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Wed Jan 30, 2013, 02:55 AM

Pro-choice on Amtrak: The time I told a group of anti-choice teenagers about my abortion

The recording on my iPhone begins with ten seconds of ambient mechanical noise: the sound of an Amtrak train crossing the Potomac River, as heard from an empty, rattling vestibule between two of its cars. Then comes the click-whoosh of a door opening to one of those cars, and the rising voices of excited teenagers, arranging their luggage and settling into the seats they have just claimed. Twenty-one seconds in, very close to the microphone, there is an audible swallow. At forty-four seconds, one voice rises over the chatter: “Excuse me, please…?”

That is my voice (and my swallow). The other voices are those of fifty-five Catholic high-school students from Louisiana and their chaperones beginning their trip home from the 2013 “March for Life” in Washington. I am standing in the middle of their reserved car. I am about to tell them that I had an abortion, and I am about to tell them why.

I was one of them once. A Catholic-school kid, that is—never a marcher against abortion rights. I’d made up my mind that I was pro-choice by middle school, around the time they were forcing us all to watch the then-new, now-debunked anti-choice propaganda film The Silent Scream. I could never get past the terrible trap that an unwanted pregnancy must seem to be to the person enduring it. I spent a lot of time, back then, thinking about imprisonment and escape.


“I had an abortion when I was eighteen. I had been an abused child; I had just gotten out of a place where I often went to school with two black eyes. And that abortion saved my life—”

My voice started to shake with adrenaline and nerves.

“—in the sense that I was able to take it back and become successful the way I am today. The rest of my family’s lives are still very poor, and very tough, and I love them dearly but I wish that they had had more options for themselves.”

Around now, an adult man with gray hair and black clothes strode up to me, asking “Who are you. Who are you?” The kids, for their part, were mostly silent, mostly listening—quite a bit more polite than they are when swarming the annual counterprotest at the Supreme Court, but here they only had me outnumbered fifty to one, so maybe that was the difference. I ignored the man, and kept speaking to the kids.

“I want you to think as you grow up and into adulthood about putting this passion that you have for this cause into making healthcare available for everybody; into making, for example, executions illegal if you are pro-life. Think about the inequities that force women to say say, ‘I want this pregnancy but I cannot raise a child.’”

full: http://feministing.com/2013/01/29/pro-choice-on-amtrak-i-told-a-group-of-anti-choice-teenagers-about-my-abortion/

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Reply Pro-choice on Amtrak: The time I told a group of anti-choice teenagers about my abortion (Original post)
alp227 Jan 2013 OP
Warpy Jan 2013 #1
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #2
TalkingDog Jan 2013 #4
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #5
TalkingDog Jan 2013 #6
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #10
hunter Jan 2013 #7
Warpy Jan 2013 #9
Laelth Jan 2013 #3
Jack Hinson Jan 2013 #8

Response to alp227 (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:30 AM

1. If they were Catholic school kids, they were ordered to that protest

and they were closely watched on the trip and there would be hell to pay when they got home if any of them let it slip that they, too, are pro choice. Most Catholics are. Certainly adult Catholics of childbearing age are, using the birth control condemned by the Vatican at a rate slightly greater than their Protestant cousins.

Catholics as a group are fairly liberal and tolerant. It's the wretchedly antiwoman, reactionary hierarchy in Rome and their lackeys among the bishops who need to be eliminated from that church. The parishoners and even many of the priests are fine.

The world would be a better place if other countries had followed Henry VIII's lead and broken with Rome, creating and maintaining their own national flavor of Catholicism within their own borders without some pope's meddling.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 05:53 AM

2. I can't know for sure how many of these kids were forced to go. If you can't afford to go


I just don't see how they would force you. I know there would be no way in hell my father especially would allow us to go to something like that without him or my mother. They wouldn't go to something like that either because they couldn't afford the trip.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 10:01 AM

4. "I just don't see how they would force you" Hello.... Catholics.

My Spousal Unit ( a recovering Catholic) explained to me once that when he was young, parents were threatened with ex-communication (at most) or withholding the host (at least) if kids weren't sent to Catholic School.

Being threatened with being banned from your path to Heaven is a pretty serious motivator for some people.

