Compulsively, I searched out abortion stories online. Women for whom it had meant nothing. Women for whom it had meant everything. Most of all, women who were not sorry. I found no information on patching myself up again. For the right, recovery means repentance. For the left, you weren’t supposed to have to recover at all. Abortions were different from miscarriages. Those are tragic. We were bad. If you get an abortion, you haul yourself to work the next day. The world owes you no sympathy. Count yourself lucky you were able to get one at all.
A visit to an abortion clinic is often a middle class girl’s only brush with the brusque, painful care that is the lot of America’s poor. The better funded go to private doctors. They get treatment that’s far more personal and less public. Proper pain killers, no protesters in sight, and your man holding your hand.
When Planned Parenthood opened offices in three shopping malls, Michele Bachmann fumed that women “are doing their grocery shopping, picking up Starbucks… and stopping off for an abortion.” Oh Michelle, if only it were that easy.
My abortion was when my politics become personal. Sure, one can march against the Iraq War. But it’s far more visceral to know that decaying politicians would force you to give birth. That 50 years ago they would have had you, you personally, die in pain and shame.
The ability to have an abortion is as important for women as the vote. It is the basis of fertile women living equal lives. As soon as I could, I raised a thousand dollars for Planned Parenthood. It felt like paying a debt.
What pulled me out of my depression was refusing to shut up. I talked about abortion with my girlfriends. With my acquaintances. With a bluntness that was probably uncomfortable and annoying in retrospect. What I found was that almost every woman I spoke to had had one too. Behind our sleek careers, our prettily painted faces, we had our blood and pain.
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