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Woman Tweets Abortion, Internet Implodes

It turns out, that the fastest way to make the Internet implode is to have a state send a crazy miscarriage bill to the governor on the same week that a woman live-tweets her abortion.  Something about the hashtag #livetweetingabortion coupled with the idea of a woman paying $150 to have someone beat her into a miscarriage makes people talk.

I think Josh has been rubbing off on me and his penchant to make jokes when he’s nervous.

I’m rarely nervous to publish a blog post, but my heart is pounding as I write this.  I don’t even know what I’m worried about; after all, my blog is merely a recording of my thoughts.  But abortion is a different bag of hair.

I think the reason that most people do not write about abortion isn’t that there isn’t discussion to be had, but because the comments that come after writing about abortion are so stressful that sometimes the influx of craziness isn’t worth the expression of the ideas.  Which is, when you think about it, a sad example of self-censorship.

Opportunities to talk about abortion beyond rhetoric rarely come around because so few want to be subjected to the commentary that follows when they talk about the act–either the congratulatory remarks from people who dismiss the entire emotional side of abortion or the scathing and scary vitriol spewed by those who condemn the action (and, apparently, the person who commits the action too).  We are taking something that needs to be discussed–especially on the personal level–and making people keep quiet just to save themselves from the backlash that follows the act.

As the woman admitted in an interview: “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’m trying to not censor myself on my own blog.

Abortion is a medical procedure but we have turned it into a question of ethics.  Where else do we chastise someone for taking care of themselves physically or emotionally?  Where else do we dictate another person’s medical decisions from afar and believe we know better than the person living the life?

We can take any other medical procedure and debate whether it’s gross or weird to tweet about it, but when we talk about abortion, we talk about it in terms of ethics rather than societal thresholds on privacy.  Tweeting your colonoscopy (or live broadcasting it on television a la Katie Couric)=cool, yet a little nasty.  Tweeting your abortion=burn in hell.

I support abortion rights.  It may seem contradictory–an infertile woman who supports the abortion option?  And writing about it in the same week that I mourned my first miscarriage?  But restricting access to abortion is just one step away from restricting access to fertility treatments, and I would like to retain control over what happens in my uterus.  I don’t believe we should get into grey areas deeming some abortions ethical and others not; stating that within certain situations, it’s merciful and in others, it’s irresponsible.  It’s a slippery slope once you step onto the rights of others, and anyone who favours outlawing or restricting abortion and is also infertile should consider how they would feel if the reach of the general public went into their body; went towards restricting assisted conception, making the use of fertility drugs illegal.

It’s not that far a jump.  We already saw states try to enact laws restricting IVF in the past year.

Do I think live-tweeting an abortion is a noble or wonderful thing to do?  Well, no.  I really hope this doesn’t start a trend of people live-tweeting their abortions any more than I want people to live-tweet their births.  But I do think that sending her words out there was a powerful act that is ultimately helpful for those who encounter the information.

I am drawn to this story because it is, at its core, about education.  It has opened up an enormous discussion that is extending into all the nooks and crannies of female genitalia including cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine.  It’s about making sure the women who come after you have a heads up that you never got to receive.  It’s catharsis for those who have experienced an abortion with RU-486 to know that they’re not alone.  And I can never see education as a bad thing.

Good teaching conveys information.  It’s not meant to influence your opinion or tell you how to think.

We are drawn to social media because we are social creatures.  We thrive on making connections, exchanging information, and gathering support from others.  Even if there are times when I see information or support being gathered on Twitter and I think to myself, “I would never tweet in that moment,” I am also open-minded enough to understand that what works for me might not work for another person.  So I can see the need, when you are in an emotionally fragile state, about to embark on an act that weighs heavily on your heart, to reach out to people via social media applications such as Twitter.

I would like to try to discuss abortion without the discussion withering into a series of accusations and vitriol.  Let’s start with the basic understanding that we all believe different things, and that’s okay.  That we don’t have to share the same beliefs in order to listen to one another.  That just because something seems right to me, doesn’t make it right for you.  And vice versa.  That we can divorce the person from the action, and understand that a person is the sum of millions of moments and not one situation.  That there are plenty of rights I can support, even if I wouldn’t partake in utilizing that right.

At the end of the day, I want my kids to inherit a world where they have choices.  I want to know that doors aren’t closed to them if they need those doors to be open.  So yes, I believe that abortion needs to be an option for all women.  And just as I started Operation Heads Up because I believe that hearing someone’s personal experience is just as if not more important than the dry information a doctor can convey about a procedure, I think that having someone live tweet their abortion can only be a good thing for other women who find themselves at Planned Parenthood, needing to utilize RU-486, and scared out of their minds.  It’s important for social creatures to know that they’re not alone.

What are your feelings about the woman live tweeting her abortion with RU-486 in order to create a written record–physically and emotionally–of the experience for a woman who takes the same route in the future?

Edited to add (after the first 10 or so comments): hello, America, this is what it looks like to have a respectful discussion on abortion with both sides welcome and encouraged to speak and be heard.  I am really proud of how we are talking about it without disintegrating into name calling or hysteria.  Thank you to everyone who is adding their thoughts–especially the ones that respectfully disagree with me because it’s important to be challenged and consider the whole picture.


1 Heidi { 02.27.10 at 10:34 am }

I never have decided how I feel about abortion. I think I honestly just choose to ignore it. I think that it should be legal, but I don’t think it should be used as a form of birth control either.

