This article from feministing.com helps put into perspective that there’s a lot of “othering” that goes on with regard to the abortion question. Many Americans paint themselves a sour face and hold their nose about a “distasteful” procedure because some other person might need it. The tendency to “other” stems from the fact that, as the author points out, women who have had abortions remain closeted, and as such, abortion remains an abstract concept to most Americans.
One of the tactics employed by the LGBT community to gain acceptance in society was simply to come out of the closet. Though it remains stigmatized and demonized in many parts of the country, supporters and bigots alike had to come to terms with the fact that they knew, really knew, a gay person. It’s harder, unless you’re truly a monster, to abuse and discriminate with your words or with your votes if the person you attempt to demonize is your daughter, niece, or grandson.
I think that same sort of openness might lead to the de-stigmatization of abortion if we would simply realize that we know a woman who has made that choice for herself. Abortion is not something that a low-income woman somewhere in the country or world seeks—it’s a medical procedure that has improved the lives of and empowered our mothers, sisters, and friends. If more women could discuss it frankly and openly, then I think we’d see a shift. Maybe we could stop talking about stripping abortion of its legal protection and have a more serious and heartfelt conversation about how to safeguard the reproductive rights of all people.
It’s a difficult first step to take—to stick your neck out when it’s simply easier to remain silent, but rarely has the course of history found itself offered by those who fell victim to timidity. Better to be thought outspoken then to say nothing at all.