September 6, 2010
Abortion & Life by Jennifer Baumgardner Selected Quotes Photographs by Tara Todras-Whitehill
Jennifer Baumgardner, pregnant on Left
Gillian Aldrich, producer/creator of I Had an Abortion “By creating a T-shirt so many would see as offensive, the pro-choice movement has intentionally sought to outrage the Christian Right.” p. 174.*
Front: I had an abortion.
Abortion & Life by Jennifer Baumgardner, a pro-abortion feminist, was written in 2008 and published by Akashic Books.
The book begins with a pull quote from Loretta Ross,
The defensiveness that the pro-choice movement has is well-earned. We’ve been shot at, picketed, fought every step. But I’m very glad that the conversation is changing.
Image and imaging are important. The coat hanger “doesn’t evoke memories of barriers that women faced.” P. 10
The book is presented as an even handed “conversation” but devolved by page 10 to ad hominem argument, of, “The fleshy pink faces of Senator Jesse Helms and Representative Henry Hyde…”
The “current symbol of reproductive freedom…?” Could be, “Angels’ wings, to indicate the thousands of women who have abortions and yet believe that a fetus has a soul and is watching over them?” p. 10. Baumgardner is suggesting that the unborn baby might be an eternal being ushered from this world into the next by the “choice” of the mother. This fits with Candace C. Crandall‘s assertion that “The Fetus, Beat Us,”* where pro-aborts had to deal with the pain and loss of the “baby.” This is, of course, merely a tactic to remove or deflect the ‘harm to women’ argument advanced by the pro-lifers.
The author lists “after-abortion counseling groups like Backline and Exhale…the zine Our Truths/Nuestra Verdades to the films Silent Choices and The Abortion Diaries?” p. 11. Baumgardner could have added Racheal’s Vineyard and Silent No More to pro-life counseling services of women who suffer from the trauma of abortion.
“I’ve visited abortion clinics around the country and observed what happens to the remains of eight-week, twelve-week, and fourteen-week aborted fetuses.” P. 12 Baumgardner is silent as to what was seen. Were the remains stuffed down a garbage disposal? Treated as medical waste? Or given a decent burial?
Baumgardner asks herself, “How do women experience abortion?…Why aren’t there more after-abortion resources? And: If you admit you are sad about your abortion, does that mean abortion is wrong?” p. 13. The author asks but does not fully answer the question: If a women feels remorse after an abortion, is it possible the woman now understands that there was a living baby involved? And that the mother regrets her abortion? Polling suggests that women are concerned. Rasmussen reports that 58 per cent of women feel abortion is immoral.
“The number [of abortions] has gone down slightly in recent years…possibly linked to the virginity-abstinence movement…Lack of access and affordability have also been factors.” p. 19. This is confirmed by academic research. Abortion has an elastic demand, where the demand for a product or service is directly tied to a variable: price, 24-hour waiting periods, proximity, viewing a sonogram. (See Michael New, 2010.)
“Although it’s shortsighted, when faced with a slim deadline to raise money and make this decision, some women simply miss the window in which they can have an abortion. P. Baumgardner’s wording is misleading. A woman in the USA can have an abortion at any time even when she goes into labor. She can have an abortion with her child’s feet out of her body with only her child’s head not visible; the child can still be “terminated.” P. 19.
“Abortion is the U.S. is safe. The death rate at all stages is 0.6 per 100,000 abortions…and [is] nearly ten times as safe as carrying a pregnancy to full term.” p. 20.
“Sherri Finkbine, a young mother and television star…host of Romper Room…wanted to warn other women about the dangers of thalidomide to their pregnancies…Finkbine [traveled] to Sweden for her [abortion] procedure. P. 23 Baumgardner is silent on whether the drug thalidomide was a greater danger to pregnancy [re: baby] than abortion.
“My friend got the abortionist to agree to (re)do the procedure–this time for an additional price above his regular price, which was agreeing to his f$cking my friend right after the abortion was performed on her sister.” P. 24. Bumgardner seems to settle the debate that abortion harms women: The mother gets rid of her baby by pimping out her sister-prostitute to the abortionist. All three are without honor and, as a result, there is one less baby in the world. Ramesh Ponnura first wrote of the ‘character’ of the type of person that does the actual abortion baby-removal, “What mother rejoices in proclaiming to the world, loudly, proudly announcing, “Meet my son, The Abortionist!”…?
“The Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act…except to save the life of the mother. This marked the first time any medical procedure was banned, as well as the first time an exception for a woman’s health had been overruled.” P. 34. Baumgardner fails to note that there is no medical justification for a Partial-Birth Abortion, as C. Everett Koop, MD, has written.
