Why This Woman Filmed Her Abortion

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When we talk about abortion, we usually speak in both abstract and absolute terms. Most of the conversation involves shouting about whether it's right or wrong to provide access to abortion services for those who want them. But, we rarely think about just what those procedures look like — not to mention the thought processes and emotions that are running through the minds of women who undergo them.

It was this lack of dialogue about the actual experience that inspired Emily Letts, an abortion counselor at the Cherry Hill Women's Center in New Jersey, to film her own operation. In an essay published this week in Cosmopolitan, Letts, 25, describes how she made the decision during her first trimester, after finding out she was pregnant for the first time. She writes about the support she received from clinic staff during her surgery, as well as the responses (both positive and negative) she received from friends and online viewers.

Most important, though, is how Letts dealt with the guilt she thought she was supposed to feel. She writes, "Our society breeds this guilt. We inhale it from all directions. Even women who come to the clinic completely solid in their decision to have an abortion say they feel guilty for not feeling guilty. Even though they know 110% that this is the best decision for them, they pressure themselves to feel bad about it." In both the essay and the video, Letts' positivity about her experience shines through. At the end of the video, she says, "I knew that what I was going to do was right, because it was right for me, and no one else. I don't feel like a bad person. I don't feel sad."

Of course, this is just one impression — one that happened to be positive. Every story is different; not every woman is lucky enough to have the support (or the facilities) Letts had. But, no matter what side of the issue you're on, Letts' grace and inner strength paint a radically different — and deeply human — picture of what abortion truly means today. Watch the (not at all graphic) video above, and share your thoughts below.