Back in October, in the final presidential debate, then-Republican nominee Donald Trump had some words about second-trimester abortion, which he disturbingly equated with “ripping babies” out of the mother the day before her due date. It was a universally horrifying moment for women across the nation, revealing just how dangerously ignorant a man so close to the presidency was, where issues concerning our health care and the medical procedures affecting us were concerned.
At any rate, that man is now not only close to the presidency but has assumed it, and incidentally just this weekend, one woman who opened up about her experiences having a second trimester abortion on social media after that final presidential debate in October, did a revealing interview with Buzzfeed.
“This is ending a wanted pregnancy,” Lindsey Paradiso wrote in the Facebook post, before going on to recount her experience. “This is late-term abortion.” Paradiso described how she and her partner had not sought an abortion as a form of “birth control,” but described the critical condition of the fetus:
“She had an inoperable tumor growing into her brain, lungs and heart. She would not have lived to birth. If we had waited past the window of a legal abortion and she died in my womb, I would have had to carry her body (while my body began breaking it down) before being scheduled for a D&C or EXIT procedure (due to the size her tumor would have been). We opted to end the pregnancy early, relieve the suffering that she and our family were experiencing and deliver her through labor fully intact. Because of this decision we were able to hold her and say good-bye.”
The post was a direct response to Trump’s claims that late-term abortion, whether or not the fetus is viable, is tantamount to murdering babies. It was meant to destigmatize the objectively safe, often medically necessary procedure and stand in solidarity with other women who had had the procedure, and were essentially called murderers by the man who is now their president at the debate.
It’s easy to predict how anyone with a functioning human heart would respond to the story, and in the same vein, it’s easy to predict how conservatives reacted to the post. In the eyes of abortion opponents, women aspire to have as many abortions as possible, kill as many babies as possible; they conflate advocacy for women’s human right to have an abortion with the glorification of the procedure, which is plainly inaccurate.
It’s no surprise that Paradiso’s post was portrayed as boastful and attention-seeking the first time around, when one conservative contributed an op-ed entitled “Publicizing your abortion is not ‘brave’ — it’s overcompensating.” Such is an abjectly untrue statement — any act one is compelled to perform out of their conscience despite being fully aware how much backlash, how many death threats they’ll likely receive as a result of it is a brave one. The spite and insensitivity of the op-ed, in itself, proves that opening up about one’s controversial experiences requires an immense degree of bravery.
In the wake of Paradiso’s recent interview with Buzzfeed, it’s disappointing to see similar reactions. Her interview this weekend comes at a time of heightened legislative attacks on access to abortion in states across the nation, and in the interview Paradiso revealed that she’s been active in her support for reproductive rights since her experiences.
“I testified in front of the general assembly in Richmond last week in support of two women’s reproductive rights bill because the best way to affect legislation is to tell personal stories of how that legislation would’ve affected you had it been in place,” Paradiso told Buzzfeed.
Sure, it’s no secret that there’s no shortage of annoying and cringe xoJane-esque confessional pieces obviously written solely for attention (and pay). But let’s stop attacking women who come forward and open up about their experiences with abortion, because seriously, what do they have to gain from doing so in a society that remains so hostile to the idea of their bodily autonomy?
When women open up about their abortions, it’s not to encourage other women to purposefully impregnante themselves and ~~~kill babies~~~ en masse, but to help destigmatize the procedure and offer solidarity to the women who are shamed, guilted, and outright harassed for having made similar decisions. Their stories offer a much-needed reminder to women in general that if ever the need should arise, making a decision to act on one’s bodily autonomy and having the procedure is nothing at all to be ashamed of.
At any rate, claims that Paradiso shared her story solely to receive attention aren’t only baseless, but their own special level of sickening — hers is a story that needs to be told, one that reminds abortion opponents that the procedure isn’t one that any woman wants, but one she often has no other choice but to have. Additionally, Paradiso’s activism and work with the NARAL reflect a genuine desire to help women and promote reproductive rights.
Women like Paradiso deserve not scorn but gratitude. Frankly, they do more for destigmatizing the procedure and supporting women than any lawmaker ever could.