July 28, 2014

Why We Need Pro-Choice Voices: One voice does not cancel out another

Perhaps it is not popular, but I believe abortion should be rare. I believe that a high rate of abortions is evidence that we have failed women in a number of ways.

It's evidence that we aren't supporting mothers. It's evidence that maternity is a high cost, it's evidence that we are not providing the education that children need. It's evidence that we still have women who are not getting the access to information and contraception that they need to plan their families.

That said, it should be a decision without the stigma, without the moral and ethical condemnation. Without women having to justify their decisions to anyone.

That said, I believe we need positive representations of abortion in the media if we are going to dispel the myths and misconceptions around this medical procedure. So when I run across a blog post like Megan Caims "Why Abortion Will Never Be Mainstream" on The Spectacle Blog, I must admit, I bristle a little. Caims main point is this:
When feminists try to change public opinion, they are robbing women of the cultural knowledge of the shame and pain of an abortion. Often, women who get abortions are just as victimized as the unborn child. They are victims of leaders who tell them that abortions are as quick and painless as other types of surgeries.
What Caims seems to not understand is that these are the voices that women hear all the time...and that the voices of those who have negative experiences absolutely should not drown out the voices of those that have positive ones.

What do I mean by that?


Well, Caims shares these two positive testimonials:
“The pregnancy wasn’t real to me, it was a problem that needed to be fixed. It wasn’t a baby that I was giving up on, it was a mistake that I was repairing, it was our future that I was being protective of, it was our baby that I would plan for someday and care for from the moment of conception that I was thinking of,” reads one testimonial. “Had I not had the procedure, I wouldn't be where I am now: a law student, living my dream and sharing my story. None of this would be possible without my abortion,” reads another. 
But then she implies that this is the only testimonial that matters:
I wish that someone had alerted me to the harshness of the experience, acknowledged the layers of regret that built and fell away as the months and years passed. I want my daughters to have the option of safe and legal abortion, of course. I just don’t want them to have to use it. 
So you have two positive, and one negative, and yet that one negative is suppose to drown out both of the others? That's crazy talk, even in the world of anecdata.

Of course it's human nature to mine and pick which anecdotes we want to believe, based on what we already believe. It's a type of confirmation bias.

Caims ends the piece with this nugget:
Luckily, pro-choice leaders won’t get very far with this. The pro-life side has both science and human intuition on its side. 
So she not only ignores the two positive testimonials, but she distorts the message behind the third testimonial.

Logic...is just a bitch for some people, apparently.

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