You can’t manage your work life if you can’t talk about it

Recently I ran the following twitter:

“I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a fucked-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.”

Why the uproar over this twitter?

Not only have bloggers written whole posts about the disgustingness of it, but 70 people unfollowed me, and people actually came to my blog and wrote complaints about the twitter on random, unrelated posts.

So, to all of you who think the twitter was outrageous, think about this:

Most miscarriages happen at work. Twenty-five percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Seventy-five percent of women who are of child-bearing age are working. Most miscarriages run their course over weeks. Even if you are someone who wanted the baby and are devastated by the loss, you’re not going to sit in bed for weeks. You are going to pick up your life and get back to it, which includes going back to work.

This means that there are thousands of miscarriages in progress, at work, on any given day. That we don’t acknowledge this is absurd. That it is such a common occurrence and no one thinks it’s okay to talk about is terrible for women.

Throughout history, the way women have gained control of the female experience is to talk about what is happening, and what it’s like. We see that women’s lives are more enjoyable, more full, and women are more able to summon resilience when women talk openly about their lives.

To all of you who said a miscarriage is gross: Are you unaware that the same blood you expel from a miscarriage is what you expel during menstruation? Are you aware that many people are having sex during menstruation and getting it on the sheets? Are you aware that many women actually like period sex? Wait. Here is a link I love, at, telling men that women like it so much that men need to be aware of this preference.

To all of you who are aghast that I let myself get pregnant: having sex is playing with odds. There are no 100% sure methods of birth control. I am 42 years old. The likelihood of someone my age getting pregnant even with fertility treatment is less than 5%. The likelihood that a pregnancy in someone my age ends in a miscarriage is almost 75%. This means that even if I had done nothing for birth control it would have been as effective as a 25-year-old using a condom. So everyone who is complaining that I’m an idiot for getting pregnant should go buy a calculator.

To all of you who said I should not be happy about having a miscarriage: You are the ones short on empathy. Any woman who is pregnant but wishes she weren’t would of course be grateful when she has a miscarriage. Yes, there are many women who want the baby and have a miscarriage. I was one of them. I cried for days. I get it.

But if you have ever had an abortion, which I have, you would know that a miscarriage is preferable to an abortion. Even the Pope would agree with that.

And what is up with the fact that just one, single person commented about how Wisconsin has a three-week waiting period for abortions? It is absolutely outrageous how difficult it was going to be for me to get an abortion, and it’s outrageous that no one is outraged.

Wisconsin is one of twelve states that have 24-hour waiting periods. This puts a huge burden on an overworked system. These are also the states where there are few ways to get an abortion. For example, in Wisconsin, the only place to get abortion that is covered by insurance is at a Planned Parenthood clinic. There are 3 of them in all of Wisconsin. In Chicago, you can get an abortion at Planned Parenthood with less than 24 hours notice. In Wisconsin, there is a week and a half wait to get the first meeting and a week and half wait to get the abortion.

A digression: I’m linking to Planned Parenthood so everyone can make a donation. This organization is enabling women to have the right to abortion. Planned Parenthood seems to be the only effective, community-level force against states that are attempting to legislate the choice into oblivion.

To all of you who think this has nothing to do with work:

I think what really upsets people is the topic. We are not used to talking about the female experience, and especially not in the context of work. But so what? We can start now. The female experience is part of work. What we talk about when we talk about work defines how we integrate work into our lives. If work is going to support our lives, then we need to talk about how our lives interact with work. We need to be honest about the interaction if we hope to be honest about our work.

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  1. J
    J says:

    Thank you for this!

    I had a miscarriage start at work (and one at home) this year. Yes, miscarriage is common, it frequently happens at work, and, unfortunately, we don’t speak of this enough! Enough isolation; we CAN talk about women’s issues in the workplace!

    • Kristin
      Kristin says:

      I think it is in poor taste, if you are going to have an abortion, to allow it to grow for another month before it is terminated.

      • KateNonymous
        KateNonymous says:

        What does “poor taste” have to do with this? Do you mean that the state uses poor taste in determining its laws on this matter? If so, then “poor taste” is a serious understatement.

      • Annette
        Annette says:

        I think P’s point is that it is a disgrace that the state makes a woman wait three weeks for an abortion, when she would prefer to have it done ASAP.

      • Maggie Roberts
        Maggie Roberts says:

        First of all, I am sorry for your loss. Even if you intended to terminate, you would have experienced a loss. There are emotional consequences to be dealt with and I hope that you are well.

        I have to agree with the other commenters about the waiting period in Wisconsin. I am not for abortion in any way and even I can agree that later is most definitely not better. I am sure this is in some effort to get women to think through their choice thoroughly by forcing them to take the time, but I don’t really believe that this is a decision than most women take lightly to begin with. It’s really quite sad to add the guilt of several extra weeks on top of what is already impossibly difficult.

        • Alex Blaze
          Alex Blaze says:

          No, that is flatly not the reason they make laws like this. It’s not the reason supporters of these laws use and it’s not the reason anyone who understands why they do their work would ascribe to them.

          The goal is to prevent women from having an abortion. If it takes longer, some women won’t be able to get out of enough work to make it happen. Or they’ll miss the second appointment. Or they’ll decide in the third month to get an abortion and by the time the 3 weeks has passed they’ll be in the second trimester. Or the multiple appointments will put so much of a burden on women’s clinics that it’ll prevent some women from getting medical care.

          That’s the only goal. But you’re against abortion, so this should be a victory for you. Don’t be a sore winner as more and more states make Roe irrelevant.

          • Katie
            Katie says:

            No. The real reason is that maybe one of them will decide not to get the abortion. It’s about giving women one more day to change their minds.

            Isn’t a decision as big as ending the life of your child worth one more day?

    • Jessica
      Jessica says:

      You mean the state is in poor taste to put so many women in this situation? I would certainly agree with that!

      • Penelope
        Penelope says:

        Penelope, what if your mother had miscarried you. To tweet about something that devastate other women you found relief. You are a poor excuse for a human being.

      • Megan
        Megan says:

        To be honest, had she been a miscarriage, she never would have known, would she? Think about it. It never would have hurt her at all–she simply never would have existed.

      • kberry
        kberry says:

        it’s just appalling, that your world view has so little regard for human life that u can refer to a death in the same bored voice that announces a board meeting. plz think about it

        • Kara
          Kara says:

          Take off your blinders and pay attention to the information that was actually presented to you.

          First off, she recognizes the value of human life and the unfortunate commonness of miscarriage throughout the piece.
          If you’re arguing that a someone having a single, particular stance automatically lumps them into a arbitrary category defined by others, should we start pulling the skeletons out of your closet..? You don’t get to choose what the labels are, we do, and remember, our label for you is just as accurate as the one you’re trying to give Penelope.

          She also accurately points out that our culture leaves no room to be open about a major life event experienced by so many. The statistics are listed: 75% of childbearing aged women work, 25% of all pregnancies end in unintended miscarriage. Twenty-five percent of pregnancies unexpectedly change from being a special, precious miracle (not sarcastically, but actually, in your and many people’s eyes), to instead becoming part of the garbage and going down the toilet. It becomes what we don’t talk about, and what we can’t. This is what so many people are dealing with every single day, and they’re struggling in silence because it shouldn’t be discussed: it’s gross, it’s not work related, it’s unnecessary. That’s precisely why we need to remove the stigma about it, and to do that, we must be open and non-judgemental about it.

          The point she makes, and you seem to agree, is that the women experiencing this trauma are doing just that, experiencing trauma.

          It’s just appalling, that your world view has so little regard for human suffering that you can so judgementally accuse Penelope of not reacting hysterically enough to a the legitimate shock of such a traumatic scenario.

          Is hysterical what you were going for? Because part of Penelope’s point is that there is no room for hysteria; it’s not allowed; and women are forced to suffer through the experience quietly and submissively. It wasn’t relevant to the board meeting, so it simply wasn’t relevant, and so she was left to sit in a chair at a table to discuss possibly mundane and trivial topics.

