By Dave Andrusko
As we mentioned at “Bringing Abortion Stigma into Focus” by ignoring the real reasons people disapprove of abortions, Steph Herold is the author of an article appearing on rhrealitycheck.org describing a “Special Issue” of Women & Health. The objective is to put an academic gloss on the notion that while abortion stigma “permeates every level of our culture,” that is only because the “belief that abortion is socially or morally unacceptable” is foisted on women.
To understand why Herold is the perfect choice to write a hosanna-filled puff piece, let’s look at one of her own articles—“Evidence based Advocacy: Expanding Our Thinking About ‘Repeat’ Abortions,” which also ran on rhrealitycheck.org. It’s a real corker for it is an unabashed defense of abortion as birth control and a Jeremiah against abortion “stigma.”
The crux of her case is found in her preferred term for women who abort more than one baby: “multiple” abortion over “repeat” abortion. [Notice “Repeat’ is in quotation marks in the title.] To anyone but the most feverish pro-abortion zealot, this must be a distinction without a difference, right?
In practice, yes, but in trying to erase the deep unease even many “pro-choicers” feel at a woman repeatedly taking the lives of unborn babies, it makes all the sense in the world. And it also might work for those attempting to finesse the fact that nearly half of the abortions procured are now to women who’ve had at least one prior abortion.
Let me try (emphasize try) to explain how Herold attempts to square the circle.
Right out of the gate Herold makes no bones about her absolutism. Even to try to intervene after a first abortion to prevent a second (or third, or fourth, or however many) abortion is to miss that each abortion must be seen “as a unique experience with its own set of complex circumstances.” That’s why these women are not “repeaters”: each abortion is, duh, unique. Get it?
(Each abortion IS unique in the sense that every baby lost is unique but that decidedly is not what Herold means.)
Herold tells us that “Tracy Weitz and Katrina Kimport, sociologists with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), analyzed the interviews of ten women who’d had multiple abortions.” They’d had a total of 35 abortions and each was different, some easier/harder than others.
If you are going to “target” these women, understand that each abortion came with its own “unique emotional and social circumstances.” Okay (for purposes of following the argument), now what?
“Similarly, providers should not assume that a woman with a history of multiple abortions will have the same emotional or contraceptive needs after each abortion,” Herold writes. “In fact, Weitz and Kimport found that some women avoided going to the same provider for each abortion because they feared being judged for having multiple abortions or having to hear the same contraceptive-counseling script. Providers should not make assumptions about their patients’ needs based on the number of abortions they’ve had.” [my emphasis]
Am I missing something, or is Herold confirming that these women can’t be bothered with trying not to become pregnant—and they simply will shop around for a different abortionist[s] knowing that their cavalier attitude is hard to square with one pro-abortion talking point–that women “agonize” over their abortion?
If this group is representative, women who have multiple abortions want what they want when they want it. And “mainstream pro-choice organizations” ought not to be “worrying that discussing multiple abortions will rile up the anti-choice movement.”
What should they be worried about? “Focus[ing] on de-stigmatizing the experience of abortion, no matter how many times a woman needs to access this service,” Herold lectures. “Women who have had multiple abortions should not be viewed as a separate class of people from women who have had one abortion.” Chew on that one for a while.
“We should understand women who have had multiple abortions through their individual life experiences rather than judging them on their pregnancy history. If we want to better meet women’s emotional needs around abortion, we can start by using the phrase ‘multiple abortions’ instead of ‘repeat abortions,’ and moving away from policies that seek to prevent ‘repeat abortions.’ To support women who have had multiple abortions, we need to acknowledge that some abortions may be more difficult than others.”
Pardon? I guess that means there really is no such thing as a “repeat” abortion, only a series of discreet, separate, don’t-connect-the-dots abortions that are multiples of one.
Why? Because some abortions are easier than others and because the circumstances under which a woman has abortion “c” are different than the circumstances for abortion “a” and abortion “b.”
It’s hard to know what to say to someone who reasons like this. However, my guess is that even some in the Sisterhood might swallow hard at this indigestible excuse for unlimited abortion.