Sunday, February 05, 2006

What about block mounting? Does that work for you?

Amanda at Pandagon and Jill at Feministe have both written really good responses to this discussion about framing abortion. The man is arguing that the pro-choice movement should get behind the idea that abortion is 'icky' to promote contraception. Katha Pollit :

You ask what my own view of abortion is. I think the meaning of abortion is what the woman says it is: For a woman who wants a child but can't have this one it can be sad; for a woman who doesn't want a baby, it can feel like a huge relief, like having your whole life given back to you.
That's exactly how I feel. There are people who call themselves pro-choice, but talk about every abortion being a tragedy (I'm looking at you Sue Kedgley), bullshit. I'd wish they'd shut up, keep their moralism off other women's experiences.

But what I wanted to talk about, was whether time spent figuring out how to 'frame' abortion so that it appeals to the maximum number of people is actually a worthwhile project. Again Katha Pollit brings up this point: "I don't think the issue of unwanted pregnancy can be solved by crafting a message from polls."

I say no, for both principled and practical reasons.

Katha Pollit summed up my attitude to abortion exactly. Often 'framing' abortion is code for ensuring there's lots of public hand ringing. There's no way I'm going to lie about the way I feel about abortion, particularly when that'd mean projecting a single experience of abortion on all women.

But even if I was prepared to, it wouldn't help. The majority of Americans already support Roe vs. Wade, it's not helping the pro-choice movement that much. Because what matters is not public opinion, but public action. The anti-abortionists are successful because they mobilise people, and you don't do that by pandering to the middle.


  1. I often fall into the tragedy trap. I think it's because I find it hard to escape my Catholic school-girl past and all that guilt I absorbed in regard to abortion for five years. Not to blame others, cos I need to get my head around it and no one can do that for me.

    Thank you for your many thoughtful and challenging (for me) posts around abortion, they have really helped me to advance my own reasoning on the issue :-)

  2. Wow thanks Span.