• Fri, Mar 23 2012

How Pro-Lifers Made Me A Pro-Choice Activist

Julie determined that if we went for our allotted six weeks, by the time we got back to the states she’d still be in her first trimester, well within the safe time frame for a legal abortion. She wanted to go.

How she got through the next six weeks, I do not know. She hardly ever brought up her pregnancy, except once when we tried to go into a sauna in Budapest that wasn’t safe for women in the family way. I don’t think she was in denial – I think she was an expert compartmentalizer, determined not to let one misstep prevent her from doing the things she wanted to do.

And so she didn’t. We hit all of our destinations. We had a blast, although I regularly look back on it and wonder whether she had as much fun as she seemed to.

At the end of six weeks, we decided that it would be in everyone’s best interest for her to come and stay at my parent’s house for the few days leading up to and following her abortion. Her mother wouldn’t be particularly happy about the pregnancy or the termination thereof, and we didn’t have friends with apartments, and so that was that.

The morning of the appointment, we got in the car and headed from my suburban Boston town to the Planned Parenthood in Brookline. Neither of us said much on the way there – I think we made a lot of small talk. I don’t know what else there is to talk about while driving to an abortion. There’s not really a script for that.

We pulled up and parked along the street, and I noticed sort of superficially a group of people standing outside the clinic. But it wasn’t until we were walking up towards it that I realized who they were – protesters.

“There’s protesters out there,” I said, always quick to the draw. We got out of the car and as we walked closer, I could hear their chants, and they were not kind. “Killer!” they screamed, holding signs that I couldn’t quite make out but that probably didn’t say “Good luck in there!”

I put my arm around Julie and we started to walk through their small crowd, which was situated at the entrance. Their yells were menacing and mean and now they were directed at us. Someone hollered out, “You’re killing your baby!”

I wanted to yell back but something told me not to engage them. I could feel Julie tense up, see the hurt behind her angry eyes.

I suppose I should mention that this hadn’t been an easy decision for her to make. In fact, before she got pregnant, she was anti-choice. The question of whether or not she was, in fact, killing her baby was probably weighing incredibly heavily on her in that moment. But instead of support when she needed it — or at least anonymity — she found, utterly unprovoked, people willing to attack her when she was at her most vulnerable.

Right before we got to the door, I noticed a woman in the crowd. She was older, maybe in her sixties, with short gray hair and glasses. She could have been one of our grandmothers, there to soothe Julie, to make her some tea or something, to tell her that everything was going to be fine.

Instead, right before we walked through the door, she opened her mouth and her seemingly kind face twisted into a grimace and she yelled out: “Murderer!

In hindsight, it seems almost funny. The woman was a caricature. But at the time, all I could think of was that to be so vicious while claiming that you were acting in the name of righteousness was unforgivably cruel. It didn’t make sense to me then, and it doesn’t make sense to me now.

On the way back out, Julie and I didn’t say much to each other, and I don’t remember seeing the protesters again. But their utter disregard for my friend’s humanity was something I never forgot. And so, armed with a new understanding of the pain that people’s hatred of women who get abortions can cause, I went on to volunteer and then work for Planned Parenthood (thanks, protesters! You really got your message across), before deciding to write what I think about pregnancy termination for a living.

When I have money to give, it will be to pro-choice organizations. And if I could ever find out that old woman’s name, I’d donate it for her.

*not her real name

Share This Post:
  • K

    I’m pro choice as well, but abortions shouldn’t be viewed as a secondary form of birth control. I noticed your description of your friend’s story didn’t include any mention of birth control pills or even more importantly, a condom–incredibly risky and stupid on many levels, as your buddy could have ended up with HIV as well as with an unwanted pregnancy. Pray-and-spray isn’t a valid way to protect against pregnancy or STDs. I’m sorry you guys had such a miserable time when you went for her abortion though…. freshman year of college I took a friend from high school to planned parenthood and there was one protester standing outside with a sign, it was more pathetic than intimidating.

    • ecd

      Kiddo, no one uses abortions as birth control. No one.

    • Krissy

      ecd – K actually said “secondary form of birth control”… & sadly, it is used as that.

    • C

      ….but it IS a secondary form of birth control. Your pill fails, the condom breaks, or you can’t get Plan B — then you get an abortion. It’s for when all else fails. How else would you use it?…

  • Cee

    Although personally I don’t think i would get an abortion, I am pro choice. All these irrational, asshole protestors and these ridiculous new laws coming out all over the place to restrict birth control, personhood amendments, transvaginal ultrasounds, watching a video of an abortion before getting one and much more has made me a strong supporter for the women out there that make this choice and have to deal with all this bullshit.

    • Kacie

      I feel exactly the same way on everything you said. I have never had to have an abortion, so much like Julie who before hers was pro-life, luckily I have not been put in a situation where I had to choose, but it should be legal for those who have to decide.

  • Ms. Pants

    This is so beautifully succinct to me: But instead of support when she needed it — or at least anonymity — she found, utterly unprovoked, people willing to attack her when she was at her most vulnerable.

    Gorgeous. Thank you.

  • Krissy

    I’m pro-life, very much so, however I really cannot stand those protestors. That is NOT the right way to go about your beliefs. They’re as bad as the Westboro Baptist “Church”.

