i hate that every time abortion is discussed women have to dredge up their trauma and personal stories in a desperate attempt to get people to believe in our humanity. why would this have to be your sister or your mother for you to care?? why do we have to personalize suffering??
— i can be your long lost pal (@PallaviGunalan) September 2, 2021
Recently, I’ve been seeing one of those cut-and-paste posts floating around Facebook.
This one isn’t new, but it seems to pop up anytime the war on reproductive rights rages, which is far too often in this county.
And with Texas effectively banning abortion in the state with Senate Bill 8, the most restrictive in the country, this post is making the rounds again.
I’ve seen friends and colleagues sharing and resharing it with the always-helpful, must-read (please note my sarcasm) social media intro: “This!” Or sharing their own abortion stories to add to the list.
I fully agree with and support each of the women in these stories, and all the women who have ever found themselves in these positions. I am staunchly pro-choice and always have been.
The state of my uterus and what is or isn’t inside of it and what will or will not remain inside of it should ultimately be my choice. And the same should be true for every woman or person with a womb.
But I don’t fully support this post, and this is why:
Your abortion story doesn’t matter.
Once again, when our rights are being called into question and when a group of mostly white, mostly male Republican lawmakers have decided that they don’t give a sh*t about our rights, women are being forced to open an emotional vein and bleed ourselves dry in order to prove our humanity and worth. In order to defend our choices. In order to prove that our lives and our rights should matter.
We are left feeling like we need to share what amounts to “tragedy porn” so that others can see us and our choices as valid. So that we can convince others that we should have a say in what happens to us in our present and our future.
And that is both sad and disgusting, as well as painfully unfair.
It is the same thing that happened when the “Me Too” movement and Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate took center stage.
The burden of proof fell on those who had been victimized, those who had been sexually assaulted, those who had been harassed, those who had dealt with decades of racism and discrimination.
As someone who shares stories for a living, I understand the catharsis and growth that can come from opening up about our lives. From sharing our experiences, especially the difficult or heartbreaking or confusing ones. It is part of how we grow and relate to others. It is part of how we heal.
But we shouldn’t feel the need to share our story in order to prove that our life, our choices, are valid—or to change anyone else’s mind.
I don’t need a woman, or anyone with a womb, to explain their choice to get an abortion to me for me to be pro-choice. For me to fully support their reproductive rights. For me to care.
I don’t need to know if she was raped or in an abusive relationship.
I don’t need to know if she lost her virginity too young.
I don’t need to know if she didn’t feel ready to be a parent.
I don’t need to know if there was a medical issue or complication with the fetus.
I don’t need to know if she’s already a struggling single mom who doesn’t have the time or money to bring another baby into the world.
I don’t need to know if this was a heartbreaking choice for her.
I don’t need to know if this was the easiest, most liberating decision she’s ever made (a narrative that often gets downplayed or outright ignored, although it’s reality for many).
I don’t need to know anything about her situation in order to support her right to walk into a clinic or doctor’s office and schedule a safe medical procedure that should be readily and financially available to her, regardless of the reason.
First, because none of this information is my business. It is hers.
And second, because she doesn’t owe me an explanation. She doesn’t owe the world an explanation.
All we should need or want to know is that any person who has found themselves pregnant was able to take full advantage of their right to choose what is best for them, whether that’s getting an abortion or remaining pregnant.
All we should need or want to know is that they were supported, both emotionally and practically, by those in the medical field and those they love and support.
All we should need or want is for anyone with a womb to know that we will stand up for their right to choose, regardless of whether we know their story or not. That they don’t need to bleed themselves dry emotionally. That they don’t need to re-live their experience every time a group of white men in power (and the women who, sadly, support them) decide that they want to hack away at our rights out of fear, ignorance, racism, ego, and control.
If women choose to share their abortion story because they want to educate or connect or heal, that’s worthwhile and helpful and should be fully supported. But if women are sharing their abortion story, or we are sharing other women’s abortion stories, to prove a point, to convince others of our humanity, or to change people’s minds about abortion or women or reproductive rights in general, then we are part of the problem.
Because your abortion story doesn’t matter.
No one should have to know it in order to believe fully that women, and the choices they make regarding their own bodies, are valid and worthy of fierce protection. Always.
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