This morning, I’ve watched two videos about Jessa Duggar Seewald, and her recent miscarriage at 12 weeks gestation. I wasn’t going to comment on this, but now that I’ve seen the videos, I feel compelled to chime in on this controversy.
Jessa, for those who don’t know, is one of the 19 kids who was on 19 Kids and Counting, a defunct reality show on the TLC network that chronicled the lives of JimBob and Michelle Duggar, and their 19 children. In 2014, Jessa married Ben Seewald, and together they have four adorable children– two boys, and two girls. Ben works as a pastor, and Jessa makes YouTube videos. Recently, she made one about losing her latest pregnancy over the holidays. After she had her miscarriage, she had a dilation and curettage procedure, popularly known as a D&C. This is the same procedure some people have when they have abortions. Miscarriage is, in fact, known in medical parlance as a “spontaneous abortion”.
In the wake of Jessa’s news, a lot of people on the Internet have been freaking out about the fact that she had a D&C. A number of media outlets have been reporting about Jessa’s miscarriage. I’m no longer on Twitter, but I’ve heard that comments there have been particularly brutal, with many pro choice activists figuratively shrieking that Jessa did, in fact, have an abortion.
And yet, in the past, Jessa has publicly compared abortion to a “Baby Holocaust”, implying that people who seek abortion care are Nazis. Naturally, people were outraged by the comparison and haven’t forgotten that she said that. In fairness to Jessa, though, she said it in 2014, a year after her mother, Michelle, also said it at a pro-life rally in Texas. This was before we all knew about Josh Duggar, and his disgusting sex pest proclivities. At the time, the Duggars were still somewhat respected by some people.
Those of you who read my blog regularly probably already know that I am vehemently pro-choice. I think pregnant people should be allowed to have abortions when they need them. It’s not my business why they might want or need to terminate a pregnancy. I’ve got my own uterus, so I don’t need to mind theirs. And while I’m 50 years old and no longer have to worry about unintended pregnancies, I very much believe in the right to choose whether or not to be pregnant. In “parts passing”, I’ve already explained in detail why I am so much in favor of legalized abortions. It mostly has to do with privacy, but I’ve also seen what happens when people have babies they aren’t ready to raise.
I think Jessa’s previous comments about abortion are repugnant. I completely disagree with her assertion that abortion is akin to a Holocaust. I think that statement demonstrates a stunning lack of understanding or compassion toward what people suffered during the real Holocaust. I also think it reveals a complete dearth of common sense or compassion toward those who need abortion care, regardless of the reasons– some of which are very much medical in origin.
That being stated, I don’t agree with the assertion that Jessa had an elective abortion. She had a medical procedure that can be used to effect an abortion, but it can also be used in other circumstances that don’t involve pregnancy. Moreover, she did not elect to end her pregnancy. She had a “spontaneous abortion”– a miscarriage. And when she had the D&C, she was already losing the pregnancy. Since she has a history of bleeding, doctors determined that waiting for the miscarriage to complete at home would not be a medically sound decision. But make no mistake– the pregnancy was ending, and she would not be having that baby.
I completely understand the outrage surrounding the complete right wing craziness in the United States right now. Over the past few days, I’ve heard about people boycotting Hershey’s chocolate because they used a transgender woman to promote Women’s Day. Hypocritical Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has just signed legislation banning drag shows in Tennessee. And of course, we already know what’s happened to a woman’s right to choose abortion in a number of states. There have been a number of frightening after effects of that change in policy. People are rightfully pissed off about the erosion of women’s rights, as well as those of other communities that have historically been marginalized.
But… accusing Jessa Seewald of having had an elective abortion isn’t truthful or useful. She didn’t have an abortion. She had a D&C, which isn’t always abortion related. Her pregnancy was ending before she had the procedure. And regardless of how one might feel about Jessa’s religious and political beliefs, she’s still a human being. I would not wish a miscarriage on anyone. I’ve never experienced one myself, but I can only try to imagine the grief, especially if the pregnancy was a happy development. It’s just plain wrong to use someone’s miscarriage as a weapon against them.
Both Mama Doctor Jones and Fundie Fridays addressed Jessa’s situation this week. Mama Doctor Jones’s video was entirely about Jessa, while Jen’s Fundie Fridays video addressed Jessa as just part of her commentary on recent Duggar news. Both of these ladies expressed views that I wholeheartedly agree with regarding Jessa’s situation, as well as the need for legalized and private abortion care. I would highly recommend watching both of their videos if you want more information about what happened.
Yes, it’s true that the procedure Jessa had is being denied to other women who want or even need it, thanks to abortion bans. But being mean to Jessa is not going to change her position on the abortion issue. This is a woman who openly compared abortions to the Holocaust. Anyone capable of making that kind of statement is probably not going to be swayed by Internet outrage. Remember, Jessa was raised in a cult, and her beliefs have been shaped by fundamentalist Christianity. She hasn’t been exposed to a lot of different viewpoints, and in fact, her livelihood literally depends upon promoting strong fundie Christian beliefs. If she started talking about abortion rights, her husband would probably lose his job… and her father would probably disown her. He’s already shown that he’s fully capable of shunning any kids who go against him.
I think the best thing to do is have compassion, grace, and understanding. Indeed, that is what Jesus Christ himself would do. I totally get the furor over the loss of abortion rights, but all being mean to Jessa does is promote the us vs. them mentality. I do hope that Jessa’s experience will plant some seeds of wisdom and perspective within her. Sometimes, pregnant women do need to be able to terminate a pregnancy. They should be able to make that decision without any input from non-involved people, and do what is best for themselves.
Right now, it’s true that women are being refused the healthcare that Jessa was privileged enough to access, and that is a point worth mentioning. But we should do it in a way that reflects kindness, decency, and compassion, not vitriol and outrage. Let’s just keep championing the importance of having the right to choose and healthcare privacy.
So ends today’s sermon… Now to put on some clothes and go out into the world.