Sunday, 30 October 2011

On thinking...

Unless you follow pro-life blogs,* you may not have realised that pro-life New Zealand has linked a campaign called Just Think. They're super modern and aimed at youth, which you can tell because it's on facebook. Their basic campaign strategy appears to be women are quite dim and don't realise that if they don't have an abortion they'll have a baby.** You think I'm kidding? This is their poster:

[Text: You know, I used to think abortion was ok, and then something happened to me - I had a baby of my own.  So I haven't figured it all out yet... but why is that when I wanted a baby she was a baby...and when I didn't, she was something else?]

You'll notice that even in the text of an anti abortion poster a woman isn't allowed to be articulate enough to explain that she's anti-abortion.  It's just that babies and pregnancy confuse her.

On one level it's just a terrible, terrible poster, but I think it is also quite revealing about one of the conundrums of being 'pro-life' (heavy sarcastic quote marks).

30-60% of New Zealand women get an abortion (I've heard both figures - the lower one from more reliable sources -  either demonstrates my point).  If you believe that abortion is murder (which pro-lifers probably don't - but say that they do) then that figure is horrific.  You either have to believe that thirty per cent of women are murderers.  Or say "They know not what they do."

And because outright misogyny is damn unattractive, often even to other misogynists, pro-lifers chose to portray women as incapable of thought.  It's not that we're choosing to have have abortions - it's that we're being tricked and are too stupid to know what an abortion is.

The pro-choice position reflects the reality of women's lives: the number of women who have abortions, the fact that political belief about abortion is not a good predictor of willingness to have an abortion and the necessity of abortion for people who are pregnant and don't want to be.   Anti-abortionists won't even portray women as capable of making the decision to be anti-abortion.  We believe that women (and other pregnant people) are the best people to make decisions in their own lives.

* I do it so you don't have to - and also because Andy Moore's youtube channel
has to be seen to be believed.

** I'm using 'women' t deliberately in this case to describe how they see their target audience.


Lloyd said...

hey Maia, Isn't this kind of belated- I saw this campaign on the University of Auckland's City campus in May!

This is a complex issue, and obviously the poster isn’t perfect and you’ll always be able to find problems with ANY campaign, but what struck me was about the text was that it didn't seek to argue definitively for any position. It has obvious prolife connotations, but doesn’t discount other perspectives. Some people might be offended because the title of the campaign 'JustThink' could be interpreted- at a stretch- as implying that people, especially women, haven't thought at all about the issue, but given that it’s a university context, and that the primary purpose of tertiary education is to do ‘just think', we have to assume the best of intentions.

I mean, how it would help prolifers to portray women as incapable of “making the decision to be anti-abortion”? That doesn’t make any sense. Do you seriously believe that ProLife NZ is so awash with misogynist hate that it won’t even allow its own female members articulate their views?

The fact is the majority of New Zealanders have never had to consider the issue of abortion. Whatever one's views, surely it would be better to raise awareness and understanding? I don't think any other group on campus has done that.

Also, why would profilers argue against abortion if they didn’t’ really believe it was wrong- for shits and giggles?

Sarah said...

Haha this is sooooo old. I am prochoice and believe everyone has the right to choose. I did see this when they were campaigning about it and I didn't see anything wrong with it, it really didn't bother me. They have the right to do what they want. It annoys me so much to see people hate on them just because they are prolife it is unfair.

They have a right to be here and not be discriminated against just like prochoicers are. And besides I haven't seen them do anything wrong. All I've gotten from them is facts and info. They're out inform about abortion and you know what they have a right to.

US said...

Pointing out that it's a ridiculous ad isn't the same as saying they have no right to post it. Whatever gave you that idea Sarah? They're not above criticism.

This type of campaign is typical of anti-choicers. And I'll "hate" on them all I want thank you very much. They're quite happy to request control of my uterus and tell me I'm too fucking stupid to make a decision about my own body so why should I suck their balls?

"Do you seriously believe that ProLife NZ is so awash with misogynist hate that it won’t even allow its own female members articulate their views?" Yes. Yes, I exactly believe that.

Only a misogynist would think women are that stupid that they don't actually know what an abortion is when they consider getting one.

If they were honest, and had respect for women their campaign would be: Don't have an abortion because abortion is murder. Instead they have to go down the line of 'actually women need to be saved from themselves and their tiny brains' because nobody is actually going to believe that abortion is murder unless they're religious or a person who won't ever get pregnant or a person who doesn't understand basic biology.

I'm amazed people can still come up with excuses for this campaign. It is literally 'how is babby formed' and we're not allowed to get offended.

Lloyd said...


"Only a misogynist would think women are that stupid that they don't actually know what an abortion is when they consider getting one."

