While watching Aspen Baker’s TED Talk, I began contemplating bias. Bias is something that has been brought up in several SNHS classes, most recently in my journal submission for Fieldwork in Health Studies. I did not discuss this particular bias in my journal submission, but I definitely have preconceived ideas about Christians and Christianity. Living in a country where much of the population is Christian, I have obviously come across many Christians of different denominations. And I know that they are not all the same. Still, when I think about Christians as a whole, I assume that as a group Christians tend to be narrow-minded and/or sheltered from the diversity of the real world. So, when Aspen Baker began talking about one of the volunteers at Exhale who was uncomfortable discussing God with women who had had abortions, it resonated with me.
When I was nineteen, I had an abortion. A year or two later, one of my coworkers also had an abortion. We were discussing our own experiences – how I found my experience to be rather comical and how she found her experience to be a smaller deal than how abortion is usually portrayed. Even though my friend went to Catholic school her whole life, she wasn’t particularly religious, and I am definitely not. At the end of our discussion we agreed that we wouldn’t discuss our abortions with our mutual friend, who is Christian. A few months before I had my abortion, this mutual friend and I were discussing abortion. While she seemed okay with it in theory, she fully endorsed the idea of adoption as a solution for unplanned pregnancy. I was so concerned with how she might react to me having an abortion that I didn’t include her in the conversation or give her the chance to be supportive of my decision.
After getting my abortion, I remember the #ShoutYourAbortion movement igniting to protest defunding Planned Parenthood. My mom was also nineteen when she got pregnant with me. I appreciate everything she sacrificed by having me. But watching how my mom and dad struggled financially and how hard my mom worked to juggle work, school, and a kid, I knew from a young age that if I was ever in the same situation, I would get an abortion. And I did. And I don’t regret it. There might be some people who say that I made a selfish decision, but it’s okay for a nineteen-year-old to be selfish. It’s okay for anyone to be selfish once in a while. But the stigmatization of having an abortion kept me from shouting my own, even though it was the right choice for me.
Aspen Baker stated that “Empathy gets created the moment we imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes.” Civil discourse on abortion rights needs more empathy. Women who have abortions are often villainized, but their stories are not all the same. Aspen Baker’s Exhale organization and Twitter campaign #ShoutYourAbortion are examples of this. Women have abortions because they are sexually assaulted. Women have abortions because their pregnancy is dangerous to their own health. Women have abortions because they aren’t ready to be mothers. Polarization erases these women’s stories and promotes stigmatization. Women should be free to shout their abortion without judgement.
Baker, A. (2015, May). Retrieved January 29, 2020, from https://www.ted.com/talks/aspen_baker_a_better_way_to_talk_about_abortion
Shout Your Abortion. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2020, from https://shoutyourabortion.com/about/