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.