          As she sits in that chair (and over the course of weeks), her future and what was to become a life, a child, drip, drip, drip out of existence, and she’s supposed to smile and go about business as usual? Our society insists on it.

          Disregard for human suffering? It’s our culture.

          Some of the proof can be found in your scathing comment to a woman who cried for days after a miscarriage but who didn’t suffer to your standard well enough, so you tried to kick her down a notch.

          Please, think about it.

          • Nan
            Nan says:

            Fabulous, eloquent response, Kara. Brava!!

            I just found this site a few minutes ago and I’m going to be following Penelope for sure!!

      • youareacrappycommentator
        youareacrappycommentator says:

        So what if her mother did? What a stupid argument to fracking make.

        If her mother did have an abortion/miscarriage, then this woman wouldn’t have had a miscarriage and she wouldn’t have tweeted it, therefore making you have to express your pearl clutching outrage at another woman who wanted free agency over her uterus.

        One question, do you ever tsk your tongue at males who spill their seed not in a a meat sack receptacle, wasting precious sperm?

        No, I thought not.

        Get over it.

  2. Jackie M.
    Jackie M. says:

    I disagree with you not because I can’t talk about women and working (I’m a 27 year old female Account Manager) but because I think your opinion on abortion is wrong. So in the spirit of being honest about work, I think it’s disgusting that you don’t see that your miscarried pregnancy and previous aborted pregnancies were a life. With a heartbeat. That you chose to end. You saw the delay in an abortion as an inconvenience to you. I think that is relevant to work because it shows people that you value your convenience over others. Excuse me while I go make a donation to the National Right to Life.

    • haemin
      haemin says:

      Morally, i’m opposed to abortion, too. BUT, I’m fairly sure Penelope has never written anywhere in her blog that she didn’t consider her pregnancies to be life. She even wrote in this one that she understands the pain of a miscarriage when you WANT a pregnancy. And at the end of the day, we ALL value our own convenience over that of others. Anyone who denies that is lying. Sometimes we do try harder to be selfless and sometimes we succeed, but at the core, we’re all self-seeking beings.

      • Timothy Wright
        Timothy Wright says:


        If I have the opinion that every person should have the right to own slaves and keep them by force. Some people may believe that this is wrong, even though it is my opinion?


      • Joan F
        Joan F says:

        And an unwanted child is quite a bit more than an “inconvenience”. It is a physical demand on your body, a demand of your time for many years, a demand on your finances, a demand on your emotions.

        I think that killing people in unnecessary wars is immoral but I am forced to pay for it with my taxes. There are quite a few circumstances where killing is permitted by law, we don’t all agree with them but abortion is legal, if I have to accept war they should have to accept abortion.

      • Team Penelope
        Team Penelope says:

        the glaring difference between the two is that abortion is legal and slavery is not.

        The End.

    • La
      La says:

      How can you say someone’s opinion is wrong? It’s AN OPINION. Get serious, this is a free country and anyone has the right to think or do what they would like. Why do we spend time judging people for personal decisions? That could also be relevant to work – it’s a waste of time to judge.

    • Annette
      Annette says:

      And perhaps you should also make a donation to a single mom somewhere who can’t afford to have another kid. Maybe a yearly donation that lasts for 18 years.

      • Person Person
        Person Person says:

        This is something I do not understand – if your partner use a condom, and then throws it away, it’s ok, but if a sperm enters an egg, and you do something to remove the result a month later, it’s not ok?
        Every woman is naturally “losing potential life” every time she has a period. Should it be mourned, too?
        And how can one person even think that she can tell another person what should and should not be mourned?

      • Frederick
        Frederick says:

        Good point Annette. It seems some care more for a fetus than they do for a child. More for controlling the lives of others than for finding balance in their own lives.

    • Nichole
      Nichole says:

      AGREED. As a 25 year old woman who would be incredibly inconvenienced to get pregnant today but still has sex (as protected as is humanly possible), I personally find it unconscionable that you are happy to have a miscarriage, even if you were getting an abortion. You should be mourning either one–that fetus had the potential to be a brother or sister to your child. That’s not something to celebrate on Twitter, and I’m sorry, but the fact that this doesn’t seem to cross your mind (since you speak your mind so thoroughly and very eloquently) really makes me sad. If you are, understand that your audience may have been more understanding if you expressed this.

      In case anyone is curious, I think the government should stay OUT of everyone’s business, but I also think that, no matter what, a lost potential life is something to be mourned, even if it is accompanied by some level of relief.

      • Ida
        Ida says:

        Agreed! Being able to share and speak one’s mind is excellent but boundaries do still prevail. Boundaries and balance in all we do are key to keeping it sane.

      • Indie
        Indie says:

        This commenter has it right. This is why it comes across as offensive. I do not find it bothersome at all to talk about miscarriage at work or even your relief that your pregnancy ended in miscarriage, but the complete callousness to the lost life is jolting.

      • Erica
        Erica says:

        Gosh, I too have so many opinions about how others SHOULD feel about certain things. How do I go about making sure others feel the way think they SHOULD? I think I’ll start by commenting on this blog.

      • Kay
        Kay says:

        Well said Nichole. IT is so sad to me that abortion has become so normal in this country, and killing a human being has become so easy for people. That creature was created for a reason, you have no right to take his/her life away.

      • Frederick
        Frederick says:


        If in business anyone reveals their sensitivity they are showing weakness. That is our business culture. As I am sure you are aware that a woman’s reproductive system inconveniences her more than a guys. So if women want to be equal they may as well start talking about things that happen to 75% of women. It is great that you want to mourn any chance of life which ends. Should I as one who was raised Catholic look down on you for using “what ever kind of birth control is humanly possible?” I could argue that a fetus would have a far better chance of surviving even thriving in a 25 year old than a 42 year old. The laws of our country give you the choice to use birth control and Penelope the choice to make reproductive choices and to feel and/or demonstrate what emotions she likes. The Vatican does not agree with either your choice or hers as a matter of fact you may be viewed as more of a sin. I think it is great that you are both freely expressing your opinions. (Again something guaranteed by our laws but frowned on by most churches and those who support the status quo”.

      • CG
        CG says:

        Alexa: So you’re carrying a dead embryo that spontaneously springs to life when the heartbeat starts? Your logic is “definately” as bad as your spelling if you believe that.

        Sperm + egg = life.

        Children are an annoying but amazing blessing. The lost of one, even only weeks along, is a tragedy … or should be.

    • Naomi
      Naomi says:

      An embryo gets a heartbeat between 6 and 10 weeks. If you abort before 6 weeks, then there is no “life.” I found out I was pregnant at 3 weeks, its definately possible.

      • Amy
        Amy says:

        This is inaccurate, an embryo get a heartbeat between 5 1/2-6 weeks…by the end of the 6th week there IS a heartbeat.

    • Minx
      Minx says:

      I agree with her because I think she’s correct. I think that for at least as long as it is dependent on the woman’s body for existence, it is not a separate entity. I believe in reincarnation and that if a spirit does not find a hospitable vessel in one place, it will find it in another. And I think it’s disgusting that anyone would foist their religious beliefs upon everyone else and use scientific reasoning that is specious as best, expecting another woman to sacrifice her physical and mental well-being and/or livelihood because of their opinions.

      And excuse me while I make a donation to NARAL and Planned Parenthood, as well as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

    • Minx
      Minx says:

      I would think the energy of people who care so much about pregnancies and children would be better focused on things like the fact that so many women are only guaranteed 12 weeks unpaid leave, when they can ill afford to go 3 months without pay, with the additional threat that whoever fills in for them will become their replacement and their employer will start adding up reasons to get rid of them as soon as they become pregnant. Trust me, it happens–quite frequently. Or you could worry about the fact that there are half a million children in foster care in the United States instead of forcing someone to incubate yet another unwanted child. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would love a healthy white infant, but maybe they should embrace their Christian values by assisting someone who is truly in need.

