Friday, July 30, 2004

I Had an Abortion

"The freedoms that we exercise but do not acknowledge are easily taken away," Barbara Ehrenreich reminds us in her New York Times column ("Owning Up to Abortion," July 22, 2004). "At least 30 million American women have had abortions since the procedure was legalized, mostly for the kind of reasons that anti-abortion people dismiss as 'convenience' -- a number that amounts to about 40 percent of American women," according to Ehrenreich, and yet, if you look at only the corporate media, you would think that few women would even consider abortions and that rare women who chose them only did so burdened with "terrible guilt" (Ehrenreich, July 22, 2004). Ehrenreich argues that women should own up to abortions and practices what she preaches in her column: "Honesty begins at home, so I should acknowledge that I had two abortions during my all-too-fertile years. You can call me a bad woman, but not a bad mother. I was a dollar-a-word freelancer and my husband a warehouse worker, so it was all we could do to support the existing children at a grubby lower-middle-class level" (July 22, 2004).

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.

"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)
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!

Visit, also, I'm Not, 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?


Anonymous said...

i did have several abortions 5 total. I was a young drug addicted mother who knew another child would only worsen my problems and make that child suffer. I did have 3 children before age 22.One child is now a heroin addict and missing. Sometimes I wonder if I was selfish in letting him be born as his life has been hard. I have been clean for 16 years but it wasthe early years of abuse that he suffered that still haunts him. If I was to go back in time I may now make a different decision knowing his constant pain and rage.
I am all for a womans right to choose how and when but we all must remember the children.Do not bring a child into this world if you cannot care for it both emotionally and physically because that child is the future.Know your limits.

Anonymous said...

What would people think of a shirt for men who marry women who have had an abortion. Something along the lines of

"So I married a child murderer!"

That would be a good one to wear to family get togethers. I can't believe that people think that abortion is OK. Simply amazing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are people who think abortion is ok.
I am amazed that there are people who think that women who are not ready to become mothers, who are not able to look after their babies should be forced into motherhood against their will.
Or perhaps we should return to the good old days when abortion wasn't 'ok' and women had to opt for backstreet abortions, often enduring unsanitary and dangerous procedures and frequently dying torturous deaths.
Would that be ok??

NoPetrol said...

You don't want to have kids? Don't have sex. Sex doesn't happen by accident, people. I don't think that it should be illegal to have an abortion, but a person who has an abortion is a bad person, in my opinion. Tax-dollars should not pay for abortions, because a lot of people who are against abortion pay taxes also.

nyc liberal said...

You pay taxes to live in a free (definition: not controlled by obligation or the will of another) society. I don't want my taxes to go to corporate welfare but billions (trillions?) of dollars do, that truly is immoral.

Forcing women to give birth to unwanted children is not pro-life -- it is pro-birth. Feeding, educating, caring for those children who are already in this world is pro-life.

I wish the "moral right" would quit worrying about what women do with their own bodies and give their energy to caring for all the millions of unwanted and uncared for children (whose mothers were denied access to abortion or birth control) that go to bed hungry, are abused, have no access to education, are forced to either make american products for pennies a day or sell their bodies for a dollar a day.

Making abortion illegal will only cause more death and pain to women and children, why not make a difference where it can be felt by those who need it the most?

Anonymous said...

Murder you say? The premeditated unlawful killing of another human being?

Hardly. 1 in 5 fetus' abort themselves and by the time you abort these its unknown whether they'll ever develop or not. Potential cells are not human.

I'll leave the decision to the owner of the body, its in her hands anyway.

What would I say if my mother told me she may have aborted me? I would be upset of course. I don't like abortions, and they shouldn't be promoted, but they should be available.

Anonymous said...

Humanity is truly outgrowing religion. You can't apply a 2000 year-old book to intelligent, civilized people in the 21st century.

Jackie said...

