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Caroline Farrow: Abortion is nothing to shout about


In an attempt to seize the moral high ground following the series of gruesome exposures from the Centre for Medical Progress which revealed the reality of abortion, feminists have hit on a canny wheeze. Realising that they can’t defend the indefensible, they have instead taken the only option open to them and changed the subject.

Thus we see what is perhaps one of the most obscene hashtags ever to grace the narcissism that is Twitter in #shoutyourabortion.

Never mind about the unborn child; all that matters is that women are able to celebrate and glorify their decision to kill their unborn child. 

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media has joined in the sickening and sycophantic chorus with MTV, a channel predominantly aimed at young people, reporting the hashtag sympathetically, with even the once sensible Daily Telegraph joining in. Women should be able to talk about this ‘standard medical procedure’ without guilt and shame.

All of which highlights the dissonance and defensiveness of the feminists. If abortion is ‘just a standard medical procedure’ why the need to even discuss it? It’s pretty much available on demand up until the point of 24 weeks in the UK. Parliament got extremely queasy and lacked the backbone explicitly to outlaw sex-selective abortion just a few short months ago, so what’s your beef girls? Why do you feel the need to shout about your abortion?

Abortion is such a loaded topic precisely because it ends the life of an unborn child. It might be a medical procedure, but it is rarely a life-saving  one. 

I wouldn’t feel the need to discuss my colposcopy or caesarian sections, which were both necessary standard medical procedures, around the water cooler, so why does abortion need to be treated any differently? If there’s stigma and shame it’s because medical procedures and surgery are very intimate experiences. I don’t tend to tell people the ins and outs of my gynaecological history, simply because to do so would be to transgress acceptable boundaries of polite and professional conversation. 

You may feel the need to emote about your own empowering experience of disposing of your unborn child, but have you stopped to consider whether or not the person you are speaking to has ever had to grapple with the pain of miscarriage or infertility? Or indeed the regret and grief many women who have had abortions go on to experience? 

The feminists talk about the freedom to choose but what kind of freedom is it that requires the death of unborn children? What kind of freedom demands that the bodies of babies be ‘put to good use’? What kind of freedom seeks to impose the death of children as being the only acceptable opinion? 

Since we are all being encouraged to shout about our abortions, I could shout about mine. It didn’t feel like free choice, but the only option I believed then was available to me, a message which was reinforced by the extremely partial counsellor at the clinic and the false reassurances she gave me.

I won’t however, for the very reason I gave above –  that oversharing violates one’s own personal dignity but is often also uncomfortable for the other party involved.

Suffice it to say I was neither warned about nor prepared for what I was to go through. To say it was not nice would be the understatement of the year. It was shocking.

Nor was I ever told what happened to my baby – was he or she she dissected and discarded for research purposes? I will never know.

The only shout I am going to allow myself to make  is that almost immediately after the procedure I bitterly regretted what I had done. I felt empty and desolated, feelings that were followed by years of regret, and despite the children I have subsequently given birth to, there is every now and then a dull ache when I contemplate the child I lost to abortion.

I have not suffered  stigma and shame except at the hands of some  ‘pro-choicers’ who mistakenly wished to identify me as a hypocrite and gleefully ‘outed’ me in order to tarnish a non-existent image of me as being a good Catholic.

Ironically, the only shaming in play in #shoutyourabortion is that which seeks to silence women such as myself who exhibit the wrong emotional response to their abortion or those who hold the inconvenient view that all humanity ought to be accorded the basic right to life. Attack is always the best form of defence. Why listen or engage when you can shout?

Wherever you stand on abortion, it is always a tragedy – for mother and baby alike. That feminists would have us (and themselves) believe that it is an achievement or accomplishment to be glorified and celebrated shows how out of touch they are with the rest of us. Not to mention how needy. If abortion was your personal choice, and nothing more than a medical procedure, then why do you need to shout at the world for validation?

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Caroline Farrow
Caroline Farrow
Columnist for the Catholic Universe

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