Saturday, April 1

There is no single reason to abort and no single way to feel when you do.

I’m tired of the categorical speeches about the reasons why women resort to abortion and what they should feel. I wanted to listen to several and tell me what they have experienced; I refused to accept that others spoke for them

I meet F. in a downtown bar. We hugged, long time no see. That’s why we stayed, to see each other, but also to talk about her abortion. Having an abortion or accompanying a friend to do it, or even the mere specter of a possible abortion when your period is late and your heart is racing, is a collective experience shared by many women. F. is my friend and two and a half years ago she decided to have an abortion. I accompanied her in what I could and, above all, in what she wanted. I hand him the book I brought with me and ask him to read the first few paragraphs.

“I am proof that an abortion can cause indifference or an outburst. I am proof that the same body can experience the same event twice and mobilize the head that crowns it or the emotions that inhabit it in a totally different way. I am the proof that it can take twenty years or just the weeks necessary to carry it out. That it may be the only way out or simply an opportunity to wait for a better moment. So, I got tired of the categorical and closed speeches about the reasons why women should resort to him and about what they should or should not feel at that moment. I got tired and wanted to listen to some of those women, to have them tell me what they had experienced; I refused to accept that others spoke for them.”

That woman who got tired is Sandra Vizzavona (France, 1975), a lawyer who decided to write a book: Interruption, which has just been published in Spain by the publishing house Tránsito with a translation by Laura Salas Rodríguez. In that book could be the voice of my friend and there are the voices of dozens of women. Léah, Julie, Lila, Camille, Eva, Virginie, Manon, Elsa, Annie. The sum of their stories is not, however, a mere compendium of stories, but rather results in a comforting text that helps to address some questions that we continue to overlook.

Many questions

Why do we strongly defend the right to abortion but talking about our abortions is still so complicated? Why do we feel forced to fit into a certain story? Why do some people expect us to necessarily feel guilty? seems impossible to feel only liberation? But also, why does defending the right over our bodies seem to lead us to assume a discourse in which there is no room for doubts, contradictions, affliction or mourning?

“Being able to question all these women confirmed my theory that there are as many types of abortion as there are women in the world and that it is a different experience for each one of them. Some suffered terribly and for others it was completely insignificant. What has caught my attention the most (although I am not surprised) is that most of them had never talked about it, or very little”, explains Sandra Vizzavona about the process of writing her book. Among the women who speak for Vizzavona, the stories are diverse. There are those who did not consider what to do, but took it for granted; there are those who continued with her life as if nothing had happened; there are those who experienced a personal or couple conflict; there are those who did not have time to think about it and those who have thought about it for years.

“I remember the doctor’s visit; a glass of water and the pill; the thought that the baby was clinging; the obstinacy in not separating from David, knowing that a relationship was not possible. I have never regretted the decision. I am where I have to be


F. remembers her abortion, she was then 35. “It was just taken for granted. I had never wanted to be a mother, and it’s like the thing to do at the time. Now I think that I didn’t have time to connect with what I really felt”, she says. A demanding job, a relationship that was going through a very bad time, a couple fleeing commitment, an abortion that had to be organized at full speed to meet deadlines… It was later that F. calmly reflected on that abortion and the circumstances around him.

“He [su pareja] He told me that it was up to me to decide, but I knew what he expected me to decide. Sometimes I think that that conditioned me a lot, knowing that he really didn’t want to have it. If he had thrown forward, I would have thought about it, “he continues. The cascade of friends and acquaintances who during these two years have been mothers has caused F. to awaken an indefinite feeling in his stomach. Was that your last chance to be a mother? Have you sacrificed too much for your job, or for someone who was your partner one day and is no longer? Do you really want to be a mother or is it just that the plague of pregnancies and babies around make a childless woman approaching 40 feel like there’s something wrong with her?

Sandra Vizzavona miscarried twice. On the first occasion, she was 16 years old and her abortion left her with a sense of guilt that she carried for years. Writing this book, she says, allowed her to wonder about the reasons why she felt guilty, “even though that feeling was opposed to all my convictions about the freedom that women have to do what we want with our bodies.” “When talking to other women, I realized that I was not the only one who lived through that experience with shame, hiding myself, and being able to talk about this subject has made me rebel and also, why not, has comforted me at other times,” she says. . The book has made Vizzavona speak again with her parents about her abortion, an episode that she had been silenced since her adolescence, and helped her “to break the silence and the taboo that had been established in the family around the abortion”.

