Actress Martha Plimpton made headlines recently by announcing she had her best abortion in Seattle, which isn't surprising. She has never been coy about that part of her personal life. In 2015 she told ABC, “For me in particular because I did have two abortions as a young woman, I feel that my ability to access that kind of medical care made it possible for me to live out my dreams and do what I really want to do in life.”
My initial reactions were of disgust and anger that someone could be so nonchalant about ending the life a child. But, truth be told, her words triggered a flashback that directed those feelings not towards her, but me. Back in the 70’s I minimized the conduct of aborting twice by spewing pro-choice rhetoric and using my career goals as defense for my actions (coincidentally, both abortions were performed in Seattle).
It is very common for women to not just initially feel relief after ending an unplanned pregnancy, but also identify with and become involved in pro-choice organizations such as Planned Parenthood or the National Organization of Women. They also immerse themselves in their careers. Eventually, however, dysfunctional patterns of behavior surface.
In my case not only was I a workaholic, but also an alcoholic. Successfully climbing the ladder of success in a government career only temporarily validated the sacrifice of two babies and I was oblivious to the fact my drinking was escalating at the same time. In actuality, I was numbing the pain and regret of aborting. Eventually, alcohol dominated my life and affected my work performance, propelling me into a downward spiral that made suicide the only alternative to the overwhelming emotional pain. Obviously, I survived – but only through rehab, therapy and healing from the psychological and spiritual damage unleashed due to my abortions.
Instead of being angry and disgusted towards Ms. Plimpton, I am empathetic and sympathetic. She may be unaware or deny it all together, but her pro-choice activism and relentless pursuit of more roles on stage and screen are more than likely a smokescreen --- covering up the same pain and regret I carried for so many years. I pray she and the countless others living in denial are able see through the smoke and reach out for healing at some point....not just to help themselves, but to stop the rhetoric that misleads vulnerable young women.