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Ray Rice & the Photographic Depiction of Violence

Sep 17, 2014 / By: Michael Spielman
Category: Miscellaneous

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,

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Publicly Aborting Twins on Instagram

Sep 12, 2014 / By: Michael Spielman
Category: Miscellaneous

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

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Art, Instagram & Abort73

Aug 12, 2014 / By: Michael Spielman
Category: Ministry Updates

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

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Does Religion Matter at All?

Jul 08, 2014 / By: Michael Spielman
Category: Responses to Readers

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

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“The Smartest Thing I Ever Did”

Jun 11, 2014 / By: Michael Spielman
Category: Abortion Arguments

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

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