Comic books have been around for longer than I know. While they have tackled numerous “real life” topics, they have barely scratched the surface on abortion. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times it has been brought up. Comics and abortion are nearly non-existent.
I don’t blame them. The subject divides a room quicker than Moses divided the water.
In the early 1990’s inside the pages of X-Factor #78, the team learns that a Doctor has found a way to target the mutation gene in its infancy. That is, he is able to go in and stop a fetus from evolving if the fetus is found to contain the gene responsible for mutation. This, of course, leads to some pretty heavy banter between the team members. In one jaw-dropping piece of back-and-forth, Wolfsbane turns to Polaris and responds with, “No one has the right t’play God…”
And that line has got me thinking.
Does anyone have the right to play God? Does anyone have the right to choose if they will bore a child or not? Do we as a society have the right to kill an unborn human?
Do we even talk about it?
It’s a tough topic and one that nobody wants to discuss. Even now as I write about it, I choose my words carefully for fear of prosecution. The mention of abortion has become taboo. Media hesitate to bring it up, politicians dance around it, and families disband over it. It’s a larger part of society than we care to admit.
Through the Netflix show Jessica Jones, Marvel’s poster child for rape and torture, has shed some light on what carrying an unwanted child might feel like.
In the show, it is revealed that the Purple Man has impregnated a college student. While in jail the college student pays an inmate to beat her up so as “to induce a miscarriage”. She proceeds to explain to Jessica that she wishes to have an abortion as soon as possible because “every second it’s there, I get raped again and again.”
She makes it clear that an unwanted child is a reminder of an unwanted situation.
But how accurate is this portrayal?
Evidence exists that aborting an unwanted pregnancy is often worse for the victims than having the baby. Studies have shown that three-quarters of impregnated rape victims show no signs of remorse about keeping the baby.
More interesting, 94% of women who had their babies, said that abortion is not a good solution. The studies further show that 93% of those who had an abortion said that aborting was not a good way to alleviate their problems. They finish by saying that they wouldn’t recommend it to others.
Then, why are we afraid to talk about it?
Because it’s scary…but it doesn’t have to be. Comics and abortion can come together for the betterment of society.
In 2015, Leah Hayes released “Not Funny: Ha-ha” into the world and it has become a rallying cry for those affected by abortion. According to an interview conducted by the Huffington Post, “The aim of this book was to offer a calming ‘voice’ (a visual one) for women as they move through a difficult passage…Having an abortion can be a confusing, scary, and sometimes lonely process. Writing this book was not intended to lighten the subject, define the ‘right or wrong’ of the subject, or make it trivial in any way. I hope to offer a work that could make someone who had an experience with abortion feel less alone.”
The book aims to discuss not the right and wrong of the topic, but rather create an illustrated enactment of the topic. It follows the experience of abortion that focuses on two fictional characters, Lisa and Mary. One chooses to have a medical abortion and the other, a surgical abortion.
It doesn’t profess to have all the answers because, well, it can’t. In truth, nobody has all the answers. What it does do is shed some much-needed light on a topic that has silently screamed for attention. It has shown the world that there is a place for comics and abortion.
Maybe, that’s all the world needs…someone to not only shed some light but also to make light of the situation.
So, what is the next step?
Communication. But communication cannot do it alone. Communication must coincide without fear or retaliation. It must be open and honest. Most importantly, it must allow more than just talking…it must be heard.
Whatever side of the fence you land on, speak up. But speak up with the intent to listen. Comics have started it. X-Factor, Jessica Jones, and Leah Hayes have all done their part. Will you continue it?