In the next two months, Jackson, then 25 with her own toddler son, rapidly lost her faith. She'd already been running a blog for Balizet as part of her work for the ministry, and shortly began an antithetical blog, Angie the Antitheist, where she writes frequently about atheism and the abuses of faith healing. When Jackson began to blog and tweet about her medical abortion last month, "the transition from being born at home and ending with a home abortion" felt like a full circle. Jackson is writing a book about her childhood in Balizet's household, tentatively titled Birth and Death: Life of a Newborn Cult.
"I like to say I'm allergic to secrets," says Jackson. "I grew up in an abusive and fundamentalist childhood, so secrets and lies were par for the course. I've made the conscious decision in the last two years to be open about that. So it flowed for me; I write about everything."
Kate Cosby Cockrill, program director of the social and emotional aspects of abortion program at the University of California-San Francisco, says the costs associated with coming out about abortion often outweigh the benefits on an individual level. The condemnation Jackson has drawn can testify to that. "The process of stigma is to label someone with something and then to stereotype them and separate them from the norm," says Cosby Cockrill. "You can do that with 500 women, 100,000 women, with 2 million women."
Somewhere between 45 million and 52 million U.S women have had abortions since 1973, but very few discuss it, even with friends, says Charlotte Taft, Director of the Abortion Care Network, the largest coalition of non-Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in the United States. * But perhaps Jackson's extreme and unique background, which few women will share, also has given her an uncommon willingness to be public with her story. And for that, many abortion advocates are grateful.
"If what you have is a secret," says Taft, "it can only be private when somebody has risked enough to break the secret."
Correction, March 10, 2010: Due to an editing error, this piece originally stated that between 45 million and 52 million U.S. women have abortions annually. In fact, that statistic is cumulative since 1973. Return to the corrected sentence.