• Sarah wrote a new post, The Story Behind Sarah’s Abortion, on the site Skepchick 5 years, 5 months ago

    ThumbnailI knew even before the two little lines appeared that I was pregnant. I’m not saying I had magic intuition or anything, just that I use a period tracker app that’s surprisingly accurate, I had sex on a day I was […]

    • What do you mean by this:

      “I think they are sexist (even though women are not the only people who have abortions, but I still think claims of sexism are valid).”

      My current understanding;

      Sexist means discrimination against specific sexes.

      A women is anyone who identifies as the female gender.

      Anyone with female sex organs has the potential to seek an abortion.

      This means a person having an abortion will either be of the female sex or intersex, but not of the male sex or sexless.

      Therefore gender is irrelevant here, and claims of sexism would be completely valid.

      • “Anyone with female sex organs has the potential to seek an abortion.”

        Scratch that, it’d be more accurate to say:

        “Anyone without female sex organs cannot seek an abortion.”

      • Not quite. Any -ism (as defined in feminist studies) is prejudice + power. So in this case, since women do not have structural power that men have in our society, sexism can only go one way: toward women. (Yes, men can absolutely suffer from the consequences of patriarchy & toxic masculinity, but they cannot be the direct victims of sexism.) So what I’m saying here is that the people who get abortions can be women, men (trans men still need reproductive healthcare), non-binary, or any other gender, but since the majority of people who get abortions are women, I believe calling the pushback against abortion “sexism” is still accurate.

        This page has more info, should you be so inclined to read more: https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/sexism-definition/

        • As a transman who is likely able to become pregnant, I agree with you. The reasons for people’s objections still come from sexism. Transgender men and trans masculine people can still be victims of sexism and restrictions on our reproductive rights are part of that.

        • I wonder if it would be more accurate to say sexism is both against women and people/things coded feminine*, so it can intersect with transmen and non-binary people with functioning uteri and ovaries (organs coded feminine). If you consider male = default, care for these organs (which includes fertility and pregnancy) is separate from ‘normal health care’.

          * Do we need a separate word for these two related concepts? Because the latter starts to veer into ‘sexism hurts men too’.

          • As a cisman, the main thing for me to do on this subject is listen, so I’m happy to hear from women, transmen, or anyone else who has a different perspective from me on this, but it seems to me that sexism could be pretty much any discrimination against anyone other than a cis male?

            And then it seems to me that most people who are sexist and opposed to abortion probably don’t even recognize anyone outside of the normative gender binary categories, which makes their motivation sexist, either way.

    • I think all pregnant women bond about the fact that “morning sickness” actually lasts all day.

      I’m glad you were able to make the right choice for you! Yay for rights!

    • My condolences that you are in the situation where you want a child eventually but not now, and the ‘now’ depends on something as unknowable as your future health. I’m also glad you could get the care you need now, leaving the future open to what you can handle when you can handle it.

      (Also, yes, I hate the idea that there is a hierarchy of reasons for abortion, with ‘I have an ectopic pregnancy, so leaving it alone will kill me’ higher than ‘I have chronic health issues that means pregnancy could seriously injure me’ higher than ‘I could lose my job and become homeless because of this country’s poor excuse for health care’ etc.)

    • Wow, what timing. Today is 9 years since I took the pills that ended my pregnancy. On Sunday will be the anniversary of the birth. I had to have a medical abortion because I was 15 weeks in when I found out I was pregnant, 17 weeks when I had the procedure (I originally intended to keep the baby, it wasn’t a mandated waiting period).

      I have a bunch of medical conditions, and the meds I’m on carried a huge risk to the fetal development, but not one that could be seen on an ultrasound – things like heart/lung development, and neurological stuff. We wouldn’t know until well after the cut-off point if there was anything wrong. So I made the horrible decision, and it nearly killed me. The grief, I mean. Because I was so far in, I had to have an induced labour as the safest option. While it wasn’t planned, I had wanted this baby, and so had my partner, and we both had to grieve the loss. Part of that, for us, was giving the child a name, having a private ceremony of letting go, and I went to grief counselling.

