|FEATURE | fall 2006
Ms. has been simply flooded with letters to the editor about our "We Had Abortions" petition. Read women's stories below, then send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org
In the strangest mix of irony, I got pregnant and had an abortion while making a movie about Planned Parenthood. I was spending my days interviewing women who had made that same decision; generations of women, some of whom had obtained abortions illegally, some of whom were shamed into silence, all of whom were defiant that this is an essential part of women's health, women's lives, and ultimately, a fact of life.
[Even with] two years of research and interviews helping me navigate my decision . going through the current process of obtaining an abortion was a humiliating and degrading experience. The volunteers and staff at Planned Parenthood were wonderful, but the Government with a capital G presence in every moment of the most intimate of my own personal decisions was absolutely shameful.
In the political arena, abortion and access to abortion is endlessly debated as an economic and moral issue. The truth of the matter is women are getting lost in the shuffle.
It is my sincere hope that when I have a daughter she'll live in a country where her choices aren't debated at every turn, but instead are wholly supported. I wish that for women everywhere.
Congratulations! I should like to add my name to the list. It is very important for women who have had abortions to come out of the closet and state their position. Why should we be ashamed for having terminated an unwanted pregnancy?
I had my abortion in Rome , Italy , the center of Roman Catholicism, at a Catholic-run hospital at a time when divorce along with abortions were illegal in Italy ! No questions were ever asked.
I feel that a woman's right to an abortion is also a matter of privacy, like all conjugal relations, and the concern of no one else, least of all the state.
I had an abortion in 1957. Luckily for me, my boyfriend (now my husband of 46 years) found a medical doctor who agreed to perform the procedure. In 1957 abortions were illegal and the doctor could have been arrested and sent to jail. However, I personally knew (and heard about) many women (girls) who were not so fortunate and went to non-doctors. They suffered the consequences; some died. In those days being pregnant without being married was a disgrace that I (and thousands of others) could not bear. So I (we) endured the pain, took the risk, suffered the consequences, died ... rather than face family, friends, society.
What you folks are doing is great. I've never been married or had an abortion, but I do believe it is a woman's right to choose what she does with her own body.
If the abortion right is taken away from women, [they] will find ways . from doing abortions on themselves to finding quacks in back alley ways, or unclean clinics. . Instead of going forward and owning our reproductive rights, we are going backwards into the darkness and medieval times.
I had an abortion just five weeks ago. I have to say I felt very isolated in making the decision, even though I knew it was the right one for me at the time, until I walked into the Planned Parenthood clinic for my appointment. I soon realized that all the women there that day were there for the same reason, or there to support someone who was. At that point I suddenly felt so completely un-alone it was shocking, and also a huge relief. Suddenly I realized this was something that countless women face each year, and that we're not alone in it no matter what it may seem. For that same reason I am writing to thank you for publishing all these names in your next issue - so that anyone facing this dilemma will have further proof that they are not alone.
Donna Barbanell Dewberry:
I have been directly and indirectly involved with this issue all my life. Both my parents and my stepmother have been involved in working to keep women's rights in the forefront of the political arena.
I, too, had an abortion. I was 21 years old and just beginning my adult life, yet hardly adult enough to take care of myself and a baby. My partner at the time was not ready to be a father.
It was the RIGHT choice for ME at the time.
I later met and married a man with two young girls and we had a son of our own. We have been married 21 years and we are grandparents to a beautiful little girl. The path my life took after my abortion was the right path for me.
Thank you again for your hard work.
I just read on msn.com about the upcoming article Ms. magazine will be printing about women who've had abortions and are not ashamed. I just wanted to let you know how thankful I am that you are being so active about the issue. So, a big thank you, thank you, thank you.
A friend of mine emailed me an article about the abortion petition. What a poignant way to humanize the topic.
Thank you for for taking a proactive position supporting a woman's right to have an abortion. . The Right to Life Movement has for too long been making women feel like they are bad for choosing an abortion, when it is a right that our highest court deemed legal some 30 years ago.
Keep up the fight to counterbalance what I believe is a very vocal minority who thinks they know what is best for everyone in the United States.
