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Reproductive Rights

Hello, I am inquiring for advice and help on getting along with family after an abortion. Are there any good books on the subject? Planned Parenthood did not indicate there would be such discord. Their instructions are to inform one close friend. The woman's father was informed, but instead of supporting this woman, he said nothing to her and she didn't know anything was wrong, until years later, except for the dead silence. It turned out he betrayed the woman and told her siblings who in turn have told their husbands and even cousins and their siblings know. She is the only person all these people know who have had an abortion. This entire family has turned against her, even though this happened 15 years ago. She has been the only one not invited to events, such as the birth of her sibling's babies. There is a dead silence whenever she speaks. They act like she is strange and say things are bizarre or odd when she is around, or when she talks about anything. They don't look at her, and give her the cold shoulder. They make jokes about her all the time constantly at family get-togethers which she is spending less and less time at. This is a good-looking family, but they have such high opinions of themselves they think they are superior because she has this dark skeleton in her past. One time an acquaintance asked the family why no one talks to her. It is hard to believe this is happening in 1999. I thought we were done with the days women were shunned.

The worst thing the family does is make constant, fast sarcastic, bitingly cruel comments about abortion in a metaphorical way. They use symbolism and double meanings to point out she is inferior because she had an abortion. Double meanings, i.e., "did you hear about the endangered harp seal?" with a tone of voice meaning they are relating it to a baby being slaughtered. Or wearing a t-shirt that has a double meaning. Or suddenly taking a vacuum cleaner out of the closet in a loud noticeable way and vacuuming a perfectly clean rug making the point nothing had to be vacuumed. Clanging items when she is around, to show disagreement/hate towards her. Talking about ovens being at the wrong temperature to cook meat, in an mean voice while not looking at her. Pointing out tiny objects, such as hummingbirds, and saying "did you see that" without looking at her eyes, as if she can't see small things, etc. etc . etc. They act so odd it would be a miracle if she can take any man home to see her family.

Has anything like this happened before? What is your suggestion for handling this? Is there any hope for a reconciliation? They are so cold and distant and confident of themselves that it looks impossible. Are there any books about women who have had family problems after abortion and how they dealt with it? The reason I have written this here is because I admire Gloria and advocate feminist issues and thought someone older and experienced could help me with this family conflict over abortion. I would appreciate any online assistance or literature, as there is much pain and suffering as a result of family members responses to abortion. I would welcome replies from anyone who can help. I hesitate to go to the church about this issue, but is that recommended? Thanks so much.


Thanks for your note --and for being such a good friend to your friend. Though it is certainly not funny, I couldn't help but laugh as you described the extremes this family is going to--the vacuum cleaner, the oven, the insults. I know that she must know this, but she should try to not let their immaturity get in the way of her sincerity. Also, I just want to say that it is very unlikley that this woman is "the only one they know of who has had an abortion." It is just that she is the only woman who they can point to. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one of them has had an abortion. An estimated 1.37 million have abortions each each--surely they must know someone else, it's just that they don't know that they know someone else.

Besides ignoring their immaturity, which doesn't seem like a very reasonable response either, she could try to "fight back" with facts--for instance, that in fact they are the minority not her, etc... But she probably just wants to help herself right now. There are a few books: The Choices We Made, edited by Angela Bonavoglia, which is personal stories of famous women who have had abortions, and some entries include the family's reaction. There are two other books on abortions--one is more of a step by step guide, The Abortion Resource Handbook, K. Kaufmann; Paperback. There is also one that was put out by Simon & Schuster written by two women and I can't remember the title, but you might be able to find it in your bookstore.

I had the opposite reaction to your friend. I had an abortion and almost 1/2 of my friends have admittedly had abortions--I'm sure others have but don't talk about it. All of us are supportive to each other, because we respect that we made the best decision we could at that time.

I hope your friend is okay.


Amy

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