2 Blanche { 02.27.10 at 11:16 am }

I think good for her for being willing to put her perspective out there. At root it’s a medical procedure, albeit one that raises moral/ethical/emotional questions for many. And certainly as I’ve found in ART, not everyone has the same response to the same procedure. Additional perspective is always good to reflect the range of responses so that someone approaching the procedure doesn’t assume that the experience of one is the experience of all.

3 Clare { 02.27.10 at 11:16 am }

Well done on posting this Melissa. It is a hard topic to discuss – especially given the vitriol and sheer anger that arises when discussing abortion. I am always grateful that I have never been in a situation where I have to make a real decision about abortion and I would probably choose not to have one had I ever been faced with such a decision. But many women are not as fortunate as I and it is so important that they have the option of a safe legal abortion – if this service is not provided all we see are women debilitated or worse dead from unsafe illegal abortions, and I would rather avoid that, than go into any of the ethical arguments surrounding abortion.

I always find it intriguing that many of the groups fiercely anti-choice do not support more policies to support single-mothers or to spend more money on education, adoption services – after all if you are going to deny a woman access to abortion, then at the very least they should support the mother and child financially.

4 Angie Jackson { 02.27.10 at 11:37 am }

“…understand that a person is the sum of millions of moments and not one situation.”

Thank you.

5 Jennifer { 02.27.10 at 11:37 am }

As one of the past posters stated, I too really don’t have an opinion on the matter, I choose to ingonore.

6 Renee Hendricks { 02.27.10 at 11:40 am }

I agree – we’ve seen a flood of tweeting and vids on many topics we wouldn’t have in regular polite conversation and the very thought of someone actually talking about their experience taking RU-486 suddenly is horrid and disgusting. I applaud Angie for sharing information and what she is going through so that other women might have the opportunity to make a choice based on what happened in the real world to a real person.

This was a wonderfully written and obviously well-thought out post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

7 Sonja { 02.27.10 at 11:43 am }

Your post reminded me of a conversation I had at a job a couple years ago. This was during my horrible endo pain days, and everyone knew what was going on and I was willing to talk about it and any “girl” stuff.

One day, one of my coworkers came up to me and told me that she recently had an abortion. She just needed to tell someone what happened and how she felt about it without being judged.

I didn’t judge, but I was weirded out by the whole thing. I mean, who just goes up to someone and starts talking about this? I’m glad that she felt comfortable enough talking to me about this, but again, it was just weird. But after reading this, now I understand why she needed to talk, and I’m really glad she did.

Whether it’s endo or IF or Plan B or abortion, I’m tired of things being “not proper” to talk about. They’re part of the human experience, and it only makes it worse when you feel alone and have no where to turn.

8 Rebecca { 02.27.10 at 12:13 pm }

Wonderfully written post, thank you for bringing this difficult topic out into the open. I couldn’t agree more that I want my children to live in a world where they have choices & no one else dictates what they do to their body. Also loved “a person is the sum of millions of moments and not one situation”.
While I also don’t think I’d ever want to tweet about something like that, I think it’s wonderful we live in a society where she has the option to do so. I agree education is vital to understanding where each of us come from. I know having gone through infertility treatments & being open about my struggle has helped so many friends & family members better understand a difficult process they knew next to nothing about prior.

9 Jiblets1 { 02.27.10 at 12:13 pm }

A great, sensitively written post. I fully support a woman’s right to choose abortion. The fact that some women abuse this right in no means should imply that that right should be confiscated. That just reeks of taking your toys back. I also agree that anti-abortionism is not unlikely to lead to removing choice on ivf. A woman on mainstream British tv recently said she didn’t believe in ivf, as it should remain the ‘survival of the fittest’. I didn’t see her classing teenage pregnancies as being an example of the ‘fittest’ though. We all make choices about our lives, our bodies and our futures every day. I don’t understand why people see abortions as different.
Well done for provoking discussion. Society can think we have no taboos left, but unfortunately society is wrong. We aren’t as free thinking and speaking as we think we are.

10 Courtney { 02.27.10 at 12:24 pm }

I’m pro-life and believe that life starts at conception so obviously I’m going to have to disagree with you on some of your points in this post.

Especially…” It’s a slippery slope once you step onto the rights of others, and anyone who favours outlawing or restricting abortion and is also infertile should consider how they would feel if the reach of the general public went into their body; went towards restricting assisted conception, making the use of fertility drugs illegal.”

In my opinion (and of course just my opinion not an attack!), I feel that there is a huge difference between legislating “creating” a life (or treating a disease/condition) compared to ending a life so I guess I don’t see the connection. The reason that it is so difficult to talk about this issue is it really comes down to when a person thinks that life begins. I had many ultrasounds at the beginning of my pregnancy and from my point of view, he was as full of life (and should have the same rights) as anyone walking the street today. So personally every time I hear of an abortion my heart aches for that little life and for the woman or potential adoptive parents who could have experienced it.

It is not my intention to start a debate so please know that my comment is only to share my opinion and to participate in this thought provoking conversation.

11 Krista { 02.27.10 at 12:42 pm }

I think your post on this topic was well thought out and well written. I agree with you completely that the government should stay out of my uterus. And, it is a slippery slope when governments begin to make laws restricting medical procedures. We sought treatment for infertility while living in Italy, where the government has placed restrictions on ART — such as doctors can only create three embryos, and all must be transferred and they cannot freeze embryos. There’s no sperm or egg donation, and ART is limited to heterosexual married couples. As infertiles, surely we can all see the folly in this law, but it is the law nonetheless. As odd as it may seem our experience there cemented my pro-choice stance. As for tweeting such an experience, I cannot judge because I blog my way through IF, putting it all out there. In my own experience I’ve found that many of the people who are so violently opposed to abortion are also opposed to ART. My own relatives have voiced their opinions on the matter, saying they think ART, particularly IVF is unethical and immoral. So, there you go. We’re all essentially rowing in the same boat in the eyes of many. Because of that, we have to stick together. Imagine the vile that would be spewed on a blog such as mine if it were posted out there for the masses. Instead, I’ve chosen to join this community where I find kindred spirits and support from every direction. I don’t think I would ever post something so personal (or so devisive, for that matter) on a social networking site. But, I’m thankful that this woman had a choice on both fronts.
Thanks for having the courage to write this post!

