By Dave Andrusko
My wife and I love watching any of a half-dozen home makeover shows that you can find 24/7 on HGTV. The alterations range from essentially cosmetic to gutting and more or less starting from scratch. With the latter, when it’s all done, it’s difficult to believe that this now gorgeous property should once have been foreclosed.
I thought of those shows when I read the latest puff piece on Carafem, a kind of new wave abortion clinic which calls Friendship Heights [!], Maryland home. Carafem is located just outside of Washington, DC.
The clinic makes waves for two reasons. First it believes in in-your-face advertising. None of this struggling to make peace with your conscience malarkey or hiding what they do (ala Planned Parenthood) where abortion is described as just one of many services—and an inconsequential one at that.
“Abortion. Yeah, we do that,” was the slogan on a series of ads (bright pink, no less) displayed in Metro stations across Washington, DC.
“No one had ever led with the word ‘abortion’ that strongly in an advertisement before,” Melissa Grant, vice president of Carafem told WAMU’s Karen Turner. “It was something that we used to reclaim the service. We’re not ashamed; it’s a service that we provide and women need to know where to find it. So we talked about it a little differently and a lot more openly,” she said.
Grant added that this is “part of a larger push to normalize abortion.” That would include the “Shout Your Abortion” social media campaign which by having women talk about their abortions is supposed to “remove stigma.”
The other reason Carafem gets such lavish praise is what you might call its “this is not your mother’s abortion clinic” approach. It’s a “de-medicalized” space “that encourages comfort and open conversation,” according to Turner.
“The thing that makes us different in that way is simply looking for things like not using harsh chemical smells and trying to make sure that the atmosphere smells pretty, looks comfortable, we have couches instead of hard backed chairs in some areas. We offer our clients something warm to drink,” she said.
The clinic, with its wood paneled walls, natural light and purple couches, has been described as “spa-like.”
Well, yes. You can hear in Grant’s voice a slight defensiveness.
“So it’s not necessarily that all of our clients would look to have a pedicure when they come into the office, but the idea would be that it doesn’t feel like a hospital.”
So Carafem is cheery, bright, with none of those stinky chemical smells. That they chemically abort babies is an irony lost on Grant.
“The medications that are used for medication abortion do act similarly to a very early miscarriage,” said Grant. “For some women, the idea of taking anesthetic or having an overly medicalized experience, something that’s a little more like a traditional surgical exam room, feels less personable to them. They like the idea of having their body do the work versus a surgical instrument do the work.”
It’s one of those comments that makes your jaw drop. Powerful drugs which starve the baby and then induce contractions to expel her dead body is “having their [a woman’s] body do the work? And deliberating taking the child’s life is very similar to “a very early miscarriage”? And, oh by the way, chemically induced abortions can be and often are, incredibly painful.
Turner ends her story with this:
For Melissa Grant at Carafem, the [abortion] pill is simply another option for women, not necessarily better or worse than surgical abortion.
“Women respond best when they are given full information about both options so that they can look at their current life situation and decide what fits in best. By helping to disconnect that shame from this process I think has really helped women to feel more confident to ask questions.”
Don’t suppose Carafem would consider genuinely full information, such as how developed the baby already is or alternatives.
Nah. That might cut into the time for a follow-up pedicure.