Carafem brings its “no apologies/chic” abortion clinic to Atlanta

By Dave Andrusko

Two years ago, when we last we wrote about Carafem, it had garnered what any start up enterprise most wants–publicity–and loads of it. Its owners had located just outside Washington, DC and promised (as the Washington Post put it delicately) “a ‘spa-like’ experience for women with a very open and unabashed approach to pregnancy termination.”

“Open and unabashed” is one way of describing Carafem’s “services.” A less charitable, but far more honest assessment, is that it represented the latest extension of the hey-abortion-is-no-big-deal mantra that gives us women uploading their abortions onto YouTube [Emily Letts], unfunny “comedies” about casual hook-up/abortions [“Obvious Child”], and a defiant insistence that having an abortion is “as moral as the decision to have a child” (the feminist poet Katha Pollitt).

Carafem started with ads at Metro stations but when that ran into resistance, “Carafem put the same ad on a billboard truck and had it driven around the city,” according to Max Blau in a post that ran this week.

So what’s new, what’s the hook for an update of an abortion clinic that offered “wood floors and a natural wood tone on the walls that recalls high-end salons such as Aveda,” according to the Post’s Sandhya Somashekhar, a place where “Appointments, offered evenings and weekends, can be booked online or via a 24-hour hotline”?

It’s all in the headline for Blau’s story: “A provocative abortion clinic opens in the Bible Belt, with no apologies.”

Get it? Carafem not only“ embrace[s] an unapologetic brand of women’s health care, and they launched it with an in-your-face advertising campaign,” Blau tells us, it is extending its enterprise practically into the buckle of the Bible Belt–Atlanta. (I exaggerate, but only slightly.) How “unapologetic”?

“We want to be really out loud about what we do,” said Melissa Grant, Carafem’s vice president of health services, as she sat inside one of the clinic’s exam rooms. Then she echoed the slogan on another of Carafem’s provocative pink ads: “Abortion. Yeah, we do that.”

Remember, this is the same company that tastelessly coined the phrase “the 10-week-after pill” for its chemical abortions, “and even has turned that slogan into a Twitter hashtag,” Blau writes. “Another ad depicts a text exchange in which one friend casually suggests abortion to another. All the ads grab attention with that eye-popping shade of Carafem pink.”

So Carafem’s marketing strategy is to establish tony abortion clinics where (as Blau put it) “Pamphlets with abortion and birth control information as well ibuprofen, antibiotics, and the abortion pill mifepristone are available at the clinic in Atlanta.”

The message of these side-by-side pamphlets? Abortifacients, birth control pills, or glorified aspirin, what’s the diff? All fall under the rubric “health experience.”

Here’s Blau again:

Carafem’s clinic has a chic aesthetic that includes pink plush chairs in exam rooms and framed photos of smiling millennials fit for a magazine spread. Clinic staffers offer patients tea and snacks.

“We want this to be the best health experience you’ve ever had,” Grant said. “Not just the best women’s experience you’ve ever had.

Carafem has great appeal for the usual suspects. “This is putting abortion rights on the offensive,” said a hopeful Elizabeth Nash, senior states issues manager for the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Blau concludes

Carafem officials say the tactic works — and it’s one they think will resonate throughout the South. Earlier this month, the nonprofit opened a third location in Augusta, Ga., about 10 miles from the South Carolina border. They hope the new clinic, like the first two, will make it easier for more pregnant women to say, “Abortion. Yeah, we do that.”

Of course this is the triumph of hope over experience, a desire to bury the ugliness of annihilating your own child in an “eye-popping shade of Carafem pink.”

It simply won’t work, except in the rarest cases. Why? In the words of pro-life Georgia state Senator Renee Unterman , because “You can’t put lipstick on a pig.”