But that's just an assertion, there's no indication in the text that this was the intention of ProLife NZ, but you've simply elaborated only the assumptions of this blog post, which is itself unsubstantiated. The campaign merely raises the issue: it doesn't suggest that women who have abortions are stupid- you're just imposing inflammatory language to confirm your own

You say they may as well say "Don't have an abortion because abortion is murder". This is rich with irony because A) if they did, people like you would have them banned from the university (for merely expressing their views) B) Maia would certainly be writing a blog post, similar to that above C) You're assuming that the aims of the campaign is to simply state the prolife p.o.v.

True, there is an obvious prolife agenda here- that's the whole point of the campaign. But 'JustThink' is about engaging with people, having the issue discussed, and not resorting to ad hominen and inflammatory, irrational debate.

Such a discussion can only improve the pro-choice position- if it truly is the correct one, you've nothing to fear. Which is quite interesting because having tried to shut down the debate, you then make a comment like this:

"nobody is actually going to believe that abortion is murder unless they're religious or a person who won't ever get pregnant or a person who doesn't understand basic biology."

Though this is riddled with assumptions and weak argumentation, it's engaging with the issue so good on ya! Why don't you tell ProLife Auckland that, next time you see them on campus, instead of stifling the debate.

I.M Fletcher said...

What the poster is trying to say, I think, is that when a woman is considering an abortion, what is inside her is referred to as a "fetus". But when she has decided to give birth, it's called a "baby". The ad is not trying to make women appear stupid, it's more pointing out the hypocrisy of nomenclature used by pro-choice; kind of a 'glass is half empty' vs 'glass is half full' kind of thing.

It's the same baby, but referred to in a different way by those having an abortion. Calling it a fetus is an emotional disconnect and makes it easier for the mother not to think of it as an actual child.

You'll often see it in news reports - if a pregnant mother is attacked by a partner, they'll talk about her "baby". It's all comes down to perception.

Planned Parenthood were more honest about what abortion was in 1952 (when they were only about contraception and hadn't started performing abortions yet). Check out one of their pamphlets from 1952.

One of the questions about contraception asks, Is it an abortion. The answer? Definitely not. An abortion requires an operation. It kills the life of a baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health. Keep in mind this is directly from a PP brochure (scan at link).

Trouble said...

Ah, if only we lived in 1952. Back when women haemorrhaged and died from backstreet and diy abortions, of course it wasn't all that safe. The kicker with the "prolife" position is that realistically speaking, that's exactly what we'll go back to if abortion were prohibited. There are still plenty of abortions undertaken in countries where it's illegal, but the maternal mortality rates are horrifying. It's a matter for debate on whether a fetus deserves rights over and above the person sustaining it - it's not a bloody matter for debate as to whether a pregnant person deserves life.

Nowadays, we know that the risks have changed (with respect to many medical practices, including standard obstetrics) and that carrying a pregnancy to term is more dangerous than early abortion.

I.M Fletcher said...

Trouble, but that's the thing; personally (and this is my opinion of course), I don't believe that the majority of abortions are needed.

Abortion is mainly used as a contraceptive, ie, when normal contraception fails or is not used at all. Statistics show (see your thread on here about statistics that I posted a reply to) that 98% of abortions performed in the US are for reasons of convenience.

Abortions in cases of rape are a mere 0.3%, and cases where the mother or baby are in danger are a similar percentage (or at least under 1%).

I believe contraception in general (including abortion) has allowed men to use and abuse women for sex; ie, use them for pleasure and move on to the next. The irony is that women have been fooled into thinking that this is some kind of 'freedom' for females. It isn't.

The original feminists were against abortion. Go back and check it out yourself.
The feminist movement was born more than two hundred years ago when Mary Wollstonecraft wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Women." After decrying the sexual exploitation of women, she condemned those who would "either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast it off when born."

Without known exception, the early American feminists condemned abortion in the strongest possible terms. In Susan B. Anthony's newsletter, The Revolution, abortion was described as "child murder," "infanticide" and "foeticide." Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who in 1848 organized the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, classified abortion as a form of infanticide and said, "When you consider that women have been treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit."

Betty Friedan, credited with reawakening feminism in the 1960's with her landmark book, The Feminine Mystique, did not even mention abortion in the early edition. It was a man who convinced her to make it an issue, using made-up figures about women dying from illegal abortions.

Dr. Nathanson, who later became a pro-life activist, states in his book, Aborting America, that the two were able to convince Friedan that abortion was a civil rights issue. Later he admitted that they simply made up the numbers of women dying from illegal abortions, which had been a major point in their argument.

Trouble said...

personally (and this is my opinion of course), I don't believe that the majority of abortions are needed.

Indeed that is your opinion. You haven't successfully argued why your opinion should count over that of the person whose uterus is in question, though. There are many things in this world that aren't needed (yet another series of irrelevant antiabortion talking points cut and pasted by your kind self, for example) that aren't illegal.

I.M Fletcher said...

Trouble, except other things don't involve ending innocent human life: that's the difference.