Do it, I dare you. Abortion is WRONG. Pass it on pro-lifers.
Or you could Google pictures of women who underwent unsafe, botched, and self-induced abortions. You could Google pictures of women who have died from infection resulting from incomplete spontaneous abortion (miscarriages), since the same manual vacuum aspirators both provide abortion and help women who have naturally miscarried. You could Google pictures of stillborn babies who had died in the womb. You could Google Image Search fetuses born with severe, fatal problems that were known about months earlier- wanted fetuses whom doctors are barred from sparing any suffering.
Abortion is medically necessary. Even if we lived in a world where every woman who got pregnant was overjoyed at the prospect and wanted to carry to term, the very nature of pregnancy means that some women are going to need abortion services for the heartbreaking problems that sometimes accompany wanted pregnancies.
Sadly, we do not live in a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every unwanted pregnancy is the result of irresponsible sex (or even consent, for that matter), and certainly not where every woman has access to all the resources required so that motherhood is not an immense burden. Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop it from happening- we have plenty of research from countries that have done so (and our own country’s past) that show that the rates remain relatively stable regardless of legality- the only difference is that they go underground, happen at later stages in the pregnancy, or both … and because of that, maternal and infant mortality rates rise. The countries with the lowest rate of abortion are always places where it is legal- there is no country where abortion is illegal and its rates are low. What we know from plentiful studies and countless horrific tales is that women who don’t want to be pregnant will do anything to not be- they will throw themselves down stairs, have people beat their stomachs, drink bleach and other caustic substances, stick coat-hangers and pencils into their cervices, commit suicide.
The funny thing is, we know how to reduce the number of abortions. It requires mandating and providing quality, comprehensive sex education that teaches how pregnancy happens, and all the various and diverse ways of how to avert it (i.e. not just condoms). It requires abolishing abstinence-only education, because not only does it have a failure rate between 26% and 86%, but it has been proven to make students less likely to use birth control when they have sex. It requires getting rid of the stigma that surrounds sex (especially very stigmatized sex like that between teenagers, pre-marital or non-marital couples, casual sex, etc.), because such stigma forces people to not use or readily have available birth control (lest someone see the condom in their wallet or the pills in her drawer and find out their “shameful secret” of having sex; society is far more forgiving of those who say “I was trying to wait and abstain, but I just got swept away and it happened.” than those who say “Yes, I am having sex and I’m not sorry about it, and I am taking precautions to protect myself.”). It requires encouraging everybody- teens and adults alike- to always keep [valid, non-expired] birth control in their homes or even on their person, for those times when they are, in fact, swept away. It requires acknowledging valid sexual desires and sexual rights of our youth, while still educating them about self-esteem, and providing and adequately funding support structures and necessary programs that are often cut, like sports, music, and art.
We know how to reduce the number of abortions. It requires taking steps to remove any and all barriers to birth control access and usage, including by reducing or eliminating cost, removing the burden of multiple clinic visits and prescription refills, widely providing birth control that works with different needs, getting rid of conscience clauses that make access burdensome or even impossible, making voluntary sterilization easier to access, and educating everybody in an attempt to bring typical use closer to perfect use. It requires teaching and promoting forms of sexual expression that carry low or no risk of pregnancy.
We know how to reduce the number of abortions. It requires specifically and explicitly addressing and eradicating rape culture. It requires working hard to eradicate the sexism and domestic violence that oftentimes are expressed through birth control sabotage and reproductive coercion. That requires educating early and often about equality, autonomy, and consent and providing well-funded resources for the people who have had or are having those rights violated in their own lives. It requires teaching and stressing that pregnancy does not guarantee abuse will stop or your partner will stay (given that if those situations change, she is left with an unwanted pregnancy).
We know how to reduce the number of abortions. It requires de-stigmatizing single motherhood, because if you know you will be constantly vilified, called a welfare queen, blamed for all of society’s ills, and condemned to raising children who will be worse off than those with two-parent homes, why would you want to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term? It requires not excusing men from fatherhood by eliminating the burden of disproportional responsibility for childcare and challenging the stereotype that men are naturally poor at it (because every burden placed on being a mother is one less reason to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term).
We know how to reduce the number of abortions. It requires assuring women and enshrining in law that their health and life is not less important than that of their fetus, because women who want children but may face life-threatening complications with their pregnancies will terminate if doctors are going to let them die (or will terminate if they know they will be vilified and shunned for choosing a life-saving abortion rather than sacrificing themselves).
