Silent no more, indeed

Recently, I was interviewed by World magazine, which for lack of a better term is a Christian version of Time, for an article about Silent No More, the organization that basically encourages women to blame abortion for everything that’s gone wrong in their lives. When the request first came back in February I was rather skeptical, this being the first time I’d been approached by a publication that I was pretty sure was not pro-choice (/sarcasm). However, Lynn Vincent, who is World‘s feature editor, did a lot to set me at ease, offering to conduct the interview via e-mail so I could make sure I wasn’t misquoted and then asking some pretty thoughtful questions. Only about half the interview was printed, but still the overall tone I wanted to convey got through. Here’s the article.

Needless to say, I’m not Silent No More’s biggest fan. I think it’s a hugely exploitative group, trotting out damaged women who weep seemingly on cue and then crowing “See, see? Look what abortion did!” Georgette Forney is no better than Sally Jesse Raphael in my opinion. When you see her at SNM rallies, her eyes practically glitter with glee as she watches the women sob. I’ve had no direct contact with Georgette, but I have with Denise Mountenay, who runs the SNM show up in Canada. Denise likes to run newspaper ads that read “Have you been damaged by abortion and want to talk about it?” followed by an 800 number. Again, I’m reminded of the shills for talk shows-“Is your pre-teen daughter dressing like a slut? Call us!”

Denise and SNM were the focus of the Canadian television piece that I also participated in. Deb Goodwin, the producer of the piece, sent me a videotape of the piece about a month ago, and I sat down with a group of my friends to watch it. Admittedly, Denise puts on a good show. She’s kind-looking and speaks softly, making sure that her cross necklace is on full display at all times. The question that I was waiting for the reporter to ask-which she never did-was “Why is it that not one of you seemed to regret your abortions until after you’d had a religious conversion?” I have yet to see someone participating in SNM who during their recitation doesn’t say something about “being saved.” Georgette Forney by her own admission did not regret hers until she “gave her life to Christ” at 35. Denise Mountenay? Same thing.

Do some women regret their abortions? I have no doubt that they do, and despite accusations to the contrary I’ve always acknowledged that. But SNM in a lot of ways reminds me of the rash of “suppressed memories” stories that came out in the nineties. People would be depressed and someone would suggest that they’d been sexually molested as children but just didn’t remember it, and aha! The light came on! SNM seems to work on the same principle. “You’re a woman, you’re depressed … oh, you had an abortion? Well, there you go, honey, there’s your answer, because abortion is OMG TEH EVIL and no decent God-fearing woman would EVER want to have one! It was that jerk you married who made you have one, wasn’t it? You WANTED to be a mommy but you just didn’t know it! Here, come talk in Washington and educate these poor misguided people who don’t believe that every woman secretly longs to carry every pregnancy to term!” It’s become so acceptable to dump on abortion, so fashionable to blame everyone but yourself for your decisions, that no one blinks an eye when SNM brings out their Parade of Victims.

Abortion is such an intensely personal decision that it makes me furious when people like Denise Mountenay and Georgette Forney say that we should outlaw abortion because it’s obvious that it’s a bad experience. I had an absolutely awful experience with a root canal in my teens, enough so it put me totally off dentists for more time than I care to admit to. But do I go around telling people that they shouldn’t have root canals, which are also routinely maligned? Of course not. SNM thinks that it empowers and helps women, but in actuality it oppresses them and punishes them. It says “well, everyone knows women can’t think for themselves or make their own decisions, see what happens when they do? They get all depressed and kill babies! You need to have Big Daddy In The Sky/Your All-Knowing All-Seeing Pastor to guide you!”

But weeping women bring the ratings and the money because everyone enjoys watching other people’s misery, and that’s what it’s all about.