By Emily Everetts
The following is a guest post by Emily Everetts, who testified last Tuesday in front of the House Health and Human Services Committee at the NCGA in opposition to HB 695.
On July 9, 2013, I sat nervously in the North Carolina House Health and Human Service committee meeting, waiting to give public testimony. I came prepared with my speech to oppose House Bill 695, a bill that would shut down all but one abortion clinic in the state. As the time ticked away, my stomach turned. The woman next to me reassured me that I could do it. My twitter friends were sending me constant support. Before I knew it my name was called and I began to walk towards the podium that was stationed right next to the anti-choicers mostly dressed in blue. We pro-choicers wore pink and purple.
I introduced myself and began to tell my story. “My name is Emily Everetts,” I began. “I was raised here in North Carolina.” I had to remind myself to make sure to look every lawmaker who has voted against women in the eye. My stomach started to tense because I knew the sentence that was coming up next, the one that would make people upset: “I became pregnant and I chose to have an abortion.” It felt as if you could hear a pin drop. My stomach turned and my legs grew weak. I then spoke about how my story had a happy ending. I have an amazing husband and we have a 3 year old daughter together. Speaking of them made my voice quiver. Soon I was thanking the committee members for their time and returned to my seat.
I had no idea what I had just done. I view my abortion as a medical decision that was right for me, and I’m not ashamed that I made that decision. It was the right thing for me to do. But people in the committee meeting, people sitting outside and folks all over twitter evidently thought that it was very daring (or gutsy) of me to talk about it so publicly. Tears were being wiped away, cheers were being yelled and tweets of how courageous and brave I was were being tweeted out. In those short minutes, I put a face to this issue that lawmakers have been talking about and that was the most important thing to me.
I’ve been asked why I decided to make something so personal, public. My answer is simple, why not? When sweeping anti-abortion bills are being proposed by people who (most likely) have never had and never will have an abortion procedure, I believe that women, like me, who have had abortions, have a responsibility to remind lawmakers that we are real people. It seems to me that anti-choice proponents in positions of power, and in society in general really, treat women who have had abortion as a subspecies. We’re shamed from telling our story. Society makes everyone think that abortion is a taboo topic and that it should be that way, but it shouldn’t be this way. Abortion isn’t shameful. It’s a safe and legal procedure that is done daily. We need to speak up and use our voices to eliminate the stigma associated with abortion.
Women, like me, who have had abortions, can lead successful and happy lives and many women do. I know my story has a happy ending. I have an amazing family that stands behind all me, and that includes standing behind my personal decisions. I have a beautiful daughter that my husband and I planned for when we were ready. I’ve been able to pursue my education goals and be in control of my reproductive freedoms. Women across North Carolina, this Nation and throughout the World deserve to have the right to the same. We all deserve to make medical decisions without shame and without government intervention. We all deserve happy endings.
Emily Everetts is a wife, mother and women’s health activist living in North Carolina. She is currently working toward her Bachelor’s in Social Work. You can follower her on twitter @becomethebullx, and watch her full testimony at the NCGA here, at about 1:17:30. Check out SPARKsummit, for a slightly different version of this blog post.