Speak up


It’s not something even my most feminist of friends talk much about—at least not beyond the platitudes of “choice.”

It is, after all, a touchy, emotionally charged subject.

And one that’s going to get much touchier, much more emotional if the Republicans get their way and push through a bill that would ban taxpayer subsidies for abortions.

Proponents for House Resolution 3—a.k.a. the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”—have backed away from a controversial definition of rape. Previously, the bill made allowances for abortions only in the case of “forcible” rape. It would be a laughable oxymoron if it weren’t such a seriously repulsive and offensive phrase.

But even without that insulting clause, the bill is still trouble. If passed, it will still make critical limits on a woman’s access to funding for abortions and would allow restrictions limiting rights in case of incest. It would also permit tax hikes for those with private insurance plans.

In an era when some health-insurance carriers balk even at providing contraceptive coverage (the Obama administration is currently mulling whether to require carriers to offer free contraceptives—expect a big fight on that one) it’s time to end this war on a woman’s right to choose.

It’s time to start talking about abortion as if it matters.

It’s time to start talking about abortion because it matters.

Face it: Someone you know has likely had an abortion—or will at some point during her reproductive life span.

According to figures from the Guttmacher Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based foundation that studies global reproductive-health issues, nearly half of pregnancies in American women are unintended. Approximately 40 percent of those pregnancies end in abortion. Furthermore, 22 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion.

Or you could break it down this way: In 2008, more than 1 million abortions were performed in the United States. The abortion rate is in decline, but at least half of all American women will experience an unexpected pregnancy by the age of 45, and nearly one-third of those women will have an abortion.

And yet we don’t talk about it—we act as if abortion is a scandalous secret that we support in only the most abstract way: We’re self-righteously outraged when our choice is threatened and yet mysteriously silent when it comes to discussing, specifically, the emotional and physical nuts and bolts that comprise the decisions leading up to them.

It’s an archaic, counterproductive mindset—one that simply compounds the feelings of shame and isolation that many women feel when they elect to have an abortion.

I don’t want to be a part of that approach any longer; I don’t want to play into that attitude—not when my rights and the rights of millions of others continue to be threatened at every turn.

I had an abortion. It was, personally, an emotional and physical low—but it didn’t make me a bad person, nor did it define me.

I’m not ashamed of it. And I’m not ashamed to talk about it.

I realize I may lose some friends for even admitting such a thing. That’s OK—I’ve lost friendships for saying much less. But if the statistics are right, then at least 40 percent of my female friends have also terminated a pregnancy.

We might not talk about abortion, but this is the reality and, frankly, you can’t support something you refuse to talk about.

And, personally, I want to speak up now and demystify the subject rather then wait until my rights—and yours—are silenced for good.