Yesterday, Planned Parenthood Keystone — an Eastern Pennsylvania affiliate of Planned Parenthood — tweeted out a list of Disney princesses they think we need. “We need a Disney princess who’s pro-choice. We need a Disney princess who’s an undocumented immigrant. We need a Disney princess who’s actually a union worker.” But atop this list of ridiculous demands was this: “We need a Disney princess who’s had an abortion.”
The tweet was quickly deleted but, in a statement to Fox News, Planned Parenthood Keystone President and CEO Melissa Reed doubled down. “Planned Parenthood believes that pop culture — television shows, music, movies — has a critical role to play in educating the public and sparking meaningful conversations around sexual and reproductive health issues and policies, including abortion. We also know that emotionally authentic portrayals of these experiences are still extremely rare — and that’s part of a much bigger lack of honest depictions of certain people’s lives and communities.”
This, of course, sounds ridiculous to those of us who feel that abortion constitutes the taking of an innocent life. But it ought to sound ridiculous to everyone given the nature of who a Disney princess is, and what she represents.
A Disney princess is a girl on the brink of adulthood. Her narrative follows a predictable arc from a childhood in which she is loved and cared for, through a time of great adversity, to an adulthood she forges for herself through pluck, determination, and heart. Legendary Disney producer Don Hahn put it this way: “Disney films are about growing up. They’re about that day in your life when you have to accept responsibility.” This girl making her way toward adulthood is, apparently, just the kind of person in need of an abortion.
Let’s stipulate for a moment that abortion is not inherently wrong (even though we know it is). Let’s say (for argument’s sake) that abortion is an acceptable solution to an unwanted pregnancy. That doesn’t make it desirable! It’s still a difficult and heartbreaking decision — at least it should be. A Disney princess who’s had an abortion is — necessarily — someone who believes abortion is not just acceptable, but morally valuable. Why? Because a Disney princess is always an ideal of womanhood.
The trope of “princess” in any fairytale is a stand-in for perfection. She’s the girl with the truest heart, the clearest virtue, the purest motives. Her external beauty is a shorthand signifier of an internal beauty that surpasses anything a mere mortal could possess. A Disney princess’ journey leads her to the full expression of her “princesshood” — her feminine perfection. So, even if we agree (which we don’t) that a woman should get an abortion if she finds herself pregnant and unable to care for her child, a fairytale princess should not. Because she wouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place.
Not only would Princess Planned Parenthood imply that having an abortion is a sign of perfect womanhood, she would also convey the acceptability of teenage pregnancy. If, within the course of their movies, all Disney princesses transition from childhood to adulthood, that means that the princesses have to be teenagers (because that’s when that transition happens). Additionally, saying that what’s needed is a Disney princess who’s had an abortion implies that the abortion has occurred before the start of the movie, and plays into the plot somehow. Since we’ve already established that a Disney princess is an expression of feminine perfection, Planned Parenthood is essentially saying that teenage (or even childhood) pregnancy is not only acceptable, but desirable.
This tweet lays bare what many abortion advocates don’t want us to realize. It isn’t just that “pro-choice” advocates want abortion to remain on a list of potential options for women who find themselves dealing with unwanted pregnancies. For many, abortion has morphed into a badge of honor — a true test of your commitment to the feminist cause. “Shout your abortion!” these advocates tell us. “Abortion is normal . . . This is not a debate.”
The horrible truth of it is that the reason Planned Parenthood — or anyone else — cares what kind of Disney princesses there are is that little girls love Disney princesses. They’re influential. They’re role models. What was the real purpose of this tweet? This, and only this: to indoctrinate our children into the abortion club. “Here, little girls,” the tweet could just as easily have read, “want an apple?”