Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Rhetoric of Planned Parenthood

Today I attended a local Life Chain. We held up signs along a busy local state route for an hour. As Peter said to Jesus at the Transfiguration, "Master, it is well that we are here" (Mark 9:5). There were a number of motorists who honked in support. It was encouraging to see so many people on the sidewalk and in the cars expressing their concern about legalized abortion.

The other day I was reading through Planned Parenthood's website. I was struck by their rhetoric. Not by their rhetoric's audacity (though there was a little of that) but much more so by their rhetoric's subtlety. I found their use of rhetoric deft but disturbing.

Here are some examples:

Abortions are very common. In fact, more than 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.

This bit of information is used, not so that the reader will think, "That's awful; we should do something about that," but rather so that the reader will think, "Oh, an abortion is no big deal; many people do it." President Obama has publicly expressed his support for reducing the number of abortions. If that is the President's goal, Planned Parenthood, a vocal supporter of the Administration on abortion issues, does not appear to share his goal.

Most women want to have children. And they want to have children when they are ready and best able to care for them. But millions of women face unplanned pregnancies every year. In fact, half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.

We are supposed to think that because half of all pregnancies are unplanned, that also means that they are a problem. And Planned Parenthood wants to present itself as a solution provider. This is a very common marketing strategy: present a problem, and get the consumer to envision your company as the one who can solve your problem.

If you are pregnant, you have three options to think about — abortion, adoption, and parenting. Reading and learning about each one will help you get the facts and may help you decide. It may also help to weigh the benefits and risks of each one. Think about which benefits and risks are most important to you.

Of course, "abortion" is the first option given. That is because Planned Parenthood is in the business of abortion and cannot make money off of the other two options. And then we come to the intellectually dishonest attempt to equalize all three options based on "risk." But what are the "risks" of adoption vs. abortion? Look and see:

Here's what they say about "How Will I Feel After the Adoption"

Many women who make this choice are happy knowing that their children are loved and living in good homes. And they feel empowered in their role as birth mother. But some women find that the sense of loss is deeper than they expected.

You may feel some grief after the adoption is complete. Or you may be reassured by knowing that your child is in good hands. A range of emotions is normal. And your feelings may be complicated for a while.

It's a good idea to find counseling to help you work through your feelings. This can be important during the adoption process as well as afterward. If you work with an adoption agency, they can often provide counseling for you. If you have an independent adoption, you can still receive counseling and guidance through a local adoption agency. No matter which type of adoption you pursue, it's important to find people who will support you during and after your pregnancy.

Now, here's what they say about "If I Have an Abortion, How Will I Feel Afterward?"

A range of emotions is normal after an abortion. There is not one "correct" way to feel. Some women feel anger, regret, guilt, or sadness for a little while. For some women, these feelings may be quite strong.

For some women, having an abortion can be a significant life event, like ending a relationship, starting or losing a job, or becoming a parent. It can be very stressful and difficult. Other women have an easier time after abortion.

Serious, long-term emotional problems after abortion are about as uncommon as they are after giving birth. They are more likely to happen for certain reasons — for instance, if a woman has a history of emotional problems before the abortion, if she doesn't have supportive people in her life, or if she has to terminate a wanted pregnancy because her health or the health of her fetus is in danger.

Ultimately, most women feel relief after an abortion. Women tend to feel better after abortion if they can talk with supportive people in their lives.

So there you have it. If you read these two options carefully, clearly adoption is the greater risk. Adoption may cause "grief" and may be "complicated for a while." Abortion, on the other hand, may result in "regret" but only "for a little while." However, "ultimately, most women feel relief" after an abortion while only "many women" who decide on adoption "are happy knowing that their children are loved and living in good homes."

But here's my favorite bit of propaganda:

Family planning clinics, like your local Planned Parenthood health center, have specially trained staff who can talk with you about all of your options. But beware of so-called "crisis pregnancy centers". These are fake clinics run by people who are anti-abortion. They often don't give women all their options. They have a history of scaring women into not having abortions. Absolutely no one should pressure you or trick you into making a decision you're not comfortable with.

If you are anti-abortion, you are a "fake" provider of care and counseling. "Beware."

Beware, indeed. But rather, beware of manipulative rhetoric that subtly tries to make women focus on their fears rather than the entire picture, which includes another human life that has the power to immeasurably enrich either their own lives or the lives of others in a better position to raise these children.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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