Many in the media and in Hollywood regularly promote positive abortion stories from women who say they have no regrets. But, at the same time, they overlook the stories of women who are haunted by their abortions and women who survived abortions. They forget the lost stories of unborn baby girls – stories left untold because they were cut short by abortion.
The latest burst of positive abortion storytelling came on Aug. 22, when singer and musician Amanda Palmer released a video featuring conversations with three women in Canada about their abortions. Their stories all had one thing in common: They claimed that abortion improved their lives. The video came as part of a new series that Palmer advertised on Twitter, where she has one million followers. She’s no stranger to the topic, having had three abortions herself.
In 2019, she created a song and music video based on her experience with abortion called “Voicemail for Jill.”
“As someone who has been pregnant and terrified, and also as someone who’s been pregnant and ambivalent, and as someone who has been pregnant and insanely happy, and I’ve had all three of those experiences — you’re human and you go through a very special kind of wringer,” she told Refinery29 at the time.
Now, she wanted other women to talk about abortion, her “favorite traumatic topic of all time!” Palmer met with these three women in Toronto, where she was performing in 2019. Two years later, she publicly shared their conversations.
Lish was 20 when she discovered she was pregnant.
The abortion took “only a few minutes” and afterward she sat “with five or six other young women who had done the same thing.” While the “grief and guilt was palpable,” she said that “the next day I honestly just got on with my life.”
Her life, she claimed, only got better from there.
“Since then, I met and married my husband. I moved to a new city, I got sober, I make art every day, and most importantly, I realized I never want kids,” she concluded. “I'm very glad I didn't allow anyone else’s opinion to make that decision for me because I wouldn't be where I am today.”
Next came Nicole, who said she was 22 when she got pregnant.
“I had just moved to a new city with an abusive boyfriend, away from my friends and family,” she remembered.
She agreed that abortion improved her life.
“After, I felt so calm and suddenly I wasn't sick anymore,” she said. “I didn't feel nauseous, I just felt myself. And I just wanted to go home and play video games and eat ice cream.”
The abortion even became “motivation for me to leave my abusive relationship,” she said.
“I was like, ‘I don't want this life anymore,’” she added. “Now my life's way better.”
“I have a lovely boyfriend,” she described. “We live with our two cats. I am a sex educator through a feminist sex shop. I feel empowered. I can identify as a feminist again. And I'm starting a Master's degree in counseling.”
Lindsay, the third woman who spoke with Palmer, said she was “ready to have it terminated” as soon as she knew she was pregnant.
“I just think it's important to remember there's people that need abortions for very serious medical things, for trauma or for the death of themselves or the potential fetus,” she stressed. “There's also people that just have them because that's their choice, and I think I represent that.”
While she was in a “super loving, committed relationship” and “we just bought a house,” it “just still wasn't the right time,” she said.
“Absolutely could have done it,” she admitted. “It doesn't mean I have to.”
She said her abortion immediately made a positive difference.
“I can't believe how much better I felt the next day,” she said. “I just didn't feel like myself, I was in pain every day. It was an awful experience for me.”
Today, she said, she’s still thankful for it.
“I have the life I have because I was able to access an abortion,” she said. “I'm so grateful because the trajectory my life went on after that was directly related to the freedom I had in my life from making that decision.”
Now, she talks about her abortion regularly and tries to help other women get abortions.
“I've had at least a handful of people reach out and say, ‘I remember you mentioned this. Can I call you?’” she described. “I said, ‘Yes, come. I'll tell you what it's like. If you need an accompaniment, if you need someone to lie and say you're at my house for the night, whatever needs to be done.’”
Palmer applauded her for the “amazing service that you are doing for society.”
“I've had people who've done it for me,” the singer said of people who helped her get an abortion. “And I've been, now, on the opposite side of the fence and it feels incredibly good to reach over and bring people along” to abortion.
But her words forget the women filled with regret. The women who have survived attempted abortions – and the women who have not. They are real too.