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Response to TalkingDog (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:13 PM

5. I have worked for a priest and grew up a catholic. Am not active any longer however,


I am still a catholic. I want to say I have never heard such a thing that any priest forcing a family to send their children to catholic school especially if they can't afford to. Think about that. There are many, many catholics who don't send their children to catholic schools. Many can't afford it. My nieces are active and involved in the church yet they never went to catholic school. Sorry I just think your unit was lied to. Like any church they can have extremes. The priest I worked for was kind and helpful.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 02:56 PM

6. Well, based on the tales from his extended family you have been quite lucky.

Family reunions with Irish Catholics are quite the eye opener.

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Response to TalkingDog (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 07:06 PM

10. Well now that is a horse of a different color. I can see how he was raised in that environment.


I was raised with Italian background. I mean when you to go mass in Italy its a wonderful experience. The only thing I can remember was having a catholic chaplain on a military base once ask me what I was doing at a vacation bible school. I told him my neighbor invited me and I didn't want to be rude and my parents said it was ok. That was it. They didn't like the idea back then for us to go to Protestant Churchs. That was the only time. Years late I thought about that and I should of asked him what he was doing there. But I was only in the 5th grade and I figured I'd be in trouble. But nothing happened. I guess he just wanted to know. I do remember him smiling and said so long. That really left an impression on me. I did tell my mom when I got home. She said don't worry about it.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:18 PM

7. Our kids didn't go on any of those trips.

Nobody "ordered" anyone. The conservative Catholic parents and youth leaders who organized these things (a minority in our parish) tried to set it up as a social event and induce the kids to attend by peer pressure. Maybe 20% of the kids attended and I imagine many of them were pressured by their parents and did their best to be invisible during the actual protest.

My wife and I both come from ferociously "pro-life" families. Our moms were baby factories in the first years of their marriages and well praised for this by their religious communities. Our kids have lots of aunts and uncles.

During my mom's talks about birth control (gasp!), which began shortly after my last sibling was born, my mom would tell us she fully expected to have nine or more kids when she got married. She made it more than half way to that goal. But somewhere before the moon landing my parents and my wife's parents decided to stop. I think for my dad it was environmental reasons, maybe that "earthrise over the moon" picture taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts was his inspiration. My mom was just tired and wanted to reboot her career. I think my wife's dad, who was already working two jobs, realized he wasn't going to live to see his grandkids if he had to work any harder. My wife's mom, who had mastered motherhood, was itching to go back to school.

My mom's views on abortion changed when she volunteered as a child advocate and crisis counselor for a social services agency and became directly involved with pregnant girls who were the victims of incest, rape, drug and alcohol addictions, or just plain ignorance. She saw the harsh realities.

Within our family my mom was still very much "choose life" (she used to have that license plate frame on her car) but she also made sure in almost a TMI way that we knew all about birth control before we had any reason to care. She also insisted she'd welcome any babies we brought into the family. I think the prospect of more kids in my parent's crowded three bedroom house of perpetual chaos terrified me and my siblings so much that none of us had kids before we were married and able to support them.

I've still got a few in-laws and relatives who are "anti-choice" but the anti-birth control relatives got old and passed on years ago. I believe abortions must be available for both medical reasons and for those who do not share my own religious beliefs. And yes, that might even have included my own minor children. If I just found out that my own kids as teens (they are now adults) had ever showed up at Planned Parenthood seeking birth control, well good for them, it means my wife and I did something right as parents. I might have preferred they'd have talked to us first, but God knows there are plenty of things I never talked to my parents about as a teenager.

The only realistic and least harmful way to prevent abortions is to teach kids about sex and birth control, and to provide excellent social services to kids in bad situations.

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Response to hunter (Reply #7)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:52 PM

9. Maybe it's an age thing

but in the 1950s we were loaded onto school buses and driven to hear the bishops rant in other cities and I don't remember ever having a permission slip for it for my parents to sign.

My mother was a bit like yours, but she was always getting into hot water in the various places we lived for telling tweens what to expect with their first periods. She'd been told nothing and had spent a miserable day thinking she was bleeding to death and wanted to spare other kids. I have always greatly admired her for that.

I got told all about birth control and I swear it's what made me such a late bloomer, all the mechanics seemed more trouble than the reward was worth.

Both my parents were staunchly pro choice, even when they were Catholic enough to go to Mass every Sunday.

That's why I think a lot of those kids on the train were likely prochoice. Most Catholics are, Rome be damned.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 08:51 AM

3. k&r for courage and right action. n/t

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