Facebook users are using their best keyboard warrior tactics to fight over a viral post on abortion. A mother, who we will not identify, shared a photo on Facebook of an ultrasound. Instead of the ultrasound being used to announce her pregnancy, the post shared her choice to abort the fetus. The comment sections on her post went wild. The viral post has more than 15,000 shares sparking a wild debate on the normalization of abortion.
In the post uploaded on December 11th, the mother shares the photo of the ultrasound. Attached to the picture, is a piece of paper that says, “Baby #4 11/4/2018 – 12/11/2018.”
Under the photo the mother wrote the following caption:
“Baby, I loved you with all my heart but you just weren’t meant to be with us right now. We’re going through a lot and you deserved all the love in the world. Your brother and sister would’ve loved you too. Rest Easy baby love. You’ll never be forgotten. � 11/4/18-12/11/18 ��#Abortion”
Following the photo upload, people quickly began commenting on the photo. Individuals connected to the mother told her she was tacky, trashy, and f’d up for glorifying abortion.
Friends of the mother went straight for her jugular with some of the comments. Some accused the mother of only having the abortion so she could drink on her 21st birthday. Others assumed the mother posted the photo for attention and that she didn’t care about the baby.
As the hate comments poured onto her page, others took the time to stick up for the mother. Knowing the abortion may have been a difficult choice, friends offered their respects to the mother and unborn child. Others used their best fighting words to fight off the trolls.
Even a friend that was pro-life felt the attacks against the mother were unwarranted and heartless.
The commentary on the mother’s post spread far beyond the mother’s timeline. Because the mother posted the photo publically, word began circulating Facebook about the picture. Soon thousands of people started sharing the photo on their timelines and in groups.
Through some investigation, I located the photo in at least three groups. The groups ranged in size from 14,000 users to over 75,000 users. As the photo spread, the debate about the picture continued to elicit heated and at times hostile discussions.
Pro-life individuals found the photo distasteful and a glorification of murder. Even pro-choice women found the picture heartless, attention seeking and tacky. Pro-choice women against the photo said, “abortions should be kept private.”
People within the groups went into the mother’s profile to take screenshots of comments she had previously made. They accused the mother of being trashy, disrespectful, and some called her a murderer.
Others took time to defend the mother. These individuals found the mother’s photo to be courageous, brave, and a way to normalize abortion.
The argument between the sides outlines the heated nature of abortion. In 2018, abortion has been legal for more than 40 years in the United States. However, legislation around the country is making an abortion harder to obtain for women.
For example, in the state of Tennessee suspended the Nashville Planned Parenthood for quality control issues. If women in Tennessee need or want to obtain an abortion, they will be forced to travel more than 200 miles away to Knoxville.
In Ohio, lawmakers passed a bill to prohibit abortions once a fetus develops a heartbeat. The bill passed by the House wanted the ban to begin at six weeks gestation. However, the Ohio Senate amended the bill to extend the period to 12 weeks gestation. The law will now go to Governor John Kasich for review. Kasich vetoed similar legislation in 2016.
Dozens of states have made so many restrictions on abortion, that women are forced to travel out of state if they wish to have one. In Indiana, for example, abortions are not legal after 20 weeks gestation.
All of the attempted legal changes by legislatures, like the one in Ohio, are written as a way to push legal cases to the Supreme Court. With the U.S. Supreme Court recently swinging conservative with the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, pro-life advocates hope to force the Supreme Court to ban abortions.
Despite the growing pressure to restrict and prohibit abortions, abortion is not illegal. When the Supreme Court upheld Roe vs. Wade, the federal government ruled that abortions are a legal right for pregnant women.
As long as abortions remain legal, women in all 50 states have constitutional rights to abort their unborn fetus. Even though abortion is legal, women that choose to have an abortion face considerable criticism.In a study published in Women’s Health Issues in 2011, the study discussed research surrounding the stigma of abortion. The authors of the paper theorized that stigma surrounding abortions exists for the following reasons:
- It violates “feminine ideals” of womanhood,
- Technological advancements have facilitated personification of the fetus,
- Legal restrictions reinforce the notion that abortion is morally wrong,
- Abortion is viewed as dirty or unhealthy, and
- Anti-abortion forces have found stigma a powerful tool.
Through the study, the authors found that 2 out of 3 women that have abortions anticipate shame by others learning about the abortion. One study showed that 58% of women felt they had to keep their abortion a secret from friends and family. 17% of women said they had to keep the secret from healthcare providers. All of the women said they felt if they told anyone that they feared the harsh judgment by others.
The studies conducted indicated that the stigma of abortion could also delay women choosing to abort promptly.
Additionally, the stigma of abortion also extends to people that support abortion choice. The study found that there are wide held beliefs within society that some abortions are more justified than others. Abortions related to fetal abnormalities, sexual assault, or for very young women/girls are more socially acceptable.
Knowing that research and data support the stigmatization of abortion, the response of strangers to the mother is not unexpected.
When pro-choice individuals decide that abortion is only acceptable in certain instances, mothers that choose abortion for personal reasons face harsh judgment.
If a mother makes a choice not to have a baby because she doesn’t want to have the child, the mother is vilified and judged harshly.
By sharing the status, the mother attempted to come out of the shadows and not keep her abortion secret. Despite hateful words and messages from strangers, the mother held her ground. She fiercely defended her right to have an abortion for no other reason than it was her right to make that choice.
If pro-choice allies hope to change the stigma of abortion, we must be willing to accept that women have abortions for dozens of reasons. Even if we don’t agree with their rationalization, pro-choice women must support other women for their legal right to chose.
Additionally, we must shift how we talk about abortion. Women that choose to abort a child should not feel as though they cannot speak about abortion. Forcing a woman to remain silent can increase their feelings of shame, depression, and guilt associated with the choice.
The only way we can progress in society is by allowing women to feel safe in sharing their stories.
Normalizing the discussion around abortion allows women that go through them to process their grief, guilt, and sadness.
No woman deserves to live in darkness and hide her legal right to choose.
Please let these women speak and share their stories.
The mother’s message later that day perfectly sums up why posts like these are necessary for anyone that is thinking about or has chosen to have an abortion.
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