Abortions should only be available to those that need them. And when I say that, I mean those whose pregnancies are life threatening to the woman (which would also kill the child). Having a child doesn't always mean raising a child. There are plenty of families looking for children. Every child is wanted.

Abortions are not a form of birth control. There are forms out there, and if one doesn't want to get pregnant, either don't have sex, or use protection (good, dependable protection). There is also the after-sex pill available.

I don't believe that children should have to be brought up with heroin-addicts for mothers or in a living situation that is going to hurt them physically or mentally. Those children can always be put up for adoption. However, people that use finance as an excuse ought to be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

If one is pro-life they will not only recognize their commitment to fetuses but also their commitment to the living.

My great great grandmother died giving herself an abortion, well before it was legal. She was a poor immigrant living in New York. She already had 4 children and could not imagine the implications of having a 5th.

I am not advocating everyone agree with abortion. People disagree on a lot of things and that is fine. But if abortion were illegal, we would be condemning many already living women to suffering as my great great grandmother did.

Don't have sex or don't try to give yourself an abortion, you might say? Well, that would be a great idea if you could control the world. Not everyone is as responsible and enlightened as you. Some people are young or poor or confused or on drugs or all of the above.

The only solution I see for all of us - even those who are vehemently opposed to abortion is to keep it legal. That way it will be safe and regulated. Then if you are opposed to it, work on ways to minimize it, like promoting sex education or distribution of birth control.

Anonymous said...

To the person advocating putting unwanted children of heroin addicts up for adoption:

I have seen two such children of a drug addict mother. They were adopted at three months of age. When they were three, they were tested for special needs and began attending special needs preschool. They were two of the most difficult children in the preschool.

At first when I saw them I was angry at them for being so difficult, but then I saw their file, that their mother was on drugs and it affected them. That is a far bigger crime against the unborn than aborting them. These children are going to have very difficult lives. My heart ached for them after I learned about their mother and their past.

Yoshie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Yoshie said...

If a man were allowed to ejaculate in a woman's vagina only when the couple had already decided to have a baby, there would be a lot fewer ejaculations in the world, as most couples -- especially women -- don't want more than two children. Should we establish a new sex police who police bedrooms to make sure that a man who doesn't want to have a baby won't ejaculate in a woman's vagina? I don't think so.

Yes, men and women should be encouraged to employ contraceptives when they are not interested in having children, but contraceptives can fail, as a condom did in my case. That is why abortion is necessary. There should be single-payer universal health care, and abortion should be an integral part of it.

Postscript: I deleted my own comment above, as there was a typo.

Ruby Sinreich said...

I had an abortion when I was 17 and it was a tough decision. But even now when I am hoping to become a mother in the next five years, I know I did the right thing for everyone involved - including my potential daughter.

Where are the so-called "pro life" people for the children of women who are too young, too poor, too unstable, or just too unprepared to be a mother? All they are after is control of women, they care not for our health or our children.

I don't tell them when to have kids or who and when to fuck, so I would appreciate the same courtesy.

Anonymous said...

When does one figure out that it is unconsciable to have multiple abortions. Plus I believe the responsiblity factor has flown right out the window. Women can nail the dad for child support but can deny him visitation rights, but if she wants to murder her unborn baby and not tell dad, that's perfectly ok?
You pro-murderer women of children, take no responsibility especially if you've had more than one abortion. The first one should have been a wake-up call. How in God's name can Anonymous say she had 5 abortions and one of the children she let live now regrets not aborting him because of how he has turned out. Again responsibility, he turned out like that because of you and only you. You ought to tell him that you think his life sucks and if you had known you would have killed him. The only difference between an unwanted choice and an unborn baby is one is wanted and one is not. Back to responsibility you say that the child is the future and to know your limits. Well you didn't get the limits, (5 of 'em)and yes children are our future so let's stop killing them for conveinance, wrong timeing (what if your mother had felt that the timing is wrong)not enough money, and on ad nauseum. If we waited until we had enough money the planet would eventually die out, you NEVER have enough money for children, but you know God somehow knows what you need and will provide it- provided you WORK for it instead of lieing down in a gutter and blaming the world for your misfortune. Also I've never had an abortion, but I know many who have. One like you keeps spitting out kids from different fathers and intermittenly aborted 3 of her pregnancies. Her oldest daughter has continued the circle of welfare and babies starting at 15. When should have the abortions started with the mother, grandmother, daughter...My cousin has had about 8 abortions finally decided to keep one and that one has personality disorders, hygiene issues, developmentally delayed, etc. Was she wise to gamble? After our two sons were born we decided our familiy was just right, so I had my tubes tied. Why? because at the time I was 31 and my husband was 21. I chose the tubal because I had the children I wanted and there would be no way to replace them. But their father had the right if something happened to me to be able to have another child.
Plus you woman activists, over 1/2 of the babies killed are women. Is that really equal rights?

