We Already Have an Abortion Pride Movement

Marcy Bloom

When we discuss abortion as an honorable and loving choice that helps women to become better mothers in the future, we are showing respect, understanding, and support for the complexity of women's choices.

There is no shortage of venues for women to be able to speak out about the positive
impact of their abortion experiences. At Aradia Women’s Health Center,
the clinic where I worked for more than 18 years, we had journals for
clients and their loved ones to share their feelings about their abortions,
as well as public events emphasizing the need to destigmatize abortion
and to honor and support women’s decision-making, pregnancy choices,
and women as the gatekeepers of life. Many other clinics associated
with the Abortion
Care Network
the National
Abortion Federation

also use journals and other mechanisms for the expression of women’s
thoughts and emotions. Allegheny Reproductive Health Center in Pittsburgh
offers their patient the opportunity to share words of encouragement
on paper
that are
then placed on a wall dedicated to these expressions.  The Abortion Conversation Project has also collected powerful
first person stories.  Other invaluable web sites are www.IMnotsorry.org, www.abortionchronicles.com, www.pregnancyoptions.info, www.wordsofchoice.org , www.fwhc.org, and www.menandabortion.com. In addition, the bilingual ‘zine Our Truths/Nuestras
, published
by the "pro-voice" organization Exhale, also features compelling abortion
stories. The Amsterdam, Netherlands-based organization Women on Waves, which travels to countries where
abortion is illegal, features a campaign called "Show Your Face: Break
the Silence," in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Polish, and Portuguese.
For those seeking movies representing women’s diverse voices, there
are The
Abortion Diaries

and Speakout:
I Had an Abortion
These are only a small sampling of the myriad of resources available.   


The importance
of abortion as a human right integral to women’s dignity, the destigmatization
and normalization of the experience as common for women – there are
now more than 46 million abortions occurring in the world today (close
to half of which are illegal and unsafe) and one in three U.S. women
will have an abortion by the age of 45 – and ending the silence and
shame that women may still feel cannot be underestimated in the global
struggle for reproductive justice and gender equality. When we normalize
abortion as a fact of women’s lives, and discuss abortion as an honorable
and loving choice that helps women to become better mothers in the future,
we are showing respect, understanding, and support for the complexity
of women’s choices.

So it was
with great interest that I read and reflected upon  Jacob Appel’s "It’s Time for an Abortion Pride Movement." This author and bioethicist emphasizes:
"The political and social reality today is that pride is a necessary
prerequisite for acceptance and equality. That is why the movement is
ripe – more than ripe – for an Abortion Pride Movement."

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I passionately
agree. I also believe that the framework for such a movement already
exists and is quite powerful. Talking about abortion pride as a social
change movement, destigmatizing abortion – and by extension, destigmatizing
women – are concepts I have believed in and fought for all of my adult
life. Apple refers to the stigma that abortion still carries: "In
contrast to women who have foregone abortion, women who have chosen
to terminate their pregnancies are rarely encouraged to take pride in
their decisions. This is unfortunate…women who step up to the ethical
plate and have the strength to say, ‘This is the wrong time,’ or
‘This is the wrong fetus,’ should hold their heads up high in the

Yes, they
should – and many do. I also agree with the writer – because I witnessed
it for more than 35 years in my clinical work of abortion care provision – that
the difficulty and pain of a private decision such as an abortion that
a woman may feel does not mean that she has any doubt regarding the
moral clarity and ethical foundation of her abortion choice. We all
frequently experience ambivalence when faced with a deep and life-changing
crossroads in our lives, and the choice of an abortion is an example
of that. Women can feel initial sadness, but simultaneously know what
she needs to do, that the abortion is the absolute best choice, and
ultimately feel resolution, peace, and pride. In fact, many women do
feel goodness, empowerment, increased self-esteem, and pride in the
wisdom and the awareness that they took control of a frequently chaotic
situation – unwanted pregnancy – and made a moral and ethical decision
that was beneficial for their lives, their futures, and, ultimately,
was also good for society.

Of course,
we don’t live in that world yet. Like Appel, describing abortion as
safe, legal, and rare" has always deeply offended me…the
rare part, that is. Should women be rare? Should our sexuality and sexual
expression be rare? Should abortion providers be rare? (They already
are.) Should sexual activity be rare? It is, of course, unwanted pregnancy
that needs to be rare. Unfortunately, due to misogynistic beliefs and
policies, it isn’t. As a result, there needs to be as many safe,
legal, accessible, funded
, and compassionate abortions as
women freely chose. As Appel writes: "Choice is merely a foundation.
Ultimately, women – if they so desire – should feel comfortable expressing
public pride in their brave and wise choices."

Of course
they should – and this is the goal of the movement for the normalization
of abortion. Women are already speaking out about their abortions, normalizing
its occurrence in our lives, and sharing feelings about the importance
of voluntary motherhood. This is not a trivialization – a common anti-choice
attack – but a recognition of the significance that the abortion experience
has in women’s lives. We actually already have an Abortion
Pride Movement. We need to make it more powerful, more visible, and
more influential as a social justice change mechanism and continue to
strive to change attitudes about abortion. Society needs to know that
safe abortion is a moral good for women, understand more fully why women
make this choice, and provide support and respect for women’s moral
and ethical decision-making. We need to create a world where a woman
having an abortion is as respected and supported as a woman having a
baby. As the movement for abortion pride and the recognition of women’s
human rights progresses, we will continue to speak out with our voices,
our experiences, our bodies – and our lives. YES – ABORTION PRIDE!

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