Prominent feminist describes her abortion: It ‘felt like I was being skewered’

abortion, Virginia

Pro-abortion activist Jessica Valenti wrote about her two abortions in her book, Sex Object. Valenti describes finding a private abortion facility to do her first abortion. She paid over $1000 to avoid sitting in a waiting room with other women. Valenti describes how she found the abortion facility:

A Google search on “early abortions” that same day led me to a clinic claiming to be midwife–like that used a method for ending the pregnancy that didn’t require machines, anesthesia, or a horrible sucking sound. Just a syringe and a nurse holding your hand.

But the abortion was extremely painful. Valenti writes:

Midwife-like handholding aside, the pain was terrible, much worse than I expected. I didn’t cry, but my sister told me I went pale, my lips white minutes afterward while I ate a pink starburst to get my blood sugar going enough to get me off the table without vomiting.

The abortion facility called Valenti a few days later to tell her the abortion had failed. She was still pregnant. Valenti was filled with dread at the thought of going back to the facility:

When the nurse told me on the phone my knees literally went weak at the thought of enduring that pain again. So, when I went to see the doctor for the second time, I started to sob. Please can you give me something. She told me I was right and brave to ask for what I needed, and a nurse put an IV in my arm and gave me a sedative that made the procedure so easy I cried with relief and gratitude – thanking the doctor through tears as she left the room when all was done. I left the office with my sister and went outside, where my mother was waiting with her car to drive me home, me lying down in the backseat. I knew, though, that I could never go through this again.

Valenti says that her tears were from “relief and gratitude” but she admits to being so traumatized that she pledged to never abort again. And yet…

Years later, Valenti gave birth to a daughter. She had pre-eclampsia and had to have a C-Section. When she became pregnant again later, doctors thought the pre-eclampsia might return. So Valenti went back to the abortion facility:

Like before, it is more midwife-like than a hospital – from the tea to the candies and the handholding nurse with the soft voice. But that doesn’t stop me from crying when the doctor tells me they no longer offer IV sedation, just a single Vicodin I know won’t make a dent…

I wish I could say that it hurt less the second time around – that knowing what to expect helped. But I did not want to be there…

My body ignored my wishes. It clenched and held on even as I assured the doctor that this was what I wanted. It fought me, trying to hold onto this pregnancy…

[The] pain of the procedure overtook me. The speculum felt high up in me, cold and hard, and the pain emanating from my vagina into my abdomen felt like I was being skewered. The nurse at my side told me to bear down as if I was having a bowel movement and that would help relax me, and it did, but it still hurt so much. I start to see double…

They said I had a lower pain tolerance than most – You’re so sensitive! I lay there, waiting for the warmth to come back to my face. And it did. My breath became slower; I stopped crying.

READ: First trimester babies aren’t blobs of tissue — they’re amazingly complex

The abortionist then disposed of Valenti’s aborted baby:

The doctor went to the sink with what she had pulled out in the syringe and looked for proof that it was all there. Andrew [her partner] tells me later that when they were done looking, they washed what was left down the drain.

Valenti closes the account of her abortion by saying, “Before I leave, the nurse asks if I want a candy. I picked cherry.”

Despite the tea and candy, Valenti’s abortions were traumatic and painful, not empowering. She describes abortion workers who were, at best, indifferent to her pain; they mocked her low pain tolerance. Their attitudes were not very pro-woman. Valenti, for all her pro-abortion activism, describes her abortions as ordeals, not as positive experiences. And Valenti seemingly remembers every detail — something not at all uncommon for women who have abortions, no matter how “pro-choice” they consider themselves to be.

Her accounts show that abortion is messy and painful. And difficult to forget — especially for something abortion advocates present as no more significant than having a tooth extracted. The offerings of tea and candy, and the “midwife-like feel” didn’t hide these realities.

This “right” that pro-choicers fight for is the “right” to a painful, exploitative procedure. Abortion does not empower women.

Source: Jessica Valenti Sex Object (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2016) 184 – 186

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