“Restrictions [cause] women [to] rarely change their minds about having procedures just because they are forced to jump through hoops.” P. 34. This has been superseded by peer reviewed studies demonstrating that commonsense abortion regulation such as waiting periods reduces the numbers of abortions, suggesting that women, in fact do change their minds. (Michael New, 2010.)
“There is not a link [between having an abortion and breast cancer] at least not according to the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, or major research universities.” P. 37
“Nada L. Stotland, MD, president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association [writes] that “meticulous research shows that there is no causal relationship between abortion and mental illnesses.” P. 37.
“I started allowing myself to understand what is true for me: that I think of pregnancy as “life” but this doesn’t have to mean abortion is murder.” P. 47. This is a non sequitur and reveals the twisted backwards logic pro-abortion-choice advocates must fabricate to justify the taking of innocent human life. Indeed, the killing of a baby by the mother. Note Bumgardner’s odd use of ‘truth.’ Truth to her is not transcendent but dependent on her personal interpretation or perhaps her feelings at the moment…
“[A woman who had an abortion] realized that she…actually needed some help with the aftermath of what had turned out to be a profound experience. She began looking for after-abortion resources…All she could find to offer support were thinly disguised antiabortion groups. As a feminist, she says, “I didn’t see anything that reflected my experience” of having and sad feelings around her abortion, but not wanting to make abortion illegal.” P. 50. It is not disclosed if this woman contacted Rachel’s Vineyard or not. This group does non-judgmental post-abortion counseling.
“[A woman who had an abortion] interned at NARAL Pro-Choice California…But when she raised the issue of the lack of emotional resources for women, she was confronted with blank faces. It was, she says, as if admitting that she was struggling with her feelings meant that she wasn’t really pro-choice.” P. 50.
“Aspen Baker…in 2000…created Exhale, a nonjudgmental post-abortion talkline. In 2007, Exhale created a series of Hallmark-like e-cards that people could send to loved ones who’d had abortions–not to celebrate the abortion, but to acknowledge it and offer comfort.” P. 51.
“This shift in focus in the national conversation from “Keep your laws off my body!” to “Let’s talk about feelings and whether fetal life has value” has bee tough for the pro-choice movement…” p. 51
“Peg Johnston…operating Southern Tier Women’s Services, an independent abortion clinic [would] sit in a counseling session with a woman who’d say, “I feel like I’m killing my baby.” Johnston believes that women were genuinely struggling with the value of life and how to do the right thing and be a good person…using words like “loss” and “baby” and “killing”…” p. 53.
Baumgardner asks but does not answer, “What do you do if a patient wants to baptize the remains?” p. 54, emphasis in original.
Women who had abortions would write, “Don’t think of it as losing a baby, but as gaining a guardian angel. These were women who clearly felt relationships to their pregnancies as children, not as masses of cells.” p. 55 Italics in original.
“Emily Barklow [a college student] “struggled with feelings of deviance, selfishness, and loss [after her abortion]…Four years, lots of counseling [led her to] preparing a presentation about her experience [at a NARAL event]…I was disappointed with the lack of depth in the other presentations–all recycled coat hangers and We’ll never go back signs. I would cite this experience as my first real disconnect from the mainstream abortion rights movement.” p. 59.
“Perhaps younger women, in their own entitlement, will begin to make blasphemous statements even more loudly. The most profane is this: Why are feminists so obsessed with abortion? Some of this lingering fascination is [that] we focus on this right because it is fundamental; having the right to control our bodies is directly associated with the right to control our lives.” p. 59.
The author Baumgardner was five months pregnancy and giving a speech at Barnard College’s Students for Choice when she referred to the contents of her uterus as a “baby” instead of “fetus.” “If I said “baby” [referring to her unborn baby] that meant i wasn’t pro-choice, or with the program, or knowledgeable.” p. 60.
“Hillary Clinton…asserted her belief in [Roe v Wade] but also admitted that abortion can be “tragic” for some women…NARAL President Nancy Keenan confessed that “our community tends to run away every time somebody talks about the many emotions that come with this choice” and “we have not done enough to make people who are ‘pro-choice but struggling’ feel like they are part of this community.” p. 60.
“In March of 2007 Aspen Baker…wanted to celebrate the fact that Exhale was sending out 2,500 e-cards every month.” p. 61. Charmaine and Baker debated on CNN; pull quotes here.
“[Democrats for Life] executive director Kristen Day cites a December 2003 Zogby poll finding that forty-three percent of Democrats oppose abortion except in the case of rape or incest or to save the live of the mother…” p. 64.
