Why Bust Abortion Stigma?

September 7, 2019 marks the date of Reclaim’s FIRST annual fundraiser, Busting Stigma: A Burlesque Show! It promises to be a night of magic, storytelling, and burlesque, but why do we need to bust abortion stigma?

Ever since abortion was legalized across the United States, there has been a systematic effort to eliminate access to abortions. Mandatory waiting periods, six-week and method bans, and most recently, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws are examples of these restrictions. They are put in place to make people who seek abortion care jump through unnecessary hoops in order to have a legal and constitutionally protected procedure. They also penalize those who perform abortions. These restrictions make abortion harder to access (impossible for some) without making it any safer. That’s right, these restrictions do NOTHING BUT CREATE OBSTACLES for pregnant people seeking abortion.

So, if the majority of Americans (54%) believe that abortion should be legal in most cases, how is it that abortion opponents have been able to stack state courts and legislatures with anti-abortion folks bound and determined to eliminate access to this NECESSARY AND SAFE medical procedure through restrictive laws? Here is what we know:

  1. Most people do not understand the gravity of the abortion restrictions. These laws use tricky language that sound good at the surface; however, when we dig deeper, the reality of the restriction presents itself.

    • Example: Michigan has a MANDATED, 24-hour waiting period. This law requires that people seeking abortion schedule their appointment as well as receive written and verbal information at least a full 24 hours before their appointment. On the surface, the waiting period is intended to give pregnant people the time to become fully informed on their choices. Great, right? WRONG! Let’s start with the assumption that pregnant people need time mandated by the government to consider their options. This section was obviously written by someone who has NEVER taken a pregnancy test. Those who have, know that the 5 minutes it takes for a pregnancy test to process are longer than Microwave Minutes! Most pregnant people know how they want to proceed with their pregnancy before the second line appears on the stick.  As for the written information, 67% of the statements made about abortion and fetal development in the first trimester of Michigan’s State Mandated Paperwork are inaccurate, and it can be difficult to obtain. Michigander’s seeking abortion can get their paperwork from a provider, faxed to them, or online. For some, picking up the paperwork is a challenge because they have a job, don’t have transportation, or live out of state. These folks seek to get the paperwork online. The State of Michigan intentionally makes this paperwork difficult to find with multiple steps of the same inaccurate information. Don’t believe it? View the steps here and get to the confirmation page. As far as faxing goes—most people don’t have access to a fax machine or don’t feel comfortable receiving 15 pages of abortion related information at their employer; therefore, this option is rarely used. To summarize, the State Mandated 24-hour waiting period is riddled with inaccurate statements, difficult to get, and unnecessary, yet it prevents many people from getting the care they need. This is just ONE of the HUNDREDS of abortion restrictions across the country that prevent people from obtaining abortions.

  2.    Opponents of abortion control the rhetoric. Even within the abortion rights movement, supporters use language that paint anti-abortion advocates in a positive light. They get to be “pro-life” while the opposite is assumed to be “pro-death,” but only one of these groups is advocating for paid maternity leave, affordable childcare and healthcare for all (not anti-abortion folks btw). They get to “save babies” while doing NOTHING that amounts to helping low-income folks afford another child (yes, another because 4 out 5 people who have an abortion are already mothers). They say that Planned Parenthood promotes black genocide, while refusing to look at the systemic effects of racism and poverty contributing to the abortion rates in the United States. They wonder if the aborted “unborn” person could have cured cancer, while ignoring the person seeking abortion so that they can continue earning their medical degree. The unborn are the most convenient group to advocate for because they exist in a fantasy that does not include the realities of the society we all live in.  

  3.  Those who’ve had abortions are stigmatized by this rhetoric and shamed into silence. One in four people who can get pregnant will have an abortion before the age of 45. We all know someone who’s had an abortion. In most cases, it is someone we love. The power of abortion opponents comes when those who have had abortions are silenced and shamed by the stigma of the procedure. That silence is debilitating, but once we all realize that abortion is the freedom to control our own path, we must celebrate those who come forward and talk about their abortions!

Busting Stigma combines abortion storytelling and burlesque to help bust abortion stigma! Reclaim works every day to advocate for accurate abortion information in our legislature and our community. Our MI WIN Fund helps people afford abortions. Tickets are on sale now so join us on Saturday 9/7/19 at Tangent Gallery in Detroit for Busting Stigma: A Burlesque Show!