HBO’s Abortion: Stories Women Tell

Peter is working late tonight, so I finally turned on the documentary that I recorded weeks ago. From the outset, I had lots of feelings about this documentary. It’s not even over yet, and I had to get out the computer and start writing because I needed to get out my feelings.

The documentary is set is Missouri, for those who haven’t watched. The pro-life side says on numerous occasions that it’s their goal to make Missouri the first no-abortion state. They want abortion to not only be illegal, but to be unthinkable. And my first thought was that these people refuse to ever put themselves into a frame of mind where it would be thinkable.

There are a million reasons why a woman would seek an abortion. I know I talk almost exclusively about ending wanted pregnancies on this website, but that’s because that’s MY experience. There are so many other reasons why that I can’t begin to speak on because I don’t have personal experience with those reasons.

Why don’t more people ask us? Why don’t legislators take the time to find out why we’ve made the decisions we have? Why is the automatic assumption that we’re sluts who just should have kept our legs closed?

A few of the reasons mentioned in the documentary:

  • My birth control failed
  • I have HIV
  • I already have children and can’t afford this one
  • My baby has anencephaly
  • The baby’s father beats me
  • I’m 17 and already have another child
  • I’m mentally unfit to carry a pregnancy

At one point, a pro-life supporter on a college campus, who admittedly had no personal experience with abortion and had never met someone who’d gotten an abortion until she’d gotten involved with the movement, asked a Planned Parenthood supporter why someone would “need an abortion.”

And this was the perfect example of the problems inherent in the pro-life movement. No one has taken the time to ask why. To truly put themselves into the shoes of another who maybe cannot afford physically, mentally, or financially to bring a child into the world. I wish you would take a moment to at least try.

Try to imagine that you didn’t have the education that you did as far as your reproductive health is concerned, so you don’t know how your body works or how to use contraception, and oops, you get pregnant. Try to imagine that you’re living paycheck to paycheck and sometimes your lights get turned off or you don’t have heat or you go hungry for a day. Try to imagine that some days you’re on a bipolar high and the next day you can’t drag yourself out of bed.

Try to imagine one of those last two going on while also trying to raise a baby, who needs food and warmth and love and attention daily, and those aren’t even things you can give yourself daily in those situations.

Try for some empathy, please.

We could start on adoption, but then I would have to mention how many children in this country, and in this world, are NOT adopted. Because they aren’t perfect, or because of the red tape of adoption agencies. It’s not at all like Juno, people.

I’ll leave you with one other thought. A pro-life spokesperson said that inherent in abortion is shame, and that she regrets her abortions and felt alone and ashamed afterwards because she was so isolated, and yet she perpetuates the shame by being a vocal part of the movement and shaming women who have abortions. She also said guarantees that not one woman who has had an abortion doesn’t feel shame or regret. Well, I’m one. I do not feel an ounce of shame or an ounce of regret. And I don’t think one of you can look at Olivia and tell me I should feel either of those things.

Visit the documentary’s site, Stories Women Tell, to read more stories.


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