Abortion Should Be Trivialized

2 Dec

Whenever women begin talking about abortion in a normal, speaking voice, instead of a hushed whisper, when we start tweeting “#IHadAnAbortion” or wear t-shirts proclaiming our support of those who have, we are accused of “trivializing” abortion.

Well, maybe it’s about time abortion was trivialized.

Should a medical procedure, had by a third of women, really garner all of this attention?  Is it right to distill a woman’s life down to a decision to terminate a pregnancy so that she can move on with and live her life?  Should the decision to have an abortion define a woman’s life, or merely a footnote – no more interesting than the decision to have any other outpatient medical procedure?

I find it hard to believe that the decision to have an abortion could possibly be the single most important event in a woman’s life.  Sure, there are some women who claim that it is, fixating on it in anti-choice websites – but if abortion were less important, then perhaps they would take a step back to focus on the rest of their lives.  Abortion is the decision to not carry a pregnancy to term – it is an action that is the very definition of inaction, which should implicitly make it less important than the decision to go to college, or who to marry.  Less important than which career path to pursue, or whether to move cross country to take an amazing job.

Unfortunately, as much as I would like to see abortion’s significance lessened to that of any other life decision and routine, normal medical procedure, as long as anti-choice proponents continue to blow abortion out of proportion, it will continue to soak up legislators’ time that could be spent drafting laws that will stimulate the economy, close the wage gap, or promote green energy initiatives.  Abortion, which should be a private decision between a woman and her doctor, will continue to be the topic of lawsuits, which cost millions of taxpayer dollars that could be better spent providing financial aid to low income families or funding schools.

Abortion should be trivialized – right back to the level of importance of any other medical procedure, by the anti-choice zealots who have made it a national sore spot with their fixation with the contents of women’s uteruses.  In the 1940s writer Stetson Kennedy dealt a heavy blow to the KKK by incorporating their absurd secret rituals and code names into the Superman radio broadcast.  When children began using them while playing, it gave KKK members and potential recruits a reality check about how ridiculous they were.  Hopefully pointing out the absurdity of anti-choice rhetoric will have the same effect – and abortion can just be a medical procedure that a woman considers whether to have, has if she wants to, and then becomes a mere footnote in the lengthy chronicles of her life.


5 Responses to “Abortion Should Be Trivialized”

  1. Amanda December 2, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    I think abortion should be treated honestly. There is the medical aspect of abortions: the actual procedures and medication, the risks and benefits and there abortion is just like any other procedure.

    But the choice to undergo that procedure is not always a trivial one. How a person feels about their abortion is for them to decide. Either way. It can be the hope of the pro-choice movement that a person’s abortion does not define their whole life, but if they honestly feel that way, I will not tell them they are wrong. There is no one way for a person to feel about their abortion. There is no universal scale of “importance” on which abortion lies.

    Just as the government and anti-choice campaigners should stay out of the private, medical decision of a person to have an abortion, so too should all of us stay out of the emotions around it. My hope is that people can talk about their abortions openly if they want and have honest emotions that are not swayed by political motives from outside.

  2. Rachel December 2, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    I agree with the spirit of this post. There is something about the “trivialization” of abortion that I am sympathetic to. I had an abortion when I was 19– I was with the wrong guy, we were stupid in not using protection just that once, I wanted more from my life than to be a mother at that age, *I didn’t want to be pregnant*. All excellent reasons for me to have a simple, safe, straight-forward medical procedure that allowed me to exercise freedom over my body and reproductive abilities.

    My feelings coming out of the procedure can be summarized with one word: RELIEF.

    8 years later, I look back and I think to myself, “Wow, that was an important procedure. It was small, but it had a big, material impact on my life and quality of life.” But that’s a little bit misleading. Yes, the physiological reality was that I was no longer pregnant– SUPER huge big deal! But what has had the most impact on me emotionally and psychologically has been the reaction of others when I tell them that I terminated a pregnancy. One boyfriend, on hearing about it, turned his back to me while we were lying in bed, and ignored me for the rest of the night, even though I was obviously crying and feeling completely judged and rejected. He then didn’t speak to me for three days. That hurt far and away more than having the abortion ever did.

    But that’s an attitude that can change if we continue to speak about abortion honestly– that it is part of the fabric of experience for many, many women. In the end, I didn’t let him shame me about something that was, frankly, not his lot to judge. I’ve spoken frankly about it ever since. And sometimes, when I’m speaking with someone that I genuinely trust, I can relive the hurt that I have felt– not about the procedure, but about encounters with people whose perspectives on abortion are the complete opposite of my own.

    I’ve realized that we don’t decide to give meaning to abortion without having lived in a social and political context that has structured how we might be able to feel about it. Speaking about abortion as a “trivial” matter is one way of normalizing it, making it less exceptional. That in turn informs the meaning that we give it into the future. I see this call for “trivialization” as an interesting way of reclaiming the production of the *meaning* of abortion, opening up to the meanings that we, our younger sisters, daughters, neighbours, friends, and granddaughters might give it tomorrow.

  3. Shayna December 2, 2010 at 11:12 pm #

    Amanda – I’m not saying that women should be flippant about their decision to have an abortion, only that that decision should be disproportionate in importance to what it is – a medical procedure.

  4. Shayna December 3, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Amanda – my apologies – I meant that the importance given to decision to have an abortion should be “proportionate” to its importance as a medical decision, not, “disproportionate”


  1. Tweets that mention Abortion Should Be Trivialized | Abortion Gang -- Topsy.com - December 2, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by DC Abortion Fund , The Abortion Gang. The Abortion Gang said: new post: Abortion Should Be Trivialized http://j.mp/gsen4O #prochoice […]

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