About Emily Letts & that Abortion Video


Writing about the pros and cons of abortion always makes me feel like a hypocrite. How can I possible advise others when I know how wrenching and personal such a decision can be?

On one hand I don’t feel the least bit qualified to offer up thoughts about abortion. And on the other hand, I feel like who better to offer up such thoughts than someone who has been through it?

Granted the abortions of today are nothing like the abortions of 1974. No longer are young girls required to check into a hospital and be assigned a room on the maternity floor for a three-day stay as I was.

Today’s abortions are quick and easy. A root canal is considerably more painful and involved. At least according to Emily Letts. Perhaps you’ve heard of her? She’s the young woman who reportedly videotaped her abortion and uploaded it to YouTube in order to take the take the stigma and fear out of abortions for young woman.

Her video went viral.

She wrote an essay for Cosmo explaining why she did what she did. According to that essay, she considers herself an abortion doula:

“I had never been political about abortion rights before, but the idea of helping women through an abortion and supporting them and reassuring them that they are still wonderful and beautiful resonated deeply with me.”

So, Letts, a former actress, signed up to volunteer as an abortion counselor at Cherry Hill Women’s Center.  She began counseling girls about the ease and comfort and no-consequence advantages to having an abortion.

You may or may not have heard that abortion rates in the US are on a steady decline.If things continue the way they’ve been going, the legality of Roe. V. Wade won’t matter. Abortion clinics will put themselves out of business.

The fight over abortions is as much an economic reality as anything else. When it is no longer profitable for investors to be in the abortion business, women’s clinics like Cherry Hill and others will go the way of local newspapers and mega-bookstores.  Money is what drives our politics.

So you can’t really blame the Abortion Care Network for hosting an Abortion-Stigma Busting Video Competition.  A competition that Emily Letts won. The prize was a $100 case with another $100 donated to the Abortion Fund of her choice.

Oh. And this: Qualifying videos will be displayed on the Abortion Care Network YouTube channel, embedded on the ACN website, and in other reproductive rights and justice venues, at the discretion of the Abortion Care Network. The Judge’s Choice and Honorable Mention entries will be shown at the Abortion Care Network’s Annual Conference and other related meetings.

It’s a market law that if you hope to stay in business you have to give the people something they want – even if they didn’t know they wanted it until you told them. The way Howard Schultz did with Starbucks. The way Sam Walton did with Wal-Mart.

Taking abortions to YouTube is the perfect way to market abortions to teens and young women. Getting that video to go viral? People spend big, big money to get advertisement like that. Super Bowl advertisers pray that their videos will go viral.

Journalists glommed onto the attractive Miss Letts and her viral video. Few bothered to ask the questions that they might have asked had they been taking their jobs as journalists seriously, instead of falling prey to Miss Letts and her abortion network pals.

It does seem all a bit contrived, doesn’t it? She’s a volunteer who counsels women about unplanned pregnancy who uses no form of birth control herself? She’s 25 and not on the pill? Doesn’t require a condom in this day and age of STDS and AIDS? Really?

Moreover, Letts claims to be only two to three weeks pregnant when she has the abortion. She manages to get the waivers, etc. necessary to film the whole thing. And, lo and behold, she wins the competition.

Call me a skeptic.

And please forgive me for sounding the hypocrite, given my own personal history, but all Miss Letts has really accomplished with her free-and-easy-down-the-road-we-go approach to abortion is to fulfill the fears and accusations of the fanatical pro-lifers.  The fear that women who have abortions are simply self-serving sluts who think only of themselves and have a totally shallow disregard for any human life except their own.

I understand the need to market abortion. I get that with the onset of 3-D prenatal ultrasound – something we didn’t have in 1973 when Roe. V. Wade passed – that it is much harder to convince a young girl that the life she is carrying inside of her is only “fetal tissue.” Not really a life, so it doesn’t really count when you vacuum it out.

And, yes, I understand that in order to make abortion appealing to a younger generation who has been steadily choosing life instead, it is a smart marketing technique to make a hip cool abortion video that goes viral. Good on you, Miss Letts, for putting your acting skills to good use, I guess.

It may be just acting for you, but for many women, myself included, and for many men, abortion is not something to trivialize via YouTube.

Perhaps you can afford to be all coy and hipster about it.

I cannot.

So go on now, take your $100 prize money and buy yourself a dozen Starbucks drinks and giggle all you want about how amazing it is that you were able to reach millions with your message of how easy-peasy it is to have an abortion.

As for me?

I’ll continue to carry unanswerable questions inside the wounded place where a baby used to reside.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Mother of Rain (Mercer University Press).

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