Healing After Abortion.
Ever since the leaked Supreme Court Ruling overturning the 50 year right for women in the US to have access to safe abortion services, women’s health and women’s rights have been the topic of conversation.
One side claiming to be the voice of the fetus, and the other side speaking out for themselves – the women who are then forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
In this powerful episode, Amanda Kingsley joins me for a complex and highly nuanced discussion about women’s rights, empowerment, and what this ruling means for women in how we identify ourselves, and what it means for us to have authority over our life and agency over our bodies.
About Amanda Kingsley:
Amanda Kingsley is a Certified Feminist Life Coach and Doula. She is the host of the Speaking Light Into Abortion podcast. And the Author of ‘What I Wish: 100 love notes to help you survive, come alive, and thrive after abortion.’ After her own unanticipated abortion as a mother of three, she recognized the need for a wider conversation around the complex emotional landscape of life after abortion. She reminds her audience that it’s okay to feel all the feelings after abortion, and that we can honor our decisions by living the life we made our choice for. You can learn more and connect with her at www.amandastarkingsley.com.
If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my group coaching program for women in midlife who are done with dieting, but still want to feel good! The Feel Good Sisterhood is open for enrollment, so click here to discover if group coaching is a right fit for you and your goals.
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What you’ll Learn from this Episode
- What the recent SCOTUS ruling of Roe v Wade means for you and your health – physical, mental, and emotional
- Why the impact of this ruling is so much larger than just babies, or what women are allowed to do with their bodies, and the subtle sexism that exists in this argument.
- If you or someone you know has chosen to terminate a pregnancy, and still have strong emotions about it, where you can go for help and support.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Amanda Kingsley | Website | Podcast | Instagram | Facebook | Book
- The Red Tent
- Done with Dieting Podcast Episode 83: Marissa McKool
Full Episode Transcript:
Women’s reproductive health has been front and center as a national discussion lately. So, today I’ve invited Amanda Kingsley on the podcast to talk about the complex issues surrounding why a woman would terminate a pregnancy and why it’s not so black and white as an issue.
So, stay tuned to learn more.
You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women in midlife, who are done with dieting, but still want to lose weight and feel good in your clothes.
You know that diets don’t work long term. But you feel like there’s this secret that everyone else knows that you just haven’t figured it out yet.
I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. And I’ve helped hundreds of women get off the diet roller coaster, change their relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies.
Through this podcast, my goal is to help you too.
Welcome. Let’s get started.
Hey, there! Welcome to episode number 81 of the done with dieting podcast. I am so incredibly honored and excited to have to introduce you to Amanda Kingsley. A coach who helps women who’ve had abortions navigate the complex and confusing emotions that go along with terminating a pregnancy.
I think this episode could have easily been two hours or longer. Amanda and I just kept talking and talking. But I don’t even think that we scratch the surface of this highly nuanced subject. So, if you’ve had an abortion or you know someone who’s terminated a pregnancy and are experiencing some shame or other emotions around it. I think you’re going to need to listen to this episode.
Elizabeth: Welcome everyone to today’s podcast. I have such an amazing guest for you today, Amanda Kingsley. You go by Kingsley, right?
Amanda: I do. I do. Although, ask my electric bill, and my mortgage, and my cell phone bill, cause they all have a different last name.
Elizabeth: Nice. Nice. All right. So, Amanda and I have not met in real life yet. But we were both in different cohorts of the advanced certification of feminist coaching, which I’ve been talking about on the podcast.
And so, I knew I needed to have Amanda on the podcast because well, what’s happened since I initially invited her on is that the SCOTUS overturning of the Roe V. Wade ruling has well, that happened.
That happened. So, then everyone freaked out. Let me first, ask you to introduce yourself. What do you do? Who do you help? And we’ll get into how you got into that and all that great stuff. So, let’s start there.
Amanda: Yeah. Here I am. Thank you for having me. Always happy to offer my voice and my humbly yet powerful opinion on all thing’s reproductive wellbeing. I am a like you said, certified in Kara’s, feminist life coach certification. I certified before that with the life coach school, which I think you did as well.