12 PaleMother { 02.27.10 at 12:50 pm }

~Personally~, tweeting an abortion … as long as it wasn’t done for some purely ego-motivated, personality disordered, immature craving for personal attention (positive or negative) a la Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes … as long as it was done with some thoughtful intention (however clever or misguided) … like raising awareness and reaching out to others like her … I don’t have a problem with it.

But I do question whether tweeting … which is such a casual, often times flippant, toss-off mode of communication … is the best ~tactical~ move to further her cause. What is her cause?

To reach out to other women like her? (Then it doesn’t matter who she pisses off … she’s not talking to them.)

Or is she trying to move the polarizing, rancourous debate to a more productive place? Accomplishing that requires one hell of a silver bullet. And I’m afraid that tweeting an abortion, for better or worse, only feeds The Beast — it feeds the righteous indignation that is a great plague against clarity and compassion and consensus. Tactically, it might be it’s own slippery slope.

Is this tweeting abortion a bold and clever move? Is it Rosa Parks taking a seat on the bus? I don’t know.

What I do know is that I agree with your point that outlawing abortion not being far from outlawing fertility treatment and other indivdual rights of self-determination (something that, in my opinion, has far more potential for harm and abuse and terrible consequences than allowing people the right to choose for themselves — which is freewill that the bible teaches was given to man by God, Himself, for better or worse).

Stories like this scare. the. hell. out of me:


It’s the story of a 27 year old woman who has a 10 year old daughter and is 10 weeks pregnant. She also has life threatening cancer that left untreated will kill her. But because of the anti-abortion laws in her country, she has no right to treatment.
“There are no exceptions for rape, incest or health risks to the mother. Even an anencephalic or ectopic pregnancy, which are incompatible with life, must be carried to term.”

As they say, if men could get pregnant, abortion and birth control would be sacraments.

13 Michelle { 02.27.10 at 12:51 pm }

When I saw the title of of this blog post, initially I was appalled. I then followed your links and spent the next hour reading all of the this woman’s tweets and her blog.
And I changed my mind.
I have never been anti-abortion but I thought I would be bothered by the public nature of this, and I’m not,
It’s her choice to have an abortion, her choice to tweet about it. It’s not up to me to decide right & wrong for someone else.

14 K { 02.27.10 at 1:00 pm }

I think when you post on a medium like twitter or facebook something that controversial the response you get is bound to be inevitable. There are other ways to record your story and make it available to women besides this sort of method. There was an incident, I think you wrote about it, about a woman whose son drowned and she tweeted before and after it. IMHO that is not the best avenue (twitter, facebook updates) to discuss emotionally heavy heavy topics and then you inevitably will get callous remarks and outrageous statements in response.

15 strongwoman { 02.27.10 at 1:17 pm }

I, too, am a pro-choice infertile woman, and I actually don’t see those two things as contradictory at all, for many of the reasons you state. Thank you for drawing attention to the Utah bill. The ALI community should be very concerned about this legislation.

16 Lucia { 02.27.10 at 2:08 pm }

Indeed abortion and ART have something very important in common: both are technologies that extend a woman’s control over her own reproduction. There are a billion details involved in the debate over each one but I believe that this is the reality that bothers people on both sides the most. Some are truly bothered by the social implications of extending a woman’s control (and, I do believe that there are many) and others are seriously offended by the attempts to limit this control.

17 Caba { 02.27.10 at 2:16 pm }

Funny, I had a blog post about this not that long ago. About abortion that is. I am pro-choice, as well as an infertile. I see no hypocrisy in this. I prefer to stay out of other people’s lives, and I in turn wish they would stay out of mine. I’ve heard it all … IVF is wrong, invasive, that it was “unnatural” for me to be a gestational carrier, etc. People enjoy sitting around from up on high pointing fingers all the day long.

I believe that life begins at conception. I also am pro-choice. The decision a woman makes is hers, and hers alone. Let her deal with it … I will not judge, or tell others what to do. That is not my role in life, and I don’t want to take on that responsibility.

This woman has ever right to tweet her abortion. Good for her for proving that it’s not just a bunch of slutty women running around using abortion as birth control. Those people are few and far between. Chances are we all know someone who has had one …

18 Myndi { 02.27.10 at 2:21 pm }

Admittedly, it does feel contrary to me to be pro-choice and an infertile seeking medical treatment, but that is where I find myself. After my miscarriage, one that happened in the first trimester, I feel even more mixed up about my pro-choice stance because I feel so much loss for a fetus that legally I had a right to terminate (and I would support anyone who did that). But my mind hasn’t changed. I am pro-choice. I will always be pro-choice. And though I would never have tweeted something so personal, she has every right to do so and I don’t think it was a bad move.

