Abortion Talk Still Taboo?

Putting faces with the procedure makes the political issue personal.

Planned Parenthood estimates that more than one-third of women in the United States will undergo an abortion by age 45. In the words of a friend, "Chances are, we all know someone who's had one." Despite such astounding figures, the topic remains hushed. Personal, political or religious preference make "I had an abortion..." stories rare.

While a woman's right to choose is broadcast loud and clear as a political issue from every mainstream news outlet, a 23-year-old woman's blog recounting her experience having an abortion has been circulating the web anonymously. Other women are stepping boldly into the media spotlight, putting faces, names and personal accounts to the controversy.

In the UK, where abortion talk remains mainly taboo, as in the US, the October issue of British Vogue features a first-person essay by a woman who terminated a pregnancy ten years ago. The Daily Mail newspaper today ran a version of her tale, which she approaches from all angles: how it happened, the decision process with the father, the aftermath, and so on.

On this side of the pond, a book called Abortion & Life (Akashic Books, $16.95) features the stories and photographs of people—of all ages—who have faced the issue at one point in their lives, including one man who broke up with his girlfriend after learning about her decision to have an abortion. The couple went their separate ways but reunited years down the line and are together still. The author, Jennifer Baumgardner, who's contributed to media ranging from Elle magazine to NPR, started a book tour this month. She stops in New York City at the McNally Robinson Booksellers on Tuesday, September 23 before continuing west.

Whether pro-life or pro-choice, learning about the people whose lives and relationships abortion has affected can only be for good.