By Emilie Ng
PRO-LIFE supporters believe a viral campaign encouraging women to boast about their abortions online could “re-traumatise” post-abortive females rather than provide healing.
Planned Parenthood supporters began social media trend #shoutyourabortion after US Republicans threatened to defund the major American abortion provider after undercover video footage exposed the organisation’s sale of aborted baby body parts.
Thousands of women angered by the move shared their abortion experiences on Twitter and Facebook using #shoutyourabortion, aimed at ending the “stigma” of silence on the issue and defending Planned Parenthood.
But Brisbane pro-life supporters believe the hashtag has the power to do more harm than good.
New mum Nicola Bigarelli, a pro-life woman who gave birth to her first baby girl in July, said she felt “embarrassed to be a woman” as she defended “babies rights against other women” on her Facebook account.
“As a new mother, I feel sick seeing women celebrate the murder of an innocent life,” Mrs Bigarelli said.
“No excuse would ever permit for a woman to kill her baby.
“The babies body is not hers and therefore she has no rights over it.”
Father of three Daniel Edmonds said the hashtag campaign was “not a compassionate response” to women who have undergone abortions.
“It’s a horrifying eugenics type of campaign that is horribly misguided and which fails to understand the issue of abortion,” he said.
Mr Edmonds said he was “heartbroken” to read the stories of women who want to “shout about abortion”.
“If I were to post the hashtag, I would say this is a monumental tragedy for mothers and fathers,” he said.
“It’s tragic that they’re encouraging women to show pride in having an abortion.
“The response can’t be joy or pride to such an extreme situation.”
He said pro-life groups like 40 Days for Life and Cherish Life Queensland, which Mr Edmonds is involved in as a volunteer, “really care for mums and their babies”.
While women have been given a space to share their abortion experiences, Mr Edmonds said men should also have a say in the discussions.
He said abortion also had devastating effects on men.
“Abortion has a profound impact on fathers and grandfathers,” he said.
“Certainly men are harmed by abortions.”
Cherish Life Queensland state president Teresa Martin said she was concerned for the women who have used the hashtag, believing them to be “in denial” about their pain.
“How far removed have women come from their hearts, and of all things feminie, nurturing and loving?” she said.
Ms Martin said while she would never judge any of the women who have posted for abortion in the online campaign, she said justifying their wrong could not help them “find healing”.
“Instead of bringing healing, all it really does is aggravate the pain of abortion,” she said.
She said post-abortive women who “realise the drama and reality of abortion” were in danger of never finding true healing.
“I think they will be re-traumatised by this,” Ms Martin said.
“It will be doubly traumatic for post-abortive women.”
She said women in the pro-abortion movement had become a “silent sisterhood” that stopped women who were hurting from ever admitting to finding abortions painful.
Ms Martin encouraged pro-life supporters to use the hashtag to speak truth into abortions.
“We’ve got to reclaim everything, and fight them with their own tools,” she said.
Yesterday the US Senate Democrats vetoed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.
Abortion is a topic many predict Pope Francis will raise in his historic visit to the US Congress on Thursday September 24.
During his visit to Cuba earlier this week, Pope Francis told pregnant women they had “hope” in their wombs and blessed their unborn children.
“I am going to suggest something: all you women who are pregnant with hope – because a child is hope – in this moment, place your hand on your belly,” he said.
“If there are pregnant women here, you do it, and those who are listening through radio or television.
“And to each of these women, to each boy or girl who is there inside waiting, I give my blessing.
“So each one, touch your belly, and I give you the blessing, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Pope Francis has also extended a blessing to post-abortive women when he gave all Catholic priests the ability to absolve abortions.
The Church gives only Bishops the ability to absolve abortion, which the Church teaches can excommunicate women provided they have full knowledge of it as a grave sin.