There’s a great post on Love, Joy, Feminism dealing with the images that anti-abortionists like to bandy about. Now, before you go any further, I urge you to go and read Libby Anne’s post and take a good, long, hard look at the images included. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
The images shown are all infants or fetuses in the later stages of pregnancy, they are all white and they are all perfect. There isn’t a club foot, cleft lip or any other defect to be seen. No babies suffering the effects of the Zika virus or anencephaly (you may be a little disturbed by the image you see there, so be careful). Not a whiff of Tay-Sachs to be found. In other words, every child is perfect and beautiful.
If we did an induction the nurse would wrap the baby up ever so carefully for viewing, but sometimes the birth defects were so much that we presented hand prints and foot prints or a face carefully swaddled to show the chin or whatever part looked perfect. It takes a special kind of nurse to do this and they did it with such tenderness. However, as the doctor it was left to me to explain why we thought it best they not look. All the things no one knows how to do or wants to do are left to the doctor. Do you show a woman that her baby really is a cyclops? I know she knows because she told you between sobs when she called, or rather her husband did because she was crying so hard she couldn’t speak anymore. But is that the image I should lock in her brain for the rest of her life or the five toes? You just do the best you can. I like to think that my patients knew that.
The entire post is worth a read, but this really stood out to me. It’s as if those who completely and totally oppose abortion believe that a woman wakes up one morning just before her due date and says, “Screw this. Morning sickness sucks so I’m terminating my pregnancy.” This road is a difficult one to journey and the decision isn’t made lightly. But to those who would outlaw abortion, the idea that children–who are “gifts from god”, of course–aren’t perfect little packages of unmarred flesh is something to be whitewashed, hand-waved away. They don’t exist but if they do, it’s a cognitive disability such as Down’s Syndrome or mental retardation which is easier on the eyes.
The truth isn’t so beautiful. It’s harsher and colder and sometimes extremely bitter. It’s also something that some people wouldn’t want to slap on a protest poster.