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Monday, March 13, 2006

"I Regret My Abortion" and the South Dakota abortion ban.

One type of testimony offered to the South Dakota legislature during its deliberations about a far-reaching abortion ban is that abortion can and does have a negative emotional aftermath for some women.

In this context, "negative emotional aftermath" means more than occasional bouts of feeling sad or regretful. It means serious emotional/mental illnesses after an abortion that are significant enough to destructively interfere with one's parenting, vocation, marriage, and so on.

When a woman regrets her abortion, and she brings up her negative emotional reaction as a reason that legislators should consider making abortion illegal for other women, this, predictably enough, is going to generate some scorn.

Here's an example, from a pro-choice activist who lives in South Dakota.

Re: Image of person holding "I Regret My Abortion" poster-

Good for you. Now go live your little miserable life. My mother certainly didn't regret hers. :p And my cousins don't either. You made your decision, let other women make their own. Who the fuck are you to say what I can and can't do to some big bunch of cells. Guess what? I don't think a fetus is living.
Some of the comments on that blog entry are also worth noting:

It's amazing how some people don't realize that people REACT DIFFERENTLY to some things. My mother had an abortion too, but she's not marching around with a poster declaring her personal feelings on the issue.
I wonder what the mother's personal feelings on the issue are. I wonder if this young person knows how her mother feels or would be willing to ask her, or if mom's feelings have to remain a family secret. And I wonder why this young person wouldn't want her mom's feeling to be known. Are "personal feelings" to be kept in the closet?

To my way of thinking, up until the point that a fetus can survive outside the womb, that sucker is fair game. Until that point, it's no different than cleaning tadpoles out of your swimming pool.
I include this quote, as well as the earlier "bunch of cells" comment, because sometimes we hear that everyone who walks into an abortion clinic is full-well-aware that in the act of abortion, a developing human child is destroyed. There are plenty of pro-choice activists who staunchly maintain ideas like those in this quote, without demur from their fellow activists, which makes it hard to understand why we should believe that "everyone knows" that a human child is eliminated in an abortion.

That being said, I don't agree with people be forced into abortions by parents/boyfriends/etc. It should be the woman's choice first, no matter what the circumstances.
It's very revealing of a scary mindset when a commenter has to say this in a way that suggests her belief that the concept that it's bad to force women to have abortions is not a concept that is necessarily obvious to her friends.

But returning to the "you made your decision, let other women make their own" point--I've said quite a few times here that I'm pro-life because of my moral view that developing human lives are entitled to our protection.

I'm not pro-life because my abortion harmed me, and because I know that abortion has been an incredibly detrimental event in the lives of many women--one that has significantly impaired their daily lives (and the lives of those around them, unfortunately often including their living children) in many ways.

When I speak out as a member of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, my purpose in doing that is to reach out to women who are suffering in isolation, and to raise social awareness of the fact that the psychic "cost" of an abortion is often much, much greater than many people realize.

I do this because I want women who one day may be in the position of considering an abortion to be much more informed of the risks that I was. I also do this because I believe that by building social awareness about the negative emotional aftermath of abortion, people--parents, boyfriends, husbands, employers--will be less likely to recommend an abortion, insist on an abortion, or passively abandon a loved one in an unplanned pregnancy.

I don't know what motivation was in the minds of the women in South Dakota who went to a rally about the South Dakota abortion ban and held "I Regret My Abortion" signs.

However, I understand why the pro-choice blogger I'm quoting here believes that what they are saying is "I regret my abortion so abortion shouldn't be legal for you."

I think that's a very unfortunate message to put out there. These women may not have understood that it's predictable that people would interpret them as saying that--especially since part of the legislative testimony for the abortion ban was about the emotional harm of abortion for some women.

Although the blogger quoted here has a hardline perspective on abortion, I believe that many people--even pro-life people--will react with a certain gut-level distaste to the apparent message conveyed by these signs at this rally.

"I got lung-cancer from smoking--so smoking should be illegal for you."

"I got lung cancer from smoking--and I want you to be aware that if you start smoking you may really come to regret it".

Which attitude is easier to relate to?

Full Disclosure: I'm with Scott Klusendorf on Judie Brown and the SD ban--and his blog would be a better place to discuss those points.

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