USA – Unhelpful Arguments That Downplay the Importance of Abortion on Demand

Book excerpt: Unhelpful Arguments That Downplay the Importance of Abortion on Demand

Jenny Brown
Sept 30, 2019

The first shot in the feminist abortion wars was fired in 1969 in a New York City Health Department auditorium, where a panel of male psychologists, doctors, clergy, and lawyers (and one woman, a Sister Mary Patricia) debated exceptions to New York’s law forbidding abortion. They were discussing whether a woman should be allowed to have an abortion if her health was in danger, or if she had been raped, or if she had already given birth to four children.

A shout came up from a woman in the audience: “Now let’s hear from the real experts on abortion!” Then, “Repeal the abortion law, instead of wasting more time talking about these stupid reforms!” Then, “We’ve waited and waited while you have held one hearing after another. Meanwhile, the baby I didn’t want is two years old!” More women stood to object and testify. “Why are fourteen men and only one woman on your list of speakers—and she a nun?” The committee members “stared over their microphones in amazement,” wrote Edith Evans Asbury in the New York Times. The chair tried to shush the women, arguing that everyone was really on the same side: “You’re only hurting your own case.”


South Africa – Art exhibition highlights abortion stigma

Art exhibition highlights abortion stigma

27th September 2019
Marcia Zali

The Voices and Choices exhibition will put a spotlight on issues of abortion and reproductive justice in the country, as part of the #MybodyMychoice coalition campaign.

South Africans from different organisations and communities are expected to have a unique experience surrounding conversations about the stigma associated with abortion. The multimedia Voices and Choices exhibition is a collaboration of South African female artists under the curatorship of Mmabatho Montsho.


Planned Parenthood Goes to Hollywood

Planned Parenthood Goes to Hollywood
The group is winning in L.A., even as it’s losing in D.C. Can entertainment ultimately make a difference in the abortion wars?

Story by Nora Caplan-Bricker
September 23, 2019

It’s 10 a.m. on a Tuesday at Planned Parenthood’s New York headquarters, and I’m watching TV. Specifically, I’m watching a series of scenes clipped from movies and TV shows, all of which have two things in common: The woman beside me, Caren Spruch, had a hand in them, and each one features an abortion.

Spruch and I began our viewing session with her most recent such project, the Hulu series “Shrill.” Now, seated at a table in a white-walled conference room, we’re watching the first movie she worked on, 2014’s “Obvious Child.” Spruch is petite and animated, with a long face and dark bangs, like a more pixie-ish Anjelica Huston. She calls “Obvious Child” — a romantic comedy about an unemployed 20-something who finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand — “the one that changed the world,” setting a new standard for stories about abortion. She has seen it, she estimates, more than 25 times.


India – Aborting stigma

Aborting stigma
City-based artist Indu Harikumar talks about illustrating for a social media project that aims to normalise conversations surrounding abortion.

Published : Aug 31, 2019

A girl sits crouched in a turbulent ocean. A huge wave, reminiscent of Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, looms behind her, threatening to crush and drown her. But the girl cannot scream for help, because her lips have been zipped shut. A closer look at the picture reveals the cause for this enforced silence – an ultrasound image peeking out from under the current. The illustration is accompanied by a woman’s haunting words that reveal her abortion ordeal and is part of a crowd-sourced project titled #MyAbortionStory. The project, started by My Body, My Choice India — a social media campaign working towards ending the stigma surrounding abortion —invites people to share their abortion experiences and kick-start a conversation around the medical procedure.


USA – Breaking the Silence Around Abortion

Breaking the Silence Around Abortion

Claire Valentine
August 12, 2019

American discourse has changed radically in the past decade around a number of social issues.
And yet, there is one topic that, while high on the list of divisive issues that get people riled up, remains shrouded in shame and secrecy. When it comes to reproductive rights, and specifically abortion, conversations, when they happen, typically exist on a theoretical plane. The reasons women (and other people capable of getting pregnant) don't disclose their abortions are in many ways obvious: it's a highly personal medical decision loaded with cultural baggage, and sharing that you had one can lead to dire consequences. It's relatively rare for women to tell even each other about their abortions. This of course isn't true for everyone — some people are more open than others. But the social stigma remains, and whether in deeply conservative communities or supposedly woke circles, talking about your abortion is taboo.