I spent many years of my life. I went to midwifery school and spent time in birth work, doula work, postpartum work. You know, I was a women’s studies major, like I’ve always been in this world. But I found my new line of work through personal experience.
And just before I certified with the life coach school, in my late thirties as a mom of three. Married to my high school sweetheart like living in a cute little quaint village. Like this is kind of picturesque life. Had my first unplanned pregnancy. And I was of the check the pro-choice box kind of camp.
Of course, I’m pro-choice. There’s no other way to be, that’s like a given for me. But I didn’t understand. I didn’t get it. I didn’t get the impact of what that really meant to have an unplanned pregnancy and choose abortion. And so, that was what led me to my body of work now and my work as a life coach which is navigating the space after an abortion.
Like, what are all the feelings? What’s the entire landscape? And how do we make peace with our own stories, find power in our own stories. And then, be able to use that peace and that power for more access to care. Because as we know in the last two weeks, it is problematic and very important.
So, how’s that? Is that an intro? Does that work?
Elizabeth: Yes, that’s perfect. Okay. So, walk me through that though. You have three children, and you have an unplanned pregnancy. Because I think that the stereotype that many people have of who is getting abortions are single women who are sleeping around, who are not being responsible, and who just decide, I don’t want this baby.
And yet, you are married, you already have three children, and you have this pregnancy, like what led you to make those decisions?
Amanda: Yeah. Like I said, I’d always check the pro-choice box. But for me, I was one of those kids who like always had a baby on her hip and just so I’d just been maternal since I was tiny. So, a huge piece of my identity was always and still is a mother. So, it was not a choice I anticipated making myself. I did not think that if faced with the situation of an unplanned pregnancy, I would choose an abortion.
This is a line of thinking that many of us who’ve had abortions have been through. I say this because I think listeners are curious, not because I think it’s an important part of the story. Although it is, because this is how it happens. Like I did have an I U D in place. It was my second I U D the first one I had between two wanted pregnancies.
The I U D came out and I didn’t know it came out, which feels like a huge piece of my story. I call it my immaculate I U D removal, cause I’m very in tune, I’m very aware. Like, I felt when the eggs implanted and I was like, we’re pregnant.
And so, for me, to lose this piece of like metal for my body and not know was like a big deal. In line of who am I and what just happened. So, I was married with three kids, very much identified as a mother, using birth control. Like, just probably how a lot of your listeners feel right now. And if you have an I U D in place, don’t worry it doesn’t happen to most people. But it can, right?
Like, we can find ourselves in these situations that are like, well, that just happened. Now, what? I was also at a place in my life, in my late thirties where I was ready for more. Like I was pretty diehard stay at home mom with different lines of work along the way along the way. Dual work childcare, various things to bring in a little extra money.
But nothing that felt like me, fulfilling my purpose in the world, really giving back, creating a legacy. And I was just dipping my toes into, who am I as a woman? Not just as a mom, not just as a wife, not just as this like little country bump in human being.
And for me, the most current avenue that had led me to that was like being really pretty involved in a network marketing company with traditional Chinese medicine. I still take the products daily, they’re amazing. Like medicinal mushrooms was my world and sales. And I have lots of feelings that I won’t get into around that.
But it was an amazing time, and I was ready to like to be bigger, be more, be powerful, start building something that I was going to leave behind in the world. And then, I had this pregnancy, and the thing is like over 60% up to 65% of people who have abortions are already mothers. Like we know the impact, right? Like we know what it means to take care of my baby.
And so, I was in my late thirties, knowing so clearly what it would mean to keep that pregnancy and wanting so badly for some other life. I was so done. I was done with nursing. I was done with diapers. I was done with sleepless nights. I had three healthy kids and I quiet, frankly, didn’t really want to play the lottery again.
It’s not like I’m just guaranteed a healthy baby if I choose to keep this. It’s not like yes, everything will work out and I will love this kid no matter what. But eventually, I came to a place where I was like wait a second, I can love this kid no matter what and say no. And I think that’s an interesting part of my story is that I do think she was a baby. Like I had an abortion at six weeks.
So, some people use all different kinds of language. Was it a clump of cells? Was it a fetus? Was it an embryo? Was it nothing? Right? For me, it was a baby because when my other kids were six weeks growing, they were babies. So, I really felt like I said no to a baby, and I felt like, okay, we’re just going to have a different relationship.
