A woman in New Jersey recently made headlines with her recent abortion or, more specifically, her desire to put it on film:
Emily Letts, a counselor at a New Jersey abortion clinic, decided to film her own abortion and post it on YouTube as a form of positive inspiration to women who are contemplating having the procedure but worry that they might feel guilty afterward.
Letts has no such guilt. She recalls the procedure with fondness. She even describes it as “birth-like,” and said it made her feel good, just like giving birth would.
Letts, whose job involves encouraging women to have abortions, sees her own abortion as an entirely positive experience, and hopes the video will prove to be both instructional and morally persuasive. She feels better about herself every time she watches the video, according to Cosmopolitan.
“Still, every time I watch the video, I love it,” she wrote. “I love how positive it is. I think that there are just no positive abortion stories on video for everyone to see. But mine is.”
The disturbing video has been viewed 10,000 times on YouTube. During the three-minute procedure, she repeatedly tells herself how lucky she is. She also hums to herself.
After the abortion is over, she says, “Cool. I feel good.”
Letts writes that having an abortion and giving birth produce similarly happy feelings. Despite aborting her child, she kept the sonogram.
This incident has highlighted for me a key pitfall of the pro-choice perspective: its potential to desensitize us to the loss of human life.
It is not uncommon, for example, to hear those in the pro-choice camp compare the act of abortion to masturbation, arguing that men who oppose abortion ought to feel similarly distraught over the loss of their ejaculate in the wake of a masturbatory act.
This is folly, of course. When those men masturbate, they release individual sperm cells. The equivalent to such an act would be a film of a woman disposing of individual egg cells.
When an individual egg cell and an individual sperm cell combine, however, the result is the beginning of a human life cycle (the formation of an embryo which, after 9 weeks, becomes a fetus). An abortion is an act designed to exterminate that life. This is a fundamentally different from the act of masturbation or egg harvesting because you are no longer dealing with individual sperm or egg cells (which, on their own, can never produce a human life). A human embryo/fetus is a different thing altogether—it is a human life. The “abortion is just like masturbation” argument is disingenuous in its failure to just accept what abortion really means.
An abortion is a concerted effort to end a human life at its very earliest stages. You are not eliminating a bunch of cells—you are eliminating a developing human being. That is what it is. Those who adopt a pro-choice perspective are within their rights, but they need to be honest about what that means. One need not exaggerate it, or downplay it, or make false comparisons to utterly incomparable acts: just accept it.
When we accept abortion for what it is, we can truly see the madness in the action of women like Emily Letts, who wish to downplay the significance of the act. There is nothing “cool” about the act of extinguishing a human life at its very earliest stages. It is not “fun”, “positive” or “birth like”. Abortion is a necessary evil at best, an option to be chosen in the face of very poor alternatives that can be avoided in no other way.
A pro-choice perspective that encourages the legality of abortion for these pragmatic reasons is not out of line, but a pro-choice perspective that seeks to promote abortion by (a) pretending that abortion is something other than what it is, (b) de-emphasizing the value of human life, or (c) all of the above is ignorant at best and downright malicious at its worst. When we encourage abortion, we can’t forget the seriousness of the consequences of that act: it may be necessary to suffer them in many cases, but they can’t ever be taken lightly.
Again, none of this is to say that people should never support the right of women to terminate a pregnancy. There are some good arguments behind the pro-choice position and I understand them. The tolerance for abortion as a necessary evil, however, should not ever be mistaken for or molded into the promotion of the act as an ideal outcome. Abortion is not a desirable outcome and should never be treated as such: in an ideal scenario, the act would be legally tolerated, but also very rare. Women like Emily Letts who forget this must never be taken seriously.