Increasingly abortion advocates acknowledge the child
“Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions. So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies and making adoption more available and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term.”
Can you guess whose words these are? Stumped? Try another one.
“I believe we can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women. Often, it’s a failure of our system of education, health care and preventive services. It’s often a result of family dynamics. This decision is a profound and complicated one; a difficult one, often the most difficult that a woman will ever make. The fact is that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.”
Two of the world’s most vocal pro-abortion politicians are probably not the first to come to mind, but the astonishing truth is that these words were spoken by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, respectively. Yet why would a self-styled “pro-choice” politician like Obama even bother to say them? Who could possibly be fooled by such language into believing Obama has ever considered attempting to do anything other than implement policies that would increase abortion rates in the U.S. and the world?
This is not a rhetorical question. One answer is provided by Giovanni Maria Vian, editor-in-chief of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper. Here is his reaction to the part on abortion in Obama’s Notre Dame commencement address, as quoted above: “What I want to stress is simply the fact that yesterday, on this very sensitive issue, the U.S. president has again said that the launch of a new abortion law is not a priority of his administration. And that fact has comforted me greatly. I am also clear in my conviction: Obama is not a pro-abortion president.”
Those two quotes from Obama and Clinton are excellent examples of a shift we are seeing in abortion-friendly rhetoric; a change from the unequivocal demands for the hallowed “freedom of choice” that has characterized pro-abortion language until recent times. This new rhetoric allows for, and even focuses on, the negative causes and consequences of abortion with a level of honesty rarely seen beyond the confines of the pro-life community. It is a method of dealing with the thorny issue of abortion that has been increasingly adopted by abortionists, social commentators and politicians alike.
Beleaguered pro-lifers may be tempted to view this as a positive development in the abortion debate, but the unfortunate truth is that at best, it is a mixed blessing and, at worst, a particularly effective blind for anti-life activities. It is, as Interim editor Paul Tuns describes it, “Lady Macbeth hand-wringing.” While this revolutionary approach has seeped its way up to the highest political levels in recent years, one could trace its origin back two decades, into the heart of the abortion industry, on a day in 1980 when abortionist Charlotte Taft discovered to her surprise that abortion was not as nice as she had supposed.
Taft had decided to give her patients a follow-up questionnaire, an unusual practice in the abortion industry and, when the results came back, they were not what she expected. According to her, “Most of the patients who we worked with were feeling good and relieved and happy and were going on with their lives, but a percentage of them were not OK. I was so completely surprised and blown away that I put that questionnaire in a drawer. It took me two or three years to even figure out how to think about it again, because I didn’t know what to do. This did not match my pro-choice message of ‘Everybody’s fine, it’s just tissue.’ I needed to help these women work through their feelings.”
While it would be interesting to know just how long the percentage of “happy” customers remained that way, the other percentage of “not OK” customers was apparently large enough that, once Taft had taken the “two or three years” to recover from the shock, she began to do something about it. Together with a small, informal group of abortionists who called themselves the “November Gang,” Taft began to re-think the most commonly used “pre-operative informed consent model” of counselling at abortuaries (recognized by pro-lifers as the sales pitch) and, in its place, developed a new model called “single encounter relational counselling,” sometimes called “head and heart” counselling.
Abortionist Peg Johnston of Southern Tier Women’s Services in Vestal, N.Y., another founding member of the November Gang, is quoted in an article for AlterNet.org by Jennifer Baumgardner as talking about the impetus for creating this new model. During the heyday of Randall Terry’s Operation Rescue, she became bothered by all the women who were expressing concerns that they were killing their baby.
She says, “Frequently, they were already mothers and they knew a time when, at that same stage of pregnancy, they had welcomed the life and felt like it was their baby. They weren’t mouthing an anti-choice message – they were acknowledging that this was serious stuff … I felt like they needed a place to say the worst and then work their way to the rightness of their decision. Some were on a journey to realize the power and responsibility of being a mother, which is that sometimes it’s the power of saying ‘no’ to a life.”
What is so revolutionary about this model is that it actually recognizes the existence of a negative side to abortion and the need for healing among patients. It is an attempt by abortionists to heal their own victims and the results can be quite bizarre and disturbing.
According to this model, patients meet with an abortuary counsellor prior to their abortions and are allowed to unload any negative feelings they may have about their circumstances and the upcoming procedures. Daryl Chen of Glamour magazine wrote a long, and ultimately sympathetic, article about this new model as applied at abortionist Clair Keyes’ Alleghany Reproductive Health Centre in Pennsylvania.
