9 Aug

For the past month this city girl ventured to the wilds of the middle and lived on a reservation.  As always, I kept my anti antennae up.  Unlike in the bustle of the city, the expanse of the prairie gave me the room to really ponder anti propaganda, and not just dismiss it in haste.

Much of what I saw included “classic” pictures of angelic looking infants.  I could go on about how idiotic it is that the reproductive health world has failed to reclaim the image of a baby, let alone have it snatched from them in the first place, but we’ve all heard this before.

It was the sign below that really got me thinking.  The billboard itself split between an anti ad and a call to implore young men to join the church.  Laden with not only bizarre racial undertones, but a “yup” in response to nothing. You cannot make this stuff up.

At that first glance it just seemed so ludicrous.  Particularly with “life begins at conception” on a grey background while simultaneously declaring it as a black and white issue.  That’s just poor product placement.  But then I started to think about the united front presented by the shared billboard.  How it wasn’t about being anti-choice at all, but about linking abortion, religion and righteousness.  A moral life is either joining the church or having a baby.  And that is  literally black and white.

When was the last time you remember reproductive justice folks linking our ideals to a lifestyle or morality?  It happens, don’t get me wrong.  But, in general, this is something we do extremely poorly and the antis do extremely well.  It’s about time we did more than just bitch about it.  Folks on the ground should spend more energy analyzing these local messages, and counteracting them, whether it is through vigilante graffiti or a mass marketing campaign.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if an ad for abortion care was placed right next to programming on parenting skills?  Be the parent you dream of being.  Have all the time you need for all your children. Or home mortgages?  Fulfill the American dream, have the family, the home, the life you always wanted.  Or schooling?  Go back to school so you can get the job to take care of your future family the way you want to.  Why does this feel so implausible?  Statistically speaking most women who have abortions are already mothers.  They are making a difficult decision to SUPPORT their family in the best way they know how.  How does this get lost so consistently?  It is about time we reconnected family values and abortion.  Because whether you are in North Dakota or New York City, most women choose to have an abortion because they care about their present and future families, and it is our job to remind the world of this reality.


6 Responses to “Dualities”

  1. sobdee x August 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    I’m ambivalent on this issue. Anti-choicers make abortions about babies. Pro-choicers should make reproductive rights about women, no?

    This fight isn’t about having too many children or not enough. It’s about having control over our own bodies and not being forced into decisions.

    I guess I could see a woman with a baby on a pro-choice ad saying “Not again, not now” but I think people would read that as some promiscuous slut can’t keep her legs closed and keeps spitting out kids. Or it would automatically link ABORTION and babies which isn’t really true considering most abortions happen on non-viable groupings of cells, not BABIES in diapers learning to crawl. Or maybe I’m just too cynical.

    I think the best way to fight this fight to remind women that they should have OPTIONS over what happens to their bodies. That they should have choice.

  2. Jenni August 9, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more. When I spend money on the pill and pass those protesters hollering at me to get into the clinic just for my annual, by the way, not even an abortion- I put up with that for my family. We can’t afford any more children. My youngest is 13 and at this point another child would sacrifice too much of the family budget at a time when we need it so very much. I am a responsible mom doing what I have to do to look out for what’s best for *my family* not the church, not the government, not any group of men in some back room making deals. If I ever got pregnant I would have an abortion for the same reason. If any of these groups gave a damn about families they would stop attacking choice. No one needs parenthood shoved on them. Caring about babies and families means not having any of it before you are truly ready. It is not a cute slogan on a billboard it’s a serious choice that should not be made by “accident.” That would be caring.

  3. Nicole August 9, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    Thank you both for adding your thoughts–very important points!

  4. Moon August 9, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    “Folks on the ground should spend more energy analyzing these local messages, and counteracting them, whether it is through vigilante graffiti or a mass marketing campaign.”

    Are you serious? If the “antis” did that to your posters, you would sue them to kingdom come! Why is it okay to be so hypocritical? Just because you think you’re right and they’re wrong doesn’t make it okay! If you’re really serious about your position, take the moral high ground and put up an advertisement right next to theirs, leaving their advertisement alone! If you start being a vigilante about it, taking the low down, dirty, and ILLEGAL route, you’ll LOSE more people than you’ll gain. Guaranteed.

  5. NYCprochoiceMD August 10, 2010 at 6:12 am #

    I think the way to do this is to link the movement for access to abortion with the movement for access to different birthing options, such as midwifery, home births, VBACs, etc. I don’t know how you do that on a billboard though. Unfortunately autonomy over one’s body does not lend itself to 2-dimensional representations as well as forced birth.

  6. Nicole August 11, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Sorry I didn’t see these last two sooner!

    Moon, I am totally serious. As an individual I wouldn’t sue antis for defacing an ad. That’s their prerogative. Granted this is not necessarily an ideal mechanism of dissent for large organizations, but I don’t think it should be overlooked on the individual level. Check out this example on Flickr that I think is really effective: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/4301559591/ Nonetheless, thank you for calling me out, I really do appreciate being forced into thinking every once in a while.

    NYCprochoiceMD, I agree the link to birthing options is the way to do it. You may have already seen this but check out my related post here: http://abortiongang.org/2010/04/reproductive-justice-a-new-home-for-birthing-rights/

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