Katie’s letter is an excellent example of setting boundaries with journalists. She is a longtime member of our grief community and one of the admins who helps keep our private support group safe. Always very open about her abortion story, and a bold advocate for reproductive rights as well as the rights of people with disabilities, Katie knows how to speak her mind. Recently, a journalist was preparing to interview her about her abortions and asked to come into her home to take pictures of her disabled son. This is where Katie drew a firm line. Her letter also touches on outsized roll parents in the EWP/TFMR communities are asked to play in the overall discussion of abortion rights.
This is long winded a bit but I have been doing some heavy thinking on this subject and interview.
Part of the dilemma is that you don’t completely understand, and you never will. I mean that respectfully and not how it may come across in this email. No matter how many ways I tell my story, which I have already done, no matter if it’s in writing or on video—people are always going to disagree with my choice. People are always going to have a different belief. I am very torn because on one hand, I refuse to be silenced but on another, I feel like I (or women) are being expected to have to tell our stories and that is crap. I do not know if I can get behind the idea of telling my story to try to make someone else feel something, so they can maybe decide they should give an exception to my unique situation.
I am not okay with sharing images of my child’s struggles to try to accomplish that. He is not always in a wheelchair. Does that mean his diagnosis wasn’t severe enough? If we are basing it off whether he had a feeding tube, or could walk, or his diagnosis specifically, then that is not the message I can support. There are other individuals who have not made the same choice that I have, who had a child with the same disease. That is their choice, and if I want them to support my choices, then how can I not support their choices?
I have thought hard on this and spoken with my husband. Part of my “thinking on this” was to look back at what I put myself and family through every time I share my story publicly. Bringing cameras into our home is a boundary we have decided we will not cross. I have been and will remain open about my abortions, but my son will not be made accessible by us to potentially become a poster child for why women choose abortion. Women choose abortion for so many reasons. And yes, in my case, my son played a huge part in my decision to not bring another child into this world with the same incurable disease he has. That statement alone has more layers to it than any news story could ever construe. And even then, people are still going to be opposed to abortion.
I completely agree that we need to stop the political back and forth, the snipping and soundbites. I completely agree something is needed to help inform and shape the debate and conversation about reproductive health, but I am not sure this is it. I know you will move forward however you choose, but I hope you will really hear me when I share this with you. I personally know the women who have shared incredibly compelling abortion stories and its not changing certain people’s minds. Is there not another angle?
What about you, a male journalist, who—to my knowledge—hasn’t done a story on this subject, trying to tell this story? I mean that respectfully. I do. It is a serious question. It is part of the story if you step back and think about it.
Also, another angle I am not seeing is how incredibly hypocritical the anti-choice groups are being, especially the politicians supporting them. I have even lobbied in DC for individuals with rare diseases, for healthcare, etc. I have met these individuals, have photos even. I have witnessed the disgusting photo ops they use with children with disabilities, while not actually doing things that can make a positive change in their lives. The hypocrisy is nauseating and that is something I live with every day, and no one is talking about it. They want to force women to give birth to babies these politicians will do nothing to support once born. In my opinion, its a much better story that could cross into more of the reasons women choose abortion. For example, if they care so much for life, why not expand Medicaid coverage? If this was really about life, then why do not see huge efforts made to lower maternal and infant mortality rates that are now increasing in the US?
Anyway, sorry to go in an entirely different direction but I hope to maybe bring something more to your attention than women terminating for medical reasons. I can share more about this situation. But realistically we make up the smallest percentage of why women have abortions. Is that helping all women? Is that going to make a huge impact? I wish that were the case, but I don’t think it is. I think we need to start asking harder questions and holding the anti-choice politicians more accountable for the things they claim, when their votes and other actions, clearly do not align with what they claim about “life.” And why are pastors speaking at subcommittee meetings? Why is someone’s specific religion being used as a reason to deny my legal right to healthcare?
I am also very educated on the methods of abortion and am tired of these bills even being considered. There are countless false statements made by non-healthcare professionals. Why is this even allowed? Correcting that is much more impactful, in my opinion. I could go on and on.
I will still permit you to use my story if you so choose to do. I will even share testimony and letters previously used for you to review. But I must choose to draw a line when it comes to my own and my family’s safety. Sadly, that is the scary reality I face when I choose to trust you to share my story. Today is the anniversary of Dr. Tiller’s death. I am a woman who—because I stand up for other women’s rights—must remember how unsafe it has become to do so. In my opinion, that is a more powerful story than why I chose to end my pregnancies.