The media are all for giving voice to the voiceless, as long as the message fits their agenda. Case in point: journalists recently rushed to publicize the positive – but only the positive – stories of women who chose to abort their unborn babies.
Dozens of women shared their abortion experiences on Nov. 20 during a live-streamed Abortion Speakout hosted by Advocates for Youth’s 1 in 3 Campaign. Participants included Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, comedian Lizz Winstead and columnist Jessica Valenti.
Half a dozen outlets including The Washington Post and The Daily Beast reported on the event to praise women “who made the best decision” with “no regrets.” These stories ignore the abortion testimonies from women full of “regret” and “horror,” like those published by the Silent No More Awareness Campaign since 2003. Co-founder Georgette Forney explained to MRC Culture how these outlets “censor” and “edit” women who regret their abortions. The media are “trying to keep us quiet, all the while pretending to be representing women.”
The 1 in 3 Campaign aims to “end the stigma and shame women are made to feel about abortion” by stressing that one in three women will have an abortion during her lifetime (a statistic disputed by the pro-life movement).
Media Hype ONLY ‘Happily Ever After’ Abortions
In her anticipation of the event, The Washington Post’s Diana Reese wrote “Women will talk about their abortions Thursday, and I spoke with two of them.” While Reese stressed the trials and tribulations of those two women, she also focused on the “positive” (a recent trend at her newspaper).
To begin, Reese spoke with Marycruz Figueroa about her abortion story. Figueroa detailed how she made “the most responsible decision for all parties involved.” “I have no doubts, no regrets,” she emphasized.
Another woman, Julie Bindeman, made the “heart-breaking decision” to abort her child with a brain abnormality, Reese reported. But, after having other children, Reese consoled, “Her story has a happy ending.”
“Bruns knows that her abusive childhood, her youth, her poverty, her mental health, all explain her decision to have an abortion 20 years ago,” wrote Gordon. “But to her, they aren't justifications, because they don't need to be.”
For her part, Cosmo’s Jill Filipovic cited Jacqui Morton, a woman who aborted her baby with a “chromosomal defect.” “I couldn't have a baby and bring her into a world and a life of suffering," Morton told the magazine, which received an "Excellence in Media Award" by Planned Parenthood this past August. "If I hadn't had the abortion, I would never have met my husband.”
Although she didn’t have a story to share, MSNBC’s Irin Carmon still chimed in. Abortion access, she wrote, “remains under assault across the country, and, decades later, the procedure is still often shrouded in silence.”
Writing for the abortion-plugging Daily Beast, Brandy Zadrozny covered the event “with presenters as diverse as the stories on display.” She noted the story of Brittany Mostiller. “Yes I’ve had an abortion,” Mostiller told Zadrozny. “And yes that’s ok, yes I have a family, and yes I made the best decision for myself and my family.”
After listing women in the media who have described their abortions, Zadrozny concluded, “If the current trend towards openness about abortion continues, soon there will be very few people – regardless of ideology – who can claim not to know ‘the kind of woman’ who would have an abortion.”
The voices that are so rarely consulted, and are often shamed or shouted down when they do speak out, are the women who have actual, first hand experience with abortion. Those are the voices who should be shaping our understanding of what abortion is.
Ironically, the 1 in 3 Campaign – and these journalists themselves – shares the blame of censoring women’s stories on abortion.
The Media-Censored Stories
“Sadly, many self-identified feminists who see themselves as advocating for the health, welfare and empowerment of women deny the lived reality of thousands of women after abortion,” Janet Morana, co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, told MRC Culture.
She argued, “These campaigns to normalize and affirm a woman’s abortion experience fail to acknowledge that for many women, abortion can be an experience that has a negative impact on their lives.”
Morana’s organization, a project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life, “seeks to expose and heal the secrecy and silence surrounding the emotional and physical pain of abortion.”
Serving as a witness, the site lists thousands of testimonials from people ravaged by abortion – many from women who regret their choice. Here are just a few of the stories the media refuse to share:
- “Please understand the horror of getting an abortion. It’s not a procedure to fix an illness; it’s to end a life. It’s not all going to go away, you will think about it for the rest of your life. It will haunt you.” – Jenna, Indiana
- “The cold, dark, heart-breaking experience at the abortion clinic slowly infiltrated every area of my life. It's so ironic that the abortion clinic tells you how quick and safe the procedure is but never mentions that the effects are destructive and will last a lifetime.” – Katie, Indiana
- “I had an abortion; it was my choice. I regret it.” – Erica, Illinois
- “I'm living proof that you never get over an abortion. Every time someone dies or I see a couple struggling to become pregnant, I'm reminded of how precious life is. If I can offer one bit of advice to a young woman in a similar situation to mine, it's don't have an abortion. You'll regret it the rest of your life, just like I have.” – Debbie, Montana
- “If I could do it over, I would have kept her … I will never forget what a horrible decision I made at the time, and I will never forget that I killed my little girl, my only girl." – Young, Alabama
- “To my precious baby: I will not forget you. I never have. You were always here hidden in my heart. I will not hide you anymore. I love you. To say that I am sorry doesn't seem to be enough. I will never forget you! Your life does matter. I know that you are with Jesus in His Kingdom, and I will see you one day. Love, Mom” – Joanne, New York
As the other founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Georgette Forney slammed the media for censorship. “They’re censoring us,” she told MRC Culture. “They’re basically saying, ‘We don’t want your voice included in the debate.’”
She found it “upsetting” that, since the organization’s founding, “the media has ignored our message because it doesn’t go along with their agenda” in that “it doesn’t affirm abortion.”
The media’s actions, Forney continued, “tell me they’re much more interested in protecting the right to abortion than protecting the women.” Or in other words, “they don’t really care about women. They care about the abortion industry.”
And by “editing our stories,” the media “are in essence trying to keep us quiet all the while pretending to be representing women,” she stressed.
While the media promote the “1 in 3” story, she said, they ignore “the thousands of voices that have been out there speaking for years.” That includes Forney’s organization, which has “had over 5,600 testimonies shared publicly in the last 12 years.”
“What we’re saying is that lots of people are impacted by the consequences and the pain that comes with abortion,” she explained, “[a]nd all of these people have been ignored and shut down and censored.”
But “our voices do count,” she emphasized. “Even if the media wants to shut us down, we’ll continue to stand out in public places and share the truth.”
This latest “1 in 3” push by the media follows journalists’ new spin on abortion: that the destruction of the most vulnerable is a “moral” “social good.”