How Not to Talk to Someone Who had an Abortion

It isn’t always easy to talk to someone who has had an abortion, but it is important to realise that your opinions need to be left at the door. The conversation should be about the person who has had the abortion and how they feel. Some people are happy and others are sad; people face a wide range of emotions when they get an abortion and you need to be there for them no matter what emotion they are going through.

Since it isn’t easy to find the right words I thought I would share an article by Kassi Underwood published on the website Exhale a pro-voice abortion support center created by and for women.  The article gives advice on eight things you should not say to someone who has just had an abortion. Not only does it tell you what not to say but it explains why you should not say it and what you should say instead. Hopefully this article and Exhale’s website will help you talk to someone who has had an abortion.

Here is the list of eight things not to say to someone who has had an abortion:

(To see the full article go here.)

1. But weren’t you unstable before the abortion?

We’re smart people. We are fully aware of the lives we’ve led. If our state of mind beforehand seems relevant, then we will discuss it in our own time. We came to you because we would like to talk about how we feel right now.

What to say: I’m glad you came to talk to me about this.

2. That was years ago, dollface. Isn’t it time to move on?

We know exactly how much time has elapsed. If we could have moved on already, we would have. Some people see their abortion as the loss of their identity, or their child, or their chance. While it is important to make no assumptions about why someone is having feelings around their abortion, you can tell us you know how normal we are for feeling the way we do. We are completely acceptable as-is.

What to say: I know this happened years ago, and it’s okay if you’re still really, really sad.

3. All this sadness makes you sound like you’re against abortion.

Our emotions may have nothing to do with our opinion about abortion. I know women who have marched on Washington for their right to choose while privately regretting their own decisions. I know women who believe very deeply that abortion is wrong while feeling that abortion was the right decision for them. Our personal stories do not always reflect our political beliefs. When we come to you, please do not match our emotions to a political narrative.

What to say: There’s no right or wrong way to feel.

4. You weren’t ready for a baby.

This tells us that we are inferior, irresponsible, and immature, which is simply not true. We made the most mature, responsible decisions we could at the time. Some of us feel proud of the independence we gained from all the footwork this decision required. If we tell you we didn’t have access to the resources we needed, feel with us. Remember a time when you didn’t have what you needed. Acknowledge that we are worthy of having everything we need. All of us.

What to say: Sounds like you know what’s best for you.

5. Well, I support your right to choose.

This one sounds like support, but it ends the conversation. It may be a positive assessment, but it’s a judgment nonetheless. What we need is space to connect with you. If we would like to know your political views, please trust us to ask you. If we don’t ask, then perhaps we don’t need to know.

What to say: Take your time — I’m listening.

6. I don’t support what you did, but I’m here to support you.

It can be difficult to feel unconditionally loved and supported by someone who condemns what you did. You don’t have to support what we did, but when you are supporting us, please leave your opinions and expectations at the door. Then come in, listen to what we are saying, and try to put yourself in our shoes.

What to say: I’m here to support you.

7. No — it was actually a baby/child/fetus/embryo/zygote/clump of cells.

Many of us have done the research. We know the terminology. Sometimes it takes nerve to use the word we like best. Please don’t correct us. Instead, use our terminology when you talk to us.

What to say: You’re allowed to call it a fetus or a baby — it was yours and you can call it whatever you want.

8. But are you really happy now?

Some of us really are very happy right after the procedure for reasons so vast and diverse that I could write about them for pages. Even if we’re not happy right afterward, many of us become happy in our own time. If we tell you that we’re happy, we may have done a lot of work to reach this extraordinary place. Please celebrate with us. Do a little dance. Hip-bump. Yay.

What to say: I’m glad you feel relieved and rejuvenated.

Missouri Women Losing Rights

“To the Missouri State Senate, women aren’t people. They aren’t American citizens. Pharmacists in Missouri can refuse to sell them birth control pills. It’s about belief. If your pharmacist believes you, a woman, shouldn’t be using birth control, he can refuse to sell you the drugs. It’s about his belief. He has a right in Missouri, according to the Senate, to see to it that you behave as he thinks you should. This is what it means to be a woman in America today? We’re back to this?” -Anne Rice

Women in Missouri are not being treated like real people who deserve rights, freedoms, and access to medical care. The Missouri senate has passed legislation, called HB 457, that will allow pharmacists not only the right to deny women* from accessing their birth control -even if prescribed by a doctor- but to also stop stocking birth control and emergency contraception (EC)in their stores. This law is in line with many laws currently taking shape in the United States. The republicans seem very determined to undermine everything feminists and suffragists  have fought for: they want women to have no reproductive rights and they are using religion as a mask to hide their misogyny. The law is meant to protect pharmacists from having to give out medicine that does not fit their religious beliefs, which greatly effects women. This law is misogynist because it is a law that has been created to harm women’s health.

