140: One Man's Abortion Story

140: One Man's Abortion Story

Today on our show, we bring you the story we’ve been searching for since June 24, 2022 when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. We put a call out for men’s abortion stories and waited months.


In Episode 138: There’s Always More to the Story, we talked about why only three men submitted stories, none of which fit our guidelines. We called men cowards. Matt Cundill, our audio producer, was in the greenroom listening. If you missed Episode 138, check it out. You can hear the lashing we gave all the men out there who have a story they refuse to share. After the recording, Matt expressed his anger. Andrea said, “Let’s hear your story.” Today, he is sharing his story One Man’s Abortion Story with you. 

Sharing his story brought up some issues for the narrator and for many writers of memoir. How do you tell your story when the story involves others who may not want their story shared? On this episode, the hosts discuss how they handle this issue.

Matt Cundill has been voicing radio ads and voice-overs for film and television since the 90s. Matt is now president of The Sound Off Media Company which offers audio solutions and podcast creation. 

He made mention of an episode from Degrassi High in his story. You can see the episode as it appeared in Canada for free here. (The episode ran edited on PBS in the USA)

Writing Class Radio is hosted and produced by Allison Langer,  Andrea Askowitz, and Zorina Frey. Audio production by Matt Cundill, Evan Surminski, and Aidan Glassey at the Sound Off Media Company. Theme music by Justina Shandler.

There’s more writing class on our website www.writingclassradio.com including essays to study, editing resources, video classes, writing retreats, and live online classes. Join our writing community.

For $25/month you can join our First Draft weekly writers groups. (Tuesdays 12-1 ET and/or Wednesdays 6-7pm ET). Write to a prompt and share what you wrote. For $125/mth, you’ll get 1st draft and 2nd Draft. Each week three people bring a second draft for feedback. Join the community that comes together for instruction, an excuse to write, and most importantly, the support from other writers. To learn more, go to www.Patreon.com/writingclassradio. Or email andrea@writingclassradio.com for Zoom link. First session is FREE.

A new episode will drop every other Wednesday.

There’s no better way to understand ourselves and each other, than by writing and sharing our stories. Everyone has a story. What’s yours?

Transcript

Andrea (Host) 00:00:10
I'm Andrea Askowitz

Zorina (Host) 00:00:12
I'm Zorina Frey

Allison (Host) 00:00:13
And I'm Allison Langer. And this is writing class radio. You'll hear true personal stories and learn how to write your own stories. Together, we produce this podcast, which is equal parts heart and art. By heart, we mean the truth in a story, and by art, we mean the craft of writing. No matter what's going on in our lives, writing Class is where we tell the truth. It's where we work out our sheep. There's no place in the world like Writing class. And we want to bring you in.

Andrea (Host) 00:00:42
Today on our show. We bring you the story we've been searching for since June 24, 2022, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. We put a call out then for Men's abortion stories. And we have been waiting and waiting and waiting for men to step up. Today, Matt Cundill, our audio producer, shares his story. One man's abortion story. If you missed episode 138, there's always more to the story. You gotta check it out, because on that episode, Allison Langer i, well, mostly me, went off on how men had not been stepping up. And Matt, he was listening behind the scenes and he was getting pissed. And we know that because after the show, he told us, and that fuel helped him write this story. The story that we bring you also addresses a really critical issue that memoirists struggle with, which is, how do you tell a story that brings in other people in your life? I don't want to spoil it for you. And I want to give you a little bit of background on who Matt Cundill is, because he's a lot more than our audio producer.

Zorina (Host) 00:01:54
Matt Cundill started voicing radio ads in the 90s. As his career progressed, he began to branch out into voice work for television and film. Matt is now president of the the. The soundoff media company offers audio solutions and podcast creation. We'll be back with Matt Kundal's story after the break. I'm Zarina Fry, and this is writing class radio. Here's Matt Cundill reading his story called One Man's Abortion Story.

