Sharing Our Abortion Stories
Recently, I had the pleasure of catching Jodi Picoult and author Louann Rice at Guarde Arts Center in New London, Connecticut. It was a casual conversation around Jodi’s latest novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT, but it spanned much more: issues around women’s reproductive rights, the writing process, Jodi’s next book, and a special announcement about a new musical based on BETWEEN THE LINES, the acclaimed novel written by Jodi and her daughter Samantha van Leer, scheduled to premiere off-Broadway in New York in April 2020.
A SPARK OF LIGHT, set in an abortion clinic, tells the story of an ordinary day that turns into a nightmare when a gunman bursts in and starts shooting, taking hostages. A police hostage negotiator arrives and soon discovers that his fifteen-year-old daughter is inside. The story is told backward through the hours of the standoff, tracing what brought each of the individuals to the same place on that day.
Springboarding off the book, Jodi spoke about the growing anger among women that our reproductive rights are being legislated by black and white laws (created primarily by men), while our lives are fifty shades of gray. She contends that women who have had abortions are conditioned not to tell their stories regardless of the circumstances. If you stay silent, you fly under the radar, but it is hard to stay closed up and silent without starting to hate yourself. You fill up with shame and blame, allowing the false narrative to take root—You’ve done something bad!—and you feel as if you must keep a dirty secret. You internalize oppression.
One in four women have had an abortion, and I am one of them. My story takes place at the age of eighteen, when abortion was illegal. I wrote about the experience but kept it to myself; perhaps it’s time to tell my story. Jodi says our stories have been stolen from us, and women must take them back. Otherwise we perpetuate the shame, the lies, and the false narrative in not telling our stories. She contends that the more we tell them, the less faceless we become, and our voices will be heard.
What are your thoughts?
More to come about Jodi Picoult in my next blog. Until then, keep it real. Thanks!