In this link is the abortion story of a woman named Molly. You should know before you read it that there are some graphic descriptions and there’s some language. But you should read it. It’s very interesting. I thought the most interesting quote was here:
What about for the in-between? The post-abortive women who need recovery and who, at the same time, don’t feel they need to repent? Many factions of the pro-life movement say we are the ones who really care about women, who want to help women. Which women? Do you want to help a woman reeling from an abortion, even if she believes strongly that it wasn’t wrong?
Molly explains the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy, what her abortion was like, and how she felt afterward. Her feelings are what catch my attention.
Pro-lifers often insist post-abortive women regret their abortions, have deep psychological and emotional pain. We hear these women need healing, forgiveness, or, as Molly said, repentance.
Pro-choicers are more of a mixed bag. Some acknowledge that many women are deeply troubled by their abortions. Others brush off the women who really suffer–either as anomalies, or as a threat to abortion rights. Or both. Many pro-choicers insist that abortions don’t come with any major negative psychological or emotional repercussions. Sure, women may be initially upset about their abortions, but no more upset than they would be about any other stressful life event. Any major surgery is stressful. Nothing remarkable about that.
Molly doesn’t fit either of those narratives. She talks about feeling depressed and angry. She talks about physical and emotional pain, and about being “too traumatized” to go to her follow-up appointment. But she also talks about not being sorry, and about seeking out other women’s abortion stories, especially the ones who aren’t sorry. She says,
As soon as I could, I raised a thousand dollars for Planned Parenthood. It felt like paying a debt.
That quote is not an expression of anger at no one warning her about what she was going to do. It’s not an expression of sorrow at not having explored more options and resources. That quote is gratitude.
I’d like more people to acknowledge that abortion can be deeply troubling to women, and that many women seek abortion specifically because they feel they don’t have a choice. Women know that to be pregnant means to be limited in what we can do in terms of education, careers, supporting ourselves financially, supporting our other children, and so on. That’s the society we live in, and we need to change it.
Some people, like Molly, say abortion “is the basis of fertile women living equal lives.” But it’s not really true. Molly’s life after abortion wasn’t equal to that of a woman who has never been pregnant. And Molly’s life wasn’t equal to that of a woman who felt supported while she carried a pregnancy to term. Abortion doesn’t make us equal. Abortion takes the lives of our children in a pathetic attempt to paper over societal problems with deeper roots.
But I agree with Molly that pregnancy makes us unequal. And I believe fertile women should be able to lead equal lives to those of fertile men. Pregnancy should not be anyone’s undoing, and the pro-lifers I know (and, to be fair, some of the pro-choicers I know) that inspire me most are the ones who work to give pregnant women support.
Meanwhile, I’d also like more people to acknowledge that not all post-abortive women wish they could undo their abortions. It’s different for different women. As Molly explains,
Abortion is sometimes a trauma, sometimes an anticlimax, sometimes a relief.
Does this idea mean abortion is kind of okay, depending on the situation? No. Abortion takes human lives, and so it’s wrong, and should be illegal. I’ve written before about how I’m not clear what overall effect post-abortive women’s emotional repercussions have on the abortion debate.
But I do think stories like Molly’s show we should let women speak for themselves about how they feel about their abortions–including women who are relieved, traumatized, or any emotion in between. I think we should ease up on the idea that abortion should be illegal because it emotionally scars women. When we say that, we are telling a lot of women what they went through and how they felt, and many don’t agree.