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Category Archives: Prolisten

An Interview with Emily Robinson

 A little over a week ago, I got to sit down with 15 year old, Emily Robinson, who may have a small addiction to whip cream, cinnamon, and music. Emily will be a sophomore in high school in the Fall, and never misses an opportunity to go on an adventure. Dressed in a To Write Love On Her Arms tank top, a Warped Tour hat, and skinny jeans, Emily sat down to answer some questions from AbortionChat.

How do you identify (ProChoice, ProLife, ProVoice, etc)? Why?

I’m ProChoice because I believe that women should have control over their own bodies and have the option to have an abortion. The option should be available to those that need/want it.

Are your friends sexually active? How do you feel about this?

Yes, my friends are sexually active. I’m okay with it I guess, but I hope they practice safe sex and have a general idea of what to do if they get pregnant (or, in the case that it’s one of my male friends, if they get a girl pregnant.)

You said, “I hope they practice safe sex and have a general idea of what to do if they get pregnant” have you ever had these types of conversations with them? Would you be willing to?

I have (kinda?) had these conversations with my friends. Really, only with one. But he wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. One time, he told me that he didn’t use a condom and that he had pulled out. After asking him what he would have done if the girl got pregnant, he brushed the conversation off and refused to believe that she could have gotten pregnant. Which, thankfully, she didn’t.
But I’m willing to have these conversations. My friends, however, seem to be hesitant and are not entirely willing.

Do you know what consent is (how to convey it, how to ask for it, etc)?

Yes. Well…I like to think that I do. The easiest way to ask for consent is to just throw the question out there, “Do you want it?”

Do you feel like there is a correlation to unhealthy relationships, body image, and mental health? If so, can you explain?

Yes. Based on my personal experiences, I believe there is. A few years ago (and even in the present day) I wasn’t exactly in the best place. Honestly, I wasn’t emotionally stable. I was far from it, actually. My body image was bad and my mental health was even worse. I had no self esteem. As one of those got worse, every one slowly did the same thing. At the same time, when things started getting better, they all got better at the same time; and they still are.

If you were to find out you were pregnant today, what would your reaction be?

Surprised. If anything, afraid. I’m not sexually active, but in the case that I was and got pregnant, I would feel trapped. What would my friends think? Not that it matters, but what would my other peers and teachers think? What about my mother? Sister? Friends parents? Other people in my life? What would they say?
I’ve heard people my age talk about girls that get pregnant. The things they say are terrible. In high school, (not necessarily my high school, thank God), if a girl is pregnant she’s ridiculed and called a whore, slut, etc. and everyone talks about how she’s stupid for not practicing safe sex. Even if she did and something went wrong, people still ridicule her.
So, if I was pregnant, I would be afraid. I would go to an abortion clinic as soon as possible. If it started to show, I would stay home. Everyone is so judgmental, it’s sickening.

What do you think your family’s reaction would be?

My family would disown me and I would be sent to an abortion clinic, no ifs, ands, or buts.

What would you do if the state of Maine implemented a parental consent law? Would this affect your decision?

If Maine had a parental consent law, it wouldn’t affect my decision. My mother would make me go to a clinic, and I would probably choose to go to a clinic, too.

You said “I’d be sent to an abortion clinic, no ifs, ands, or buts,” but also eluded to the fact you’d willingly go. Do you think pressure would cause you to seek out an abortion? Would you consider carrying out the pregnancy at all? (Basically I’m curious to see if this is YOUR decision or how much influence those around you would have on this decision.)

I think I would seek an abortion either way. There is no way I could carry out a pregnancy. Mostly because I couldn’t afford a child and because I am unfit to be a mother. I refuse to bring a child into this world if it’s not going to have a good life with a good mother that’s fit to be one. Carrying out a pregnancy is not a possibility.

What about if you found out your best friend was pregnant?

I would be afraid for her. If my male best friend got a girl pregnant, I would be afraid for him, too. Neither of their parents would let a newborn into the house. Either way, I would be surprised and afraid but I would be there to support them no matter what.How would you support them?
To support my pregnant friend, I would be there emotionally and I would give them everything I could. And I would try to help them through every decision they made.

