Opinion

Salon writer furious that culture isn’t normalizing abortion fast enough

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It really, really bothers abortion supporters that the rest of the world won’t drink the Kool-Aid they’re peddling. At Salon, Danielle Campoamor complains that her TV is teeming with advertisements for erectile dysfunction and breast augmentation, yet apparently nobody feels comfortable running ads for poor, stigmatized abortion:

It’s a useful and even lifesaving medical procedure.

No, it isn’t.

One in three women will seek out abortion services in their lifetime […]

No, they won’t.

[…] and it is, after all, completely legal.

Since when is legality the deciding factor for whether advertising something on mainstream television is socially desirable? Last time I checked, smoking, infidelity, porn, racist speech, and all sorts of other dubious activities were legal, yet nowhere to be seen in primetime commercials.

Why are we willing to use women’s bodies in ads, but rarely see ads that would benefit women’s bodies?

Her question’s premise is false on two levels. First, countless products “that would benefit women’s bodies” are routinely advertised. Second, Campoamor surely must know that “benefitting women’s bodies” is not the variable giving advertisers pause about abortion. Hold that thought, as we’ll see that playing dumb on this point is a recurring fallback.

Campoamor next recounts the recent mini-controversy over the Metro Transit Authority rejecting advertisements for self-styled “abortion spa” Carafem on the grounds that mentioning abortion violated their policy against issue-based advertising:

Since when is a medical procedure a social issue?

Since, oh, 1973. Are we really descending to this level of obtuseness?

Does that mean the MTA would refuse an ad from, say, the Cancer Society? What about Viagra, used to treat a medical condition that plagues a large number of men? What about OB-GYN services and birthing centers? Are those considered issue-based practices?

Yes, apparently we are. As should not need explaining (but does, because that’s the level to which some abortion supporters have lowered the national discourse), cancer, Viagra, OB-GYNs, and birthing centers are not “issues” in the way abortion is because there is little-to-no controversy surrounding them. No major percentage of the population has ethical, legal, or health objections to their availability. What do you suppose makes abortion different, Danielle? What does abortion do that cancer treatment and ED drugs don’t? It’s a real stumper…

But a larger — and dangerous — problem remains. Society has manipulated abortion and the way in which it is viewed, changing it from a medical procedure to an exhausted topic of debate. Women’s bodies — in need of medical attention, just like any other body — are used as statistics and fodder for political points, keeping from women the information they need to make informed and safe choices about their health and their healthcare.

Or maybe—just maybe—people don’t like the thought of chopping babies to pieces. It’s really amazing how on the other side, you can get away with entire editorials that never mention, let alone address, the argument against your position. If pro-lifers wrote against abortion without even bringing up women’s desire not to undergo pregnancy or the struggles of childbirth and parenthood, we’d never hear the end of it (heck, we’re routinely accused of that anyway even when we do discuss the counter-arguments).

We’ve actively kept women from the services, information and support they need, because we find a procedure to be “controversial.” We’re inhibiting the health and well-being of an untold number of women, because we see women’s bodies as topics of discussion during the latest political debate, instead of human bodies in need of affordable healthcare and legalized procedures. We’d rather stay an arm’s length away from a legal and normal medical practice — to avoid upsetting a particular group of people — instead of standing up for women and their right to make informed medical decisions by receiving unbiased information.

Scare quotes around “controversial” while omitting the reason it’s controversial. Nonsensical insinuations that we don’t see women’s bodies as human bodies (from someone bent on ignoring the human bodies her position destroys). Indignant insistence that aborting a child is “normal.” Sneers about upsetting people without bothering to address what it is about abortion that upsets them. All topped off with a plea for “unbiased information” in the middle of a piece that epitomizes bias.

This is not the work of a serious attempt to understand a major cultural divide. This is an act of pure pretending—pretending abortion is 100% unobjectionable, that rational views that don’t match hers simply don’t exist—a childish temper tantrum given an imprimatur of serious by a professional publication that has no excuse to not know better.

Are we still stuck in an ignorant time, in which society as a whole truly believes that ads for abortions will somehow convince a woman who doesn’t want an abortion to have one? Do we really find women to be that malleable, or are we finally willing to admit that women — like their male counterparts — are intelligent and completely capable of making their own decisions, especially when they are presented with factual and accurate information?

When in doubt, deploy straw-man arguments. Stigmatizing abortion is not a question of viewers’ gullibility. To go back to an earlier example, the truth about cigarettes’ health hazards is widespread enough that seeing a Marlboro ad won’t hypnotize most viewers to go out and buy a pack, either.

No, when someone is unwilling to make a buck by putting a product on TV, it’s usually because they fear doing so will disgust or alienate their audience in some way – that is what’s really eating away at Campoamor here.

Most Americans don’t think abortion is a normal, innocuous, unqualified medical good meriting no more stigma than cosmetic surgery. The United States is a majority pro-life country, and even if we’re divided on what exactly to do about it, most instinctively know something about it just isn’t right.

The lack of abortion advertising is a daily reminder to the abortion-obsessed that for all their insistence about speaking for women and modernity and the mainstream, they are the ones out of step with society’s moral sensibilities.

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