Being a teenager is full of challenges, and one of the most well-known sources for advice on navigating those challenges is Teen Vogue, a subset of Vogue magazine tailored specifically to the under-20 crowd. Teen Vogue’s print magazine has a circulation upwards of one million people, and one can imagine that its online reach is even wider.
That’s why it’s highly concerning that the outlet recently published a slideshow entitled “What to Get a Friend Post-Abortion,” suggesting lighthearted gifts for a friend who just underwent an abortion procedure. Some of its suggestions include an “angry uterus” heating pad, a “grl pwr” (girl power) cap, a sign-up to be an abortion-clinic escort, or a Ruth Bader Ginsburg coloring book.
The list gets one thing right when it says that “making this decision is never simple,” but it seems not to take its own point to heart, as the piece goes on to lament society’s “false stigma” against having an abortion. According to Teen Vogue, your friend “shouldn’t have to feel ashamed, because she made the right choice for her situation,” and she needs your support, “not because [abortion] itself is so terrible, but because sometimes the world can be.”
Regardless of one’s views on the morality of abortion, this is an emotionally fraught issue, and the decision to “terminate a pregnancy” can never be taken lightly in the way that this piece suggests. As people on both sides of the aisle will agree, whether or not to get an abortion is a complex decision — an especially challenging one for readers as young as those who read Teen Vogue — and it ought not be trivialized in the way that this slideshow does. And it’s certainly problematic to make the blanket assertion that abortion is, in all cases, “the right choice.”
Aside from the obvious moral problem of aborting a human child, this kind of rhetoric is harmful primarily because it discounts the experiences of the many women who do honestly experience regret after choosing to have an abortion. It tells post-abortive women that there’s something wrong with them if they feel badly about having made that choice or begin to experience guilt years after the fact. Pro-abortion groups and activists are quick to deny that women ever regret abortion, most often portraying it as an inconsequential decision that women can easily forget about the next day. If they acknowledge the existence of remorse at all, it’s most often in the context of “stigma,” insisting that the guilty feelings that occasionally accompany abortion stem from society’s judgmental condemnation of the procedure.
But post-abortive women who feel guilt or remorse aren’t truly served when society pats them on the back and reassures them that their choice deserves celebration no matter what. The inclination to do so gets at the heart of what the left truly wants on this issue: Not only must women be free to choose abortion, but they shouldn’t incur any judgment or recrimination for having done so, to the extent that society must abolish any stigma surrounding the issue. And this agenda is often furthered at the expense of post-abortive women who experience true regret, women that the left silences and ignores unless they’re willing to “shout [their] abortion.”
Such a blasé attitude diminishes the obvious gravity of abortion and can easily devastate women who regret their abortion procedure. These women desperately need compassionate support, not repeated assurances that their abortions were unimportant or unequivocally acceptable. They need ministries such as Project Rachel and Silent No More Awareness, groups that counsel and walk with those who have been negatively affected by the choice to have an abortion. This kind of support should be extended to all post-abortive women, but most especially to the young readers of Teen Vogue.