In an interview with Bill Maher on Friday, Sarah Silverman explained that much of the work she does as a reproductive rights advocate is aimed at getting anti-choice lawmakers and activists to see people who have abortions as human. (She does a good job of this!) Silverman went on to say that she wants to show a "human face to this side that they only know as ‘people who want to murder babies.'"
"And meanwhile, it’s goo. It’s goo that they’re so worried about. And they’re born, and it’s you’re on your own, slut. Don't help them,” she added.
The "goo" comment has made conservatives very, very mad. But here's what Silverman's comment should remind us: The experience of pregnancy is always specific to the individual! And that is actually totally fine!
If you're pregnant and you don't want to be, you may very well consider that cluster of tissue to be goo. If you're pregnant and you don't want to be, you may also struggle on a personal level with what that pregnancy means. Is it goo? A fetus? A possible baby? A baby? If you're pregnant and you want to be, you may feel that it's a baby from day one. Life is complicated, feelings are complicated, the world is weird, defining this stuff is an intensely personal exercise, etc.
Melissa Harris Perry nailed this point not too long ago when she said, “When does life begin? I submit the answer depends an awful lot on the feeling of the parents. A powerful feeling -- but not science. The problem is that many of our policymakers want to base sweeping laws on those feelings."
And she's right. The experience and terms of pregnancy are ultimately going to be determined by the person, not some sweeping narrative that all people who have abortions are supposed to fit into. Emily Letts, who filmed her abortion to combat stigma and -- as Silverman aims to do in her work -- put a human face on the issue, also made this point in a recent interview with Salon:
When I counsel women who have had abortions, it’s been so amazing hearing people’s stories afterward. And the thing really is that it’s always going to be about the woman who is going through it. About her perspective. Depending on how she grew up, depending on whatever, she might very well feel her six-week pregnancy is a baby. And she feels that loss, she feels a connection to a five-week pregnancy even though it doesn’t have a heartbeat. And I think part of this conversation needs to be the fact that we just need to listen to women. If a woman says that it’s her baby, let’s ask how does it feel? Where are you at, in a place that if you do feel so connected to it, why are you still making this decision? We need to hear that. Then we need to support her in coping afterward.
You can watch Silverman in conversation with Maher here.
h/t the Wire