According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly one-third of American women will have an abortion by age 45. According to the Associated Press, that means millions of U.S. women are currently walking around in a daze, their lives destroyed by making the Biggest (and Most Horrible) Choice of Their Life, even if it was for a reason that Mitt Romney would deem legitimate.
The AP's Lindsey Tanner writes that "It's hard to find women willing to talk about it" ("It" meaning the shameful A-word), adding that she contacted eight abortion providers and three groups that work with abortion patients, but still couldn't find anyone who was willing to speak with her. So she ended up talking to three anonymous women whom she found through afterabortion.com, a nonpolitical online support group for women who "struggle emotionally" after their abortions, and a fourth who considered abortion but didn't end up having one. "They may not be typical of the majority who have abortions," she admits. YOU THINK?
One 24-year-old Chicago resident told Tanner that she had a hard time getting unbiased advice about abortion — her doctor at her Catholic hospital wouldn't talk to her about it, and she accidentally made an appointment at a crisis pregnancy center, where volunteers gave her incorrect medical information and "gave her a tiny doll supposedly the same size" as the embryo inside of her. She ended up terminating her pregnancy because "the man she was in a relationship with pressured her into going through with an abortion," subsequently developed a rare infection, and lost her job after taking time off work.
A 21-year-old said she only had an abortion because of medical complications — she told protestors at the clinic that she was "doing this to save my life." Another woman got pregnant after having an affair with a married man and said "a pregnancy under any other circumstances would have been welcomed and rejoiced in my life." Another woman "believes she will be reunited with her lost babies in heaven."
These women all have excellent sob stories and justifications for getting an abortion. But you shouldn't need a Lifetime movie-worthy explanation. Studies show that the vast majority of women who choose to terminate a pregnancy do so because having a baby would interfere with their education, work, or ability to care for dependents, or because it would be too much of a financial burden. Other research shows that women (which means all of us, the economy, etc.) benefit immensely when they have control over their reproductive choices.
With that in mind, the entire AP article — from the title ("Women struggle when choosing an abortion") to the interview selections to the general rhetoric — is misleading, bad reporting. Of course many women do struggle with their decision to have an abortion, and it's important to tell their stories as well. But the majority of women are able to move on with their post-abortion lives without a big scarlet A on their body, and study after study shows they're often better off for it.
If Tanner couldn't find any women who weren't "struggling emotionally" (which makes me slightly concerned about the quality of the reporters employed by the newswire), she could've contacted the women behind sites such as "I Had An Abortion," which tracks published accounts of abortion. Or she could've been clearer about how her story hardly speaks to the experiences of all American women. To imply that all women feel shame after having an abortion is false, demeaning, and dangerous.
Image via Hasloo Group Production Studio/Shutterstock.