Thirty-Five Years After Hyde, It’s Time to Start a New Conversation on Abortion


VIDEO: An Abortion Story (Deb Hauser)

It is the 35th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, and it’s time that those of us who have experienced abortion find our voices and share our stories, and help each other by working to destigmatize abortion. Here is Deb’s.

Find all of our coverage on the Hyde Amendment at 35 here.

Published in collaboration with Advocates for Youth.

Find all of our coverage on the Hyde Amendment at 35 here.

One in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime, but we almost never talk about it. Not really. We may talk about abortion as a “political issue,” but too often we remain silent about our own personal experiences.

Yet, many of us have become increasingly frustrated by the onslaught of legislative and cultural attacks on abortion access. With feigned concern for our health and safety, social conservatives continue to throw every conceivable obstacle in the path of women seeking a legal, safe abortion in America. And, they are winning in many places.

Of course, attacks on abortion rights are not new. Representative Henry Hyde planted the flag of opposition to women’s reproductive health, rights, and justice over 35 years ago with the congressional law that bears his name. The Hyde amendment all but eliminates the use of federal funds for abortion, erecting a discriminatory barrier to safe and affordable abortion care for poor women.

Targeting only needy women, the Hyde Amendment lacks as much in logic as it does in compassion. As one young mother I recently spoke with said — if I couldn’t scrape together the $300 I needed for the abortion, why do they think I can afford to raise another child?

And so, for 35 years, anti-choice politicians have held poor women hostage in their unrelenting campaign to eliminate abortion access in America, arrogantly inserting themselves in a medical decision that is best left to a woman and her family. Abortion remains at the epicenter of the culture wars with Hyde being one of the biggest anti-choice trophies to date.

When it comes to women’s reproductive health, political expediency trumps political principle: even President Obama reaffirmed the Hyde amendment, calling the restriction “longstanding” and “the status quo,” when he signed an executive order asserting that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would not allow the use of federal funds for abortion services.

Yet, a majority of Americans still supports safe, legal abortion. So why does the opposition grab all of the headlines? Because they have deftly deployed a weapon that for too long has silenced our voices, and that weapon is stigma.

Four decades of anti-abortion rhetoric has made it almost impossible to speak up about our abortion experiences. Yet one in three of us has a story to tell.

On this, the 35th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, it is time that those of us who have experienced abortion find our voices and share our stories. Here is mine.

I decided to tell my story as part of the 1 in 3 Campaign, a new initiative launched by Advocates for Youth, Choice USA, and Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom to destigmatize women’s experiences with abortion and to reclaim our shared history.

Truthfully, I didn’t ever expect to share my story so publicly. It wasn’t an easy decision to do so, but I felt compelled to do something.

Once I began telling my story, I found that other people — some of whom I have known for years — began sharing their own stories in return. What we found was a shared history — that came with support — not judgment. In sharing our stories we began to splinter the stigma that had kept us silent.

On this, the 35th anniversary of Hyde, I invite you to share your own story. Share it through the 1 in 3 Campaign or just with a few people in your own social circle. Share my story, or one from the other women who have courageously contributed to this campaign.

Clearly it is time to shatter our silence by starting a new dialogue — this time on our own terms. It is time that we raise our voices together for women of all ages and walks of life so we can put an end to the harmful and discriminatory restrictions that violate women’s rights to basic health care services.

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  • rsadow

    This is a much needed effort…it’s high time that we share our abortion stories on our own terms. I can understand how this can be tough, but starting these conversations is the only way that we can hope to break down stigma.

    Thanks for the post! By the way, I think there’s a link missing above…here’s the direct link to the video mentioned: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/1in3/stories

  • deb-r

    If the anti-abortion side could be convinced to compromise how about they promise to stop trying to make abortion illegal and to stop protesting at clinics and in return they will never have to worry about “their” money going to pay for abortion–then pro-choice people could put their time and resources in to helping women who cannot afford bc or abortion. But that would probably not work since ultimately it is about control of other women.

  • freetobe

    Of course this will take a large joint effort but I have heard this is very effective !!

    Course all the wives of those creeps in congress would have to participate and I am sure they are all heavily contolled by their masters. Wow I can picture it though LOL!!! Revenge is so sweet.

    I guess we all need to talk about our abortions and just keep talking to totally remove the stigma of shame that the control freaks have put on many.

    We also need to remind all women that abortions have occured since the beginning of time and that women are very fertile because the human species is a weak species subject to many illeness. Any animal that reproduces frequently and or with many offspring carries this trait of vulnerability.

    It is natures way of dealing with so many deaths, yet insures that the species survives Have more children and hope only one survives as used to be the case before modern science changed the course with antibiotics and anestesia.

    So that means that all those abortions equvilant of after being born deaths would have occured naturally anyway.

  • seabisquick39

    This is a good point.  Abortion has been such a controversial topic that not too many people want to talk about openly, especially those who have been through one.  I appreciate women like Deb who are able to come forward and share their story.  I do believe that Deb could have made a better choice.  Abortion is not about conservatives pusching to have control of women, abortion is about having control of the life that is growing inside of the woman. 