Matt (Guest) 00:02:32
I'm the audio producer and editor of writing class radio. Abortion has been front and center on the show since Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. When the call for Men's abortion stories went out, I thought, I have one with a past lover, Marie. But after I wrote it, I chose not to submit it for a lot of reasons. Then, a few months later, while recording Episode 138, which was called There's Always More to the Story, I listened as host Andrea and Allison discussed their frustration because only three men had submitted abortion stories so far. My job is to sit behind the scenes and listen for where the show will need edits. I heard the complaining andrea called Men.

Andrea (Host) 00:03:12
Cowards, but I'm also really disappointed in Men because we got three stories. Maybe we could put a call out.

Allison (Host) 00:03:20
For a story on why you don't want to tell your abortion story.

Matt (Guest) 00:03:24
As I listened to the speculation and pontification, I became irritated. I felt dismissed. Andrea knew I'd been working on my own abortion story. When she criticized men, I felt like she was talking to me. My reasons for not telling my story began to float through my head. Things like One I don't feel it is my story to share. I believe the story is coowned with Marie Two writing class. Radio is a podcast that means the story will likely live forever in audio form. What if my kids hear it and Marie's kids? And what if people I went to college with hear it? Are they going to rush to their yearbooks to scour Facebook to figure out who we are? I don't know what they would say, but I never wanted to be the focus of gossip. And I certainly wouldn't want anyone judging. Marie three. With that said, fuck y'all. Here's the story. I entered Acadia University in Wolfield, Nova Scotia as a political science and history major. The university was conservative in nature and still clung to its Baptist roots. Although the school was more famous for its festive and fun reputation. This was Canada. InEight the same year, Dr. Henry Morgantoler finally won his Supreme Court case to provide safe and legal abortions for Canadians. My only encounter with abortion was from the CBC TV series to Grassy High. In the first two episodes of the season, one of the characters got pregnant, and she and her twin sister wrestle with the emotions of seeking an abortion. The scene where the two girls go into the abortion clinic was edited out by PBS.

Clips VT's 00:05:02
You sure you don't want to have a baby? Yeah. I think what you're doing is really wrong. You're my sister and I can't let you go.

Matt (Guest) 00:05:13
Clearly, PBS thought the scene was too powerful for American teens to bear. In my graduating year of 1992, I lived fast and furious. I don't remember exactly how and when I met Marie, but it was three minutes before we were having sex. As the days to graduation trickled down, there was a three week lull between final exams and graduation. Marie was on the pill. The sex was good. Too good. I didn't think about it again until six weeks after graduation when she called to tell me she was pregnant. I literally dropped the phone. I was 22 years old and had just started my dream job working for a radio station two time zones away. In that moment, my career flashed before my eyes. Then came the fear that I was not ready to become a father nor tell my WASPy stiff family that I had gotten a girl pregnant. I don't remember which of those feelings came before the other. I think it was about a day later when Marie suggested she had an abortion. I was relieved. She asked me if I would go with her and I said yes. I flew out to see her in late June 1992. She showed me her breasts and they were huge, then immediately took me upstairs for sex. The next day her roommate Roberta lent us her Volkswagen Jetta so we could drive to Halifax for the abortion. I think she might have told Roberta we were going to the city to spend the day together to have lunch, shop and do what romantic couples do. This would mark the first and only day we would publicly masquerade as boyfriend and girlfriend. We went to one of Dr. Morgan Thawer's clinics. There were a few prolife demonstrators to pass on the way up the stairs. The scene was similar to that on Degrassi High. We headed straight in and the receptionist said pay no attention to them. I handed the woman $300 cash. I didn't have a credit card and I doubt they would take a check. A few days earlier I made a $300 withdrawal from the bank. I felt obligated to pay. I didn't think abortion was something you go Dutch on, like a first date. I sat in the waiting room for what could have been 1 hour or 4 hours, I don't remember. Before leaving, Marie was told not to have sex for 30 days and to follow the suggestions on the pamphlet. As we took the 1 hour drive home, marie began to feel some after pains. I felt a little scared and helpless as we got back to her apartment where she lay down. A few hours later she asked if I would drive her to the local clinic. Because of the discomfort, they sent her home with some highgrade painkillers. Later that night, as the painkillers kicked in, she asked me to roll over and have sex with her. I asked her if she was sure and she said yes. This time I understood that she just wanted to feel me close. Marie had also graduated that year. She moved home to live with her mother 2 hours away and was on a career to working as a nurse. I went back to the broadcast career that had been saved by the abortion. About six months later I returned to that small university town to hang with some friends. I did not expect to run into Marie at the student pub. That led to a fight followed by sex. The following July in 1993, marie was visiting a friend in the same city where I was working. We had sex on her friend's apartment floor and then I never saw her again. As the 90s went on and we moved to the would sometimes Google her. The only hit on Google was an obituary for her mother. More recently, I stumbled upon her two kids who are in their late teens and early 20s. There are no pictures of Marie, though, no Facebook or Instagram to satisfy the nostalgic lurker in me, and it's probably just the way she wants it. I wonder what would happen if we ran into one another. How would she feel? I've looked in my heart, and I know she would be happy to see me. But if there was a reason why she would be angry, it might be because I shared this story on a podcast. Obviously, I'm risking it. Here are my reasons. One, I don't think telling my story is going to change policy, but I don't think there's anything to be ashamed of either. Two, I do own half the story, and it was helpful to go back and piece together all the parts I'd put away over 30 years ago. It wasn't fun, exactly, but I learned something about myself, and that's important. Three, I'm 50 something years old, and I learned I am no longer controlled by the fear of.

