By Brenda Sarabia
Over the summer, the Center for Medical Progress leaked videos showing the nonprofit organization, Planned Parenthood, supposedly selling fetal organs for profit. The videos caused outrage among many, and there is now a debate as to whether or not the government should stop funding the organization. On Sept. 18, House Republicans passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood for a year, with a vote of 241 to 187, according to The New York Times. In retaliation to this decision, activist Amelia Bonow and GQ culture writer Lindy West took to social media the next day to protest, by sharing their stories with #ShoutYourAbortion.
In her article for The Guardian, West explained that while listening to chauvinistic pigs prattle on about wanting shut down a vital part of female health care, she realized that she never really spoke about her own abortion. She found it daunting that even “progressive, outspoken, pro-choice feminists feel the pressure to keep our abortions under wraps.” It’s an unspoken truth among women who have had this procedure that they should feel remorse for their actions and should not speak of it. Therefore, after coming to this realization, West shared Amelia’s Facebook declaration on Twitter with the caption: Don’t whisper, #ShoutYourAbortion. So far, the response has been amazing; women everywhere have been showing support and opening up about their experiences. However, where there is a positive reaction, there’s always a negative one to go with it. While many are being supportive of these women, others are lashing out at them for boasting about “murdering” their children.
As someone who is strongly Pro-Choice, I applaud these women for coming out and telling their stories on social media. It shows true bravery, especially with as touchy a subject as this one. Whether through religion or basic upbringing, we are taught that abortion is the biggest sin one can commit, therefore any woman who goes through with the procedure is seen as a vile witch. If a man can abandon his responsibilities as a father by simply walking out the door, why can’t a woman make the decision to opt out as well? Even if she had agreed to have sex, she did not agree to have a child.
Abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Norma McCorvey, under the pseudonym of “Jane Roe,” in the case of Roe v. Wade. The decision gave women the right to privacy and freedom to abort a pregnancy, not to mention giving them access to a much safer procedure with little restrictions. During the 1950s and 60s, between 200,000 and 1.2 million illegal abortions were performed, leading to 5,000 deaths annually. Since the 1973 decision, that number has gone down to 0.6 per 100,000 procedures, according to the World Health Organization.
Yet despite the benefits that came out of this case, there are still many who challenge it and wish to have it undone by outlawing abortions all over again. The possibility of defunding Planned Parenthood, one of the biggest nonprofit providers for reproductive health care, has only escalated the previous issues. Though that bill didn’t come to pass after being outvoted by the Senate, the fact that it was even an issue shows how little change there’s been in the past 40 years. It’s as if they want women to remain in a domestic position in society.
Because of this antagonism, women feel uneasy, and even guilty, when it comes to talking about their experiences. They’re made to feel like they have committed a crime against humanity and are even told that they are going straight to hell by those who are Pro-Life. How can anyone have the gall to insult a woman on her choice to not have a child when they don’t know her reasoning? For all they know, she might not be financially or emotionally ready to support a child. She may feel she’s too young to be a mother, or the way she got pregnant might not have been with her consent. No matter what the story is, if a woman doesn’t want to be a mother, there is no reason for her to be judged or ostracized by society.
Though it may sound strange, this hashtag has given women a place to vent and not feel guilty over their lack of remorse. These women are not bragging about the fact that they had an abortion, nor are they glorifying the procedure. They are breaking the stigma that abortion is something monstrous and should not be spoken of. It’s letting others know that there is absolutely no shame in not wanting to become a mother. Whether it’s the timing or just a life decision, it’s ok because, believe it or not, not all women want children. Women are doing more for this world now than just popping out kids; society needs to stop viewing them as just mothers and caretakers.
Though our predecessors may have been brought up to get married and have kids, we were not. As children, we were told we could grow up to be whatever we wanted to be, and if that didn’t include becoming a mother, then no one should force us to become such. Nowadays, we are far more than that and have things to worry about, other than taking care of babies. Just because we have the ability to bring life into this world, doesn’t mean we necessarily have to. In the end, they’re our bodies and therefore our choice.