25-year-old Emily Letts had an abortion.
Unlike most women, she wants everyone to know about it.
As a counselor for an abortion clinic in New Jersey, Emily has been asked repeatedly if she’s had children, if she’s had an abortion. When she found out that she was pregnant, she said, “The moment when a woman looks down and sees those two pink lines and she’s not expecting to see them, it’s like time implodes and explodes simultaneously. You’re caught in this tornado that just sucks out all the breath in your lungs.”
Emily said she knew immediately that she would have an abortion and that the choice was “right for me.” She made the video in hopes that the constant shame and guilt surrounding abortion would be dispelled somewhat with her straightforward presentation of her situation.
“I feel like I talk to women all of the time,” Emily said, “and they’re like, ‘Of course everyone feels bad about this, of course everyone’s gonna feel guilty,’ as if it’s a given on how people should feel about this, that what they’re doing is wrong.”
Abortion is a heated topic for many, and one that elicits an opinion from just about everyone. It is a serious matter, and one that should generate a lot of debate. While it’s obvious that Emily has her own stance on it, she doesn’t move to convince anyone else of her choice. Her message is about doing away with the guilt and shame, it’s about information and taking away the guilt and darkness that resides over the whole issue in order to help everyone—on either side—to see it more clearly.
Agonizing Hot Topic
I believe it is safe to say that most women who choose to get an abortion have agonized for quite some time about it. That it was not easy but, in their mind, the best choice. Women who walk into an abortion clinic have probably spent more time evaluating their life, and their future children's lives, than other women do. That isn’t to say that once she walks out of the clinic, she won’t ever think about the decision or the pregnancy that was previously there. Emily admits she watches her abortion video and has a sonogram picture that she will treasure. Perhaps it is fair to say that when a woman gets an abortion, she has turned definitively one direction at a fork in the road of her journey that will prevent a life from happening. Not that she has killed a fetus, just that she has changed future history, and that it is something she will likely think of, perhaps even often. But maybe, they will decide, like Emily said, “I don’t feel like a bad person. I don’t feel sad. I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby. I can make a life.” There is every hope that, if Emily and other women choose to, they will achieve that in the future.
Emily admits that her choice to not use birth control in the first place was “crazy,” but her situation echoes that of many young women—most especially teens. It is a fact that while teen pregnancy has declined in the last couple of decades, it is still alarmingly high. According to a nationalcampaign.org, 2012 statistics report that there were 29 births per 1,000 teenage girls (ages 15-19) and approximately 305, 388 births to teenage girls. It has been noted that the federal government spent over $9.4 billion in 2010 to support teenage parents. Just last week, an 18-year-old Chicago girl wrapped her baby in a paper bag right after birth and left him outside to die. She was afraid, she said, that the baby would look like the father and upset her current boyfriend. What kind of education was this young girl given about her choices even before having sex?
In an even more serious note, rape statistics for the United States are particularly alarming. Every two minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. 44% of victims are under the age of eighteen. Abortion has become a choice for many of the females who become impregnated during their sexual assault. Truly, the guilt from their horrifying experience is usually compounded by what they have received by walking through an abortion clinic’s doors.
This video is not just about abortion. It is not promoting it, it is not demeaning it. What Emily did, or hoped to do, was to calmly and honestly talk about her experience. Both sides of the abortion debate need to wipe away the cloudiness of angry assertions and stubborn judgments—the facts and true stories are there. Our children deserve to know them.