“The need for abortion will never be totally eradicated, according to health activist Barbara Seaman, unless society commits to giving vasectomies to all boys after freezing their sperm, and only allowing procreation through in vitro fertilization after demonstrating sufficient income and maturity to support a child for eighteen years.” p. 65. The Alert Student would be tempted to dismiss Baumgardner for including this passage. But Seaman’s concept was advanced by Margaret Sanger who suggested, without humor, that licenses to marry and procreate be awarded to only those deemed “fit” by your local Planned Parenthood affiliate. The late Barbara Seaman is little known outside academic women’s studies programs and should remain so.
“Norma McCorvey [Roe in Roe v Wade] never actually had an abortion…” p. 70.
Baumgardner is concerned about forced adoptions, “I cried for the many women who were conned into relinquishing their children…
I cried remembering how intense it was to be pregnant and to give birth–how hormones and pain and extreme physical duress combined into what felt like a near-death experience [for her as mother-no mention of an aborted baby]. I recalled how I really understood–in my loosened pelvis, my stretched-out ribs, and the kicks to my cervix from tiny limbs–the sensitive factory that is our bodies, arduously creating another human. p. 70.
Baumgardner is lamenting the “choice” women endure when giving up a child for adoption but come precariously close to advancing a pro-life argument. This defines the schizophrenia of the abortion movement: The baby is human, the baby is a person-and the mother can terminate on a whim.
“So, can you be a feminist and pro-life? The answer is a resounding “yes.”” p. 71.
“With many of the women…giving birth seemed to preclude an investment in their own lives; it meant saying goodbye to a fellowship, to a career of their choosing, or being forced to stay in a relationship they didn’t want with the baby’s father.” P. 74. One could wonder that terminating a baby could indeed terminate a relationship: between mother and child(ren) and father(s).
“Gloria Steinem, born March 25, 1934, [could] not see any way that I could possibly give birth to someone else and also give birth to myself.” P. 79. In Steinem’s search for self, “someone else” — her baby — was sacrificed. To advance women.
Baumgardner quotes Barbara Ehrenreich, “Women do use abortion as backup nowadays, but they often don’t acknowledge it. I’m referring to women who get pregnant purposefully, for instance, but assume that legal abortion will be available as a backup should the child they’re carrying have Down’s syndrome or another abnormality they decide they can’t handle.” p. 87
Baumgardner quotes a Marion Banzhaf, a lesbian (Why do I need to know this? Why does she need to tell me?), “[After the abortion] I was thrilled…I was so happy to see the blood. I felt like my life was beginning over again…I saw a little baby in a carriage and a mom and I thought, Oh, I’m so glad that’s not me…I felt like I had control over what I was going to do with the rest of my life.” P. 90. Italics in original, bold emphasis mine.
Baumgardner quotes Giliian Aldrich, “I called my mom and said, “How could you have done that? I could have had this older brother or sister and you killed them…” p. 98. She later decided she was pro-abortion-choice.
At age 30 Gillian Aldrich was pregnant, “I had zero sentimentality, and didn’t want to even open that door [of keeping the baby]. I thought: If there is a baby in here, It’s not staying. I knew it would destroy our relationship [even though boyfriend wanted the child]. p. 99. Italics in original.
“We went to this…[abortion] clinic…The place was kind of a factory. The counseling session was a joke. I thought that there would be more of an emotional support system in the clinic itself, but there wasn’t.” p. 99.
“That Sylvia Ann Hewlett book came out [Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children]…There was something retrograde about her attitude, but her facts [demonstrating fertility declines precipitously throughout your thirties] were correct…” p. 100.
Baumgardner quotes Amy Richards, “I was…pregnant with triplets…and made the decision to have a selective reduction…a stand-alone fetus…would continue to term…[the] identical twins were aborted…instant death. After I went through the procedure, my boyfriend Peter was much more traumatized than I was, even though hospital policy didn’t allow him to witness the procedure.” p. 104 The Alert Reader might wonder, What’s to be traumatized about? It’s not a baby. It’s not human. It’s not a person. Or is it?
Richards continues, “I…speak at colleges…I meet so many girls who are trying to make sense of abortion. They really want to support abortion rights…but at the end of the day [they] just can’t say, “I’m pro-choice,” or, “I support abortion,” p. 105.
Men quoted in this book are as ambivalent about abortion as the women. A George is quoted, “For me, I think the abortion [with my girlfriend] will stand as a symbol that I thought of myself as this open, loving guy, but I wasn’t.” p. 110. Emphasis mind.
