Rosemarie Tischer Stith, "Triumph" (1973)

The US Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) stated in support of abortion rights that the “ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives”.

But laws are not the only impediment to a woman’s choice to abort.

The negation of social as well as legal constraints on abortion is inherent in the idea of abortion freedom. Moral qualms (and consequent mental health worries) about abortion would interfere with reproductive control. These, too, must be negated in order for women to feel free to abort. Abortion must become a normal part of a decent life.

To this end, women are being encouraged to speak loudly about their abortions.

Shout Your Abortion is a movement working to normalize abortion through art, media, and community events all over the country,” according to its mission statement. Its Twitter feed is full of inspiring messages like:

  • “Abortion is normal. Our stories are ours to tell. This is not a debate.”
  • “I aid and abet abortion and will do so proudly and constantly for the rest of my life.”
  • “Happy #CelebrateAbortionProviders Appreciation Day!
  • “I did right by my son and myself.”
  • “It seems incredibly damaging to label folks who choose abortion as naive or uneducated or selfish. Or victims.”

The message of SYA is that women must be made ready and willing to choose abortion if they are to “participate equally in . . . economic and social life” with their male colleagues.

From the beginning, as a kind of basic training, shouting was going to be needed to prepare women to kill. It’s a kind of shame-shaming in which women are exhorted to normalize “terminations”, to see them as an everyday part of life.

There is only so far that one can go in combatting this hardening of hearts with words. Closely reasoned arguments and statistics fail to pierce the defiance of its “iron dome”. There is a thick scab of pain, abuse, fear, loneliness, and anger shielding abortion supporters from the truth.

Perhaps the best way to dissolve this is with art. You will probably recall Picasso’s great painting “Guernica”. It is a far better revelation of the horror of total war than any textbook.

Where is the great art uncovering the horror of abortion?

I’d like to nominate the sculpture below.

“Triumph”, by Rosemarie Tischer Stith (1973)

American sculptor Rosemarie Tischer Stith, a child refugee from the WWII bombings of German cities, foresaw the great shout for abortion back in 1973. Her 36-inch ceramic, “Triumph,” depicts a woman — standing tall in victory — her left hand on her hip and her right fist thrust into the air. Her head and hair are back. Her eyes are closed. Her mouth is open in a cry of triumph. Her chest swells in exultation, while her peculiarly elongated legs raise her pridefully high.

Under her feet lies her vanquished baby.

Here we see a mother’s contemporary assertion of dominion over her unborn child, but with her triumphal shout she dehumanizes herself rather than her child.

Indeed, the child is still intact, not yet aborted but only made available for abortion. The point of the sculpture is to depict not abortion itself but the new idea of motherhood that came out of the US Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Richard Stith is a professor emeritus of law at Valparaiso University. He is active in the Consistent Life Network, although the positions taken in his essays are not necessarily those of the CLN or its...