      I’m also really frigging sick of everyone dictating what everyone else should be posting online. Twitter is too “casual” for anything of substance (which really says a lot about what everyone is posting on there) but if you post it on a blog or personal website, they’ll complain about it anyway. Just because you won’t post anything about your health, family, love life, or bodily functions–or anything, really, that’s not just a thinly veiled ploy to get people to visit your website or buy your product–doesn’t mean that no one else should. I applaud the people who are posting these types of things, because frankly they’re the only things worth reading.

      • Scarlett
        Scarlett says:

        “I’m sure there are a lot of people who would love a healthy white infant, but maybe they should embrace their Christian values by assisting someone who is truly in need.”

        Well said.

    • Kandeezie
      Kandeezie says:

      But yet many of the people who share your beliefs on “…but it was a LIFE, with a beating heart…” also support the death penalty. Beating hearts and all.

    • Laura
      Laura says:

      “I think your opinion on abortion is wrong.”

      It’s someone’s OPINION. An opinion is never wrong, you just disagree with it…

    • wrong
      wrong says:

      I think by definition a miscarriage does not have a heartbeat. I think a three week wait for an abortion, is by any thinking person’s standards, not an inconvenience so much as an abomination. I think that the relevance to work is that these thoughts and unfortunate actions exist in the same space as board meetings; in spite of them, even. And now it is my turn to go make a donation that allows a woman to make their own choices about their own bodies.

  3. J (the regular poster one)
    J (the regular poster one) says:

    I was wondering if you were going to address your tweet in a blog post and I’m glad you did.

    Miscarrying an unwanted pregnancy is really the only good outcome to a difficult situation.

    • yvette
      yvette says:

      I agree. Men, unlike women, HAVE to deal with pregnancy issues, from puberty to menopause (roughly 1/3 of thier lives). It’s complicated, difficult, and emotionally challenging … and unfair. Nice guys “help” but gals MUST figure this stuff out. Good for PT (cheers!), for forcing the issue out into the public arena. I’m all for equality, but we’ll never have sameness.

  4. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    Every month for a couple of days I feel absolutely horrible when I come to work, and I have to constantly get up to go to the bathroom throughout the day. I have to worry about being in long meetings–make sure all is well and nothing embarassing is happening. But there’s no way I could ever tell anyone why (especialy my boss). I just grind my teeth, at times eat Advil, and get through it for another month. It’s miserable, stressful, and humiliating.

    • Claire
      Claire says:

      Spoken like a true Gen “Y”ny. You are so stressed by a biological reality that has been a part of the lives of women from the beginnings of the species, who had to deal with lifestyles that were far more demanding than having to attend meetings in heated and air condtioned spaces with a myriad of feminine hygiene products and medications at their disposal. Seriously, how wimpy can you be? If the pain is that bad, I do hope you have been checked for a medical condition?

      And, incidentally, I can’t imagine a meeting where you could not discreetly excuse yourself without announcing and discussing with the group that you have your period. If you had irritable bowel syndrome, would you feel better if you could tell your boss you had to go take a shit? Oops, I had better be careful. Don’t want to inspire Penny’s next blog. She might tie in irritable bowel syndrome with “downward facing doggies” as a way to multi-task in the corporate rest room.

    • Claire
      Claire says:

      If you feel the need to reveal your biological cycle to your boss, let’s review your choices. Your boss has to be either male or female, or even something in between. If she is a woman, she gets it. If he is a man, he has had a mother, or a sister, or perhaps a wife or daughters. No matter…they get it without speaking about it.

      Do you count how many times your male counterparts go to the rest room? If they take newspapers with them?

      I am so sick of such ridiculous fragility.

    • Heather G
      Heather G says:

      Reading the other two replies to your post before me just leaves me wondering why such mean people had to reply to you. Women vary in the degree to which they experience pain and discomfort during menstruation – the implication that if menstruation is a horrible time of the month for you that you just need to “see a doctor” is incredibly naive – and even if you had seen a doctor, which I assume most women have, it’s not like the doc can generally “fix” such a thing.
      Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. And no, I don’t see why any woman would want to discuss their personal issues, much less menstrual issues, with their boss. Your comment simply explained that you go through something each month and yet you overcome your discomfort and hang on to your job despite the difficulty. Kudos :)

  5. KateNonymous
    KateNonymous says:

    I’ve been trying to think about how to respond to this (I missed the original tweet, but saw a reference to it elsewhere). I have my own story, but I’m not sure it really has anything to do with your post.

    I’m really sorry that you’re going through this. I know you don’t want this child, and that’s fine–but it’s still a lot to go through, and I’m sorry that you have to do it at work.

    That three-week waiting period sounds ridiculous, particularly when you consider Wisconsin’s history of progressive politics in so many areas.

    I hope you recover quickly.

  6. Maureen Sharib
    Maureen Sharib says:

    “It’s considered more socially acceptable for Mom, rather than Dad, to be absent from work. And past research has established that women, on average, do in fact miss more work days than men. Why this is the case and its consequences, however, have remained subjects in the realm of hearsay rather than definitive research.”
    Why do women, with or without children, miss more work than men? * 9050 responses
    They’re taking care of children.18%
    They’re taking care of others.27%
    They have more health problems.13%
    They take more “mental health” days.25%
    They’re not as committed to work.16%
    Not a scientific survey.
    Take the survey here:
    Only in Israel: Women miss work less than men

  7. prklypr
    prklypr says:

    I saw this tweet and thought yikes, this one is going to cause a sh*tload of controversy – from the prolifers, the ‘keep your personal life personal’ folks, those who find any bodily fluid talk disgusting, etc. That’s why it’s so interesting to note that although you only have a few comments so far, it’s running about about 75% supportive or neutral and only 25% negative.
    Just to throw in my 2 cents, while I was not offended by your tweet, I felt like it was something very personal and perhaps not appropriate for the casualness of twitter. More appropriate to discuss in a blog post, vis a vis dealing with something profoundly personal when you are stuck in a meeting. This post is a bit on the angry side, and focuses too much on the actual event, rather than focusing on how working women can and should deal with this kind of situation.

    • Gina Valo
      Gina Valo says:

      My thoughts exactly re: focusing too much on the event. I thought the post was really self-centered and did not offer much of value to the reader. As a young working female I read this post and was left wondering what it was that I should be taking away from it.

      • anonymoose
        anonymoose says:

        Now why in the world do you think that P’s tweet is supposed to be of value to you as a reader, more so than anything else that is tweeted (most of it along the lines of, “Hey, what’s that smell?” “Ooh, SYTYCD is sooooo amazing,” or “Gee my kids are disgustingly perfect”? Why do you feel entitled to have something to take away from P’s tweet?

    • AgnesW
      AgnesW says:

      Are you serious? It’s her blog and you say her writing is too personal? My god, for your self-centeredness alone you should be soundly thrashed! Young working woman? You sound more like spoiled high school student with your attitude of ‘what is in it for me? When does she stop speaking about herself and address my concerns?’ Unbelievable!

  8. Janet
    Janet says:

    I read your Tweet Monday morning and thought, “Whoa, she’s gonna get some backlash for that one.” But I wasn’t surprised at all. Your honesty made you what you are today and it’s the reason that I’ve read every post you’ve ever put up here. Agree or disagree, you make a person think.
    In regards to the topic, talking about womens’ right to vote, to hold public office, to own property, to get an education, to sign a legal contract, etc. made people uncomfortable in the not so distant past. Thank God for people like you that stand up and aren’t afraid to speak your mind.

  9. Jane
    Jane says:

    I have been miscarrying for the past 6 weeks, and have been able to discuss it on twitter, on my blog, and with friends and family. This is my second miscarriage, and I was shocked that it is taking so long (last time I had a d&c right away in Egypt and voila! It was over).

    So I agree completely that women should talk, talk, and talk some more about our experiences — if it’s inconvenient/distressing/etc for me to bleed all over the place as I go about my day, I can only imagine if I were in a stressful business.