HB 457 is harmful to all women but is detrimental to rape victims and rural women in particular.  Rape victims may not have access to or be provided with the medical care they would need to prevent an unwanted pregnancy caused by rape. Despite what Missouri Republican Todd Akin believes women need reproductive technology in every case of rape:

“”First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” -Todd Akin

I know there are many misconceptions about rape in the Republican party but Republicans being idiots is not a good enough reason for women to have to suffer. Women who are raped and are denied EC will be forced to suffer even further than they already have, and will be more likely to need access to an abortion in the future.

Women living in rural areas will suffer because they will not have the option to find a new pharmacist, if they are denied reproductive technology from the one they have. In many small towns there is only one pharmacist, and towns are spread out. In this case women who do not have the ability to travel to a different town for a pharmacist will no longer have access to the reproductive technology they need for their health.

I agree with Anne Rice when she said  “We’re back to this?”, because these laws are taking us back in time. Is it the republicans goal to have the same reproductive rights as “third world” countries like Chile where an 11 year old rape victim was forced to carry a child? Do they want the country to revert in laws for women to the point where women are no longer considered people? Because that is where they are headed. This is the backlash people; and it’s just the beginning. With rights being taken back one by one and new laws full of red tape for women to access their healthcare it’s only a matter of time before women have no reproductive rights at all. With the rate of unintended pregnancy in teens rising in the US it just doesn’t make sense that they would be creating even more laws to prevent women from reproductive technology.

Women need every kind of reproductive technology available to them at all times,  and the opinions of a pharmacist should not prevent them from having the health care they need. One person should not have the right to control the lives of others. Women need to be able to live their lives as they choose and to have the medical care they need in order to do so. The only way for true equality is for all people to have rights over their own bodies, and that means reproductive rights for everyone.

*in this article women refers manly to cis-gendered women but also to any person who would need access to birth control, EC and reproductive technology

Wendy Davis -Live From Texas

Today Texas State Senator Wendy Davis is currently on a filibuster to try and stop a bill that would be detrimental to women’s health and women’s rights in Texas. I am currently listening to Davis on the live feed talk about her own pregnancy and abortion. It is heart breaking listening to her talk about this experience and how it will be even harder for women to make these decisions if this bill was passed. She is an amazing person for fighting against this bill and telling her own personal stories. I really hope she makes it the whole 13 hours.
I hope you can make some time to watch Davis. She is articulate even after 10 hours. She has become my hero, she stands for all women not just women in Texas. When reproductive rights of any woman are being limited we all suffer. Presidents can be set, other states follow Texas, then other countries with similar legal systems (ie Canada, England..) then it continues to move. When one persons rights are limited so are others. It is always important to fight for our rights no matter what. Wendy Davis is an amazing woman.

Move Forward

This is a video from a youtube channel called ReproductiveRight100 that is dedicated to reproductive rights in the United States. This video is trying to hold President Obama accountable to his words. President Obama said he believes in reproductive rights but with the amount of laws being created in the USA to roll back reproductive rights it can be hard to see how Obama is standing up for women’s rights.

Fighting for Life and an Abortion

A 22 year old woman going by the pseudo name Beatriz is fighting for her life in El Salvador. Beatriz is five months pregnant and has lupus and kidney problems. Her fetus has a birth defect called anencephaly (the fetus is missing parts of its brain and skull) that will cause it to die. In order to live Beatriz needs an abortion. Her doctors want to perform the abortion because they believe there is a strong chance of maternal death.

They fear she may die because of her current complications and the complications of her last pregnancy. Beatriz almost died when giving birth to her 14 month old son. She had many complications with her pregnancy due to her illnesses, and had to have an emergency C-section. Her son was also in the hospital for over a month after he was born because of digestive and respiratory problems. Her doctors fear they will go to jail if they perform a medical abortion.

In 1998, El Salvador passed a strict abortion law that prohibited all abortions for any reason even medical, incest and rape. El Salvador has jailed 628 women for having abortions since 1998. Some of these women have been sentenced for 30 years. This is a little ridiculous if you ask me. If that many women are getting abortions even when prohibited by law then why have the laws not been changed? It just makes sense to me. Women need access to abortions, especially in countries that are predominantly Catholic and therefore have not/do not have access and promotion of birth control. I believe the state and the church need to be separate in all cases. The church should not be in control of women’s rights, reproductive or other wise.

