Claire Underwood’s Abortion in ‘House of Cards’
The writers of House of Cards reveal the complexity of sharing an abortion story and illustrate how abortion stigma, defying maternal expectations, and the decision to speak publicly all affect Claire. This is a new narrative for audiences, and one that’s reflective of reality. Many characters with a history of abortion have been cast as feeling guilty and depressed as a result of the abortion itself, which research shows is not accurate. Instead of seeing Claire act out of shame—internalizing and accepting that she is bad for making her choices, as society would have her believe—she’s shown as a woman who was confident in her decision to seek abortion care, reflective in her choice to share, and navigating a world that she knows disapproves.
“Well I can’t use the real reason,” she explains to her communications director before telling the interviewer that she had an abortion. “The first two, I was a teenager. And I was reckless.” Claire later notes that her third abortion was with her husband and was indeed the one the reporter brought up in the interview.
Claire recognizes that viewers might judge her decision to seek an abortion, especially with how society views, and shames, “promiscuous” teen girls. She feels she must handle the situation, yet stay true to her empowered choices. Ultimately, Claire and her communications director think it “best” to falsely claim she only had one abortion, the result of a rape she survived in college. Claire’s uneasy yet calculated decision to lie minimizes her risk of attack from outsiders who may not understand her situation.
“Claire’s behavior here is called ‘stigma management’—she’s making deliberate decisions about what information about her abortions to disclose, and what information to keep to herself,” says Sea Change Deputy Director Steph Herold. “This is a rational, understandable response to living in a world where the predominant expectation for people who have abortions is to feel ashamed and keep silent.”
This Is How Anti-Choice Brainwashing Starts.
A video posted on the Huntsville, Alabama, subreddit last night shows a man (identified by the poster as former Athens mayoral candidate J. Bradley Horner) thundering at his tiny, bewildered-looking daughter about how pro-choice advocates believe in “killing babies.”
Here’s a transcript:
Man: This woman right here? Believes in killing babies. That man believes in killing babies. That woman over there, that woman over there, that woman right there, that woman right there, believes in killing babies. That is against the law of God.
Woman: That’s not true, sweetheart.
Man: It is against the law of man, of “Thou shalt not kill.” When a man—when a husband and wife come together—life begins at conception. You ask me why these people are holding signs? I’m gonna teach you. They want to kill babies. They think it’s acceptable for that. And I’m telling you as your father, that’s wrong. OK? And I love you. I would never do anything to [inaudible]. OK? I want you to look at these people. I want you to look at them. And I want you to accept that that is a sin.OK? Can you do that with me? OK.
Woman: What a sicko. How could you do that to a child.
Woman: He is one sick son of a bitch. He is one sick ticket, y’all.
The reddit poster also claimed that Horner blocked the clinic driveway with his truck, called the police four times because “the babykillers are on the public sidewalk,” and brought his two children out inadequately dressed for a day with a 35-degree windchill.
The video shows paternalism at its best, so to speak. Invoking his benevolent authority as a father, the man huddles with his children as if in a bunker to prepare them for a lifelong war. “That woman over there” is the enemy, whose personhood is entirely separate from, and inferior to, that of any pregnancy she may have. “That woman over there” is advocating sin (which the toddler probably doesn’t understand the meaning of yet) because life begins at conception (definitely doesn’t get that one) and wants to kill babies (this much she mightbegin to grasp).
It’s a reminder of how infantile the anti-choice rhetoric can be.
Why are we as reproductive rights activists being so quiet about sex-selective abortion bans in the US?
Anti-choice legislators who support sex-selective bans rely on a tricky, and deeply racist, argument. It goes like this: Asian cultures (no nuance contained herein about the multitude of Asian cultures that exist), particularly Asian women, and all Asian Americans generally, think sex selection is acceptable. In order to protect these women (the woman and her female fetus), and the entire community of Asians in the United States, from their sexist ways, we must enact anti-sex-selection laws. Sex selection is a sexist act, so in order to protect women from their own cultural prejudices, we are justified in eliminating their right to access abortion.
This flawed line of reasoning lays bare gross generalizations and racist beliefs about Asian Americans, and a distrust of Asian women.
“Abortion tourism” or “abortion vacations”: This is the latest (non-)thing that the Daily Caller is trying to get its hard right audience all riled up about, in an article sneering at Lenzi Sheible, a pro-choice activist who started Fund Texas Women, a group dedicated to helping Texans who need to travel to get abortions under the draconian new state laws that have closed all the rural abortion clinics in the state.
In the piece, writer Eric Owens didn’t even try to hide that he was stoking resentment of women over the mere possibility that they could experience a moment of pleasure. Owens goes out of his way to make it seem like the women who are being served by Fund Texas Women are having a great time living in the lap of luxury; he whines that trips to access a legal medical procedure are “abortion vacations” and that Fund Texas Women “pays for airfare, bus tickets, hotel accommodations and various other expenses.” The reader is clearly meant to throw a fit—these women “get” to have fun “vacations” for free just because they had sex! Never mind that these trips are actually quite stressful. Never mind that getting outpatient surgery is no one’s idea of a good time. Never mind that sitting on a Greyhound bus for hours as you drive across Texas, which is what these women have to do, is a downright hellish experience. Read the rest here.
President Obama: Withdraw the nomination of anti-choice, Confederate emblem-enthusiast Michael Boggs to the federal courts.
Anonymous asked: More people need to realize that regretting something does not necessarily make it a bad or immoral choice. While I've never had an abortion (The option however is on the table if I were to become pregnant especially in the next few years), but I've had to break ties with family members before. Do I wish I never had to? Yeah. However, I still feel it was the best thing I could've possibly done, because some parts of my family are frankly awful people and I'm a better person without them.
Oh lawd, I completely missed this ask. I apologize for what I think was a very long delay in responding to this.
You know, I’ve made an awful lot of “good” decisions that I regret immensely, for varying reasons. Sometimes there was a better option. Sometimes I wound up hurting myself. Sometimes I wound up missing a great opportunity.
There have also been bad decisions I made that hurt no one else, but at the time felt so good and so right that to this day I don’t regret them. Did they cause harm? Most definitely. But I got something out of them.
There’s just no room for black and white when you’re talking about “regret” and what regret means. Especially when you are trying to appropriate one person’s regret.
"I regret my abortion" cannot be used to say, "You’ll regret your abortion." This is not A = B.
You know, there have been accounts of people who killed in self defense. There were some who felt nothing. They felt pride in their ability to defend their family. There were others who went through unbelievable periods of guilt. Why? Because people are different.
If everyone felt the same way about every decision, there would be no individuality.