What is the sexual education program like at your school? How do you feel it could be improved?

I haven’t taken health at my high school yet, but my sister has. In the elementary and middle schools it wasn’t very good. It was vague and repetitive. For the four years I took the class (4th, 5th, 6th and 8th grade), it brushed over the same things: male arousal, condoms/preventative methods (only covered condoms), menstrual cycles, puberty, abstinence, and in 8th grade a very brief lesson on STDs. That’s it.
I found that most of the time the people teaching this stuff couldn’t answer my questions, so everything I know about this stuff I learned online. These classes never covered female arousal, pregnancy (and what happens), birth control, and other things. The world of sex is so much more than what they’re teaching.
But I hear the class is much better in high school. They apparently cover that stuff more; maybe because people are sexually active in high school. Who knows? But I hear you have to watch a birthing video?

Do you feel comfortable coming to your family with questions about sexuality? Why or why not?

No. Not with my mom, at least. She blows everything out of proportion and doesn’t take me seriously, anyway. My sister, however, is a different story. I can talk about sex and stuff with her…to a certain extent.

How do you feel about the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the buffer zone in Massachusetts?

I’m pretty pissed. Yes, it helps the picketers get their point across, but what about the women trying to enter the clinic? The people standing there yelling and holding up those awful signs make the decision that much harder.
Plus, there’s not enough room on the sidewalks to get in (as Lynne said about Portland) and to be completely honest I feel like it’s not safe.
Are they even thinking about both sides of the situation?

Do you have twitter? What was your response to the #YesAllWomen hashtag?

Personally, I thought it was great. A lot of women got their point across. It helped raise awareness. Along with that, it put the spotlight on people that were abusing the tag.
On Instagram @basically_juno posted a picture of her in jeans and a thick strapped tank top that said, “A woman’s place is in the house and the senate.” Under that, a 14 year old boy commented, “Maybe if you didn’t wear slutty clothes u wouldn’t get raped, dumb, fat feminist, #malemasterrace.” It’s disgusting. She’d never met this boy in her life. The #YesAllWomen hashtag exposes that kind of stuff. I love it.
Other tweets:
“@TrapHouseCj: ur upset bc u got raped??? people’s children get kidnapped & murdered everyday and ur crying bc u had sex???k”
“Funny, the thing men fear most about going to jail is the thing women fear most about walking down the sidewalk #YesAllWomen” ~No credit, a lot of people tweeted that.

Do you have an experience you’d like to share?

A boy that had a crush on me for two years ran by and slapped my butt when I was reaching for something in my backpack one day during lunch. Apparently he thought he deserved it because he waited for so long. After that, he continued to hit on me for about two months. I’m pretty sure he hit on a few girls after that, too.

At another point in time, I was standing with my friend and a guy came up to us. He said, “You guys have tits buy yourself lunch,” and threw money at us and walked away.

Another time, at a concert I went to, a guy slowly creeped his hands around my waist. At the time, I went along with it. I craved affection. He started saying that he wanted to kiss me (after not even an hour). I had feelings for him for a little while after that. Looking back, it was actually creepy. He was a mutual friend of a girl I knew for four years, but until that day I had no idea he existed.
He just recently stopped flirting with me (on Wednesday), when I told him I wasn’t interested.At work, an older guy (like 40/50/60, he had gray hair) was reported for saying sexual things to girls and being creepy.

Once, I was standing in the back room and I was checking off a checklist of stuff I had to do. I was in his way, so I apologized and moved. His response? “You can stand in my way any time.” That is NOT okay. My coordinator took me off my register once this week to talk to me about it and she was horrified. She’s like a mother to me and she’s being so protective about this.

And then earlier in the school year, a kid (he’s gonna be a senior this year) started talking to me after jazz band rehearsal one day. He talked to me for awhile and at one point he said that he had had sex with another girl and the entire time he was picturing me. He asked me to hang out once or twice…And he also asked me if I masturbated. After awhile we stopped talking. Now, he pretends I don’t exist.

What is your reaction to the word(s), “slut” “whore” etc?

