Reproductive Choice Australia has commenced a campaign, asking people to pledge that they will never ‘shame women about their abortions’ or ‘be silent when others engage in abortion shaming’.
This follows their flashmob, where a group of around 70 men and women danced in the streets of Melbourne, wearing T-shirts with the message ‘Abortion, a Fact of Life’, ostensibly to end the stigma of abortion.
When this campaign was unveiled, Leslie Cannold, President of Reproductive Choice Australia stated that ‘shame makes women fear that if they tell their abortion stories they will be pitied, demeaned, judged or shunned.’ She goes on to encourage women to share their stories saying ‘we will not judge you… we are going to be there to support you’
Sadly, one post abortive woman who has suffered enormous grief after abortion has taken them at their word and dared to divulge just a small aspect of her story on the facebook page of the Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights. What followed is an atrocious example of exactly the kind of shaming that women who speak against abortion, even in only sharing their personal stories, actually experience at the hands of abortion advocates.
*Karen (not her real name, but who used her real name on the facebook page) posted that she is a post abortive woman who suffered for many years with the loss of her unborn children. Rather than the promised support and non-judgement promised by abortion advocates, Karen was first of all told that she had no reason to feel shame or guilt, then advised that whilst is it okay for her to disagree with them, she was not entitled to impose her opinion on other women. Apparently sharing a contrary view of abortion now constitutes the imposition of that view on other women.
Then Karen was googled.
A small part of her story was found on another site and linked to by the Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights with the following commentary.
This group that professes to uphold and respect women, to value them as autonomous beings, goes on to tell Karen that she has been duped by religious dogma and that her practise of ‘loading guilt on to women for exercising choice over their bodies is despicable.’
CWRR go on to say that ‘we value all women. They don’t have to say their abortion was wrong for us to support them. They don’t have to say they have been misled for us to support them.’
What they mean to say is,
‘They must not say their abortion was wrong for us to support them. They better not say they have been misled if they want our support.’
They further justify their position by claiming that people like Karen, and myself only offer services that are ‘guilt laden and shaming’, ‘make women hate themselves’ and in a further incredibly paternalistic and condescending way suggest that Karen is a ‘victim of shaming’ perpetrated by society and prolifers.
I have attempted to engage this and other abortion advocacy groups and individuals in respectful, thoughtful, intelligent discussion about the issues facing many unhappy post abortive women since their campaign was announced. I have provided them with information about the way in which their campaign is being perceived by many women who are not necessarily regretful about their abortions, but experienced their abortion decision as painful and serious, and who see people dancing in celebration of such a ‘choice’ as trivialising and demeaning it.
Whilst these individuals have been unable to offer any evidence of shaming by post abortive women, or myself, they continue to push this fabricated idea and in doing so are the perpetrators of both shame and guilt on all those women so desperate to voice their stories.
We want to continue to assure post abortive men and women that they are indeed valued and respected. We want to offer our ongoing support and commitment in helping them to tell their stories knowing that we will stand beside you and uphold you.
It is imperative that your stories are heard for your own healing and for the benefit of every other woman contemplating abortion. All women are entitled to understand that abortion is not the quick fix celebratory occasion that abortion advocates are currently dancing around town about..