Abortion rights activists have begun a new campaign, one that is designed to erase the negative social “stigma” associated with abortion. As part of the push, the Abortion Care Network sponsored a “Stigma Busting Video Competition,” and I’m sure by now you have already seen one result of that competition: Emily Letts’ bizarre video of her abortion procedure. Emily, who says she was inspired to become an “abortion doula,” says that she wanted to do the video to help women get over the guilt that “our society breeds.”
I don’t entirely blame Emily for her distorted view of where abortion guilt is coming from. After all, she is only a pawn, albeit a fully knowledgeable and intelligent pawn, being used by the abortion industry. She is trying to be brave, and she probably believes in some ways that she is helping women. Yet, her speeches on the video aren’t very convincing proofs that abortion is easy or that you aren’t filled with immense regret when it is finished. The activists are weakly trying to use her video to inspire more abortions, but I doubt that it is having the desired effect. Emily seems sad, withdrawn, and sullen, even though she is saying some of the right things.
I’m afraid poor Emily is finding out first hand that the social stigma that her video claims to fight against is the least of her worries. Emily and other deceived women who were told it was no big deal, that they aren’t ready for children, that they can’t handle this baby, are now plagued with a different kind of stigma. You see, stigma has another meaning. It can mean, simply, a mark.
So, these women move on with their lives, and they have no stretch marks to show for their pregnancies. They have no sagging breasts or widened hips. They have no squishy bellies that say that they once carried a living being inside of them. But, they are marked. They live with the knowledge of a baby that should have been. And, they carry the heavy burden of guilt and remorse, even if they do feel relief that they didn’t have the baby. The stigma that marks their spirits–mothers’ spirits–can’t be erased by thoughtful videos or enlightened-sounding conversations about abortion in Cosmo.
In fact, the spiritual stigma that wears on them and wears them out and seems everywhere is much, much harder to live with than the social stigma. Because no voice of reason can truly make it go away. No amount of loud postulating or quiet offerings of this-was-right-for-me can make it disappear. It is real, and heavy, and immovable.
But, there is one who can cover the stigma on broken mama spirits. And, He has a stigma or two of his own. His hands and feet are marked with scars that say that no dark spot on a human soul need remain. His marks whisper love to the Emilys of the world.
Jesus, the stigma bearer, the only hope for any of us.