Readers on the installment plan.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Jan. 24 2003 2:34 PM

Personal or Political Loss?

Is grief over miscarriage inconsistent with pro-choice politics?

Politics of loss: Much of the Fray response to Emily Bazelon's and Dahlia Lithwick's Book Club on miscarriage  consists of shared stories of personal loss (I've marked some, but they should be read whole). There is a substantial current that thinks women who grieve when they miscarry are either being inconsistent or dishonest when they support abortion rights. The best debate on the subject comes early on, in a thread begun by logicat-2. logicat attributes  grief over miscarriage to "anti-abortion propagandists":

They have peddled the notion … that fetuses are the same as babies and that therefore to lose a fetus - be it by miscarriage or by abortion - is as painful and traumatic and heartwrenching as losing a child. It's not …

ElboRuum thinks  denying women's reactions is just more evidence of an underlying fear of choice, whatever logicat's legal position might be:

acknowledging death or loss or trepidation about ones own decisions, in my humble opinion does little to pander to the anti-abortionists. When things end, humans react. It's that simple …

saying that one form of loss is greater than another, in the esteem of all, not only is fundamentally flawed a concept, but flies in the faces of the people who value the concept of choice itself in the most egregious way, by taking it away from them.

The best turn in the debate, though, comes in the next exchange. Temaj-2 sees the range of women's reactions as a political challenge for the abortion rights movement here:

I think the abortion rights movement needs to be able to confront some of the ambiguities surrounding abortion, rather than sweeping them under the rug as logicat would have us do. The fact that women who have had abortions have a range of emotional reactions may not be politically convenient, but truth often isn't.

ElboRuum disagrees. A woman who grieves makes a bad target for demonization; she's too human:

That people can make this choice and have normal human emotions dispels the notion of what the anti-abortionists would love to paint as a callous act perpetrated by callous people. It humanizes loss, whether that loss be necessity or accident, chosen or happenstance. It puts the argument in terms everyone can understand, and that deflates the primary thrust of the anti-abortionists, that people who would consider having abortions are morally bankrupt individuals who should not be permitted that choice.

And as long as we are stressing humanity, historyguy points out here  that

There's a tragic irony in this sentence:

"Layne observes that feminists are generally much more comfortable celebrating happy outcomes than they are grieving for a lost fetus . . ."

A preference for happy outcomes over pain does not distinguish feminists from the rest of humanity. Both happiness at the celebration of a birth, and discomfort at grieving, can be found in every social and political stratum. I'd bet that miscarriages affect women of the left, right, and center, whether working or at home, similarly--and awfully.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Alabama’s Insane New Abortion Law Gives Fetuses Lawyers and Puts Teenage Girls on Trial

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

Big Problems With the Secret Service Were Reported Last Year. Nobody Cared.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 12:10 PM Women of America, Here Are the Cities Where You Can Find Marriageable Men
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 2 2014 11:07 AM Mapping 1890 Manhattan's Crazy-Quilt of Immigrant Neighborhoods
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 2 2014 12:37 PM St. Louis Study Confirms That IUDs Are the Key to Lowering Teen Pregnancy Rates
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 12:04 PM The Audio Book Club Debates Gone Girl, the Novel
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 11:41 AM Dropbox Recruiting Video Features Puppets and Data Privacy
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?