Thursday, 11 July 2013

Stigma

'I don't want to get pregnant now' would probably be the quick answer from most women using some form of birth control if asked for a reason.

'I don't want to be pregnant now' should be the only answer a woman seeking an abortion needs if asked for a reason.

And the grand thing is -- in Canada it is the only reason a woman has to give. Because abortion in Canada has been a legal, normal medical procedure for over 25 years.

Yet Judith Timson says that most women won't talk about their abortions because that is the very reason they had them.

She opens with a story of her own (slight) brush with abortion, then goes on to the gigantic hubbub going on the US at the moment. She notes that many, many moving and tragic abortion stories were told in the vain effort to derail the debacle in Texas.

But she think the 'normalizing' or 'destigmatizing' campaign is a waste of time.

No matter how moving your story is, many will argue your abortion was unnecessary and evil and you’re a murderer. Abortion stories don’t seem to change the minds of opponents. If anything, they harden their stances.
First, a serious quibble: I don't know Timson's definition of 'many', but to me, a tiny minority is not 'many'. Here in sane Canada, only 6 per cent of people want a total ban on abortion. Compare that to a recent poll showing that 17 per cent of Americans support a total ban.

She says women she knows here in sane Canada don't want to talk about their abortions because it's private.

Fine. No one is demanding they do. Privacy is paramount in all things medical.

But then she quotes a woman of her acquaintance.
Most women who choose an abortion don’t do so because they’ve been raped or because of severe fetal abnormalities, she continued. “They do it for the same reason I did. It just was not the right time or circumstance in which to be pregnant.”
They didn't want to be pregnant, in other words.

Just like I didn't want to be the host of that bothersome skin thingy I had a dermatologist remove.

Stigma still surrounds abortion, here as well as in the Excited States.

Stigma is a powerful silencing tool.

Stigma is fed when the media gives an over-loud representation to the tiny minority of liars and haters. Stigma is fed when even pro-choice columnists like Timson casually allude to it as if it's inevitable.

Destigmatization works to normalize and validate peoples' choices and circumstances. When we get to know that people we know and love are/have/have done some 'unspeakable' condition or action, it shifts our views. Maybe only a little, but things change.

If you've had an abortion and don't want to talk about it, fine. But if you have and refuse to be shamed by your choice, tell someone.

We can take the stigma off abortion. And lay it where it belongs -- on the misogynist minority who would deprive women of their rights.

8 comments:

Kirby Evans said...

I think we can go one step further. The only answer that a woman seeking and abortion SHOULD need is "None of your Fucking business!" It is her body and no one's business but her own.

fern hill said...

@Kirby: Yep, there's that. (Lovely to see your electrons, BTW.)

Kirby Evans said...

Electrons?

Pseudz said...

I wonder how much cross-over there is between the anti-abortion crew and the folk that sought to stifle teenage sex. Both efforts will continue to provide grist for their panty-sniffing mill. The more that these sanctimonious charlatans manage to make a civilized medical procedure difficult to obtain, the more horror stories that will ensue. The more horror stories, the more material for their rhetoric - it's a growth plan for loud-mouthed thieves. They have nothing to sell but sanctimony and mob-membership dressed up as moral outrage - they're yanking screechy notes from over-stretched heart-strings.

Do they not already enlist (and coach and edit?) the testimonials of regretful abortion clients? You are encouraging an important corrective. Thanks.

fern hill said...

@Kirby: My silly and no doubt technically incorrect word for presence/participation/?

Your blogging is missed. It's good to know you're around and still in play. ;-)

fern hill said...

@Pseudz: It always amuses that the fetus fetishists refer to the 'abortion industry', when as you point out, theirs is the much more efficient loop-de-loop.

Kirby Evans said...

Thanks Janet. I have still blogged on my new blog 19centuryliterature.blogspot.com and working on a website of my artwork kirbycairo.com

I am sure my anger will boil over soon and I will be back blogging on politics.

Beijing York said...

There is another medical procedure that many women have kept private and felt shame about until very recently (thank you Christina Applegate and Angelina Jolie) and that is breast mastectomy. Stigma didn't help the countless of women only a few generations ago who had to suffer so privately and only resort to a secretive, word of mouth network for moral support.

And in the scheme of things, I would bet that most woman who has undergone both procedures would definitely rank the later as far more traumatic and life altering than a therapeutic abortion.

I don't think women should have to advertise what medical procedures they have undergone but nor do I think they should hide in shame for undergoing any medical procedure.

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