He reported this exchange between Keyes and her patient, Tanya: “On her chart, Tanya has indicated concerns related to her religious beliefs. She says she goes to church every Sunday and she worries that she’s committing a sin. ‘I’m killing my baby,’ she says matter-of-factly. ‘Will God forgive me?’ In response, Keyes gently asks her, ‘Do you think there are any things that God considers completely unforgivable?’ Tanya thinks for a moment and shakes her head no.”
The most sinister element of this new approach is an ever-increasing tolerance for the idea that the child in the womb is indeed a human being, but that its murder is perfectly justified. The abortion industry appears to be losing the debate over the humanity of the fetus, because the reality is undeniable to an informed individual, especially as technology advances our understanding of the development of the child.
Sections of the abortion industry have, therefore, been adapting to this greater understanding by raising the level of ambiguity and emotional reasoning in the content of their arguments and rationalizations. At Keyes’ Allegheny abortuary, women are encouraged to write letters to their aborted children on pieces of paper in the shape of pink hearts, which are then posted up on the wall. One example is provided.
Male partners are encouraged to write similar letters in a journal in the waiting room. One man wrote, “But know this, I would’ve been the best father I possibly could. Who knows, you could’ve been my big-league pitcher or my little ballerina … I wish things were different, but this is the right, responsible decision.” He finishes with, “I love you – Daddy.”
Keyes said that in counselling sessions, “I’ve seen lots of men of all different ages weeping for the loss of their child and some of them weeping for the pain that the woman’s going to have to go through, emotionally and physically.” The pro-abortion online counselling resource called Exhale provides e-cards for people to send a patient after they have had an abortion. One of them reads, “There are no words to express my sympathy for your loss. As you grieve, remember that you are loved. I am thinking of you.”
It is a strange, strange, psyche that can produce such self-contradictory thinking, but it only gets stranger.
Keyes explains on her website the option patients have of creating “some personal way to put the pregnancy to rest.” These include “something as simple as lighting a candle to something more complicated like creating a whole ceremony. Our own culture in the U.S. has a variety of funeral rituals and borrowing from one of them may be just what you are looking for.” A link is provided that presents ideas from New Age practices.
Recently murdered abortionist George Tiller offered such services as early 1996, in a process he called the “identification and separation” encounter, which he explained in a recorded presentation: “Now, you may have a baptism if you wish. You may have a baptismal certificate. If you so desire, we can give you our certificate of premature miscarriage. We can take a lock of hair, if you wish. You may have fetal footprints, if you wish. We can do about whatever it is that you would like to have done …we will bring the baby to you … You may hold the baby. We can take pictures of you and the family holding the baby, if you wish … The difficult part of the process is saying goodbye to the relationship that you have with your baby.”
As an interesting side note, the Japanese have their own version of this phenomenon. Abortion is extremely ubiquitous in Japan. In response to the sense of pain and guilt this has inflicted on the majority of its citizens, millions have turned to the comfort of Jizo, a newly popular bodhisattva in the Buddhist religion, whose controversial cult is influenced by medieval Japanese folk practices and Shinto beliefs. By performing a ceremony called mizuko kuyo they hope to aid their aborted, miscarried or stillborn children in passing over the river separating the world of the living from that of the dead.
The cult of Jizo may be popular in Japan, but no doubt the reader is wondering about the West. How popular are practices like “head and heart” counselling? The ever-pragmatic and business-like Planned Parenthood Federation of America has expressed little to no interest in adopting methods that could prompt its customers to think twice about aborting, as members of the November Gang have admitted does occur.
However, on the website of Peg Johnston’s Southern Tier Women’s Services, abortuaries in 15 states are listed as sharing a similar philosophy, including Tiller’s no-longer-existent Kansas facility. Links to 11 organizations are also provided, including www.pregnancyoptions.info, which was started by Johnston herself. Baumgardner claims in her article that the workbook written by Johnston and published by Pregnancy Options is “used at hundreds of clinics for counselling.”
There are no hard numbers available, mainly because counselling methods in abortuaries are informal, unstructured and entirely up to the discretion of each site director. It is safe to assume, however, that these revolutionary methods and approaches are seeping throughout the industry at a scale large enough to be considered an important new factor in the evolution of the abortion debate.