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Why I’m having an abortion

By Angie Jackson - posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Angie Jackson is in the process of getting an abortion.

What makes this even more interesting is that she’s been documenting the experience on her website and on Twitter. (Angie’s also on YouTube, though she hasn’t documented anything about the situation there yet. and you can see her talking about her situation here.)

I think it’s important for others to understand why she’s taking this route - whether you agree with her or not - so I asked her to write a guest post about her journey. That piece is below. Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist


I’m an atheist, children’s rights activist, and happy mother of a four-year-old boy who makes my world go round. But this week, I’ve been getting called a “killer” a whole lot.

I found out I was pregnant on February 13. It turned out the birth control I thought I was using didn’t quite work as planned (my IUD had apparently come out and we weren’t using condoms as regularly as I was pretending to myself we were). You can imagine how romantic our Valentine’s conversation was. (I think what I said was, “Let’s go for a twofer - I’ll get an abortion and you get a vasectomy”.)

I had been feeling pretty awful for a couple weeks before then: throwing up, getting dizzy, being a total bitch to my boyfriend and son, battling suicidal depression and crippling social anxiety … Yeah, being pregnant is not good for me.


Prior to conceiving my son five years ago, I was told I would never carry a child to term because of sexual abuse that happened when I was seven and eight-years-old - and I barely did. I didn’t find out I was pregnant with him until the 21st week, roughly halfway through my pregnancy. When I did find out, I was underweight for the duration of the pregnancy, and I had several other high risk indicators. I did my best to gain weight (it helped that my ex-husband worked at a pizza store).

Even still, I made several trips to the emergency room throughout my last two trimesters. During my eighth month of pregnancy, I actually lost ten pounds due to a pretty horrible stomach virus. It was as if I had no immune system at all while pregnant. I went from having never received IV fluids in my life, to being intimately familiar with the feeling of cold fluids dumping into my veins. And let’s not even get into the other causes of dehydration.

When my son was born, I decided I didn’t want any more kids, in part because I’d learned during my pregnancy that I was a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis, a fatal and painful disease (of which my son was fortunately spared). I don’t regret that decision. My son is happiest when he’s getting one-on-one attention from an adult - he has even manipulated the system at school so that he gets to hang out with his teacher while she eats lunch and the other kids nap! I honestly don’t believe siblings are always a blessing, always friends, or always best for a family.

I know that I can be a damn good mum to the one special needs child I have - he had many health problems when he was younger and he is speech delayed and has a short attention span now - but I don’t know if I could be a good mum to two kids, one or both of whom would have special needs. I know my mum had more children than she could afford or care for, and I don’t want to make the same mistake. For his sake, my boyfriend has never wanted children of his own.

For me, getting an abortion was the best decision.

I went to the Planned Parenthood this past Thursday, on a day set aside (for security reasons) for patients having abortions. I found out that I was only four weeks and one day pregnant, meaning I caught this incredibly early - so early, in fact, that surgical abortion isn’t even an option yet. So I chose to have a medical abortion.

At the clinic, my height, weight, blood pressure, and blood Rh type (negative or positive) were checked. The counsellor asked me questions like, “Are you aware that the alternatives for an abortion include continuing the pregnancy and becoming a parent, or continuing the pregnancy and putting the child up for adoption?”

I said, “Yes, or continuing the pregnancy and then dying”.

We soon found out I wasn’t going to be anaemic from blood loss. So I met with the doctor and took the Mifepristone in his office. He sent me home with a bag full of condoms, vicodin, antibiotics, anti-nausea meds, and misoprostol to complete the abortion at home. (He also threw in one package of Plan B, so there won’t be a next time.)

After I put my son to bed, I began #livetweetingabortion on Twitter. Why on earth would I choose to go through something so personal - and controversial - on Twitter? Have I no shame?

No, I don’t.

I don’t feel ashamed of having an abortion.

I believe in a woman’s right to choose, in general for others and in this case for me. Abortion doesn’t have to be justified and it doesn’t have to fit your neighbour’s or co-worker’s opinions of a “good enough reason”.

I think “I don’t want to be pregnant” is one of the best reasons there is for having an abortion (along with “I don’t want to be a parent” and “I’ll probably die”).

For some women, the abortion-by-pill doesn’t work. That night, after taking the pill, I talked with friends and fended off Twitter trolls for several hours before finally going to bed. I woke up early on Saturday … and nothing had happened. A medical abortion is supposed to work like a miscarriage - but I’d had no cramps. No bleeding. No abortion.

We went back to Planned Parenthood and they gave me a second dose of the medicine after I signed a paper letting them know I was aware that the second dose only works for 30 per cent of the women who try it.

As I write this, it’s 3.21am on Sunday. I know the fetus is no longer growing as a result of the first pill I took back in the doctor’s office but, again, nothing’s left my body yet. I have met some amazing medical tweeters the past few days, including @IAmDrTiller who has been full of information (like that the abortion-by-pill can take up to a week!) so I guess I’ll be #livetweetingabortion a bit longer. If I end up needing the surgical abortion, I’ll tweet before and after that, too.

I want to demystify abortion.

I want women to know that it’s not as scary as I thought.

The doctors and nurses I’ve met have all been incredible. Every other woman in the lobby was either there for an abortion or there with a friend getting one. And not one of us was crying. I think that’s the lie I’d heard most often - that I would feel horrible about this decision.

I am helping dozens, if not more, girls and women (and boys and men) realise that abortion is an acceptable choice. It is not shameful and it need not be a secret.

More than 45,000,000 legal abortions have occurred since Roe v. Wade for tens of millions of women, but you almost never seem to hear their stories (unless they’re now a pro-lifer with a huge guilt concept).

Why don’t we talk about this more? Well, because we’ve been taught not to. By the women (and men involved) before us who didn’t talk about their abortions, by the religious right who told us we were whores for wanting to enjoy sex without the punishment of pregnancy and childbirth, and by the left who hung their heads in sorrow that people “had to” get abortions.

Do you have any idea how much I am looking forward to my pregnancy being completely over? This abortion is the best thing I could ask for right now.

I’m glad I can quit feeling suicidal and bitchy and can go back to being myself again (I miss my old self, as I’m sure my son and boyfriend do). I’m thankful I live in a country where I can have an abortion legally and safely. I’m proud to have made the right choice for my family, despite enormous social and political pressures. I’m #livetweetingabortion because this isn’t something that should be done in the dark or in secret.

It’s possible the abortion will not occur from the pills as the week goes on (a very odd thought). If it doesn’t, I’ll be going in for a vacuum aspiration.

Abortion is a little scary, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying.

Update: It’s 1.14 on February 22, early Monday morning. The abortion-by-pill is working. I’m still #livetweetingabortion with my symptoms and progress. This is so much less frightening and painful than I had worried it would be.

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First published in the Friendly Atheist on February 22, 2010.

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About the Author

Angie Jackson blogs at Angie the Anti-theist

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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