Healing the Trauma of Abortion Politics.

abortion politics Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to address a group of college students on the topic of abortion and emotions. It was a panel discussion, hosted by the student group Sacred Sex Salon at Naropa University. Before I took the floor, a representative from Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, my favorite clinic (yes, I have a favorite abortion clinic. It’s been an interesting life…) spoke on the history of reproductive rights in the United States. Aside from the excitement of learning all sorts of new facts, I noticed myself fill with a fieriness somewhere along the edges of pride, power, angst, and fury in recalling what women and men have undergone to bring us to where we are, and also at how far we still have to go. My chest puffed out as it was mentioned that Colorado was the first state to legalize abortion and that same ball of energy dropped deep into the pit of my stomach as we reviewed today’s abortion situation in Texas.

Though I have presented many times on the topic of emotions and abortion, I had never followed this type of political discussion. I was infinitely grateful that I had, because it allowed me to articulate, perhaps like never before, what the full experience of abortion can be like in our country.

The experience of having an abortion and the experience of doing so in the context of our culture today are so intricately interwoven that when a woman undergoes this procedure, she is holding our collective consciousness in her bones. She is not only rehabilitating her womb from its contractions and purging, but also from politics, from aggression, from the conflicting wishes of those around her. Her blood may change, pushing through it a sense of isolation she has never before experienced. Though one in three women will share her experience, she may feel like she is the only one in the infinite universe who chose what she chose and feels how she feels.

The woman who has an emotionally taxing abortion is not just reconciling her own intimate experience within herself—that relationship she has had to her pregnancy—but she is often forced to reconcile relationships outside of herself. With her partner, her family, her community, her culture. She may be left with the decision to keep a secret from those she is close to or risk losing them forever. The shame she may feel in having “made a mistake” may keep her from sharing with even her most supportive friends. She may feel like she doesn’t deserve support, even though unplanned pregnancy is one of the most common of all human experiences. Even though, if she is like most of the strong and beautiful women I have worked with, she made her decision out of love (either to best support the children she already has or out of her desire to not only provide a future child with birth, but with a flourishing life).

It’s our time to invite the stories—as told by the women under the paper sheets—into our conversations, our media, and our hearts.

It’s time to tell women that there is enough space for their right to choice and their right to their unique experiences, as messy and unexpected as it may be. We need to start saying out loud that sometimes good decisions are really, really hard, and that hard emotions are welcome in our world. That they deserve to be heard, in all their pain and wisdom, without judgment or moral analysis.

That silence is traumatic, and we won’t take part in it any longer.

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Rachael Uris, MA, LPC is the owner of Atacama Counseling, LLC, offering sex therapy as well as individual and couple's counseling for issues surrounding sexuality, love, and pregnancy. All services are located in downtown Boulder, Colorado, and are provided in English and Spanish.
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