For the past month this city girl ventured to the wilds of the middle and lived on a reservation. As always, I kept my anti antennae up. Unlike in the bustle of the city, the expanse of the prairie gave me the room to really ponder anti propaganda, and not just dismiss it in haste.
Much of what I saw included “classic” pictures of angelic looking infants. I could go on about how idiotic it is that the reproductive health world has failed to reclaim the image of a baby, let alone have it snatched from them in the first place, but we’ve all heard this before.
It was the sign below that really got me thinking. The billboard itself split between an anti ad and a call to implore young men to join the church. Laden with not only bizarre racial undertones, but a “yup” in response to nothing. You cannot make this stuff up.
At that first glance it just seemed so ludicrous. Particularly with “life begins at conception” on a grey background while simultaneously declaring it as a black and white issue. That’s just poor product placement. But then I started to think about the united front presented by the shared billboard. How it wasn’t about being anti-choice at all, but about linking abortion, religion and righteousness. A moral life is either joining the church or having a baby. And that is literally black and white.
When was the last time you remember reproductive justice folks linking our ideals to a lifestyle or morality? It happens, don’t get me wrong. But, in general, this is something we do extremely poorly and the antis do extremely well. It’s about time we did more than just bitch about it. Folks on the ground should spend more energy analyzing these local messages, and counteracting them, whether it is through vigilante graffiti or a mass marketing campaign.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if an ad for abortion care was placed right next to programming on parenting skills? Be the parent you dream of being. Have all the time you need for all your children. Or home mortgages? Fulfill the American dream, have the family, the home, the life you always wanted. Or schooling? Go back to school so you can get the job to take care of your future family the way you want to. Why does this feel so implausible? Statistically speaking most women who have abortions are already mothers. They are making a difficult decision to SUPPORT their family in the best way they know how. How does this get lost so consistently? It is about time we reconnected family values and abortion. Because whether you are in North Dakota or New York City, most women choose to have an abortion because they care about their present and future families, and it is our job to remind the world of this reality.