We Need to Get Respectability Politics Out of Abortion Discourse

It doesn’t matter what your reason is for needing an abortion. You deserve access to one, and your abortion story doesn’t have to be about horrific assault or medical trauma to be valid.

Rachel Presser
8 min readJun 7, 2022


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So this is something I’ve been thinking and saying for a while, but it really came to surface when I saw this article by Jon Pavlovitz for The Good Men Project.

Now, look. I’m not going to come down on the guy for addressing this issue of trying to meet anti-choice Christian women where they are, given that many religious conservative women are actually more virulently opposed to abortion than the conservative men in power. Better yet, he’s coming at this from the place of a pastor.

As your resident Slutty Jewish Heathen, I come from a drastically different background that wasn’t super religious. So, not opposed to that at all. I welcome the perspective, as most reasonable people would. All due respect.

But as someone who is definitely in the line of fire for anti-choice legislation, and the rhetoric that surrounds it, I took major umbrage with the following paragraph. This is a speech pattern I’ve been seeing on social media, personal essays, and news articles ever since the SCOTUS memo leaked:

I am not pro-abortion. Like nearly all pro-choice human beings, I never rejoice over or celebrate these decisions, because I know that they are ones reached after arduous deliberation and great pain; that they are often born out of emotional trauma, physical assault, or dire medical news. I know that abortions are not chosen impulsively or without careful or prayer wrestling. I believe in education and in birth control and in doing everything possible not to create unwanted pregnancy.
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This isn’t so much about the semantics of wording it as “pro choice” vs. “pro abortion”. Rather, it’s this idea that the decision to have an abortion is one purely of pain and trauma when that…isn’t what happens most of the time.

After the SCOTUS leak, Twitter and the news media were inundated with tragic stories about how an abortion saved someone’s life.

Stories flooded in about complications with pregnancy, having physical and/or mental health conditions that made pregnancy untenable, and the horrors of incest and being sexually assaulted by a teacher, boss, or someone else in a position of power imbalance.



Rachel Presser

Game dev, writer, small biz & tax consultant to indie devs. That loud socialist Frog Slut from The Bronx, now in Angel City. https://linktr.ee/sonictoad