Stigma by the numbers

It is inevitable that shortly after I post new stories on the site, I’ll get a couple of e-mails that single out the stories told by those who have had multiple abortions. The overall tone of these e-mails is “you know, it’s not really helping the pro-choice cause when you put these stories up, because these are just people who are using abortion as birth control and not really being responsible.”

And these are from people who claim to be pro-choice.

I’ll allow that perhaps I’m sensitive to the topic, being a multiple myself (three to be exact). One INS story that the antis seize upon with glee when they rant about Teh Evil That Is INS is the one from the woman who has had ten abortions. Because she shares my first name and antis can’t be bothered to look anywhere beyond the surface, it is generally believed that this is my story-although I’ve stated both on the site and in interviews that my story is under a pseudonym. One anti called me a “baby-killing machine.” When I read that, I found myself composing a snarky e-mail about how it wasn’t my story, but I stopped-because I realized that I was guilty of the same mindset held by a pretty large number of us.

Why does it matter how many abortions a woman has had? Why is that so threatening to pro-choicers? I’ve posed this question a couple of times, and the response is “It makes us look like we don’t care about children. It makes us look like irresponsible sluts.” It also plays right into the hands of the antis, who proceed to crow that even pro-choicers don’t like abortion, so it’s BAD and therefore must be eradicated. If Hillary Clinton should run for president in 2008 as is being widely rumored, you know that when she speaks about preserving the right to choose the antis will rise up and wave her remarks about abortion being a difficult and painful decision in her face. If anyone wants to bet me on this, I’ll open a book in Vegas.

The feminist credo used to be “abortion without apology.” Now it’s “abortion, but not more than one.” It should be “abortion without apology or justification.” No woman should need to provide a “good” reason for wanting to abort. The second we start placing those caveats on the procedure, we send the message that abortion is bad and wrong. It’s not. Being pro-choice means that you respect the woman’s choice even if you don’t agree with it-and, unfortunately, many of us don’t.