Anonymous said...

"Where are the so-called "pro life" people for the children of women who are too young, too poor, too unstable, or just too unprepared to be a mother?"
Supporting them, supporting nursuries and adoptions and the charities devoted to giving the child a good life

Anonymous said...

Most people might tell me that I should have gotten an abortion. Although I am married, I have three children, 0, 1 and 2, and I am a poor black mother (no, I'm not on welfare.)And I am 22 years old. If anybody was to look at my beautiful children and tell me that I should have aborted one of them (which one? How could I choose between them?) I would spit in their face. But that's what pro-abortionists are telling me I should've done. Choose one, choose two, choose all three, and kill 'em. I have no doubt that my children want to live. Why should I have the right to kill them?

Anonymous said...

To all those opposing tax money paying for abortion, repeat after me:
"An Abortion I pay for Today Is Welfare I don't pay tomorrow!"

Anonymous said...

If abortion is cool (which it's not, it will be looked back on as worse than slavery), what's wrong with killing infants instead of taking them home from the hospital?

Using the logic of convenience and choice, "hell, it's not developed, I don't want to care for it, and I shouldn't have to. I'll just drown it and throw it in a dumpster. No biggie. Apparently, it's my right to do that." How that for American liberalism?

Anonymous said...

I can sympothize with your heart aches.My son is a 32 year old heroin addict that looks like a consentration camp victim. he has done every drug there is since he was 12 yrs old. I have tried everthing to forget from jesus christ to crack and nothing makes me forget. I want to die. It hurts me so. there is no hope unless you are wealthy.

Anonymous said...

I belive that abortion is a liable options for those who can not and should not have children. Children who are born with drug related problems have almost no life, very few lives worth living. For those who grew up knowing you were the reason for living in trash those are who should fight for the right to choose. I do advocate the right of the father. One person did not make that child and no one person has the right to take that choice away from another. The father from the mother or visa versa. If we expect the government to pay for things we aprove of rember.. there are others who don't approve so. its a one or all concept either the goverment pays for "all" the world problems or none of them.

Anonymous said...

While I myself would not get an abortion, I believe that it is till the woman's choice. This seems to be one of those issues that no one will ever agree on. I, myself, have a hard time agreeing with it, mainly because I believe that every life is precious and it is wrong to kill, but I don't think that right should be taken from a woman. No one can truly say when the fetus is "alive". Does it have thoughts? Does it have dreams? What exactly qualifies something as being alive? People sometimes eat the seads of a plant, ending that plants life. You may have just killed the cure for cancer. In a world of opinions, I bet that this will be going on for a long long time. I give you props for standing up in what you believe in.

Anonymous said...

We are all victims of difficult, if not seemingly impossible situations, at some or most times in our lives. I understand that becoming pregnant can certainly be one of these situations. What I believe, however, is that, in the case of a pregnancy, there are atleast two lives directly involved. We can not, as civilized and freedom loving people, demote a human being to non-human status based on him/her being smaller, less developed, more dependent, and in a different location than the majority of us. As a society, we all need to step to the plate to not only educate people on the facts of abortion, but also in supporting needy mothers (starting with all the women on YOUR street), suppoting and reforming our adoption administrations, and loving and forgiving one another in all cases.

