art and text of this poster may not be reproduced in whole or in part without
the express written permission of Feminist Women's Health Center of WA.
magazine asked Rebecca Walker and several other writers what they would say to
a woman if they were the physician required to discuss abortion before her procedure
under the then-new state-mandated 24 hour waiting period following discussion
with a physician in Pennsylvania in 1992.
Because you have
come to this office for an abortion, I trust you have already thought about what
you are doing. So I hope that these words do not sound condescending, but instead
will encourage you to see that your abortion can be a rebellious and empowering
act. It is an act through which you can assert yourself; one which can enable
you to feel more connected to women around the world. Indeed, it is a surgical
operation with a mission.
I hope it does not shock you that I view abortion
positively, but in light of the role it played in my own life, I have no choice.
When I was fourteen I was madly in love with a boy from around the way. He was
my first lover, and we spent many days and nights rolling around my little bedroom,
experimenting and generally having a great time. Even though I was on the Pill,
one month I missed my period and soon found myself at the foot of my mother's
bed telling her I was pregnant. Two weeks later I was in the doctor's office with
my little family. I remember worrying that the white doctor was racist and might
try to sterilize me. When the relatively easy and painless procedure was over,
we went to the movies.
That part is easy. It is what happens after the
abortion that is crucial. I hope that what happened to me after my abortion happens
to you too: that you'll begin to understand what it would mean to have little
or no control of your body and your life. That you'll begin to think, as I did,
of what you would have been prevented from doing had you been forced to have a
child you did not want. That lack of control, that inability to direct and regulate
one's own life, is precisely the experience of many women in this country, and
nine out of ten women in the world. Whether it is because abortion is illegal,
unaffordable or culturally despised, many women suffer through forced childbirth
with no advocate and no relief. When a woman must spend her life raising three,
five, ten or fifteen children, the power to choose is no longer hers.
the months and years that followed my abortion, I have not once felt remorse,
guilt, or even the slightest sense of longing for the child I would have had.
I have not been depressed, nor have I thought myself a murderer. Instead I have
been grateful -- grateful to my mother for paying for and seeing me through the
procedure; grateful to all of the women who fought so hard to make abortion safe,
legal and a woman's right.
Today you will claim that right. My hope is
that after your abortion you will commit some part of your life to making sure
that others are able to claim their own rights. By doing this, you will use your
abortion to connect you with women everywhere. You will connect your very special
personal with the very important political, and you will begin to know your own
Reprinted with permission from Rebecca Walker, copyright 1992.
Rebecca is a writer, activist, and co-founder of Third
Wave, a national multi-cultural organization for young women.
text is copy-write protected.
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address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against
wrong." - Mother Jones
Women's Health Center