132: Here’s My Abortion Story. Men, Tell Us Yours.

132: Here’s My Abortion Story. Men, Tell Us Yours.

On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Today we bring you a personal essay that includes an abortion story, in hopes that it will prompt men to tell their abortion stories. The story was co-written by Andrea Askowitz and Ida Dupont.


Ida and Andrea have been in the abortion fight for thirty years. They realize reproductive justice advocates (them included) made a mistake in couching abortion as solely a women’s issue. Men benefit from abortions just as much as women. Men need to tell their stories because stories change minds and laws. Writing Class Radio wants #mensabortionstories. If you agree, please share this episode with #mensabortionstories.

Also on this episode co-hosts Allison Langer, Zorina Frey, and Andrea Askowitz talk about how writing about an experience and a unique take on a subject at the top of the news, is a way to get published.  

Ida Dupont is an Associate Professor at Pace University in the Sociology Department. She researches and teaches about sexuality, social movements, criminology, and reproductive justice. The original story appeared in NBCNews under Andrea’s byline with Ida Dupont contributing. 

Writing Class Radio is produced by Allison Langer, Andrea Askowitz and by Matt Cundill and Evan Surminski at the Sound Off Media Company. Theme music by Courtney Fox.

There’s more writing class on our website including essays to study, editing resources, video classes, writing retreats, and live online classes. Join our writing community by following us on Patreon

For $10/month Andrea will answer all your publishing questions. For $25/month you can join our First Draft weekly writers group. (Tuesdays 12-1 ET 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 and brainstorming. 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.

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. Men, what’s yours?

Transcript

Andrea 00:00:12

I'm Andrea Askowitz

Zorina 00:00:13

I'm Zorina Fry.

Allison 00:00:15

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 is 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 classes where we tell the truth, it's where we work out our shit.

Andrea 00:00:37

Shit.

Allison 00:00:38

There's no place in the world like Writing Class, and we want to bring you in today's.

Andrea 00:00:43

Zorina Fry will be hosting with us again.

Allison 00:00:48

In addition to being a comedian, zarina is a poet, performer, essayist, SEO, content creator, MFA candidate at Converse University. And most importantly, she facilitates our first draft Happy hour classes on Wednesday night from six to 07:00 p.m.. Serena, thanks for being here.

Zorina 00:01:08

Thank you for inviting me back.

Andrea 00:01:10

Well, I do want to say thank you guys for jumping in at the last minute to be here for this episode today. The day that we're recording, is a really sad day for America. Today the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, and I want to say for our listeners what that means exactly. It doesn't really mean that abortion is totally illegal, although it could mean that because now each state has the right to restrict abortion down to complete illegality. What the ruling does do is it takes away a constitutional right to abortion. And the reason why we're talking about abortion at all on this episode right now is because I wrote a story for NBC News, and the story calls for men's abortion stories. Men are 100% responsible for every unwanted pregnancy that leads to an abortion. And abortion access. Safe, legal abortions benefit men enormously. And since the beginning of the reproductive rights movement, we've let men off the hook. Women have called it a women's issue, but it is everyone's issue. Abortion is a man's issue. It's a woman's issue. I really feel like we need a sea change. We need men to step up and tell their abortion stories. And I will put it this way, and this is maybe a radical thing to say, but why do gay people, me included, have the legal right to get married?

Allison 00:02:50

Because men got involved. Because men are gay?

Andrea 00:02:54

Yes, because men are gay. And until men step up and admit that they too, need abortion access, abortion won't be legal or won't be fully legal. It's time for men to step up.

Allison 00:03:10

So we are sharing this story for two reasons. One, it's a great example of how to get published if you have an experience and a unique take on something that's happening. Now, editors want that story. And two, the story you're about to hear is actually about the importance of telling your stories, and we are calling on men to tell theirs.

Andrea 00:03:35

So I worked on this story that was published in NBC News with a very good friend and activist, IDA Dupont. And the two of us worked on this story together. And we went back and forth for two weeks. We knew the Supreme Court was about to rule to overturn Roe v. Wade because the Supreme Court had this week. And so since the week until today, ed and I worked on this story. We got it accepted by NBC News. The problem was, the editors at NBC News didn't like a coauthorship on an Oped piece because it was awkward. It really was like it was both of our stories. But there's a moment in the story that's truly Edith. But because I wrote most of the story, like, I spent, as you might guess, some hours working on this story. I mean, literally, I probably worked on it full time for two weeks.