Baumgardner quotes Ani Difranco, “I want to tell women and men, “You are an animal and it is a beautiful thing.” p. 113. The pro-abortion-choice argument is revealing: human personhood is not transcendent from lower animals. Most religions hold that only humans are eternal beings with a soul. It appears that the human with the religion of feminism (where abortion is a sacrament) would have no soul.
Where do pro-abortion-choice women find these men: “He was an activist and a poet…he was having sex with me, and sometimes choking me. It was horrible.” p. 117. I am sure that the choking was terrible, I guess. But begs the question: How many times did the pro-abortion-choice poet choke you? Sometimes? Just a few times?
Baumgardner quotes a Robin Ringleka, “The doctor was very rushed and didn’t have much of a bedside manner. I was pretty terrified and I began to cry when he entered the room. This seemed to piss him off and he demanded to know why I was crying…[later] The one-year anniversary of my abortion was approaching and I was having bad dreams.” p. 125. Why do these pro-abortion-choice women have bad dreams? Why do they remember the dates of the abortion and “birthday” of the baby terminated? Can a clump of cells, a mere fetus cause so much anguish? Or is the death of a baby painful even to a woman in denial?
Ringleka continues, “I have come to believe that having an abortion can be a very motherly decision.” p. 125. Except for, maybe, her baby.
Baumgardner quotes, Jenny Egan, “I went with my boyfriend…to Planned Parenthood…I had assumed that I …would finally be able to tell someone or talk to someone about how freaked out I was, but I didn’t get to…My boyfriend started the breaking-up process the day after the abortion. He said he wanted to date other people.” p. 127.
Baumgardner wonders, “I recognize that is serious [an unborn baby might be a person], but my own life is too important to sacrifice for an unplanned pregnancy.” p. 133. This is understood to not be an act of selfishness to the pro-abortion-choice supporters.
“[A father] describes, bluntly, how a recent abortion felt “more like murder”…” p. 113.
“Inga Muscio, the author of the contempory feminist classic C@unt: A Declaration of Independence (1998) [available at bookstores everywhere]…said the surgical solution…”sucked.” After Muscio discovered herself pregnant a third time, she vowed not to go back to the clinic and “waltz with the abhorrent machine.”” p. 142.
“Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas…says: “Abortion is not a cerebral or a reproductive issue. Abortion is a matter of the heart…[U]ntil one understands the heart of a woman, nothing else about abortion makes any sense at all.” p.143. Indeed, abortion follows the emotion of the woman’s heart. The logic of the brain, less so.
Baumgardner closes Abortion & Life with a profound and profane quote from,
popular musician and activist Ani DiFranco, who has a strong appreciation of the taboos surrounding abortion, wrote a song lyric that refers to the single cell that is an egg: “To split yourself in two is just the most radical thing you can do.” Life begins in that split–transformative energy is released into the aperture. The Ani adds: “So girl if that sh!t ain’t up to you, then you simply are not free. p. 144. So there.
“By creating a T-shirt so many would see as offensive, the pro-choice movement has intentionally sought to outrage the Christian Right.” p. 174.
One wag suggested a tag line on the reverse of the t-shirt to Baumgardner,
Front: I had an abortion.
Back: Roe v. Wade–Eliminating Future Democrats One Choice at a Time. p. 174.
Baumgardner is not happy about restrictions that help make abortion rare, “Planning a Pro-Choice Event…is…one way to fight the gloom…make the Roe anniversary powerful–a day of consciousness-raising and fundraising.” p. 148. She seems unaware that hundreds of thousands from the pro-life community march in Washington, DC on the Roe anniversary, January 22, each year.
Baumgardner wants the reader to celebrate and to mark your calendars that “the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers is March 10.” p. 149.
Baumgardner refers to the Reproductive Health Blog: www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog
Thank you (foot)notes,
*Baumgardner’s opening quote is from Rebecca Hyman’s essay Full Frontal Offense: Taking Abortion Rights To The Tees.
*”The fetus beat us” has been incorrectly attributed to Naomi Wolf. She writes us in an email, “I never said The fetus, beat us. I think it is an awful phrase, would never have said something so brutal and trivializing about this issue…Thank you! Take care, Naomi wolf.”
The book was funded by pro-abortion-choice individuals and groups, Amy Ray, Merle Hoffman and the Diana Foundation, Gloria Browning, Karen Burgum and the F-M Area Foundation Women’s Fund and Roberta Schneiderman…” preface page
Gillian Aldrich directed the documentary “I Had an Abortion”… preface page
See The Fetal Hand Grasp on Charmaine Debates Abortion on CNN.