Live-Tweeting Abortion

Angie Jackson is live-tweeting her abortion this week, and it seems to have brought a lot of woman-haters out of the woodwork. She has, predictably, been accused of everything from trivializing the procedure to baby-killing. But it seems to me that what she’s doing is brave, and a pretty generous service to other women. One in three American women will have an abortion in her lifetime, but it’s not something that we usually talk about in public — or at least, that we talk about beyond political debates and platitudes. A lot of women who go in for abortions don’t actually know the details of what happens, and have been properly terrified by anti-choice propaganda.

Angie also seems like a pretty good spokeswoman for the cause. She is, in a lot of ways, a woman who a lot of people in the middle would say should be “allowed” to have an abortion (she’s a mom, she has health complications, she was on birth control and it failed, she’s in a monogamous relationship), but she doesn’t use those qualifiers to argue that somehow she’s special, or that other women aren’t just as deserving of medical care as she is. In this interview, she points out that even given all of her “extras,” she’s still been subject to tremendous amounts of abuse, and can’t imagine how women branded less deserving must feel:

I’ve been astonished. I had imagined, naively, that people would accept it because I’m in a committed relationship. I was monogamous. I was using protection. I had a kid. I have health risks. We paid for this out of pocket and not out of any taxpayer means. If I can’t talk about my first trimester abortion, which was legal and in my case life-saving, then who the hell can talk about her abortion? Or his abortion story, from the women he was with? … I’ve just been astonished by the level of hatred and death threats and threats of violence against my son. It’s been a very ugly side of people to see.

She’s still out there, though, telling her story. And her reasons why are quite poignant:

I think any time that we are silent about things or secret about things, it is unhealthy. I say this as a sexual abuse survivor. When I stopped keeping secrets [about the sexual abuse] and starting telling somebody, life got better. I have kept that throughout my life And I’m an autobiographical blogger. I am very open with the internet about how I am. I am very open about who I am with parenting and mental illness … For me, this wasn’t very different. This was about me talking about who I am openly. For me, talking about things is just how I approach all the taboos of life. I think that secrecy is unhealthy. We don’t get help when we don’t talk about things. For women who do need counseling or support or love or understanding after an abortion, if they have to stay quiet out of shame, then they won’t get that help. I think talking about things really can make a huge difference.

I feel that I was reasonably responsible. This is a possible responsible answer to this problem. In my case, I do feel like this is the best decision. I talked it over with my son and my boyfriend, who are the only people besides me who get a vote. It’s still my choice, but I’m going to talk it over with the people that I love — not that my son understands it much. But I don’t see why I should be ashamed that I’m saving my life. I don’t think that I’m being a killer; I don’t feel like I killed a person. And I’m sure if I did, I would feel guilt. And that’s why [anti-abortion activists] try so hard to convince you that it is.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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25 Responses to Live-Tweeting Abortion

  1. Gordon says:

    “But it seems to me that what she’s doing is brave, and a pretty generous service to other women. One in three American women will have an abortion in her lifetime, but it’s not something that we usually talk about in public — or at least, that we talk about beyond political debates and platitudes. A lot of women who go in for abortions don’t actually know the details of what happens, and have been properly terrified by anti-choice propaganda.”

    I’m with you, Jill. Dr. Susan Wicklund, a Montana abortion provider, titled her memoir “This Common Secret” for a reason. I heartily recommend this book to anyone seeking the details of what actually happens. It is only tangentially political, and is mostly stories about Dr. Wicklund, her extended family, her practice, and her patients.

  2. PrettyAmiable says:

    This is nitpicking, I’m sure, but can we have an adjustment on this line: “Angie Jackson is live-tweeting her abortion this week, and it seems to have brought a lot of woman-haters out of the woodwork.”

    They’re not out of the woodwork. These losers are always around. Most of the time, though, they’re camped out in front of a PP espousing personal beliefs they hardly hold themselves to. For these people, this shit must be like a vacation: they can woman-bash from their computers and play with the kids they haven’t adopted from some woman whose life they didn’t change for the better.

  3. The Nerd says:

    The closet: gays came out of it, atheists are coming out, and I’m glad to see that women having abortions are starting to come out of it too. :)

  4. This is what the ProChoice movement needs. This is the only way that we’re going to be able to uphold Roe. We’ve let the antis dominate the conversation with their hateful rhetoric for too long.

    Angie has been interviewed by ABC news, and her segment should be airing tonight – I look forward to seeing how the interview was handled. I have high hopes.

  5. westwood says:

    I haven’t heard about this at all up north. Regardless, everything she’s said is right.

    I was also unfamiliar about the one in three statistic, which is shocking, to say the least.

  6. @Westwood : If you’re interested in more abortion statistics, http://www.guttmacher.org is a helpful resource. For abortion stories, try imnotsorry.net.

    It *can* be shocking to realize that many women in your life have probably chosen abortion. None of my friends or family have ever told me that they’ve aborted – but then, I have never told them about my own abortion. This is why what Angie is doing so important. The antis have been mocking those of us who’ve called her a “hero”, drawing the (incorrect) conclusion that we must think choosing abortion over parenting/adoption makes someone a hero. But what we’re actually referring to is the act of speaking out, not the act of deciding on abortion in the first place. It takes a lot of guts. Period. She’s been receiving not only slut-shaming religious rhetoric, but actual death threats.

    The antis are fond of saying “If SO many women choose abortion, and they’re comfortable with that decision and haven’t suffered any mental or physical health consequences from it, then why don’t we hear from them?” But then, when they are confronted with positive abortion stories, they often fall back on personal attacks such as “She’s just looking for attention/rationalization/comfort/she’s really heartbroken but just can’t admit yet!!1111” etc.

