“I feel like me talking to her, it helps me through the process because it feels good to be able to have somebody feel what you feel." – Evelyn Lozada on the loss of her third child
As a writer and blogger of six years, I'm often asked what is the strongest piece of work I've ever produced. While the answer comes easy, piecing together my experience as a woman who chose to have an abortion was the most difficult thing I've ever done, even outside of writing. I wrote about it and it took days to come to terms with, days to come to a place where I was okay with putting that out there for the world to read. I know I'll never create something like that again and since August 31, 2014, I have not gone back to that space on my personal blog to read it, revise it, or relive it. I wrote about it for closure. I wrote about it because someone needed to know that they weren't alone. I wrote about it because silencing my own ordeal ate away at me at night as I lied across from a journal that hid and safeguarded the only sonogram that I had of that pregnancy. I wrote about it because I was counting down the days to a due date I wouldn't see. I wrote about it because I had to, and I thanked God for the women who read about February 25th and left me messages of comfort and encouragement and shared their 'me too' moments.
While some may say that I "shouted" my abortion out when I chose to disclose my experience, it's something that my partner and I have talked about only twice since. The guilt in wanting to bring another child in this world that we couldn't financially support outweighed religion and the opinions of family. The decision was something that will forever remain with us, and that moment serves as an elephant in the room when discussing future goals to expand our family–but I don't regret it.
Statistics show most women actually do not regret their decisions, in this myth v. reality rundown on abortions, so why can't we openly talk about it? Outspoken and opinionated rapper Azealia Banks recently delved into the topic of abortions on Twitter and caught heat for her views as well, when she kicked off her hot-topic tweets with a "pro-choice" disclaimer.
It's a constant war waged on women's bodies. When one of our straddles the fence, claiming to be pro-choice, but later places limitations on our reproductive systems, it's difficult to speak out openly about our experiences. The amount of judgment prevents many of us from doing so, thus maintaining a culture of women remaining numb. But when speaking out about our bodies, the conversation isn't just restricted to voluntary abortions, but also spontaneous loss, or miscarriages.
We need more women to speak out because the absence of our realities means that we are ashamed of our truths. Which is why I'm proud to see so many celebrities and women with platforms talk about their experiences. Like television personality and fiance to former LA Dodger Carl Crawford, Evelyn Lozada who once spilled the deets about her miscarriages on an episode of Basketball Wives.
Tamar Braxton revealed that she and her husband Vince had a miscarriage a while back during an episode of Braxton Family Values.
Naya Rivera also revealed she had an abortion while she was on the hit show Glee (before dating Big Sean). She'd just broken up with her now husband Ryan Dorsey to focus on her career and weeks later she found out she was pregnant.
“It's not something a lot of people talk about, but I think they should. I know some people might read it and say, 'What the Hell?' But I hope someone out there gets something out of it."
[Tweet "It's not something a lot of people talk about, but I think they should"]
Years later Naya and Dorsey have an adorable son together. She said that her purpose in revealing her abortion is so that her son can know the struggles women go through when he becomes old enough to understand what it all means.
Maya Dusenbery of Feministing.com said it best, “I find myself thinking less about the political power in talking about our abortions and more about just what an enormous loss it is that we so often don't."
While Amelia Bonow, Lindy West and Kimberly Morrison aren't aware of my story, they have been in my shoes, with the women creating and jumpstarting the powerful #ShoutYourAbortion conversation. The hashtag has been tweeted close to 150,000 times since its inception two weeks ago, after the House of Representatives voted 241-187 to suspend federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Bonow has gone on to speak to Jezebel about where the movement stemmed from.