Turns out that relationship is my body of work now, but I had no idea. I just knew I’m going to say no to this pregnancy and I’m going to have my own back no matter how hard it gets. If I hate myself, I’m going to figure out how to have my own back. If it ruins my marriage, I’m going to figure out how to have my own back. If it’s hard for my family,
I’m going to figure out how to have my own back. Which is what I would’ve had to do if I decided to keep the pregnancy.
So, as we know as life coaches, like life is 50, 50. It’s dark and light in all directions. And I picked the direction that like my desire as a human wanted to go which was not back into the baby cave. Yeah. I feel like I want to pause and let you digest my story and ask me questions because I could just keep talking for hours.
Elizabeth: Yeah. I think that when we talk about miscarriage or a child that’s been born that dies, we talk about having that relationship. And yet, we don’t talk about the relationship that a woman who has gone through this process, has with that baby. And I’ve been following you on social for a while now. And you do actually talk about that baby as if he or she like was a baby.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. To me, she was a “she,” she had a name. I mean, I named her, her name is grace. I don’t talk to her or set a place for her at a table. It’s not weird. It’s just like I was pregnant and instead of birthing a baby, I birthed this new version of myself which included this body of work. Which I think in my story like she came, so I could do this.
I do that feels true to me, but I don’t think everyone who has an abortion had some being come through to do some magical abortion work. That’s not what I’m trying to say. But I think if we want to tell the story about our abortions, that includes some kind of purpose, some kind of connection, like this is how it was supposed to happen, we can.
We can tell whatever stories we want about our abortions. And so, some people probably think I’m absolutely crazy in the way I talk about my abortion and that’s okay. It’s not their story. It’s not their life. And the way I talk about my abortion and my story has been incredible, right? Like the result of that, I don’t know. I don’t listen to your podcasts, but sorry. Maybe, I will now.
I’m sure you’ve talked about the model, that would be my guess, right? In your body of work, you talk about the model. So, what is the result of me believing that even though that pregnancy didn’t create a living. Being it created like a purpose, it created meaning, it created something in the world that matters.
So, I take that story and I run with it and I help other people do that too. And not all my clients think it was a baby. Not all my clients are happy with their abortion stories. Some have deep regret, but we can figure it out and thrive no matter what story we tell. It’s about picking the one you want to tell. It’s not about picking the right one.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, clearly, there’s a lot of shame and judgment from society on women who choose to terminate their pregnancies. And so, there’s not a lot of people talking about their abortion story. It’s starting to come out within the past two weeks, or months, or whatever. But it’s been something that we’ve kept and shouldered the shame by ourselves.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. And I think there’s lots of ways that we battle up and hide our stories. And I think there’s a lot of people doing a lot of buffering because they have not processed their abortion stories, right? They’re eating those feelings, they’re drinking those feelings, all the things that we do to try and to not feel all the feelings are our abortion.
And the thing about abortion is statistically, based on research, the number one thing people feel is relief. It’s like they’re so relieved to have had access to care, to have gotten the care they needed, to not be carrying that pregnancy anymore. And that’s amazing and I definitely agree with it.
And how many people have feelings right after that? That are grief, shame, guilt. That’s what I think we’re not talking about. And I just think if we talk about all of it, it’s not a problem to have regret. It’s not a problem to have shame. It’s not a problem to have guilt. It’s just an opportunity to look at it and go, why. What am I believing? What do I want to believe instead? Do I want to keep this story? Do I not want to keep this story?
And I think we’re missing such an opportunity by not talking about all the feelings that come with abortion. And it’s scary because if I say guilt, shame, regret, whatever. All of them are normal after abortion, guess who uses that against us. The pro-life movement, conservative politicians. It’s messy and hard. But I think the only way to really reach and make actual change is to tell all of our stories.
Because when I say to somebody, I had shame after my abortion and that is not a problem. They can’t use my shame against me. Like they can’t use my regret against me. They can’t use my grief against me. Because I did have grief and I would a hundred percent bring my daughter to get an abortion if she needed one.
