We’re… kinda baffled by this new Atlantic article, “The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate.” What attempts to be a, we guess, effort at radical empathy falls so so short. There’s so much to unpack here, but let’s start with the words of our brilliant board member Dr. Monica McLemore (these are her tweets about the author): “She missed a chance to make [an] important point – who gets to decide is an important existential question re: bodily autonomy which we currently have in life & death. Winning arguments isn’t goal. Increasing empathy is.” Yes!
“If you aren’t going to talk w/people who have abortions & those who provide them, maybe you haven’t fully investigated need for them, the range of complexity of when, where, why they occur & maybe you should not set up your piece buying into simple arguments about a complex topic.” Double yes.
The Atlantic writer doesn’t ACTUALLY talk to people who’ve had abortions today. She talks about horrific cases of people getting abortions with Lysol and suffering complications. She also mentions an ad about abortion, from a time when ads were in black and white, where a desperate woman clutches her face and the copy reads “I just can’t face it!” And then she lists a lot of reasons that people might desperately need abortions. Honestly, all stuff that makes you think, “Wow, abortion is very necessary and we have to be empathetic to the many reasons people would need abortions.”
And THEN the other side of the argument here is… that sonograms are very detailed now? WHAT? WHAT?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
[We just want to side note here that we’re FINE with advances in sonogram technology and we’re happy that a lot of people with wanted pregnancies like them. Good. That’s good for them. We would look at it and say, “Oh congrats!” if you worked with us or were like our boyfriend’s friend.]
However, it’s very TELLING to make your argument PRO abortion be about horrific desperation to the point that you would risk your life and to make the argument AGAINST abortion “this is just sort of my feeling seeing this image.” We’d just like to argue that your FEELING doesn’t really negate the first HUGE PART of your article where you explain how necessary abortion is.
“The argument against it doesn’t take even a single word. The argument against it is a picture.” Look we don’t mean to be overly simplistic here (even though she is being that way) but these two sentences are kinda indicative of how hard it is to make any real progress in the women’s movement. “We’re people, we’re people we’re people” we have to affirm over again. We submit essays after essays trying to affirm we’re people. They get to just show a fucking PICTURE! End of ARGUMENT? REALLY?
And GAHHHH again, our side is not the anti-baby side. Jesus christ. We’re not ANTI ultrasounds or advanced technology.
What we’re against is CONTROLLING OUR BODY.
“The truth is that the best argument on each side is a damn good one, and until you acknowledge that fact, you aren’t speaking or even thinking honestly about the issue.”
Ugh ok so, let’s talk this through just for… idk a thought experiment. Our best argument is that people deserve control of their OWN bodies and therefore deserve to be able to have abortions. Their argument we guess is that the fetus in your body is a baby. We say “again though, it won’t survive outside your body.” But we don’t need to because ALL we really need to say is let’s look at what their full argument is. Ours is that you should have control of your body YOU SHOULD BE ABLE to have an abortion. Theirs is “It is a baby and therefore you SHOULD BE FORCED TO CARRY IT FOR NINE MONTHS AND GIVE BIRTH TO IT.” Doesn’t actually seem like such a good argument now, does it?
And we want to just briefly address the whole part where she hates on us and Shout Your Abortion.
“When women are urged to “shout your abortion,” and when abortion becomes the subject of stand-up comedy routines, the attitude toward abortion seems ghoulish.”
So like, whatever, like the jokes you like. And again, we know all her references are from the 50s for our side and the present for theirs (for some reason). BUT she could still have gotten her answer to why the comedy is important FROM her 50s stories. These women were so scared to ask for help or to talk about needing an abortion that they BLEED OUT AND DIED because of it. Maybe it seems like… doing work to destigmatize abortion is … pretty vital. And we even have a story from the PRESENT to support it! Maybe taking your story and telling it loud prevents shame and fear. Maybe doing what’s best for you is doing what’s best for your pregnancy. MAYBE JUST MAYBE, CAITLIN, people shouldn’t have to feel a constant pang of shame for taking care of themselves or making the best decision for themselves or not being able to have a baby right now or not being able to afford having a baby right now!
Obviously this writer is getting a lot of support from people who are conservative but still wanna seem like, hip and with it (and lolololol, good luck there guys, we see you). And we just want to say: WE DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO WHAT EVERYONE IS SAYING AND HEAR THEM OUT! THEY ARE NOT LISTENING TO US. These effing writers who try to portray “both sides” do everyone a disservice in thinking there’s something smart or original or groundbreaking about “radical listening to even the world’s biggest goobers.”
Let’s be clear, we’ve watched videos and videos and videos of the other side arguing with us. Providers who work at clinics hear the other side talk… all day in the form of the lunatics yelling outside their clinic. THEY ARE NOT LISTENING TO US. How much fucking longer do you think we have to listen to them. I mean, LITERALLY LOOK at all the articles that have been written about people describing how their 24-week abortion was necessary for their survival. WANNA GUESS HOW MANY TIMES THESE HEARTBREAKING STORIES HAVE CAUSED THE OTHER SIDE TO NOT VOTE ALONG PARTY LINES??
WANNA GUESS how quickly into reading comments about this article it took me to find someone being like “Well, maybe pro-abortion people shouldn’t want abortion up until birth.” THEIR SIDE HASN’T EVEN ADMITTED THAT THAT ARGUMENT IS DISINGENUOUS. Oh but yes this … not-really-that-nuanced article is DEF soo smart and powerful, it’ll solve everything.
The thing that really gets us about the article is that it basically boils down to the whole “Well *I* would never have an abortion, but I see that people need one” argument. Which, is absolutely fine. Feel that way. Some people who work here even feel that way. But … do you want a medal for it? And … why does it need to be part of the LARGER discourse? How you EMOTIONALLY feel seeing a sonogram is … fine… it doesn’t change someone else’s story.