This is the final post in our five part series addressing the assumptions of the Shout Your Abortion movement. If you missed our previous articles (Should Women Shout Their Abortions?, Is Abortion Freedom?, Is Abortion Normal?, and Abortion is Good, Because I am Good), then you can check those out by clicking on each title.
Abortion is Empowering
We are a culture that is obsessed with control. We want the ability to micromanage every piece of our lives, from the music on our playlists to the specialty drinks we order at the drive thru. The degree to which we’re able to make choices about our lives tends to have a great impact on the way we view ourselves and our level of personal freedom.
It’s not surprising, then, that the Shout your Abortion movement leans heavily on the idea of empowerment. The dictionary says “empowering” means “to make someone stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.” Those who are pro-abortion tend to uphold personal control and empowerment as the highest good. Take away a woman’s ability to control her life, and you’ve taken away what makes her human.
And just like we discussed with freedom, empowerment is a good thing. Women and men should be able to make choices about their lives with confidence. But the concept of true empowerment has its limits, and this is where I believe the abortion movement gets it wrong. The pro-abortion viewpoint claims that personal empowerment should be pursued at the cost of another life.
But is it truly empowering to make yourself feel stronger and more confident by ending the life of another human being?
Empowerment vs. Abuse
Let’s think about it another way. If a man uses his strength and intelligence to work hard to earn a job so he can pay his own bills and build a life for himself, then he has been empowered. If the same man does those same things for himself, but also for his wife and children, then the sense of empowerment is that much greater. He will have gained confidence in his ability to provide for himself and his family. He didn’t achieve those things via handouts or freebies—he worked for it.
But what if that same man used his strength and intelligence to do unethical things at work in order to gain more status or money? What if he manipulated his wife and children or abused them both verbally and physically? What if he took advantage of other women by making lewd comments or practicing other inappropriate behavior?
If he did all those things, he might feel stronger or more confident in himself and his ability to control not only his life, but also the lives of others. Could we also call that empowering?
Not so much. We’d probably instead call it toxic masculinity. Because empowerment isn’t just about feeling good about yourself or being able to control your surroundings. If it was, then no one would see a problem with abusive, manipulative, or unethical behaviors.
The moment a person’s decisions begin harming others, those actions stop being empowering and start being abusive.
The same is true for abortion.
Sure, a woman who aborts her unborn child may feel as if she has maintained control over her life. But the reality is that she has ended a life so that she can continue to live as she wants. That’s not empowerment. That’s murder.
The Only Choice
Most women do not want to have an abortion. And I can say this with confidence because that’s what most of our clients at GPCC tell us. But while most of them do not want an abortion, many of them feel as if it is their only option. They often view their circumstances, relationships, or financial situations as insurmountable obstacles; because of these things, they believe abortion is necessary.
A recent study that surveyed 987 women who have had abortions showed that 58.3% of the women reported they had an abortion in order to make others happy; 73.8% said that their decision to abort involved some sort of pressure from others to do so; 66% said they knew in their hearts that they were making a mistake when they underwent the abortion.
For women in these circumstances, the Shout Your Abortion movement says, “Look at your situation—you don’t need this right now. A child would be too much for you. Take charge of your own life. Abortion is empowering!”
I can’t help but wonder, though—what is empowering about feeling like you have no choice other than abortion?
And what’s so empowering about stopping the heartbeat of another in order to make your own life easier?
[click_to_tweet tweet=”I can’t help but wonder, though—what is empowering about feeling like you have no choice other than abortion?” quote=”I can’t help but wonder, though—what is empowering about feeling like you have no choice other than abortion?”]
Shout Your Abortion?
I went to the Shout Your Abortion website to read some of the stories that women are sharing, and I was saddened by what I found. Take a look at some of these excerpts:
“To this day I think about my baby and what would be, I try not to but some days are harder than others. I did not feel empowered by my abortion but I felt thankful to live in a state where it was a non-issue.”
“I won’t lie, it’ll bother you for a long time. But live your life and you will show yourself how right you were.”
“I continued to cry deeply off and on for 2 weeks, but never did I regret my decision.”
“Three and a half years later, we are now going through a divorce because he still can’t get over it. This has created the only regret that I have, and that would be that it destroyed my marriage.”
These women claim to have no regret over their abortions, but their own written words are swelling with undertones of regret and sadness. If being empowered makes someone stronger or more confident about her own decisions, then hundreds and hundreds of women are attesting that this is not their abortion experience.
And the worst part is that they don’t even realize it.
Occasionally, I am asked by other women about my experiences with pregnancy, giving birth, and being a mom.
I tell them about the morning sickness that was never only in the morning. I tell them about the indescribable pain of labor, about how I’m quite sure my husband’s hands are permanently damaged from being gripped so hard. I tell them about how I cried in pain, how I didn’t think I could do it.
I tell them how my husband and I worked through the sleepless nights, poop-filled diapers, and napless days. I tell them about the times we weren’t so sure we’d have enough to pay the bills, and then somehow made it work. I tell them about trips to the emergency room, the days full of tantrums, and nights full of frustration.
And then I tell them about the first time I heard my children’s heartbeats, and the first time I held them in my arms. I tell them about the first smiles, the first words, and the first steps. I tell them about the precious moments with my children that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
And then I tell them that all these things—carrying my children, giving birth, and working alongside my husband to care for them and love them and provide for them even when it’s hard—are the most empowering things I’ve ever done.
My experience is not unique to me. When I think of empowerment, I think of Genine. She was one of our clients who came to us convinced that abortion was her only option, that she couldn’t be a mother.
But if you watch her story below, you’ll see that she made the decision to carry her child in spite of difficult circumstances. She made the choice to do what was right rather than what was “easiest.” And when it was all said and done, she said, with confidence:
“The Care Center really helped me, not just in having the baby and making the right decision but also encouraging me that I can be somebody, I can finish, you can make something of yourself. And when I finished school, I just had to tell them. They were the first people that I wanted to let know that I did it. I did exactly what you said. I graduated, and…I graduated with honors. I did exactly what you said I could do.”
The Shout Your Abortion movement says, “You can’t do it. A child will make your life too hard. Abortion is your best choice.”
But we say, “You can do it. And we will help you.”
Abortion is Not Empowering
Abortion is not empowering. Rather, it leaves women feeling powerless, backed into a corner where taking the life of their child seems to be the only viable option.
But there’s something about enduring present, temporary struggles for the sake of a greater good that is empowering. And any time a woman sacrifices her personal comforts, circumstances, and, yes, even her body for the sake of another, then she has not only empowered herself, but is also empowering another—her child.
No, abortion is not empowering. But choosing to put the needs of another above your own, even when it’s hard, even when the world tells you that you can’t do it? That’s the most empowering thing in the world.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Choosing to put the needs of another above your own, even when it’s hard, even when the world tells you that you can’t do it? That’s the most empowering thing in the world.” quote=”choosing to put the needs of another above your own, even when it’s hard, even when the world tells you you can’t do it? That’s the most empowering thing in the world.”]
Mary Holloman is the Communications Coordinator at GPCC. You can follow more of her work at maryholloman.com.