    Deb has a voice and is able to share her side of the story, so we can feel for Deb, but what about that baby inside of Deb that couldn’t speak for itself yet?  Is Deb’s 6-month-old son more deserving of life than the 12-week-old baby living inside of her? What will Deb say when her son says one day, ‘Mommy I wish I had a brother or sister.’ Life is too precious too deny somebody of it. 

     

  • forced-birth-rape

    Self-Described ‘Christian Counterpart To Osama Bin Laden’ Arrested In Plot To Bomb Abortion Clinic

    Justin Carl Moose describe “himself” as the Christian counterpart to Osama bin Laden. Moose wrote: “I have learned a lot from the muslim terrorists and have no problem using their tactics.”

     

    St. Augustine said, “Any woman who acts in such a way that she cannot give birth to as many children as she is capable of, makes herself guilty of that many murders.”

    Martin Luther wrote: “God created Adam lord of all living creatures, but Eve spoiled it all. Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear children. And if a woman grows weary and, at last, dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing; she is there to do it.”

  • forced-birth-rape

     Anders Behring Breivik christian terrorist, pro-forced-birther.

    What he thinks about womens rights, women need to breed, breed, breed.

    He has the same ideas for women as republicans, conservatives, and pro-lifers.

     

    1. Limit the distribution of birth-control pills (contraceptive pills): Discourage the use of and prevent liberal distribution of contraceptive pills or equivalent prevention methods. The goal should be to make it considerably more difficult to obtain. This alone should increase the fertility rate by 0,1 points but would degrade women’s rights.

    2. Reform sex education: Reform the current sex education in our school institutions. This may involve limiting it or at least delaying sex education to a later age and discourage casual sex. Sex should only be encouraged within the boundaries of marriage. This alone should increase the fertility rate by 0,1 points.

    3. Making abortion illegal: A re-introduction of the ban on abortion should result in an increased fertility rate of approximately 0,1-0,2 points but would strip women of basic rights.

    4. Women and education: Discourage women in general to strive for full time careers. This will involve certain sexist and discriminating policies but should increase the fertility rate by up to 0,1-0,2 points.

    Women should not be encouraged by society/media to take anything above a bachelor’s degree but should not be prevented from taking a master or PhD. Males on the other hand should obviously continue to be encouraged to take higher education – bachelor, master and PhD.

  • jennifer-starr

    Seabisquick, you said that “Abortion is not about conservatives pusching to have control of women, abortion is about having control of the life that is growing inside of the woman. ”  My God, do you even realize how disturbing that sounds?  I don’t want anyone no matter how ‘well-meaning’ they may be, to have control of something that is inside MY body. Or any other woman’s body for that matter. Because that is ultimately about controlling women, and I’m sorry, but that is just sick.  

     


  • prochoiceferret

    Abortion is not about conservatives pusching to have control of women, abortion is about having control of the life that is growing inside of the woman.

     

    No, actually, abortion is about the woman having control over her own body and life.

     

    Anti-choice advocacy, on the other hand, certainly is about conservatives pushing to have control of women.

  • colleen

      Abortion is not about conservatives pusching to have control of women, abortion is about having control of the life that is growing inside of the woman.

    Let’s be clear. Social conservatives try to ‘control’ the zbef by devaluing, dehumanizing and manipulating the women in whose bodies said said zbef resides. The one constant is the devaluation of the (interchangeable, contemptible and highly disposable) woman or girl. Once the zbef is born he or she isn’t valued one bit. Y’all are quite happy to see the poor living on mile high garbage heaps. Y’all are quite happy to see federal and state budgets that kill low income children and their mothers. It is the devaluation and dehumanization of women and girls that is the one constant in your speech, your politics and your actions.

    If the ‘pro-life’ movement valued children we would not have + or – 150,000 adoptable children in the foster care system at any given time or, for that matter,, a foster care system that is so poorly run and underfunded that it’s dangerous for the children in it. If y’all valued life that is already born the Republican party and the Catholic church would be enthusiastic supporters of a health care system which everyone could access and afford. If the ‘pro-life’ movement cared about unplanned pregnancies their men would be keeping their pants zipped and exercising some restraint. We would not see underfunded schools. What gets you people all excited is the fantasy of controlling and denigrating women. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with “valuing human life” and everything to do with devaluing women.

    Oh, and despite the fact that you folks keep hallucinating 12 week old embryo in tiny costumes singing “Mammy” the fact of the matter is that a 12 week old embryo is not a ‘baby’ and won’t be one for quite a while.

  • forced-birth-rape

    Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP War on Women

    1) Republicans not only want to reduce women’s access to abortion care, they’re actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven’t.

    2) A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain “victims.”

    3) In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)

    4) Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.

    5) In Congress, Republicans have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

    6) Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids’ preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.

    7) And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.

    8) Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.

    9) Congress voted yesterday on a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.

    10) And if that wasn’t enough, Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can’t make this stuff up).