Janet Crisp, BSN, RN:
I signed this petition, making this kind of public proclamation for the first time.
Earlier this year, at the age of 39, I became pregnant for the first time, while fairly early into a blossoming relationship. The course of my pregnancy became even more interesting during my first ultrasound, when I was told I was carrying triplets.
I cannot describe to you the plunge of despair I felt after the silent ultrasound tech brought in the radiologist to tell me that two of the fetuses were demised... and that the third had a very sizable cystic hygroma on the back of its neck.
In the middle of my 14th week, into my second trimester, I had a procedure called a dilation and evacuation (D&E). Today I live with 100 percent certainty that I made the right decision. My fiancee and our families are in agreement.
Thank you, Ms. magazine, for bringing this issue back into the public forum.
It's wonderful that Ms. is publishing the names of thousands of women who've had abortions. In recent years, I've been a supporter of Jennifer Baumgardner's important I Had An Abortion project and the terrific documentary about abortion that she did with Gillian Aldrich. Most important, I'm old enough to remember back before Roe v. Wade, when women in the United States were routinely dying of illegal abortions, when feminists felt it vital to have speakouts and publish lists in which women stated that they had had abortions. It's depressing that this has to happen again... but, in the times we live in, it's necessary and it's great that Ms. is helping to lead the way. Congratulations!
We CANNOT let anyone but ourselves control our bodies!
Until today I really wasn't familiar with Ms. Magazine (heard of it; never read it). I heard some women in a local bookstore making a big fuss over the magazine's "We Had Abortions petition". I couldn't help but listen to their conversation as one blasted the magazine and Amy Brenneman saying she would never again watch "Judging Amy". I laughed to myself since the show has unfortunately been cancelled for over a year. As a fan of the show and Amy Brenneman, I bought your magazine for that reason alone ... plus I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
I for one applaud Amy Brenneman and the other women who came forward. She must have known by doing so she would risk hurting her career and losing fans. I think this says something about the kind of person she must be, and I think even more of her now.
My husband and I have two children ages 22 and 19. A year ago we thought I might be pregnant despite using birth control. . Turned out I wasn't pregnant, but had I been . I am thankful that I had a choice. I know it's because of Amy Brenneman and many women like her who are willing to come forward and speak out. I can't imagine this right being taken away from women or my daughter having less freedom that I had at that age.
Thank you for the article and thanks to the women who signed!!!
I commend you on bringing the discussion of abortion back to the real issue: the reproductive rights of women, and the effect on women's lives.
When I was 17 in 1967, a senior in high school in New Jersey , I got pregnant. It took a couple of months talking to the college-age sisters of my friends to get the name of an abortionist who was reliable, and not in a back alley somewhere. [T]he doctor examined me. and then told me, "I'm sorry, you are passed the first trimester and may hemorrhage if I do the procedure and so I am not going to do it." I was lucky that I went to a medical doctor and that he was a man of integrity, though I was devastated. I was supposed to leave for college in three weeks, and now I was going to have a baby.
After the baby was born, she was put up for adoption. That was the hardest decision I ever had to make, and has affected me my entire life.
After that I went to work for a while, and then went on to college. I was using birth control, but it failed and I came home at Christmas in 1969 pregnant again. At that time, in the District of Columbia , you could get a legal abortion if you had a psychiatrist write a letter saying your mental health required the procedure. My OB/Gyn sent me to a psychiatrist to get the letter. This doctor sexually assaulted me before he would give me the letter. I didn't have any recourse because I needed the abortion and so I had to do what he asked. It was humiliating and disgusting and I felt completely helpless. The abortion itself was nothing compared to what I had to do to get it.
I do not in any way regret the abortion while I do regret, horribly, giving my baby up for adoption.
For this reason I have always supported a woman's right to choose.
I am amazed, by the people that surround me everyday in my community, who are more than willing to take away my rights over my own body. . I am thankful that I was able to get an abortion when I NEEDED to get one!
Thank you Ms . magazine for the abortion petition!
I would like to sign your petition. An abortion was the smartest thing I have ever done in my life! I cringe at the thought of what my life and the child's life would have been like!