Like I would have another abortion if I needed one. Like feeling is not a problem. It’s just a thing that we get to do as humans. And we get to do a lot of it when we choose abortion. Not everybody, some people have none of these feelings and that’s awesome too.
Elizabeth: I want to bring you back to talking about your I U D and you had just mentioned female empowerment. Because right now, I think that so many of us are getting caught up in this struggle between pro-life and pro-choice is about babies or it’s about women’s reproductive health. And it is. But it’s also about empowering women and allowing them to know that they can make the right decisions. Right?
And I thankfully and I say this without any judgment, that I have never been in the position where I had to make the choice. I think I’ve just been lucky.
Amanda: Exactly. And that’s what I realized when I had this last pregnancy was like, oh wow, I was really lucky. I got lucky. And now, that streak has ended.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of like touching COVID, right? But I remember when I got my I U D put in, it’s like yours. So, I have never had children. And my first I U D fell out. It wasn’t in place properly. And when I went in to get my I U D, I remember my doctor, she was a woman.
And really questioning me about, are you sure you want to do this? Have you really questioned; do you want to have children? And there’s this expectation that women cannot make their own decisions about this stuff?
Amanda: Yeah. There really is. I say all the time about the I U D too and it is pretty common actually for them to fall out in the first weeks. I don’t know what your story was. But mine, it’d been in place for two years. I don’t know when it fell out because I didn’t know it fell out. But it had been in place for a long time. So, it wasn’t one of those like some people get an I U D and their body rejects it right away. They’re like, no, thank you, we’re not doing this.
And I think that’s even more common for people who haven’t carried a pregnancy, a full-term pregnancy. Because the uterus is like, uh, yeah, what are we doing? Get this out of me. I’m not. I’m not into having things in here. But the way we discount what women know they need, what their bodies need is it’s kind of hard to wrap your mind around.
I like to use the analogy like people regret their marriages and we don’t ban marriage. Why do we use all these things? It’s not about babies. It’s not about like that is proof in the fact that we don’t stop people from making choices in other parts of their life. This is just a power game. This is like a way to control people, a way to get votes. It’s a huge one, right?
So much of this story is just political. Like, these beliefs we have around abortion that we think are so like, what society believes is not what society has believed for very long. There are stories fed to us that we decided to believe. Like there are thousands of years of history where people manage their pregnancies. No big deal like it just was what it was.
It became a tool to use against us. And that’s what we’re feeling and seeing now. And we take back our power, like you’re saying. When we take back all responsibility, and that is this piece of feeling all the feelings of making a decision. I actually think there’s a stigma around abortion, but I think there’s an even bigger stigma.
That’s not being talked about of people who choose to keep the pregnancy and wish they hadn’t. Nobody’s talking about that. Because how do you talk about that once you have this child who you love or don’t love. But mostly in most stories, I think you do love and wish you didn’t have. That’s an even harder story to tell. And I think it is rampant out there.
Elizabeth: Yeah. There are a lot of women who love their children. But they’re like, what would my life be without this?
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah, or I wish I didn’t have to carry. Like I can’t even wrap my head around where we’re headed right now and how ugly this is going to get. But the fact that we’re forcing people to take this route, to take this path, to figure out how to take care of children in a society that does not support taking care of children. It is so hard to think about. It’s so hard to think about.
Elizabeth: Yeah. When you said, I forget what exact words you said but you said something about we don’t allow women to make their own choices. This comes out in health and dieting, which is the women who are listening to this. That we tell people that you need to do this diet. We don’t teach them how to listen to their bodies, to tune into that, to figure out what are the foods that my body needs. What do I need right now? And instead, these foods are good, these foods are bad.
And we then, end up buffering on the quote unquote, bad foods because we’re not allowed to have them, and we do it anyway. And so, it’s so interesting that we have this parallel.
Amanda: Interesting, we have this shame.
Elizabeth: Yeah, exactly. There’s so much parallel here.
Elizabeth: Ugh, yeah. Okay, I wanted to go into the history of abortion. So, I know that women have been managing their pregnancies for centuries. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Amanda: No, no. Have you read the book, the red tent? I think about it.
