You may have seen the recent, highly-publicized PSA by actress, Jemima Kirke. The video, released by anti-Life group Draw the Line received praise from many abortion activists. Kirke candidly discusses the “obstacles” and “stigma” that confront a woman committing an abortion.
So what were those obstacles and stigma surrounding her experience? When she and her college boyfriend conceived, Kirke thought her “life was just not conducive to raising a healthy, happy child.” (Frankly, most college students don’t gravitate to a lifestyle that is conducive). So, Kirke went to Planned Parenthood and definitively determined that her child could no longer be an unhealthy or unhappy (or living) child.
While it may sound easy, she recalls: “I did have to, like, you know, empty my, my, you know, my checking account” and even deign to accept some money from the father of her child and courageously forego anesthesia.
Kirke isn’t the only one trying to overcome “stigma” and normalize the “abortion experience.” The 1 in 3 Campaign is a website devoted to stories written by women who have committed abortions. These personal narratives, according to the website, are meant to “end the stigma and shame women are made to feel about abortion.” Never mind the fact that the entire campaign is founded on a speculative statistic amounting to “complete hogwash” and that stories of regret are selectively ignored. The narrative is supposed to convince us that women, who would otherwise feel just fine, are being unfairly targeted with stigma and shame. Once people are open and honest, once the obstacles are obliterated, the guilt, shame, and regret associated with abortion will disappear.
Certainly, post-abortive women need support and acceptance. We can agree that they need open and honest space in which to heal. But what are they healing from? Are “unfair” laws the cause of this “stigma?”
We don’t have to look far in order to see if this theory holds water: we can examine the state of “reproductive rights” among our neighbors to the north. As Canada’s Pro-Choice Action Network boasts, “Canada is one of the very few countries in the world that has NO criminal law restricting abortion at all.” In addition, politicians who don’t actively seek to move beyond the abortion status quo (of entirely unrestricted abortion) are deemed “not pro-choice enough.” Surely in such a society, stigma has been cast aside.
Unsurprisingly, the reality is much different. Canadian writer, Rosemary Westwood recently bemoaned on the blog Metro Views that “women in Canada can get abortions, but individual women can’t.” The reason for this enigmatic state of affairs is, as with our own backwater nation: stigma and shame.
Westwood qualifies that she has not personally committed abortion, but she writes: “if I ever have one, I know I’ll fear the stigma and shame.” While Canada may have some of the most liberal abortion laws in the entire world, this is not enough. Instead of the misogynistic Republican Party quashing women’s “reproductive rights,” Canadians have to fear shame and stigma, as Westwood describes, “not from the minority of pro-lifers in this country, but from within the pro-choice majority.” So, she claims the people who support unrestricted access to abortion are the ones casting stigma and shame on women who actually commit abortions. Are you confused yet?
Westwood elaborates on this “hypocrisy” of abortion advocates contributing to the unpleasantness of abortion. Her evidence is that women are inexplicably reluctant to discuss the abortions they have committed. She decries that “there are public campaigns to dispel the shame around mental health, so people need not suffer from isolation, or blame, but we say nothing about abortion.” If they only talked more about abortion, the misapplied regret would melt away, revealed as a mere figment of the uncivilized imagination. Predictably, she proceeds to advocate for a vague agenda of expelling shame by talking more.
Yet, can Ms. Westwood provide a scrap of evidence that this happy ending can ever be expected? There already is a tremendous amount of discussion aimed at sugar-coating abortion: PSAs, campaigns, advertisements, and initiatives to make us believe that committing abortion is perfectly normal. Why do these candid testimonials have yet to affect the human heart? Unwittingly, Ms. Westwood gets to the crux of the matter when she inquires, “We’ve already said it’s OK, so why does it still feel wrong?”
Abortion kills a child and causes women and their families to suffer, which is precisely why abortion “still feels wrong.” We do need to have a discussion about abortion, a discussion through which women can find hope and healing for their lost children. Lying to ourselves will never make abortion feel right.