Allison 00:04:29

Oh, I know. Every phone call was like, I'm busy.

Andrea 00:04:33

The editor is awesome. Her name is Jody Anne Williams. She was so thorough, so precise. So I was doing all this research to get the facts exactly right. I consulted lawyers who helped me with the language. So, for the purposes of our podcast, EDA is going to read the story that we wrote together. We made slight adjustments to it because it's coming 100% from IDA's point of view.

Zorina 00:04:57

Back with Ida DuPont's story after the break.

Allison 00:05:03

We're back. This is Allison Langer, and you're listening to Writing Class Radio. Up next is EDA Dupont reading Andrea and Edith's story. Men should fear the fall of Roe as much as women.

 

Ida Dupont 00:05:24

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday morning, turning the legality of abortion rights over to the states to decide. We failed to keep abortion a constitutional right because we've made abortion a woman's issue. When it's everyone's issue, it's time for prochoice advocates to change our strategy. I was five in 1973 when the Supreme Court passed Row, but the decision was never a complete safeguard for women. I grew up watching as state and federal laws restricted access, especially for poor women and women of color. In high school, my mom took me to Washington to the March for Women's Lives. We chanted, Keep your laws off my body. This was a woman's issue, we thought, and how could it not be? After all, pregnancy was happening to our bodies. The year before I graduated from college. In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services that certain state abortion restrictions were not unconstitutional. As I was becoming an adult, taking control of my life, women's autonomy was being taken away state by state. I was pissed. No state lawmaker would tell me what I could do with my body. I took this conviction to the extreme, and with Andrea Askowitz, we organized the Reproductive Freedom Ride. In the summer of 1991, we bicycled across the country with a band of activists demanding reproductive justice, including access to safe, legal abortion. We used ourselves our physical power. As a manifestation of our argument, we saw up close the real life consequences of restrictions on abortion. In Indiana, we met the parents of Becky Bell, a 17 year old who died because of a stateenacted parental consent law. Bell felt like she couldn't tell her religious parents that she was pregnant, so she got an abortion on her own, developed an infection and died. In Fargo, North Dakota, we met Dr. Miriam McCurry, who flew in from Minnesota once a week to provide abortions in North Dakota's only clinic. She flew around the country providing abortions into her seventy s. Today, parental consent or notification laws are still on the books in Indiana and 36 other states. Doctors have stepped in for McCreary. But there's still only one abortion clinic in North Dakota. The next closest clinic is in Minnesota, 225 miles away. We biked, marched and held news conferences. Our message was we're biking 4000 miles to show the world that we can and will control our bodies. We told men to back off, that this was our fight. But by telling men to shut up, we made a grave error. Women barely held political power, and we let men off the hook. Today, women still don't hold enough political power. They make up about 51% of the population, but just 27% of US. Congress and 31% of state legislatures. We're still marching. We're still chanting bans off our bodies, couching this issue as ours alone. We've used the same argument for 50 years. But for everyone seeking an abortion, there's a man responsible for that unwanted pregnancy. We need them in this fight. In early May, when a draft of the Supreme Court's decision on Roe was leaked, I was talking to Andrea, one of my fellow reproductive freedom writers. I was teaching a class on sexuality and reproductive justice, and of course, the possibility of roe becoming overturned came up. I faced my class and I said, listen, I'm not supposed to say this. And then I got nervous. A feeling of shame swept over me because I thought my students would think I had done something terrible, though I didn't think I had. After giving some statistics on how many women will have an abortion in their lifetime, at least one in four, according to the Goop Mocker Institute. I talked about something else. I stalled. Then I said it. I had a safe, legal abortion. I hope you continue to have that right. The class got quiet. I felt bold because I'd said something hard to say out loud. Andrea asked me why I decided to share my story. I said, because stories help people understand each other. Stories can lead to political change. As the two of us talked, we got enraged. I Googled men's abortion stories, and it was auto corrected to women's abortion stories. We screamed over the phone like we were at a rally again. We've never heard a man stand up at a prochoice rally and say, I'm so glad abortion is legal because I didn't want to be a father. Men have never had to admit how relieved they felt once an abortion was over. They don't have to worry about being judged as irresponsible as a whore or a murderer. Women are constantly telling our stories, making ourselves vulnerable, and we should. We need to humanize the experience and let lawmakers, the public know that abortion affects everyone. Men should share their stories for the same reasons. Did birth control failure? Did you refuse to wear a condom? Did the baby you and your partner were expecting get diagnosed as non viable? Did you have other plans besides fatherhood when you got her pregnant? How has abortion helped you? I'm talking about men who claim to care about women, men who claim to want to keep abortion safe and legal, and men who benefit from abortion. We rarely hear these stories, but I know they're there. Andrea and I created a hashtag to help men tell their stories. Hashtag? Men's abortion stories. For real change to occur. Men need to tell their stories publicly. Men also need to tell these stories to each other. Wherever men talk in locker rooms, bedrooms, boardrooms, dining rooms, congressional hearing rooms, they need to tell the truth. My partner had a safe, legal abortion. I hope we continue to have that right.

