Designer of "I Had an Abortion" Shirt Reacts to Nationwide Criticism

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 3, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Designer of "I Had an Abortion" Shirt Reacts to Nationwide Criticism

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 3, 2004

Washington, DC ( — The abortion activist who created the "I Had an Abortion" t-shirt for Planned Parenthood that has spawned a firestorm of controversy nationwide is speaking out in her defense. The controversial shirt has prompted Planned Parenthood affiliates to oppose their parent organization and many women who have had abortions are up in arms.

Jennifer Baumgardner, the shirt’s designer, is a New York resident who frequently writes on women’s issues. She recently co-authored a book called "Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future."

Baumgardner told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she was tired of hearing stories of how abortion left women "feeling embarrassed or scorned" because pro-life protesters at abortion facilities called them "baby haters" or worse.

She told the Milwaukee paper that the shirt helps women make a "proud" statement that no apology is necessary for having an abortion.

"In any town there are women who’ve gotten abortions," she told the Journal Sentinel. "It’s probably people we know and love."

But women who have had abortions say the shirt is offensive and that their abortions caused them intense emotional pain and sometimes medical problems.

At age 18, Pennsylvania resident Karen Bodle learned she was pregnant from her first sexual encounter and had an abortion when she felt she had no other options.

The abortion experience left Karen depressed and confused and plagued her ability to develop a relationship because she was continually haunted by her experience.

"I want America to know that abortion hurts women. Women are created to love and nurture their children, not have them ripped from their wombs and thrown away," Bodle says.

"I did not want more women to go through the intense pain and suffering that I had experienced," Bodle added.

That Baumgardner would create the t-shirt is no surprise given her activism background.

Baumgardner, who grew up in North Dakota and graduated from Lawrence University in Wisconsin, was a pro-abortion counterprotester outside of abortion facilities during college.

She told the newspaper she plans to create a documentary featuring women who have had abortions telling their stories.

But, will Baumgardner include women such as Olivia Gans, the director of American Victims of Abortion who opposes the sale of the shirt and regrets her abortion decision?

For Gans, who would give anything to undo her abortion decision, the t-shirt is a sad reminder of a decision so many women regret.

"Every abortion not only ends a life, but it can leave a woman emotionally wounded," said Gans. "The experience of abortion is traumatic and devastating and I am appalled that Planned Parenthood would exploit the tragic experience of women like myself to further their agenda."