The reality is, pregnancy is very personal and I announced it on Facebook at 8 weeks. 4 weeks later, how do you think I had to notify those 130+ people that we miscarried? Via Facebook. I don’t have most of their phone numbers, emails or contact info and I wasn’t about to sit down and send a personal message. It was horrible, and it felt wrong to share something so personal and devastating that way, and I’ll never go back there because of it (nor would I ever announce a pregnancy that way again). But in this day and age, we spread news via social media, and it seems a natural progression that eventually the more painful and negative stuff would be communicated that way as well.

19 Erica (Rebel) { 02.27.10 at 3:31 pm }

Great post Mel, and it is funny eerie how much we think alike. I am on the ProChoice Infertile fence to.

20 a { 02.27.10 at 4:04 pm }

I am both pro-choice and pro-1st Amendment. Do I think abortion is a good choice? Not really, but sometimes it’s the only choice. Do I think tweeting your abortion is a good choice? Not especially, but I’m with PaleMother – if you’re not attention seeking, I don’t object. Plus, I think a medical abortion is a bit different than an RU-486 abortion (I may be in a minority here), and so the emotional aspect might also be different.

I strongly believe that reproductive rights should remain inviolate. I agree, Mel, that it would be a slippery slope – having worked in government for 15 years, I can say that once they get their foot in the door, they never leave, and they try to take more and more control.

21 Heather { 02.27.10 at 6:33 pm }

I had not heard about this. I’m not sure how I feel. I am intrigued.

22 Lindsay (LTF525) { 02.27.10 at 6:55 pm }

I too am a pro-choice infertile. I’ve always been pro-choice because I don’t believe that the gov’t has the right to interfere in our personal matters.

I agree with you that it is a slippery slope. Given all the venom that the general public has towards fertility treatments (thanks octomom), I think its in all our best interest that the government have as little control over uterus’ as possible.

23 MamaCoffee { 02.27.10 at 6:59 pm }

Yeah, I agree, that’s so super awesome she decided to tweet during the murder of her unborn child. :: shakes head :: What the hell is wrong with you people?

24 ErnieGirl { 02.27.10 at 7:35 pm }

I used to be 100% against abortion until I had an unplanned pregnancy when I was 20 years old. I considered having an abortion, but did not. We are now in an open adoption. Despite the fact that I did not have an abortion, my views on abortion change. I do not think abortions should be easy to obtain (you should have to take more than one step, like most states require), but you should have the option.

25 Calliope { 02.27.10 at 9:15 pm }

I’ve never understood how we could ever know when life begins. It seems like something beyond human comprehension. I just hate when these incredibly personal and emotional and private situations become politicized or religiousized. A woman should have the right to make a choice. One does not need to agree or disagree with it, but allow it. Tweeting through something so personal is shocking. But I also know that I blogged every horrible moment of my unpregnancy. Hard as hell topic to wade through…

26 melissa { 02.27.10 at 9:47 pm }

I do not agree with tweeting through something so personal… but I do believe we have to hold on to our rights of choice; abortion being one of them.

Thank you for sharing your perspective, too!!!


27 Jenn { 02.27.10 at 9:55 pm }

Honestly I am so glad I am not the only infertile who is pro-choice. And you said it perfectly. My reasons for being pro-choice have NOTHING to do with ethics. My infertility aside, we should have the choice to do what we will with our own bodies. If you take that away, you can take pretty much any freedom or liberty away.

28 caitsmom { 02.27.10 at 9:58 pm }

Don’t have it in me to add my thoughts about this complex and heartbreaking subject, but I do have it in me to say how much I appreciate this statement, “Thank you to everyone who is adding their thoughts–especially the ones that respectfully disagree with me because it’s important to be challenged and consider the whole picture.” I’m encouraged that there are people who recognize the value of opposing and inviting those opposing viewpoints. THANK you.

OK, I have one thought, “We need compassion above all.”

29 Shelli { 02.27.10 at 10:30 pm }

This topic is so very close to my heart. I am pro-choice, and even though I hinge towards the conservative as I’ve gotten older, this is one thing that I will always support… This is my body and I do not want anyone to regulate what I can do with it.

Honestly, I had not heard about this story… and after my inital gasp (really?!), I understand completely. Abortion is viewed as the dirtiest of subjects. Yet those who have faced the decision and chose abortion carry the most isolating burden never to be discussed, but rather taken to their grave as a secret.

I suppose talking in 40 characters or less is a little odd, but… I imagine there is something very freeing about it. To talk, and not hide for fear of judgement.

Thank you Mel, for such a great discussion.

30 Rach { 02.27.10 at 10:48 pm }

I find it interesting that there is so much uproar over someone’s personal choice to do something. As an adult, Angie has free will to do whatever she pleases. As an adult, I have free will as to whether or not I read what she writes or watch what she records. If you don’t like what she has to say, don’t continue to read it, don’t continue to view it but don’t berate her for her right to have an opinion and express it.

As bloggers in the ALI blogosphere I do and will find it amusing if anyone comments that Angie shouldn’t have recorded her thoughts feelings and experiences using RU-486. It was not that long ago that most of the wider community would have considered it wrong or immoral for people to write about their experiences, hurdles and trouble in trying to conceive a baby. To go into such detail about treatments, injections, drugs taken, medical procedures performed, operations, timed sex, cervical mucus, IVF, IUI, female factor infertility, male factor infertility, reductions in pregnancy, miscarriages, stillbirths and the list could go on.

Oh the horror to read such personal details of people’s PRIVATE lives out there for the whole world to see and judge them on. And yet now, the ALI blogosphere is huge, massive, it’s a huge support network for the countless thousands of women who are struggling to conceive a child and most of us would be lost without it. Without the ability to reach out and read about other women who, just like us, are struggling to get knocked up. To know that should the worse happen, say we suffer a miscarriage or have a stillbirth, that we will get support out there from fellow women who may or may not have been in our situation.

