I, too, had an abortion -- simply because I did not want a child. I was young and poor, living single in a foreign country, but, unlike Ehrenreich, I do not wish to suggest that economics was my explanation. My parents are very liberal and wish nothing but happiness for me, so if I had wanted to have and raise a child, my parents -- who are working-class but are hardly abjectly poor -- would have given me all the loving support that a young single mother and her baby would need. Indeed, had I been as rich as Teresa Heinz Kerry, I still would have made exactly the same choice.
There are tens of millions of women in America who made the same decision as I did, and they, too, need to not only speak up and defend the legal right to abortion and moral freedom to exercise it but also demand universal health care that covers abortion, free child care, jobs with living wages, and the guaranteed minimum income, so other women who become unexpectedly pregnant, too, can make their own decisions -- to have or not to have children -- based only on what they want to do with their lives.
How can women begin owning up to our abortions, which is to say, our freedom and responsibility?
Planned Parenthood has made beautiful "I Had an Abortion" T-shirts available:
Buy one for yourself, wear it, and let other women know about it. We can help make our experiences of abortion visible while financially supporting the good pro-choice organization. If you don't want to shell out $15 for a T-shirt, make your original "I Had an Abortion" T-shirt yourself.
According to Alice Thomas of The Columbus Dispatch, the "I Had an Abortion" T-shirt has been denounced by such anti-abortion groups as the National Right to Life Committee ("Promotion of 'I Had an Abortion' T-Shirts Not Wearing Well," July 29, 2004, A1). Jennifer Baumgardner, who designed the T-shirt, says, "It's meant to be part of a bigger, political and serious conversation" (Thomas, July 29, 2004). The conversation has already started:
Pat Siekkinen, 56, of Ashtabula, likes the idea of the shirts. She was in Columbus [Ohio] for a business meeting today.Baumgardner is also "making a documentary called I Had an Abortion that features women who don't regret having abortions. The movie, which comes out in January, aims at countering abortion horror stories circulated by the Victims of Abortion group, she said. 'Abortion is a safe, legal and very common procedure; 1.2 million women a year have one. It doesn't serve us to demonize it,' Baumgardner added" (Thomas, July 29, 2004). My fellow feminists -- let's make sure that her documentary will be as popular and profitable as Fahrenheit 9/11!
"What's wrong with it?" Siekkinen said. "I'm pro-choice, and if you choose to tell someone this, it's your choice." (Thomas, July 29, 2004)
Visit, also, I'm Not Sorry.net, a website that celebrates the right to choose, "where women can share their positive experiences with abortion."
What about men owning up to abortions? How about "My Partner Had an Abortion" T-shirts for them?