abortion ii: the bottom line

I had an experience regarding the issue of abortion where I had to make a decision that had public ramifications. I once published an intercollegiate magazine in Upstate New York, Q Magazine. One day I was contacted by an anti-abortion group who wanted to run an ad in the magazine. We negotiated an advertising contract in their office. They were pleasant women. Then they handed me the photo and the copy for the ad. I gulped when I saw the picture of the fetus, with the heading, “If wombs had windows.” But I left there with a check in hand and a long-term advertising contract for my newspaper. My editor and my advertising sales rep both rolled their eyes when they saw the ad.

We published it shortly thereafter. There were no cell phones in the 1980s so it took a couple days for the letter to arrive; from a co-ed at SUNY Geneseo. The gist of the message: How do you think a young woman agonizing over getting an abortion and finally getting one will feel when she sees this ad?

This harsh reality of abortion was of course the purpose of the ad. But the young woman’s voice rang louder in my ear than the voices of the pleasant women with the checkbook. I wanted to stop running the ad, but I’d signed a contract. I feared I would be in for a lawsuit.

Thankfully, the anti-abortion people did not fight my request to pull the ad; they acquiesced. The issue was settled. At least from the standpoint of running one ad. In one college magazine. A long time ago.

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