To Angie: A Thank-You Note

Dear Carla Fran,

I want to write today about Angie, the woman who had a chemical abortion after her IUD failed and has been documenting the experience via Twitter and Youtube. Her account of why she’s getting an abortion is here. Her circumstances—she has a special-needs son, pregnancy puts her health at risk, she doesn’t want another child—aren’t what motivated her to make the abortion public. She gives her reasons in the first of many Youtube videos she’s made on the subject, here. To badly summarize her position, she’s trying to destigmatize and render transparent a process that remains shrouded in spin and fear.

Since announcing her decision on her own website and on the Friendly Atheist, she’s been dealing with the expected Internet craze. I want to take a minute to applaud the physical courage it took to put herself at the center of a controversy that’s provoked real-world violence, and to do so at a physically demanding time. People say she knew what she was getting into. True—but the fact that civil rights champions know the resistance they’ll face doesn’t make them any less brave for facing it.

The Friendly Atheist post provided a format for the usual debates to take place, but I was surprised by the (mostly) respectful tone in the commenting thread. Things took a turn later on; in any case, I’m reposting my comment on that thread here, as an open letter:

Hi Angie,

Thanks for doing this. Word on the slippery slope argument getting out of hand.

Two quick remarks to the louder commenters here: Folks, rape isn’t the point. Let’s stop arguing statistics. The point is that you, a person, have the right to decide whether or not to go through a life-altering procedure (whether that procedure is pregnancy or abortion is your call).

To the responsibility advocates: you’re disproportionately interested in enforcing your stated principle in situations where women bear all the physical consequences. (As a local instance of this, count how many on this thread are asking why she didn’t get a tubal ligation; compare that to how many asked why her partner didn’t have a vasectomy—a cheaper and far less risky procedure).

Sure, actions have consequences. And yet, if you’re a smoker and discover a tumor (a cluster of cells that will develop and grow unless interfered with), no one will cite your “irresponsible behavior” as a reason for refusing you the right to have that tumor removed.

Angie, thanks for making this process public. Philosophical issues aside, it’s hard for women thinking about it to find out what a chemical abortion is actually like. That––to my mind––is what’s most important about this piece. Anyone thinking about a chemical abortion is drowning is misinformation and spin, so to have an account of what physically happens is crucially important. It is emphatically, absolutely not “TMI”.

So, Angie, to add another voice to the majority on this thread, most of whom think human beings deserve to exert reasonable agency over their bodies regardless of their gender: thanks.

Fondly,
M

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