They make my stomach churn. They ALWAYS refer to a woman. If a female decides to engage in a lot of sexual activity with multiple partners, she is labeled as a slut, whereas if a man does that, he is congratulated and put on a pedestal for everyone to look up to. He’s seen as being “more of a man.” It’s sickening. Most derogatory terms like that, “slut, whore, pussy, cunt,” are all FEMALE BASED.
The male side of things, for the most part, is on the “better side of things.” Once again, females are the “weaker sex” and males are the “better” one. Which is why I love the “Like a Girl” campaign.

Any last minute thoughts/things you’d like to share?

a while ago a kid started messaging one of my friends. He started pressuring him and tried forcing him to masturbate over Skype and eventually it escalated to the point that the kid freaked out. He told me that he thought he had an anxiety attack, but I’m not sure. The kid had never talked to my friend before, but he tried using the “no one has to know” line.
I just thought that it was sick and disgusting. It’s probably not relevant though?

Men and Abortion

I have a lot of conversations with people on their feelings of abortion. Even at the ProLife rally we’d attended, there was a pamphlet asking about men and abortion. Yet, many people don’t go back and ask, “How did YOU feel when your significant other had an abortion?”

I think this is an important piece of the story. Where was your partner? How did he react to the pregnancy? For many men, they become just as shaken up as their partner who is pregnant.

I’ve met men who called their girlfriend a murderer after she’d had an abortion. I’ve met men who held their girlfriend’s hand in the waiting room and escorted them out. I’ve known men who’ve bailed on their partner. I’ve known men who supported the pregnancy and are now proud fathers. I’ve also known men who find out in the aftermath that their significant other was pregnant and sought an abortion. His response? “I wasn’t mad or upset that she’d had an abortion. I was upset by the fact that I wasn’t involved. I wasn’t allowed to support her. I wasn’t involved in the decision. I would have wanted to be.” This happened to this man not once, but twice.

Here at AbortionChat, we encourage healthy conversations. We encourage having a Pregnancy Plan and being prepared for if your test turns positive. We also encourage you to sit down with your partner and ask, “What are WE doing to do if WE get pregnant?”

After you do that, let us know. We want to share your story here.

AWP, WGS, SEWSA, and Grant Opportunity

It has been an incredible last couple of weeks. As many of you know, Alex and I (Lynne) adventured to Seattle for AWP 2014 with our AbortionChat table. We met TONS of men and women of varying shapes, sizes, colors, etc. It was amazing. We asked incredibly personal questions (what kind of birth control do you use? What would you and your partner do if you got pregnant? And plenty more). We gave out brochures and cards. We took pictures which you can see on our Twitter account or our Facebook account. It was a great four days. We met people who shared stories about having three abortions, and not regretting a single one. We met people who didn’t know if they were prochoice or prolife. We met men whose partner’s had an abortion without telling them. It. Was. Great. And we can’t wait for more submissions. (Thank you for those of you who have submitted. I promise we’re going through them!)

Alex at our table!

After we returned home, him to Florida, and me to Maine, we recovered from Jet Lag (yes, capital letters) and I was invited by a member of the ACLU to participate in a Reproductive Justice Panel for the WGS Conference in Maine! There I got to talk about abortion, crisis pregnancy centers, the lovely people who send us death threats, etc. I met some incredible people there. I also met some very brave men and women there.

I was clearly very involved in what I was saying :)

Next up on our list is heading to Wilmington,  North Carolina for SEWSA which just announced their panel line up. Allie and I will be hosting one, discussing writing my memoir, The Right to Live: A Christian Girl’s Struggle through Abortion, Losing Her Home, Job, and Mind, and Recovery as well as how AbortionChat got started. We would love to see you there.

In the meantime, in case you haven’t heard, The Abortion Conversation Project is now open to submissions for grant opportunities. They are the ones who granted us the ability to go to New Jersey for the Sex Ed Conference, as well as host our table at AWP. They are a wonderful organization, and if you know a project or other organization, please submit a proposal to them. The deadline is April 1, 2014 so move fast!

In the meantime, we are still accepting submissions and we’d love to share your stories. Keep up the good work. Remember to use contraceptives, communicate with your partner, and change the world.

