Abortion Is Making Me Crazy

Get your hands off my daughter, Chris Smith

On the plus side, a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that women who have abortions are far less likely to suffer from mental illness afterward than women who actually go through with their pregnancies, which should put an end to the load of crapola the right-to-choose-for-you gang keeps trying to pile on the heads of those whose views on reproductive rights differ from theirs (but won’t). This page from United for Life lists, among other consequences you can expect following a perfectly legal medical procedure that 40 percent of all American women have undergone, cutting yourself, stubbing out cigarettes on your body, getting drunk, taking drugs, becoming violent, having your husband beat up on you, and eating so much that “nobody could ever love them or want sex with them again.” I couldn’t make this stuff up.

On the minus side, Republicans and their detestable H.R. 3 are making me very, very tired.

Way back in 1972, in its very first issue, Ms. magazine published a list of 53 prominent (and brave) women who had undergone abortions, even though the procedure was still largely illegal. (Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.) In the fall of 2006, with abortion rights once more under assault, Ms. circulated a petition that was signed by more than 5,000 women who’d had abortions and weren’t ashamed of their decisions. My name was on there. I’d already written in Philly Mag about deciding to tell my daughter I’d had an abortion, when she was 15 and the first of her high-school peers got pregnant. I liked the idea of more women like me speaking up, speaking out, refusing to be stigmatized by an all-too-vocal minority for the choices we’d made.

Today, my daughter is a senior in college—a women’s studies major. She’s bought pregnancy tests for girls who were too embarrassed to ask for them in the CVS. She’s lent them money for their first visits to the ob-gyn, and sat with them in the waiting room. She’s accompanied girlfriends to Planned Parenthood for abortions when their boyfriends didn’t care enough to go. She’s talked them into being tested—and treated—for STDs. She’s taken charge of her own reproductive health, and she’s helped other women do so, too. I couldn’t be more proud.

A bunch of men in suits—men whose own health-care plan no doubt pays for their Viagra—have no right to tell my daughter what’s rape and what isn’t. House Speaker John Boehner and New Jersey’s Chris Smith have no right to keep her insurer from covering an abortion that she decides—she decides—she requires. They’re nowhere near the front lines on this issue. They’ll never know what it’s like to be pregnant and desperate. Forty percent of their wives and mothers and daughters do. For once, I’d like to hear from them.