    That’s why speaking out about it is so, so important. I hope to one day be brave enough to tell the people in my life that not only am I proudly prochoice (which they’re aware of), but I’ve actually had my OWN abortion. Unfortunately, I’m still scared. Which is why, for now, I’m sticking to internet anonymity.

  7. Erica A says:

    To Jill (and Angie)–

    This is maybe a little heavy, but I am a medical student and I have just finished the most horrible week of exams I’ve had yet. A not-so-little part of me felt like saying, “Fuck this,” and getting the hell out of here.

    You’ve reminded me of the reasons I’m here and the reasons it’s so worth it to work so hard to stay here. Thank you.

  8. chava says:

    Gd bless her (and I think she would).

    We need more women like her. Out of everyone I know, only one woman has admitted to me that she had one. There have to be more and the silence is damaging.

  9. Sara says:

    I am really glad she is doing this. I haven’t at any point been in a situation where I needed to exersise this right and I’d be a little suprised if I was in the future but I might be. And there are millions of women who are growing up who will some day google “what does an abortion feel like” and I want them to see this, not some bullshit antiwoman lies.

    I have decided that between this and several other things this week that I need to be more open with some young women in my life. I am planning on sitting down and talking to my little stepsister about money. Actual numbers, not playing around and generalities. It isn’t nearly as crucial or important but it is what I can offer.

  10. I agree with what she said. I’ve never really thought about this issue like this. These are some hard choices women have to make, wow!

  11. skatergirl says:

    Thank you from me, too, Erica A. Keep at it and study hard.

  12. I don’t know if I’ll watch the video (I’m kind of squeamish about any surgical procedure- if the skin is opened up, I don’t want to see it), but I think it’s wonderful that this resource is going to be out there for anyone who wants to learn about what abortion is really like. Angie is a wonderful, courageous woman for doing this and letting her voice be heard.

  13. Evamaria says:

    Props to Angie, seriously! What boggles my mind the most is how many “pro-life” people simply don’t care about the woman’s life AT ALL (aside from the fact that, really, it’s no one’s business but the woman’s if she wants to go for a LEGAL abortion).

    I mean, my mom is very Christian, anti-abortion (and wow, have we argued about that!) but she’s truly pro-LIFE, in all its forms (including the right of the mother to LIVE). But people threatening Angie’s son and Utah criminalizing miscarriage… There are just no words for how un-Christian this is!

    @Thessa Mercury – she took the abortion pill, so there was no surgery involved.

  14. Marle says:

    Thessa, don’t worry about the video. There’s no surgery. She took some pills, and in the video she’s talking normally and saying it’s not that bad. I’m assuming she’s having cramps or something but we don’t see anything.

  15. Natalie says:

    Thessa,

    I think your comment illustrates why this liveblogging is important.

    Not all abortions are surgical: the fact that abortion has been artificially inflated by the right into something so scary and squeamish IS the problem being addressed.

  16. C... says:

    I admire her courage. She is courageous in admitting it and because she knows she has to save herself for her young son that needs her so very much. To the people that are anti-abortionists, yeah some people suck for not taking responsibility for their actions but as a society we are also responsible for making decisions that will prolong our lives for those that need us now. This is all she did … not commit murder … she saved her life. Are you going to take care of her son if she dies … no then shut up. Birth control is a sin too … are you going to threaten her with her life for using birth control? Extremist behavior … killing or threatening to kill someone does not make you a better person or a hero of any kind.. You are just like any other terrorist if you think so! Thanks for being a brave person!!!

  17. Thanks Jill for writing this, and everyone for your encouragement. I’ve read more comments here & elsewhere than I can possibly reply to individually but Erica A. I wanted to tell you that’s one of the best things I’ve read all week, and definitely what makes the hatred I’ve experienced worth it. *Thank you!*

    If anyone wants to show support to @nextthurs she’s a fellow Tweeter who started her RU486 abortion-by-pill on Thursday. She’s also using the #livetweetingabortion hashtag and if anything, she’s had it worse (because I kicked the hornet’s nest & now all the haters have descended.) Please offer her support & encouragement. Thanks for trusting women! :D

  18. mizztcasa says:

    I agree with Sarah – #10 – I’m glad that she shared what she was going through and I wished this side of the story was shared more.

  19. mizztcasa says:

    I agree with Sara – #10 – I’m glad that she shared what she was going through and I wished this side of the story was shared more.

  20. Nicole says:

    Wow, I would never have the guts to do what she’s doing and open myself up to violently ignorant personal attacks, anonymous or not. Thanks for alerting me to this.

  21. QLH says:

    If anyone wants to show support to @nextthurs she’s a fellow Tweeter who started her RU486 abortion-by-pill on Thursday. She’s also using the #livetweetingabortion hashtag

    Thank you, Angie, for starting this, and thank you to anyone/everyone else who joins in!

  22. Jovan1984 says:

    So far, no sighting Angie’s story on WJBF-DT. I’ll be sure to tune in this weekend in case it airs.

    Thank you to Jill and Angie for this.

    These people who are threatening Angie, her boyfriend and her son should all be locked up for terrorism. The entire anti-choice movement is a terrorist movement.

  23. Grace Pokela says:

    You are very brave. Thank you.

  24. maggie says:

    As far as I’m aware she opted for chemical abortion. I want to thank her for her taking this to twitter and youtube. I hope she reads this website as I don’t do twitter or youtube.

    I hate also that she had people calling her a whore. Ah yes that old chestnut – she should have kept her legs closed. Depressing to say the least.

    This is the repsonible action of a woman who is in control of her mind and body. I had an abortion, surgical, because I didn’t want a third miscarriage. I was told by a male doctor to let nature take its course. I just about got to the operating table before I miscarried. Was never, ever going to go through that again. I’d had two children by then.

    It’s all about choice and being in control instead of being controlled.

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