Now imagine that world gone. If that first person, to start an ALI blog, hadn’t done so all those years ago. If you, Melissa, hadn’t of started Stirrup Queens up, where would we all be? Who would we turn to for support? Who, and where would we gain information and understanding and support from when we need it on those days where nothing make sense and we feel like the there is no light at the end of the tunnel?

It is people like Angie, who are brave enough to take that first step that open up the support networks for other women to utilise and fall back on in the future. If her tweeting and posting her vids on YouTube help just one person, then what she has done, has been worthwhile.

As for the abortion debate, just like no one has the right to tell me what I can and cannot do to and with my body, then I have no right to tell anyone else what they can and cannot do with their body.

31 Bianca { 02.28.10 at 12:07 am }

Very well written post. And it’s also a very respectful discussion. (For the most part!) 🙂 I am pro-CHOICE. I simply feel that no one besides me should have any say about what I do or don’t do with my own body. Like another poster mentioned, I also question how we know when ‘life’ begins. I guess I am what you’d refer to as a fertile and have two little ones, ages 3 and 1. I remember seeing the little “beans” in those first ultrasounds. I remember how they looked like actual babies in ultrasounds in the 12th-20th weeks. However, I also am aware that if either fetus was somehow delivered too early, say at 17 weeks, it could not have survived outside of my body. In that sense, can it be a true LIFE if it cannot survive on it’s own? I do not bring this up to cause an argument – I am just asking an honest question. Either way, if a government gets involved in our most intimate decisions, would anything be off limits?

32 luna { 02.28.10 at 12:10 am }

I hadn’t heard about this and I haven’t read anything else about it, but twitter is hardly the place to intend to leave a historical record. unlike a blog or some other social media site, what’s said is gone in minutes. maybe it was more cathartic than anything else. or maybe she just wanted some traffic?

33 Trish { 02.28.10 at 12:17 am }

I’m a pro-life infertile woman who faced the choice between continuing a pregnancy and dying, or ending it. I was fortunately enough to be far enough along in my pregnancy (though just barely- 26w) that my son had a chance and did, in fact, live.
My pregnancy was ended before it was done at a Catholic hospital, as were the pregnancies of some friends who weren’t far enough along for the baby to have a chance. That Catholic hopsital still saved the life of the mother.

I don’t quite buy the “slippery slope” argument. I think all of our laws are a matter of degrees. Something as benign as speeding.. a lower speed garners a lower fine.

I hear a lot of comments saying essentially “who am I to tell someone else what to do?” But we do that all the time. I tell people they can’t take my things, how fast they can drive, that they have to wear a seat belt, that they can’t smoke in my presence (I live in a smoke free state), that they can’t kill other human beings.
In the case of murder, sometimes it’s considered just. Self-defense, for example.
I do feel like it’s the same for abortion.

I think the legalities are far more complex than I could gather. I do worry that outlawing abortion would cost adult lives. What if they had told me I couldn’t end my pregnancy w/o a court order? Would I have had time to do so? When they decided it was time, I literally had an hour’s notice. That’s not a question I can answer. And for that reason, I choose not to vote on abortion as an issue. Because I don’t know how to decide what is and isn’t okay.
What I do know is that dead babies are bad. Whether it’s miscarriage or abortion, it’s horrible. The mothers who lose them, either at their will or not, they suffer.
I agree we shouldn’t have to live in fear of the word. We should be able to talk about it.
I have friends who have had elective abortions. I do not agree with their decision, but I still love them as people.

As for tweeting it- I don’t really have much of a problem with it. I’m someone who blogs through everything. Through every IF treatment, every day of my son’s lengthy NICU stay.. I blogged. It’s what I do with the ugly stuff- I write.

I haven’t read the tweets (because I prefer not to, just as plenty of people would prefer not to read about my giant polyp or my son’s lung issues) but I absolutely agree she has a right to deal with it in whatever way helps her. I suspect it would help other people as well.

34 BelowAverageAthlete { 02.28.10 at 12:38 am }

Great post! I too have been wanting to bring up the topic on my blog, but was worried about starting some sort of debate. Personally, I am pro-choice, but don’t think I would personally have one. However, I cannot say for sure because I have never been faced with the hard choice either. Like you, I feel it is a slippery slope into what I can or cannot do with my body.

I have wanted to write about it because ironically, I pass a Planned Parenthood on the way to my fertility clinic. Often there are protesters out front with signs that say adoption is a choice. It feels so wierd to see that when I am on my way to a place where I am desperately trying to concieve a child. I do still stand firm in my pro choice stance; however, I will admit that this process has made me think more about it. All of it is such a grey area.

In regards to woman twitting, this is america and she has the right to do so. I wouldn’t do that, but respect her right to do so.

35 S.I.F. { 02.28.10 at 3:37 am }

One of my best friends had an abortion this last year, and she was terrified to tell me. She knows how much I have struggled with the idea that I may never have children, and how badly I want to be pregnant. She finally called me in tears, told me everything that was going on, and then said “I totally understand if you hate me and never want to talk to me again.”

It broke my heart. She was so concerned about me and what I would think in the face of something that should have been entirely about her. I told her that her story is not my story and her life is not my life. I told her I understood what she needed to do, and that I would support her 100% in whatever she chose. I was there for her when her abortion was over, and I will continue to be there for her if she ever needs someone to talk to about it.

