Can abortion be a “positive” or “joyful experience” for pregnant women? Can women find “happiness” and “relief” by aborting their unborn children? That is the premise of a new book published this December by a feminist professor in Australia.
In her debut book Happy Abortions, University of Adelaide professor Erica Millar argues that pro-life activists have created an “emotional script” that casts abortion as a “procedure that is inherently productive of grief and shame.”
These feelings of grief and shame are merely “produced” by culture, Millar argues.
“The description of abortion as inherently grievable and traumatic generates a circular logic,” writes Millar. She goes on to claim that this logic itself — and not the act of killing an unborn child — creates the grief.
But even if a woman feels grief after an abortion, Millar argues that it’s negligible in the grand scheme of things.
“Abortion carries no predictable acute or prolonged emotional or mental health consequences for women,” argues Millar, a claim which she repeats numerous times throughout her book, as if she’s diligently trying to convince her readers.
She claims this despite numerous research studies finding that most women suffer some degree of despair, hopelessness, or emotional distress after having an abortion. While Millar does spend a great deal of research on the history of the pro-life movement, her book ultimately reads as a how-to manual to gaslight women into thinking that abortion is no big deal.
After all, as Millar notes, abortion is “an everyday rather than extraordinary event, experienced by approximately one in three women.” While this statistic is a cause for concern for many — since it illustrates that millions of children are aborted every year — Millar disregards this possibility.
To her, the more abortion becomes common, the less emotional weight should be attached to it. To some feminists: it’s almost as if abortion is as inconsequential as, say, a juice cleanse or going to get your nails done.
All of this hand-wringing over how abortion is framed as a grievable act isn’t for naught. Regulating how we view abortion is crucial to Millar, since depictions of abortion as “grievable” and “traumatic” have an impact on public support for abortion.
Of course, this is because when people learn the truth behind abortion — including the fact that many women suffer from crippling grief and despair after terminating a pregnancy — they may think twice before supporting it.
And thinking twice before supporting abortion? Not in this book.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen