Top 10 Ways Media Spin Abortion as 'Moral,' 'Social Good'

A new book  a gospel of responsibility-free sex  defines abortion as “right,” “good” and “moral.” It’s what’s “best for kids” and it’s all about a woman’s “unalienable right” to pursue happiness. 

When Katha Pollitt, an outspoken feminist and columnist for The Nation, published “Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights” on Oct. 14, the journalists used it as a launching pad for their latest abortion obsession: no-fault abortion. Pollitt’s book “reframes abortion” as “a moral right with positive social implications.” And since nobody ever went broke telling the self-obsessed what they want to hear, the book has received rapturous praise form the feminist left.

Here, as given to us by Pollitt’s media acolytes, are the tenets of the new Church of Guilt-Free Abortion.

1.  SLATE: Abortion is ‘Great,’ a ‘Positive Social Good’

“Abortion Is Great,” began Slate’s Hanna Rosin in her book review. She reasoned, “As Pollitt puts it, ‘This is not the right time for me’ should be reason enough.” “Saying that aloud,” she said, “would help push back against the lingering notion that it’s unnatural for a woman to choose herself over others.”

Trashing the pro-life movement, Rosin again cited Pollitt to argue, “we have all essentially been brainwashed by a small minority of pro-life activists” – or the “loud minority [that] has beaten the rest of us into submission with their fetus posters and their absolutism and their infiltration of American politics” instead of “saying out loud that abortion is a positive social good.”

As far as messaging, “The pro-choice side should be able to say that a poor or working-class woman getting an abortion is making a wise choice for her future,” Rosin wrote, “That way, the left would own not only gender and income equality, but also a new era of family values.”

2. REFINERY 29: Abortion is a ‘Social Good’ for Women to ‘Live Full, Complete Lives’

Like Rosin, Refinery 29’s Sarah Jaffe urged, “It is past time for a revived, unapologetic and unified abortion rights movement that understands abortion as a social good.”

Jaffe celebrated the book’s “powerful call to understand abortion not as some singular culture-war issue but as one part of a struggle for women to be able to live full, complete lives.”

Change, she said, “will come from many more people joining a revitalized movement that is able, as Pollitt argues, to stop conceding territory and, yes, demand abortion be part of any true struggle for social justice.” 

3. THE GUARDIAN: Abortion is ‘Women’s Pursuit of Happiness as an Unalienable Right’

“Abortion isn't about the right to privacy. It's about women's right to equality,” began Jessica Valenti for The Guardian. But “The hard part about arguing that abortion is necessary for women’s equality, of course, is that there are still too many people who don’t see women’s pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right,” she whined.

Not one to play around, Valenti quickly went to the crux of her argument: “It’s time for the pro-choice movement to lose the protective talking points and stop dancing around the bigger truth: Abortion is good for women.”

She explained:

“The pro-choice movement needs to put the opposition on its heels, and make what some in the ‘pro-forced birth’ movement say what they’re really thinking: that it’s more important for women be mothers than go to college; that the ability to support existing children, to have a job that pays well or to pursue a career path we love are inconsequential realities compared to embracing our ‘natural’ role as perpetually pregnant; that a woman’s ability to incubate a fetus trumps any other contribution to society that she could possibly make.”

4. BUSTLE: Abortion is ‘the Best for Kids’

Bustle’s Lisa Levy praised Pollitt’s “elegant, pointed, and smart” book as an “explanation of why keeping abortion legal is so critical to women’s lives.” In her piece, she listed the “7 Things I Learned from Coffee with Katha” – such as “Keeping abortion legal is not only the best situation for women – it’s the best for kids, too.”

“Abortion is a crucial way to make sure all babies are wanted, and their mothers are able to nurture and provide for them and help them to realize their potential,” Levy worshipped.

5. THE HUFFINGTON POST: Abortion is ‘More Moral’ than Having a Child, Part of Motherhood

To announce Pollitt’s book, The Huffington Post published an excerpt where Pollitt recognized abortion as “part of the fabric of American life.” “We need to see abortion as an urgent practical decision that is just as moral as the decision to have a child -- indeed, sometimes more moral,” Pollitt spurted.

