Texas Senator Wendy Davis literally standing up for reproductive choice.

wendy davisI heard over the Twitter that Texas Senator Wendy Davis needs more material for the heroic filibuster she’s undertaken today in an effort to kill a really, really bad anti-choice bill that otherwise stands to be passed by the Texas state legislature, so I edited my now-thrice posted story of my own abortion. Following you can read what I sent – I hope it helps, but I really wish I could just go and stand in her place for a few minutes. I’m so grateful for what she’s doing – she’s absolutely an American hero.

She has to make it until midnight tonight, a little less than three hours from now – if you have a story you’d like to send, you can send it to Jessica Luther who is in Austin and will pass it on: luther [dot] jessica [at] gmail. (If you don’t live in Texas, just don’t mention your locale).

I’ve had an abortion. Have you?

The current legislative effort to essentially eliminate abortion in the state of Texas has generated a great deal of raucous argument; as usual, the argument suggests the existence of clear-cut opinion, the “supporting” or “opposing” of the act itself.

What is never discussed are the gray areas.

Of course, women within the reach of this story know their own answer to my question; what many of the men in their lives don’t realize is that they would be surprised by the truth.

Many men don’t know that their wives, sisters or mothers have, in fact, terminated a pregnancy. They don’t know because the women they love fear their response. Will he see me differently? Will he — figuratively or literally — kill me? Witness how shocking it was when Wyoming State Representative Sue Wallis, a Republican, disclosed her own abortion in 2011.

As a result of these fears we – as a nation and as individuals – largely don’t talk about abortion. And when we do, we’re often not honest. The shadow of perceived opinion is very long. Publicly we speak as if there were two clear positions — but in private, most of us know this isn’t the truth.

My abortion is a thing of which I’m neither ashamed nor proud. I wish that I hadn’t had to do it, but I did.

The average person might want to know why — because most of us have a sliding scale of morality. Even some staunch opponents will agree in cases of rape; others where there is genetic defect; a larger number, if the abortion takes place early in the first trimester; many, of course, think it’s always a woman’s choice.

I believe there is a vast middle ground made up of most Americans, those who feel abortion is neither irredeemably evil, nor free of moral implication. Witness polls conducted recently by the Pew Research Center: just over half of Americans think that abortions should be legal in all or most cases; 25% are willing to countenance the idea in very specific instances. Only 16% want to ban abortion outright.

At least some of our national ambivalence reflects more about our culture than anything endemically human: Japanese society, for instance, maintains a standard ritual, mizuko kuyo, to memorialize aborted or miscarried fetuses and stillborn babies. In a paper discussing the rite, Dr. Dennis Klass, a Webster University psychology of religion professor and a grief expert, writes: “The abortion experience is seen as a necessary sorrow tinged with grief, regret and fear which forces parents to apologize to the fetus and, thus, connect the fetus to the family.”

This describes my own experience well — but I’m an American. I carry a different culture, and I fear that in apologizing, I accept some notion of personhood that somehow “makes” the entire thing — murder. So, I hesitate.

I ask myself: When I aborted my first pregnancy, did I kill a baby? No. But did I stop the potential for life? Absolutely. Insofar as life itself is simultaneously the most mundane and most divine fact on our planet, this means something.

But I’m willing to say that I don’t know what that something is. I can only function in the cold reality of my own world — and as such, I alone can judge whether my abortion was a moral choice. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t happy, but it was the least-bad of two bad choices. It was moral.

I don’t know anyone for whom abortion is easy; I don’t know anyone (any woman, at least) who sees abortion as birth control. These choices are stunningly complex. When we deny that, when we talk as if we are all 100 percent clear on this issue, we deny our humanity. And we deny our grief.

And why, in the end, did I have my abortion? I’m not going to tell you that—as Rep. Wallis said in 2011, it’s “none of your damned business.” You and I don’t know each other, and my reasons are personal. I don’t need to defend them.

And neither does your neighbor, the stranger at work — nor, perhaps, your wife.



  1. She’s still going. The rules say her filibuster can be shut down if the president of the senate calls three points of order against her, specifically if she drifts off-topic. (No readin’ from the phone book down here!). At that point, there will be a vote and the Republicans will vote to end it and move on to a vote. The GOPers have managed to get two points of order, and are scrambling to get one more. The opposition is being led by Dan Patrick, a senator from the western burbs of Houston who had a failed career as a teevee sportcaster, and now is — wait for it — a conservative talk radio host.

    I confess I didn’t know anything about Wendy Davis until the last few days, but whether the filibuster succeeds or not, she has a great future as a leader of the Texas Dems, though.

    • You & me both, and I have a feeling you’re right – but man, I hope she manages to make this work.

