There are two things radically wrong about the Manhattan Mini Storage billboard that displays a wire coat hanger above the words: "Your closet space is shrinking as fast as her right to choose." First, it is hideously insensitive to those who endured an abortion via such a pre-Roe v. Wade procedure. Secondly, it perpetuates a myth.
The symbolism of a wire hanger has been a traditional gambit used at feminist rallies and by counterprotesters at anti-abortion rights marches. Actors Whoopi Goldberg and Cybil Shepherd waved their hangers at an abortion-rights rally in Washington, D.C., in April 2004. In January 2003, I was at a Washington March for Life and noticed a man who wasn't carrying a sign but was swinging a wire hanger. His silent message: "Overturn Roe and women will be dying from coat-hanger abortions."
A woman so desperate that she would endure that procedure does not need to be confronted by such a crass commercial reminder of her past. The dangerous insertion of a straightened hanger inside a rubber tube to puncture her uterus, which sheltered an unwanted baby, is seared into her memory because it is more than likely that she witnessed the results of her deadly decision.
That a commercial business would trivialize such pain is reprehensible but not surprising. Manhattan Mini Storage has placed other controversial billboards around the city that clearly support the agenda of liberal Democrats. Last year, one read, "The Democrats Cleaned The House ... Now It's Your Turn," the text superimposed over an elephant carrying a suitcase. Another read: "Your Closet's Scarier Than Bush's Agenda."
One can say that these advertisements are clever, but I also find this latest one proof that true concern for a woman is overridden by superficial rhetoric and inaccuracy.
Myths, of course, endure if they are repeated for ensuing generations who do not have the benefit of witnessing truth as it occurs.
The myth of the origin of Roe v. Wade has been perpetuated by feminists and abortion advocates either willfully or out of ignorance. There is no convenient catch phrase that can be put on a billboard on behalf of a storage company because the truth requires deep thinking, not sensory amusement.
The "Jane Roe" whose case went before the Supreme Court was not a victim of rape. She never had an abortion. Her real name is Norma McCorvey and she now adamantly opposes abortion. She wrote about the truth of her involvement in the historic 1973 decision in her 1998 book, "Won By Love." Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a cofounder of NARAL, blew the myth wide open in his 1997 book, "Confessions of an Ex-Abortionist." He admits that early abortion-rights advocates totally fabricated the number of women dying from back-alley and wire-hanger abortions. The 10,000 figure they used to affect public opinion was actually closer to 250, he writes. The actual figure in 1972 for deaths from illegal abortion was 39, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Nathanson also admitted to fabricating polls that indicated public support for abortion rights.
The lies continue to this day. Healthy women are dying from legal abortions, but these deaths are disguised as hemorrhaging, peritonitis, or other natural causes. In 1998, Tamika Dowdy, 22, of Crown Heights, was pronounced dead after having a legal abortion at Long Island College Hospital, the New York Post reported. Police officials didn't report that Dowdy died from an abortion, even though the clinic had been under investigation for a previous incident in which a woman's uterus was punctured, the Post reported. Veterinary clinics are better regulated than abortion facilities, whose profit margins rely on quantity, not quality care.
I cringe whenever I hear a politician spout about "safe but rare" legal abortion. It's never safe for the baby and the damage to the woman's mental health is never discussed. Post-abortion support groups like Silent No More and Rachel's Vineyard are routinely dismissed by mainstream journalists who tell them, "Get over it." But a 13-year study taken of all Finland found that post-abortive women were more than six times likely to commit suicide than those who had not had one.
Meanwhile, a billboard flaunts its supercilious take on a serious issue; heaven forbid if a billboard were erected with the image of a mutilated fetus. I can just imagine the furor that would erupt at such a gruesome but real vision of abortion.
Ergo, the myth continues.