Reframing Abortion

This morning I read an article in the Washington Post titled “Yes, they do abortions.” The article featured a clinic in the Washington D.C. area that is part of the movement to de-stigmatize abortions. Featuring a “spa-like” setting and blunt advertising (using ads in Metro stations with phrases such as, “Abortion. Yeah, we do that.”) this abortion clinic is trying to reframe the position many have that abortion is a “necessary evil” to make it seem like it is not a big deal, or that it is even a positive experience. The article went on to discuss other people/groups who are part of this movement to de-stigmatize abortion and make it to be a “normal,” or even “moral decision” in a woman’s reproductive life rather than have abortion be considered a “necessary evil.”

As I was reading this article, and learning more about the spread of this movement, I became both deeply concerned and upset. I am concerned about the women who this movement is targeting. Early pro-life feminist Mattie H. Brinkerhoff wrote, “When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong with society – so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.” I am upset about the callousness and deception taking place. Abortion is not a “normal” part of a woman’s reproductive life and reframing it to be considered a moral choice comparable with bringing a new life into the world is a distortion of truth and morality that is both harmful to women and to society.

An abortion is never a first choice decision. It is a reaction to a situation a woman finds herself in that she didn’t intend. Whether it be an unplanned pregnancy, or a change in a financial or relational situation, the abortion procedure was not part of the original plan (at least not that I’ve ever encountered – I have yet to hear of a situation where a woman became pregnant with the purpose to abort; if these situations do exist that opens up a pandora’s box of additional ethical concerns). Trying to reframe abortion as a first choice scenario, like a day trip to the spa would be, is denying women the opportunity to address the harm that brought them to this point.

I am not writing to condemn women who find themselves in situations where they think an abortion is their best option, but to challenge those of us who believe in the value of life – both mother’s and child’s – to take a stand where we acknowledge that abortion is a failure to women. By acknowledging this, we can act to eliminate situations where abortion is thought to be “needed” or, even worse, considered comparable to a day at the spa.

To read the article that inspired this post click here

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Jon Holmlund
Jon Holmlund
6 years ago

Right on. It looks like the notion that abortion is somehow a public good is moving from tacit to not-so-tacit. I was in Washington riding the Metro in February and didn’t see these signs, but will watch for them the next time I was there.

In the meantime, I wonder whether what you are talking about isn’t a flavor of the sort of thing I tried to address in my “testimonials and arguments” post of last November 6th. Is it germane to your point, in your judgment?

Steve Phillips
6 years ago

While I agree that there are many women who have abortions because they feel trapped in circumstances over which they feel they have no control and that we should do things as a society and as the church to help women in those circumstances, that is not the only reason women choose abortion. I have had patients who were were not economically or socially disadvantaged who desired to have sexual relationships without responsibility. When faced with a pregnancy that resulted from such a sexual relationship abortion was chosen because they were not ready to take on the limitations of their own freedom required of anyone who raises a child. That can be blamed on being raised in a narcissistic society, but that does not mean that the one who fails to take responsibility for the life they have helped to create is the victim of society’s failure to women. We need to work to correct the ways that women are failed by society, but we also need to recognize that each of us is morally responsible for the choices we make.