      It was not an easy decision, and people kept telling me I had to be sure, and I wasn’t. I am now – for all the pain, I know I made the right decision – but I still wonder about the could have beens. Particularly since I found out I was pregnant after picking up a test on the way home after visiting my newborn nephew in hospital. It occurred to me there that I might be, and I thought I’d better check. So my relationship with my nephew was unfortunately strained for the first couple of years as he was a stark reminder, and now there’s just an edge of sadness at his milestones for me.

      This is the first year in a while that the anniversary has been bad for me – I think it’s because my husband (not the father of the baby) and I are thinking about starting a family so I’ve been going over and over all the possibilities, and the specter looms large.

      Here’s the thing: it was a desperately hard decision to make, and the grief was all-consuming, but it was still the right decision to make and I genuinely don’t believe that the alternative would have been better. I am glad that, while it is a difficult decision for most people, it isn’t usually as traumatic as it was for me. And anyone using my story as evidence that it is awful has to be damn sure that they’re also presenting all the evidence for the risks to physical and mental health of continuing a pregnancy. I am also glad that there are people for whom the decision is not difficult, and who do not grieve. I would not wish this on anyone. We all have our ways of dealing. There is no hierarchy of reasons, but we should have compassion for the people who struggle afterwards, as their grief is real and brutal too. For a long time, I felt like I wasn’t entitled to that grief as I had killed my baby, so I deserved this pain, but my grief counseller got me past that.

      One more note: I have never, ever been so glad not to live in the US as I was on that day. Having to run a gauntlet of protesters likely would have pushed me over the edge and into suicide (major depressive disorder is one of the things I was medicated for). I came close enough without any of that. I was treated with respect and dignity, in a private room in an anonymous short procedure ward in the hospital. They made sure I was sure and wasn’t being coerced, and held my hand as I sobbed my heart out.

      9 years. Wow.

      • Thanks for sharing that. I’m so sorry you’ve gone through all that but at the same time I’m relieved you weren’t in the US and you did have options available to you.

      • Wow, what a powerful story. I’m so sorry you had to go through with that, but I’m glad you made the decision that was best for you, and used the best possible coping mechanisms. I hope you’re able to have the family you dream of. <3

    • I think the culture of silence and the prevailing idea that “good women” don’t have abortions isolates so many people. So thanks for sharing your story.
      Also I had to smile when you talked about your period tracking app because it reminded me of the time I laid back in a post coital stuper when it hit me. I scrambled for my phone to check my app and son of a bitch there was the green circle of fertility. This app gave me the opportunity to use an emergency contraceptive within the necessary window.
      Period tracking app – a girls best friend

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I found it to be very powerful and insightful. I am not able to have children, but I have always been pro-choice for various reasons. It was sad to hear about the woman was lack of resources. We can do so much better as a country!

    • We need these stories to demystify and destigmatize abortion.

      I remember a few months back, reading about a mother (as in, she already had children) who was pregnant again, had a cancer dx, and refused chemo because ‘it might harm the baby’. Never mind that not getting chemo would kill her and leave her already-born children orphans. That is the degree to which abortion is stigmatized.

    • Tragic abortions are the ones where the pregnant person would like to remain pregnant and have a child but cannot for some reasons.
      If “pro-lifers” were actually pro life, they’d put their efforts into helping those women, for example by lobbying for better protection of pregnant women. A friend of mine spent about 20 weeks mostly lying on her back cause she was at risk of losing the pregnancy. During that time health insurance paid 67% of her wages and her employer culd not fire her. If you need, health insurance will even pay for a domestic worker to do your housework and take care of your small kids. That actually saves fetuses and lets them grow into babies.
      But no, “pro lifers” protest abortion clinics. They harass women, they harass those women for whom the abortion is the worst day of their lives.
      I needed an abortion when my first pregnancy had gone Wahoonie-shaped. Which never gets counted as an abortion since no fetus was terminted, even though the medical term is “missed ABORTION” and the procedure was a D&C, a common abortion procedure. If I imagined having to go through protestors who called me a baby killer that day would probably have broken me into pieces (btw, no need to express your sympathy now. It was bad then, but I’ve had 2 kids since, so I’m fine).
      So, that’s a tragic abortion.
      Everything else is not tragic or sad in any way, shape, or form. I will not have another child. We’re using contraception, but of course it could fail. That would mean an abortion and I HATE that in Germany you cannot get a legal abortion except in rare circumstances. You can get an illegal but not prosecuted abortion within the first 14 weeks AFTER you’ve been told what a horrible person you are and that you should have the baby (mandatory pro-life counselling).
      It’s something that walks with me every day, even though I haven’t needed an abortion yet. It sucks.

