My Mom Had an Abortion is a unique coming-of-age tale told by a self-described dyslexic-asexual-lesbian-feminist teenager and illustrated by body-positive comic artist Tatiana Gill. We follow our protagonist Beezus B. Murphy as she chronicles her evolving understanding of menstruation, reproduction, and abortion and finds her place in a confusing world. Initially influenced by harmful narratives in pop media such as the “the pregnant teenager” cliche, we watch Beezus’s ideas change as her body changes and as she learns more about the intricacies of her family history and her mom’s own reproductive experiences. She grows from a confused, out-of-place kid into a self-assured, empathetic, and strong-willed activist teen. As Beezus says, “People shouldn’t be shamed for getting or not getting abortions. Young people absorb the information that we gather from our surroundings. Sometimes it’s good information and other times it can be harmful. But now I realize abortion is perfectly normal and should be kept safe and legal.” Sprinkled with pop culture references, hilariously apt descriptions of unwanted body changes and menstruation like the chapter “Blood, Bath, and Beyond,” and instantly understandable revelations of growing-up, this beautifully illustrated short graphic novel crucially fills a cultural gap around complexities of abortion, pop culture, body changes, and finding out where we fit in.
Author: Beezus B. Murphy
Illustrator: Tatiana Gill
Producer: Shout Your Abortion
Afterword: Amelia Bonow
Series: PM Press
Published: December 2021
Subjects: Young Adult Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / LGBTQ+ / Sexuality & Pregnancy
- “It’s a rare gift to be welcomed into the inner corridors of a person’s life, especially a person as frank, funny, and utterly allergic to posturing as Beezus B. Murphy. You have to admire Beezus’s clarity of self and her warm curiosity about the hard things as she writes her way through them. Beezus approaches abortion and periods and sexuality with the vulnerable authenticity of a young person actively hashing these issues out in real time—which, of course, she is. The fact that she feels free to be so free, because she never really learned that she wasn’t supposed to talk about these things, is one of the most hopeful sights our currently very un-free universe has to offer.” —Lindy West, author of Shrill
- “Beezus B. Murphy’s graphic novel is thoughtful, honest, blunt, and smart. We don’t talk openly enough about this subject, and Ms. Murphy does so in such a conversational way that you kind of forget it’s supposed to be taboo. I won’t forget this one.” —Dana Simpson, author and illustrator of Phoebe and Her Unicorn
- “Beezus B. Murphy’s My Mom Had an Abortion has more real-but-not-precious, raw-but-not-wrenching stories packed into its relatively short pages than you’d imagine it could. It’s full of poignant, funny, and empathetic connective thread between generations and families, mothers and daughters, reproductive experience and autonomy, growing up, sexual identity and more, all in Beezus’ deeply original, open, and accessible voice that feels both warmly familiar and wholly original. Tatiana Gill’s down to earth illustrations add the perfect touch to this unique addition to the next generation of powerful pro-abortion lit.” —Heather Corinna, founder of Scarleteen, author of S.E.X. The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens
- “Sixteen-year-old Beezus B. Murphy writes with a whip-smart self-awareness that gives me hope for America’s future. With a deft balance of insight and humor, My Mom Had an Abortion is a warm and welcome demonstration of how we can—and should!—talk about abortion as a normal and vital human right.” —Tessa Hulls, author of Feeding Ghosts
- “A vital, honest representation of what is a proven fact but consistently overlooked—the majority of people who have abortions are parents. By showing an honest conversation between mom and daughter, My Mom Had an Abortion shows the lingering effects of stigma, the power of storytelling, and the myriad of reproductive and pregnancy outcomes and experiences that are demonized to the detriment of those who experience them. A loving reminder that abortion is often a parenting decision that makes it possible for people to grow their families when they’re willing, ready, and able, this is required reading for anyone who knows and loves someone who has had an abortion. Yes, this means you.” —Danielle Campoamor, writer, editor, and abortion advocate
- “Beezus B. Murphy’s writing brims with curiosity, generosity, and precocious wisdom. She candidly and expertly presents the complexities of learning how to distinguish between stereotypes and the complexity of what really is, and how one eloquent teen views the social repercussions of our culture’s representation of the female reproductive system. Tatiana Gill’s friendly, straightforward artwork is perfectly matched with the text. The reader can easily imagine Beezus and Tatiana having intimate, animated conversations and really getting a kick out of each other. Like Beezus, I wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my mom’s abortion. It’s a complicated, powerful thing to know, and we both remain amazed and thankful. Our moms’ decisions weren’t easy, but allowed them to live their own, rewarding lives—which eventually included loving relationships with us!” —Ellen Forney, artist and author
- “Who wrote the rule that you have to be an adult to publish a book? Thanks to teenager Beezus Murphy, illustrator Tatiana Gill, Shout Your Abortion, and PM Press, we get this marvelous autobiographical graphic novel about a young lesbian growing up in Seattle. Beezus’ tender honesty gives you the feeling that you are sitting around chatting with a close friend, opening up to each other about school challenges, pop culture’s influence on your beliefs, and puberty. I hope this isn’t Bezzus’ last book because I want to read more!” —Jacinta Bunnell, author of A More Graceful Shaboom
About the Contributors
- Beezus B. Murphy, born 2004, is a Seattle based dyslexic, asexual, lesbian, feminist, writer, and activist. She lives in Seattle with her mother Shawna Murphy, father Christian Peetz, younger sister Minnow Murphy, three pugs, two Siamese cats, and one Chihuahua. Her hobbies include the creation and consumption of media, roller skating, and trying to keep up in school. Beezus struggled in school and didn’t learn how to read until she was 8 because of her learning disability, but her kindergarten teacher Jennifer Nieman always said that when she did the world would lose her to books. It did, in some ways, but Beezus was far more consumed in many worlds of her own creation. Thanks to the influence of a Christian-propaganda show disguising itself as a teen drama, put haphazardly on Netflix where anyone could find it, Beezus accidentally became anti-abortion for a few months. However, thanks to her pro-abortion feminist mom Shawna, she quickly recovered and sought to write a book about her journey.
- Tatiana Gill is a Seattle cartoonist drawing about social and reproductive justice, mental health and addiction, and body positivity. Creating comic books for 25 years, her recent books include Wombgenda, Blackoutings, The Fat Positive Coloring Book, and Recovery. She contributes to publications across the world and has illustrated several books. Her work appears in galleries and exhibits around Seattle. Tatiana creates comics for a number of local organizations including Seattle/King County Health Department, Community Lunch, People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, and Shout Your Abortion. Find her online at @tatsgill on Instagram and Twitter, and tatianagill.com.
- Shout Your Abortion is an organization working to normalize abortion through art, media, and community events across the US and beyond. My Mom Had an Abortion is SYA’s second book published with PM Press. SYA’s eponymously titled first book—a collection of stories, art, and a tool kit for action—currently sits in the waiting and recovery rooms of hundreds of abortion clinics all over the country. Learn more about SYA and get involved at ShoutYourAbortion.com.
- Amelia Bonow is the cofounder of Shout Your Abortion, an organization working to normalize abortion through art, media, and community events all over the country. Bonow’s writing has appeared in The New Republic, BUST, and Salon, and in SYA’s self-titled book, which currently sits in the waiting and recovery rooms of nearly 300 abortion clinics. Bonow proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the Abortion Care Network and has been honored by Abortion Conversation Projects, the Webby Awards, and abortion clinics nationwide. Amelia wants everybody to talk about abortion and she believes that we are going to win