Just because I would never have an abortion, and there is nothing in this world that I want more than a baby, does not give me the right to tell another woman what to do with her body. I think you said it all perfectly in your post! The tweeting thing is a little over the top for me, but it’s her body and her life – her rights.

Thank you for starting such an important dialogue!

36 Meg { 02.28.10 at 7:01 am }

It’s so nice to see a civil discussion on this topic! Props to everybody here. 🙂

I’m not sure what term I can use to technically classify myself. If I look at just the side of my faith, I am definitely pro-life, believing that at the moment of conception a soul has been brought into this world.

But at the same time, I don’t think it’s right for the government to regulate this, so does that make me pro-choice? Sometimes I get frustrated that the terms pro-life and pro-choice carry so much baggage with them. That if I say I am pro-life it means I am against women having control over their bodies. Or if I say I am pro-choice then I am a baby killer.

I just don’t think it’s that simple. While I have personal beliefs about the start of life, I believe that the government is incapable of effectively regulating the complexities of this topic. Government is based on law, which has to break things down into digestible tidbits to be written into legislation. There are just too many circumstances involved in this topic to do that well. Case in point – I’ve read stories about women who heartbreakingly learn, late in their pregnancy, that the baby has a fatal defect. And then they are told that they cannot induce early because it would be considered an abortion. So instead of having the chance to hold their little one breathing in their arms and love them for a few last moments, they are tortuously forced to wait until the baby comes naturally (likely after having passed away) or an arbitrary date passes.

So, I guess I’m pro-life AND pro-choice, in as much as I believe the government cannot and should not be able to try to regulate this.

37 Bea { 02.28.10 at 7:16 am }

Gutsy topic.

“I don’t believe we should get into grey areas deeming some abortions ethical and others not” “It’s a slippery slope once you step onto the rights of others”

But in this case we’re not creating the slippery slope – nature presents us with such a slope and we necessarily have to address it.

I just can’t see why the location of the foetus (inside v outside the uterus) should have any real moral impact. Giving (for argument’s sake, though for many reasons this doesn’t tend to come up) a 41.5 week old baby inside a woman no rights but a 38 week old baby outside a woman just as many rights as the woman s/he came out of is just completely arbitrary, as far as I can tell. The whole question hinges on where and under what circumstances you draw the line.

Personally, giving full, adult rights from conception seems a trifle over-protective, and there are even (special, specific) circumstances under which I would offer a significant degree of choice even to the parents of a ten-year-old child (located, it should be obvious, well on the outside of the uterus).

I use such murky markers as the developmental status of the individuals in question, the potential harm that will come to themselves or others depending on which path is taken. Grey stuff. I would be hard pressed supporting the termination of a near-term foetus without a pretty good explanation, to add another data point, this time on the “pro life” side of the equation. The bottom line is that at some point it stops being about personal choices and the rights of the woman, and starts being about balancing the rights of the woman with the rights of the embryo/foetus/baby/child/other person.

In fact, more accurately you could say it’s always about this, it’s just that we (as a society, in general) don’t assign too much in the way of “rights” to an embryo or early foetus, so the woman’s rights are bound to trump them (in fact, this is how the “official” argument runs – ask me about the bioethics short essay I wrote on R v W and associated texts) so basically it is agreed that the embryo has some sort of moral significance from the time of conception, and the rest is all getting into “grey areas deeming some abortions ethical and others not”.

So. So much for staying out of those.

But this is really about live-tweeting one, isn’t it?

I wouldn’t. But I don’t see why someone should not (if they’re game). In fact, to be honest I don’t really see why someone shouldn’t live-tweet anything, if they’re game. I wouldn’t want to read a lot of things (including live-tweets of abortions) but I can avoid doing so pretty easily. It would be stupid to live-tweet about doing something illegal (unless you’re trying to publicly and conscientiously object to a certain law, in which case it’s brave, instead) but so far no country has invented a penal system large enough to go ahead and make stupidity a crime. So. It’s all up for grabs, as far as I can tell. Tweet away. I’ll click away.

But on the flip side of that, if it’s going to be controversial, realistically you have to expect people to tell you what they think. More than that, I think this opinion of self-censorship (being a bad thing) cuts both ways – she can’t say it’s not right for her to self-censor, but that everyone who isn’t 100% in support of her should. And although I do believe in basic civilities, even politely-put points of view might be hurtful. I can’t think of a single way to say “abortion is murder” that sounds comforting to the person having one. I’m sure this woman thought of that, though. If she didn’t expect to hear anything she didn’t want to hear, or have to moderate a comment or two (thousand), then she really was kidding herself and ought to have her internet privileges revoked, for her own safety. I know. How paternalistic of me.


38 Bea { 02.28.10 at 7:38 am }

Oh. Also. You asked how I would feel if the state got into my fertility treatments. I completely agree that there is a strong parallel, and that (to be consistent) a lot of fertility patients will have to find themselves on the pro-choice side (although – actually – almost all people everywhere will find themselves in a sort of grey area 😉 ).

In reality, the state *is* into our fertility treatments, so we don’t have to *imagine* how it would feel. In the US, the state’s hand is very light – too light, if you want my opinion. In Qld, it is not at a bad level, currently (although I could suggest improvements) – it is *because* of government input that I have a real and actual choice over whether, how far, and in what ways to pursue fertility treatments, and I can’t say the same for all those stateside. Government intervention in fertility treatment is a tightrope. Over a grey area. Just like the abortion debate.


39 Bea { 02.28.10 at 8:00 am }

One last.

You are right about why people don’t talk about abortion, I think.

