ColumnNBA star Udonis Haslem’s wedding announcement in the New York Times adds to the cultural conversation about reproductive choice.
In many ways, the New York Times story celebrating Udonis Haslem and Faith Rein’s wedding is pretty typical. Two kids with wildly different backgrounds meet in college. They start dating. Then, she gets pregnant. The circumstances of their courtship, reports The Times, weren’t so unusual (I mean aside from the whole NBA draft thing, of course):
“Their first challenge took place the following spring when she became pregnant. It was her junior and his senior year, and he had begun training for the N.B.A. draft. Despite the pregnancy, she was busy with track meets and helping him complete homework. The timing was bad. ‘I am not a huge fan of abortion, but we both had sports careers, plus we could not financially handle a baby,’ said Mr. Haslem, noting how he struggled with supporting Kedonis, the son he had in high school, who is now 14 and who lives with his mother.”
The decision the couple made to end the pregnancy, give the relationship time to mature and wait until they felt ready to start a family isn’t unusual. In fact, one-third of women in the US will have an abortion during their lifetimes.
What is unusual is how this story was reported. This chapter in this couple’s life was written as part of their story—something they supported each though, which contributed to their bond but did not define the relationship. The writer presents the abortion with the same perspective as the couple themselves say that they did: As a reasonable and sensible decision for that couple at that point in their lives.
It’s time for the media to start putting abortion in the context of normal rather then abnormal. That this story is told at all, that it is told in a wedding announcement and the way in which it is told is hugely, massively important to the cultural conversation around reproductive choice.
Unless we’re reading a story about a rape or incest survivor (a story in which readers can decide that the woman is a victim, which somehow justifies her decision to make a legal, medically safe choice for herself and terminate a pregnancy), it’s rare that we read about abortion as something that is part of life—which it is for many women and many couples.
The Times refers to the decision as one of many challenges the couple faced. And, as readers, all we know is that it’s one they faced together. And that’s all we need to know.
Though the couple’s choice to talk about the abortion in this article celebrating their relationship is in itself a political statement, the lack of political commentary and the lack of apology is refreshing.
There’s a lot of power in the language we use to talk about reproductive choice—and a lot of power in what is left unsaid.
Image: Keith Allison
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