We are a nation deeply divided over abortion. The conflict is so bad most people refer to it as our nation’s “Abortion Wars.” Carole Joffe, author of “Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients and the Rest of Us” writes that our abortion wars have “proved costly for American society as a whole, causing a degradation of our political culture.” Yet, she lauds “women who seek abortions and the men and who women provide them [as] resourceful and committed combatants” while Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, refers to herself and her counterparts as the “postmenopausal militia.”
As a woman who was born on the third anniversary of Roe v Wade and as a woman who has had an abortion, I am not interested in perpetuating war or conflict. I don’t want to be a combatant or a member of a militia. Not only do I see, like Carole, the negative impact of the abortion wars on our political climate, I also hear its impact everyday on women who have had abortions. The Abortion Wars and the tornado of stigmas, violence and politics they whip up (whether in a Newsweek article or a health-care vote) keep the voices of women who have had abortions – their experiences, their stories, their needs – hidden and neglected. It’s time to leave the war-rhetoric and the war-recruitment behind. It’s time to create Abortion Peace.
Unlike Nancy Keenan, the numbers of young women who see abortion in complex moral, ethical and emotional terms give me hope and excitement for the future. These young women have personally experienced abortion, or know someone who has, and the context of legal abortion has given them a freedom to ask new questions and explore new ideas on its role in their lives and the lives of their families, in ways that were not previously possible. They have all the makings for what is needed to transform war and build peace.
I invite each and everyone one of these young women to join Exhale and our pro-voice movement. Together, we can ask more questions, create new innovative solutions and address the issues long neglected by the pursuit of war. We can wage-peace. We can investigate the social and emotional aspects of abortion, pursue strategies to promote the emotional health of every woman who has had an abortion, create forums where every woman feels seen and heard for her unique abortion experience, and we can transform our culture from one of judgment and shame to one of support and respect.
The future is in our hands and that, young women, fills me with hope.