 

 

 

 

I’ve Never Told Anyone by Angie Boudreau

The following blog post is a mix of emails AbortionChat received and was given permission to share from Ms. Angie Boudreau. Until now, she has never shared her story with anyone. The reason she told AbortionChat we could share? 
I am willing to share my story if it would help even just one person.”

So thank you, Angie, for sharing this personal story with us and with the other members of the AbortionChat community. This is her story in her own words: 


Thank you for taking the time to read this. I have no idea where to start. Until last year I never told anyone about the abuse I endured as a child and into my teen years. I finally decided to seek therapy, and have shared a lot with her over the past year, but not about my abortion. Why? It’s not shame, or guilt, or even anger. I can’t explain what it is. Thinking about it is something I have tried to avoid as much as possible. For years I had refused to let myself believe I actually went through it to begin with.

See when I was 15 I was attacked by 4 older guys. I knew one of them as a friend’s older brother. The other 3 guys wore ski masks and I don’t think I knew them. Honestly there isn’t much I remember. However I do remember the moment I woke up naked, bruised head to toe, and with an ache I just can’t put into words. I was alone. I think I must have passed out a few times because by the time I managed to move, and get myself dressed.. it was night. I called my Grandfather (my Parents were out of town for the weekend looking at houses). My Grandfather came to pick me up, and took me to the hospital. I had a bad concussion, broken collarbone, and multiple fractures in my face. The ride to the hospital seemed very long, and we didn’t say a word. My Grandfather is a very quiet man. He never did ask questions as to what had happened.

At the hospital they checked me out, and said I had to stay for observation. A very friendly nurse with bright red hair came into my room. I remember her so well. I believe she was a nurse, and not a doctor. My memories are very broken as to the events that day. I do remember how soft spoken she was. She was trying to get me to talk about what had happened. I would only tell them I fell down the stairs. I always stuck with that story. Up until this point in my life I had always been abused by a Great Aunt and Uncle. They threatened me, and I felt like it was something I deserved, and to me it was normal. I didn’t know anything else. After 2 days in the hospital they sent me home. I stayed with my Grandparents for a couple of weeks. That wasn’t out of the norm. I stayed with them quite a bit. I was very close with my Grandmother.

Some time passed, and I wasn’t feeling so great. I was always sleeping, and always sick it seemed. My Grandparents took such good care of me. They didn’t give me a hard time about missing school, and they didn’t pressure me to go back home. Although they never said anything I have a feeling they knew things weren’t the best at home. It wasn’t long before my Grandmother figured I was pregnant. She didn’t even tell me at the time. She told one of her brother’s. Then one day he picked me up, and took me to the doctor’s. Everything had been arranged for me by my Grandmother. Once they talked to me and I found out what was happening I freaked. I tried to leave, and I tried to talk to them. They wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say. I had already drank a glass of water when I first arrived there (it was a very hot day out). Something must have been in that glass because it didn’t take long for me to start feeling very weak, and I just wanted to lie down. I felt as though I couldn’t move or talk. I felt like I was screaming inside, but nobody could hear me. I woke up sometime after and eventually my Uncle took my back to my Grandparents. It was never discussed. I never mentioned it to my Grandparents.

Then when my Grandmother became ill a few years later she had written me a letter explaining why she did what she did. She didn’t want my life to be ruined. She said nothing good could have come out of bringing a child into this world under such circumstances. She apologized as well.

To this day the only regret I have is having that abortion. I am now unable to have children due to scaring, and complications from the abortion. Then again I can’t get close to men so I probably wouldn’t be able to have kids anyway.

I am not against abortion! please don’t misunderstand. I am for women’s rights. Everyone is different, and every situation is different. Women should have a choice what to do with their body. It is HER body after all. Even though I wish I had gotten to keep the baby (I ache for a baby), I know at the time it was the right decision made for me.

