Removing the stigma around abortion

Yesterday saw the event in Cleveland, as part of a nationwide program Breaking Our Silence, where people from the community read the stories of women who have had abortions in order to dispel the stigma surrounding that act. There were sixteen stories told and within that relatively small group the organizers had managed quite a feat of diversity. There were women and men, blacks, whites, and Asians, young, middle-aged, and old.

The hall was filled with over 150 people, more than I think the organizers had hoped for, and that was encouraging. The stories told were of women who had got pregnant and decided that for a wide range of reasons they just could not go through with it. While the decision to have an abortion was not easy, they all recounted the relief they felt afterwards and that they did not regret their decision in the least.

All of them spoke about the importance of the love and support and acceptance that they received from family and friends and loved ones during this time. Many expressed gratitude to the people who staff the clinics where they had the procedure for their kindness and compassion and their courage in working in a climate where anti-choice zealots try to intimidate them.

These stories illustrated the need to maintain women’s access to safe abortions because in their absence abortions will still occur but at much greater risk to the life of women.

The story that I read was by a woman named Julia.

“I was 24, had just graduated from college and moved to a new town with my boyfriend. I had never been on birth control and “assumed” I would never get pregnant. I was enrolled in a pre-nursing program and going to school full time.

Needless to say, we were broke… I thought pregnancy tests were expensive (I’d never bought one before). We went to a “pregnancy counseling center” for a “free” test. Needless to say, the test was positive. I was given a baby blanket and a pin of tiny feet. Congrats! I knew that this baby was never going to be. I told my boyfriend that I wanted an abortion and he agreed.

The appointment was set… then he went crazy. He stole my car and disappeared for a day (he had a history of mental instability). His parents came from a city several hours away and took him away. I never saw him again. I had my abortion in another smaller city about two hours away. My brother and sister both accompanied me and gave me the love and support I needed. My boyfriend’s parents, allegedly devout Catholics, helped to finance this whole operation.

I am now the mother of a beautiful three year old with a husband, home, career, and life that wouldn’t have been possible had I not chosen to have an abortion. I have never once regretted my decision. I actually thank (since I personally do not believe in god) my lucky stars that I did what I did. I know many women who have had abortions… none of them regret it.”

While I have been supportive of women’s right to choose, I had not really done anything concrete about it other than giving money to groups that provide such services. It felt good to take part in a program and get to know better people who are in the front lines.


  1. Bruce says

    Great event. Let us always remember the wise words of Gloria Steinem:

    If men could get pregnant, then abortion would be a sacrament!

  2. V. Amarnath says

    This is a common story in the US. The prevalent situation in India (in Sri Lanka also, I assume), husband and wife or wife alone decide that the third pregnancy is a burden to the children already in the world. But in the US, third child is a medal of honor. Do you know any TV show where there is not the third kid, often the brightest?

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    … a beautiful three year old with a husband, home, career, and life …

    A very precocious and accomplished 3-y-o, indeed. But how long can this toddler’s mother evade the Comma Cops?

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