The pro-abortion story we didn't need to hear

Posted: May 12, 2014

I JUST wanna tell my story!" a desperate-sounding Emily Letts says into the camera, twice, her big-blue eyes pleading with us to hear her, hear her, oh, please, just hear her.

And what does this 25-year-old former actress want to tell us?

That having an abortion can be a "positive" experience!

That is why Letts has recorded her own abortion. The video, parts of it dramatically lit and musically soundtracked, is chirpily titled "Emily's Abortion Video" and it has gone viral. It features Letts - a patient advocate at the Cherry Hill Women's Center - mugging, giggling, humming and clapping her way through the procedure (which is not graphically depicted).

It's bizarre and narcissistic and does not, in any way, tell Letts' "story", much as she seems to believe it does.

We don't learn why she didn't use the birth control she presumably knows how to use, given her employment at a place that provides abortion and reproductive care.

We don't learn about her relationship with the guy who knocked her up, or the circumstances that led to her pregnancy.

We don't learn whether the procedure hurts, or how much it cost. Was it covered by insurance or did she get a freebie because it was performed at the center where she works?

No, all we have is Letts - who is movie-star pretty - telling us, with movie-star drama, how much she wants to tell her story, which she then doesn't tell.

I've read tweets with more depth.

But here's the thing: I don't care. As lousy a storyteller as Letts may be and as actressy as she may come across in her video, I'll defend any day her right to a medical procedure that has been legal since 1973.

That's the frustrating thing about living in a country based on laws. They protect everyone, including the morons whose actions give the laws bad press.

Like Gilberton, Pa., Police Chief Mark Kessler, who last July posted a profane and disturbing video of himself shooting an assault rifle into a hillside while damning Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations while shouting "Come and take it, mother f---ers!"

Watching him made me wish this country would revoke the right to bear arms. Except then we'd have to revoke the right for all of us, including better-spoken and rational gun owners (yes, they exist).

The freaks on the edge sure play head games with us, don't they?

I feel similarly conflicted when I walk past Liberty Place and am subjected to bullhorn rants from members of the Israelite School of Universal and Practical Knowledge, who spew hatred of women, whites and gays (thankfully, their sound system is so terrible, half the time you can't make out what they're saying).

These crazy windbags give free speech a bad name. But what are we supposed to do - revoke it? And if we do, whose speech gets yanked next? Yours? Mine?

And what about the right to marry? Should we get rid of it, just because the eight-times-married Elizabeth Taylor made a mockery of the institution?

Of course not. She was entitled to abuse her right to marry (and divorce) as often as she pleased.

Just as Emily Letts is - sigh - entitled to be as icky, weird and self-congratulatory about her abortion as she chooses. Roe v. Wade doesn't grant the right to choose only to those women whose comportment is agreeable to the right people. It's available to any woman facing an unplanned pregnancy.

And a good many of them are far less breezy about it than Letts was. Not that being breezy - or guilty, or relieved, or sad, or any other emotion - should be required to obtain an abortion.

I just wish Letts' "story" had focused more on how fortunate she was to easily undergo a procedure that women in other parts of the country can no longer access without trouble, because anti-abortion advocates have decided women should bring to term the pregnancies that were the result of rape. Or failed birth control. Or lack of birth control. Or abuse. Or just plain old human error because we're all human and humans sometimes err.

Letts' story doesn't tell the full story of what abortion is like for women who undergo them, because every woman's story is different.

I just wish, given how its gone viral, that Letts' story was better told.


Email: polaner@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-2217

On Twitter: @RonniePhilly

Blog: ph.ly/RonnieBlog

Columns: ph.ly/Ronnie

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