I apologize this turned out to be so long. I don’t know where it all came from. If you are still reading… thank you for listening, and giving me an outlet to get this out.
Angie grew up in a small town in Eastern Canada. She was an only child with 2 very busy parents who she rarely saw. She lived there until the end of Grade 9. That’s when everything fell apart for her. Eventually she moved to Toronto, and have been there ever since. She am now 37, still single, have a few really great friends, she is happy with her job, and does a lot of volunteer work for numerous organizations. That was until this past year when memories became triggered, and the nightmare started all over again.

If you’re reading this and have any questions for Angie, she can be reached through AbortionChat’s email (abortionchat at gmail dot com) or through her twitter account: @TherapyAfterCSA

Stories that Stay

On our twitter feed today, someone posted this video. Because we love sharing stories, this is now our today’s post:

Irrational Fears Before Obtaining An Abortion

Walking into an abortion clinic is hard for most women. For many, it’s because of the unknown, the risks we’ve all read about, and the backlash from the anti-choice community. But outside of those factors, many women walk in with irrational fears that add to their stress level. So if you are considering having an abortion, here is a small list of things you SHOULD NOT be worrying about before your procedure:

*Pubic Hair
With the rise of the pornography industry, there has been a lot of stress on pubic hair and whether or not women should have it. This, by far, should be the LEAST of your worries. Going under the “It’s your body, it’s your choice” mentality, that does not just apply to an abortion, it applies to your hair, too. The people servicing you will be doctors. They will be men and/or women who have seen over a hundred vaginas in their day. Yours is your own. Feel comfortable (or as comfortable as you can) with it.

*Male Doctors
This is harder said than done. There are many wonderful woman doctors, and when I sought my abortion, I was hoping to have a female doctor. My heart nearly fell out of my mouth when a male walked in and asked how I was. But the reality is this: a doctor is a doctor. They are trained professionals.There are awesome female doctors, and there are awesome male doctors.

*Your Friends and Family
If you’re obtaining an abortion, chances are you’ve told at least one other person, and I hope they were supportive. Right now, support is the one thing you need. If you’re worried Aunt Sally or Uncle Joe will judge your decision, stop worrying. It’s your decision to make. You don’t ever have to tell them if you don’t want to. Right now, you need to focus on yourself and your body. Surround yourself with supportive people. Call the Pro-Voice hotline. Call anywhere that will make you feel better.

*Work
Work is work. While it’s nice to have a job, as previously stated, you need to focus on yourself and your body. If you need to take a personal day before/after the abortion, do so. Right now, getting through the day may be a priority. It’s okay to work, it’s okay to work the day after your abortion, and it’s okay to not work the day after your abortion. What do you want to do?

*Protesters
This one isn’t quite an irrational fear because protesters do exist, and they can be mean. The nice thing is that many times there are escorts for the clinics where protesters are just a little too close for comfort. Otherwise, it’s always recommended that you bring a friend, your significant other, whomever else with you. I had protesters yell at me as I walked in, but I also had a friend with me who put her arm around my shoulders and said not to listen. That made all the difference. I know it’s difficult, but try not to let them stress you out more than you already are.

*Crying
CRYING IS TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE.
I didn’t know this when I underwent my abortion. I didn’t realize this during my first appointment, and I didn’t realize it until I stumbled out and knocked over a box of tissues. It is okay to cry. It is also okay to not cry. It is okay for you to react however you want or need to react, but please, allow yourself to react. Allowing yourself to process things is the first step in taking care of yourself.

While this is only a small list, we welcome  your comments, questions, and even anything else you would like to add to the list.

Remember, priority one is to take care of yourself, be you ProChoice, AntiChoice, Religious, Cis, Trans, Boy, Girl or Atheist (or any variation in-between).

