I was invited by a friend to attend this event. It's titled "SPEAKOUT to normalize abortion". The thumbnail image associated with the event is a photo of a keychain that reads "I had an abortion...and I don't regret it." It sounds like the purpose is to give women a safe place to share their experiences and stories. I think they really need a new PR rep, because the title and the image are freaking me out.
I am pro-choice. I believe every woman has the right to make her own educated, informed decisions regarding her reproductive health. I would prefer, of course, that women make those educated, informed decisions well enough in advance to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, but as the old saying goes, wish in one hand...you get the picture. Women and girls get pregnant, unexpectedly, all the time. It happens. And the circumstances surrounding every single one of those conceptions are different from the last and the next. That's why I'm pro-choice; because we don't all fit into the same boxes.
The title of this event bothers me, though. "normalize abortion"? I guess I know what they're trying to say - that "abortion" shouldn't be a dirty word, that there shouldn't be so much stigma attached to it, that women have abortions for all different reasons and that they shouldn't be ashamed. Still, the title makes me go, "uhm...I don't want to live in a world where abortion is the status quo". And the thumbnail picture? Who'd carry a keychain like that? I mean, seriously.
I have a few friends who have confided in me that they've had abortions; I'm sure I know several more women who have and haven't told. Surprisingly, none of the friends who've made this confession fit into the mold I'd imagined in my head - none of them look the way I'd imagined a woman who'd abort a baby would look, and none of them made the choice they made because they were young, single, or failed to take adequate precautions to prevent pregnancy. All were in their mid-twenties or later, all were in relationships, all were victims of some form of abuse, all were making use of birth control. And all found themselves unexpectedly expecting, in a situation where they honestly felt that abortion was the best choice they could make - not only for themselves, but also for the child they were unintentionally carrying. I know, I know - so many people want to adopt, I hear you. But sometimes, fear or inability to raise a child is not the reason this choice is made - sometimes the choice is made because a woman fears she wouldn't survive the pregnancy, and I'm not talking because of pregnancy complications here. Again, we don't all fit into the same boxes.
My friends who've undergone this procedure, for the most part, don't regret their decisions. But I don't think I'll ever see them carrying a keyfob that announces the choice they made, either, and not only because of the stigma attached. What a horribly painful, personal decision! I simply cannot fathom the emotional weight such a choice would carry, and I imagine it's not something that goes away once the bleeding has stopped and your hormones are back to normal. My miscarriage threatened to send me into a tailspin of "OMG this is all my fault and I'm a terrible person" - I can't imagine the loneliness and sadness and fear of having to choose that for myself. A keychain advertisement is tacky, at the very least.
I follow a blog called Every Saturday Morning. It's written by volunteers who every week stand in front of Kentucky's only clinic that provides abortions, escorting clinic patients safely through the mob that shows up every week to protest the rights of those patients to have a legal medical procedure. On their Facebook page once, they posted a video of a man confronting these protestors - he used his cell phone to confront the elderly Catholic women who'd been spewing hate and vitriol in his direction as he'd led his wife into the clinic. He told the women that the child his wife was carrying had died and needed to be removed - that is why they were at the "abortion" clinic.
Every person you meet is fighting a battle you can't see.
Facts are facts; abortion is not something anyone wants normalized. No one wants to see a day when a woman gets pregnant and automatically thinks "Hmm - do I go to a prenatal exam, or should I just have an abortion?" When you use words like "normalize abortion", that's the world I imagine. "SPEAKOUT to Destigmatize a Woman's Choice" perhaps would've been a better title, or "SPEAKOUT to End the Silence" or something. I see and understand the reason and need for the event; I just don't like the title and image they're using to spread the word - something about it seems flip; not appropriate for the gravity of the conversation. I don't like it a lot.