Andrea (Host) 00:09:37
So what do you guys think of Matt's story?

Allison (Host) 00:09:49
First of all, I'm so impressed with Matt that he wrote the story. I love when people get angry. You know what?

Andrea (Host) 00:09:54
Angry is really good. Motivating.

Allison (Host) 00:09:56
Fuck you for writing sometimes. So I love that he was like, Fuck these girls. I'm going to just tell them my story. I'm going to have to stand up for all men.

Andrea (Host) 00:10:05
Yeah. Fuck y'all. Yeah.

Zorina (Host) 00:10:07
Everybody does it.

Andrea (Host) 00:10:09
Yeah.

Zorina (Host) 00:10:09
I really think that that should be the title of the story that's a subtitle. A man's abortion story. Fuck you all. Here's the story. It made me laugh out loud, so that's always a good thing, right? When something can make you just it brings it out of you. Yeah. I think it's even poetic that the first man abortion story is from the actual producer of writing Class radio. And the way that he calls the way it starts behind the scenes, there's something about that, and he's listening to this. And the fact that Andrew calls him out.

Andrea (Host) 00:10:45
I just want to say this to you. Something different about the way that's what you're talking about.

Zorina (Host) 00:10:51
If you're like, I think that would be a great way to just return that in there.

Andrea (Host) 00:10:55
Recording Method for two episodes ago. So Matt was literally on the screen, but he wasn't saying anything. Oh, and Zorina, you were absent that day. Bummer. But while Allison Langer, I were talking, and mostly me, while I was like, why are men such cowards? Matt thought I was talking to him, and he couldn't respond because he was in the background. So I wasn't exactly talking to him, but maybe I was. But okay, excellent. That anger fueled this story, and I agree this is really well written, but I want to know what you guys think, because Matt and I went back and forth with it.

Zorina (Host) 00:11:39
All his reasons for not telling his story. I like that he was very methodical about it. One, two, three.

Andrea (Host) 00:11:49
I thought it was adorable. Like, very quirky. And Matt, I don't know math that well, but it was so Boise. He was like, one, it's not my story alone. Two, I don't want to be the focus of gossip. Three, well, fuck you all. So he had the numbers, and then at the end, I was like, Wait, you're listing. So this is an editor's touch. And I said, bring the numbers back. And I feel like Zarina felt it as poetry, and so did I when we heard it. I liked it. Right. Worked when it sounds good. Yeah.