Abortion in High School, An Interview

I had an interview with high school student, “A”, today. Her friend obtained an abortion last summer. Here is “A”‘s side of the story:

Something to always keep in mind
Q: How old are you?
A: 17.
Q: How old was your friend when she sought an abortion?
A: At the time she was 16.
Q: Did she tell you she was pregnant, or that she had an abortion?
A: She didn’t tell me she was pregnant, she just told me through the summer that she was having a really rough time and she couldn’t wait to see me. When I finally saw her, she told me all about it.
Q: How did she tell you?
A: We were having a heart to heart, we were talking about summer. She got a little quiet, not really shy, but she said she had something to tell me. Then she told me not to judge her. Then she told me. It was shocking to me.
Q: What was your reaction?
A: I was shocked. I was kind of heartbroken for her because she told me she’d had a terrible summer, and I thought it couldn’t have been that bad. I was just like, really surprised that something like that could happen to one of my best friends in the whole wide world.
Q: How did she handle her abortion?
A: It happened in the summer, so she had a lot of time to think about it. She went to her mom’s and told her mom. She had a therapist for a little bit. She tried her best to contain her emotions, it was one of those decisions she didn’t make for herself. She was sad. Really, really, sad. I feel like she handled it like any other person would. She was generally upset about it. She was drugged by her significant other at the time, but she insisted it wasn’t rape, and then she got pregnant. She knew she had sex, but she didn’t remember it. She thought they used a condom, but they didn’t.
Q: Did she tell her parents?
A: She told her mom first, and then her dad. Her mom insisted abortion was the only option.
Q: Did she tell her significant other?
A: Yes, and he like too many males out there just kind of fled from it. They couldn’t press charges because she didn’t say it was rape. The age of consent is 16, I think he was either 19 or 20.
Q: Why did she decide to have an abortion?
A: Because she knew she was way too young to be a mother, she wasn’t ready, it was either this baby for the rest of her life, or she goes and tries to live a teenage life. She really just wanted to be a normal teenager. She knew if she had the baby it wouldn’t happen. She was scared, she knew the significant other wasn’t going to stick around. It was one of those “I’m going to hurt this child if I have it. If I have it, it won’t have a good life.”
Q: Do you feel like she was pressured into her decision?
A: No. Not at all. She was not going to have this kid. She wants to have kids when she’s old enough and ready, but at that time she just wasn’t.
Q: Do you support her decision?
A: I definitely support her decision because I know it’s the best for her right now, even if she gets sad about it. I know she thinks about it every day, but I think it’s best for her. If she’d gone through with having a child, she wouldn’t have been happy.
Q: Did any member of the school district know about her abortion? Do you think they should have?
A: Yes, a few of her teachers knew about it. I think her mom sent an email. Definitely her counselors knew about it. I think some people should have known in case she broke down in class so there was someone to go to. It’s not one of those easy quick fixes. It’s been over a year since her abortion, and we’ve had countless conversations about it. She just needs to be supported.
Q: What were the hardships surrounding your friend and her abortion?
A: Oh, man. Seeing little kids, and interacting with small children. She told me a story, one of her teachers
Photo Credit:
Allie Rosnato

has a kid with curly blond hair and blue eyes, and she thought her child could have looked like that and asked, “What kind of monster am I?” Her relationship with her mother was definitely tested. She really liked this guy, but she pushed him away because he was the cause of all this.

Q: What do you feel were the important aspects of supporting your friend?
A: Texting, that was an important thing. Communication, talking to her, asking her how she felt today. I think the most important thing was having her be able to talk about it. A lot of the time people try to sweep it under the rug, I think it’s something that needs to be talked about because it did happen. She told me she doesn’t talk about it with her mom, and I think I was that person she went to to talk about it and her feelings.
Q: Is she okay now?
A: Yes, I mean, there’s going to be that one little part that will always, always see a kid and feel that guilt, and that pain, and that sorrow, but I know for a fact she’s going to be okay. I know when she has kids someday and she’ll know she made the right decision because she’ll give that child the life it deserves.
Q: What is your sexual education curriculum like at your school?
A: Um…well…we have a freshmen year health course, but it’s not really that technical.
Q: Do you feel like this is sufficient?
A: Not at all. I mean, I honestly think we should have this course our junior or senior year. I feel like only 2% is sexually active freshmen year and as you get older it’s more relevant in your life. Freshmen year it’s kind of a joke, and you don’t really care about what’s going on. Freshmen are immature and you can’t take it seriously. When you’re older, it’ll matter to you.
Q: Do you know how to operate a condom?
A: Yes.
Q: Are you a virgin? If no, when did you lose your virginity?
A: No, and April 2013.
Q: What would you do if you were to get pregnant now?
A: Um, well, I’d probably do the same thing as my friend just because I have the same opinions as she does.
Q: Have you told your partner this?
A: Yes, and they agree.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: I think that people need to be smarter. If you don’t want kids, do everything in your power to not. Use a condom. Get birth control. Use Plan B if you need to. It’s fun to have fun, but I can’t stress it enough: BE SAFE.
Also, Relationships take two people, and when it ends up one sided, things go wrong. It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself in to.

