Angie Jackson Live-Tweets Her Abortion on Twitter
Anti-Abortion Activists Send Death Threats, Prayers on Twitter to Tweeting Mom
By EMILY FRIEDMAN
Feb. 25, 2010
Angie Jackson says nothing is off-limits on Twitter, not even the details of her abortion.
The 27-year-old has turned to the micro blogging site, and to her blog and YouTube videos, to chronicle her experience taking RU-486, commonly known as the abortion pill, in an attempt to "demystify" abortion for other women.
The posts, which have drawn outrage from abortion opponents online, can be graphic.
"Cramps are getting a bit more persistent," Jackson typed into Twitter on Feb. 21 under her username "antitheistangie."
A few hours later she posted, "Definitely bleeding now."
Jackson told ABCNews.com that she's always turned to her online friends for support, and that her unwanted pregnancy left her needing it more than ever.
Jackson had an IUD, a device that is placed into the uterus to prevent pregnancy, but it failed.
Already the mother of a 4-year-old son with special needs, Jackson, who lives in Tampa, Fla., with her boyfriend, said that after a difficult and life-threatening first pregnancy her doctors advised her to not get pregnant again.
"I had made a decision when my son was born to try to not get pregnant again, and if that failed I'd planned that I would get an abortion if I needed one," Jackson said.
She found out she was pregnant Feb. 13, a little more than three weeks after she conceived, early enough that she could choose RU-486 rather than a surgical abortion to terminate the pregnancy
"My goal is to stay alive, and the best chance of that is to have an abortion," she said.
But her decision to go public with her abortion has brought criticism. Jackson said she'd received death threats and postings on her blog that have labeled her a baby killer.
The day she found out she was pregnant she tweeted the news to her then-800 followers, writing a solemn "Pregnant." Since then, the number of followers on her Twitter feed, YouTube channel and blog have nearly doubled, she said.
"Emotionally, for me, doing this in the open and having the support of my friends has made this immeasurably easier," said Jackson. "This has made me feel like it is an unfortunate experience but not something by which I have to define myself or my life by."
But Jackson, who said she's always spoken about controversial topics online -- she is a self-professed atheist who says she grew up in a fundamentalist cult and survived sexual abuse -- never expected her abortion tweets to garner such attention.
"I don't feel like I'm doing anything different from what I do every day," said Jackson. "But now I have people calling me a killer; it's surreal."
Among the criticisms she's received, Jackson has also been the target of a handful of death threats, as well as personal attacks on her character, her boyfriend and her son.
She said she's been called a "whore" who "can't keep her legs closed," and has also been sent Bible verses by anti-abortion rights activists.
On Twitter, one poster wrote to Jackson, saying, "A mother who aborts cannot love her children unconditionally. She must want them first."
Another poster wrote, "It may be too late but [sic] what if we could arrange for some adoptive parents. I can find someone who will love your baby."
And on Jackson's YouTube page, the comments are even harsher, with posters telling her that she's "going to hell" and that she's "a fool."
"Maybe I was naive. I had not expected that people would think I was making up a medical need for an abortion or other things, like people accusing me of getting pregnant on purpose so I could do this as a publicity stunt," she said, adding that she was "astonished" at the level of hatred some people have for her.
Woman Live Tweets Her Abortion, Garners Criticism
The Family Research Council, which promotes "faith, family and freedom," published a blog calling Jackson's decision a "tragedy."
"The tragedy is that the woman in the video will never know her terminated child's potential," reads the blog, referring to Jackson's YouTube video.
Jeanne Monahan, the director for the Center for Human Dignity at FRC, said that she "feels sorry" for Jackson.
"I certainly don't agree with her decision to have a medical abortion," said Monahan. "In my heart I believe it's not good for her or her baby."
"I don't believe that with all of the evidence out there in terms of psychological effects this decision is going to help her to deal or help her to be a better mother, it's going to add to her problems," she said.
Despite some of the harshest criticisms, Jackson said that only about a third of the responses have been negative, and the rest have been messages of support, including many from women thanking her for explaining a process they don't fully understand.
"The overwhelming sentiment is, 'Thank you for talking about something that is hard to talk about,'" said Jackson, who said that she heard from one young woman about to start taking RU-486 today who was inspired to tweet her experience. Both will use the hash tag symbol and the phrase "livetweetingabortion" to categorize their posts on Twitter.
Jackson said she's not letting the critics get to her. Just as she appreciates the opportunity to discuss her beliefs, she thinks others should be able to do the same.
"I'm not trying to ignite a culture war, I'm just offering one person's personal experience and true story."