“Actually,” she continued, “abortion is part of being a mother and of caring for children, because part of caring for children is knowing when it's not a good idea to bring them into the world.”

HuffPo later invited Katha Pollitt on for an interview on HuffPost Live.

6. THE WASHINGTON POST: Abortion is Worthy of ‘Pop Culture’

Alyssa Rosenberg reviewed the Pollitt’s book with a different twist: “Why it is so important that pop culture be able to discuss abortion.”

The book, she wrote, “reaffirmed my long-standing conviction that it is important for pop culture to get more confident and less coy in talking about abortion.”

In her conclusion, she decided, “If Hollywood really wanted to show off its ability to shape public consciousness and change the conversation in the same way it contributed to the gay rights movement, ‘Pro’ ought to be a challenge to that industry to prove it can do what politicians cannot.”

7. ELLE: Abortion is Ending ‘Potential Life, Not a Life-Life’

Elle’s Laurie Abraham not only interviewed Pollitt, but read her book as a “kind of call to action, an appeal to stop letting abortion opponents fill all the available airspace.” Or, in other words, a call to “tell a different story, the more common yet strangely hidden one, which is that I don't feel guilty and tortured about my abortion. Or rather, my abortions.”

She did so for Elle’s November 2014 issue in a piece entitled, “Abortion: Not Easy, Not Sorry.”

As a “highly educated daughter of a Planned Parenthood clinic volunteer,” Abraham believed, “An embryo or a fetus is all potential.” “Now is the time to say that I don't think that I killed anyone when I had an abortion,” she said.

To describe her first abortion, Pollitt wrote:

“By 12 weeks, it has become a fetus, 2 inches to 3 inches long, with features that are recognizably human. Yet by my lights, a fetus at this stage is not a person in any real sense of that word. It can't live outside the womb; none of its organ systems is fully developed; and, most crucially, it's not capable of conscious thought, since the cortical synapses don't begin to form until the second trimester. The way I've always thought of it, in lay terms, is that I ended a potential life, not a life-life.”

While “she sobbed” before her second abortion, she reasoned, “A third child would put too much strain on our marriage, I wanted to keep working, and I didn't want to cheat the children I already had.”

8. THE NEW YORK TIMES: Abortion is a ‘Right’

For The New York Times, Clara Jeffery recognized the book as an “eye opener for those who have never darkened the door of a women’s studies classroom.”

Although she never had an abortion herself, she helped friends terminate their unborn. Jeffery noted how, “contraception and abortion have allowed women to widen their worlds dramatically.”

“If you’re a woman, I don’t need to detail all the barriers we still face,” she assumed. “If you’re a mother, I don’t need to tell you all the ways in which the workplace is set up as if you didn’t have kids, and schools, camps and childhood extracurriculars as if you didn’t have a job.”

“Motherhood is hard enough if you go into it willingly,” she said. “And Pollitt is correct to insist that the right to an abortion is merely society’s down payment on all the rights we are yet due.”

9. NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Abortion is ‘Good for Everyone’

 “We should accept that it’s good for everyone if women have only the children they want and can raise well,” Alex Ronan wrote for The Cut, “which is both obvious and worth repeating in a climate that’s openly hostile to women’s lives, safety, and ambitions.” 

And Pollitt was the best champion of the cause. “Blending statistics, history, and stories of real women along with her signature wit, Pollitt is an excellent guide to the debate’s most important questions,” Ronan continued.

10. SALON: Abortion Is Valuing Women

Salon’s Michele Filgate described Pollitt’s book as “a refreshing and comprehensive look at abortion rights.” Because, as Filgate whined, “There are many preconceived notions about abortion that lead to one terrible conclusion: our society doesn’t value women nearly enough.”

“One would think that in 2014, all women in the United States would have easy access, but that’s somehow not the case,” she said. ”’Pro’ is a passionate plea–and a book that is needed now more than ever.”

11…

That is the media take. That is the “feminist” take: the voices of women who regret their abortions, pro-life women, baby girls who are no more, don’t exist.

Let’s prove them wrong.

Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture at the Media Research Center