evangelicals have abortions
(they just call them miscarriages)
Not to be dramatic but I feel like I was made to write this post. As someone with a degree in religious studies (yes, really) who thinks about abortion pretty much non-stop, this is my shit. So let’s get into it. Last week Jessa Seewald (née Duggar), shared her abortion story on her Youtube channel. But of course she didn’t call it that.
First, some background:
Q: Who are the Duggars?
A: There’s a lot to say here, but for the sake of brevity: An Arkansas-based conservative Christian family/brand headed by Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar, who became celebrities through various TLC shows including the canceled 19 Kids & Counting. In all likelihood, all 19 are courtesy of the Quiverfull movement. Jessa is the 5th of 19, and still actively participates in the family brand.
Q: The Quiverfull movement?
A: A fundamentalist Christian theology built on white supremacist patriarchy, where the goal is to have as many children as possible. At all costs. Heavy notes of purity culture, shame, and control. They flat-out reject all forms of contraception, let alone abortion care. Of course that gets a little messy when it comes to certain pregnancies - more on that later.
Q: Just to make sure - as a whole the Duggars are super anti-abortion? And Jessa herself?
A: Notoriously so! Yes, including her.
OK, moving on. Jessa recently uploaded a video titled Heartbreak for the Holidays to her Youtube channel. In it, she explained how she had been pregnant over the holidays but ultimately had a D&C procedure to end the pregnancy. It’s an emotional video, with Jessa’s narrative interspersed with home videos and soft music.
I watched the whole 18 minutes and 30 seconds and here’s the summary:
Jessa announced her pregnancy in late 2022. Sometime around the 11th week of pregnancy she started experiencing spotting, which eventually went away. Then, after an ultrasound, her doctor told her that while the amniotic sac “looked good”, the fetus did not.
Here’s Jessa on what happened next:
I ended up having to go see my doctor, and because my history of hemorrhaging and all that, there was concern that if I tried to just take something* or pass the baby at home that I might have trouble and have to be transported and all that. It just wasn’t something that seemed like a very good option* and so we decided to go to the hospital and get checked in there. And go through the process of a D&C.
*here she’s presumably referring to medication abortion pills
*emphasis my own
So here she’s acknowledging the various options available to her to end a pregnancy, including the existence and utility of both self-managed and in-clinic abortion. Important: a D&C (dilation and curettage) is a medical procedure that removes tissue from inside the uterus. Whether you call it a miscarriage or an abortion, it is the exact same medical procedure.
Unsurprisingly, it generates interest when a member of one of the most prominent anti-abortion families openly talks about having an abortion.
With my regrets, here’s a relevant screenshot from yesterday:
As we know, being anti-abortion means doing a lot of mental and semantic gymnastics. In this case, by using different language for the same thing - depending on who they’re talking about. When it’s called a miscarriage, a D&C is a god-approved, life-saving procedure. But when it’s called an abortion, it’s a sinful, slutty (weird word to describe a medical procedure but OK) one. I know, I know - the hypocrisy is glaring.
What stands out to me from that screenshot is the way Jessa highlights her own real and human pain while dehumanizing others in the same breath. She says people have D&Cs for many reasons, but hatefully refuses to accept that all of those reasons are valid, not just the Duggar-approved ones.
I want to be clear: I’m really glad Jessa was able to get the care she needed. The abortion care she needed. She had her reasons and chose not to continue the pregnancy, just like the rest of us who have abortions. I wish I could say the same for many other people who also live in Arkansas. Because there, abortion - including that same D&C procedure we’ve been talking about - is completely banned. Jessa was somehow (read: with money and privilege) able to access care despite the law, but many people can’t. This is something the Duggars have actively campaigned and laid the infrastructure for.
Banning or making it more difficult to access abortion care puts all pregnant people at risk. But that risk isn’t distributed equally - the burden falls most heavily on Black people, young people, immigrants, poor people, people in rural areas, disabled people, and other marginalized communities. And it’s worth taking note of whose abortion stories are met with compassion (like, say, from People magazine) and whose are met with disdain.
It’s terrifying, but campaigning against self interest is nothing new for the Duggar women, or for white women as a whole - the sabotage stemming from some mix of internalized misogyny, racism, and a misplaced sense of moral superiority.
Speaking of morality. From Jessa, in the video:
It was a difficult experience. Before getting checked into the hospital I just had a moment by myself to like just think about the weight of the situation and what had happened and start to process. And in that moment I was thinking of Job and how when he lost everything that he held dear, his kids, everything, in that moment he was still able to say God is good. And so honestly I don’t know how. But it’s hard, it’s hard. But we do know the truth that God is good and he does care for us. And so I remember reciting those words of Job that says “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, and blessed be the name of the Lord.” I was able to thank God in that moment for giving us this life even if we would never be able to hold this baby in our arms.
My personal takeaway here: God works through abortion care.
*raffle alert*: Make a donation to your local abortion fund then send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know and I’ll enter you in a raffle to receive one of these super cute bumper stickers below (you can choose which style!) plus a copy of Baking by Feel.
some notable (and less notable) things
Have you (like me) ever suddenly wondered what early 2000’s heartthrob Ryan Cabrera is up to? Well, wonder no more - after some cursory research I can report that he made an appearance on The Hills: New Beginnings in 2019 and is married to professional wrestler Alexa Bliss (who apparently used to have a pet pig named Larry-Steve!)
If you also have a story where an employee at Claire’s pierced one of your ears much lower than the other, this is for you. I saw an ad for these “modern” clip on hoops and they are amazing. 10/10 for both comfort and style. I can finally be the hoops girl I’ve always wanted to be!
There are two new American Girl characters, Isabel & Nicki. From 1999 (!!)
I can’t decide if these pancake-themed shower products look amazing or gross.
weekly abortion affirmation
You can use misoprostol on its own to end a pregnancy. Here’s how.
And remember: you never have to tell anyone you took abortion pills. If you need medical care you can just say you’re having a miscarriage - they won’t be able to tell.
my current fave pic of Otie
your favorite becca
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