By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRLC Director of Education
Editor’s note. Today’s entry into our year-long “Roe at 40” series is a thoughtful, insightful exploration of an article that ran in Glamour magazine. As we look to provide our readers with some of the best articles from NRL News going back to 1973, everything about this story by Dr. O’Bannon fills the bill. I hope and trust that you will share it with friends using your social networks. This story first appeared in the March 2009, edition.
Over the past 30 years, Glamour magazine has won more than a dozen awards from Planned Parenthood for its coverage of abortion. Glamour’s latest piece, from the February 2, 2009, edition, titled “Abortion: The Serious Health Decision Women Aren’t Talking about until Now,” may win yet another “Maggie” award (named after Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger) for its sympathetic portrayal of the abortion industry. But in the title and the text, there are strong hints that abortion has turned out to be something far less than glamorous in the lives of many women.
Glamour opens the article with the abortion experience of 25-year-old “Anna” (a pseudonym), who visits a clinic in Seattle “on a sunny day.” With Anna on the examining table, the abortionist turns on the suction aspiration machine, inserts a tube through Anna’s cervix, and “a gentle whirring sound fills the room.”
The abortionist tells Anna the cramping she feels is “totally normal.” After “a few gasps” from Anna, the abortionist “clicks off the machine, signaling the end of the five-minute procedure.” What takes place inside the mother’s womb between the time the abortionist “turns on” and “clicks off” the machine is never specified.
There are no immediate complications to this particular abortion (and no indication of a discussion of possible physical consequences that may show up later, such as infection, infertility, prematurity in future pregnancies, etc.), “little drama,” says the article. “[B]ut that doesn’t make it a simple experience.”
Though it shares the stories of only a handful of women, the article claims to be an examination of the abortion reactions of “counselors, medical experts, and more than two dozen women who have had the procedure.” Glamour says that women don’t tend to discuss their abortions and the physical and emotional consequences, so “millions of women grapple alone with the decision and the emotions that come afterward.”
“Tiana,” age 33, says that her decision to have an abortion when she was 19 was the “right choice.” She says, “I had no guilt afterward.” Even she admits, however, that the procedure was “unsettling” and “painful.”
Other women Glamour interviewed did not fare so well. “Monique,” a 35-year-old mother of two, said she “felt so ashamed” of her abortion. “Physically I was fine, but I was sick emotionally for weeks.” Glamour says “Lisa,” 36, was “traumatized.” After having an abortion at 19 at the urging of her boyfriend, Lisa told the interviewer it triggered depression and ultimately drug abuse and a second abortion.
Glamour says those women who want to “Make the Best Decision for You” should follow the advice offered by Anne Baker, the director of counseling at the Hope Clinic in Granite City, Illinois. Though Baker is supposed to have counseled more than 25,000 women, many of whom must have gone on to abort at the clinic, there is an implicit admission in her advice that abortion has already proven to be a bad decision for many women.
Baker says that a woman who feels forced to have an abortion whether by her circumstances or someone like her boyfriend may experience “negative feelings” afterward. Given the rhetoric that “no woman wants an abortion,” but only does so because she can’t afford the child, or her relationship is unstable, or some other circumstance is not favorable, this would appear to argue against nearly every abortion. But this does not seem to occur to Baker or Glamour.
Baker says a woman who believes that “abortion is equivalent to killing a child that is already born” should “strongly reconsider” a decision to abort and “seek counseling and other alternatives, such as adoption.” What is obvious in that statement?
That only by convincing women of two preposterous lies that a child in her womb is somehow not living, somehow not fully human can Baker and her friends in the abortion industry continue to sell their product.
A woman’s ability to control her emotions like “guilt, anger, sadness, or relief” brought on by the abortion is important to her being able to “handle things well,” Baker tells Glamour.. That the first three of these might be legitimate reactions to the killing of an unborn child, and that “handling” those emotions or stuffing them might be psychologically unhealthy isn’t really explored in the article.
Glamour uses Baker to perpetrate the myth that those having problems after their abortion are those that came with pre-existing mental problems. Baker says that anyone with a mood disorder should get treatment and discuss their decision to abort with their therapists. While abortion can indeed trigger a crisis in situations where there is mental illness, ignored are a bevy of studies showing that lots of other women also have “issues” about having aborted their children.
Baker recommends that women considering abortion have in place some support system–a friend, partner, parent, sibling, or counselor–someone “nonjudgmental” to talk to and rely upon. Baker fails to mention how the abortion industry has foisted this isolation, opposing spousal and parental involvement laws, discouraging contact with people and groups that might support a woman looking for alternatives.
For the longest time, the abortion industry and its media backers have tried to say that abortion was totally benign, that the only people having problems were those who had pre-existing mental conditions or were overly religious. There is some of that flavor in this article.
But if you read between the lines you’ll see an admission that many women are struggling with the “choices” they have made. Turns out something important was happening between the time the suction machine was switched on and clicked off.