Last night’s episode of the hit MTV show 16 and Pregnant features the testimony of a young post-abortive mom whose sister found herself in an unplanned pregnancy around the same time but chose life for her daughter. Brittany DeJesus suffered the traumatic consequences of an abortion over a year ago and still has difficulty dealing with her experience. Her younger sister Brianna tries to console Brittany by telling her to remember “why she did it,” but Brittany seems to find little consolation in the memory.
Ironically, the abortion rights website RH Reality Check notes Brittany’s openness about her abortion experience as a boon to the pro-abortion movement, citing the belief that openness about abortion will eliminate the stigma:
Sometimes those of us who find ourselves facing one really do want an abortion. Winning the moral, cultural, and political debate surrounding abortion rights means that we must not give the other side the upper hand on any aspect. Suggesting that nobody wants an abortion or that nobody should be willing and happy to talk about her experience reinforces the idea that it is shameful – and it gives the other side the moral advantage.
Both the pro-life and, more recently, pro-abortion camps recommend speaking out about the effect that abortion has had on individual women who have experienced it; however, each side has a very different reason for promoting this openness.
As RH Reality Check writer Katie Stack explains, abortion advocates should speak out about their abortion experiences in a certain way, so that their testimonies might make a political impact. Women should be true to their feelings regarding the abortion – unless those feelings include shame (which happens to be a common emotion that post-abortive women experience, as evidenced by an arsenal of testimonies collected by the Silent No More Awareness Campaign). Stack said:
On the one hand, I have urged women to remain true to their own feelings. On the other, I have understood that the tone of our narratives could hold political consequences. For so long the rhetoric of the pro-choice Democrat’s position has focused on “safe, legal and rare” – with the “rare” reinforcing the idea that abortion, though permissible, should be shameful and undesirable.
Shame, according to the pro-abortion movement, is a fabrication of pro-lifers who, according to Stack, wish to stigmatize abortion with their so-called “war on women,” and a post-abortive woman who experiences shame is the victim of pro-life manipulation. The abortion rights community does not acknowledge the feeling of shame as a natural consequence of a mother choosing to end the life of a child entrusted to her protection. However, it is basic psychology to affirm whatever emotions a suffering individual is experiencing, regardless of how beneficial the sharing of those emotions will be towards a political agenda that seeks to enshrine abortion as a good and a right.
On the other hand, by and large, the pro-life community encourages an honest expression of post-abortive emotions – whatever those may be – as a path to healing and renewal after the tragedy of abortion. Shame is not thrust upon women who have suffered from abortion by any upstanding abortion healing organization. Lana Sanders, founder of the post-abortive healing organization Beauty for Ashes, encapsulates the Christian, pro-life view of shame in relation to abortion recovery, saying:
Just as when we first received Christ as our Savior, walking out from under the cloud of guilt and shame that had attached itself to us, reveals a new freedom. The ability to walk a new path, unhindered by past hurts and sin, allows us to embrace the love of God in a new way, perhaps never before experienced. The desire to serve Him and be obedient to His word takes on new meaning and new life within.
II Corinthians 5:17 – “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a ne creature: the old has gone, the new has come!”
Shame is not something attached to post-abortive women by the pro-life community; it is a natural response for many women to the effects of abortion on their psyche. The pro-life community invites women to face their shame and guilt as a means of relinquishing them, rather than being held in bondage to them. There is no political motivation behind the post-abortive healing ministries of the pro-life movement. The same, clearly, cannot be said about abortion advocates who encourage women to openly discuss their abortion experiences.