“Frankly, it’s like I’ve had a tooth pulled; of course I would have preferred not to, but I knew I had no choice; it was unpleasant and I didn’t feel like going. But once it was done, it was over.”


If the abortion of the 16 belonged more to her parents than to her, the one of the 25 was strictly hers: “This time, when reading the result [del test]I don’t tremble or feel terrified, just upset. I know perfectly well that I am not going to keep the child.” What Vizzavona did miss was more empathy on the part of the medical staff. What she thought was an individual experience turned out to be extremely common: “I was struck by the number of stories of mistreatment or inappropriate behavior by medical staff. Many women were forced to listen to the heart of the embryo or look at an ultrasound, they were insisted on the good health of the embryo, they were not explained the physical pain or the bleeding that the abortion pill can cause…”. The first gynecologist who recognized F. also made him listen to the heartbeat of the embryo. No questions, no choice. Just a grain of rice on the ultrasound screen and a pumpum runaway ringing in the office as she digested the shock.

relief and grief

In ‘Interruption’, Valentine compares her abortion to having a tooth pulled. Julie says that she already had two children and that her unexpected third pregnancy scared her but that it was also “the biggest dream of my life.” Her partner, however, did not want to hear about it. “I did not suffer at all on the physical plane and the act of abortion did not disturb me at all. Only my desire to be a mother remained, which had to be stifled, ”she recalls. Sarah’s mother had just died when she found out that she was pregnant: “The decision is imposed, I cannot give life when I am invaded by death”. Joséphine slept with her ex and they didn’t use protection. She didn’t want a child but she did want proof that her body ‘worked’. “It is an abortion that, in a way, I can say that I provoked. And it put me at ease,” she admits. The women who speak for the author go through emotion, sorrow, relief, liberation, indifference, remorse. And they make it clear that none of these experiences should serve to charge against the right to abortion, but rather the opposite.

“In general, most people continue to believe that abortion is a drama that makes women suffer a lot. When I started working on Interruption, I asked people around me if they knew women who had had abortions and if they would agree to be interviewed. Almost systematically the answer was: ‘Yes, but I’m not going to ask him, it’s very uncomfortable and I don’t think he wants to talk about it, I’m sure it was very hard…’ That’s what I write in the introduction to the book: they don’t even ask us if we want to talking about it, society silences us. However, all the women I interviewed were relieved to finally be able to share their experience, to be listened to without judging their actions or their feelings. All this favors the idea that women who abort commit a fault and this is precisely what must change because it puts our right to do so at risk”, explains the author.

It was about my life, my body and my career; It was an irrevocable decision and I saw no interest in a sterile discussion with my partner that would only provoke anger and misunderstanding.


Another of the women who appears in the book, Sophie, recounts that when she woke up from her abortion she felt relieved and liberated. But that memory of her has always been accompanied by sorrow, by a mourning that she perceives as one of the deepest in her life. She still keeps the ultrasound that they did before her intervention. F. also tells me about that ultrasound, she kept it until just a few days ago. She found her very recently, in the midst of moving, and she decided that that image of her was not going to accompany her to her next destination. Like the women in the book, she is also grateful to be able to talk about abortion, to get out of that dark room in which we are supposed to stay while some of the most important things in our lives happen to us. Do not speak. sit like this Or this other way. Don’t you dare doubt. Nor to show that it was something so trivial.

Vizzavona recalls that two women she interviewed even told her that they felt guilty precisely for not feeling guilty: “The weight that is imposed on this decision, the forced suffering and remorse, is crazy. For this reason, I believe that women who did not suffer from their abortions should talk about it more often, without shame and leaving aside the fear of offending someone. We are exercising a right, stop doing it secretly or timidly”.

When we say goodbye, F. asks me to borrow the book. I tell him I can’t let him have it yet, I still have to write the article. In a few days, I promise. What I actually do is go to a bookstore and buy a new copy for her. I open the first page and write a dedication: “For everything that is to come, whatever it may be. Madrid, March 2022. Ana”.