Amanda: When the time I’m like, I wish I lived in red tent days, but I don’t. Right? That would’ve been 50 50. There’s a lot of amazing things about my life right now that I would not have had to face. Those were not easier times but no. That aspect of being together in community as women accepting all parts of what it meant to have. But you know, a body that bleeds and that carries pregnancy.
I am not an expert on the history of abortion. I am not an expert in politics. I am not an expert in medicine. So, I don’t have all that much to offer you because my place is like, what are we thinking and feeling around, and especially after abortion.
Elizabeth: The time of the red tent. Like it was, I don’t want to say normal, but it was an aspect of it. And then, at some point, we started to develop shame around that.
Amanda: Yeah. And I think most of us assume the shame comes from religion. Right? We’ve now learned the story that the Bible says, every pregnancy is a blessing. I don’t even know what the lines are. But this pregnancy was a gift from God, and abortion is a sin, and it’s murder. Like all those stories were created, they’re not actually in the Bible. And you can follow organizations like Catholics for choice or their religious coalition for reproductive rights.
There’s a great documentary on Netflix called reversing Roe. And that gives an incredible insight into; at what point politicians realized that there was a mass number of voters whose vote could be swung in a direction that would lead to where they wanted to go. And that mass number were Christians.
So, how can we get a whole bunch of Christians believing the same thing in our benefits. And that just took off from there. So, that to me is like the most recent point in history where we can go, wait a second. It’s like that realization that in 19, what? 74. Like, we couldn’t get a credit card and Roe was 1973. Right?
Even though, some of your listeners are probably younger, I wasn’t born until 79. That’s like not that long ago. That’s not that long ago. And so, these beliefs we have around abortion, that it is murder, that is a sin, that is an evil act of whatever are not that old. Like they’re new, they’re pretty new.
And many religions do not have seek this opinion about abortion. Like, it’s completely acceptable in the Jewish faith. It is in fact like, what you do if the mother’s wellbeing, mental, spiritual, emotional is at risk? Like the stigma that we feel was created to use against us. It was created by people in power.
And now, we have the lingering effects of it which is what I try and speak to by letting people be human after their abortions.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. And so, like my husband and I were talking about it not too long ago. And he was saying something about, we’ve been chipping away at Roe V. Wade for a while. Like at first, it was what? 20 weeks. And then, some states made it like six weeks. And the conversation got to like, well, should a woman be able to terminate a pregnancy that is almost like to term?
And I had to stop him. And I was like, okay, so, let’s think about this. Let’s think about a woman who has carried her pregnancy, 30 weeks, however, many weeks. She’s showing at this point. She’s walking around, people are asking her about her baby. She’s going to the doctors to get medicine and get regular checkups. Why do you think that she is terminating her pregnancy?
Amanda: Yeah, exactly.
Elizabeth: And he was like, I don’t know. Well, let’s think about it.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. There’s a whole community called, TF. I always like to get the letters wrong. TFMR terminating for medical reasons. There’s a huge percentage of people who terminate because the baby is not healthy. The mother is not healthy. And I’m sad for all people who have lost their rights right now.
But it really breaks my heart that what we’re going at. I got an inbox message yesterday from a woman who said, oh my goodness, my coworker is in the ICU. She has kidney disease. She could die. And now, she found out she’s pregnant, she can’t get an abortion, and she has two kids. She’s not going to survive this pregnancy.
And her ICU nurse is telling her tough luck. You have to have the baby. You don’t have a choice. Like the reasons people would terminate and this is an early pregnancy.
But like the reasons people would terminate any later term pregnancy are either severe mental health in a perfectly healthy baby, which actually is not really happening. Or someone is sick and needs medical care. That’s why you’re terminating late pregnancy. And to deny that healthcare to somebody is inhumane. It’s inhumane, it’s atrocious.
Elizabeth: But I think the point is also that we expect women to justify, why they’re terminating? Like, it’s my business, why you are doing something?
Amanda: Yeah. Which is like that point in the story where I’m like, I don’t really want to tell you this part, but I know you’re wondering, I did have an I U D. I don’t need to justify how many steps I took to prevent an unplanned pregnancy or why I think I need some kind of medical care. A hundred percent. Yeah.
