Anti-choicers rejoiced when Kourtney Kardashian decided to continue her pregnancy last August. The reality-TV starlet cited online anecdotes of post-abortion emotional turmoil as her deciding factor, informally corroborating a medically- and scientifically-unsound “condition” which antis call “Post-Abortion Syndrome” or “Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome.” Here’s a quote from Kourtney to refresh your memory:
“I looked online, and I was sitting on the bed hysterically crying, reading these stories of people who felt so guilty from having an abortion,” she recalls. “I was reading these things of how many people are traumatized by it afterwards.”
I’m guessing that most Abortion Gang passers-through know of so-called PAS or PASS. Many of you likely also realize that countless studies evince its non-existence. So here’s my burning question: If we know that PAS is one big sham (and the APA is right there behind us), how can people like Kourtney Kardashian (and, undoubtedly, thousands of tuned-in pop-culture junkies) so easily gobble it up and make it seem true?
Because it’s not exactly untrue. At least that’s what I’ve come to believe. (Please, antis, do not quote me out of context. I’ll get to you soon).
In our never-ending battle against the forces of anti-choice evil, we inadvertently erase the negative lived experiences of female-bodied people who abort. Well-intentioned feminists clamor about feelings of relief and burdens lifted without proper mention of those “various other” emotional responses which lend superficial credence to the PAS imaginings of anti-choice pseudo-psychiatrists.
I would know. After aborting a pregnancy a couple of years ago, I plummeted into a state of emotional and psychological distress not unlike that which supposedly indicates PAS. While I fear this confession will be grossly misinterpreted by the anti-choice blogosphere, I believe that it’s important to validate the unspoken negative feelings of those who abort. (This is not to say that my experience is universal; however, there’s little doubt in my mind that it will resonate with many readers who’ve aborted).
I suppose the average anti-choice onlooker would’ve gladly diagnosed me with “Post-Abortion Syndrome.” BUT (and this is a big BUT): I’ve never associated the guilt, shame, isolation, anxiety, or depression that I endured in the wake of the procedure with the procedure itself. In my experience, PAS represents a flawed causal model which conflates abortion (the alleged cause) with aggressive anti-abortion sentiment, sexism, and pervasive cultural stigma (the actual cause).
Yes, antis, I blame you and the patriarchy for my post-abortion emotional upheaval.
And I’m fucking tired of the abhorrent anti-choice tendency to co-opt the unique emotions of those who abort in order to justify their eternal crusade to roll back women’s rights.
Okay, so this idea isn’t new. Yet, I rarely run across pieces of writing that expound on (what I consider to be) the true causes of so-called PAS via personal testimony. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever read something like this. (If you know of blog post or article that meets these criteria, please let me know! I’d be interested to read it.)
When I aborted nearly three years ago, it was, indeed, a tremendous relief. I spent several hellish weeks before the procedure groaning in hormonal discomfort as I lumbered around my college campus. By the time I made it to the clinic, I was so miserable that I just wanted it over with and out of me. I had plans. I wanted to finish school. A baby was not an option. And my life-long Republican parents, astonishingly, supported, even encouraged, my decision.
But the stigma lingered. The few friends to whom I disclosed early on wept for me or told me that my “shocking” confession momentarily stopped their hearts. I recoiled each and every time the abortion debate surfaced on my television screen, in my inbox, in the overheard conversations of friends and acquaintances. I’d burst into tears at inappropriate moments for no apparent reason. I felt closeted, alone. Suicide crossed my mind on more than one occasion as I contemplated my “selfish” decision to abort a child. After all, I told myself, my mom and late grandma sacrificed everything for their children.
Consider a sexism-free society in which women aren’t shackled to essentialist notions of motherhood. Consider a society in which women aren’t accosted by screaming antis and gruesome, doctored images of seemingly-mangled fetuses outside of abortion clinics. Consider a society in which “abortion” isn’t a foul and unutterable word. Consider a society in which this safe and legal medical procedure is treated as normal and is readily available—a society in which abortion providers and their families aren’t subjected to threats of violence and heinous acts of murder.
In this society, there would be no such thing as “Post-Abortion Syndrome” (there isn’t now, but you know what I mean). And I’m quite sure that I never would’ve experienced the so-called symptoms that I experienced.
So, yes, antis, I blame you.
(Did I mention that this is my I-Had-an-Abortion World-Wide-Web Coming-Out Party? No? Okay, well now you know. Sorry, Mom and Dad. I realize that the Catholics in the extended family will be utterly ashamed.)