Despite perhaps realizing it on some subconscious level, it took my own pregnancy to accept that I was in a controlling and unhealthy relationship. My boyfriend had eroded my self-worth and confidence so much that I didn’t have the courage to tell myself the truth about the relationship. But that pregnancy forced me to bear it all. Having a child connects you to your father for the rest of your life, and this link gives him control over that child in a way you can’t predict or prevent. For a few days after I left the hospital, I could only see the red flags I had been ignoring, including a tragic incident that I was so ashamed of that I hid. Unlike Juno, I didn’t have a loving, nerdy best friend as a father, and unlike him, I didn’t want to go through the parenting or lengthy adoption process with him.
Despite the embarrassment I felt about my circumstances, I had an abortion. I had a miscarriage despite a high school friend writing “baby killer” on my Facebook wall. I had an abortion despite feeling so conflicted because of my Catholic education and confused about how this choice could turn me into a bad person. I had a miscarriage without a supportive partner or community. I wasn’t Juno: I had a miscarriage.
At the time, I was scared and lonely and confused. I certainly didn’t recognize the privilege that I had. The clinic was two miles from my childhood home. The process was cheap. The staff was kind and professional. Abortion was legal and safe and regulated. And I left after three months for my four years of college.
The story of my abortion, and what happened after it, is the kind of story that makes the job of political strategists very difficult. As an expert on political data, my job is to put people in boxes. Are you a young person who has an electric vehicle that you drive in an urban area? You’re probably a Democrat, and I’m sure you care about climate change. Are you white, male and the owner of a pickup truck that hits country roads? Then you probably have a Donald Trump bumper sticker on that truck, and you’re probably not happy with rising gas prices. We can also use the most sophisticated data to find unique cross-sections of voters, those hard-to-reach boxes, such as Republicans who are pro-Gun Control, or Democrats who don’t believe in denigrating the police. . This is how my world works.
The problem with these boxes is that most people are actually far more complex than they appear in the data. Abortion polls are notoriously inconsistent and vary wildly depending on how the questions are asked., Most people hold a complex set of beliefs and ideologies across a spectrum, and I’m afraid we can’t stress this complexity out loud in general, but on abortion in particular, How has the abortion debate become increasingly partisan in recent years?, If you’re a Republican, you appear to be anti-abortion in polls and in favor of fewer exceptions to abortion restrictions than Democrats. If you’re a Democrat, you’re probably in favor of more exceptions to abortion rights and abortion restrictions. If you, like many Americans, fall into a very broad gray space, we may see you in some of the more nuanced surveys, but we are likely not to have more specific knowledge of your views.
Republicans talk as if abortion is something only Democrats want and go through. not in my house. Not in my church. Not in my community. Statistics show that at least 600,000 people have abortions annually. Figures vary and only account for legal abortion. But some of the nation’s reddest states – say struggles to even elect Democrats to public office – still see significant numbers of abortions, despite very few clinics operating in these states. In 2019, here were the number of abortions from the redest states in the US: 2,922 in Utah, more than 1,100 in North Dakota, 2,963 in Arkansas and 6,009 in Alabama. The faces and stories behind these abortions might surprise us. they should not.
In addition to statistics on who gets the abortion, there is also agreement between the two parties on who should have the abortion. According to Pew, 61 percent of voters Believe that abortion should be legal in some or all cases. Only 8 percent of voters believe abortion should be illegal in all cases. Given these numbers, it should appear that Democrats and Republicans alike in red states and blue states should work to decide what restrictions and exceptions should be; A law that bans nearly all abortions is unlikely to align with popular opinion, no matter how red the state is.
In the community I’ve been a part of, I don’t see people coming forward to share their personal stories with abortion. And why would they? It’s clearly not safe to have an abortion—and saying it out loud isn’t particularly safe.
If we don’t allow people access to this context about their lives and subtle feelings on abortion, if we don’t see people step out of these boxes in a real way, Republicans can take the issue of abortion access meaningfully. How can I join? If we can’t even talk about it, how can we legislate on it? If you really don’t think you know someone who has had a miscarriage, how can you be sympathetic?
In the years since my miscarriage, I have never felt safe to tell this story. To be honest, I still don’t. I know there are many more people with stories like mine who haven’t had the privilege to speak. I hope we make it safe for them to do this because yes, this is happening in your house. Yes, this is happening in your church. Yes, this is happening in your community.
Perhaps you will sympathize with me as I step outside this box. Perhaps you should also consider whether your own box is serving you and those around you. I am a married, white woman who lives in the suburbs, I have worked for several Republicans, and I believe in access to safe, legal abortion.