Zorina (Host) 00:12:32
Everything's poetry to me. I wanted to touch on the fact that I'm just doing this overview, but I wanted to touch on the fact that the reason why he decided to have the abortion, that he went along with it. It wasn't because something bad had happened or there was like, if she went along with the pregnancy, something would have happened to her. It was because it was for selfish reasons. It was because they simply wanted to and fuck y'all, for them to do that's.

Matt (Guest) 00:13:10
Their choice.

Andrea (Host) 00:13:10
There was a moment serena. Oh, sorry.

Zorina (Host) 00:13:13
I'm going back into Poetics now. He said, I dropped the phone before I was here.

Andrea (Host) 00:13:19
And then he got afraid of, one, being a father, and two, telling his parents. And then a few seconds later, I mean, a few sentences later, she tells him that she's having the abortion, and he feels relieved. And I fucking love that. It feels so true of a 22 year old. And it's unapologetic. It just is. And that's another thing about this story that I feel is really just honest.

Zorina (Host) 00:13:56
100% agree. The thing I was trying to find in this story was the way he said something. It almost echoed policy. Like the reason why he should be able to still choose if that's what he wants to do, cool. And I can't find it. But it was very subtle, and he really wasn't talking about policy. He was still talking about himself, you know?

Allison (Host) 00:14:26
Okay, you find it while I chat, just because I always like to bring everybody in and maybe somebody listening right now is like, that's selfish. I can't listen to this podcast. Anybody who feels that way is not me. And I can't relate, you're saying, but.

Andrea (Host) 00:14:41
I just found a very nasty because there aren't any doubts. And what do we say to them? Well, I mean, we're a podcast that shares personal stories, and this is one man's abortion story, so this isn't everyone's story. We're getting inside Matt Kundal's head. And so for someone else. Yeah, someone else may not agree, but we're not judging. I mean, in a way, I guess I am judging because I'm cheering for this guy because his politics align with mine. But I hope that story can transcend that. Actually, we do have a story coming out. We mentioned this in episode what was it? 138. We mentioned that Kori OSR wrote a story that was just way too long, and he did condense it. And in that story, he doesn't agree with abortion. So we do have an abortion story coming up someday soon where the narrator his politics don't align with mine. And I still love that story.

Allison (Host) 00:15:55
Yeah, I mean, just the beauty of telling stories. You don't always have to agree with somebody, but it brings you closer to that person. It helps you understand them. And then I think that Matt jacked.

Andrea (Host) 00:16:06
His feet a little bit to tell.

Allison (Host) 00:16:07
The story, not only for all those.

Andrea (Host) 00:16:10
Reasons, but maybe he wasn't proud. That's what he didn't want people to gossip. He didn't want to live his life, it sounds like very afraid that people would judge him. And also he didn't want Marie to be judged. And that's his journey. At the very end, he comes to, well, I'm in my fifty s now and I'm not afraid of gossip. Maybe he is still a little bit, but that's what he comes to. That's where he lands. And I'm like, cool. So this story really does have a turning point for him. Yeah. And that's the beauty of what I.

Allison (Host) 00:16:58
Love so much about writing. It helped him get rid of these secrets that he's carrying and just be like, fuck it, I'm too old for this shit anymore. I'm not carrying this around with me anymore. I'm just going to do it. And at this point, I don't really care if you like me or you don't.

Andrea (Host) 00:17:12
And that was another way of his number.

Allison (Host) 00:17:13
I need to get this on myself. It's something that's important to me. Journey just so important.

Andrea (Host) 00:17:22
Matt's not a writer, not that kind of writer. And he did that and it was therapeutic and thought provoking. And I so respect him. Serena, did you find that part? I'm so proud of him.

Zorina (Host) 00:17:43
Yeah, I did. And I think that his writing is a testament to this podcast.

Andrea (Host) 00:17:52
It came in pretty confusing. Definitely.