You are wrong about abortion being a medical procedure that we have turned into an ethical issue, however. Actually, I can’t think of any medical procedures that do *not* have an ethical side. We are not turning a medical issue into an ethical one, we just find that there is more noise around the ethical side of it than the ethical side of (say) — do you know I am having trouble even thinking of a counter-example. Antibiotic use? Hah. Don’t get me started. Accident and emergency? Good one. No. Anyway, you take my point. There ought to be more noise over the ethics of a situation whenever an actual – or arguable – third party is involved, especially if that party is going to be significantly affected. So. The discussion is fair.

Bea (pro-choice, within reasonable parameters)

40 Eve { 02.28.10 at 9:33 am }

Very interesting discussion here, Mel.

As someone with more conservative views, I often find the need to hide my thoughts and feelings in these types of discussions as I fear that I will quickly be classified as ‘intolerant’ or ‘one of those crazy radicals’…which I’m not.

As far as the tweeeting of the abortion, it just makes me feel sad…though I’ll admit to not reading the tweets. This is most likely related to my years of IF and recent loss.

However, where I differ with many people is the feeling that a pregnancy is still ‘a womens body’. For me, a pregnancy is a baby housed within his/her mother’s body. As mothers, we must make extraordinarily hard decisions for our children from the moment they are conceived. And I do understand that, as mothers, there are painful circumstances that might neccesitate making the choice to abort….however, I fear that all too often, the choice has more to do with inconvenience than it does with actual medical isues.

How do we legislate for this? I’m not sure. But, for me, my babies were babies from the first time the time that sperm met egg….and I feel responsible to make decisions accordingly.

Thank you for letting me share my beliefs without the fear that I will be banished for feeling as such.

41 mrs spock { 02.28.10 at 11:51 am }

Even though I am, in general, pro-choice, my knee-jerk reaction is to think “Why would someone subject themselves to such vitriol? And that may fall in the realm of TMI.”

Of course, on the other hand, the whole internet can find out what day of my cycle it is and whether I lay crumpled with a wad of tissues on the bathroom floor crying because the stick was negative again.

And I’m sure many would find that discussion vulgar and gross.

My second thought is, a tweet is perhaps not the right medium for dragging such realities into the light of day. It’s hard to find the real person, and and perhaps find sympathy in that, in 70 characters or less.

I’m glad the discussion is being done in a mature manner here.

42 Terry Elisabeth { 02.28.10 at 12:56 pm }

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue. I have made up my mind about abortion a long time ago. At 16, in fact, when I became sexually active. I was taking the pill but if I ever had an accident I would get an abortion because there was no way I could ever take care of this baby and it would be unfair to me, the baby and my family to have the baby and take care of it when I went to school. I wanted my kids to be happy and me to be happy with them.

I respect women who decide to keep the baby and are pro-life and I also respect the women who decide on having an abortion. Their bodies, their lives. I expect the same respect. I will never try to convince someone that being pro-choice is the only way to go and I hope noone will ever try to force me into a pro-life way of thinking.

But this story about tweeting an abortion makes me a bit sick. A blog would still have been public but not as much as the tweet. I’m all about education but I don’t agree with such a public display of TMI. Having an abortion is so private. I should know, I had one. I didn’t keep it to myself. I talked about it and when people judge someone else for having one I don’t hesitate to ask them if I seem evil ? No ? But I had an abortion and have never regretted it, it was the best decision possible at the time even if I was an adult. Am I evil now ?

It’s such a sensitive subject. It has become even more sensitive since I follow your blog and other women’s blogs about infertility. Everything seems so unfair. I only speak up about it because my abortion has been on my mind for a while because I read so many blogs and I wonder…about being honest about it, about hurting people, about sadness and hope and now about why someone would make such a big display of attention with a tweet.

43 Battynurse { 02.28.10 at 1:05 pm }

I hadn’t heard about this case either (can you tell I almost never actually watch the news?) and when I first read the link to the law that’s being proposed I thought that she had an abortion by having someone beat her until it happened. That thought was just icky. Once I figured out what it was I wasn’t appalled by it although I think it was a brave individual who tweeted that and put herself out there for all sorts of negativity.
I was raised very much “prolife.” I remember telling a friend once that there was NEVER any excuse for an abortion. Only later did I find out she had had one and was likely looking for a way to talk about it. Funny thing is that at this point in our lives I think we have totally switched positions. I am amazed that I was once so totally believing of all the religious stuff that had been fed to me. I don’t think that abortion is a good form of birth control. However I don’t think that it should ever be me decision as to whether or not someone else can have an abortion. I don’t live their life, I don’t know their circumstances etc and I can’t make decisions for them. I understand believing in something strongly, just not the feeling that because you believe in something strongly you have to force everyone around you to believe the same thing.
Your post is very well stated Mel and the discussion has been very mature.

44 Flying Monkeys { 02.28.10 at 1:26 pm }

Great post. I do not think I would ever choose to abort but I haven’t been in every possible situation to really know. I believe there are enough people who equate IVF to abortion and playing God that it’s only a small step from restricting abortions to restricting IVF. As a woman who was told that I killed my embryos that didn’t survive to day 3 or a thaw, that I had the ‘luxury’ of ‘choosing’ my children (really?), that I should have just adopted because I went against God’s will, that my children are damned because of my choices (any ART at all), I see the connection very clearly.

45 Andrea { 02.28.10 at 11:13 pm }

Thank you for opening up a forum on this hard-to-discuss topic. It is difficult for mothers who have suffered miscarriages or have survived the loss of a child to think about abortion. It is difficult to think about someone inflicting on themselves the pain that is felt because of our loss. At the same time, it is a medical procedure, and a choice…although it is a choice with huge ethical implications.

