A Write-Up of Experiencing Abortion

From the East Bay Express, “Publishers’ Row,” August 1997, by Laura Hagar

A few years back the group Two Nice Girls did a hilarious country twanger about the advantages of being gay called “I Spent My Last Two Dollars on Birth Control and Beer,” in which they point out that “There are certain things that lesbian love just cannot supply/ Like paying for abortions from sperm gone awry.” Millions of heterosexual women, alas, are all too familiar with this experience. Their stories are at the heart of Berkeley writer and editor Eve Kushner’s new book Experiencing Abortion: A Weaving of Women’s Words (Harrington Park Press).

According to Kushner, pro-choice activists minimize the trauma of abortion, while anti-abortion activists refuse to admit that any good can come from a woman’s exercising her right to abort an unwanted pregnancy.

“The reality is that most women feel stuck in the middle and both sides shut them out. Because it’s such a taboo subject, most women don’t have anyone they can talk to about their feelings, and therefore they have no way of exploring them and coming to terms with their decision. A lot of women who are pro-choice feel guilty about having any feelings of grief at all when they have an abortion. They feel like that’s conceding something to the pro-life side and so they feel angry at themselves for having those feelings. What I wanted to do with this book was to help women look at their feelings honestly, to validate those feelings, and to let them know that they’re not the only ones who’ve felt that way. The book also looks at some of the ways that other women have resolved those feelings.”

“I feel that one of the strengths of this book is that it excludes the politics of abortion and focuses on what the actual experience feels like to different women. I don’t want to tell anyone how they should feel about abortion. The book allows people the freedom to have their own feelings and to make up their own minds. In fact, the whole point of this book is to block out the voices that pressure women into feeling one way or another.”

Kushner was unsure how well a book that tried to walk a middle path on the abortion issue was going to do, but it seems to have struck a nerve. The book sold out its first printing.