This past week, amid the news of the abortion bans cascading state to state in America, my social media feeds filled with people telling their stories about abortion.
Maybe yours, too?
I read each one and left a supportive comment.
The words they used made their abortion stories sound like confessions. Not because they would have chosen anything other than what they chose, but because they were opening themselves up to a world of hostile judgment.
Let’s sit with that for a second.
Can you imagine ALMOST ANY OTHER MEDICAL PROCEDURE that people would feel such internalized shame about?
I must admit, I do not have a gallbladder.
I am a little bit scared, but feel compelled to say I had carpal tunnel surgery.
I had a tumor removed from my lung. I know you will judge me for it. But it came back, so I had it removed again.
Yet here we are again. People (especially women, non binary people, trans men) feeling the need to open ourselves to criticism just to defend what should be inviolable– our bodily integrity.
The same way that during the Kavanaugh hearings, many of us recounted the many, many times and ways we were violated.
On one hand, I will always and never not advocate for people to tell their own stories. Or to tell stories in general. Telling stories is how we find each other. Telling stories is how we understand ourselves and each other.
Yet far too often, our stories are used by those who do not give a shit about us as another way to victimize us.
I don’t want people who feel like they’re not ready or not supported to open themselves up for public ridicule. I don’t.
Your safety– physically, spiritually, emotionally– is of first importance. And you should tell your story to people you think will support you. And if you don’t have someone to tell it to, you can tell it to us. Email outside voice llc @ gmail dot com (no spaces, and the dot is a period). We will listen.
But also: Know that the majority of Americans believe in your right to choose. Like, an overwhelming majority.
There are few things Americans agree on so overwhelmingly.
So, despite the fact that in certain families, in certain states, people may not believe a person has the right to control their own body, most people do. And it’s ok to absolutely and out-of-hand dismiss those who do not. Not everything is up for debate. Racism, for example, is absolutely wrong. We don’t have to reach and retrain hardened racists. We need to make the social costs of being racist so great that racism becomes terribly inconvenient and uncomfortable. So, too, with draconian views on pregnancy, bodily autonomy, and right to health care.
We cannot cede the narrative of abortion to those who wish to abolish it. Abortion is not a dirty word. It is not a dirty deed.
Remember: It’s COMMON. It’s SAFE. Right now, it’s still LEGAL. And anyone who disagrees or shames you can fuck right off.
We’re not asking for permission. We’re not asking for forgiveness.