Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Abortion is an option
Read that post title again. Perhaps twice more. Slowly, if you need to, to let it sink in and make sense.
Abortion is real. It happens. It is an actual thing. I didn't make it up just now.
I feel the need to belabor this point because lately I've been bitch slapped in the face with outright denials of abortion's awesomeness. What's more, I've had people straight up tell me that abortion is not a pregnancy solution. COME AGAIN?!
I've been thinking about abortion stigma lately, due in part to an upcoming series in the Gender Across Borders blog (check for it in a couple weeks!). Now, I have no delusions about being able to eradicate abortion stigma anytime soon. But the first step towards fighting stigma in any arena is just to get people talking about it. Get folks to the point where they can actually say the word "abortion" in public without giggling or lowing their voices. But how can we even get there if people won't even think of abortion as a real live option? And I'm becoming increasingly frustrated that it doesn't even come up in the family planning conversation, even as an idea that one might reject.
Remember: Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
What's funny is that a lot of the aforementioned "abortion denial" does not come from the full-on antis. No, they know abortion is real, and they make it very clear to everyone else how much they hate it. BUT HEY: at least they're talking about it! At least they use the word, even if it's in the [false] context of "Abortion is dangerous" or "Women regret abortion". So, in that respect, I have to applaud the antis for their awareness, if nothing else.
No, it's the middle-of-the-road, don't-care, would-never-happen-to-me-so-I'll-never-have-to-think-about-it types who, for whatever reason, have never talked about abortion. Sure, we've all talked about abstinence, and most of us have talked about contraception. But ask them what they know about abortion and they can't be bothered. And I suspect it's not a matter of distance from the problem. (Just see our latest poll, in which 100% of respondents report knowing someone who's had an abortion!) I think it's a matter of ignorance, of never having had the opportunity to ask questions, or to listen to someone else talk about it. Ignorance, notoriously, begets stigma and hatred and fear and all that, so I think it's super easy for someone who's never actually thought about abortion on a complex level (besides would you/wouldn't you) to think it's weird and scary and something you should never talk about, let alone post to someone's Facebook wall.
So, as an ally of both abortion and people who want to know more about it, I've tried to open myself up. I still face a small degree of stigma from people who learn that I'm pro-Abortioneering, but it's so worth it when someone finally comes to me and - even in hushed tones - asks what abortion is really all about. Is there really such a thing as "partial-birth abortion"? How much do abortions cost? Are all clinics like that one in Philadelphia?
Abortioneers far and wide, I feel your pain. But I also feel the joy of being a sounding board for curious fence-riders who simply want to know what's what. And being able to educate someone with factual, experience-based information to help balance out the tripe they read elsewhere is definitely worth the cost. Who knows; the heart you open up could be that of the next Abortioneer!