    But. I was a bit off-put by your seemingly-callous reference to abortion. Yes, the waiting period seems illogical for a legal abortion, but abortions themselves are very troubling to some people. It’s an issue we don’t (and won’t, I imagine) see eye-to-eye on. And to hear someone I respect lamenting the difficulty of getting one as I watch my own yearned-for child dribble into the toilet? That was a bit much to take.

    • D.D.
      D.D. says:

      I have felt that comparing a wanted child to an unwanted child is like comparing love-making to rape. It’s a penis in a vagina, so it’s the same, right? It’s not the same, just as finding that your pregnant when you want it is radically different from finding you’re pregnant when you don’t want it.

      I can understand the frustration and “wishing” that happens when someone else gets what you desperately want, but just because you want it, doesn’t mean they want it. They got it, and they need to deal with it in whatever way will work with their life.

  10. Ben
    Ben says:

    YOU can talk about such things at work. It’s your niche. To suggest that everyone should would quickly collapse the reason there is such a notion as ‘professionalism.’ A professional does not let their life interfere with their relationships with coworkers.

    I personally detest professionalism, and so I left the professional office setting, but it is an art that allows a great number of people to work together efficiently with minimal drama.

    If we all talked about such issues openly, workplace drama would explode and lead to conflicts that would threaten productivity.

  11. Liz
    Liz says:

    I’m sorry I didn’t tweet back how appalling Wisconsin’s rules are, Penelope. I should’ve so you knew others were shocked.

    Stay honest and keep it coming. You have a right to be angry and frustrated at the reaction… On the bright side, people are listening!

  12. Dan
    Dan says:

    Not sure what your goal is with this blog. However, have you ever noticed that SUCCESSFUL bloggers appeal to both the male and female audiences, as well as conservative and liberal audiences.

    It would appear that you only care about liberal female audiences and, by the way, you reinforce daily why I am so glad to get out of that pathetic communist state. I was happy to have only seen ONE Obama sticker on an Illinois car when I was up in Delavan, WI for a wedding last weekend.

    Thank God for the South, which is actually GROWING its economy and cares about the right to life.

    Need I write about how misleading your statistics are about 42 year old’s getting pregnant? Your stats are a “one size fits all” assumption and anyone with a brain KNOWS that your likelihood of getting pregnant AFTER having a baby/miscarriage is MUCH higher after that pregnancy. Therefore, YOUR changes of getting pregnant are much higher than my colleagues wife, also 42, but never had the joys and blessings of a gift of an infant.

    FYI, before we had our now four month old baby (NOT A CHOICE, a GIFT FROM HEAVEN) my wife had two miscarriages and they were VERY painful for her.

    Also, in my family which is mostly Catholic it is not unheard of for a 40 plus year old to have a baby successfully. This happens as women age, my dad was born to a 38 year old mother and I was born to a 35 year old mother– not unheard of. Also, have you seen 18 kids and counting? She’s over 40 and is pregnant for the 19th time. My cousin is also 40 and expecting.

    All you can blog about is abortion, rather disgusting. I day dream about what my daughter is doing, smiling, giggling, cooing or whatever, waiting for daddy, while I am stuck away at work trying to make a living for my family and all you blog about is killing your unexpecting child.

    Thank God my mother believes in God, or baby number five wouldn’t be writing on this blog right now scolding you.

    • Emily
      Emily says:

      Dan, you may have some relevant circumstantial evidence about pregnancy rates in older women, but it would be nice to see some statistics if you want anyone to believe you over Penelope who at least linked to a source.

      I don’t begrudge you the pro-life, conservative rhetoric (although I don’t share it), but seriously, you think this blog doesn’t qualify as successful? Disagree all you want, but don’t be an idiot about it!

    • Emily
      Emily says:

      @ Dan – I think it’s really interesting that you think your mother would have aborted you if she didn’t believe in some sort of “God”. What’s it like to go through life thinking that your mother wouldn’t want you around if she had an opportunity to resolve that with her idea of “God”? I think that you should keep in mind that just because abortion is an option, not everyone will use it. Also, you should look up the definition of “communist” I think you are slightly misguided.

      • Dan
        Dan says:

        Emily, my grandparents emigrated to the US and their Country, the Slovak Republik, became communist after they left and, after having lived in WI for 28 long years of my life, I can assure you that WI IS a communist people’s Republic. People there are closed minded and inbred. Thank God I was born in Ohio so I know better.

        People there live in their own little world, root da pack, root da pack. And no, my mother loves us dearly and I do believe and know this is mostly due to her faith, may be different for others, but I know my mama as I am her baby and she tells us that we were the VERY BEST thing that ever happenned to her.

        Having a precious gift from God, baby girl, myself, I FINALLY can relate to where she is coming from. I’m hypnotized on a daily basis.

        Sorry people want to live their lives so irresponsibily, must be why Barry Osama is now in the whitehouse.

        Am I the only one who notices that all the people I know who voted for Obama (from WI, not from TN where people are clued in) all want a hand out?

    • Minx
      Minx says:

      FYI, Dan, Joseph Stalin outlawed abortion in order to increase the workforce and “grow its economy”. If you want to continue to spread communist ideals, you go right ahead.

    • Tori
      Tori says:

      So, she needs to cater to not only your overgrown sense of male privelage, but your religion as well?
      If this blog doesn’t appeal, why are you giving it more hits and traffic? Oh, that’s right, some morally outraged person posted this and you thought, “I WILL SHOOOOW HER”.
      I get that.
      I’m sorry about your wife’s loss. Oh, and the miscarriages.

    • Kim
      Kim says:

      How stupid is this post? You incorrectly assume that everyone from the south is a religious zealot,that the south is bereft of women or men who are pro-choice and that the economy in the south is booming because everyone is pro-life…thanks for the laugh. Oh, and the comment that “SUCCESSFUL bloggers appeal to both the male and female audiences, as well as conservative and liberal audiences”…Dan, I think you are incorrect there as well…please google liberal blogs and then google conservative blogs…you can even try googling blogs for women and blogs for men…as you can see there are many blogs distinctly aimed at one specific audience or another.

      Penelope…get well soon!

    • ioana
      ioana says:

      Dan, if you really want to know what’s it like not to have access to abortion, in a communist country, I suggest you rent 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days.

      Dan, btw, when you put communism and abortion in this message, it really shows me that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      OMG you guys are killing me.. Reading through these comments is just crazy.. It’s like a “he said-she said” tell all here.. I am wondering if you guys are actually “reading” what was written before posting your replies.. I guess it just shows that we all have different “opinions” on how we take things that we hear or read.. But Dan my man, I had to actually stop what I was reading to reply to your post.. I am so glad that there are loving fathers out there like you, but you must watch the news? Surely you see everyday how children are being kidnapped from their beds, being sexually assualted and then being left murdered in a trash bag on the side of the road.. Surely you hear about all of the “post partum” mothers who murder their children.. While yes it would be a wonderful world we lived in if everyone loved children the way you do or I do for that matter,but it’s just not so.. “FORCING” someone to carry a baby for 40 weeks.. To put their lives and careers on hold for the 40 weeks it takes to carry a baby, to force someone to deal with all of the miserable things pregnancy can seem to bring for 40 weeks.. Like puking, heartburn, sharp shooting pains for no reason, peeing on yourself everytime you sneeze, ect.. Need I go on? Not all pregnancies are pleasant.. But 40 weeks!! 40 weeks of resentment towards this undborn child.. And I keep saying 40 weeks bc damn that is a LONG time.. But how can you force someone to completely put their lives on hold to have a baby they never wanted in the first place only to give this baby up for adoption with NO CLUE on what kind of family they are being placed with.. Maybe these mothers who kill their kids wanted to have an abortion but were made to feel like it wasnt an option and had these kids they DIDNT want, dealt with it as long as they could before they snapped.. NO MATTER what the reasons are, if someone says they don’t want something, why should they be forced to do it.. Like now the govt is trying to mandate swine flu shots, which in past, the vaccine killed more ppl than the swine flu itself.. It should be our choice if we want to be vaccinated.. Right? It’s our body our choice.. Should be the same for everything.. Dont “FORCE” people to bring unwanted kids into the world..Those are the kids who usually wind up being a statistic..

