By Dave Andrusko
The title of the piece on the Cosmopolitan magazine site is “Why I filmed my abortion.” The temptation to ridicule what Emily Letts writes is almost overpowering until you realize she either believes what she writes (at some level), is morally tone-deaf, and/or is incapable of grasping how sick is the message that she is sending.
Briefly, Letts, who had an abortion at the same abortion clinic where she is now a “counselor,” entered and won the Abortion Care Network’s “Stigma Busting” video competition. Her video went viral, sparking a lot of controversy even among those who consider themselves “pro-choice.” She took the opportunity this week to “explain why she decided to share her experience so publicly.”
Letts begins by telling her Cosmopolitan magazine audience that not only had she been an aspiring actress who didn’t like her body and who’d been “fairly depressed most of the time,” she had also not been part of the Sisterhood (“I felt competitive toward women”). Then, the epiphany.
“I had a friend who was a birth doula, and she fascinated me with her stories about giving birth and growing life. It led me to start looking at my body in a whole different way. I became what’s called a ‘birth junkie.’ I trained as a doula and watched every documentary I could get my hands on. During my training, I learned there are three kinds of doulas: birth doulas, adoption doulas, and abortion doulas. A light went off in my head.”
For Letts, a ”light” goes off in her head: six of one, half-dozen of another. By “helping” women abort Letts could extinguish her need to be competitive with other women at the same time that she “fell into this perfect world that fulfills me in so many different ways.”
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She tells us that the same woman who is preaching birth control to women who come to the abortion clinic chooses not to follow her own instructions (“which is crazy, I know. I’m a sex educator, and I love talking about birth control”), and, guess what? Letts becomes pregnant.
Having no “long-term partners,” it’s obvious to Letts that she will have an abortion. (Besides, “I knew I wasn’t ready to take care of a child.”)
But what does that have to do with Letts deciding to videotape her abortion—literally extinguishing her child’s life–and put it on the web?
Two things, it appeared. Another woman had previously filmed herself going through a “medical abortion” (typically RU-486). She got a lot of heat for this, but Letts was inspired because the woman responded to the criticism (“I loved that”).
So now inspired (in a manner of speaking) instead of writing a blog, Letts finds out there is no “video of an actual surgical procedure in the clinic that focused on the woman’s experience.”
If you read with even a little care, you quickly see that Letts’ inspiration is to convince herself that she is being brave (opponents will threaten all sorts of ugly things, she tells us). Moreover, if that weren’t enough, she could prove “that there is such a thing as a positive abortion story. It’s my story.”
With those dual justifications, she announces, “Bring it.”
She tells us she subsequently gets lots of angry commentary, which, of course, is exactly what Letts wanted all along. It’s her way of affirming to herself that she made the right decision.
“[E]very time I watch the video, I love it,” Letts tells us. “I love how positive it is. I think that there are just no positive abortion stories on video for everyone to see. But mine is.”
But ask yourself this. Can anyone who is not already 300% behind abortion for any reason or no reason not feel nauseous reading the following description of the abortion?
“I knew the cameras were in the room during the procedure, but I forgot about them almost immediately. I was focused on staying positive and feeling the love from everyone in the room. I am so lucky that I knew everyone involved, and I was so supported. I remember breathing and humming through it like I was giving birth. I know that sounds weird, but to me, this was as birth-like as it could be. It will always be a special memory for me. I still have my sonogram, and if my apartment were to catch fire, it would be the first thing I’d grab.”
If her apartment were to catch on fire, the first thing she’d grab is the sonogram of the child she aborted. The child whose death she has videotaped and then sent off into cyberspace to encourage women to do likewise.
I was angry through most of the Cosmo post. By the end, however, I could only think this woman desperately needs help.