The Unmother Project By Jex Blackmore Details Her Step-By-Step Experience With Getting An Abortion
People can (and frequently do) debate the ethics of abortion until they go blue in the face, but there's one aspect of the subject that is virtually never discussed: The actual, physical and emotional reality of terminating a pregnancy. That's what makes blogs like Jex Blackmore's Unmother Project so powerful — in a society where the silence surrounding abortion perpetuates its stigma, it takes so much bravery to even begin trying to demystify the process. Fortunately, Blackmore has that bravery in spades.
Blackmore, who is the chapter director of the Satanic Temple of Detroit, writes on Unmother that she became unexpectedly pregnant in November, and she had no plans to keep the baby. Like many women who are pro-choice, she had thought about what it would be like to get an abortion before; however, she was unprepared for how difficult the experience would prove to be, especially without health insurance. "I did not fully understand the social stigma associated with abortion. I also didn't expect to feel so pregnant so soon," Blackmore told Bustle over email. "The inability to discuss my condition with many friends or family members, and needing to hide it from people I work with made the experience much more difficult."
She quickly found what millions of women before her have discovered: There are few resources regarding the actual process of getting abortion, especially from a woman's perspective. "There's virtually nothing out there about the weeks leading up to getting the procedure and the nuances of the pregnancy experience pre-termination, which is such a vital part of the entire experience," she wrote to Bustle. "I think the taboo and the politicization of abortion makes it difficult to find impartial information about the procedure online."
With such little information available, Blackmore decided to create a resource for other women, and the Unmother Project was born. In the weeks before her abortion, Blackmore publicly recorded her experience with the procedure as an uninsured woman in Michigan: Choosing a clinic, the mandatory waiting period, even how her pregnancy affected her body in the early stages. "I wanted to write about it in hopes of breaking down the social taboo, stand in solidarity with others who have already been through what I'm experiencing and empower other women who may find themselves in a similar position," she wrote to Bustle.
Unmother's entries are sparse and easy to read — exactly like the guide to getting an abortion that Blackmore intended it to be. Judging from the blog, the process of getting an abortion is just as difficult as you would think, from the miles of red tape to all the thinly-veiled attempts to get her to reconsider, as mandated by the state:
I was required to provide my signed informed-consent confirmation page at check-in, which was time-stamped twenty-four hours prior to the appointment. Per Michigan law, had I not brought this with me or failed to print it out at least twenty-four hours in advance, the clinic would not have been able to see me.
I then completed over ten pages of paperwork. Much of this was mandated by the state as well. I spent an additional twenty minutes reviewing all of my responses with a staff member. I would be required to return to the clinic had I missed anything.
The actual process of the abortion, which was induced by a pill, proved to be surprisingly painful. "I couldn’t lie down, I couldn’t stand up, and I couldn’t sit... I was trapped inside of myself," Blackmore wrote on Unmother. Later, she elaborated over email. "The abortion itself was so much more involved and painful than I was prepared for. I think I always assumed it was easy and painless, but at least for me, it was not," she wrote.
Unsurprisingly, the efforts of a woman to blog about her upcoming abortion drew widespread attention from all corners of the Internet. "I received a number of negative comments with the typical anti-female rhetoric. Many of those emails and comments demanded information about my sex life, such as the kind of birth control I used or didn't use and so on," Blackmore wrote. However, she said there were more supporters than detractors in the long run.
"The response has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive... Many women told me how they haven't thought about how silent they had to remain during their experience and it wasn't until now that they realized that they've been carrying that burden with them," she continued.
Blackmore's abortion may be over, but she has archived Unmother's entries in the hopes that they'll prove useful to other women. Whether you're planning an abortion yourself or just curious about what the experience is like, The Unmother Project is absolutely worth your time.
"I think both the pro-choice and anti-choice movements are so focused on abortion access, the woman's experience is often forgotten," Blackmore concluded to Bustle. "We need to support and respect the women in our communities. The abortion conversation needs to be elevated above political pandering."
Images: Charlotte Cooper/Flickr