Anonymous said...

Why should women have a right to kill children? Why should anyone have a right to kill someone else? Sometimes it's not even a woman's "choice"! Her family or her partner forces her to abort. Abortion shouldn't even exist, it is just horrible and disgusting. I don't even know how abortionists live with themselves. Abortion should be illegal, and only allowed in the case of saving the life of the mother. What there should be, is programs for women with unplanned pregnancies.. programs that help them find jobs, or financial assistance, assist them with childcare, assist them in adoption, help them find health insurance, etc.

make abortion illegal!

Pandora Sage said...

I do not believe in abortion for myself, but know several people who have had them done. My mother included. She was/is an alcholic and in a highly abusive relationship. At age 40, under those conditions, while it broke my heart to think that was my sibling being murdered, it was the best decision for her. However, I was pregnant as the same time, and she often now looks at her grandson and has regrets, all the while knowing that it was better than having a FAS child or one that would grow up abused. While I see abortion for what it is; murder, I still believe that each person has the right to chose for themselves.

Knowledge is Power said...

What about increasing knowledge about how to use contraceptives? I don't know why this isn't a bigger issue, I'm a woman in early 20's and still get confused by all the birth control rules sometimes...(example; does the EXACT time really matter or is just so that you remember to take it..and if so how long of a time lapse is TOO long or TOO short? ) I rely on the advice of my friends mainly, NOT medical professionals, as do most of my friends. And why do we only get this kind of information (if we're lucky) in 8th grade before most of that information is even tangibly relevant to you. I swear to God that if this kind of information was more accessible to women, especially younger woman, there would be a SERIOUS decrease in abortions.

FrozenAngel1987 said...

I had an abortion! i was 15 years old, still in school! you think i should of kept my babie? im sorry but all the 'pro-lifers' a.k.a 'pro-forced birth' have no right to judge me, unless you have been in my shoes. Unless you were willing to take in my potential child for 18 years then really you cannot judge me. A WOMAN WANTS AN ABORTION LIKE A TRAPPED ANIMAL WANTS TO RIP OFF ITS OWN LEG TO BE FREE FROM ITS TRAP. You think i actually wanted an abortion? NO i had to have one! i couldnt possibly cope at that age with a baby. im 19 now, its been 4 years since that abortion, if i got pregnant now, id keep it, iv had my chance and now i would be able to cope, but at 15 really?? i know what you thinking, 'if you dont want children dont have sex' but really i bet no one on this site can honestly say, 'i waited to have sex till i was ready to have kids' ummmm. oh yeh and one more thing, have you ever noticest most pro-lifers are men!! ummmm to all the pro life men out there, whats that between your legs?? ummmm a penis! and some how i dont think that your penis will ever have a baby. therefore you will never, NEVER have to make that decision to abort. so what gives you the god damn right to judge me! ummm you dont have to right, no of you do, only god can judge us.

myocean said...

I could never wear a t-shirt that says, .I had an abortion. I am so... so.... so... ashamed. I find the act very hard to live with. Tell me why didn't we give our babies up for adoption? I'll tell you why....if I cann't have it... know one can. The truth is we are selfish.... we were only thinking of ourselfs. I admire all the women that didn't abort there baby instead you give your babies a chance to live, by keeping it or giving it up for a adoption. Lets not hid behind the right to choose. To all those that have had the abortion including myself.....lets stop pretend that a part of us didn't die with our babies.

myocean said...

I would of taken your baby. If not me... I know wonderful mothers that would of.

Becs_1 said...

Just hearing the word stirs up millions of different emotions, interpretations and beliefs in different people.

The 'pro-lifers' that have left comments here have said, "I would have taken your aborted child... If not, I know wonderful mothers that would have... Every child deserves the right to live".

