What Is "The Truth" When It Comes To Abortion?

Illustration for article titled What Is "The Truth" When It Comes To Abortion?

For some people, there is a fundamental truth of abortion, and those people fall into two camps. Either an egg is ensouled at conception and thus abortion is the taking of a life, or it is absolutely not. For most of the rest of the country (and the world), abortion is a much murkier proposition, and their feelings about are often filled with exceptions: except in the case of rape, or incest; except for the health of the mother; except when it could survive outside the womb; except when it has a brain or a heart beat; except when the child won't live much past birth. For many people, the truth is murky and the right thing for government to do is more so. And so most advertisements about abortion are trying to convince those people — and they do with a nod in the direction of the truth, if not a full embrace of it.One good example of this is political advertisements. McCain wants conservatives to think he'll eliminate it and people who inhabit the grey areas to think he won't; Obama wants liberals to think he will guard the gate and the grey-embracers to think that he'd listen to them, too. And so an abortion rights group runs commercials asking John McCain for how long he'll send women who abort fetuses to jail when he gets the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, while conservatives insist they'll only jail doctors — not that that's better, but it doesn't mean the commercial is a fair depiction. A pro-life group run advertisements featuring an "abortion survivor" who claims that Obama wanted her dead (even though he was barely a teenager when she was born) due to his vote on a bill in Illinois about health insurance for late-term aborted fetuses — despite the media having debunked the conservative talking point on that issue ages ago. And John McCain runs radio commercials trumpeting his pro-embryonic-stem-cell research plans in liberal locales and hopes that the pro-lifers don't listen to Top 40 radio in the morning while Obama's radio spots suggest McCain is pursing a constitutional amendment against abortion (he isn't) and his new TV spots suggest that McCain personally objects to the rape-and-incest exception to making abortion, which isn't true (though the Republican party does). All of this comes as pro-life groups have successfully pressured Google into agreeing to run anti-abortion ads that depict "abortion in a factual way." What this means is that if women are searching for information on abortion — like how to obtain one — their "sponsored" results might well come from anti-abortion advocacy, so-called pregnancy crisis centers that work to convince women not to have abortions. Are these advertisements likely to affect or dissuade me? Likely not, since I spent 15 minutes scrolling with little thought through graphic fetus pictures to find an appropriate illustration for this article. But I wouldn't expect advertisements for Planned Parenthood to convince the people running these ads. What they do attempt to do is try to create a false consensus about the "truth" about abortion through revulsion, rather than trying to win on a serious argument about the definition of "life." Because there is no one truth — and there never will be — about that, and so they'll take what wins they can get. Another TV Ad Hits McCain on Abortion [Politico] New Group Enters "Born-Alive" Fray with Anti-Obama Video [Utne Reader] Two Carefully Crafted Messages On Abortion [CBS News] Obama Hits McCain On Abortion In New Spot [Politico] Anti-Abortion Groups Try To Buy Ads On Google [The Times]


Charlotte Corday

another superb post, megan.

i don't think *anyone* is pro-abortion, but sometimes, they're sadly necessary. to me, they should be available early, restricted late, and between a woman and her physician.

in the end, this is yet another canard, like gay marrige, to distract the electorate from the real issues: the economy, the war, health care and education.