Lindsey Tanner, writer for the Associated Press, recently penned an article regarding women who have had abortions and how they feel about them nowadays. Unfortunately, what could’ve been a truly interesting article yielded extremely disappointing results.
She patronizingly begins the article with, “They say they say they were using birth control, but it failed.”
Tanner dramatically hits return twice, then goes on to list the four women whom she interviewed: one whose partner didn’t want a child, one who became pregnant as result of a married man’s affair, one whose health was at risk due to the pregnancy and another who opted out of having an abortion after speaking to a doctor. She goes on to describe all the troubles that come with these sad little stories regarding women who had difficulties with their abortion processes and aftermath, whether it was because of protesters being overall dicks or clinics giving false information in an effort to sway the women’s opinions. Tanner, though I assume she was trying to provide some dramatic, pseudo-realistic take on what women go through post-abortion, mostly made it appear as though as women who have abortions are both depressed and depressing.
I was mildly excited, though, that one of the doctors she quotes made an almost decent point:
“There’s this false idea that certain types of women have abortions and different types of women have babies,” says bioethicist and gynecologist Dr. Lisa Harris. “They’re really the same types of women at different points in their lives.”
Yes, Dr. Harris, that may be true: there are not specific types of women who have abortions and those who don’t besides… well, women who have had an abortion and those who have not, which is about as telling about a human being’s personality and “type” as women who like flutes and those who don’t (pro-fifes). But that also implies women who have abortions are simply not ready to have children and will at a later point in their lives. Knowing multiple relatives and friends who have zero children and desire as many, I don’t think that all women who have abortions are just waiting for the right moment.
Oddly enough, she found all of the women off a site called “After Abortion” which is full of stories about womenseeking support regarding their abortions. Shockingly, women who go to an online community for assistance and comfort regarding their abortions, including some who describe themselves as having “Post Abortion Stress Syndrome, are not necessarily going to tell you the more positive abortion stories are that definitely exist.
The women spoke by phone and email on condition of anonymity for privacy reasons, and because of shame, concern over hurting loved ones, or fear of harassment from abortion foes. AP verified their names, ages, locations, and abortion circumstances as much as possible through a public records database, phone calls and other sources.
Well, of course they don’t want to reveal too much about themselves. First of all, it’s typically awkward to provide a stranger with personal details about your body and actions, particularly when actions–that pertain to nobody besides you (and your partner, often)–are delightfully scrutinized and practically screamed from a megaphone by anti-choicers who love a good ol’ bullying fest for women who have made choices they find displeasing.
In fact, fellow The Gloss writer Amanda Chatel wrote the story I just linked, describing how her abortion positively affected her life. Despite the risks of angry anti-choice folks and their e-wrath, she attached her name to it and received a small mountain of angry comments and emails ranging from disapproval to death wishes. The Internet gets eternally mad at people who simply spell things wrong; why on earth would a woman who’s not even a public or semi-public figure want to throw herself to the Cheeto-fingered asshole wolves who type virtual death threats to strangers? So yeah, I don’t blame them for not wanting to speak to you, Tanner.
As Jezebel points out, there are tons of women that could have easily been contacted who are happy with their decisions. But that doesn’t make for fun reporting, I suppose, so she stuck to individuals whose stories are by no means the norm. Sure, Tanner relents that “they may not be typical of the majority who have abortions,” but if they aren’t typical, then why not interview people who are in the majority?
At best, it’s careless. At worst, it’s a dangerous article that the anti-reproductive rights people will undoubtedly cite.