Pregnant and scared = easier to reel in

World magazine’s site is becoming a habitual stop for me in my Internet travels now, mostly because of its unbelievably scary blog, but also because they seem to have a “pro-life” article featured in every issue. This week’s article (written by Lynn Vincent, the same person that interviewed me) concerns women who say they couldn’t get an abortion once they saw the ultrasound.

Reading the article, I was struck by one glaring similarity among the three women that were featured-they were all terrified. Andrea was scared that her church would think she was a hypocrite and was upset about her “failure in her relationship with God.” Megan feared the medical abortion for which she’d made an appointment. Michelle (who hails from Richmond, ironically) said that she’d put the decision off “I think because I really didn’t want to do it.”

Situations like these make “crisis pregnancy center” staff’s eyes light up. Much like telemarketers, staff at these centers have rebuttals and coaxes for every situation. It’s the rare CPC that doesn’t have a religious affiliation of some sort, so I have no doubt that they play upon the God thing like Jimi Hendrix on his Stratocaster. As far as Megan goes, I’ll be honest and say that medical abortion scares the crap out of me. INS has several stories from women who had medical abortions, and while I was reading and formatting them I was wincing and saying “OW! DAMN!” Those of you who have had them have my total respect. At the same time, though, the ignorance about surgical abortion shines through in the respect that Megan thought a medical abortion would be less painful than a surgical one. Considering that I’m a gigantic wuss when it comes to pain, I have to say that surgical abortion is a relative breeze. Granted, I can think of other more pleasant things, but my experiences were pretty good and relatively typical. I’ve had numerous e-mails from women who said that they were terrified of surgical abortion until they read some stories on INS. Many (mainly teenagers) said that they felt much better after reading the stories and were glad to report that the procedure went pretty much as described.

INS, too, gets contacted by scared women-women who are researching their options and finding nothing but anti-choicer propaganda telling them that if they so much as think about abortion they are destined to burn in hell or at least never have a child ever ever ever. They tell me their stories, many of them heartbreaking. And then they write something along the lines of “I was reading the stories and I found this story by (an INS contributor) and I could relate.” One of the first letters like that I received was from a nineteen-year-old in Texas, who’d had an abortion a few days before and thanked me for posting the stories. “I feel like I’m not alone anymore,” she wrote. “All the places that were supposed to be helping me just wanted me to feel bad. I do still feel some guilt, but I know I did what was right and that the soul I set free today will come back in a different form.”

Almost two years later, just a few days ago, she wrote me again, enclosing photos of her wedding last year-and the baby girl she gave birth to on April 6. “There’s no way I could be in the position I am now, blessed and loved, if I hadn’t had the abortion,” she wrote. “If I’d had the baby, it would have tied me to a man I hated and never let me find the man I love, my husband and now father to our precious girl. I used to feel guilty even after writing to you, but not anymore. It set me free.”

And, best yet, she’s promising she’ll share her story with INS.

I get a lot of letters like that, and I feel humble and inadequate when I do. That strangers would write to me and thank me for this little project I have, this little block of cyberspace that I started pretty much on a whim … I’m as unsentimental as they come, but there’s been a lot of times I read these letters and cry.

Like now.