Zorina (Host) 00:18:10
So basically it goes back to the first explanation of why he decided to drag his feet and why he wants to tell the story. Number one, I felt dismissed. To me, that like echoes policy. Like just the feeling. Well, yeah, think about that. Just the way the policy is of women not being able to make a decision about their body. Number two, I don't feel it's my story to share. Like you could just take out story and just substitute that with body. I just feel like that what he was saying was just kind of echoing.

Allison (Host) 00:18:49
Right.

Zorina (Host) 00:18:49
I keep saying that because that's what I hope. And then that number three, I think, is where he really got vulnerable.

Andrea (Host) 00:18:55
Reframe that and other people think about it. But I want to talk about another thing that this whole episode could be about, because this is a memoirist nightmare, which is how do you tell stories about people in your life? Your wife, your kids, your parents? When I wrote my miserable, lonely lesbian pregnancy. And I called my dad's wife something not very nice, and I accused my dad of being a whore cheater. And he said, that's your story, I have mine. Like, he was supportive of me telling my story. And I go to this but I guess this got lucky, really. But I go to this Dr. Seuss quote, which is something like, those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter. And that's always been true for me, but it's not always true for everybody because some people really do have to be careful when they implicate someone else in the story they're telling. Okay, here's my answer. Write the story. Always write the story all the stories that you need to write, even if they bring in other characters and they make other characters not look so good. Two, if you're making someone else not look good, you gotta make yourself not look good, too. That's always a rule of writing class radio. Be the biggest asshole in your story. But three, don't worry about publication yet. You just really have to write the story. And then when it's time for publication, then you have to make peace with the people in your family or make peace with losing some people, maybe. So that's my long answer. And it's varied and very personal. I like how Matt grappled with it, because in the end, he doesn't know how Marie would feel if she heard this story.

Allison (Host) 00:21:21
That's a great one.

Zorina (Host) 00:21:29
I like your advice of the way you reword it, being the biggest asshole in your story. If you're making someone else not look good, then you have to make yourself not look good. Right there.

Andrea (Host) 00:21:44
That's like a heart of your boy and getting through and through. All he really cared about was sex. And they weren't even boyfriend girlfriend. I mean, he was just, oh, my God, drop the phone. Like, what am I going to do now about my life? So he didn't try to be a hero here, but in the end he was so endearing.

Zorina (Host) 00:22:16
Yeah. The part where he says the career saved by love for Redback. That's cold. That is cold. But it's his story, and true.

Andrea (Host) 00:22:32
As.

Allison (Host) 00:22:33
He sees it, as he understands it. He doesn't know what would have happened.

Zorina (Host) 00:22:37
If but the other part I like is when he said it was good, too good. And then like every time they meet, it's like whatever happens, they're going to get it in.

Clips VT's 00:22:55
Here. Just a new beginning.

Allison (Host) 00:22:58
Thank you for listening. And thank you, Matt Cundill, for sharing your story. Writing class Radio is hosted by me, Allison Langer, Andrea Askowitz and Zorina Frey. Audio production by Matt Cundill, Evan Surminski and Aidan Glassy at the the the the the the Soundoff Media Company. Music by justina Chandler There's more writing class on our website, writingclassradio.com, including stories to study, editing resources, video classes, writing retreats, and live online classes. Join our writing community by following us on patreon. For $25 a month, you can join our First Drop weekly writers group. You have the option to join me on Tuesdays, twelve to 20 Eastern time, or Me Zarina on Wednesdays at six to 07:00 p.m.. Eastern time. You'll write to a prompt and share what you wrote. If you're looking to take your writing to the next level for $125, you'll get first draft and second draft in second draft. Each week, three people bring a second draft. For feedback, join the community that comes together for instruction and an excuse to write and, most importantly, the support from other writers. To learn more, go to patreon.com. Writingclassradio a new episode will drop every other Wednesday.

Zorina (Host) 00:24:09
There's no better way to understand ourselves and each other than by writing and sharing our stories. Everyone has a story. What's yours.

Clips VT's 00:24:26
produced and distributed by the Sound Off Media Company.