 

Zorina 00:12:23

That really is a great story.

 

Allison 00:12:25

It's very well written. I was drawn in the entire time. How many words was that?

 

Andrea 00:12:30

It's about 1000. It's pretty tight.

 

Allison 00:12:33

Yeah, it's super tight. As I was listening, I was thinking, well, I could go on and on about the content, but to discuss the writing or the structure, or how it was written or why it was written, I'm trying to think of what would be most helpful to our listeners. I think this is a pretty good opportunity to talk about because there's a lot of writers out there who are.

 

Andrea 00:12:57

Always like, well, what do I write about?

 

Allison 00:12:58

How do I get published? And we've talked about this before. When there's an issue that comes up that you're really passionate about, that you can try to time your writing so that it's pertinent, right. And then it gets picked up. So maybe you want to go into that.

 

Andrea 00:13:12

Well, when Justice Alito's decision was leaked and the world knew that Roe v. Wade was in danger, I called EDA. IDA and I have this experience, like 30 years ago. We were in this fight, and for the last 30 years, I have witnessed no change or backslide. I've seen it not get any better. But in May, I was like, Oh my God. This moment is like the worst moment ever for abortion. And because I have that experience and because I'm a writer, I was like, I'm going to write my story. I have something to say about this. Because I was there. I was there in the country, state by state. I knew exactly what you're saying about strategy of getting a story published. Like, you have to be someone who has something to say about an issue, and then you have to sort of strike at the moment when that issue is striking. That's why I wrote the story right now.

 

Allison 00:14:14

Question did you and EDA coincidentally, or when this all came up, maybe it was just in the story that you called her or she called you or something like that and decided to write it together.

 

Andrea 00:14:23

Right, because she told me the story about telling her class about her abortion, and then we started to flip out because no man ever has to do that. And then we were like, we need to create a hashtag.

 

Allison 00:14:40

Was that the first time she told anybody that? Like, her class or anything?

 

Andrea 00:14:44

For sure. It's the first time she told her class. You're not supposed to talk to as a teacher, as a professor, you're not supposed to reveal personal details to your class anyway.

 

Allison 00:14:54

Well, yeah, no, you're telling me that and I would go into prison and tell personal details anyway, so I get it. But I was wondering how she felt after she shared it with them. What were their reactions? Did it bring them closer? Did people come up and say, oh, my God, I've had one, too? Was there any of that that we know about?

 

Andrea 00:15:12

I don't think that there was any further conversation, because there really is a distinction between professor and student at a college level. She stepped over that boundary when she thought maybe she shouldn't, but she did it because she felt like she really had to because of the old slogan, the personal is political. That's why she did it.

 

Allison 00:15:37

But could that be dangerous for her job or not so much?

 

Andrea 00:15:39

They're okay with that? Yeah, maybe. Yes.

 

Allison 00:15:41

Well, but it's out there now. Are we okay doing this? I don't want her to lose her job.

 

Andrea 00:15:45

Well, she's taking a risk, okay.

 

Allison 00:15:47

Because she's showing that it's important to share.

 

Andrea 00:15:50

She is tenure. She is tenured. So she's pretty tightly.

 

Allison 00:15:53

Okay, good. For a second there, I got nervous.