Forming an Opinion by Jeremy Allen

We got a lot of Honks for Choice

Until recently I’d intentionally veered clear of the abortion debate due to the extremeness of demonstrations on either side of the confrontational topic. What most caught my attention in the past were those infuriating images of dead fetus’ that so-called “ProLife” demonstrators held outside of Planned Parenthood clinics.

Between these and the Christian terrorists, I’d conceded that such a topic wasn’t worth fighting over. I hadn’t even considered the legitimacy of the arguments, and believed that as a man, it isn’t my place to get involved. This, and the highly discouraging language of my parents (they didn’t want to talk about abortion practices) prevented me from forming a solid opinion.

Today, my view point has changed. After attending one such demonstration and speaking with people close to me about their abortion experiences it seems simple and rational understanding that every situation is different, and in instances of rape, incest, or when a to-be mother is unfit or incapable of caring for a child, abortion should most definitely be allowed, without question.

If a woman can, with a clear conscience, abort her own fetus, perhaps she isn’t prepared to raise a child yet, anyway. Now I don’t suppose myself to be highly knowledgeable on the subject, but it seems that the person who understands their situation best is the individual choosing.

Under a few circumstances this line of reasoning could certainly be challenged, however nothing can justify the guilt inculcated by protesters screaming, “Child killer.”

Regardless of my viewpoint, change is thick in the air, and the war rages on.

Jeremy Allen is a graduate of Green Mountain College and a part time hippie. He studied business, and enjoys social activism, as well as making tea. He’s one of those people who thinks, long and hard, before he opens his mouth.

In his spare time, he can be found wandering around Maine, trying to start conversations with people.

Why I Value Life by Laura Karr

My heart breaks when I hear stories of abortions. It breaks for the precious life that was ended before it ever was given a chance to behold the wonders of this Earth. It breaks for the mother who, through whatever circumstances she must have endured – whether painful or selfish, has chosen to end a life. It breaks for a world whose heart has become so hardened that it feels nothing when it hears these stories.

The 3 “Plus Signs” that changed my life

When I was in high school, I was a very judgmental person. It was not until I grew much older and wiser that I realized that I have no justification for judging others – as I myself am far from perfect. I remember a conversation I had with my best friend one day on the way to a track meet. We were sitting in the back of the bus having our normal conversations about life, boys, running – all the things that were important to us then – when she told me how she read that if you were to get pregnant, you could make yourself abort the baby by using a coat hanger. I was appalled by this suggestion and I told her, in my most judgmental and vindictive voice, that I could never forgive her if she had an abortion. Today, I am still a little horrified. I am horrified that a woman would ever have to feel so desperate that she would risk her very life to end a pregnancy in such a dangerous way. Most of all, though, I am ashamed and discouraged by the arrogance and foolishness that led me to believe that forgiveness was mine to give or withhold.

Today, I believe myself to be a very open-minded and inquisitive individual. When I say I have an open mind, understand this: My mind is not easily changed. Rather, it is like a room with wide open doors. The doors are left open so that ideas can flow into them freely, easily heard and seriously considered. The doors remain open so that ideas that pass serious inspection may remain but ideas that do not carry their own weight with the tests I put them up against can be rejected. When I say that I am open minded, I am not saying that I am easily swayed, but instead, that I am willing to hear the stories, thoughts, ideas, and beliefs of others and give them serious consideration. Because of this, I have, over the past few years, been privileged to be part of many educational conversations with friends and family who pose clear opposition to my own beliefs.

