Title: The Choices We Made: Twenty-five Women and Men Speak Out About Abortion
Author: edited by Angela Bonavoglia
Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows;
Gives human face to painful decisions about abortion
Demonstrates lengths to which people will go to obtain abortsions
Allows people to explain in their own words why they wanted abortions
Twenty-five essays from people facing abortion
Includes experiences during eras when abortion has been legal and illegal
Describes difficult and painful decisions people have had to work through
Understanding abortion requires understanding why women decide to have abortions and how their choices affect their lives, both at the time and for years afterwards. To that end, Angela Bonavoglia has edited an important book which contains twenty-five essays from different people who have had to face the hard decision about abortion explaining why they faced it, how they faced and how they lived with the consequences. Containing stories which occurred between the 1920s and the 1980s, they illustrate that the need to have an abortion consistently overcomes legal and social barriers designed to prevent them despite the risks to the women themselves.
Such books are rare because stories such as these are not often told. Most of the pieces are from women who faced the decision about abortion before the procedure was legal. This provides an important human dimension to what society might be like if abortion were once again criminalized.
Among the contributors is Margot Kidder, who underwent an illegal abortion in a motel room performed with a can of Lysol. Whoopi Goldberg performed an abortion on herself with a coat hanger in a park when she was just 14 years old.
Why would women go to such extremes, risking their lives and their fertility with such actions? Anne Archer, who went to Mexico to get an abortion, sums up the feelings shared by many of the others when she writes:
- I had that abortion because I viewed having a child at that time as an end to my life. All of my hopes and dreams for myself would have had to be put aside. I had planned and worked hard all my life to be an actress. While I loved my boyfriend, I certainly didnt feel ready to make the major decision that his was the boy with whom I should spend the rest of my life. And I know that I certainly wasnt emotionally ready to give full-time attention and nurturing to a young child that each and every one so rightly deserves.
A number of stories also come from experiences after abortion became legal however, this does not eliminate the problems and difficulties. A legal abortion might be safer from a health standpoint, but there new questions opened up: how do women deal with unequal access for the poor and the young? How do women fulfill their emotional and spiritual needs when considering abortion? As Reverend Christine Grimbol explains:
- Life for a Christian is more than breathing in and out. Until people have a home in which to raise their children, the safety and security of whatever they need to do that well, then abortion needs to be a choice. Clearly, giving a woman the right to abortion is a compassionate stand, and anytime compassion rules over judgment, we see the kingdom of God.
These stories, often difficult and always personal, illuminate an vital aspect of the abortion debate in the United States. Although it has its philosophical, political and religious aspects, we must never forget that it affects real women women who must be forced to live with the consequences of their actions. It is fitting, then, that those actions be the results of their own choices. The choice to have an abortion is not easy to live with, but it can be easier than never having a choice at all.