National abortion rallies ignore pain of women, critics say

Sad Woman by George Hodan CC0 10 CNA 10 8 13 'Sad Woman' by George Hodan (CC0 1.0).

A national campaign to depict abortion as a normal and positive experience has drawn criticism for overlooking the harm that abortion causes to women and their unborn children.

“This campaign reinforces the political beliefs about the goodness of abortion without giving women a chance to be honest about how they feel about their abortion or their lost child,” said Tina Whittington, executive vice president for Students for Life of America.

The problem with “encouraging women to fit into this mold that says 'I am okay with my abortion and I feel no regrets,'” she told CNA on Oct. 30, is that “it takes away their rights to feel regret, loss or sadness.”

“This is part of the reason why it takes women so long to seek help” for counseling after an abortion, Whittington continued. Rather than dealing with the pain they experience, women feel pressured to “stand behind a message point.”

Ultimately, she said, the campaign tells women, “We don't care about your complicated emotional or psychological health, all we care about is getting this political agenda moved forward.”


Whittington responded to a nationwide effort to re-energize the abortion movement in the U.S., led by Advocates for Youth and supported by other groups including NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

The campaign has involved the coordination of more than 130 events in some 30 states and 100 college campus in order to promote abortion access and oppose regulations on abortion.

At the center of the campaign is an effort to “destigmatize abortion and promote access” by promoting stories showing abortion as a normal and positive experience for women. The initiative centers on the findings from a 2011 survey from the Guttmacher Institute stating that 1 in 3 women in the United States would have an abortion by the age of 45.

However, pro-life advocates noted that the campaign fails to take into account the stories of women who have had traumatic or negative experiences from their abortions, nor does it mention the children who were adopted after their mothers chose life in difficult and challenging situations.

“Many of these 1 in 3 are deeply wounded and struggle daily with the decision they made or were coerced into,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List.

Overlooking these stories is overlooking the well-being of these women, she said.

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“This is just another example of how pro-abortion forces put the institution of abortion above the wellbeing of individual women.”

Dannenfelser told CNA that “post-abortive women who speak out about their experiences have been instrumental in encouraging other mothers to choose life and winning hearts and minds to the pro-life cause.”

One of the rallies, held Oct. 28 in Washington, D.C., featured comments from Advocates for Youth president Deb Hauser, who explained that “every good story that mobilizes needs a villain.”

According to rally organizers, one of the purposes of the event was to fight those who would “shame” women who have had abortions. A poem read at the rally criticized individuals who pray near abortion clinics, saying that they express “judgment” and oppose “freedom.”

Dannenfelser explained that the campaign is pushing for abortion to “be normalized in our society.”

But ultimately, she stressed, “the pro-life argument that there are two unique people – a mother and a child – at the center of every abortion decision will always win out.”

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