Thank you, NASA!

by Peg Johnston, ACP Board Member


This little news item caught my eye today, and I quote it in full:

Leak Ends Spacewalk

NASA aborted a spacewalk at the International Space Station on Tuesday because of a dangerous water leak in an astronaut’s helmet that drenched his eyes, nose and mouth. The leak was so bad that Luca Parmitano, Italy’s first spacewalker, couldn’t hear or speak as the spacewalk came to an abrupt end. He asked his spacewalking partner, Christopher Cassidy, for help getting back in.

You may be wondering what spacewalk accidents have to do with reproductive rights or abortion conversations? I have been noticing that those at NASA are pretty much the only folks who use the word “abort” correctly.

Sometimes when I am counseling patients I say, “Did you ever see Tom Hanks in the movie, Apollo 13? When that tank blows up, he turns to the other guy and says, ‘We have to abort the mission.’ That’s exactly what you are saying.”

Women know when they think the biological mission their body is on—a pregnancy—might not turn out well. They think about their resources, the other people they are responsible for, the other missions they have, like school, child-rearing, career, etc.

Abort means ending something that is threatened, is going wrong, or is ill-advised. A spontaneous abortion (or miscarriage) is when the body recognizes when something is going wrong and it stops it.

 Of course, in the current environment, abortion is made out to be a stigmatizing, shaming word used against women who know what is right for their lives. I think we should say the word in its correct usage much more often. “Let’s abort the war on women” for instance. Here’s a news item I’d like to see:

Sanity Ends War on Women

An uprising of citizens aborted a campaign aimed at restricting women’s health facilities in Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and several other states because of the danger to women’s health and well being. The campaign was so bad that most women’s health care facilities would come to an abrupt end. Clinics asked those partnering with women for help returning to sanity.