 

Andrea 00:15:56

Okay. I think that what happened to her is she got emotionally on a personal level. She felt shame, and then she was like, Fucking shit. Why? Yeah. Why do women constantly feel ashamed?

 

Allison 00:16:10

Okay, now I have a question for our listeners, for Zarina, for you. Have you ever told a story and had, like, a hangover the next morning or regret or shame in telling a story? Like, what's been really hard? And how did that help? Because I think a lot of people out there are like, oh, my God, I'm never telling anybody this story. But then after they're in class and they realize what gets revealed in a writing class, you start realizing how important it is to tell your truth. And all that shame and secrets and everything like that is really unhealthy and that it can be really beneficial. And usually it brings people to you. It opens up a world. It opens you up. So I was wondering if you guys have felt that we could share that.

 

Zorina 00:16:50

I have not done that yet. Well, no, that's a lie. I'm sorry. Let's rewind. I published a poem publicly about being sexually abused. And it was how they say it's usually someone, you know, and it was someone in the circle of our family. And by doing that, by putting my story out there like that, it was as if I put everyone out on Front Street where they had to address and acknowledge that. And I got a lot of blowback from it. From your family or for yeah, not everyone, but my offender had children and I did not consider them because I just want to put my story out. And so it was something that they were processing. They didn't do it. And they were still teen, so they're still developing, trying to figure themselves out. And now they've gotten this thing dropped on them. It was messy and I don't regret putting it out there, but I do regret how it broke their hearts. One of those things that writers have to deal with when we put our stories out there, how's it going to impact everyone and, you know, how much blowback will you get?

 

Andrea 00:18:20

Thank you for telling that stories, arena, because I think it's so important to tell stories where people have been hurt, where we've been hurt. And it is unfortunate that there were teenagers involved, although maybe we even protected them. You don't know. But I want to go back to the abortion issue because I'm sitting here. I think it's a great question, like, does vulnerability bring people to you? Yes, I think it does. But I also want to question why are we always talking about and I did it in the story, but why are we always talking about abortion, having abortions as being a shameful thing? I mean, there are so many reasons, and one of them being like, you know what? I just don't want a child that are valid reasons for an abortion. And I've never had an abortion. I'm not saying it's not a hard decision. It is, but shameful, I don't think it is the way that we've stigmatized it in society. And I understand why religious people really think abortion is murder, and I understand that. But I know that abortion is a necessary medical procedure that women are going to go for forever and have forever whether or not it's legal. And so it needs to be legal and we need to be able to talk about abortions without shame men and women.

 

Zorina 00:19:53

See, I don't even think that the lawmakers really care whether or not it's a life. I think it's all about control. I mean, if you dig deep into the philosophy of pro life, like, you want life, right? But then we've got wars, right? And there's so many things the war on drugs, people dying.

 

Allison 00:20:16

And we care about abortion more than we care about the people that are already here. Why do we have guns? It's the same people who are prolife that are carrying guns.

 

Andrea 00:20:28

If we care about life, why are we so open to having people shoot people dead?

 

Allison 00:20:35

So you brought up another point in your story about the number of women in Congress. What you didn't mention is that it seems very partisan. So you could have a woman who now is a staunch Republican or somebody who is very much prolife, and that doesn't even count towards that number. So you gave a number, it was like 25%, 22%.

 

Andrea 00:21:02

It's about 30%. It's 27 and 31%.

 

Allison 00:21:06

But at that percent, we still don't have the full vote, right? So that is a problem. When I was getting this as it is, was reading the top, is that I was thinking, it's not my problem that we in society when we're confronted with an issue that doesn't directly affect us and impact us. It's just not my problem. And I'm guilty of it.

 

Andrea 00:21:31

You thought that?

 

Allison 00:21:32

No, because that is my problem. I mean, it's not my problem right now, but I have a daughter and I have two sons, and it could be my problem. I don't know when and if it's going to be my problem, but I think so many people go, Oh, an abortion is not my problem. So this is the problem that we have to have people understand that it is our problem. And, you know, I always have to bring in criminal justice. It is our problem. So it is a large society problem. And that's why this story is so important, because we have to understand that we all have to stand up. Including men. Especially men.

 

Andrea 00:22:09

Every issue is renovated. That's what justice is about. And if we don't eradicate sexism or racism, we're never going to have freedom for incarcerated people. All of the issues, queer rights, they're.

