“I’m having an abortion on Saturday.”

hospital interior

(Credit: hxdbzxy via iStock)

Jenny Kutner got an abortion this past Saturday and wrote a thoughtful piece the day before exploring her feelings leading up to the procedure. 

I have no idea what Saturday will be like because it’s not Saturday yet. Just as I’ve had no psychic abilities at any other point in my life, I have no way to predict what I’ll be thinking or feeling immediately before or after my arrival at the clinic this weekend. I assume I’ll wake up early, wonder what I should wear because I’ve never had an abortion before, pick something in a rush and then hold hands with my boyfriend as we make our way to Planned Parenthood. I’ve stopped trying to think past those mundane actions, though, because no amount of surmising will get me any closer to knowing how Saturday will feel before it’s Saturday.

And, it seems, no amount of background information — no critical mass of other women’s stories or screenings of “Obvious Child” — will give me much insight into how I, Jenny Kutner, will feel about my abortion when it happens. Still, I have been looking for background information, and I briefly tried to defy my stubbornly non-psychic brain by reading what other women have written about their abortion experiences.

There is, of course, a sort of collective narrative that has formed, especially amongst pro-choice women like myself. Here’s what I noticed about that larger collective narrative: It contains very few stories about what women experience just before their abortions. Mostly we only hear about a procedure in its aftermath. Right now, I do need to hear about the aftermath. I need to be reminded that on Saturday I will wake up pregnant and on Sunday I will not; I need to be reminded that my life will go on once I carry out this decision that is totally and completely right for me, not everyone, and that is totally and completely right for so many other women who have made or will make the same choice. But right now I’m not in the aftermath. I’m in a part of the abortion experience that feels just as crucial as the abortion itself.

I definitely relate to Kutner’s description of the two feelings she’s felt most strongly since finding out she was pregnant–acute anxiety at having to remain pregnant for another week and absolute certainty that this is the right decision for her–and I hope she’s feeling good now that she’s on the other side. Read the rest here.

You can also catch Kutner and other advocates talking about abortion stigma on HuffPo live.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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