Abortion is an experience both known and unknown — a matter for silence even in its ubiquity. It’s everywhere in our politics and society, yet it is a subject often elided, reduced to euphemism or outright avoided.
“One in three women has an abortion by the age of 45,” reads a subhead in a recent, much-talked-about article in New York magazine. One of the many women profiled in the piece had to get money for the procedure from a gas station ATM; the credit-card scanner at a Kentucky clinic wasn’t working. The woman didn’t consider abortion “killing,” but she didn’t want to do it. Months later, both she and her boyfriend regret it.
The piece tells 26 stories, involving compassionate and callous medical staff, involving home abortions and shame and secrecy. “The same woman can wake up one morning with regret, the next with relief — most have feelings too knotty for a picket sign,” the piece reports.
“There’s no room,” one woman reflects, “to talk about being unsure.”
It’s an incomplete picture, as Theresa Bonapartis, director of Lumina, a post-abortion ministry in New York, observes. Among the missing stories: mothers who get an adverse diagnosis about their child, who wish they had let nature take its course, rather than ending the life of their child. “So much is missing,” she says, from the glossy piece.
And yet even in its incompleteness it makes clear — as anyone who has ever had anything to do with or otherwise been touched by abortion knows: “There are so many what-ifs in there ... in no case is it really without consequence,” as Vicki Thorne, founder of Project Rachel, a post-abortion support group, says.
In this way, the piece, much talked about, does something significant: Inadvertently, perhaps, it is a cry for a culture to embrace life, acknowledge death and move forward to something better. In confronting the effects of “choice,” an opportunity for healing and education arises.