USA – What You Need To Know About The Controversial Abortion Method Featured In OITNB

What You Need To Know About The Controversial Abortion Method Featured In OITNB

Cory Stieg
July 27, 2019

The seventh and final season of Orange Is The New Black is live on Netflix, and considering many people will be binge-watching it this weekend, we need to talk about the abortion plot in episode 11. (Spoilers ahead.)

In that episode towards the end of the season, Chaj, a Guatemalan woman in Litchfield's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holding pen, is desperately trying to communicate, but no one understands Ki'che, the indigenous language she speaks. She eventually ends up in the medical unit sobbing, with severe abdominal pain and period spotting, where she's finally granted a translator. It's revealed then that she was raped, so she drank an herbal tea made with parsley in an attempt to have an abortion.


Panorama, America’s Abortion War: A nuanced look at both sides of the debate

Panorama, America’s Abortion War: A nuanced look at both sides of the debate
Review: A documentary on the fights to keep and outlaw abortion in the US south

July 23, 2019
Ed Power

It’s just over a year since the Eighth Amendment was repealed and the Republic began catching up with most of the rest of the world in terms of access to abortion. Panorama, America’s Abortion War (BBC One) is a reminder of the tumult we have left behind.

Hilary Andersson’s documentary avoids the obvious pitfall of smug Europeans lecturing Bible-thumping Americans on how to run their affairs. Instead, this is a nuanced overview of an issue that serves as a prism for the US’s culture wars. Campaigners on both sides obviously regard abortion as a matter of black and white. Andersson’s mission is to interrogate the myriad of greys she discerns in the middle.


USA – TV Has Shifted Our Cultural Perception of Who Has Abortions

TV Has Shifted Our Cultural Perception of Who Has Abortions

by Rachel Charlene Lewis
Published on July 2, 2019

Television has often afforded abortion a nuance that politicians miss, allowing viewers to better understand the procedure and empathize with characters who terminate their pregnancies. In 2015, the Advancing New Standards In Reproductive Health (ANSIRH)’s Abortion Onscreen Project found 78 storylines on American TV between 2005 and 2014 where a character considered having an abortion. (Fifty-one percent of those characters decided to have an abortion.) While an increase in abortion storylines might feel like a positive shift, ANSIRH also found that 87 percent of onscreen characters who get abortions were white compared to 36 percent in real life.

“The majority of people who have abortions are people of color,” Renee Bracey Sherman, founder of We Testify, a National Network of Abortion Funds’ program for people who’ve had abortions, tells Bitch. “So when television and film aren’t representing us, not only is it inaccurate, but it’s also showing us that our stories don’t matter and aren’t the norm.”


USA – From TV to Real Life: ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Co-Producer Discusses Women’s Rights Issues

From TV to Real Life: ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Co-Producer Discusses Women’s Rights Issues

By Bonnie Azoulay

When Wendy Straker Hauser started working as a co-producer on The Handmaid’s Tale, Donald Trump hadn’t yet won the presidency. She was just as shocked as viewers watching the show when they discovered how accurately Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel mimicked the politics unfolding in real time. Until I spoke to Hauser, I assumed that some of the events portrayed on the TV series were altered to reflect what was happening in modern-day America. But before it streamed on Hulu, the show was produced and shot months before she or her crew could have a chance to change any scenes to mirror current events.


USA – Not Your Grandmother’s Illegal Abortion

Not Your Grandmother’s Illegal Abortion

By Jennifer Block
Book excerpt
July 1, 2019

The sola variety of papaya resembles a pregnant uterus, so much so that around the world, humans use the fruit to learn one method of modern reproductive health care: manual vacuum aspiration, or MVA, a low-risk, low-tech method of first-trimester abortion that requires little or no anesthesia. As one doctor remarked at a conference in 1973, where the technology was introduced to physicians from around the world, “it’s something we will be able to bring practically into the rice paddy.”

This, too, is the fruit I have been given to practice on. I’ve placed it on a table across from me, and I’m focused on the neck, where its stem grew, which evokes the cervical os. The tool I’m using is a large plastic syringe with a bendable plastic strawlike thing, called a cannula, where the needle would be. At the top of the syringe is a bivalve to create one-way suction.