46 Circus Princess { 03.01.10 at 6:19 am }

You’ve done it again, brought a sensitive subject in to the light and started a healthy discussion. I completely agree with the idea that everybody should have the right of choice. I also think there’s a lack of information about what it’s really like to go through something as physically and emotionally challenging as an abortion. I think education and discussions about it need to be more open and although this live tweet may be on the verge of too strong I think it’s a voice that starts something good in a vast landscape of silence.
I went through this procedure in my youth not knowing what the future would bring, and there is not a single day I don’t wonder what my life would have been like had I decided differently. I spoke publically in a radio show about my experience and that subsequently played a key role to changing the law for insurance companies to follow the freedom of choice act in Sweden.
Lots of love for you Melissa!

47 Hope Springs { 03.01.10 at 9:43 am }

I’m pro-life, but I think the extreme end of the pro-life movement in the US hasn’t done the cause any good at all. Your warning that this discussion should be civilised demonstrates this – it shouldn’t need to be said. It also interests me that so few of the responses here are from the ‘pro-life’ side of the argument – do you think this is really because the vast majority of your readers are pro-choice, or do you think there’s some other reason?

Here in the UK, the pro-life organisations I have been involved with have been much more in favour of offering a real choice to women and girls who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant than the so-called pro-choice organisations. The latter generally offer help with getting an abortion, with very little counselling and very little option to think about and explore other options before going ahead with it. The pro-life organisations offer proper counselling, setting out all of the alternatives (including a discussion of abortion). If the woman decides to go ahead with abortion, they offer pre- and post-abortion counselling. If, on the other hand, she goes ahead with the pregnancy, they offer financial support, parenting classes, gifts of baby equipment, children’s Christmas parties with presents for both mothers and children, and a good deal of other practical and emotional support. They also offer advice on how to avoid getting into the situation in the first place. I consider this to be much more supportive of free choice than the message from the pro-choice organisations that abortion is the only answer.

I do find it a little disingenuous to compare tweeting about an abortion with tweeting about a colonoscopy and to say that it’s a medical procedure like any other. Whatever any one individual thinks, they surely have to recognise that there is a huge number of people in the world who sincerely believe that there are two lives at stake here, not just one, and that this is a procedure that results in the inevitable death of one of those people. Nobody believes that about a colonoscopy, and that’s what makes it different. It’s a topic that will always arouse a lot of emotion and which can never be satisfactorily resolved, because if you truly believe that life begins at conception, you can’t idly stand back and accept that it’s OK for people to take that life away provided that they don’t believe the foetus is really alive. For a person who has this belief, it’s like accepting that cannibalism is OK provided that the cannibal believes it is. And yet if you believe that a foetus is not a human life, but only the potential for one, and has no independent human rights of its own, the only rights you can be concerned with are those of the mother, and any restriction on abortion is a restriction of her rights.

I appreciate that it’s an impossible issue to resolve and one which, even if you believe as I do, involves a very delicate balance between the rights of the mother and the rights of the unborn child.

Finally in this huge long spiel, my religion teaches that you should hate the sin and love the sinner – and the problem is that a lot of people ignore this teaching and react with hate towards anyone involved in abortion, which of course is totally wrong.

A friend of mine told me years ago that she was about to have an abortion – she was in a stable marriage, with two beautiful children already and no financial worries, and I was desperately upset that this was happening, but the fact that I didn’t condemn her for what she had done and didn’t try to talk her out of it is, I think, a major contributing factor in her softening towards religion in general. As an atheist who did not believe that life began at conception, she was never going to agree with my point of view, so why alienate her and lose the chance to have any positive influence in her life in the future? On the other hand, I did pray for her lost baby, and still often think of it now. I’ve never asked her if she does too.

48 loribeth { 03.01.10 at 9:53 am }

I too am pro-choice, for all the reasons people have already stated here. I find it curious that so many in the anti-abortion camp also oppose access to birth control & sex education. I also think that we no longer remember or realize what it was like in those pre-Roe v Wade days, when abortion was illegal & many women died or were rendered infertile because of unsafe illegal procedures.

Re: tweeting your abortion — not sure how I feel about that. I will admit that I am not on Twitter & I have not read this woman’s tweets. The problem with tweeting as I see it is that you’re only getting short bits of information dribbling out over time, with no context around it. Reading a blog post or message board post would probably be more enlightening.

At the same time, someone has to blaze the trail, & getting solid, honest information out there on a difficult topic has to be a good thing. As others have said, the stuff we all write about on our blogs would probably (still) be shocking for many people outside the ALI community to read. Made me think of a recent post by KuKd Monica about how many people are so completely uninformed about what happens when a child is stillborn. They don’t seem to realize that we actually go through labour & delivery. What do they think happens??

49 Sara { 03.01.10 at 12:37 pm }

To me, it’s a non-issue. In the end, no one cares what I believe, because desperate women will get abortions, regardless of the legality thereof.

50 susy { 03.01.10 at 1:17 pm }

Awesome approach Mel, and even awesomer that the discussion is being had w/ such respect for others situations and opinions. When I was younger, as in teens, I was against abortion b/c I didn’t know any better. I was copying what I was told or being “taught” and so I thought it was right. Now, even if I wouldn’t have gone through IF – where it opened me to a whole other world, I think I’d be able to see gray areas and understand that no situation is like another, therefore no decision can be the other. Whether pro or anti, each one has different little branches that keep multiplying. I’m ALL for education though, and this here, is helping that too!

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