The pro‐life perspective is that if you show a woman that she has an 11‐week‐old fetus and she sees the movement, and that convinces her to keep the fetus, then isn’t that a good thing? Whereas a pro‐choice person would say she didn’t come in and know she was going to get a sonogram; there is no medical reason for it. So why are you offering a sonogram except to convince a woman not to have an abortion, which is what she really wanted to do?
Documentary filmmaker Raney Aronson as quoted in a fascinating case study in journalism ethics (by the Knight Case Studies Initiative at Columbia) called Frontline’s “The Last Abortion Clinic”: What’s Fair in a Video World?
This case takes students behind the scenes into the making of a news documentary for Frontline, produced at the PBS affiliate in Boston (WGBH). The case tells the story of the making of “The Last Abortion Clinic,” a 2005 documentary by producer Raney Aronson and her team. The documentary combined a legal story (developments in the abortion debate since Roe v. Wade) with personal stories—interviews with women in clinics who had confronted the abortion question in their own lives. It focused on the state of Mississippi, which had only one abortion clinic remaining. The case chronicles the evolution of a documentary from idea to finished form. Along the way, it highlights numerous editorial, logistical and ethical decisions Aronson faced in her quest to tell fairly a complex and value-laden story.
We must be careful not to make a fetish of choice. If the technology allows and a woman wants a blue-eyed, blonde baby, do we support her because we are pro-choice? While we must be vigilant about the “pro-lifer”-infested waters, we must be prepared to refine our pro-choice position; it must be circumscribed by context. Approximately 60 million women are “missing” in India. The cultural reasons for this femicide do not magically disappear with migration. A girl’s right to life has to be a basic tenet of any feminist position and cannot be compromised by an absolutist pro-choice narrative.
Rahila Gupta, On Sex-selective Abortion, We Must Not Make a Fetish of Choice, in The Guardian.
FJP: Last year, Telegraph accompanied a woman from the UK who was getting an abortion based on the fact that her baby was female. This incident sparked investigations by government officials who discovered that birth rates of males and females differ based upon location and culture, meaning that patriarchal society still has an effect on the desired sex of children.
Gupta questions whether it’s possible to be pro-choice and a feminist when gender-selective abortions are going on. She says: “While most people agree that getting rid of female foetuses is abhorrent, some argue that it is a price worth paying to preserve the purity of the concept of choice.”
Gupta explains that it’s difficult to prevent women from aborting children based on gender bias because women can always provide a wealth of other reasons for termination. However, she suggests that hiding the sex of the child from the mother could be the way to end gender-selective abortion.
The fact that some hospitals already operate a policy not to inform women about the sex of the foetus until much later in the pregnancy has probably been critical in the survival of girl children. Sometimes state intervention is the only thing that saves women from oppressive cultural practices.
You’re a good friend to the ladies, Dad.
Email to Garry Trudeau from his daughter about this week’s Doonesbury comic strip in which Trudeau tackles ultrasound mandates that states like such as Texas are proposing for women seeking abortions.
The strip has been pulled from a number of newspapers’ comics pages.
Via an interview with Emily Bazelon on Slate.