Abortion and the Gray Area

Image courtesy of badbuttons.com

Earlier this week, Salon ran a letter in their advice column, from a self-described pro-choice woman who regretted having an abortion. It’s a moving and honest letter, and it got me thinking about whether there is space in the pro-choice movement for stories that occupy a gray area: women who appreciate the right to choose, but without hesitation admit that their choice was not the right one.

Anti-choice websites are full of lurid tales of women who regret their abortions. They all follow a narrative of despair and weakness, culminating in the woman declaring her remorse and sending a message that any woman who has an abortion will find herself in the same hopeless situation, so it’s better to not have the abortion in the first place. In recent years pro-choicers have responded with websites and organizations that value all the disparate emotions that can result from a termination, and make it their mission to help women explore those emotions in a safe and non-judgmental manner.

This is a good step, and a needed one. The pro-choice movement should not shy away from women’s experiences that cause others to examine their own values and biases. Part of my training when I was in direct service was discussing the assumptions and stereotypes people hold about who gets an abortion. How do we feel when a woman regrets her abortion? Do we think that her story is important and valuable because it speaks to the very necessity of personal choice, or is it dangerous because it could give weight to the anti-choice belief that abortion is a regrettable decision?

But these stories need to be shared just as frequently as any other abortion story, because a huge part of making abortion more acceptable to society at large is having the freedom to talk about this gray area. The anti-choice side would like to pretend that every woman that has an abortion is a victim, and that therefore no one should be allowed to make that choice. But you can be grateful to have the right to choose an abortion and hope that you don’t have to make that choice, or regret that you did. By embracing the full range of emotions and experiences around this essential choice, we can help break down the stigma and shame that so many people associate with abortion, and make sure that every woman’s voice is heard.

Pro-Choice News Roundup

Kathleen Hannah on being a Feminist Ambassador. The Frisky.

The Anti-Abortion Movement is Wasting Money. Huffington Post.

10 Celebrity Home Births. Celebrity Baby Scoop.

Unpleasant Man Humiliates Woman with Anti-Abortion Billboard. Addweek.

Anti-Abortion Billboards Targeting Latinos Now. Jezebel.

Bullying and Post-Abortion Trauma

Bullying, in particular of LGBT individuals, has been a popular topic of discussion in the media. Plenty of celebrities have voiced their belief that life will get better for those bullied. In my opinion, it only gets better if individuals grow stronger against criticism or if society becomes more accepting of differences. Bullying does not magically disappear once one gets older as we would like to believe, as evidenced from anti-abortion bullying.

One can easily find information about many anti-abortion advocates, who bully women seeking abortions. While there are many that just want to inform women of their options, there are also those who outright pressure and scare women seeking abortions. Usually religion is used to establish self-reproach in abortion seekers. Instead of privately receiving abortion, some women must walk by protesters standing outside clinics passing judgment and criticism. Media outlets perpetuate anti-abortion sentiments with such phrases as “baby killer” and “god is your enemy.” As a result, women can be humiliated by the social scrutiny.

Anti-abortion bullying makes me wonder if the claimed post-abortion mental trauma is a result of bullying. [Read more...]

Save Susan!

Each Women’s History Month the portrait of Susan B. Anthony decorates classroom walls around the country. What many people this year will not realize is that a heated debate is taking place involving the life of the 19th Century suffrage leader, and of all things, whether or not she opposed abortion.

Several conservative organizations, calling themselves feminists, have joined forces to manipulate the history of Susan B. Anthony to promote an anti-choice political agenda. Using her image on bumper stickers, t-shirts, and other anti-choice materials, these organizations have painted a woman who devoted her life to securing votes for women, of being publicly opposed to abortion.

According to Mary Krane Derr, an author and member of Feminists for Life, there are “bits of evidence” that prove Susan B. Anthony opposed abortion. Convincing. [Read more...]

Lets Chat: Margaret Sanger and Eugenics

margaret-sangerOn October 25th Feminists for Choice will host its first live “Choice Chat”, featuring Gloria Feldt. Feldt will discuss Margaret Sanger’s legacy and implications for the current reproductive rights movement.

I can predict that many of us will want to discuss what is possibly the definitive feminist history conundrum: the Birth Control Pioneer’s involvement with the early eugenics movement.

Feldt herself recognizes Sanger’s involvement with eugenics as “the most difficult stain” to remove from Sanger’s legacy. In a recent lecture, reviewed here, Feldt stated “Those opposed to women’s equality in any form will always use it against her and the movement she founded, even though she more than redeemed herself and was among the first U.S leaders to denounce Hitler.”
[Read more...]

Rachel Maddow Takes on The Wing Nuts on Health Care

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The wing nuts have been making death threats against Democratic senators because they’re run out of logical arguments. Not that the debate has ever been logical – I mean, death panels . . . yeah, that’s totally beyond the realms of logic. But effigies and handguns is so far into Cuckoo Land it’s a little unbelievable.

Rachel Maddow is so on point by drawing the connections between the health care debate and anti-abortion terrorism. Dr. Hern clearly states that the violent rhetoric that people use is an important first step before anti-abortion protesters even get to the point of blowing up clinics or assassinating doctors. Anyone who tells you that you don’t have to worry about the wing nuts because they’re just talking is seriously delusional. Where do you think Paul Hill and Scott Roeder got the idea to kill an abortion provider? From the wing nuts spouting off at the mouth in front of the clinic. [Read more...]

Scott Roeder Has Friends in Low Places

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Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing Dr. George Tiller, has friends in low places. Despite the public claims from Operation Rescue that Scott Roeder wasn’t associated with the group, Roeder has been receiving letters in jail from all kinds of right wing whack jobs. The FBI is reportedly investigating Roeder’s mail and the list of visitors he has been receiving to see if Roeder acted alone, or he was part of a larger anti-abortion conspiracy. [Read more...]

Watch List: Lake of Fire

lakeoffirepostersm11Lake of Fire” is a documentary by Tony Kaye about the radical anti-choice movement. He looks at the history of violence against abortion providers and provides a very frightening view of the domestic terrorists who threaten women’s access to reproductive health care.

The film was released in 2006 and opens with a focus on the passage of a South Dakota law that outlawed abortion. HB 1215 was signed into law by South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds in March of 2006. The legislation prohibits abortion under any circumstance, including rape and incest. The only exception is to protect the life of the mother. The health of the mother is not considered in the exception process. The intent of the bill’s sponsors was to have the law questioned before the Supreme Court. They were hoping that George Bush would have had a third justice nominated to the Supreme Court so that the case would have overturned Roe v. Wade.

South Dakota’s anti-abortion law did not pass in a vacuum. “Lake of Fire” traces the emergence of the militant anti-abortion movement in the US, beginning with a 1993 anti-choice demonstration on the National Mall in Washington, DC that has become an annual event each year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. White crosses are staked into the lawn. I assume the protesters intend these crosses to represent the babies that are killed each year by abortion. The organizers of the protest say that this should be “a daily event,” and that they are honoring “God’s laws.” [Read more...]