      • That was a nice fuck-up, wasn’t it? I remembered to type “person” first and then defaulted to “women”. I’m sorry, I’ll try harder next time.

      • I love this comment. It really shows how messed up the people who claim to be about the sanctity of life are. We have the resources to provide and care for people, but we would rather shame people for poverty, or for making decisions to protect themselves.

    • Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your story!

      I very much concur with helping out your local abortion access fund. Also, if folks have the opportunity, get involved with the work of various reproductive rights orgs collaborating in the fight to end the federal funding restrictions for abortion.


    • Read these:
      A powerful statement about abortion

      Female Imprisonment Syndrome

      “I texted my then-serious-boyfriend to tell him what was happening. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to abort his child. He would work 3 jobs to support the child if he had to, and I would have to drop out of my college to move back home.”

      In other words, he was a potential recruit for the Taliban! Yikes!

    • An ectopic pregnancy would still not be considered an acceptable abortion for the Catholic Church or some others.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story.
      Support from the father is also something you were very much blessed with. This line brought grateful tears to my eyes, your husband sounds like a wonderful human.
      ” This would have been a lot more difficult if he wasn’t talking to me through this process or if I didn’t completely trust that he was being forthright.”

      Also, and importantly,
      how can I find or start a Women Have Options Bowl-a-thon in my city??

    • A few thoughts came to mind.

      In his talk at TAM 2014, Dr. Steven Novella had a part about how when explaining to people their diagnosis, they will sometimes break down and be unhappy when it isn’t the MORE severe but definite outcome because an uncertain and less organically obvious diagnosis leaves them in an uncomfortable grey zone. So when you relay in your story how you were temporarily hoping for a more potentially deadly outcome so you could use it as a way to justify your abortion to other people, I thought it was an interesting illustration of Dr. Novell’s anecdote. It’s amazing how the rational parts of our brains give way when we are under extremely emotional circumstances.

      Also, though it can be difficult and awkward at times, it can be very helpful to talk openly and unapologetically about things that our society sees as subversive. People are often times afraid of what they don’t know. I remember reading about a study somewhere that stated simply KNOWING a gay person increases the likelihood that one will support gay rights. I bet that same concept could be applied to abortion. If it’s topical, I talk openly and honestly about being a person with HIV, not only because it helps be deal with it on a personal level, but because I know it could change the stereotypes people carry with them about who HIV+ people are.

      And sorry for the long comment, but relating both of my thoughts above to your story at the same time, shortly after my HIV diagnosis when I began telling people, I would lie and say it was because of a broken condom in order to deflect judgment away from myself. Until I decided, and I’m quoting you Sarah: “Fuck that!”

    • While I understand the fact/evidence of your health circumstances, I fail to understand the logic of the abortion argument in circumstances of a average health women and a father who wants his child. In other words acknowledging but setting to the side perfectly valid arguments of medical conditions and rape circumstances, if a father is perfectly able to financially provided for the mother until she is able to move on with her life, why is it a better moral standard to give the women sole decision over a fathers child and the opportunity of the most advanced life form to live approximately 80 years? I fail to see this as a logical conclusion based on the well being of all three members. It is great you have an example of a man not caring what happens with his child and gives the sole decision to you, but it doesn’t make it an acceptable decision for ALL MEN. We need to make sure feminism does not confused equality for shifting the burden of unfair from women to men.

      • I understand your argument but I think there are a lot of things you fail to consider. Your argument would be more valid if we were talking about an embryo that is wholly developing within an environment other than a person’s body. But we’re not.

        It can be traumatic and emotional for a person to feel like some part of themself is being destroyed or their (perceived) rights are being taken away. But pregnancy and childbirth can have long-lasting and life-altering consequences on a person’s body. And because of this disparate effect of pregnancy on one party versus another, I don’t think it is logical to conclude that each person has an equal and analogous say in whether or not to continue with a pregnancy. Just because someone’s’s DNA is 50% of an embryo’s makeup does NOT mean their voice is equal to or analogous to the person who must physically carry out the pregnancy. Not everything involving two people should always be seen as 50-50 in all respects.