This week, New Jersey abortion counselor and aspiring actress Emily Letts decided to film her own abortion in an attempt to show women how safe the actual procedure is and inspire them not to feel guilty about their reproductive autonomy, despite political and religious influence.
The result was a powerful but unconventional message that combated the stigma that abortions are selfish, unnecessary (even in the most dire of situations) and horrifyingly painful.
In a Cosmopolitan.com essay, Letts, who underwent her procedure at the Cherry Hill Woman’s Center where she works, wrote this:
We talk about abortion so much and yet no one really knows what it actually looks like. A first trimester abortion takes three to five minutes. It is safer than giving birth. There is no cutting, and risk of infertility is less than 1 percent. Yet women come into the clinic all the time terrified that they are going to be cut open, convinced that they won’t be able to have kids after the abortion. The misinformation is amazing, but think about it: They are still willing to sacrifice all these things because they can’t carry the child at this moment.
Needless to say, she caught some flack for her short video. Aside from being called a “baby-killer,” and a “witch from hell,” one pro-life advocacy group had this to say about Letts’ decision to turn her own abortion story into a positive message for others considering the procedure:
The anti-abortion group New Jersey Right to Life said Tuesday “it’s truly sad that an aspiring actress would use this venue” to achieve notoriety.
“Ending a pregnancy through the violence of abortion is not compassionate and is never safe for the defenseless baby who is torn to bits in his or her mother’s womb,” said executive director Marie Tasy.
Tasy’s colorful language is the same rhetoric that fuels and is rooted in the deeply ingrained stigma surrounding abortion. Despite images of women dying or drowning in guilt after having violent abortions on television and film, women have virtually zero chance of dying during the procedure. In fact, in a 2012 study, Dr. Elizabeth Raymond from Gynuity Health Projects in New York City and Dr. David Grimes of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, found that between 1998 and 2005, one woman died during childbirth for every 11,000 or so babies born. That number was compared to one woman of every 167,000 who died from a legal abortion — a figure that suggests legal abortions are safer than giving birth.
Add in the fact that 90 percent of women who undergo the surgical procedure report feeling relief afterwards, and you got yourself a big ol’ conservative misconception that uses fear to ground their own agenda.
Those figures, however, don’t suggest that all women have a positive abortion experience, as with any experience. Letts’ story is just that…her story…and just one anecdote in the fight against restrictions on abortions.
But it is hard to ignore the truth. Numbers don’t lie. And we doubt Letts’ personal and non-violent journey was a lie either. At the end of the day, what’s more threatening and scary is the fight to strip women of their reproductive freedom — a fight growing stronger every day.
Here’s the real horror in abortion:
Racist, Degrading and Disgusting Verbal Attacks On Abortion Clinic Patients:
Earlier this year, clinic escort Michelle Colon appeared on HuffPost Live to discuss the dangers of tampering with buffer zone laws that create a safe space between pro-life protestors and patients at abortion clinics, pointing out that anti-abortion protestors often throw racial epithets and other verbal attacks towards those arriving.
“[Protestors] literally just go up to every car that comes up the street. They automatically assume that every African American driver is coming to the clinic,” she said. “They say some of the most disgusting, degrading and racist comments to them about killing the dream, killing the next Barack Obama, the next Martin Luther King.”
“They take video of our patients going in and out, they take video of their partners and their support systems and they take video and camera shots of their license plates and then they put that information online, on the web for everyone to see,” she said.
The verbal attacks, close proximity, and personal jabs often create a physical danger for patients. Taking video and distributing personal information of the patients online also violates patient rights and confidentiality — an ironic twist for conservatives who champion those same issues.
Mississippi’s Last Abortion Clinic May Close:
Women seeking abortions in Mississippi are at risk of losing the last abortion clinic in the state, forcing patients to either travel to providers out of state, or to have the babies due to lack of resources.
If there was ever a way to control women’s reproductive rights, it’s to take away their options.
From Think Progress:
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic, which has been operating for nearly two decades, has been struggling to remain open for the past several years. It’s not easy to provide abortion care in Mississippi. Back in 1981, the state had 14 different facilities that offered abortions — but that number has dwindled to just one, thanks to increasingly harsh restrictions on the procedure.
But abortion opponents aren’t satisfied. They want to close the last clinic, too. In 2012, Republican lawmakers in the state enacted a burdensome new state law that requires abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. The only two doctors who provide abortion care in Mississippi fly in from out of state to serve their patients, and they haven’t been able to get hospitals to agree to those partnerships, so the future of their work is in jeopardy.
Last April, a judge sided with The Center for Reproductive Rights, allowing the clinic to remain in operation. But lawyers are steadily working to close the clinic, making Mississippi the first state since Roe v. Wade without a single clinic offering safe, legal abortion care — a move that will create a dangerous and slippery slope for women seeking abortions living under an antiquated system.
And, sadly, that is what will make abortions (done illegally, crudely and in secret) dangerous.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry:
States Enacting Unconstitutional Abortion Bans:
In April, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed a bill to criminalize abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, without exception for rape and incest. Thing is, the only abortion clinic in the state doesn’t even perform abortions after 16 weeks. So why enact a law that will have very little impact on abortion policy?
The law, which is the harshest of all 20-week bans in the country (due to gestation calculation), will fit into the broader “fetal pain” strategy abortion opponents are pushing for.
Abortion opponents claim that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and this scientifically disputed concept has allowed them to successfully impose unconstitutional limits on later abortion in 20 different states. Fetal pain measures are specifically intended to slowly chip away at the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.
Sadly, those tactics have been working. Scary, huh?
Forcing Patients To Read Abortion Risk Pamphlets Written By Pro-Lifers:
What’s worse than passing a bunch of pro-life advocates screaming “murderer” in your face as you prepare to undergo a surgical procedure?
Reading biased information and facts about abortion written by the same people before being allowed to continue with the procedure. And in Louisiana, that’s just what lawmakers are trying to do.
In April, lawmakers advanced a measure that would require patients to read information about the mental risks of abortion written with a pro-life bias. House Bill 1262 would require patients to sign the form to confirm they read the pamphlet and then wait another 24 hours before returning for abortion care. Yet another obstacle in obtaining reproductive care.
Rep. Barry Ivey (R) (who has apparently carried a fetus and had an abortion, therefore he knows the effects they have on women), argues that the legislation is necessary. You know, in light of the “potential psychiatric issues” associated with the procedure. Never mind the fact that research in the field has found women who have abortions aren’t at any greater risk of mental health issues.
But you know, that’s just 90 percent of women. Not nearly enough to convince pro-lifers that women’s reproductive rights should be left up to…women.
And Scariest Of All:
Thanks to Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle for capturing what often happens when pro-life advocates force women without proper resources to relinquish their right to exercise reproductive autonomy.
Talk about the horrors of abortion.
SOURCE: Reuters, Cosmopolitan, Think Progress | VIDEO SOURCE: YouTube | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty