The truths not so hidden between the lines of “abortion stories”

 

By Dave Andrusko

not-alone-2“This New Website Is Encouraging More Women To Talk About Their Abortions” announced the headline to Tara Culp-Ressler’s story at thinkprogress.org. Okay, I thought, let’s read what she has to say and then check out the new website.

The hook for writing the piece, I gather, was that Emily Letts had joined www.notalone.us, “an organization encouraging women to talk about their abortions that just launched a new website this week.” (This was a couple of weeks back.)

You’ll remember that Letts, an aspiring actress who works as a counselor at a New Jersey abortion clinic, took it upon herself –from her perspective—to demythologize abortion. Women have to know that having an abortion is as easy as falling off a log and safer than, well, practically anything.

Letts placed second in the Abortion Care Network’s “Stigma Busting” video competition. Her video went viral, and Letts has been giving interviews ever since. Video of what? Her unborn child’s last few minutes.

According to Culp-Ressler, Letts was flooded with correspondence and “she ended up connecting with Beth Matusoff Merfish, who received similar feedback after she published a personal account of her mother’s abortion in the New York Times.“

We wrote about Merfish.  Letts and Merfish clearly are a perfect match.

Merfish didn’t know that her mother had aborted until Merfish was in college. And while it took a few years for that shock to wear off, “knowing made me even more proud of her and more determined to defend reproductive rights.” Pardon?

All it took, apparently, was to be told “that her choice was the right one and that her love for my sister and me was unequivocal” and “My mother said she wanted to reassure me that I had no reason to doubt her support in any situation I might face in my own life.”

Click here to read the July issue of
National Right to Life News,
the “pro-life newspaper of record.”

It read as if Merfish’s pride in her mother’s willingness to tell her own story trumps what is in that story—the death of an older sibling. As if being told she would stand behind Merfish’s decision to abort her grandchild compensates for the truth that it could have been Merfish who was aborted. As if being assured that her mother’s love was “unequivocal” would wipe away the truth that her love (and that of her fiancé later husband) failed the test when it mattered most.

So it became “clear” to Letts and Merfish, Culp-Ressler writes, “that more people needed an outlet to talk about their experiences in this area. So they decided to team up, and created an online space for women to record and upload their own personal videos about abortion.”

I went to www.notalone.us this afternoon. The lead video is of “Emily M” of London, UK. I will visit the site again next week, but here’s three preliminary takeaways.

Like Letts, Emily M tells us she had “unprotected sex” and has ever since she was a teenager. I mention that because both women struggle (however fleetingly in Letts’ case) with what Emily M calls “self-blame.” However, in the final analysis (she was “lucky” to already be in therapy for something else), she tells her viewers that she’d come to understand that “accidents do happen” and that “two people were involved.”

So #1 any notion of adult responsibility is not only foreign to these women, it is, to them, just another form of guilt-tripping that the “culture” insists they endure. The baby is not even an after-thought—except to place his or hers death on the Internet, as grotesquely disrespectful an act as I can imagine.

#2. In explaining her decision, Letts talked about how there was a “YouTube clip of a woman taking the abortion pill “[a chemical abortion], but not surgical abortions. Emily Y had a chemical abortion. Here are a few of her descriptions:

It was “one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced”; “unbelievable pain”; “insanely painful”; she had bled “for five weeks”; and the physical impact on her body was “absolutely shocking.” She also experiences “chronic pain.”

#3. As is the case with so many of these “abortion stories,” Emily tells us that she slipped into depression almost immediately, crying and crying and crying, although she ends offering the assurance she is “stronger” for having had the abortion and is “at peace with my decision,” having come through “the other side of it.”

And, rest assured, the abortion “has been life-changing.” Among other insights

“And I now feel so much appreciation of being a woman, what my body can do. And I feel a great appreciation of motherhood may one day be, should I should decide to conceive.”

Now she feels a “great deal of responsibility” for her body, the strong hint being you have to “go through something”—the abortion—to “feel differently.”

The conclusion? “Speak, you’re not alone”: you are “strong and will get through this”; and “you have NOTHING to be ashamed for.”

To the proponents of women telling their abortion stories, the central belief is that there is strength in numbers. The more, the merrier.

You would think that (even for them) the one time that theory wouldn’t apply is when the number is 56 million…and counting.

But you would be wrong.