I have a question for you all. Are you aware of how many children are currently living in foster care? And furthermore, are you aware of the percentage of those children that actually come out of their situations with a rich and fulfilling life?

A child of a drug addict has a high chance of being born with a drug addiction. Being brought up in an atmosphere of drugs and/or abuse, poverty, neglect builds human beings that will need possible rehabilitation, extra welfare, increased care and intensive support.

It is naive to say that there are many loving homes that would willingly take on a child that has been put up for adoption, particularly if the child has serious genetic defects or other.

I am not a strong supporter of abortion, nor am I a strong defender of the 'pro-life' movement. I do, however, strongly believe that more needs to be taken into consideration when we ask whether abortion is 'right' or 'wrong'.

We must consider the mother. We must consider the perhaps potential child. We must consider the wider community, and of course we must consider the father / family of the mother involved in making the decision.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: We have the right to use contraception to prevent pregnancy. Are sperm not POTENTIAL life forms? Are a woman's eggs not POTENTIAL life forms? If so, then using contraception is killing a potential life, as is abortion.

It would seem that the debate goes round in never-ending circles.

Of course their are moral rammifications involved with abortion. A woman who has gone through the ordeal will likely consider the 'what if's' and whether she made the right decision... But is this not part of everyday life? Decisions ALWAYS have some form of conscientious or moral stigma attached.

Lastly, the idea that life begins at conception is little more than religious dogma. What about the women who aren't religious? Should they not have a say in the matter? Should they not be able to establish their own beliefs regarding when life begins, and whether abortion truly is, in fact murderous? Of course they should.

A pro-life activist stating that abortion should be illegal, is like a non-drinker stating that alcohol should be illegal to purchase or sell.

The whole debate is argued around issues of morality and ethics. Everyone is different and everyone is capable of making their own decisions and forming their own beliefs.

Pro-lifers, lay of the women who have had abrtions, or those who support it. It is THEIR opinion, and an opinion of which they are legally entitled to.

Pro-Choicers, lay of those who are against abortion. It is THEIR opinion, and one which they are also legally entitled to.

Abortion should be made available for those who support it or wish to access it.

For those that don't like it... Don't get one.

It's your choice.

FallAway said...

Don't want to be mean or anything but I wanted to say that obviously not all children are wanted. What about all the children in foster care? Well why doesn't someone adopt them if there are so many families waiting to adopt? oh yea I forgot they only want infants of the smae race with no health problems...I wasnt put on this earth to pop out babies for people who cant have their own. Not my job.

iceangel said...

Abortions are wrong in many ways but that dosent mean they should be made illegl because of mistakes that people have made during there life.

Matthew Robson said...

There is a difference in having the right to do something, and that thing being the right thing to do.

In times of war, (when is it not) Women are properly property of the state. (Just as the men are, with universal conscription.)

Unknown said...


That was the most brilliant, civil thing anyone has said on boards such as this one. Thank you for sharing that.

Unknown said...

I've had an abortion, and I am happy that I did. In fact, I've had two, for various reasons, one when I was 19 and one when I was 25 or 26. They are the best decisions that I could have made at the time. I don't regret that I had them at all, though I do wish that I wasn't put in that position in the first place. And before anyone speaks about "contraception" you should know that I was on the pill and using condoms... I simply get pregnant very very easily. I am also married and have been for almost 13 years.

However, I doubt that I would wear one of these shirts. I will support anyone who does, as that is bravery personified, but I guess I'm just not brave enough to do so myself! I am open about my abortions, but I suppose not quite that open. Of course that is my right... it is my health care, after all.

To those that are so judgmental on here, I would advise you to take a look around the world and start making some positive changes. I am a foster parent and it is just sad how many children do not currently have "forever homes" or someone to really take care of them. Before you start going on about the "murder" of an embryo, please look at the children all around us being abused each and every day and do something to stop that.