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Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

A  series of billboards in Georgia are linking abortion with supposed “efforts” by various groups to reduce or limit the size of the black population. The ads first surfaced at the beginning of February, in time for Black History Month and have gradually been reported in the mainstream press. The most recent story appeared on March 1st in the Los Angeles Times.

The billboards are the brainchild of Ryan Bomberger, founder of Georgia-based group “Radiance.” Bomberger, who is adopted, claims to be the son of a white woman raped by a black man.  He believes data that shows a much higher percentage of black women seeking abortions, as well as the number of Planned Parenthood offices in urban areas, is “evidence” of racial targeting, a claim several minority women’s groups denounce as offensive, condescending, and dangerous nonsense.  They concede the high number of abortions among black women in Georgia, but point to other socio-economic factors, such as limited access to birth control and family planning information as well as inadequate insurance coverage.

But the anti-choice forces are jumping on the bandwagon. The Georgia Right to Life organization has partnered with Radiance on the eighty or so ads, which will be displayed at least through March.  Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., experienced a religious conversion after two abortions and now sits on the board of Georgia’s Right to Life organization. She claims to know absolutely that abortionists are targeting the black community for ethnic cleansing.

As a staunchly pro-choice supporter, I am nevertheless deeply sympathetic to those who are deeply distressed by abortion. In truth, all of us are; as one  advocate put it: “Pro-choice doesn’t mean pro-abortion.” No one I have ever met, including those who’ve had abortions, has ever been the least bit cavalier about the procedure, which is why I hope that a measure of common ground can someday be found — say, in efforts to expand information about birth control and family planning.

But I’m also deeply offended by  deliberately provocative and highly misleading advertising that attempts to shame and terrorize women who need and deserve support in making decisions about their reproductive health.  Moreover, I’m infuriated by yet another attempt to use words to drive people further apart on one issue  – abortion – by raising a red flag about another – racism.  I’m afraid – truly afraid – we haven’t seen the end of these billboards.

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twitterblackberryUSEA friend of mine alerted me yesterday to the hoopla surrounding a tweet from entrepreneur and career counselor to young women, Penelope Trunk, who posted the following last week: “I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a fucked-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.” 

The tweet has sparked controversy throughout the blogosphere, particularly on women’s sites, from feminist protesting Trunk’s cavalier approach to abortion to concerns about the appropriateness of the material. Amanda Marcotte, controversial blogger and pot-stirrer par excellence, supported the tweet as “an elegant instance of the power of Twitter.” 

Comments ranged from the predictable “gross!” to the sympathetic “perhaps this is how she expresses her grief” and naturally, the moral implications of abortion have been front and center. 

My first question is: in our brave (or perhaps I should say, narcissistic) world of full and immediate disclosure, is anything off-limits?

I’ve always said that if content disturbs you, you are free to ignore it. In the good old days of print journalism, the “naughty” magazines came in brown wrappers and movies were (and still are, sort of) rated so you knew what you were getting into – or not.

But tweets go to the followers, who send them to others, who dissect and analyze them and then forward them to all sorts of outlets. How could I – or my nine-year-old niece – have avoided this tweet? Do I want her thinking everyone is (or should be) this seemingly easy-going about a miscarriage or an abortion? Will she be fooled into thinking these issues come with no more emotional complications than perhaps irritation or relief?

Trunk argues that miscarriage is a fact of life and life intrudes on work, and you can’t manage the balance if you can’t talk about it. I agree. Lots of things are facts of life: the messiness of grief, the reality of resenting one’s  offspring, the gracelessness of aging, or petty pleasure one occasionally takes from seeing someone else fail. Maybe these things do need to come out in the open. Besides, tweeting about the taboo is a great career-booster.

But to my second question: can you really describe anything important in 140 characters?

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