We know how to reduce the number of abortions. It requires addressing the vast and endemic poverty in our nation, because pregnancy, birth, and child-rearing are so expensive that even women who want children are often hesitant to carry a pregnancy to term when they are not financially stable, if not well-off (in 2004, 73% of women who aborted said they did so because “I can’t afford a baby right now”). This requires lobbying for better, cheaper, and more expansive health care, universal coverage, and access to cheap or free prenatal care. It can mean the promotion of home birthing (given that the average cost of giving birth in a hospital without insurance is ~$8,000). It requires supporting a vast array of legislative and non-governmental aid measures that help poor mothers and families clothe, feed, house, and educate their children so that she can be confident that carrying to term will not negatively affect her life or that of her other children. It requires vast funding, resources, and support structures for the disabled- because a fetus with disabilities is one many women know they cannot give an adequate future. And beyond poverty, it requires ensuring our collective fate- because women with unwanted pregnancies worried about war, global warming, etc. are those most likely to ask themselves “Is it right to bring a child into a world so full of violence and pain?” It also requires acknowledging that it is wrong to force or manipulate women into giving up their children for adoption (given the excess of children to open homes and the psychological toll of adoption compared to the opposite in abortion), but still working to make the process easier (90% of potential parents who express interest in adopting children from foster care do not wind up doing so because of frustrations within the system) and de-stigmatizing giving your child up for adoption (more than a third of women who aborted in this study volunteered that adoption was “a morally unconscionable because giving one’s child away is wrong”).
We know how to reduce the number of abortions. It requires re-shaping society so that women need not choose between children and the various forms of fulfillment currently offered to the childfree (namely, but not solely, career). And that requires having a child be manageable by demanding paid maternal (and paternal) leave, flexible work schedules, and affordable or free childcare. If a woman has to fear that she will lose her job (or not get hired in the first place) as a result of having children, then she has a strong incentive to terminate any unplanned pregnancy that threatens her livelihood and creative fulfillment in her profession. 74% of women who aborted in 2004 reported that one of their reasons was because it would dramatically change their lives, including interfering with their education or jobs.
And yes, we know how to reduce the number of second-term abortions: it requires fighting and overturning legislation that makes early abortion harder to obtain. The pictures that pansymandy is encouraging we Google are not those of early abortions, which don’t exactly conjure up the same reaction. Considering that 58% of women seeking abortion (and 91% of those seeking it in their second trimester) report that they would have preferred to have their procedure earlier, the vast number of laws that make doing so more difficult are nonsensical. Part of turning the images from graphic rally signs into the petri dish that I linked to above is to stop tactics that delay abortion (like mandatory waiting periods, unnecessary clinic visits, etc.) and to ensure access through more providers (88% of counties do not have one, meaning that burdensome travel is required) and unique solutions like telemedicine.
And finally, we know what doesn’t work to reduce the number of abortions. Pictures of aborted fetuses meant to shame do just that- they shame so much that women will avoid having to walk past harassing protesters, avoid having their private medical records illegally broken into, by going underground to abort or doing it themselves. There are plenty of forms of shaming and stigmatizing that fall under this category, but I’ll limit myself to the one that caused me to reblog this in the first place. The plain fact of the matter is this: everybody has seen the pictures. We’ve all driven by a rally, or a billboard, or clicked on a pro-life website. It’s not that people are ignorant of the realities of abortion; it’s that they hold no efficacy. If showing people pictures of aborted fetuses worked, we wouldn’t have any more abortion. But we do- we have plenty of it, and far more than comparable countries like the Netherlands and other parts of Western Europe.
Although a majority of Americans support the legality of abortion, a frequent statement among most who have never needed one (both pro-choice and pro-life) is “I could never have an abortion.” or “I don’t know if I could ever abort.” And even though just 6.6% of our 18.4% of childless women state they are voluntarily so (statistics from 1995, the most recent year for which data on voluntary and involuntary childlessness is available), a third of all women will have an abortion. Most of us want children. It’s clear, then- and I think I’ve demonstrated this more than adequately above- that our ideal (pregnancy is easily avoidable for the vast majority, motherhood/parenting is appealing rather than prohibitively burdensome) does not yet match our reality.
So, with that in mind (and please pardon my language), but FUCK the pictures you’ll find on Google Images. Take steps that actually help.