A couple days ago this attention grabbing hashtag appeared in the trending box on this writer’s Facebook. #ShoutYourAbortion. What?! This writer thought. I really don’t want to know, but clicked on the link anyway. The post at the top at that point was one from Abby Johnson imploring those who regretted their abortions to hijack the thread, but farther down into it, the flame throwing had begun. HOW DARE YOU MISOGYNIST RIGHTWINGERS TRY TO DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD! MY ABORTION SAVED MY LIFE.
How had these abortions saved lives:
- The woman was in an abusive relationship. The abortion assured that the woman would not be tied to the baby’s father for the rest of her life.
- Broke and unemployed.
- The girl had yet to finish school.
- The woman doesn’t want children.
Yada yada yada. A few mentions of rape which is truly lamentable, but no incest or to “save the life of the mother.”
Really, these confessions make abortion sound an awful lot like back up birth control for convenience that so many of us consider it to be. But, what makes the entire exercise interesting in the larger abortion discussion is the tagline: erasing the stigma. Wow. In the United States, 42 years after Roe vs. Wade supposedly settled the matter on abortion in the USA, there is still shame involved with the industry and the act. Bench legislation did not equal social acceptance, and abortion is a stark reminder of that.
So, Lindy West, an American writer, took it upon herself to force that acceptance even as the nation is in the midst of soul searching on the topic of killing unborn children for any reason, and then harvesting organs for medical research. She started #ShoutYourAbortion after reading this from a friend:
…on Saturday, when my friend Amelia Bonow posted this plainspoken, unapologetic announcement on her Facebook page, it felt simultaneously so obvious, so simple and so revolutionary: “Like a year ago I had an abortion at the Planned Parenthood on Madison Ave, and I remember this experience with a near inexpressible level of gratitude … I am telling you this today because the narrative of those working to defund Planned Parenthood relies on the assumption that abortion is still something to be whispered about. Plenty of people still believe that on some level – if you are a good woman – abortion is a choice which should be accompanied by some level of sadness, shame or regret. But you know what? I have a good heart and having an abortion made me happy in a totally unqualified way. Why wouldn’t I be happy that I was not forced to become a mother?”
Since there are millions of women who would give their eye teeth for a shot at motherhood, and have not been able to be for any number of reasons, does this woman really want that question answered?
Lindy West set up #ShoutYourAbortion for women who have no regrets after they had their children killed to tell their stories and make public confessions in the hope that the shame and stigma will go away. The meanies on the right were able to shape the conversation, after all, since the women whose lives were “saved” by the procedure were keeping quiet about it.
There are no “good” abortions and “bad” abortions, because an abortion is just a medical procedure, reproductive healthcare is healthcare, and it is a fact without caveat that a foetus is not a person. I own my body, and I decide what I allow to grow in it. Telling our stories at full volume chips away at stigma, at lies, at the climate of shame that destroys the lives (sometimes literally) of women and girls and anyone anywhere on the gender spectrum who can become pregnant, especially those living in poverty, in rural areas and in hyper-religious and conservative households.
Well, Lindy, there is a reason your twitter feed is full of the pictures of bloody babies murdered by that specific “medical procedure.” All those babies are, as one former abortionist put it in testimony to Congress, someone’s son or daughter. All those babies are defenseless human beings dependent on their mothers for everything. Every one of them had a unique set of DNA, heartbeats, brainwaves, and a soul. Every one of them was just as much a person as the people who desire to deny them that status. Whether you want to believe it or not, that is the case. And it is also the case that all the public confession may make you feel better about your decision, but deep inside, somewhere, you still feel shame. Otherwise, you wouldn’t feel the need to #ShoutYourAbortion for the world to hear and to judge you. Because what you are doing is denying the truth that sterile euphemisms hide every time you say “medical procedure” and “fetus” as if fetus is not the Latin word for baby. Abortion STILL kills babies by force whether the mother wants to believe it or not.
And that is why #ShoutYourAbortion is bound to fail as the selfish gesture that it is. The stigma, the shame. is still there. Abortion may have been with us since the beginning of civilization, but it still is not socially acceptable, and God willing, it never will be.