In one such conversation, I was told that until I could imagine a situation in which I

A love letter filled with grace, love and peace – where I gather wisdom

would choose to have an abortion, I could never understand why another woman might. At this moment in time, I cannot imagine a situation where that would be my choice. That being said: I have never been raped. I have never been a victim of incest. I have never been alone and pregnant – scared, depressed, anxious and without anybody to turn to. I have never been carrying a child with a congenital disease that might cause them to die in the womb or, possibly even worse yet, after living a short but very painful life outside the womb. I have never been faced with the possibility of my own death if I were to proceed with a pregnancy, whether through physical complications or emotional ones. I have never faced anything but joyful anticipation of the precious life I was carrying. I do not know what makes a woman choose an abortion. I do not know the pain she may feel before and/or after her decision. I do not know anything about her or her choice. I cannot judge her for the decision she will make.

I value life – all life. I value the life of every woman who has ever stared at that powerful piece of plastic that can change the whole world with a simple plus sign. I value her life whether she has stared at it with joy or with fear, dread, or anger. She is no less important than the child that she is carrying. She is also no more important than the child she is carrying. I value the unborn child.

After carrying three precious lives into this world, I can honestly say that I believe that what is inside a pregnant woman is not a simple “lump of cells,” but a child. Some may say that I am biased in my opinion because I allowed those cells to form into the precious children I hold in my arms. They may be right – but more likely, they are wrong. Each of my children has proven to be very different – both since their birth and during their development before birth. One child would roll, one would kick, and the first one hardly did much of anything at all unless I prompted her by pushing on one side or the other of my belly. They haven’t changed much since then. My son is a wild child – kicking, climbing, and tackling life however he sees fit. My second daughter can hardly sit still, wallowing around the room – on the couch, off the couch, on the chair, back to the floor – whenever we sit down to watch a movie. But my first child – she could sit for what seems like forever just observing clouds or flowers. From long before they took their first breath on their own, I knew them. They were somebody then, and they are somebody now.

I have spent much time thinking about a situation where I might choose an abortion – and I can only come up with one. That one situation is this: I would have to give up faith in my God. This is not because I believe that if I chose an abortion He would turn His back on me. No, it is quite the opposite. In fact, were I to ever choose an abortion, it would have to be because I turned my back on Him. In my faith, I believe that there is nothing too big for my God to handle and there is nothing set in stone that He cannot change. I value life, because my God values life – all life. He values our lives so much that He would die for us, and forgive us for everything we have done. When I said it is not my place to judge or to forgive, that is because I have finally learned that I cannot even touch the extent to which God loves Life. There are those who would claim that they are acting in the name of God when they attack abortion clinics. They are liars. Every life is valuable.

As to the fight for “Women’s Rights” – I do not know what the solution is. I want to live in a world without abortions, but I do not want to live in a world where, out of desperation, women are dying from botched attempts at abortions in their own homes or illegal, back-alley clinics. I do not know what will solve this problem.

Raising our children to scream, “Murderer” in the faces of those who would support abortions will not solve this problem. Maybe the best way to find a solution would be to stop all of the screaming, to sit down as women and start supporting each other. We should be helping each other through the difficult times – through the fears, the anxieties. We should be listening to each other’s stories with open minds. I have been told before, “if you don’t support abortions, then just don’t get one.” While that seems like a valid point, think of it like this: If people had stood by with that same mentality during the years of slavery, there never would have been the abolition. You would not stand by and watch an infant be brutalized, so if you are asking “pro-lifers” to back off and do nothing about abortion – because we believe with all our hearts that a “fetus” is a child – you are asking us to do just that. Often, though, I do not agree with the approaches taken by those who oppose abortion. We become so focused on the life of that child, that we forget how precious the life of its mother is as well. We must find a way to support each other so that abortion, while still a choice (because whether it is legal or illegal, it has always been and always will be an option) is the last option that a woman would ever need to consider.

Laura Karr is the mother of three amazing children. She is an aspiring poet with dreams of writing a novel but has taken a brief hiatus in order to write silly songs and crazy bedtime stories. She considers this to be a time of research as she re-examines life through the eyes of a child, but with the complex understanding of an adult.

She intends to spend the next few years of her life remembering her dreams and working towards them, but putting most of her focus on raising brilliant and loving children who will make a positive impact on their world.