Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What an anti-abortion activist thinks of women seeking abortions

In a piece about Donald Trump's controversial remarks on abortion (in an interview with Chris Matthews he said "there has to be some form of punishment ... for the woman" who has an abortion), the head of Concerned Women for America, Penny Nance, said that Trump
"doesn't understand pro-life people or the life issue. He instead became the caricature that the left tries to paint us to be. The reality is that pro-lifers are compassionate people who deeply care for broken women and their babies."
She didn't say "women and their babies", she said "broken women and their babies".

I don't jump on misstatements: anybody can commit a malapropism. This, however, wasn't a misstatement: it was her candid opinion of women who seek an abortion. Don't believe me? Here's a piece on an anti-abortion site covering the same Trump-instigated kerfuffle; it also quotes Nance.

Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America, agreed, "These are broken and wounded women being exploited by the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood."
So if you have an abortion, these people consider the act repugnant and you are a broken person in their eyes, too.

Why does this characterization bother me? Well, if you were shot or stabbed, I'd consider you "wounded". To call you "wounded" because you had a medical procedure is a gross distortion of the word's meaning. In fact, it suggests the very opposite of what a medical procedure does.

And "broken"? Even when you break a bone, nobody calls you "broken". "Broken" as applied to a person is only ever used to refer to his or her emotional state. It's pretty goddamned presumptuous for Penny Nance to brush every woman who has had an abortion with the broad brush of "broken". I don't doubt many, perhaps most women who seek an abortion are torn about their decision, but if they go through with the procedure it's only after a lot of soul-searching. To come to a decision after a lot of thought does not make you "broken".

And "the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood"? I suppose it's a (sadly limited) measure of progress that she doesn't consider the two synonymous, but otherwise — well, she's (again) demonizing without cause. "Industry" suggests massive scope, when the ugly reality is that Nance and her allies have done a remarkable job of limiting the availability of safe, legal abortions in dozens of states. It's too bad that spending on women's and family issues in so many of those states has also been sharply curbed out of an unsubtantiated concern with fraud and an obsession with cutting taxes.

Oh, and "exploited"? Planned Parenthood "exploiting" anyone would be laughable if the subject weren't so serious. Nance wants to conjure up an image of evil Planned Parenthood volunteers seducing women off the street to have spontaneous abortions. Talk about a grotesque perversion of abortion providers' actual role! They perform a needed service, one that no one loves but that is still sadly needed by too many. They don't hustle up work like a carnival barker.

It matters what you call people. Calling women who've had abortions "wounded" and "broken" and "exploited" stigmatizes them and they don't deserve that. Nance probably thinks her heart is in the right place, but she's just pissing on the women she supposedly wants to help.

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