  2. Snoring Dog Studio

     /  June 25, 2013

    I’m at the point where my opinion is that we need to stop talking about what was killed, because something, something human, was killed. The parsing of what it was is ridiculous. But no one goes gleefully into that decision. It’s a hideous place to find oneself. I want men and women to mind their own business on this topic. I want this country to start ensuring a better life for the living babies and adolescents. I truly am sick of the religious right, and whoever else foists their religion on others, interfering with people’s lives. Texas is heading down the great greased slide into the middle ages.

    • This – a whole lot of this. -> I want this country to start ensuring a better life for the living babies and adolescents. <- That – a whole lot of that.

  3. dave in texas

     /  June 25, 2013

    Right now, Senator Donna Campbell, a doctor and Tea Party favorite (I know, that seems like a contradiction in terms, but this is Texas, after all), is seriously going for the third strike on a point of order that wants to say bringing up last session’s sonogram bill isn’t germane to this bill, despite the fact that of couse it’s germane, because this bill simply adds another layer of difficulty beyond the sonogram bill to a woman simply excercising her constitutional right.

    • I was wondering what was taking so long… oh good lord, if they manage to stop her, I may weep.

      • dave in texas

         /  June 25, 2013

        Well, Senator Campbell’s bullshit point of order held up, g*ddammit. Austin’s senator, Kirk Watson is trying parliamentary maneuvers to try and reverse it, but I’m not holding my breath.

  4. This just stuns me: Sen Leticia Van de Putte came back to the Senate from her own father’s funeral in order to support the filibuster.

    • Now Kirk Watson is quoting the acting Senate President chapter and verse from the Texas Senate Rulebook. The GOPers are huddling over this one.

      • It kills me whenever they kill the mic for these huddles. I feel like something terrible is happening.

        Also, I love these people who are killing time as slowwwwwly as they can. Bless them, bless them.

        • Sen Leticia Van de Putte: “At what point does a female senator have to raise her hand or raise her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues in the room?”

          • dave in texas

             /  June 25, 2013

            Democracy by steamroller. Makes ya proud, don’t it. :/

            • I can’t tell what happened. After midnight passed, they called the senators up to the front because of the noise and it looked like another roll call vote.

              • dave in texas

                 /  June 25, 2013

                Evidently, there’s some confusion about whether or not they got the required vote completed on time. Hell, I’m here in the belly of the beast, and nobody here is sure what the hell is going on either.

            • From the AP:

              The Republican-controlled House [sic., Senate] voted for the bill while hundreds of protesters screamed from the gallery. Reporters and Democrats saw the voting begin after midnight, but Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said it began just before.

              That’s just who they are..

              • It looks like they’re going to reconvene or something? Dammit I have to go to sleep, & they’re voting down there on my & my daughter’s humanity.

                • I don’t think they can reconvene unless the governor calls another special session.

                • dave in texas

                   /  June 26, 2013

                  As of 6:30 am, the Texas Tribune is reprting that the bill failed. Which is only a temporary setback to the anti-choicers. The governor is certain to call another special session, and this time, the Republicans won’t be so stupid as to try and rush this thing through at the last minute.

                  • I read this morning that, in spite of having said the vote was legit at the time, Dewhurst reversed himself around 3 a.m. and acknowledged that it was after the clock expired. That’s about the right timing for him to have thought about how this is playing out in the public. They’ll be back.

                  • dave in texas

                     /  June 26, 2013

                    The lite guv is blaming this whole mess on the “unruly mob” in the gallery. But yeah, they’ll absolutely be back. This whole clown car episode has absolutely nothing to do with anything except Republican primaries. There are Teahadists to be appeased, and the surest way to do that is to be seen sticking a big fat finger in the eye of Democrats. I expect another special session to be called any second now.

  5. Snoring Dog Studio

     /  June 26, 2013

    SUCCESS! What an amazing woman.

  6. Neocortex

     /  June 26, 2013

    Since nobody has mentioned them yet in this comment thread, I also want to give major props to the 10,000 or so protesters who showed up against this bill, to the protesters who risked arrest and screamed for 10-15 minutes straight to run out the clock when it looked like all the procedural stuff was going to end. They, as much as anyone there other than Davis herself, stopped this thing.

    To make the same joke that a zillion people made last night on Twitter, it looks like women’s and trans-masculine people’s bodies really DO have a a way of shutting that whole thing down sometimes.

    Davis is a total badass. Her office was firebombed last year, but she’s still out there doing her thing. And she’s a former teen mother too.

    • Ah, but they got mentioned in the next thread! Absolutely – huge, huge props to all who were present and literally made their voices heard. It was absolutely thrilling to witness. (And you’re absolutely right that they brought it home in the last 15 minutes. It was out of this world).

    • Tweeted out your comment, because you’re absolutely right.

    • Aaaand added an update to the Big Damn Hero post! Because you’re absoLUTEly right.

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