Mainstream pro-choice media tells us women don’t regret their abortions. Proponents of abortion claim “studies have proven this fact and it can’t be refuted.” While other studies have proven women do regret their abortions, the most telling source is, well, the women themselves.
BBC News recently published an article that, while still shrouded in pro-choice bias, manages to tell at least part of the truth about abortion through women’s stories. Pro-choice media will never stop making claims about the “realities” of abortion, but at the end of the day we can really only trust the words of those who have experienced abortion themselves.
The article highlights the stories of six different women, each with their own unique perspectives. If you’re pro-life some of these stories might not sit well with you because they don’t fit perfectly into the pro-life narrative — not every woman regrets her abortion and not every woman had a painful experience. If you’re pro-choice, these stories might upset you in that they challenge the notion that all abortions are empowering and easy — which is far from the truth.
Whichever way you slice it, abortion isn’t simple and neither are people. So I encourage you to take the backseat for this one and read their stories, even though they might make you a little uncomfortable, because I think we could all benefit from less posting, commenting, and arguing, and a little more listening.
One thing we noticed in particular about these stories is that while several women had truly terribly abortion experiences, each woman would likely still identify as pro-choice. As humans, we typically base our opinions on just about everything on our own personal experiences, but that’s not often the case with abortion.
Because abortion has become such a political topic, no matter what a woman’s experience is and no matter how much she regretted her own abortion, she will likely still feel the need to contribute to the “my body, my choice” mantra.
Karen, for example, says, “The thought never crossed my mind that I would end up really regretting that I had done it, because I was so determined. And I do. I regret that I made the decision.”
Despite her personal regret, she furthers the pro-choice narrative by saying, “Anybody can get pregnant at any point, and then they’re going to have to make that decision. Will they be in a place to be able to bring up their child, or will they have to you know, make such a horrific decision to have an abortion? And I respect that whatever decision they make I think is right for them.”
Louise, on the other hand said she “never regretted having an abortion” and after her procedure she felt “buoyant and really happy.” In her story, however, she shares, “My partner left me to deal with everything on my own. We never had a proper conversation about the abortion.” While she didn’t regret her abortion, she was essentially cornered into it by a lack of support by her partner. How can we sell this as empowering to women?
Beth was 17 when she learned she was pregnant. She said, “A lot of people kept telling me that I was too young and not ready to have a baby. I felt very pressured into having an abortion. It broke my heart. I had a breakdown soon afterwards because I was so upset. I felt I’d made the wrong decision but I couldn’t do anything about it. My doctor gave me medication and counseling. I have already had depression and anxiety but this just made it worse.”
Harriet’s story was similar. She was 20 and was, at first, very happy and protective of her baby. Her best friend’s mom offered to help her but, she ultimately needed and wanted the support of her own family. Her family said they wouldn’t support her financially and “the father didn’t want anything to do with it.” She said, “I feel angry at him for putting me in the position he did. It was like I was forced into a corner and not able to have this baby because I couldn’t afford it. It was very upsetting waking up from the anesthesia… It was awful. I woke up wanting to know what had happened to my body, but also not wanting to know… I was crying all the time.”
Jess and Bronwen had seemingly never met before their interview, but they had one thing in common — they had both had abortions. Jess just this last year, and Bronwen, forty years ago, just shortly after it had been partially legalized in the UK. Their stories were very similar. For both, abortion inspired a new sense of control and determination in their lives. Jess emotionally shares that growing up she felt like she didn’t have control over what happened to her body. Abortion, she adds, “was a time when I took that control back.” Bronwen was inspired to quit the job she hated and “never looked back.”
Regardless of how their abortions left them feeling afterwards or what they think about abortion now, these women all felt some sort of pressure leading up to their decision. Whether it was an absent partner, an unsupportive family, or a lack of resources, they all felt pushed into a corner. Culture has told them the only way out of that corner is abortion. And that abortion is “okay.”
As a pro-life movement, we know abortion is never “okay.” It is, in the most fundamental sense, the ending of a human life. But we also need to accept and acknowledge that women who choose abortion are not the culprits; rather, they are the result of a culture that gives them no resources other than abortion and tells them abortion is totally acceptable.
Women like Jess and Bronwen seem like they don’t fit into the pro-life narrative surrounding abortion. In fact, they seem like the perfect spokeswomen of the pro-choice movement. But look closely and you’ll see that both of these women had been sold a lie — the lie that abortion would help them reclaim their bodies, their control, and their purpose.
So if so many women only choose abortion because they’ve been sold a lie, they’ve been pressured or they feel like they have no resources, what can we as a movement do to support them and give them other options?
One thing I can say for sure, we will never end abortion by pointing fingers and playing the blame game. Our only hope is by coming around expecting mothers, giving them real resources, and telling them they are not alone.
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