Elizabeth: Yeah. And yet, we constantly ask women to justify themselves and explain. And it carries over into so many other areas of our life when you ask me to do something for the PTA and I’m like, no, we expect an explanation.
Amanda: Yeah. I’m going to my mother’s funeral. That’s about the only excuse I do know. Yeah. And how many men are being asked? Oh, you terminated a late pregnancy, why? Oh, you terminated an early pregnancy, why? No one. I’ve never met a man who felt judged because nobody’s talking about it. Nobody’s talking about it. They’re not even introducing the conversation that may lead to judgment. It’s just not being had at all.
And for us, it’s like nobody would ask a man if they thought they made the right choice. Just be like, wow. It’s a completely different conversation. It’s unbelievable.
Elizabeth: Yeah. So, can you share stories about women that you’ve coached?
Amanda: Yeah. I mean, we talked about the big, hot topic feelings. I think what’s interesting about the people I coach is that I will have a day where I have a call with someone in their early twenties who had a second abortion and can’t figure out if they were with the right partner. And then, I will have a call with someone in their sixties, who had an abortion 30 years ago.
There’s such a wide range. Like I have mothers. I do tend to attract a lot of young women not because more young women are having abortions. But I think because I just really love working with like women in their twenties and their early twenties, because I wish I’d known then what I know now.
But I have had clients who’ve terminated for medical reasons. Clients who’ve terminated one twin and not another. Clients who have like everything. Like any story you can imagine, that’s probably not true. There are so many stories I’ve yet to coach through. But there really is no rhyme or reason to who’s struggling after their abortions.
In the sense that they’re looking for help and to make peace with that, it’s everyone. It’s everyone. Like, so many people with abortion stories have complex abortion stories. And a lot of people have stories where they had one abortion in their early twenties, or in college, or in high school. And it was no big deal. Like never thought about it again.
And then, they got pregnant with a wanted pregnancy and really thought started thinking about their abortion in a different way, or had a second abortion with all new feelings, and were utterly confused that it didn’t feel the same way.
So, all the feels, all the kinds of people, all the stories. I think more people than not have complexity around their abortion stories. And what I hope is that we can stop using that complexity against people. It just means, we’re human. That’s it. It’s okay if you have mixed feelings. Like, for me, I was like, if I’m a feminist, and I’m a birth worker, and I’m a strong powerful woman.
A big piece of my shame was that I was like, sad. Like this should feel empowering. This should feel amazing. It should feel awesome to take control of my reproductive health. And I had a lot of feelings. And so then, I had shame for having feelings. Like, a good feminist shouldn’t feel sad, a good feminist shouldn’t feel regret.
A good feminist should be like marching with power. Like I had an abortion, and it was amazing and I’m amazing. Yeah, I can do that now, but it didn’t feel that way at the beginning. Like, it was messy, and it was real, and it was human.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Thank you for that.
Amanda: I do think I’ll just say, I do think we attract. We attract obviously, like we attract people who have similar belief systems to us. It’s like the message we put out and people resonated with it, and they come to us. But I do find that the people who do some of the deepest, most influential healing work around their abortions.
Do create some kind of relationship to the pregnancy or to the baby or to like, there’s some kind of experience that allows them to be in a relationship with the pregnancy. Whether that means naming a baby, or having some kind of ritual, or it doesn’t have to be like, woo, woo weird.
But acknowledging that like this wasn’t just healthcare. There was more to this than just like getting a mole removed. This was something that I want to honor, and I do find it’s not consistent, but the people who have the greatest healing are able to do that. And find a relief that I don’t see with the clients who don’t make that connection or are not ready to make that connection.
That could just be because of my story and who I attract. So, I’m not saying that’s true for everybody. But if anyone listening has had abortions and wants just like a quick little way to check in like, write a little letter to the pregnancy. Write a little letter to the “You” who had a pregnancy. Create some kind of like relationship that honors it for more than just healthcare.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah, because I think that when I was in college and a young adult, many of my friends had abortions and it was like, they left the clinic, and they just left that whole door closed. And they just moved on. And so, to be able to really look at that and I don’t want to say celebrate it. But to acknowledge it, to have it become part of your story to, yeah, like you said, ritualize it and honor it.
