Poems About Abortion

13 Jun

We often talk about abortion as political, as personal, as an act that can be very private and yet paraded out in public. If I had endless time (and perhaps a few grants!), one thing I would do is analyze how poems about abortion (and there have been poems about abortion since at least the 15th century) are in conversation with our cultural and political discourse about abortion. For now, instead, I will provide you with a collection of poems about abortion for your reading pleasure. These poems are often not explicitly pro-choice or anti-choice  and confront individual experiences with and reflections on abortion (trigger warning: some may be graphic, emotional, etc). If I forgot your favorite, please let me know! More links are always appreciated.

The Abortion, by Anne Sexton
Christmas Carols, by Margaret Atwood
The Country Midwife: A Day, by Ai
The Egg, by Louise Gluck
This Version of Love, by Dorothy Hewett
The Lost Baby Poem, by Lucille Clifton
Ballad of the Brown Girl, by Alice Walker
The Mother, by Gwendolyn Brooks
Brass Furnace Going Out: Song After an Abortion, by Diane DiPrima
Country Woman Elegy, by Margaret Gibson
Right to Life, by Marge Piercy
The Sabbath of Mutual Respect, by Marge Piercy
An Abortion, by Frank O’Hara
Her Three Unborn Baby Boys, by Menke Katz
Motherhood, by Georgia Douglas Johnson

Other poems about abortion that I couldn’t find online:
The Abortion, by Liz Lochhead
Chriseaster, by Molly Peacock
The Wound, by Louise Gluck
Natalie, by Elisavietta Ritchie
The Truth About Karen, by Kenneth Carroll
Ten Years Ago, by Ellen Moeller
For My Neverborn, by Nancy Shiffrin

3 Responses to “Poems About Abortion”

  1. Holly June 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    How interesting, and thanks for all the links. This isn’t a poem, but it is poetic: a 2-minute play about abortion: http://hld6.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/a-woman-and-her-doctor/

  2. Gordon Cash July 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    I wrote this poem after reading “This Common Secret” by Dr. Susan Wicklund, a Montana abortion provider. I sent it to her, and her office director asked my permission to post it in the clinic, which I of course gave. I hope they did so. It is not available on-line because I have never tried to publish it. If you know of a magazine that might be interested, please let me know.

    “And Still They Come (for Dr. Sue)”

    by Gordon Cash

    You scream your bullhorn lies, intimidate,
    Harass, respect no law of man. You speak
    Of scalpels, sutures, and sterility,
    Dismemberment, death by regret, all lies,
    And bear false witness with each one against
    Your neighbors – us, and all who come to us
    With hope of better days. And still they come.
    The patients come, each seeking her own truth.

    You rattle war, the war we never made,
    Your made-up war you say we wage against
    Your made-up victims, conscious and aware
    In your hallucinations. You make war
    On us, ignore or call collateral
    The pain and blood of woman-damage left
    In all your battles’ wakes. And still they come.
    The patients come, each seeking her own peace.

    You preach of death, and call us murderers
    Of quarter-size, translucent, formless disks.
    Idolaters of blind, unfeeling cells,
    You count for nothing those already born,
    Their hopes, fears, agonies, their very selves,
    For nothing all the morgue-slab failures of
    Your fevered dogma dreams. And still they come.
    The patients come, each seeking her own life.

  3. Gordon Cash July 10, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Another link:

    “For tow women shot to death in Brookline, Massachusetts”
    by Marge Piercy
    http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/1995summer/piercypo.php

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