Woman defends abortion video to combat stigma and guilt

Emily Letts argues her controversial YouTube video is positive for women

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The Independent US

A woman has defended her decision to film her abortion and post the video on YouTube saying she "wanted to show it isn't scary".

Emily Letts, an abortion counsellor at a women's centre in New Jersey, argues that "there is such a thing as a positive abortion story" and insists that filming her experience can help fight the stigma and demystify abortion.

In an article for Cosmopolitan magazine titled "Why I Decided to Film My Abortion", Ms Letts said she wasn't on birth control when she "wound up" pregnant by mistake and wasn't ready to have the baby. The father wasn't "involved" in her decision.

The 25-year old searched the Internet for videos of an abortion to see what "it actually looks like", discovering that no one had documented the procedure from a woman's perspective and there was a lot of misinformation.

She discussed her intention to film the procedure at her abortion clinic and everyone was “supportive of filming it” despite the potential consequences of her decision to make it public and share it online.

"We knew we could have hundreds of protesters at our door; we could have bomb threats. Working at an abortion clinic, every once in a while it feels like you’re working in a war zone," she said.

The three minute video shows Ms Letts breathing deeply and humming her way through a five minute surgical abortion.

She added: "I remember breathing and humming through it like I was giving birth. I know that sounds weird, but to me, this was as birth-like as it could be. It will always be a special memory for me."

Being in the first trimester of her pregnancy, Ms Letts could have taken an abortion pill, but she decided to undergo surgery and "do the one that women were most afraid of" to show it isn't "scary".

"A first trimester abortion takes three to five minutes. It is safer than giving birth. There is no cutting, and risk of infertility is less than one percent," she wrote.

Read more: Emily's story shows abortion can be positive

Following the abortion, she said: "I don’t feel like a bad person, I don’t feel sad. I feel in awe of the fact I can make a life. I knew that what I was going to do was right because it was right for me and no one else. I just want to share my story."

Her video has been watched more than 360,000 times since it was uploaded on March 14. She said most of the feedback has been positive and supportive, but some have attacked her decision and branded her a "Nazi" and a baby killer. 

She added: "I was able to learn and move forward. And I am grateful that I can share my story and inspire other women to stop the guilt."