“Ending my own social media silence about my abortion happened on a whim...I had never just gone off about my abortion via social media the way I regularly go off about white supremacy, casual drug use, being terrified that the world is ending, period stains—you know, things that most people are afraid to talk about. Why was I afraid of talking about abortion this way? I guess I realized that I was NOT afraid to talk about it publicly; I just hadn't done it yet. The stigma surrounding abortion is based in misogynistic garbage thinking and hillbilly science and someone else's version of morality, so why should someone who knows so much better and has certain levels of privilege—my whiteness, my community, and my pregnancy being the product of consensual sex, to name a few—collude with my own silence? It is not breaking news that the anti-choice movement and conservatives in general rely on silence and shame to control and disempower women. SYA (Shout Your Abortion) has just kicked the patriarchy in the dick. "
And I applauded it. I went on a hashtag searching spree to read the 140-character narratives of my peers and their why's, and found women who “are not sorry, and will not whisper," as well as, some of these notable tweets from women around the world:
You trust women to raise a baby - even one she doesn't want - but not enough to decide when she shouldn't be a mother? #ShoutYourAbortion— Ijeoma Oluo (@Ijeoma Oluo)1442939782.0
Men can walk away from parenthood but when a woman decides to make that decision she is shamed? #shoutyourabortion— Tatty (@Tatty)1442904213.0
Some people are horrified by abortion. I'm horrified by thought of women's bodies as property of man, church or govt. #ShoutYourAbortion— Aღanda (@Aღanda)1442883444.0
One of my earliest memories of hearing about miscarriages came from hearing Whitney Houston open up when speaking to Barbara Walters in a 1993 interview. As a child, I didn't know the specifics about her miscarriage, much less, know what a miscarriage was until I was a teenager, but in revisiting that clip, I got chills. In speaking of someone “outing" her experience while filming The Bodyguard, Houston said, “It was painful, emotionally and physically. It was something that I would have liked to have said myself, but they didn't give me the opportunity. I was back on the set the next day, but it was over."[Tweet "Our stories aren't to be told unless someone else is telling it on our behalf."]
Our bodies aren't to be talked about unless patriarchy governs it. That is problematic.
When Evelyn Lozada opted into publicizing her personal account of miscarrying on the debut episode of Livin' Lozada, her moment of vulnerability garnered respect from me. Viewing Evelyn as someone other than the feisty Latina who was known solely for turning up on television, but a woman and a mother like myself, changed my perspective of her. To expose and shed light on that juncture wasn't about “attention," but awareness. We aren't alone in our experiences, although most times, the things we undergo feel like we are. It's in the absence of our accounts that aid in many of us feeling like we're the only ones. I both cringed and cried watching those episodes and witnessing her pain, and felt disgusted at the women who proclaimed Lozada was doing it for money and for show.
Whether you have had an abortion or suffered a miscarriage, electing to be honest about that point in time calls for solidarity and understanding. Sure, it'll make you 'feel a way' and the conversation is ultimately an uncomfortable one, but the discourse has to happen. When we talk about the taboo and begin to comprehend the emotions these experiences evoke from us, the fear and the stigma removes itself, and the power in our narratives are brought to light. This is why more women need to talk about their abortions and miscarriages.
From Oprah, to Beyoncé, to Wendy Williams, the need to speak on these moments of their lives matter. Williams, who has often vocalized her miscarriages on her hit talk show in the past, has once again chose to talk about both incidents on PBS' American Masters: The Women's List. On the documentary series, Williams says,
“I fought tooth and nail to be a mother...I suffered several miscarriages including two at five months. That's when you have the clothes already picked out, the nursery is already painted. They ask you do you want a funeral or do you want the cremation...We went through that not once but twice, me and my husband. So our Kevin is a hard-won child. I would've loved to have had more children, but I don't want to test my blessing. Being a mother is for me. It's not for everybody. It's for me."
And motherhood isn't for everyone. I have a group of girlfriends who have decided they will not have children and have been faced with being called 'less of a woman' because of this choice. I have close friends who have been sexually assaulted and could not fathom carrying their rapist's child, especially when the decision to be a mother was not theirs. Abortion, for them, was their only option. For me, I already know the joys of being a mother, but adding to my family at a time when things were falling apart, wasn't ideal. I am not alone in this, as 61% of women who have had abortions were already mothers, with 34% having already conceived two or more children. I know women who have experienced loss in their wombs and some who have delivered stillborn infants. When there are 24,000 reported stillbirths, an estimated one million miscarriages, and 730,300 legally induced abortions in the United States alone, why wouldn't we talk about this?
While that moment brings back a feeling of loneliness, I'll never forget the words of encouragement from other women that were in my shoes. I'll even remember the silence from close friends. But what I'll hold on to forever is that liberating feeling that I told my story and I didn't feel an ounce of shame about it.
What are your thoughts on more women speaking out on their bodies, abortions, or miscarriages? Is it something that we should keep to ourselves or is there importance in sharing these stories? Weigh in below!