In the fall of 2006, Ms., the largest feminist magazine in the country, e-mailed me a weekly update about a petition called
“We Had Abortions.” The women who signed the petition were going public about their abortions, and I was being invited to join them. I sat in front of the glowing screen and considered for a long time whether to sign the petition or not.
To Sign or Not to Sign
I have always been openly pro-choice, but it’s one thing to be pro-choice and another thing to be open about my own abortion. I stalled in front of my computer monitor. I realized that although I’m a pro-choice activist, I was still scared and embarrassed for people to know I had an abortion.
Even in an age where abortion is legal, it’s still taboo. Although people may not often say it, many people believe that women who need abortions are immoral or irresponsible. When was the last time you were talking about women’s choice and somebody you casually know said, “Well, I had an abortion.” I felt embarrassed that people would know, like it was a dirty secret. Although even now I feel a little scared for people to know, I signed the petition to show that I’m not ashamed of my actions, to put a face on an important issue and ultimately to try to break the silence about the real women, like me, who have abortions.
I Had an Abortion
I had an abortion when I was 20 years old during my second year of college. Even though I took birth control, I still got pregnant. I want to speak honestly about the emotional part of abortion since that part is skipped over in the political debate.
Having an abortion was not an easy decision or a painless process. I had feelings of guilt, depression and shame. I felt a connection with the fetus—this being that was causing me morning sickness. This made the decision hard. Abortion was no longer an abstract political idea but a real option in response to my pregnancy. Even though it was a hard decision, I decided that an abortion would be the best option for me. Having a child would have made it hard for me to finish school, and I wasn’t ready to give up my dreams. And I wasn’t ready to be a mother at 20 years old.
My parents were involved in the decision. They were worried about how badly I felt about myself. During a phone conversation, my mom said, “Jordan, you had, and there is nothing wrong with that. beautiful thing that I did not raise you to be ashamed of.” I did not feel ashamed; I felt ashamed about the abortion I knew I was probably going to have. “It’s your body,” my mom said, “and you are the only one who gets to say what happens to it. Don’t let other people’s ideas make you feel bad about yourself.” I never again felt guilty about having an abortion, although I sometimes feel grief for the child I didn’t have.