    • frederick
      frederick says:

      Maybe mother didn’t have enough time left to spend with baby number 5 to teach him that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. BTW I am a male from Illinois who agrees with Penelope. You may not have noticed that a Senator from Chi si now our president.

  13. haemin
    haemin says:

    penelope, i read your tweet and my first thought was “wtf, is she ok?!” but i never replied to you b/c i felt out of place and ignorant and chicken. i’m sorry for that. i’m glad you blogged about it though, and regardless of differing views on abortion, i am sorry that you’re still getting so much backlash for being transparent about your life. i’m always so amazed and inspired by your level of honesty and i know you speak for a lot of women, parents, working people, etc. your writing empowers us to be more honest with ourselves and others, too. please keep it up.

    and i do hope you’re ok, now.

  14. Dee
    Dee says:

    “That we don't acknowledge [miscarriage] is absurd. That it is such a common occurrence and no one thinks it's okay to talk about is terrible for women.”

    Thank you for these lines. When I saw your twitter about your miscarriage, your openness lifted my spirits. Because I was going through a miscarriage for a very much wanted pregnancy, and was overwhelmed by the silence on the matter. I started reading about miscarriage to help with my coping, and became angered as I began to realize how common it is, yet SO NOT a part of the narrative of reproduction. I’m mad because I wasn’t better prepared for this, and if there was more openness, I might have been.

    I totally agree that women have a right to share our experiences, that this sharing is empowering and it puts our experience of life into the norm.

  15. Hope
    Hope says:

    I went into back labor while interviewing the three top economic officials in my state for a newspaper story. Finished the story and turned it in when I was back at work full time two weeks later. In many cultures, women have worked in the fields, walked away to give birth, gone back and picked up the hoe. This kind of stuff and other, sad, miscarriage stuff happens. So? I am not sure I understand why talking about it makes it easier to manage, which I guess is the point of this post.

    Unless the real point of this post has nothing to do with the ti … oh. Right.

  16. Liz
    Liz says:

    Thank GOD for those of us in the South who believe in a woman’s right to choose.

    Penelope, I think your blog is SUCCESSFUL because it demands that people think about issues that are often uncomfortable.

    I agree, for women, talking about certain issues makes them easier for us to learn about and deal with. For example; my friends and I often discuss finances, which to other generations may have been taboo. I know that it is helping us become more financially savvy, know what we are worth, and bond over something that is often considered a “man’s concern”.

    Thanks for inspiring me.

    p.s.- I volunteer with Planned Parenthood here in Georgia, you should come speak to us!

    • Dan
      Dan says:

      Liz, no problem, I live in the South (Tennessee) and I believe 100% in my four month old daughter’s RIGHT to choose, and choose her own life as most people do not commit suicide once born and she deserves to be alive daily and not butchered just as much as myself and her mother.

      You’re welcome.

      • N Jean
        N Jean says:

        Dan, why are you even reading this blog–it must be somewhat successful. And maybe you don’t get it but successful blogs appeal to their target audience – not all people of all walks.

        And just because your grandparents lived under Communism or became Communists doesn’t make you some kind of expert on it. Wisconsin is not communist – did they take your land, make you farm it, then take your products giving you in return a share of everybody else’s? Your logic is so flawed you can’t even recognize the errors.

        If you actually made a logical fact based argument, you might actually get people to agree with what you have to say instead of thinking you’re just filled with drivel.

      • nonymouse
        nonymouse says:

        Dan, so you chose life. Fantastic. Do you want a cookie or something? For the love of your God, shut the hell up.

        Pro-choicer here in North Florida (the extension of South Georgia). The GOVERNMENT doesn’t get to tell me what I can and can’t do with my body (I’m a multiple threat–I’m gay AND I’m on Depo-Provera so I don’t even have a period…what does your crazy-ass God…no, wait, your crazy-ass churchgoers have to say about me, Dan?) and neither do insane Bible-thumpers. A woman gets to choose. Will she keep the baby, or will she save it from a less-than-optimal life? Will she stay at home, or will she go back to work? It’s her CHOICE. And if we are to preserve the human race, Dan, a grown adult woman must be placed priority over a fetus. Really, how many choices does your four month old make right now? My month-old niece doesn’t. She only has needs that we fill as her loving family. She can’t choose anything. Neither can your kid, sorry to say. Any “choices” she makes, you still make FOR her because you gave her the false “choice” of what toy to pick, or what have you.

        Now, I’ll give you a choice: What kind of cookie for the poor woobie who desperately needs commenters on this blog to validate his choices? Chocolate chip? Sugar? Crow?

      • Scarlett
        Scarlett says:

        “People there are closed minded and inbred. Thank God I was born in Ohio so I know better.”

        Ha ha, Dan, you’re quite the comic! Really! HILARIOUS! Having spent a significant number of my formative years in Ohio, this really made me laugh.

      • Nicole
        Nicole says:

        Hi from a fellow Tennessean…happily married, a future mother, and VERY VERY pro-choice!

        Mind your own business.

        • Ana
          Ana says:

          I think Dan is entitled to his opinion. He sounds like a loving and caring father and I happen to agree with him as well. I adamantly disagree with anyone who thinks it is okay to kill ANY life, but I do not resort to name calling or mean comments. So, please, let’s just be adults here and respect one another.

  17. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    As always I am amazed at how much of yourself you put out there. I am not that brave. On the one hand, I’m sad for your situation, because I recently had a miscarriage myself, and it was horrible for me. I really wanted to be pregnant, and I’m not in a place where I can ever see a miscarriage as a good thing. That doesn’t mean you can’t think it’s good, it just means seeing that tweet made me sad.
    On the other hand I am so glad that someone is telling people these things happen.

    I myself completely freaked out on a (male) co-worker who teased me that I must be pregnant having been gone for so many Dr. Appointments. I told him that I was miscarrying that very minute and to mind his own fing business.

    • Kena
      Kena says:

      I could probably have written your post, Gretchen.

      I, too, am troubled at how insensitive people are about fertility issues and miscarriages. How colleagues and acquaintances feel free to tease and comment women of childbearing age about “when are you having kids”, without thinking for a minute that this might be a heart-breaking issue.

      And yet, we’re supposed to keep quiet about our pregnancies until most of the risk of miscarriage has passed, because we could inconvenience some people if they had to know. (Who you choose to announce your pregnancy and miscarriage to should be a personal choice, not a social taboo).

      Personally, I’m glad I could call my (very nice and understanding) boss and let him know I was having a miscarriage, rather than having to invent some half-assed excuse while I was grieving the loss of my child in the ER.

  18. JP
    JP says:

    Maybe I read this too fast…. Did you really mention the abortion subject and now are wondering why people are upset? Are you a dumbass?

  19. delia
    delia says:

    i’m sorry this happened penelope, and i can understand your outrage at the reaction. but from where i’m standing, this is a pretty clear demonstration of your asbergers sydrome. to other people, tossing off a one-liner about a miscarriage seemed callous and bizarre. to you, i imagine, it was just sharing something, the way you share so much else.
    also. three week waiting period? eegah
    personally i’m curious though: what was the reaction to this tweet/blog post/news by the people in your life, like family, the ryans, and people who might’ve been at that very meeting?

  20. Jorrit
    Jorrit says:

    As a frequent reader of your blog, I noticed how you always bring out statistics to rationalize your choice, while you know this is not why you decided to post it on Twitter in the first place.

    Obviously, posting it on Twitter without any context (which is usually what tweets are anyway), lacking emotion, treating it as business as usual, is a provocative thing. And obviously, people are going to be shocked and grossed out about it. I don’t see why that surprises you.

    A commenter before me posted that she wants to be able to discuss miscarriages at her workplace. I don’t think this is ever going to happen. And why would you want to?

