Someone forwarded me a link to a blog about those 40 Days of Prayer that we posted here the other day. Fascinating conversations ensued. Basically, blogger Corey Waters re-wrote the prayers omitting the word abortion.
The original 40 Days of Prayers were written by Rev. Turner of Faith Aloud in response to the anti abortion "40 Days of Life" which means that they picket, harass, shame women at abortion clinics. Before I go on to Corey's post I want to mention how important these one-a-day prayers have been to abortion providers. As you can imagine we often feel beleaguered and stigmatized by the anti's and even those of us who are not particularly religious, having someone pray for your safety or recognize the real work you do is beyond affirming. So a big shout out to Rev. Turner!
It strikes me as true and honest that the topic of abortion is polarizing in everyday relationships which is what Corey spends most of her time talking about. I have friends who have confided in me that they won't bring up the topic of abortion with the mothers of their kids' playmates--"I can't afford to!" they say. So, the difficulty of discussing abortion in the real world is not lost on me but I guess it is worth asking, "Why?"
Who is doing the stigmatizing such that we have to eliminate the word abortion from our vocabulary for fear of someone taking offense? After all, 37% of all women will have an abortion in their lifetimes. And, you may be a good contraceptor or even infertile but that will not protect you from the possibility that you will be in a situation where you might have to think about abortion. (In fact, it happens every week in my world.) You could be blissfully happy in your marriage but does that mean you erase the word divorce from conversation?
Thinking people have to come to grips with the fact that there is a well organized campaign to shame women and everyone else associated with an abortion experience. And well funded too--two recent expensive ad campaigns "Abortion Changes You" (doesn't everything, especially pregnancy?) and "Black Children: An Endangered Species?" And that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of picketing and in some cases extreme harassment at clinics (See the Enough! Basta! videos). Or one of the most effective lobbying forces ever known. This campaign to make abortion a word that cannot be spoken has been going on for 30 years and is very strategic.
So, I can really see why Corey would try to find a middle ground by just omitting the offending word. And, it must be said, she opened up some ground for her readers to talk about their abortion experience.
But what is the cost of purging the A word? Or as someone else commented, "When we try to talk about 'common ground' while politely ignoring abortion, we dismiss, ignore and invalidate the experiences of millions of women who have chosen that path. We also dismiss the millions of men, parents, friends and loved ones who have found a way to love and support their wife, daughter, girlfriend, sister or friend through an abortion decision, even if it evoked deeply conflicted feelings for them. We know that our patients, as they struggle to make moral, ethical and sane decisions about their pregnancies, are not afforded the privilege of avoiding the issue. If a 15 year old can walk into my clinic and tackle these complex moral, spiritual and ethical issues head-on, why can't Ms. Waters?"
I suspect that is a more complicated question than it appears. They've done quite a job on us.