  • 89

    What a horrible cunt. Why didn’t she abort at 4 weeks? a 10 week fetus is vastly much more developed than it is at 4 weeks. Your friend is a moron and I hope her decision not to use protection haunts her forever.

    • Cee

      And it looks like you may not be vastly much more developed than a four year old.

    • Cee

      And the next time I donate to a pro choice organization, I will do so thinking of you :)

    • Alma

      Really?

    • Cassie

      I hope that someday you look back on this comment and realize that you are no less cruel than Julie, and that your insensitivity and lack of empathy haunts you forever.

    • Another K

      Speaking of horrible cunts, look what we have here. It amazes me that someone so morally bankrupt as you (because, yes, I consider it much more disgusting to call someone names and degrade someone because of their personal life choices — if you were ANY kind of person, you’d find a better way to approach) thinks they have the high ground. So, 89, this next donation to Planned Parenthood will be dedicated to you. I see you’ve already earned PP one donation. Now count two. Thank you for your service. Cunt.

    • Elle

      Make that three. Planned Parenthood thanks you, 89!

  • Shelli

    You can’t abort until 8 weeks – duh.

    • ecd

      That is patently false.

  • Audrey

    I understand that the protesters are unreasonably harsh and without any kind of empathy, but I just can’t understand your decision to become a pro-choice ACTIVIST as a result. I am a 22 year old pro-life, young, educated woman, and I cannot imagine behaving the way some protesters do, even though I am down for the occasional pro-life event rally.

    The thing is that I am pro-life because I genuinely believe in it. But to be pro-choice or to donate to pro-choice organizations because someone rubbed you the wrong way (goes for you to ‘Another K’) is upsetting for me. I am not a bible-hugger in any kind of way, but hearing about something like this genuinely makes me sad. (If you knew me you would know I don’t normally get sad.)

    I truly want to understand the way a pro-choice individual thinks, no BS. And I don’t mean someone who is pro-choice because they aren’t pro-life; I mean a real pro-choicer.

    • ron

      i agree with what your sayin i am prolife ,, but the fact that she felt bad meens the protestor was right ,, she was ingoring her feeling of it being wrong all i can say to anybody who wants a abortian,, imagine you rparents discided not to have you ,,

    • Jess

      I’m pro-choice because I believe that sometimes shit happens(condoms break, you forget a pill, rape etc) and being saddled with a huge responsibility like a child for the rest of your life just isn’t fair, safe or even a viable option for everyone.

      For example, I don’t want kids. I don’t want that responsibility, I worry that I wouldn’t make a good mother, I have plans for my future and a baby would totally put the brakes on that. Am I going to stop having sex for the rest of my life? Hell no. I’m taking precautions, but if they *do* fail, I will get it dealt with. It’s not a decision I want to ever have to make, but if it comes up I know what I want to do.

  • Mary

    I’ve been to many pro-life rallies over the last 30+ years, and NEVER have I seen anyone be cruel to the pregnant mother. NEVER. The cruel things are said by the pro-aborts. 100% of the time.

    That’s why I think this article is untruthful on this point.

    So, your article is promoting casual sex, with an utter stranger. And the baby dies for that. You want everyone in the world to think that’s good.

    It stinks. Women who give away sex make it harder for men to respect all women. It leads to so many wrongs, for society, but especially for the innocent child who dies because mommy doesn’t want the child.

    Most people in America are now PRO-LIFE. May God have mercy on all who are not. All who are pro-abortion are alienating themselves from God, Who is the Author of Life.

    • NotThumper

      You do realize that pro-CHOICE is not necessarily pro-ABORTION right? I don’t think there are too many people out there that just get off on the idea of it.

      I don’t love the idea of abortion and if faced with a situation where it was an option I honestly don’t know if I could do it. That being said I am 100% pro-choice and believe that every woman deserves the option of doing whatever is best for her.

      Starting in on the religious talk completely washes away and valid point you might have been making. Not everyone shares the same religious views, some of us don’t believe in anything (and some of us acknowledge the reality of evolution). You can’t try to make someone feel bad if they think your beliefs are nonsense from the start. As I am pro-choice I don’t need the ringleader from a fairytale to have mercy on me and I certainly can’t alienate myself from someone I don’t believe exists.

    • Tobi

      These are the two issues I have with this post.

      1.) Your personal definition of pro-choice as pro-abortion? Factually incorrect.

      2.)

      “The cruel things are said by the pro-aborts. 100% of the time.”

      Wrong. You’re a liar. It definitely goes both ways and I have MANY times seen abhorrent and VIOLENT behavior by pro-lifers to people, including pregnant women. Yes, violent as in hitting/kicking.

    • Kacie

      Look on the internet for plenty of images and videos of horribly behaved protesters. And pro-choice advocates haven’t murdered any doctors.

  • Aoife

    Shocked to see so many pro- lifers here on what seems to be a website for intelligent, thoughtful ladies. My body is MY BODY and I will do what I want with it and whatever group of cells happens to be growing in it. Abortion shaming is morally bankrupt. It’s hard for me to see not just men but women too trying to take power and choice and basic human rights away from women.

  • Sabs

    So here’s the thing: I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a pro-choice rally that yells out and holds up signs calling people names like cunt, murderer, slut, prostitute, whore, etc. that I’ve seen coming from pro-lifers. Pro-choice folks are usually there to spread their message of acceptance and support for women. Not judge them.