Have you seen those Emily’s Voice ads about family? The one with the woman who explains how she fell pregnant at 18 and was told her life was ruined? (watch it here) These ads, which have been running for the past few months on Tasmanian television stations, reveal in a frank and joyful voice how things turned out well in this real life teen pregnancy story.
“Now, with a uni degree and four beautiful kids, I know I didn’t ruin my life or have to give up my dreams to have them – they became part of the dream. I wanted my baby and I wanted my degree – and I got both.”
I’ve seen some strong opposition to the ads on Facebook, including a petition to ban these “vile ads”, and I understand there was a complaint or two lodged with one of the television stations, but I fail to see what is offensive about a woman who chose to keep her pregnancy, a woman whose choice resulted in a beautiful family.
Such reaction is surely a symptom of a society bruised by the effects of around 100,000 abortions in Australia each year. A society desperately trying to justify a supposedly simple, easy and risk-free procedure so often performed under duress when a woman is vulnerable and which leaves many with enduring emotional scars. The mother of feminism, Germaine Greer, described abortion as a painful and humiliating procedure presented to women as a privilege.
How dare we “shame” women who may have had an abortion! How dare a pro-life group like Emily’s Voice “guilt” women about their reproductive choices!
Hang on, if abortion is such a good choice, as countless abortion advocates espouse, why do women feel guilt and shame? What’s it to them if another woman chose to keep her baby?
Maybe abortion isn’t as liberating and empowering as it is portrayed.
Perhaps all ads that feature babies should be outlawed. Those baby product ads with roly-poly infants smiling up at their mothers, the camera zooming in on adorable giggles and bare little bottoms. Surely these too are offensive to those who have made other choices.
I think of other painful realities – cancer and road fatalities, for example. Do we object to the aggressive campaigns educating people on their choices in such instances? Choose not to smoke. Choose not to speed. Choose not to drink drive. We don’t object because most of us know first hand the trauma of losing someone to cancer or a road accident.
One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. That figure smacks of poor education on a woman’s other choices.
Feelings of guilt and shame are generally derived from a deep-seated conviction or knowledge of truth. They are connected to conscience and keep us in check. You cannot force someone to feel guilty. Guilt is the outcome when we violate our own moral standards. You can’t make me feel guilty for neglecting the housework in order to spend time with my son, for example, because deep down I know it’s not wrong.
On Wednesday, the Legislative Council will begin debate on the controversial Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill. Don’t be deceived – this piece of legislation will not take away guilt and shame.
Only God can do that (1 John 1:9) – and he does so with open arms. There is no condemnation (Romans 8), just love. There’s another adage in the Bible that goes like this: “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
The outcry of guilt and shame is sending a loud and clear message about abortion – it may be permissible, but it’s not beneficial. Our lawmakers need to be looking out for the best interests of society. We know abortion is bad for babies, but it’s bad for women and families too.
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As printed in The Examiner newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday June 10.