    Would it help you any if you could talk about a miscarriage to your colleagues? How about the bus driver? Or the person that held the elevator for you?

    Some issues are very complicated or just embarrassing to discuss with just anyone and are therefor best discussed with just close friends or family. Just like urine loss, enlarged prostates, foot fungus, bowel disorders, mental issues, etc. are things you don’t usually mention to just anyone. And is that really so bad?

    • Emma
      Emma says:


      Many people find sharing hard experiences makes them easier. That’s why there are support groups for cancer survivors or long-term diseases. That’s why people share that they’re going bankrupt (as one of my coworkers did).

      Because your personal and business lives are not separate. You can’t just step through a door and leave all your baggage behind. People can draw a lot of comfort from commiseration and the advice of others. Your coworkers are people you see as much as your own family. Hopefully, you are friendly with some of them. If people know you are going through something big, they can take the time to let you know they care, and that can be enough to brighten your hour.

      Miscarriage can be extremely heart-breaking for the couple involved, but why should it be embarrassing or shameful? Women should be free to talk about it and to draw comfort from those around her if she needs it.

    • Natalee
      Natalee says:

      “Some issues are very complicated or just embarrassing to discuss with just anyone and are therefor best discussed with just close friends or family. Just like urine loss, enlarged prostates…”

      I’d like to politely disagree there. Taboos are determined by culture, not some kind of objective rating system of what’s “embarrassing” and what’s not. I live in China where people urinate and defecate in public because it’s not embarrassing, and telling someone they’re fat or pale is not an insult.

      There is no reality, only perceptions. If people function better with support and open communication in times of extreme physical and emotional distress (like miscarriage), why not challenge a taboo and enable people to share more and get the support they need?

      Tweeting may not tell the WHOLE story, but it opened the door and allowed someone to express what they needed to get off their chest. Don’t read it if you don’t like it.

      Thanks Penelope for being open and brave. Hope you recover quickly and feel better soon.

  21. Bonita
    Bonita says:

    I also had an unexpected miscarriage and cannot imagine having to wait 3 weeks for a DNC. I wanted it done immediately and did not move for the three days in between the doctor’s appt and the DNC for fear that something would happen unexpectedly. 3 days of torture. By the way, I am a conservative, midwest Catholic mother of two who is not a fan of abortions. I listen without judging.

  22. Nat
    Nat says:

    Once again, thank you for talking about the elephant in the room. As with abortions, I was shocked to discover how many of my close friends had experienced either an abortion or a miscarriage. By not sharing your experience, you are denying yourself the love and support of your family. For too long, miscarriages are viewed as a source of shame. Perhaps, by exposing miscarriages as a reality of the female experience they will no longer be a source of shame required to be kept secret.

    Thank you Penelope.

  23. dale
    dale says:

    Pen, sorry for the amount of grief you are getting, although you are used to it I am sure. I have always admired your honesty and this only shows that open and honest rules your world. You left out the farmer (assuming it was his). What were his thoughts on this?

  24. Bethany
    Bethany says:

    For me the shock and reaction I had(“why would you post that?”) was not sent to you because I figured you didn’t need strangers commenting on events in your life.

    I did wonder about your birth control methods but again, realized they were none of my business.

    The reason it startled me is that even in friends who did not want the pregnancies and were considering/planning on abortion, they were affected by their miscarriages more than you seemed to be. Your reaction seemed cold and designed to shock people. Bringing up a miscarriage in conversation with friends or even in a blog post, seemed more “normal” than on twitter where there was no context or anything to suggest thought or caring or even consideration given. That was what startled me.

    I hope you heal soon and never have to go through that again.

  25. falnfenix
    falnfenix says:

    i understand some people’s reactions to the tweet in question…Americans on the whole are entirely too delicate for their own good. sometimes, i think things like this NEED to be shared, to remind people all aspects of our humanity.

    furthermore, i think it’s ridiculous that people feel your blog is an ideal place for them to stand on their internet soapboxes. i think THAT is disgusting, not the discussion of miscarriages and abortions.

  26. Anthony
    Anthony says:

    I’m not bothered by the fact that Penelope wanted an abortion or was happy that she miscarried. What I am appalled at is her addiction to twitter. Why was she tweeting in the middle of a board meeting? Why was she tweeting in the middle of a medical emergency? Why didn’t she immediately leave the meeting to go to the hospital?

    I have to question her priorities and perhaps her sanity. For someone who talks about work/life balance to not immediately excuse herself and go to the hospital is mind boggling. How narcissistic does an individual have to be that their first thought is not to go to the hospital but to tweet about it? Am I the only person who is shocked by this?

    • Auguste
      Auguste says:

      Your suggestion that she was in the middle of a medical emergency, and that she should have immediately left the meeting to go to the hospital, shows a) an utter ignorance of reproductive health and b) an utter failure to read the blog post.

      A miscarriage is not automatically a medical emergency. It may be uncomfortable or even painful without requiring intervention. It may last weeks, as Penelope said. Some women have three or more miscarriages in a single year – should they drop everything and run to the hospital each time? If so, we’re gonna need a lot more health care reform.

    • Astraea
      Astraea says:

      Did you know that 75% of late periods are actually early miscarriages? Has your wife’s period ever been late? Pretty good odds she had a spontaneous miscarriage. Did you mourn? Did she stay home from work for the week? Of course not. Reality is that miscarriages are extremely common.

  27. Betsy
    Betsy says:

    Yes, talk about it, but please be aware that when you say, “We can start talking about it now,” that’s not entirely accurate. Women in the early 70s talked about it, and it was huge. Performance artist Karen Finley talked about it in the 80s, and was viciously attacked by the conservative senator, Jesse Helms.

    We need to remember that we’ve had this conversation, and we’ve forgotten about it. So many women talked about it in the 70s that career possibilities for women opened up as never before. And guess what? Women stopped talking about it. And thus women forgot.

    So while I applaud this conversation, this ‘talking about it,’ please learn from the past and remember that it’s not enough to talk about it. We have to talk about it between generations, and with our daughters, and with our mothers, and stop pretending that women today face no obstacles. That’s just bullshit.

  28. Brad
    Brad says:

    Um, that linked article says a woman in her early 40s has a 5% chance PER MONTH of getting pregnant, and with fertility treatment it’s 10% PER TRY. You’re the one whose calculator is on the fritz.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Someone earlier in the comments asked what the farmer thinks of all this. Brad’s comment is actually the type of thing the farmer would say in response to my analysis of pregnancy probability.


  29. Brianne
    Brianne says:

    I don’t believe Penelope ever said she didn’t consider her past pregnancies as “a life”…she did say that she cried over it which constitutes a loss in my eyes.

    I would never be able to have an abortion myself but I am 100% pro-choice. Not a single woman, or man for that matter, has the right to tell another woman what to do with their body. Especially when the outcome of a term pregnancy might be something that the biological mother does not want.

    I think we are remiss in believing that as soon as a female becomes pregnant that she is automatically a “mommy” and starts decorating the nursery. I am 27 years old and cannot picture giving birth. If I am lucky enough to continue being careful, I will adopt in the future. There are plenty of beautiful children, both infant and older, that need a loving life that I know I would be able to provide.

    I have to admit, I have very little filter, and do not take issue with discussing women’s topics in a work or even public forum. It is a part of who we are. The good and the bad. The beautiful and the ugly. It is in all of us. The sooner we come to terms with that and embrace it, the less embarrassed and anxious we will all be.

    • Shanna
      Shanna says:

      Yes! Pro-choice is not a matter of life and death! It is about CHOICE and refusing to pass judgement on others for their choices. That means you can be pro-choice and believe that abortions are on option but also believe that the only option for yourself is abstinence or carrying on full term.

      Penelope – I never saw your twitter post as something casual and flippant, but factual and astounding. Your honesty can be shocking and it fascinates me at the same time.

      Thank you for your posts and for generating so much conversation.

