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I had an abortion. Actually 1 in 4 women have one.
You might have had one, too. It’s a hurtful word, isn’t it?

Especially when no “choice” was made.

You see, by the terms of my insurance papers and by medical standards I had an abortion.

Did you know that a natural miscarriage is actually called a spontaneous abortion? Jarring isn’t it?

It’s especially jarring when your pharmacist scolds you for taking “abortion” medicine, your physician demands to know why you had a “prior abortion,” your insurance won’t pay for a procedure because it’s an “abortion,” and your Sunday School teacher accuses you of horrors because you ask for prayer after your ectopic pregnancy.

These are just a few examples of stories women have shared with me. Yes, those people are to blame for their reactions, but women shouldn’t be put in this situation. Period.

We’ve got to stop this extra shame.

As a society we’ve given this word too much power, and it’s hurting many already grieving women.

It’s a word that brings misguided blame to many of us because by societal standards “abortion” equates with “choice.” And we sure as heck didn’t choose for our babies to stop growing.

After loss many of us are not thinking rationally and trying to wrestle with these powerful words is destructive to our souls.

Perhaps adding to the taboo topic of loss.

In the community of loss there is also a threatened abortion, incomplete abortion, therapeutic abortion, and even recurrent abortion.

I can actually raise my hand and say I belong to the tribe of women with a recurrent abortion. Not by choice, I must add.

The trauma of this wording is, at a lack of better words, atrocious.

So as we continue to talk about women’s issues I would love for us all to join forces and encourage those in power to make needed labeling changes.

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) can you help us make some changes?

Will you please set guidelines so that our discharge paperwork and insurance would use alternative labels?

I truly appreciate that you already recommend that miscarriage and stillbirth be used in conversation. But we need our formal papers to say the same.

Because some of our babes, who aren’t breathing, must be induced to come out of our bodies. And seeing the word abortion to describe this already horror of a situation is damaging.

Please give us some dignity.

Plus we need to protect ourselves in case people in power start equating all “abortions” as choice and our health rights to receive much-needed care accompanying our loss are taken away.

If we change the wording, we can help change the stigma and make sure misinformed people don’t make misinformed decisions.

And perhaps, Pro-Life community…could you be more specific and use the term “elective abortion” instead of the collective term “abortion”?

I appreciate you, too. Because you are saying that life begins at conception. And it does.

But we need more from you.

How about additional research to help fight late-term loss?

Compassionate stances on ectopic pregnancy.

Raising funds for additional monitoring so that women can find out quickly if things are going wrong.

We need you to extend your definition of pro-life. Let’s join arms.

And dear–sweet mama of loss, please know that physicians are not poets; they are clinicians and use clinical language. God called your child wonderfully and fearfully made. Listen to those words.

And mamas who chose abortion and feel saddened now, please know you are loved and adored, too.

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Sarah Philpott

Sarah Philpott Ph.D lives in the south east on a sprawling cattle farm where she raises her two mischievous children (with one on the way!) and is farm wife to her high school sweetheart. A former teacher, she now spends this season of her life cleaning peanut butter & jelly off the counter, dreaming of traveling the world, hosting “get-togethers” for her family & friends, and chasing her kids around the farm. Sarah is represented by The Blythe Daniel Literary Agency. You can visit with Sarah at her blog where she writes about cultivating a life of down-home simplicity. She also has a passion for helping women cope with pregnancy loss.

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