Amanda: Yeah. For me, it’s just the word honor. It’s like, I don’t think when we have abortions, we don’t birth babies, but we birth a new version of who we are. Like we birth ourselves. And so, just to like honor and acknowledge that, I am a different person after my abortions than I was before. Just like honoring that.
Amanda: Interesting. So, what I just heard you say is being able to choose myself over the baby or the idea of a baby. So, when women choose themselves, we are told that we are selfish. Yeah.
Elizabeth: And so, that’s the underlying, okay.
Amanda: Yeah. I very much chose me over that pregnancy. I think I also chose my marriage, and I chose my existing family.
Amanda: But ultimately, the reason I picked the path that I picked was because I wanted to birth me in the world. Like just me. And I picked me over that being.
Amanda: So, in my case, I was like, hey baby, I see you, you’re there but you’re not staying. I’m sorry. I don’t know if you need to find another way into this world, or this is it, or if I’m just talking to nothing. But I’m not picking you.
Amanda: Now, I’m a little spiritual woo. So, I think she’s here like laughing at that cause she’s like, yeah, I was never going to come in in the first place. I picked you because I knew you were going to pick abortion. I do have that belief system. But I don’t think you don’t have to have any kind of spiritual belief system to process your abortions and go kick ass in the world.
Elizabeth: Yeah. But what you said right there, like many of the women who come to me have done the mom thing. They’ve completely lost themselves in the mom thing. And now, they are struggling to really redefine or discover who they are in this world without the mom thing.
And so, what I heard you say was that you had decided that you were ready to discover who you wanted to be outside of the mom thing back then.
Amanda: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And I’m not going to lie. This is relevant to your listeners. There was a piece of me that was like, I don’t want my body to go through another pregnancy. I don’t want to gain 70 pounds again. I don’t want to feel the way I felt afterwards. I don’t want to. I like my body and I’m going to keep it the way it is without introducing a whole new set of challenges that I know are going to come with a pregnancy.
There was definitely a piece of me that was like, yeah, no. Can I learn to love my body no matter what happens after a fourth pregnancy? Yes. Do I want to? No. I’m pretty happy. I’m going to choose to keep things how they are now.
Again, it was just like one tiny piece of my decision, but it was a piece.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah.
Amanda: It was a piece like how many of us gained weight for a million reasons in motherhood and after pregnancy. Big sacrifice we made.
Elizabeth: I have one more question for you. And it’s the relationship between we’re hearing a lot right now about abortion is healthcare. And I think you’ve touched on it a little bit in terms of sickness of the mother or the baby. But are there other aspects to that? Well, we haven’t talked about mortality rate of pregnant women in the US.
Amanda: Especially, people of color.
Amanda: Ugh. Is that another piece that just kills me is how atrocious our maternal mortality rate is especially for black women. But all people of color and class, right? Class is a factor there too. Not only are we now forcing pregnancy? We’re forcing pregnancy in a unsafe birthing condition. Like having a baby in the United States of America does not look like it does in other countries. Like, we think these numbers are normal. They’re not normal. Like our birthing system is not good. Like, our maternal outcomes are not good. We’re forcing people to have babies.
Elizabeth: Yeah. So, what are the numbers in cases?
Amanda: I just posted this graphic, and I posted all the time and I never remember the numbers. But like we are the un-safest first world nation to have a baby in.
Elizabeth: Yeah. And this is true for white women as well as women of color.
Amanda: Yes. This is true for all women. But there’s a great app called, “IRTH.” Like birth without the B. Specifically, for women of color to find safer hospitals to give birth in. Because yeah, like having a baby in this country is a risk. And having a baby in this country, particularly as a black woman is a big risk. And now, we’re forcing people to do that.
Elizabeth: Can you explain that more? Is it just the conditions of the hospital? Why are women dying?
Amanda: There’s literally like people still get taught in nursing school now. Things like black people feel less pain. Right? So, their pain in labor is not honored the way someone, right? So, they have pain that is not believed, that is not listened to, and conditions get missed. Right?
So, as much racism in the medical system as there is in any other system. And so, put that racism into; yes, birth is normal and can be very healthy and like all the things. But it’s a time where you want to be like acutely listening to women in their pregnancies and their births.