Women need abortions, especially medical ones. The laws need to change to save Beatriz. Without the laws changing then more women will end up like Savita Halappanavar. I hope that Beatriz and any other women who needs an abortion will be able to get one. When the women’s life is in danger there is no “moral”, legal or religious reason that a woman should not be able to have an abortion.

Ireland Keeps Abortion Restrictions In New Bill

Ireland keeps restrictions that make abortion only legal when it is an emergency abortion but makes changes in order to “clarify” when an emergency abortion may be performed. The new protection of life during pregnancy bill does not necessarily change the law it really only makes it more specific. The law is meant to clearly say when an emergency abortion may be performed. An abortion may be performed legally in Ireland when the:

a)that procedure is carried out by a registered medical practitioner at an appropriate location, and

(b) two medical practitioners, have, in accordance with this head, jointly certified in good faith that –

(i) there is a real and substantial risk of loss of the pregnant woman’s life other than by way of self-destruction, and

(ii) in their reasonable opinion this risk can be averted only by that medical procedure.

Now I have not read the bill in its entirety but I do not like what I have read. As you can see above you must have two medical practitioners in order to receive an emergency abortion. This causes inaccessibility even in cases when a women’s life is in danger. Not only would it be difficult to find two doctors willing to perform an abortion there are also restrictions on what kind of doctor you can have. One of the doctors must be an obstetrician/gynaecologist who is registered  with the Specialist Division. Also the doctors cannot be the women’s own general practitioner because they must be consulted by the other two doctors. This is could cause a women to be unable to find doctors willing to give her an abortion and therefore cause her to die.

Even after the death of Savita Halappanavar the laws have not changed to help women. For those of you who did not hear about Halappanavar here is her story in little detail. She was a 31 year old dentist in Galway Ireland who went to a University hospital complaining of pain. She was having a miscarriage but the doctors could not help her because the fetus still had a heartbeat. They told her and her husband that they were a Catholic country and therefore could not abort her dying fetus. Halappanavar and her husband are not Irish or Catholic, yet they had to follow the Catholic laws against abortion. Halappanavar and her fetus died as a result of the lack of treatment at a hospital.

There has been much public outcry and protest after Halappanavar’s death yet this new bill does not address this. The new bill, as far as I have read, does not allow for the termination of pregnancy in Halappanava’s case. I am avidly pro-choice as you know from reading this blog and therefore believe that there should be no restrictions at all when it comes to abortion, birth control and reproductive right. I understand that Ireland is a Catholic country and therefore religion is influential in cases like this, but when it comes to cases like Halappanava religion needs to realise that the women’s life is important. Halappanava could have lived. If she was in England, Canada, Switzerland, even in most US States she would have survived.

Bills should not be changed to clarify existing restrictions they should be changed to remove restrictions and help women. Women have a right to life, and a right to their own physical and emotional safety that is being ignored in this bill.

Peterborough Pro-Life

Over 25 years of anti choice anger and I have never heard of them. I live in Peterborough Canada and attend Trent University there but some how have never heard of the Peterborough Pro-Life organization (PPL).  According to this article they protest every single Saturday outside the Peterborough Hospital. This blew my mind. I had no idea they existed. As a feminist and a supporter of choice and all reproductive rights I am amazed I have never heard of them. Thanks to a lovely friend of mine, I now know about them.

Although I have never heard of them they seem to have some friends in high places. Local conservative MP Dean Del Mastro assisted the PPL in getting information about the number of abortions performed. The hospital did not want to give them this information.

They want to put religion in politics in a time period where we thankfully have a secular state. One of the women involved, Mrs. van der Vegt., said this about being pro-life: “It’s spiritual warfare,”. She also said that she is protesting because it is God’s will. I disagree with her. The God I believe in respects women’s rights and knows that religion has no place in legislation.

If any of you wonderful people who read this blog live in the area I am thinking about maybe shaking up their Saturday routine by having a little counter protest. It will be a good warm up for the big protest in Ottawa on May 9th, the anniversary of R v Morgentaler.

I understand that people are pro life and that this is a valid opinion to have. Feminism is not about the choices you make it is about having a choice. My only problem is people who are pro life is that they want to take away other peoples rights when pro choice only wants to give everyone options.

Here is information on PPL if you’re interested:

Ali van der Vegt Phone: (705) 745-3820 E-mail: ali.vandervegt@yahoo.ca

Join the Peterborough Pro-Life Silent Prayer Vigil every Saturday, 10AM to 11AM. Peterborough Regional Health Centre 1 Hospital Dr, Peterborough, ON

Please do not email or call Mrs. van der Vegt if you plan on sending rude, offensive, threatening messages to her. I give you this information because it was on the article linked, not so you can do any harm. Everyone deserves to have an opinion and you should not be mean to them because of it.