Abortion & the Prison Nurse


A Lesson About Abortion from the Prison Nurse

When I went to prison in Hawaii for possession of $10 of an opiate I attended every educational activity, class, guest speaker event–whatever. I wanted to make the most out of my time. I achieved the goal of learning an entirely new mindset when I heard the prison nurse talk about why she was against abortion.

    “It’s bad for the woman,” said Nurse Abigail of WCCC (Pronounced double u triple c for Women’s Community Correctional Center).  Abby had been at WCCC something like forever. She had seen political appointees come and go over the years. Wardens changed but Abby did not, and neither did the situations of the very many women she had seen.

    “The pro-choice people don’t tell the whole story. Many women don’t get over the abortion. The guilt haunts them. That guilt keeps them on the drugs the send them back here the majority of their adult lives.”

  What a revelation of thinking! Without even knowing I had done it, I had bought into the argument that pro-choice was the only way to be pro-woman. As a lifelong unwanted child I had always felt insulted by abortion advocates, as if they were saying I had no business being born. I always felt guilty about what I assumed was a de facto anti-woman stance. As if women and babies are naturally adversarial. For some reason I always identified with the unwanted baby and my identity did not evolve as I grew out of being an unwanted baby to “switch loyalties” to women.    

  However, I had misgivings about taking my place on either side of the divide. I felt like a pro-life traitor to my fellow women. What’s more, when I looked at my ideological religious right peers, I was very uncomfortable with the people sitting beside me, so to speak.  If I showed up at a Bible belt church would they roll out the red carpet for a half black X-Hooker and convicted felon who embraced gay people, opposed capital punishment, and spent two years teaching 8th graders that sexual abstinence was one choice among several? Kind of ignorantly presumptuous of me to assume they’d reject me, and similarly narrow-minded to assume there were only two sides:

pro-choice/pro-woman/anti-baby

OR

pro-life/pro-baby/anti-woman

    Today I quite often believe in pro-informed choice. Maybe people don’t want to give anti-abortion zealots ammunition by mentioning the associated trauma of abortion but women should know that terminating pregnancy does not end the issues. Maybe abortion is the best choice in a group of horrendous options and perhaps as a society we need that option. But women are still plagued by the idea that if they didn’t kill their babies, they killed their future babies. And women suffer for it. There’s always been a deafening silence from people who say they care about women yet say nothing to, or about, women in the traumatic aftermath of abortion.

Don’t worry about the slant of these comments bc soon I will talk about how pro-life people use avoidant silence rather than a honestly face the ramifications of their ideologies in practice

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