 

Zorina 00:22:21

All related, like you said. The bigger issue we can really get into just dissecting why abortion should be legal. But the bigger issue is that it's basically just a civil rights right that has been reversed. And so all Americans need to be very concerned about just being able to do that, to reverse a civil rights law.

 

Andrea 00:22:50

That's scary, right? We have to be worried because now we're in the business of reversing civil rights laws.

 

Zorina 00:22:56

What other civil rights laws have been reversed? Is this the first one? This is the first one that I know about.

 

Tara 00:23:03

None. This is the first time a civil right has been taken away. The complicated part is that some people see it as the civil rights of the fetuses being granted. But like Allison said before, those are people who care more about a batch of cells than a living, breathing woman. There is this meme that I've seen that goes I also have a heartbeat. I love that so much. That just says everything about the sexism of this whole situation. Like, yeah, women have beating hearts, too.

 

Zorina 00:23:44

And I like that part. I'm not sure if this was actually in the story, but what you're saying, that part of you being very vulnerable, saying that we need men and I made a mistake, that part is gold. Because if we are able to admit where we're wrong, you're kind of showing your hand. And so if I'm able to admit that I'm wrong, then surely you can as well. And then it goes to what was said in the story. We need each other. We all need each other. For a couple of feminists to say that we need men is huge. I think that's the real story right there.

 

Andrea 00:24:33

I think it's a sea change moment. I have been noticing it. A lot of people on social media, there have been articles since May that are saying similar things. The New York Times put a call out for men's abortion stories on May 15. I'm not the only one who's off this. I'm one of the first. But it's in the zeitgeist. This is a movement that I hope is happening. And that is what you're saying, is Rita like, we need each other. We need to share the responsibility and share the vulnerability of abortion.

 

Zorina 00:25:10

For sure. I like that. Earlier in the story, there is to keep your laws off my body, and no state or lawmaker can tell me what to do with my body. Those are things that we've heard over and over again in Marches, and it's become kind of numb and it kind of just goes over everyone's head, whatever. Almost the same as my body, my choice.

 

Andrea 00:25:34

Exactly the same.

 

Zorina 00:25:36

But what you're saying here, it offers a fresh perspective and it's kind of why now? It's like the perfect storm of just you and Edith are saying this right at this critical time in history. So I applaud you both for coming together and telling a story.

 

Allison 00:26:01

Yeah, because stories are what bring us closer together. If I don't know how you feel and you don't know how I feel, how are we ever going to come up with a happy medium, something that works for everyone, if that's possible?

 

Andrea 00:26:13

That is exactly why EDA told her class that she had an abortion. It was the exact words she said. I was like, Why did you tell your class? Because stories help people understand each other. Stories can lead to political change.

 

Zorina 00:26:29

I love that either.

 

Andrea 00:26:31

Ida Dupont is an associate professor at Pace University in the sociology department. She researches and teaches about sexuality, social movements, criminology and reproductive justice.

 

Allison 00:26:44

So thank you, Andrea. Thank you, EDA, for sharing your stories. And thank you, Zarina, for coming on our show. You always make it so much more fun. Not that Andrea is not fun, but I just have more fun with you too. It's just nice to have another voice, another opinion, and I just love you. So thank you for joining us.

 

Andrea 00:27:08

Please share this podcast even with just one person and share it with Hashtag Men's abortion Stories writing Class Radio is.

 

Allison 00:27:17

Produced by me, Allison Langer, Andrea Ashowitz and by Matt Cundill and Evan Surminski at the Sound of Media Company scene music by Courtney Fox. There's more writing class on our website writingclassradio.com, including essays to study, editing resources, video classes, writing retreats, and live online classes. Join our writing community by following us on Patreon. For $10 a month, Andrea will answer all your publishing questions. For $25 a month, you can join our first draft weekly writers group. You have the option to join my class Tuesday, twelve to one, or Dreams class Wednesday, six to 07:00 p.m., both Eastern time. Write to a prompt and share what you wrote. If you're looking to take your writing to the next level for $125 a month, you'll get first draft and second draft. Both Andrea and I teach a second draft class, Mines on Monday night versus on Thursday and in second 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 patreon.com. Writingclassradio 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?

Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:28:40

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