      • Nichole
        Nichole says:

        Shanna, the reason people who are pro-life don’t agree with this is because they very strongly believe that it IS about life, and that you are taking away another person’s opportunity to LIVE by having an abortion. For example–let’s say you were in a horrible accident with another person. You’re okay, but that other person’s only chance to continue to live after the accident is for you to be attached to them and disrupt your life for 9 months. Should the goverment be able to force you to do that? I don’t think so. But is it the right thing to do? I definitely think so, and I WOULD judge anyone who did not choose to make that sacrifice. But I won’t force you to. People who are pro-life don’t see any difference between a fetus and a person, so it’s not as simple as “respecting someone’s choice”.

        Trying to continue the conversation, just adding a different perspective for you.

      • Emma
        Emma says:


        Well, I’m glad you don’t think the government should force anyone. And you should be free to personally judge someone for their moral choices.

        But what about the quality of life of the mother?

        All actions in life have a cost. My old neighbor had a full athletic scholarship to university before she realized she was pregnant. She had to give up the scholarship to stay home so that her parents could help her raise the baby. Last I heard, she was going to try to go to community college part-time. Her whole life was disrupted, but to her, the baby was worth it.

        Of course, aborting can have it’s own psychological and moral costs. Perhaps if women felt more free to talk about their experiences with abortion, women could make better choices about whether to have them or not. Cloaking the act in secrecy does neither side any good.

        Until we stop teaching abstinence only and start teaching kids how to have safe sex so that when they go out into the world, they aren’t trying to learn birth control from the internet. Until we develop birth control that is 100% effective and doesn’t mess with a woman’s (or man’s) hormone system (since many people have moral objections to that), then individuals will need to be able to choose what costs they can live with.

      • Nichole
        Nichole says:

        Thanks for the quick reply. I still think what a lot of people are missing in the course of the pro-life vs. pro-choice conversation is that when someone is pro-life, they believe that making the choice to abort the baby is the same thing as leaving a person to die so that one can finish college on time. I understand that most people who are pro-choice don’t see a fetus as a baby, but for most people who are pro-life, there is no difference, which is why they can’t “respect someone’s choice”. Personally, I don’t KNOW if a 2 month old fetus is as much of a person as a baby…but I think that more people need to understand that side of the argument.

      • Ariella
        Ariella says:


        I’m pro-choice, and I do understand that anti-choicers believe that having an abortion is the same as wilfully killing a baby. Here’s the thing, though: their assertion isn’t based in science or fact, it’s based in religion. The United States is not a religious state, nor was it ever meant to be. So when we have the whole “abortion or not” debate, I am always shocked that the government gives it any credence at all because of its religious origin.

        To put it in context, the courts contiually litigate issues of first amendment rights in schools and courthouses. Can your teacher force you to pray? Can your courthouse have the Ten Commandments on the wall? The answer to both questions is “no,” and the reason why it’s “no” is because the United States is not a religious state.

        But, for some reason, the government permits people to attempt to legislate religion through anti-abortion laws. If some scientist came up with substantiated proof (as in, not paid for by NARAL and proven by a non-religious group) that fetuses are “babies” and that abortion IS murder, then I would agree that it should not be legal. Because if having an abortion really IS the same as killing a person, then obviously murder is murder.

        The reality of it is, however, that fetuses and embryos are NOT babies and they are NOT viable until at least 22 weeks (some 20-weekers make it, but that is not the norm). And even that age of viability is still iffy in terms of the health of the child later in life, but that’s an ethical grey area in my opinion.

        Anyway, the point is this: anti-choicers can believe anything they like in their religions and I don’t fault them for it or attempt to change their beliefs. I am Jewish and I don’t believe the same things that Christians believe – and I also don’t think that my religion is “right” and that its laws should be legislated. But that is EXACTLY what the majority of Catholics and Christians in this country believe, and the anti-abortion movement is a prime example of religions attempting to legislate religion. If you need another example, consider the anti-evolution bullshit they keep attempting to teach in our schools.

        • Ana
          Ana says:

          So, apparently you did not pay too much attention in history or you would know that the US was originally founded “under God” and was very Christian-based (i.e. religious). While we follow separation of church and state now, it was not the case when this great nation was originally conceived and formed. Regardless, this is off-topic. Pro-life is not about religion, it is about morality and respect for any living being.

      • wrong
        wrong says:

        Nicole – it isn’t just 9 months. Abortion, adoption, parenting or some other outcome – it is not just 9 months of a woman’s life.

  30. KRD
    KRD says:

    Yay Penelope for talking about many topics others avoid, in particular abortion, miscarriage, women’s issues in the work place… Also 3 weeks is a ridiculously long wait time. Leaving to make a(nother) donation to Planned Parenthood.

  31. Alli
    Alli says:

    A three-week waiting period is offensive (as it implies women don’t think *before* they go to a clinic), but perhaps not surprising given who is writing your laws. I did a quick count on your legislature’s website and found your senate to be made up of about 26 men and 7 women, and your assembly to be made up of about 76 men and 23 women.

    You write a lot about gender inequality being extinct in workplaces, but the same is certainly not true of our legislatures, which are empowered to draft laws binding our workplaces, our communities, and our bodies.

  32. Alan Wilensky
    Alan Wilensky says:


    It must be a confusing set of emotions that are thrown up in the air when this happens – no matter what your expectations were, you are brave to address the issue in open forum.

    We, I have come to expect this of you, brave woman, the Farmer is a lucky man.

  33. Erica
    Erica says:

    PT, it seems as if you get pregnant easily. At 45 or 48 you may still get pregnant easily. I would love to read that you are moving to a more reliable form of birth control. None are 100% effective but some come close. Have you spoken to your doctor about the number of times you have had unwanted pregnancies? The two of you can probably come up with a better form of birth control for your situation than the one you are currently using. Then please blog about it, so we can benefit from your evaluation of the different pros and cons.

    • Anon
      Anon says:

      Yes please – I feel like this post should really be about which forms of birth control don’t work. I also understand that no birth control is 100% effective, but seriously…

      This post seems to reinforce abortion as a method of birth control, which is pretty traumatizing.

      • anon
        anon says:

        I don’t see this as reinforcing abortion as birth control. Shit happens, women get pregnant when they do not want to, even when they are plenty smart and careful. What this whole debate is about is regulating women’s bodies, especially women’s sexuality. I’m so sick of the prolifers. Will go support NARAL and Planned Parenthood again, as I often have in the past.

    • Mariana
      Mariana says:

      Exactly. This is what I would like to hear –instead of yet another account of an unplanned pregnancy. She is (should be?) smarter than that.

  34. Ian
    Ian says:

    Yet another post that makes me glad I read this blog regularly. Thanks for the consistently insightful and often challenging posts (two essential but oft-lacking qualities in good writing, online or otherwise).

    • oldfeminist
      oldfeminist says:

      Uh, she is responsible. If she doesn’t want a pregnancy she plans to terminate it. Have an abortion.

      Just because you find abortion distasteful doesn’t mean Penelope has to agree with you. You seem to want women to have abortions only as a last result and to feel sadness and shame about them.

      If Penelope doesn’t think it’s really a person yet, then she’s not required to mourn it.

      The End.

  35. Casey
    Casey says:

    There are quite a few issues brought up in your post. Some brought up a lot of my thoughts and opinions and some I care about very little. My overriding thought while reading was that I believe you tend to take a cavalier approach to contraception. You’re intelligent; you know you can get pregnant, but it sounds like you play the odds and use abortion as your contraception each time your gamble fails. I’ll acknowledge that that is your choice and I’m not interested in taking it away, but it does make me uncomfortable because I see you as an influencer over young people. Perhaps I’ve been incredibly lucky that I, as a sexually active women since 18 (now 36), have been able to plan each of my three pregnancies without any accidents. Or perhaps I’ve always just been really careful because I don’t see abortion as an option for me. Either way, I’m glad I’ve never had to experience an unplanned pregnancy, miscarriage (to my knowledge) or abortion. I can only imagine how stressful it would be.

