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I have never seen The Blind Side. But I recently finished reading the book—and I’m glad I did. What a great read! Though it’s not a book that gives any ink to the topic of abortion, The Blind Side anchors itself upon one of the most unusual and controversial adoptions in our country’s history. The adoption of Michael Oher was unusual because it took place when he was already in high school. It was controversial because Michael Oher wound up becoming one of the most prized football recruits in the nation, and his extremely-wealthy adoptive parents were prominent Ole Miss boosters. By the time Michael Oher committed to play football for their alma mater, plenty of NCAA eyebrows had been raised.
Author Michael Lewis develops the story with a sort of back-and-forth narrative that covers not only the story arc of Michael Oher’s remarkable life, but also the evolution of pro football and the devolution of West Memphis. It isn’t until the second-to-last chapter, “Freak of Nurture,” that Lewis finally reveals the heretofore unknown backstory of Michael Oher’s childhood. Needless to say, it was not a healthy one. His childhood, in fact, is exactly the kind that abortion advocates point to when defending the necessity of their vile practice. Michael Oher was one of at least ten children, though his biological mother was incapable of caring for even a single one. His father was an ex-con who never took the trouble to meet the son who’d been named after him.
I for one was not particularly shocked by the Ray Rice video that emerged last week—the one that was taken inside the elevator and led to both his dismissal from the Baltimore Ravens and his indefinite suspension from the NFL. We’d already seen the outside video, after all. We already knew that Ray Rice had hit his fiancée in the face so hard that she’d been knocked unconscious. We’d already seen him dragging (not carrying!) her limp body out of the elevator. Shouldn’t that have been enough to reasonably ascertain what went on inside the elevator?! Apparently not.
When NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, was asked why the emergence of the second video completely changed the league’s response to Ray Rice—when the substantive details of the case were already known—he responded this way:
[W]hat we saw on the first videotape was troubling to us in and of itself. But what we saw yesterday was extremely clear, it was extremely graphic and it was sickening. And that's why we took the action yesterday.
A quartet of editorials in this week’s TIME magazine all weighed in on the significance of the second Ray Rice video. The first, from journalist David Von Drehle, had this to say:
Written accounts of violence against women—like the police report in the Rice case—are too easily ignored, but images rivet attention. The exponential difference between reading about a violent encounter and actually seeing it happen cannot have been a surprise to the NFL… But in this case,
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