One in three women will have an abortion by age 45, yet saying “I had an abortion” is a very difficult sentence for many women to say.
So few women share their experience with abortion that you’ll often hear that women must regret having had an abortion because no-one ever talks about it. In fact, anti-choice advocates try to paint a very bleak picture of what having an abortion is like for women, but for some choosing to have an abortion is a decision that is not met with dread or thought of with regret.
One such woman, comedian Chelsea Handler, recently admitted to having an abortion at 16-years-old in an interview with Rosie O’Donnell. When O’Donnell discussed attacks on Roe vs. Wade and women saying that having an abortion ruined their lives, Handler agreed that “No,” that was not her experience.
Handler adds, “Obviously, you should do whatever you want with your body. And you shouldn’t let anyone tell you what to do. It’s your decision. And, of course, no I have no regret at all.”
Handler shares that it was her parents who encouraged her to have an abortion – “(My parents) were like, ‘You’re getting an abortion.’” – but still all these years later she has no regrets.
I Had An Abortion Project
In order to destigmatize the experience of having an abortion, feminist activist and writer Jennifer Baumgardner started the “I Had an Abortion Project” in 2004. To remove the silence and secrecy that surrounds abortion, t-shirts with the slogan “I had an abortion” were sold as part of the project. Baumgardner also created a film about women’s abortions stories with her friend Gillian Aldrich.
Baumgardner has since shared her own personal abortion story in an article called, “I Had an Abortion…And I’m not ashamed to share my experience.” Juggling a busy career with two young children, Baumgardner says her unplanned pregnancy at the time felt “wrong — not devastatingly sad or tragic, just something I couldn’t bear doing right then in my life.”
So she had an abortion, and she doesn’t regret it nor is she ashamed. In fact, she finds power in sharing her story.
“‘I had an abortion’ is important for me to say because I stand shoulder to shoulder with other women, people who believe in the right of all human beings to make decisions about their bodies and lives. Most important, I say I had an abortion out loud because my life is no shameful secret.”
So few women go on record saying they had an abortion, which makes Handler and Baumgardner’s stories so significant. With so much misinformation from the anti-choice movement about abortion, speaking out about an experience that 1 in 3 women will have is so very important to the pro-choice movement.
What do you think? Is it important to the cause to have women share their experiences with abortion?
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Photo Credit: Progress Ohio