    Thanks for keeping things interesting. I always appreciate your candor and perspective.

  36. Susan
    Susan says:

    I totally love you for writing this. I’m sorry you had to work while you were having a miscarriage, though; how sucktastic that must’ve been.

  37. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I’m from the UK and have just come back from a holiday in Minnesota. While there I read an article about an abortion doctor who was murdered by a Pro-Life group in an Southern state and then on the road trip back to Minneapolis I was surprised by the amount of Pro-Life adverts there was on the roadside. When you come from a country where abortion is free on the NHS and nearly all towns have Family Planning clinics I can’t believe how backwards thinking some people still are. Abortion is still hotly debated now and again here but it is widely accepted that it is the woman’s choice.

    I completely agree with you that miscarriage isn’t spoken about enough and it is very common – I have many friends who have miscarriaged. I hope you are feeling better soon and I really enjoy reading your blog.

  38. disheartened
    disheartened says:

    I’m one of those who spoke out against the twitter. What bothered my was the callousness of it.

    Granted, when one is pregnant, having an abortion or a miscarriage, hormones run rampant and, yes, sometimes women act in somewhat irrational ways. (I don’t say this to make us look like idiots. We’re not. But let’s be realistic here, the hormone thing is true.)

    Anyway, like someone above said: Here is Penelope, having a miscarriage and she’s twittering about it rather than going to the hospital. And what about the farmer? I’m assuming he has a role in this? Isn’t he entitled to some privacy? Doesn’t he have feelings about this? Wasn’t this his child also, wanted or not?

    At what point does life and death stop becoming entertainment for the rest of the world? Or a marketing ploy?

    • Brianne
      Brianne says:

      I honestly believe that Penelope views her readers as a bit of a support group. People that read her blog because they, I don’t know, actually like her.

      I think if the Farmer knows her like we hope he does, he takes that part of her with the rest even if he may not want his business out in the open.

      Life and death are both scary things. Sometimes the best ways to deal with them are to reach out to others. And yes, to make jokes about them too.

      Not trying to start trouble but no one knows what it’s like to be Penelope.

      P.S. to Cody down there *points further down the comment stream*…grow up.

    • KateNonymous
      KateNonymous says:

      Here’s the thing: we don’t know that she didn’t go. We know that the miscarriage was ongoing during the meeting, but we don’t know that she hadn’t already seen her doctor. Miscarriages often aren’t instantaneous; they can take weeks.

      As for your other questions, I don’t know. She hasn’t said anything on those topics.

      • Veronica Sawyer
        Veronica Sawyer says:

        Thanks for saying this. Obviously those saying she should be in the hospital have never had a miscarriage or been close to someone who has. The whole point of P’s post is that women have to deal with these things in their work lives. The fact that so many people are misinformed about how a miscarriage works is proof enough we need to talk about it more. Most women can’t take the time off work to be at home or in the hospital while a miscarriage takes its course over days or weeks.

    • Shandra
      Shandra says:

      FYI and as a miscarriage veteran, if you race off to the hospital, they send you home. There is no emergency; it’s generally a very natural process. You do need to get checked out at the end to be sure the miscarriage was complete.

      PT – My sympathies for the dilemma.

  39. Megan
    Megan says:

    Firstly I am so sorry. The suck involved, even if it is tempered with relief, I can’t imagine.

    Second. WTF! Three weeks? Seriously? (commenter now supresses urges to trash your state)

    Lastly I would like to commend your support of PP but ask that you expand your view of them. While yes they are a reliable source for legal abortions, I get so frustrated when people see PP as ONLY a place to get an abortion. They are so much more. And provide a valuable resource for women, of many economic levels, to get reproductive health care. Everything from contraception to disease testing and treatment, as well as basic preventative care. A need that I feel is greater than many people think. Gynological care is something of a taboo subject in this country. Its OK to make a speculum joke but not ok to take your 16 y/o to a doctor for well woman care.
    *where did that soapbox come from?*
    oops stepping of the soapbox.
    And again, my sympathies to you and wishes for this to resolve sooner rather than later without complication.

  40. d
    d says:

    I’m glad you explained the situation too, because I read your tweet and was shocked by it, but mostly because I didn’t understand. I always thought miscarriages were a sudden, traumatic woosh, and had NO IDEA they lasted that long. So with that vision in my head, I was like, “Huh? How can you sit there on twitter in a meeting when that’s happening?”

    It’s a little scary how ignorant we can be about our own bodies. Well you learn something new every day. I have much respect for your honesty and openness.

  41. Cody
    Cody says:

    not only are you a no-talent attention whore — you’re an uninformed one. One 140 char message is a tweet. Not a twitter. You web2.0 goddess, you.

  42. Al
    Al says:

    I wasn’t so much offended by your tweet, but the seemingly nonchalant attitude of it. Weather one is pro life or pro choice, the issue of abortion is not one that should be treated with nonchalance.

    That being said, I do think we should be able to talk about it at work. I had a miscarriage and was working on setting up a major interview day. I had to call the manager and ask that it be pushed back 2 days because I had to go have a d&c and another person needed to take over. The manager yelled at me. He yelled at me because I was not able to do my job even though I was going through the worst hell of my life. HR knew and did nothing. I ended up leaving that job because of the situation. It was just too uncomfortable for me to work there anymore.

    So, while I applaud you for putting it out there, I do think there needs to be a certain amount of reverence.

  43. B
    B says:

    Penelope – I read the blog post you linked to, and it looks as though the author wrote it because she was mad you weren’t sharing the “juicy” details.

    Part of my beef with this is that you can’t just say this without more about how you really feel. It is missing so much and leaves the reader with an empty feeling.

    That post, and I suspect others you read, are more about the writer than you. And frankly, while I also wanted more information, it’s always up to you what you share, when and how. As readers, we can’t make the mistake of assuming that you owe us something, simply because we’re accustomed to your detailed and personal take on most situations…even when you put something so controversial and explosive out there.

    I have always enjoyed your candor, and while sometimes I don’t agree with your point of view, you always stretch me to think about issues in a new way.

    I’ve not been pregnant nor had a miscarriage, so I can’t imagine what you’re going through. But thank you and good luck.

  44. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair
    Amber from Girl with the Red Hair says:

    I jsut started reading your blog a few weeks ago but I just wanted to say I love it and think it’s hilarious how people jump all over you in the comments. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, people!

    I also love all the great points you made in this post to back up your rather absurd tweet! Very interesting.

    • Anthony
      Anthony says:

      Everyone is entitled to there opinion, but her complete lack of tact and voyeuristic need to share every intimate detail of her life makes me questions just how competent an career advisor she really is. She should be a little more responsible in how she approaches her topics lest someone in a more traditional career path follows her lead and ends up suffering because of it.

  45. linz
    linz says:

    You’ve written about how much you value honesty, but I think what really sets you apart isn’t your honesty, but a keen sense for what’s going to resonate with other women. If this were just a bare-all blog about your life, it would be boring and you wouldn’t have so many readers.

    I started a blog this year in an attempt to define something essential about the American female experience. When I found this blog a few months ago, I thought, looks like somebody beat me to it!

  46. Doug
    Doug says:

    Thank you for posting this follow up, esp. the link the Planned Parenthood. I love your blog not because I always agree with it, but because you surface issues such as these which need to be talked about.

    Thank you.

  47. E
    E says:

    I’m always amazed at how much you get off on the attention you receive. So how many other lives will end/abortions will you have before you learn? Have you ever considered starting saving money to get your tubes tied since you were so thankful that you felt the need to TWEET about a happy miscarriage? I’m a very open minded individual, but as one reader put it, it doesn’t matter if you are pro choice or pro life…you’ve got to be PRO RESPONSIBILITY FIRST. Please for the love of God, THINK about how this affects others before you end another life.
    You never seem regretful about your actions, you just blog about justifying what you’ve done. I implore you to seek some sort of mental help.

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