It’s literally still being taught things like, which races feel the most pain and which races don’t. Like in nursing school. There’s lots of reasons, but we go into class too, right? Like the hospital I give birth in. In my very white community like I live in that like, I don’t live anywhere near a city. Like I was having a conversation with a friend recently and I said, yeah, but my town’s really small. And she was like, so is mine. And I looked up her town, it was like 60,000 people. I’m like, yeah. 1800.
No, I mean, very small. So, we go into class issues too. Like we find anywhere there is oppressed people. The quality of education, the quality of medical care, it all goes down. Right? So, everything is at play in the numbers.
Elizabeth: Because our tax dollars, those areas aren’t as funded as the wealthier areas.
Amanda: Yeah. Definitely, not as funded. Again, I’m not the person to be like, please don’t anyone take me as the expert in this. Go look it up. There’s lots of ways to find these numbers. But this is something I’ve been looking at because I studied birth right out of college. Before I was even 20, I was looking at these kinds of things and like the inequity, and the lack of maternal health, and wellbeing in this country, it’s really sad. It’s really sad.
For all the resources we have that we can’t do better in our labor and delivery units, it shows how much we value women and not other birthing people. Right? But not to exclude. But in general, it shows how little we value women. I still go to a birth every once in a while, I went to one in May.
And I even look at the equipment and then I look at my iPhone. And I’m like, if you go to a birth in a hospital these days, it looks almost exactly like it did 50 years ago. Like if men were giving birth, like we’d have all this fancy equipment and we wouldn’t have all the wires, it would be so much better. It would be so much better. It just would like; we can see how much we value women in care that’s given primarily to women.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you for being on today’s episode. I’ve learned just an amazing amount. I hope everyone else has. Do you only work one, on one? Do you work with folks in a group setting?
Amanda: Yeah. Right now, I still only offer one on one. My program is called “birthing a new you,” because I do really believe that no matter how many abortions you’ve had, it’s an opportunity to like to expand and step to your highest most powerful step self.
So, I do still work one on one at this point. It’s really special work and we laugh, and we cry, and all the things. We rage, we feel all the feels and the transformations people have. You know, we talk about relationships, and we talk about professions. And everything is just a space to live your best life with complete freedom to let your abortion be a part of your story.
So many people come to me because they’re afraid to tell their therapist they had an abortion. Or they told them once, but they can’t really keep talking about it. So, just having a space whether it’s me or someone else where you can be totally free and open about who you are without judgment is an incredible thing.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, and I love that you said you have had clients who are 60, who are still just feeling this shame because I’m sure that there are a lot of women who are listening, who are in that same exact boat. And so, if you want to get out of that shame and not experience that anymore, I’m going to highly recommend that you reach out to Amanda. Because life’s too short.
Amanda: Yeah. And I have a podcast, 150 episodes into a podcast called speaking light into abortion. And I have a book that you can get on Amazon. It’s basically like a hundred poems. And they will both change your life if it’s anything you want to start exploring. And then, I’m here for the good juicy stuff.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. So, where can people find you?
Amanda: I am Amanda Star Kingsley everywhere, it is actually my middle name, S T A R. That’s my website. I mostly share on Instagram, but I’m on Facebook. Most people find me through my podcast or my book.
Elizabeth: Yeah. And so, even if you haven’t had an abortion, if you know someone, make sure they check out Amanda, because your stuff is awesome.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you.
Amanda: Thank you for having me.
Elizabeth: Wow. I just love chatting with Amanda and I learned so much in this episode. I hope you did too. One thing that we didn’t talk about was what to do in response to the SCOTUS ruling. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
In a very upcoming episode, I’m going to be circling back about how politics influence our health. And in that episode, we’ll have some actionable steps. So, stay tuned and I’ll see you next week. Bye-bye.
Hey, if you enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out the Feel Good Sisterhood. It’s my small group coaching program where we take all this material, and we apply it. We figure out what works for us, and we don’t ever look at another diet ever again.
Join me over at elizabethsherman.com/groupcoaching. I’d love to have you join me in the Feel Good Sisterhood. See you there.
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