Title: You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion
Author: Dr. Meera Shan
Genre: Random Reads
Page Count: 283
Publication Date: 2020
Over the last decade and a half, I’ve heard a lot of arguments made by Pro-Life and Pro-Choice supporters, but I have rarely heard stories from people that have had abortions and it’s honestly part of the reason I bought this book.
Dr. Meera Shan does a very thoughtful job featuring different abortion experiences that lead the discussions highlighted in Pro-Life/Pro-Choice debates. Women that were not prepared to raise their own kids, young girls forced into abortions by their mothers, women in abusive relationships they didn’t feel secure in, hopeful mothers that found out their child wouldn’t make it outside of the womb, and even a cis-male’s experience after his partner has an abortion. Shan gives us a view into the humanity behind a turbulent and politically-charged topic along with a lot of statistics, medical insights, and clear facts. For example, I never knew that Judaism believes the concept of personhood is marked by the first breath, versus the ideology of conception marking personhood.
Each story has it’s own chapter and as I got deeper into the book, these stories become more intense and upsetting. While I recommend this book to anyone capable of getting pregnant or capable of impregnating someone, please take your time digesting this read. If you need to set it down for a couple days, that’s ok.
I’ve had a very complicated relationship with abortion throughout my life. I was raised very Catholic and went to the Pro-Life March in DC multiple times before college. I was taught that all human life is sacred from conception to death. I know the people on the march didn’t see their actions as harmful, and, at the time, I didn’t see my actions as harmful either. It was never violent, even though newspapers often wrote as if there was a showdown happening between Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choicers on the National Mall. However, on my last march, I saw an image that is forever scarred into my brain and had a larger impact on me than the Pro-Life March ever did.
The image was of a baby’s corpse, mutilated and bloody, lying lifeless on a massive banner held up by a group of people that were predominately men. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Looking back at that moment I find myself asking, how does broadcasting that baby’s broken body respect its life? It’s a cold and heartless image that is supposed to instill shame and guilt on pro-choice people. I felt the shame and guilt that day, but not for the Pro-Choicers who weren’t even there to see the image. It was for the people who made the choice to carry that sign.
The older I get, the more I believe that this world has no absolutes. We live in a world of gray where no choice is ever completely black and white. Even the argument of being Pro-Life isn’t black and white. Take what’s currently going on with COVID vaccination right now as an example. I know a lot of Pro-Lifers that are anti-vaccination and a lot of Pro-Choicers that are pro-vaccine mandates. If being Pro-Life and Pro-Choice was simply about a life being sacred, precious, and worthy of protection, shouldn’t these two groups be flipped?
With everything going on in Texas right now, I’ve come to a realization. I know where I stand on abortion for my own body, but that’s a decision no state or federal law should be able to make for me. As a woman with a sound mind, I know what I can handle. I trust that my fellow women are capable of knowing the same about themselves. Even if abortions were made illegal in the United States, its ignorant to think they would stop. They would simply become more dangerous. As someone that does see life as something sacred, I would much rather there be a medically-safe option available for the lives that decide to have an abortion versus the opposite.
I know there are people in my life that will be disappointed in me for writing this, for vocalizing my opinion, or for even reading this book. But I feel it’s important to be frank, honest, and have conversations that help move us towards a more empathetic world, instead of deeper into a divided one. I’m tried of people believe its their place to be God’s judges on Earth and I’m ready to live in a country where men and women, alike, are treated respectfully and provided with well-communicated healthcare options, whatever that might mean.
You can purchase You’re the Only One I’ve Told here if you are interested in reading.