A woman in the United Kingdom faces an unplanned pregnancy that prevents her from taking the next step in her career. She makes the choice to abort.
And Great Britain erupts in judgment and anger toward the woman.
Why the outrage toward a woman exercising her “reproductive rights”?
In this case, the woman is Josie Cunningham, a model who was given the opportunity to appear on Big Brother. Her 18-week pregnancy would keep her out of the show and stifle her career plans. So she made a choice and, when asked, explained her rationale to The Sunday Mirror:
I’m finally on the verge of becoming famous and I’m not going to ruin it now. An abortion will further my career. This time next year I won’t have a baby. Instead, I’ll be famous, driving a bright pink Range Rover and buying a big house. Nothing will get in my way.
The subsequent torrent of tweets and personal attacks toward Josie Cunningham is surprising … and sickening. Here’s why:
What’s surprising about the response is how much of the judgment is coming from self-professed pro-choice people. In other words, it’s the people who argue for a woman’s right to choose an abortion who are heaping ridicule and scorn on a woman who has done just that. A number of viewers have said they will boycott Big Brother if Cunningham is a contestant.
I don’t expect any of this outrage to translate into legal battles to make abortion less of an option, but I wonder what it tells us about the turning tide of cultural sensibilities. Is the pro-choice movement being chiseled away from the inside out? Does pro-choice now mean “abortion in extreme circumstances should be legal” rather than “abortion in any circumstance should be legal?”
In The Guardian, Martin Robbins, while not giving moral approval to Cunningham’s choice, defended her right and encouraged his readers to see the bigger issues at stake. He writes:
In reality, her actions are no different from those of thousands of women who exercise their reproductive rights in order to make informed choices about their future careers and families, yet because she uses the wrong language, because she talks “common,” and wants to be on Big Brother instead of working in a call center, she has been subjected to a torrent of vile abuse and bullying. Much of it incited by the very newspapers that promote the celebrity lifestyle in the first place.