Foetuses behind a plane

I learnt over at Another Blog today that in some places in the States kind people will fly over your place of work, study or recreation and attempt to horrify you. Apparently, all over the USA this last summer, if you were outdoors at a large public event you had a good chance of seeing a plane towing a large banner around of an unusual kind: an image of an aborted foetus. I found this news story:

You may have seen a controversial banner flying above Knoxville Friday. It’s an anti-abortion campaign that’s raising eyebrows.

For nearly an hour, a small plane circled downtown pulling a huge picture of an aborted fetus with the message, “Abortion is terror”.

It seems to be the idea of an anti-abortion group, the pompously named Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, that believes graphic pictures of abortion are the best way to discourage the practise. Here is their own page gloating about the press coverage they’ve received for this stunt across the USA.

Apart from the visual pollution aspects, how insulting is this? It’s as if they don’t believe that women know that it’s a surgical procedure not only ends a potential life but that it’s likely to be bloodily messy and disturbing to look at, and if only women realised how icky it is they’d see the light.

  • Nobody throws up pictures of the bloodiness of heart transplants to say that people shouldn’t have one.
  • Putting the life/personhood debate aside, even if the foetus is a person its right to life doesn’t trump the bodily autonomy of the mother.

In a country where a major Fox News broadcaster can spew the opinion that a pregnant woman’s life is never threatened by continuing the pregnancy without fear of correction from his employer, it must be very chilling indeed to be a woman seeing one of these banners flying overhead.

From the NYT:

“No one is going to be able to go to any outdoor assemblage of people this summer, like major sports events, without seeing one of our banners,” said Mr. Cunningham, 55, a former Pennsylvania legislator.

In a statement, the group acknowledged that children would be exposed to the graphic image. “Parental discretion is advised,” the statement warned. However, it said, “Critics who care more about the feelings of born children than the lives of unborn children aren’t pro-life, they are pro-feelings.”

The only printing on the banner was the phrase “10 week abortion” and a message providing the group’s telephone number.

Some parents on Santa Monica’s crowded beach on Saturday objected to the banner, although it seemed to go unnoticed by many people.

Many people resented the banner presenting the idea of abortion to their children before they had planned to discuss it with them, but some of the supporters thought that it was right to get out the truth as they saw it: that abortionists lie to young girls that “it’s just a fetus” so that they are tricked into thinking it’s less horrible.

I really don’t think there are that many young girls who think “it’s just a fetus” in a dismissive way, although there may be some who are thankful that they can end an unwanted pregnancy that would totally disrupt their lives while the conceptus is still “just a fetus” rather than more developed. I’m sure they’re nearly all aware that it’s going to be a bloody procedure.

Of course, this view, as usual, overlooks the fact that most women seeking abortions are older women who have already had one or more children, and who know intimately what having a fetus grow into a baby inside one’s body feels like. Yet their personal, financial and medical circumstances often mean that they are unwilling to risk being unable to support the children they have in order to bring another child into the world. Pretending that these women don’t examine their choice hard and long, that they might be dissuaded if only they realised that the fetus looks like a baybee and abortion is going to cover it in icky yucky blood, is patronising infantilising bullshit.

As usual, Planned Parenthood offers the only sane response to the idea that there are too many abortions:

Nancy Sasaki, president of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, said the campaign was misguided.

“If what they wanted to do was reduce the need for abortion, they should do more to promote sexuality education and access to birth control,” Ms. Sasaki, said.

It seems that this big banner event got enough press attention that now copycats in smaller planes with smaller banners over smaller towns are joining the fun new hobby. Joy.

Categories: gender & feminism, religion, Sociology

Tags: , , , ,

5 replies

  1. Oh, that’s just sickening. Such a country!

  2. Sasaki has an excellent point. It has been pointed out that many anti-abortionists are very quiet when it comes to laws that marginalised young or single women leaving them with fewer choices if they do become pregnant.

  3. The Planned Parenthood message needs to be constantly thrown back at the nutters. When couched in terms of contraceptive awareness the anti-choice lobby’s real agenda becomes clear: they aren’t concerned about abortion so much as they are concerned about women having sex unencumbered by consequence.

  4. Does the fact that a high profile politician like Natasha Stott-Despoya has had surgery for an ectopic pregnancy (presumably by wingnut standards that’s an abortion) and the media haven’t freaked out mean we’re much better off than in the US?

  5. Interestingly Zarquon, although the medical jargon defines the removal of an ectopic pregnancy as an abortion (ie the termination of a pregnancy), the wingnuts tend not to – because the pregnancy isn’t in the womb, so it’s either not really a pregnancy or not really an abortion or something.
    It’s probably more cynical than that: they realise that ectopics are truly involuntary and don’t want to get people offside by consigning women who have lifesaving surgery for ectopic pregnancies to hay-ull. The rest of the aborting whores are headed straight there though.

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