common themes emerged. First, I think all three stories were written thoughtfully and respectfully. I didn’t add it in the title, but one caveat I think is that articles to be supported (on either side of the issue) should be respectful. I will respect and defend your right to say whatever you want no matter how distasteful, but if a story (or response) is the equivalent of shouting at each other through Medium than I am less willing to support those authors.
The second aspect I noticed in all three stories was a sense of difficulty in telling the story. Whether it was grief, regret or simply a recognition of the weight of the decision, all three seemed to share this.
Finally, in each article, there was a sense of apprehension about how the story would be received. About being judged by others. Mostly the authors were fearless in telling their stories, but they all mentioned some version of unease in publishing it.
To me, these stories represented a window into another person’s experience. A set of experiences that I will never have or have to worry about from that viewpoint. They were stories of real life. The kind of stories that folks carry with them as they pass us on the street, but the ones that are rarely told.
Often, they were stories of someone who was hurting inside. Even the third story, which talked about the socially acceptability of an abortion, really seemed to start off talking about someone who was missing something and how that hole in their life led to the unwanted pregnancies. Feelings that had existed long before the pregnancies and their termination. I think the telling of these stories represents a choice for all of us in reading them. To choose to judge or to choose to accept, to set differences aside, to offer whatever form of compassion we can in that moment.
I mentioned pro-life in the subtitle. I consider myself a moderate pro-life advocate because I think a healthy, viable and full term fetus is a human being and I can’t (even from a scientific standpoint) wrap my head around the idea that they are not a human being.
That’s why I think it’s important to support those who share their stories, especially if you consider yourself a pro-life advocate, to show the compassion that we want for those small humans and for the adult humans too — to show what pro-life is supposed to mean. In the case of every story I’ve read, the abortion has already happened. The event cannot be changed or undone. All we can change is what we do now.
I also think there are more than two sides to the issue. I see it as a continuum, not unlike other continuous distributions in human beings. There are probably more variations in this continuum than there are leaves on a tree. All we can do is try to represent our beliefs as consistent and worthy of respect. I think that starts with offering that respect to those who tell their stories.
To those on the pro-life side of the continuum, I offer that maybe we should listen carefully. If we really want less abortions to occur, knowing why they did occur seems like an obvious starting point.
To those who have shared your stories, thank you. To those who have not yet, please know that there are people on either end of the spectrum who are willing to hear and respect your story, because yours is a life that matters.