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Life Arts    H2'ed 4/18/17

Abortion: Stories Women Tell

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Women relate that they are overwhelmed by the basic need to survive. They suffer from a lack of finances, domestic violence, prior drug addiction, or the desire to become an adult before having a baby. Frequently, they are alone and without emotional support. The youngest girls would be kicked out of their homes if they shared the predicament with their families. For women who already have children and can barely keep their heads above water -- another child would sink them.

Those who believe that life begins at conception view their anti-abortion beliefs as a calling -- usually directly from God. Conversations reflect values that maintain abortion is murder and results in eternal damnation. Kathy, who learned from her father that she was almost aborted, reveals that she has always felt "a kinship with the baby in the womb."

One of the strongest interactions in the film takes place at a college student center. On the way there, Reagan, a leader in the Students for Life of America movement, speaks directly to the camera. She explains that she is a different breed of activist than the "stigma of pro-lifers as old, crazy religious nuts." Yet, when she sets up her booth there are handouts asserting that "Abortion=Breast Cancer" and signs saying, "3700 babies aborted daily."

A young woman, close in age to Reagan, confronts her. She recognizes Reagan as an on-site demonstrator who prays at the Planned Parenthood facility where she is an escort.

It's tense.

"Why protest this organization when it's just one thing [abortion] that it does?" She talks about the women seeking affordable gynecological services. She presses Reagan on who will adopt all the children that don't fit the idealized version of an adoptee. Who will be there for the baby that has physical or mental difficulties, or is from the inner cities? As Reagan packs up her materials, she appears shaken by the pragmatic questions of her challenger.

It is clear that the combination of religion and shame is toxic. 70 percent of adults in Missouri have an absolute belief in God. Belief in Hell among adults is 66 percent. Given these stats, it's not surprising that a young woman who gave up her child for adoption says, "If you have an abortion, you cannot go to heaven."

There is an overt disconnect between the quiet pain of those seeking an abortion and the proselytizing (or harassment, depending on your point of view) of those Christian Missourians who want to "make abortion unthinkable." Shots of the landscape with billboards condemning abortion are pervasive. Rallying cries include, "All in Christ, for Pro-Life." Supporters are revved up with the rhetorical question, "What are you willing to live for or give your life for?"

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Marcia G. Yerman is a writer, activist, and artist based in New York City. Her articles--profiles, interviews, reporting and essays--focus on women's issues, the environment, human rights, the arts and culture. Her writing has been published by (more...)

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