In the last few weeks Reproductive Choice Australia announced two campaigns, designed they say to end stigma and shame around abortion. The campaigns are promoted by President Leslie Cannold, who made public pleas for women to come forward with their stories, saying.. ‘we will not shame you, we will not demean or judge you, we will accept you.’ Sadly these words have fallen far short of the reality for those who dared to speak.
In brief, their campaigns involved a flash mob, which I address here, and which was conducted recently in Melbourne, where a few dozen people gathered to dance in celebration of abortion: and a ‘pledge campaign’ where they are collecting signatures of people who vow to never shame women about their abortions.
The second seems rather benign on the surface. In fact if it wasn’t for the unspoken intent, I would happily sign the pledge myself. However the premise behind it is that it is people who speak on behalf of suffering post abortive women who are the perpetrators of such shaming. This includes myself, recently described as one of the worst ‘shame-stokers’. Of course no evidence of shame-stoking has actually been proffered, which is not surprising as the whole idea is yet another fabrication of the abortion advocates.
As part of this sudden flurry of activity promoting abortion, the Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights are also planning a protest at the upcoming March for the Babies annual event in Melbourne. They have established a Facebook page where some interesting discussion was taking place. That is until some of their own supporters began to question why they were disallowing some comments, deleting others, and why they were being discouraged to ask questions. Prior to them closing off all commentary a very interesting and revealing event occurred.
One very courageous post abortive woman commented on the Facebook page that she had suffered enormously since her abortions. She was very quickly labelled ‘despicable’ by the CWRR admins, was accused of forcing her religious beliefs on other women, and actively working to make them feel ashamed and guilty. This would have to be the worst example of silencing and shaming that I have witnessed and was very distressing for the woman involved.
Within days, this post appeared on another almost anonymous blog, that, upon investigation appears to be run by the same male Australian Sex Party member, who also oversees the Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights. I will refer to him simply as anonymous.
Whilst not wanting to give too much attention to the ramblings of abortion advocates, particularly when those ramblings are supported by selectively cut and paste commentary from entire conversations on a Facebook page and quotes taken out of context from our website and inaccurately represented, he raises some points that I am delighted to have an opportunity to address. My attempt to respond on the blog itself was unsurprisingly not published.
Consent and Abortion
Anonymous takes a single comment of mine on a thread discussing changes to abortion legislation and how these might impact the number of abortions. In this I stated:
‘Parental notification and waiting periods would cut numbers dramatically. The reason abortion advocates fight so hard against these is because they know that if a woman walks out of the clinic without an abortion, she may not come back. That's why they have same day service. If they were truly concerned with a woman's right to freely choose, they would encourage her to think about it and explore her options, the same as we would do with any other elective procedure.’
As the law stands in Victoria (and most other states also allow for), a minor can have an abortion without either parental consent or notification. Of interest is the fact that at aged 15 a child can’t enter a solarium for a fake suntan, or have her ears pierced without the consent of a parent. At 17 she can’t get a tattoo, even with the consent of a parent. She certainly couldn’t have other elective surgery like breast enhancement or liposuction without parental consent, but she can have her pregnancy terminated without her parents ever needing to be informed.
When abortion advocates state (falsely) that most Australians support their claims that abortion should be freely available on demand until birth, I wonder what question they are asking. I am yet to hear from even one parent who would be happy that their 15 year old could not only be pregnant, but could be having a surgical or medical abortion without them knowing. All parental notification restrictions would do is bring this ‘common, simple’ surgical procedure in line with other surgical procedures and not even be as restrictive as getting a tattoo.
Abortion is clearly a very significant and often anxiety inducing time for women, in spite of the trivialising of it by abortion advocates. There are no other invasive surgical procedures like this where a woman can walk into a clinic in the morning to enquire about the service and then have the surgery before she walks out that day.
If abortion advocates are truly concerned that every woman who chooses abortion is really exercising her choice, fully cognisant of all her other options and free from pressure, why would they argue against the time it takes to process all of the information given? Surely this needn’t even be a disruption to the business of abortion. They could continue to have their consultations in the morning and their procedures in the afternoon; they simply wouldn’t need to happen on the same day. To argue that this creates a greater burden on women, or is a paternalistic approach has no basis, as all this would do is provide greater surety that women are fully informed. It doesn’t create a greater burden on a woman than any other procedural process does either. In fact elective surgery only 24 or 48 hours after electing it would seem a very quick turnaround given waiting times for many other procedures.
Why are abortion advocates so scared of these guidelines around abortion except for my assertion that this would actually reduce the numbers?
Why would they be concerned about abortion numbers being reduced, when overwhelmingly Australians believe that there are too many abortions, and that so many women are coming forward wishing they’d chosen another alternative?
Anonymous goes on to say that ‘waiting periods are for the purchase of a house or a car, not a woman’s reproduction’. Obviously anonymous never had to wait a month to get into his local GP for a refill of his basic reproductive medication.
He also goes on to accuse me of advocating ‘…for the legislation of waiting periods hoping that women will be guilted and shamed to change her mind. She knows that the stigma of abortion works in her favour, which she pushes through her counselling practices.’
He offers no evidence for this false claim, let alone evidence that abortion stigma is ever caused by guidelines around abortion, pre-abortion counselling, or any work in educating people about the harm of abortion.
Then anonymous brings out what he obviously considers the gravest of my crimes against women and feminism and accuses me of imposing my religious beliefs on others, quoting, again out of context, some Facebook statements which discuss the position of the church on abortion.
It is interesting that even though I do not, nor have I ever argued against abortion on religious grounds of any sort, and in fact my views about abortion were not founded on any religious thinking or belief, that this is often the fall back position of abortion advocates. Rarely do they address the issues at hand, the content, or the research, let alone the stories of the women. Mostly what they do is say ‘keep your religious dogma to yourself.’ The fact that I offer no religious argument seems to elude them.
Anonymous manages to get even some of the most basic and very clearly written facts wrong, stating that our ‘.. counsellors do not need to have any experience or qualification’ for example.
In fact, Real Choices Australia has no counsellors, nor do we advocate that those who do provide counselling be unqualified. In fact, we advocate quite the opposite. We promote very stringent recommendations around who should be providing services to women experiencing unintended or challenging pregnancies. We also provide online professional development training opportunities for which people do not require prior qualification or experience.
Perhaps the context of this confused anonymous a little as well?
Finally, anonymous dares to suggest that I exploit post abortive women, by providing them with a forum for sharing their stories. He goes on to say that women with regret need our understanding and compassion, yet his own organisation calls them despicable and creates more shame than 20 years of my work ever could.
There is one thing the abortion advocates are getting right at the moment, Abortion IS a fact of LIFE. This is why so many women grieve the lost lives of their children, only made to feel ashamed and guilty by those who tell them they have no right to acknowledge their losses, but that they certainly have no right to speak..