“I sort of jumped. ‘I haven’t had an abortion!’ I told her. I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women’s options, I myself had never had an abortion. And I realised that even I was carrying within myself stigma around this issue. Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman’s right to choose felt it was important that people know I was unblemished in this department … I knew that I had internalised what society was throwing at us and I had to put it in the garbage. Now I can say that I still hadn’t had an abortion but I wish I had.”
That is the controversial remark mouthed by Lena Dunham in her recent podcast addressing what she and other abortion proponents call the ‘abortion stigma’. I thought the remark was instructive for at the very least exposing the sacramental quality that abortion has attained among contemporary feminists. By sacramental quality one simply means that abortion has attained the character of a feminist rite, that, when performed, marks an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace.
In a recent response, Ruby Hamad defends Dunham’s remark by arguing, firstly, that Dunham was only clumsily expressing solidarity with women who had abortions, and secondly, that her remark was justified given the controversy that ensued thus proving her point re ‘abortion stigma’. What Hamad then wrote in defense of her second point is instructive. We learn, I think, that the political slogan that ‘abortion be safe, legal, and rare’ was always a lie used to placate a squishy middle-ground of voters who could be fooled by a pseudo-modus vivendi position on abortion.
Abortion proponents have always believed and now state openly, that abortion is nothing to be ashamed about. According to Hamad, abortion is simply a ‘medical’ procedure, one essential for the ‘reproductive rights’ of women. She likes to remind us that this ‘medical’ procedure is ‘common’ among women, though not common enough such that at least 2 out of 3 women never have one, but fails to really come to grips with how a stigma might persist given its relative frequency. She writes, “Abortion, it seems, is still too taboo, too icky, too much of a thing only bad women have, or least admit to having, for such an offhand and completely harmless remark to pass by without a major brouhaha.”
The one thing about abortion and what people think about it that she simply fails to considers is that many if not the majority of people think that it is to be avoided because they find it morally questionable, at the very least, or evil, at worst, given they recognize inchoately or clearly that the destruction of human being is involved. Whereas, Hamad is entirely silent about what is in fact destroyed in an abortion. Rather, as is the case in her article, she engages in a rhetorical ploy, common among abortion proponents, seeking to desensitize us to this fact by remaining silent about the child in utero, by characterizing the destruction and removal of the child in utero as a ‘medical’ procedure, and to further cloak the deception by the use of Orwellian terms like ‘reproductive rights’. As Hamad argues, the goal is to ‘normalise abortion’, to render the destruction and removal of the child in utero, at any stage and for any reason, as of no moral consequence, and therefore, as nothing like the ‘excruciating decision’ that she believes society incorrectly and unjustly portrays, and by doing so, maintaining the abortion stigma. I thank her for her honesty.
We are finally clearly seeing the consequences of the abortion proponents case once it is laid bare. Two spring to mind, firstly, how can there be any duty of care owed by anyone to the child in utero if it is of no moral consequence? And, secondly, if the child in utero (or in vitro) is not of any moral significance, what moral reasons could there be preventing the commodification of, or experimentation on, children in utero (or in vitro)? None whatsoever.
Not only do ideas have consequences, as Weaver noted, but consequences, in time, surround themselves with ideas.