Monday, March 30, 2009

forced out of silence

yesterday I faced one of those dreaded moments, when the topic of abortion comes up completely unexpectedly. Normally I would have just let it go, but it was just impossible this time. A good friend, who I knew was anti-abortion, at least for herself, was over for a playdate. As we pushed her baby in the swing, she told me about a friend's unexpected pregnancy. Her incredulity that any well educated woman could find herself in such a situation simply begged for correction. I just sort of blurted it out "That operation I had in January? It was an abortion."

I wish I could have been more composed and pointed out that contraceptive failures or ignorance about efficacy rates crosses educational, class, religious and all divisions among women. Equality it seems has at least been achieved in one area of women's lives.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

and the silence is still deafening

As Amy Benfer pointed out in recent Slate column, while half of unplanned pregnancies end in abortion, the stories of those women are seldom included. The latest omission occured in this months's issue of Self. While the article title "Single, pregnant and panicked" may resonate with many women, since half of women by the age of 45 will experience an unwanted pregnancy, only women who chose adoption will find their experiences reflected in this analysis. Abortion is mentioned only twice, once as an option suggested by an insensitive male partner, and the other as a near miss, when in a scenario that I am sure has already been snapped up for a movie pitch, a woman planning an abortion calls it off the night before when her older, infertile sister, offers to adopt the fetus.

Friday, March 20, 2009

"these fights will be every bit as ugly as the preceding fights over abortion."

the quote comes from an article about the efforts of the Georgia state legislature to craft a bill that will preclude embryo research while still allowing for IVF. The difficulty comes in the language of the bill, which right now gives infertile couples the right to IVF, but pretty much no one else, including those people who wish to use IVF for other purposes, such as genetic screening or sex selection.

Maybe all the infertile couples, carriers of genetic disorders, couples desirous of very specific characteristics in their children should band together with the people working to protect the right to legal abortion. The "other side" is the same, the pro-life lobby, and the argument is the same, who has the right to control reproductive choices.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In defense of Facebook

Through facebook I have reconnected recently with several people from my past who have been part of my ongoing project of reconciling my various selves. Tonight I have dinner with a friend for high school. In keeping with my new telling policy, as we are catching up I disclose that I have had an abortion. My old friend shares that she has as well. We have dinner and then she asks why I had my abortion. We talk extensively about it. She tells me that although her abortion occurred 13 years ago our conversation is the longest she has had about her experience.

I think about what the world would be like if every woman could be open about her abortion whenever she wanted. If the literally millions of women who had abortions could break their silence, would the discourse around abortion be transformed? Would individual women feel differently when facing the choice to have an abortion? I think about the sort of bookends this discussion represents in my effort to bring the various selves from different epochs of my life together. This person tonight remembers me as a super geeky high school student. We meet, decades later, and discuss experiences from our twenties and thirties. I like the symmetry of someone who knew me way back when sharing something that has happened so recently.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Women's Liberation ... or the liberation of me

On a reseach trip, unusual format as I am part of a team of scholars

We are working on 1970s feminism so the process of consciousness raising (CR) becomes central to our work

We participate in a version of CR, sort of CR light

In response to one question, I tell about my abortion

I have known a few of these women for decades but some women present are completely new to me that night

This incident is the best way I can encapsulate my attitude one month after the abortion.

It is me. I speak of it like I speak of any aspect of my self and my experiences.

Every time I tell I feel more liberated.