Friday, September 14, 2018


Written by: Mindy Woerter

It’s been two years since my abortion. So much has changed. I’ve moved from a place where I thought of my experience as “like an abortion” to accepting it and claiming it as a part of my experience as a woman and a mother, woven into the tapestry of me. I have moved beyond the raw grief and the questioning to a place of acceptance. I’ve lived my life in ways big and small, the biggest being welcoming our rainbow baby into our family. She’s healed our hearts in many ways and made our family complete. 

While it was painful for me to decide to have an abortion, it was in actuality an easy decision. My baby’s condition was fatal, and my health was at risk if I continued the pregnancy. I knew I was making the right decision for myself. The hard part was the grieving, a process only exacerbated by the political climate. Because abortion has become so political, having one is practically treated like a political statement. 

I was desperate to reach out to other moms in my area to find support, but the topic of abortion is a taboo topic in my Facebook mom groups. In similar communities for pregnancy loss or pregnancy after loss, members debate whether or not women who terminate for medical reasons are welcome, or if we should be treated like baby killers. In these groups, women talk about the most intimate details of their lives as mothers, but won’t talk about something that 1 in 4 women will experience by age 45 -- and more than half of those women are mothers.

It makes me angry and exhausted to live this politicized existence, and to try and explain what it’s like to people who haven’t also lived it. Quite frankly, it’s led to some behaviors I once considered somewhat antisocial. No more biting my tongue in political debates with family -- now I tell them they’re wrong. I quickly unfriended the new neighbor, so nice and polite in person, after they posted anti-abortion rhetoric on their Facebook page. Before, when the topic came up in my Facebook feed, I used to share my sad story, hoping to convince the person on the other end that my abortion was moral and hopefully by extension that any abortion could be moral and maybe women who have them aren’t so bad after all. But now? I just say, “I’ve had an abortion. Are you gonna call me a murderer?” and wait for the response that usually doesn’t come. 

I’m done being okay with agreeing to disagree, with the polite “I get you have your beliefs” crap. The stakes are too high. We have too much to lose. Abortion rights are being threatened in ways we haven’t seen since it became legal. And while I may feel sadness at losing my second daughter and having to make the choice to end the pregnancy, these days the emotion I feel is usually anger. I’m angry that our administration cares so little for women and their families. I’m angry when I think about my daughters inheriting a world where they may have fewer rights than I have had. I’m angry when politicians talk about punishing women who have abortions, because they are talking about me -- and because punishment for the basic human right to decide what happens to your own body seems realer now than in decades.

Donald Trump promised to nominate a Supreme Court justice who would end Roe v. Wade, and now we have his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a judge with a history of anti-abortion rulings. If he’s confirmed, the rights of women and girls in this country will be in serious jeopardy.

My senator, Susan Collins of Maine, has the power to save the rights and lives of women. She’s one of two key votes in his confirmation, a pro-choice Republican who could keep Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court if she votes to oppose his appointment.

I’ve admired Senator Collins for a long time, and I’ve actually met her twice. The first time, I was a college student interning at my local newspaper, covering the christening of a new Navy ship. As the group of reporters crowded around her, I stood in the back, silently taking notes and feeling like I didn’t quite belong. I was too nervous to speak, even after she looked at me and asked encouragingly, “Are there any more questions?” I’ve seen firsthand how she’s tried, even in small ways, to lift up women.

The second time, about six years later, was in Washington, D.C. I had just started a new job working for a nonprofit affordable housing developer and joined a group of colleagues urging her to support funding for new housing for people in need. I remember she was particularly eager to talk with the young daughter of one of the attendees, asking her about her interests and posing for a picture. It was clear she cares about supporting girls and women.

I’ll get to meet her for the third time when I join a group of advocates to share our stories and urge her to reject Kavanaugh’s nomination. Brett Kavanaugh will never understand what life feels like for women -- to have your body politicized, objectified and presented for others’ approval; to be undervalued and underrepresented; to be treated like you don’t matter. But, especially given her long history in male-dominated politics, Susan Collins should know what this feels like all too well. I hope my story, and the stories of so many other women like me, reminds her that this topic is ultimately not about politics, but real people.

Senator Collins — you once gave me an opportunity to speak up and I didn’t take it. But I’m ready now. I hope you’re still willing to listen.

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