A Powerful New Comic Book Takes Aim at Abortion Stigma

Even where it’s legal and accessible, abortion can often be a difficult process. The procedure can be emotionally complicated and the stigma that hangs around abortion can make it feel fraught. In a powerful new illustrated book, Not Funny Ha-Ha, writer and artist Leah Hayes sheds light on what it’s like to get an abortion. As the title makes clear, this comic is not funny. But it is insightful, empathetic, and educational. Not Funny Ha-Ha follows the stories of two women who are getting abortions—one medical and one surgical—and weaves their personal thoughts around hand-drawn text explaining straight-forward information and science about how abortion works. This is likely not a light beach-read comic you’d pick up for fun, but a serious work that aims to ease anxiety and bring clarity to a procedure that one in three women will undergo during her life.

As a clearly educational resource, this book would be a welcome addition to Planned Parenthood waiting rooms and high school sex-ed classes. I also think it could help readers of all stripes learn about abortion through a non-judgmental lens: As numerous studies have shown, hearing stories about people who have gotten abortions helps reduce stigma against the procedure. 

Not Funny Ha-Ha comes out in August, but Fantagraphics gave us permission to run a sneak-peek excerpt from the book. If you like this excerpt, you can pre-order the book here

These pages were excerpted courtesy of Fantagraphics. Learn more about Not Funny Ha-Ha here

by Sarah Mirk
View profile »

Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media's online editor. She's interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

Still Reading? Sign up for our Weekly Reader!

10 Comments Have Been Posted

sensitive and touching <3

sensitive and touching <3

sensitive and touching <3

sensitive and touching <3

Why "girls"?

Seems like the characters are women, grown women. Why the use of "girls"? Otherwise, it looks like an interesting comic and a great approach to address the subject and stigma of abortion.

Why "girls"?

Seems like the characters are women, grown women. Why the use of "girls"? Otherwise, it looks like an interesting comic and a great approach to address the subject and stigma of abortion.

Girls vs. Women

Some women, myself included, prefer to identify themselves as "girls" rather than "women." Perhaps the artist felt the same way, and projected that onto her characters. It might not be right, but it's reasonable.

My reasons for preferring to be called a 20-year-old girl rather than a 20-year-old woman are mostly due to my identity as a young, casual person who hates having to act grown up. It's in part because "girl" is used as a counterpart to "guy" in my environments, separately from "girl"/"boy." However, not all women feel this way, and when writing about people (or fictional people), it's important to consider what words they would like to be called. It's impossible to know whether or not the author thought about this without interviewing them.

tl;dr: It's not always wrong to call an adult woman a girl, as long as you do so cognizantly.

Girls vs. Women

Some women, myself included, prefer to identify themselves as "girls" rather than "women." Perhaps the artist felt the same way, and projected that onto her characters. It might not be right, but it's reasonable.

My reasons for preferring to be called a 20-year-old girl rather than a 20-year-old woman are mostly due to my identity as a young, casual person who hates having to act grown up. It's in part because "girl" is used as a counterpart to "guy" in my environments, separately from "girl"/"boy." However, not all women feel this way, and when writing about people (or fictional people), it's important to consider what words they would like to be called. It's impossible to know whether or not the author thought about this without interviewing them.

tl;dr: It's not always wrong to call an adult woman a girl, as long as you do so cognizantly.

comic about 2 women who seek abortion...

Love it!
Her style makes me want MORE!!

comic about 2 women who seek abortion...

Love it!
Her style makes me want MORE!!

Love these drawings! Hope to

Love these drawings! Hope to see more work like this!

Love these drawings! Hope to

Love these drawings! Hope to see more work like this!

Add new comment