The internet has often been criticized for its capacity to destroy the privacy of those who use it, whether through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Myspace, or any number of other sites that involve airing one's personal details for all to see. However, we doubt very much that anyone expected a site to be set up just so that someone could inform the world about their experience with abortion.
That is, until now. A woman calling herself "Jane" recently set up a site called Thisismyabortion.com, a spartan affair containing nothing but a few cell phone pictures snapped of the interior of an abortion clinic following the procedure (which apparently "Jane" herself went through). They depict a series of photos of several containers, one of which ends up filled with a small amount of blood near the end. The image is deliberately unimpressive, even anticlimactic. As Jane explains on the site (which we are deliberately not linking to, but which viewers can easily find on their own):
My intention in documenting and sharing my abortion is to demystify the sensationalist images propagated by the religious and political right on this matter. The perverse use of lifeless fetus photographs are a propaganda tool in the prolife/prochoice debate in which women and their bodies are used as pawns to push a cultural, political, and religious agenda in the United States.
At 6 weeks of pregnancy, my abortion looked very different than the images I saw when I entered the clinic that day.
This is my abortion.
Now, "Jane" has been getting media attention - so much so that she recently gave an interview to BusinessInsider.com about why she made the site, and what she hopes to accomplish:
What are the actual costs of having an abortion in a clinic?
JANE: My abortion cost $700.
Were there any unexpected fees?
JANE: No, I paid for it at the clinic desk in cash.
Did health insurance come into play, or was it not an option?
JANE: I did have health insurance at the time, but it didn't cover the costs.[...]
What power is there in remaining anonymous?
JANE: The power in anonymity is placing my little story in a much larger context and making it relatable to anyone and everyone. I could be from the deep south or live in your neighborhood. I could be a minor or perimenopausal. I could be a high school graduate or a PhD professor. I could be Christian or Muslim. I could be your daughter, your mother, your sister, your boss, your friend. I could be all of these things to this audience. This isn't about me. This is about all of us. The power is in the collective.
If this is starting to sound nakedly political, then don't be surprised when you get to this answer:
Why wait until this year to launch the site and publish the photos?
JANE: It was a strategic move on my part. This is an election year and women's rights are center stage. It's important for all of us to remember that women's rights are human rights. What happens now influences women and men alike. We live in precedent setting times, so let's progress forward. Everyone must have the right to make an informed decision over their personhood. Our time is now.
Now, hard though this may be, set aside your convictions on the subject of abortion for a moment, because as it turns out, one does not have to have an opinion on abortion to think this previous answer is destructive to the entire discussion about the issue and shows the fundamentally dishonest and exploitative attitude of some people toward the debate itself. Also, be warned that the four photos featured on the site will appear below. They are purposefully not graphic, but you may want to avoid looking if you are easily disturbed.
Firstly, consider how many leaps of faith are required to accept this site's message. We have no idea who "Jane" is. We don't know where she got her abortion. We know it supposedly occurred in 2011, though not much beyond that. The cost estimate of $700 is not outlandish for some states, though it's also an easy estimate for someone who's never had an abortion to make. "Jane" gives away virtually no other details, such as what state she's in, or what insurance provider she has, or really anything to provide that any part of this story corresponds to reality. In other words, this story has about as much factual weight as President Obama's autobiography - probably based on truth, but we can't prove that it is.
This is a problem for "Jane" and her message, because in order for her point to be made (that abortions really aren't that graphic or disgusting), we have to accept that the photos on her website are genuine, which requires us to accept that the "abortion" in question actually happened. This requires something very simple from "Jane's" readers - IE, trust.
And what is least likely to inspire trust on the part of one's readers? Why, a partisan political motive, obviously, which Jane admits to having in the interview above. The only way "Jane's" website and message could possibly have been effective would be if someone thought she was an absolutely trustworthy, impartial observer who got caught in the crossfire and was preserving her anonymity for the sake of safety, but wanted to tell the truth just so the debate could proceed honestly. Otherwise, one could easily claim the story is a fabrication, or that even if she did have an abortion, "Jane" could be deliberately withholding photos to make the act look less graphic. The only defense against this would be to claim no motive for distorting the truth.
Instead, "Jane" has outright admitted she deliberately released this information during an election year even though it didn't happen during that year for the purposes of swaying peoples' opinions. Even Goebbels never out and out admitted he was spewing propaganda at people. Why? Because knowing that propaganda was designed to make people believe something, rather than to present impartial information, would have made it less effective.
This brings us to the point we made at the beginning of this explanation - that no one on either side of the abortion debate should approve of this. The Pro-Life side should obviously be angry that someone is trivializing an act that they believe is tantamount to murder, and find the deliberate release of this information in an election year reprehensible. The Pro-Choice side, meanwhile, should be equally angry that this woman made their entire movement look willing to release self-described propaganda during an election, thus discrediting any actual pro-choice arguments by implication. It doesn't help that she sounds like the classic Leftist hack, spouting phrases like "The power is in the collective" and claiming she uses anonymity because "I could be your daughter."
Forget "Jane," maybe she should have called herself "Julia!"