A pro-life media group has released a new video called "The Apology," in which square-jawed, manly Christian bros apologize somberly to the camera for allowing women they were sleeping with to have an abortion. "I should have manned up and fought for you," one says, referring to the fetus.
The video is produced by a company called Heroic Media, which produces anti-abortion television, billboard and Internet ads telling women to visit crisis pregnancy centers instead of actual doctors. In "The Apology," though, women are an afterthought; the men each say "I had an abortion," then express remorse for doing so, in the form of lingering, pained glances into the middle distance.
"I was 28," says one of the speakers, John Blandford, Heroic Media's director of church relations. "I didn't know God. I called myself a Christian. I would go to church a couple times a month. I had just started dating this gal, and she got pregnant."
"We had a passive-aggressive stance," says Daniel Phillips, another speaker, who says he's "had" two abortions. "I was neither here nor there, so I never even fought for the opportunity to save the child."
"I conceded to an abortion," says Shane Idleman, the pastor of a church called Westside Christian Fellowship. "Even as a pastor, that deicision still haunts me today. What would they look like? Would it be a boy? Would it be a girl? Their first step, saying 'daddy.' But those are just dreams, dreams that often haunt me."
"I should have manned up and I should have fought for you," Blandford says. "And I didn't. I didn't. I am so grateful that you are in Heaven with Jesus, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and that you got to see him before I did. And I know you're going to extend me grace, but I just—it would've been so cool to hang out with you here on earth."
The video was sent out in an email blast by Repairing the Foundations, a project of the anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-everything American Family Association. Repairing the Foundations is specifically aimed at pastors, seeking to ensure that they're sufficiently anti all the things that the AFA is against. They're encouraging pastors to share "The Apology" with their congregations during "Sanctity of Life Sunday", when churchgoers are supposed to be reminded that Abortion Bad. (It was actually first declared a "holiday" by Ronald Reagan.)
The implication throughout is that none of the women in question were of sufficient moral fiber to save their own babies, so it was up to their men to do it for them.
"The pain of regret is one of the hardest pains to deal with," Idleman says in a somber voiceover, as the camera shows him gazing moodily into a body of water. "Because of the constant reminder that we let down God, we let down others and we let down our child."
"I'm sorry that women were subjected to such a terrible thing," Blandford says a moment later. "And no one tried to rescue you."
"I'm sorry for men not taking a greater stand in this area," Idleman adds.
"I'm sorry that this is available," Phillips says, referring, we guess, to legal abortion.
In a blog post on Westside Christian Fellowship's Website, Idelman scoffs at the very idea of a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices.
"I cannot, and will not, remain silent," he writes. "There is a reason why 'mother,' 'baby,' and 'abort' have been changed to 'a woman's right to choose'; it's a marketing ploy designed to hide a brutal practice. The graphic description of an abortion is heart wrenching and soul searching and would require a WARNING for the graphic content if I included it. Life is precious. We must fight for it." He also says that though it's been 23 years since he's seen her, he was able to locate "the woman who had the abortion" and apologize and ask for forgiveness. He says she did the same.
Whatever religious framework these men use to look at abortion is their business, of course, and if they choose to believe their aborted babies are waiting for them in heaven, it's not our place to argue with them. But while it's lovely that, in Idleman's words, that conversation brought him "tremendous closure and peace," there's little indication of how it impacted the woman he sought out after a quarter-century of silence. The total erasure of women in the video is startling and disturbing—there's not one word about what they wanted, what obtaining an abortion meant to them, or what they've gone on to do afterwards.
There's also a pretty strong undertone here that abortion causes wracking guilt and depression: while these three men might have difficulty reconciling their religious beliefs with their partners' decision to choose abortion, the best research gathered by the Guttmacher Institute shows clearly that abortion doesn't cause mental health issues. The best indicator of how someone getting an abortion will feel afterwards is their mental health before. And according to the American Psychological Association, "most methodologically strong studies… showed that interpersonal concerns, including feelings of stigma, perceived need for secrecy, exposure to antiabortion picketing, and low perceived or anticipated social support for the abortion decision, negatively affected women's post-abortion psychological experiences."
In other words, a man choosing not to support you during an abortion, berating you for having chosen one and then going on to talk about it like it's his darkest and most shameful secret could be a lot more psychologically scarring than terminating an unwanted pregnancy. Just a thought.
Here's the whole video. It's a jaw-dropper.