Remember Aliza Shvarts
? She's the Yale art major who repeatedly knocked herself up with donated sperm and a turkey baster, took drugs to induce miscarriages and saved the resultant bloody mess to display at a school-sponsored art exhibit.
It was a hoax, of course. But the Internet believed it -- as it also last week believed some equally dubious abortion stories posted on major blogs in the aftermath of Dr. Tiller's murder: A woman who barged
into the ER for her seventh abortion commanding them to "make it snappy"; Evangelicals who disowned their daughter for terminating a totally unviable ectopic pregnancy
As much as the nation talks about abortion, it's hard not to conclude that we still aren't really
talking about it because the debate is seems to be dominated by people who have never been through one.
What elements of the debate should we focus on? Here's a handful of topics that often get missed.Click here
to read what Moe thinks.Abortion itself is an abortion deterrent. Should it stay that way?
When a med-school student reared in a staunchly pro-life family wrote in the weekend's Washington Post of her plan to perform abortions despite her lingering moral qualms with the issue, a commenter assured
her she would feel differently after seeing how many women exploit their choice "over and over again" as "post-coital birth control."
Abortion is not, of course, anything like birth control. It's traumatic in ways both unavoidable -- emotional, physical, existential -- and avoidable, in that abortion anecdotes invariably invoke the phrase "assembly line" (and sometimes also "dystopian"). But this last part may be changing, as abortion service provider Planned Parenthood refashions itself as the "LensCrafters of Family Planning
," chasing more affluent customers and even offering adoption services while leaving regulation-heavy states like Mississippi
, where only one abortion clinic remains.
Aren't we ready to embrace "the abortion pill"?
Seventy-one percent of Americans think first-trimester abortions should be legal. The third-trimester abortions George Tiller was demonized for performing probably account for 300-600 procedures a year
in the United States. But the rigidity of the abortion debate obscures what should be most important -- making abortion safe, legal and early.
One surefire way to do that is to promote the use of the abortion pill RU-486, whose proliferation in Europe has been linked
to an increase in the percentage of abortions that occur in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. The abortion pill isn't as popular in the U.S., where it is still shrouded in secrecy and extremely expensive. (Its high cost means it's often supplemented with a large -- and very painful -- dose of the cheaper drug Cytotec.) If attitudes toward RU-486 were to change, it could transform the whole tenor of the debate. The tenor of the debate won't change until women stop being dishonest with themselves about abortion.
Most women form an opinion about abortion as it relates to other women long before they're forced to consider the issue for themselves. As a result, many of us think of abortion as something we wouldn't exploit ourselves -- and that includes everyone from evangelical Christians with promise rings to card-carrying NARAL members. The magnitude of this collective delusion is made plain by the massive gap between the percentage of women who identify as "pro-life" -- half -- and the percentage of women who choose to abort after learning their fetuses have Down syndrome: 90
. A (politically liberal, big-hearted) younger friend of mine who recently had an abortion told me she only considered having the child because she didn't want to be one of those women she'd "judged." Men must stop being silent on the subject
Earlier (and primarily on the basis of my own anecdotal evidence), I dismissed the apocryphal "serial aborter" as a fantasy. But I wonder if the situation is different for guys. One of my male friends told me he'd sat in the waiting room during five separate abortions with various girlfriends over the years. It wasn't wholly emotionless for him -- he sold some treasured baseball cards to help pay for one of them -- but his detachment about the whole ordeal was striking. While young dads are quick to attest to the magic of childbirth, you almost never hear them talk about the times they were reminded they weren't ready for it. The recession is going to make abortion more common.
The economy is hitting couples in the Judd Apatow demographic disproportionately hard. The American abortion debate, and the culture wars in general, are the ultimate "first world problem" in a way. Maybe the giant humbling of the nation's collective delusions will enable us to talk about the issue more honestly.