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The Daily Beast published an article this week by Emily Shire titled, “Wendy Davis and the ‘Good Abortion’ Myth.” Lest the title confuse you, the author is combatting the notion that some abortions are good and some abortions are bad. Though Shire applauds Davis for her decision to make her own abortions public—saying it was an incredibly brave thing to do—she takes issue with the way Davis did so. The problem with Davis’ confession, Shire argues, is that she felt compelled to justify her abortions as being medically necessary. In Shire’s mind, abortion needs no justification. Trying to explain why you had an abortion simply reinforces the notion that women need a reason for choosing abortion. They don’t, Shire tells us, and concludes by saying that, “until the ‘bad’ abortion stories are just as acceptable (as ‘good’ abortion stories), pro-choice advocates have a long way to go.”
The reason I reference this story is because it highlights one of the subtexts of the abortion debate—the shame that women who publicly advocate for abortion often feel over private abortions. Wendy Davis has been derisively called the “Abortion Barbie.” Her 13-hour filibuster at the Texas state house made her name synonymous with pro-abortion politics, and yet she hid her own abortions from public view for years and writes that the second one threw her into “an indescribable blackness.” That is significant. For as many women who have abortions in the United states—roughly one million a year—it’s
Over the last few months, I’ve become fairly active on Instagram—both through Abort73 and my personal Spieldraw account. As a relative newcomer to the Instagram world, I only recently discovered the niche that engages me the most: hand-drawn lettering and illustrations. I follow an assortment of high and low-profile artists—along with a number of curator accounts that share some of the best hand-lettering projects being posted online. These are my favorite images for the simple fact that I enjoy the quality of work and am always looking for inspiration. I rarely have an “original” idea.
It finally dawned on me last week to submit one of my own hand-lettered designs to the Instagram curators I follow. I started with Bring Justice to the Fatherless—knowing full well that the Abort73.com moniker made its selection an extreme long shot. For as much as artists pride themselves on being anti-establishment, they are remarkably pro-establishment when it comes to abortion. The open-mindedness that guides them in other contexts vanishes quickly when the subject turns to abortion.
Nevertheless, I submitted my piece on Friday morning and by late Friday night, it had been posted to the self-proclaimed "#1 source for showcasing Calligraphy and Typography." When I checked in on Saturday morning, the Bring Justice illustration had already been liked more than 1,000 times—and Abort73 had a host of new followers! By comparison, the same graphic received only 35 likes on the Abort73
About a month ago, Abort73 received some scathing feedback from a middle-aged man in Minneapolis. Scathing feedback is not that uncommon for us, but it’s usually too vague and nondescript to even answer. In this case, however, the accusations were very specific. Here’s how his diatribe opened:
Why doesn't [Abort73] suggest rejecting religion, particularly the Abrahamic varieties? This seems like the clearest and most helpful information, as the more secular a population is, the more societal health increases, including fewer abortions. States in the USA with the highest teen pregnancy rates are all compromised [sic?!] by religious fundamentalists.
Whether religious fundamentalists comprise or compromise those states with the highest teen pregnancy rates, his material assertion is the same: the more religious the state, the higher the teen pregnancy rate—and the higher the abortion rate. Never having examined the connection between a state’s religious fervor and its rate of teen pregnancy, I had to do some digging to determine whether our detractor was right. As it turns out, he’s half-right.
Listed below are the ten (actually 11) most religious states in America according to Gallup’s 2013 survey results. The first number is the percentage of residents who are considered “very religious”—a designation applied to anyone who says religion is important to their daily life and who attends religious services on a weekly basis. The second number is the state’s national
Abort73 receives frequent testimony from women who have gone through an abortion. Most of the stories they share are posted in our “Abortion Stories” section, and the vast majority—somewhere around 95%—are stories of regret. From time to time, however, we hear from women who sing the praises of their purported abortion. Such was the case last month when we heard from a 30-year-old Seattle woman who calls her abortion “the smartest thing [she] ever did.” One of the challenges in reading stories like hers is that they don’t sound nearly as outrageous as they should—for the simple fact that the word “abortion” is clinical and abstract. As such, I’m going to share her story just as she submitted it, but I’m going to replace each mention of abortion with a more straightforward description. My edits are marked with brackets:
[Paying someone to violently kill my unborn child] was the smartest thing I ever did. At 21, I was in a terrible relationship with a guy who didn't want me to work because he was convinced I was cheating with everyone there. I wasn't, but he still expected his bills to be paid, and he couldn't hold down a job. It was an emotionally and occasionally physically abusive relationship.
[Having someone kill our tiny and helpless child] was the kick in the pants I needed to get my life together. He wasn't fit to be a father; he wasn't the kind of role model I wanted. I'd been on birth control and trying to find a way out of our lease.
When I got
There’s an interesting phrase in the opening sentence of this week’s cover story from TIME magazine. The article is titled, "A Preemie Revolution," and the first sentence reads as follows: "It’s a safe bet that David Joyce knows more than you did when you were his birth age [emphasis added]." Unfortunately, "birth age" is not a designation we hear much. "When I was your age…" is a common descriptor. "When I was your birth age…" is not.
Why the distinction? In the article’s case, it’s because the entire piece focuses on the astounding, medical progress taking place in the realm of preemie care—the preemie revolution! David Joyce was born nearly three months early, on January 28. Between his birth date and due date, close to one million additional babies were born in the United States. According to their birth certificates, all of these babies are younger than David Joyce. In actuality, the vast majority of them are older. David Joyce may have exited the womb first, but most of these "younger" babes have been alive longer.
It is precisely here where the designation, birth age, becomes a helpful one. It reminds us that we’re all older than we think we are; it reminds us that our lives didn’t begin at birth. It may even prompt me to change the way I answer the question, "how old is your son (or daughter)?" "My son was born 11 years ago," is a more factually accurate response than to simply say, "11." It may not always be practical to make such a distinction, but we should