Abortion Pride

Matt Kaufman

For some years I've noticed that, in polls, most young women reject the word "feminist" to describe themselves. One reason I've noticed that is because I've heard feminists complain a lot about it: They just can't seem to reach today's generation. When they attempt to explain that trend, though, I seldom heard them conclude that there's anything wrong with feminism per se. Usually, they say their problem is bad P.R., or that young women have come to take the "gains" of the feminist movement — especially "abortion rights" — for granted.

Well, that's one way to look at it. But I think their bigger problem is something very different. And a recent campaign by the editors of Ms. Magazine — which, since its founding in the 1970s, has been the closest thing to a journalistic Bible of feminism — points like a laser beam to what their real problem is: how far they are from the hearts of most women.

Ms., you see, wants women who've had abortions to be out-and-proud about it — in fact, to tell the world about it.

The magazine (motto: "More Than a Magazine — a Movement") wants its readers to sign a statement declaring their abortions — to be sent to state and federal lawmakers, and posted online for anyone else to see. The editors call this a "campaign for honesty and freedom," composed of "women of conscience" whose sheer numbers will "change the public debate" on abortion, where the "pro-choice" side has been losing ground in recent years.

Just how many women do the editors think will actually go along with this campaign? Here they show a touch of realism: They regretfully "recognize" that "not every woman will be able to sign today." (Note, though, the bizarre implication: that every woman would want to tell the world if only she were "able" to do it.)

But hey, they say hopefully there are millions of women who've had abortions, and that can translate to political and cultural power. They want to make sure politicians never challenge or limit legalized abortion in any way. Just as important, they want to make abortion respectable, even honorable, in the eyes of society: Women who feel bad about their abortions, they say, feel that way because of "socially imposed guilt." And these women, like all women, must be liberated from "absurd" and "archaic" laws and beliefs.

That, apparently, is the way things look to the leaders of the feminist movement. It doesn't occur to them (or they don't admit) that "women of conscience" might oppose abortion, or feel guilty about having gotten one, precisely because of their conscience. Nor do they seem to notice all the ways in which abortion cuts to the very core of a woman's emotions, instincts and identity because of her very nature as a woman. In the world according to Ms., women who feel bad about undergoing abortion only do so because someone else made them feel bad.

How far this is from the spirit of the original feminists! As the group Feminists for Life of America points out, women like Susan B. Anthony were powerfully opposed to abortion; early feminists, they note, described abortion in terms like "child murder" and "a crying evil." (FFLA collects some of their quotes here.) To those women, abortion was anything but an exercise of "women's rights." It was — in the words of Alice Paul, author of the original (1923) Equal Rights Amendment — "the ultimate exploitation of women," for which men bore equal if not greater responsibility. ("Guilty? Yes," said an article in Anthony's periodical The Revolution: "No matter what the motive ... the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed.... But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!")

Maybe the language is, well, "archaic." Still, those women were much closer than today's feminists not only to the women of their generation, but of today.

If anyone needs research to point this out, there's a tragically large supply. Special credit goes to David Reardon of the Elliott Institute, which specializes in research on women who've had abortions. Reardon, whose work includes a book called Aborted Women: Silent No More, has collected mountains of studies and personal testimonies to just how much damage having an abortion does to the woman herself. After numerous interviews and surveying studies by even "pro-choice" researchers, Reardon writes:

The trend is clear to anyone who looks.... Many aborted women will deny it by hiding their emotions and telling little or nothing of their experience. Others may hide it behind the anger and bitterness they feel toward other persons who were involved, especially the male. But most will admit they are troubled. They simply don't know what to do other than to try to forget it and move on.

But they can't. Some women suppress the feelings for a time, and initially report that they feel "relieved" — but sooner or later the consequences come out in a host of areas of her life. Her relationships with men tend to be train wrecks, and the relationship with the father of the aborted child virtually always falls apart, usually quickly; if the man had anything to do with her getting her abortion (by pressure or various kinds of abandonment, including emotional abandonment) her ability to trust men is liable to be shattered. She may throw herself into promiscuity or she may withdraw from men altogether. Her nights (or even days) may be haunted by thoughts and dreams of babies. She's apt to struggle with extended depression not just at first, but for the long term. Oftentimes she may turn to drinking or drugs, or if she was already doing so before she became pregnant, she'll plunge even further into those habits, desperately trying to anesthetize the pain she feels in the depths of her soul.

The testimonies of these women are heartrending: You can find one after another on Elliott's Web site. (I've previously cited some here.) To take just one example:

I didn't realize why I felt bad. My boyfriend took me home. It wasn't long after I got home that I knew — it just hit me — that I had killed my baby.... I had six years of depression after my abortion.... I hated myself.... A lot of times I wanted to die....

Only an ideologue could dismiss the feelings and experiences of so many women as "socially imposed guilt." In the case of some feminists, it may be a defense mechanism to justify their own abortions. But above all, I think, it's a reflection of how feminist ideology itself has set itself at war with God's handiwork. It's not just His morality they're determined to reject; it's His design of feminine nature.

Happily, where feminism fails women, Christ doesn't.

Driven largely (though not entirely) by Christians, there are thousands of pregnancy care centers across the country that help women find alternatives to abortion — and healing in its aftermath. As Reardon has written, before the abortion, Christ condemns it and Satan makes excuses for it; but after the abortion, Satan is the one condemning it while Christ forgives it.

Here then, is the greatest source of comfort: When the falsehoods of the world stand in ruins, His truth and His love are still standing.

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