  • seabisquick39

    Jennifer Starr you said:  “to have control of something that is inside MY body. Or any other woman’s body for that matter. Because that is ultimately about controlling women, and I’m sorry, but that is just sick. “

    The choice to have sex comes before the baby.  Women dont all of a sudden wake up and there’s a baby growing inside of them, each one has made a choice knowing that this choice could result in a child.  Abortion is not about controlling a woman’s life.  Women have control of their sex lives. Why are conservatives seen as such bad people for wanting women to carry out these pregnancies? We all make choices that sometimes lead to unwanted results, but that doesnt mean we dont live with our mistakes. 

    My niece Ashly is fifteen years old and is a Sophomore in high school and is a wonderful joy to our family.  My sister was pregnant with her when she was just sixteen years old.  My sister did not plan on having this baby, but a poor choice on her part led to pregnancy.  The father didnt want anything to do with my sister. She could have taken the easy way out and aborted my niece, but she didnt, and now Ashly is on her way to graduate high school and go out a make a positive difference in this world.  I cant imagine my life without her.

  • ahunt

    I cant imagine my life without her.

     

    So what?

     

    Women have control of their sex lives.

     

    This is ignorance…do some research.

     

    Abortion is not about controlling a woman’s life.

     

    Abortion is most certainly about a woman controlling HER life.

     

    Why are conservatives seen as such bad people for wanting women to carry out these pregnancies?

     

    Because what conservatives WANT and what is best for women are clearly two wildly different propositions.

  • jennifer-starr

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but these are the same conservatives who also want to cut off access to contraception so that women will have even less control over their sex lives than you imagine that they supposedly do and have abstinence-only education which tells teens very little about sex beyond “Don’t do it until you’re married”.  All of which leads to more unwanted pregnancies. The same conservatives who fight tooth and nail to get rid of any programs or financial assistance that might help women who do choose to keep their babies. I can’t tell you how heartening  it is to see ‘pro-lifers’ in front of a clinic telling women  “You don’t have to do this, there are programs that can help you,” knowing that later in the day they’ll be at some teaparty gathering foaming at the mouth  to cut these same programs like WIC, Head Start, School Lunch Programs and wanting to change the 14th Amendment to stop the dreaded ‘anchor babies/terror babies’. 

    The same ‘pro-life’ conservatives who often conduct their own sex lives in a manner which would cause even Madonna and Britney to blush. 

    And these are the people whom you think should be in control of something inside my body.  Charming. 

     

     

  • ldan

    So… women who don’t want children, and don’t want to be pregnant, should never have sex…ever? Do you realize how insane that sounds? Women with health conditions that would make a pregnancy dangerous…no sex for them. Married women who don’t want children…no sex. Their husbands will love that. Aborting fetuses that are the result of rape is ok though? Because those women didn’t chose to have sex? Just checking here.

     

    You’re basically saying that women, and only women, are to be punished with consequences for sex. And you don’t see why people might have a problem with you and your ilk determining that the lives of potential people are so important that women should be denied a rather large piece of human experience. You don’t think this sounds like it’s about controlling women’s lives and their sexuality? You don’t think this sounds like telling women that they are obligated to risk health and life for potential people just because some group feels those potential people are more important than women are?

     

    Of course we live with our mistakes. If I get in my car to drive to the store and get into an accident, I’m stuck with the consequences of my injuries. I’m fiscially liable for injuries to others. I am not, however, obligated to be bodily liable. I don’t have to give up a kidney or even blood to someone I’ve injured in that fashion. I’m allowed to seek every remedy I can manage to the effects of that accident on my own health. Why is sex the only activity where people think one should not be allowed to remedy accidents? Where accidents mean the potential obligation to become living life support?

     

    Your transparent efforts to control women and their sexuality make no logical sense. Those of us who aren’t reacting out of fear, shame, disgust, or hatred reject such efforts.

  • freetobe

    and so he gets a free pass to walk away even though he is half responsible for this mess. You see I just don’t get how women on the right see this as fair in any way. At least push for force father hood amendments for goodness sakes!

    Hey not a bad idea a forced father hood amendment. They play they pay. That is what you are saying seabisquick isn’t it? Why should it only be stuck on the women? How else will you ever get men to face their responsiblities if you continually let them walk away?

    Ther is just no justice in this world is there?

  • prochoiceferret

    My niece Ashly is fifteen years old and is a Sophomore in high school and is a wonderful joy to our family.  My sister was pregnant with her when she was just sixteen years old.  My sister did not plan on having this baby, but a poor choice on her part led to pregnancy.  The father didnt want anything to do with my sister. She could have taken the easy way out and aborted my niece, but she didnt, and now Ashly is on her way to graduate high school and go out a make a positive difference in this world.

     

    So the father made a poor choice on his part. He opened his legs, and engaged in promiscuity without regard for the consequences. Then, he decided to take the easy way out, so that he could maintain his lifestyle without the inconvenience of a baby. But hey, he didn’t have an abortion, so it’s all good.

     

    I cant imagine my life without her.

     

    I don’t think you can imagine it without double standards, either.