Last week, Chrissy Teigen and her husband, singer John Legend, shared the devastating news that they’d lost a pregnancy.
“We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before,” Teigen wrote in an intimate and deeply moving Instagram post. “We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough.” The celebrity’s mother also shared a post.
While many of the reactions to the messages were kind and supportive, other comments were… not. Amid commenters accusing Teigen of oversharing were those who used the family’s deep grief over their lost pregnancy as a chance to criticise the couple for their views on abortion.
“Hoping that Chrissy Tiegan [sic] and John Legend will reevaluate their thoughts on abortion after their heartbreaking experience,” tweeted Errol Webber, a Republican candidate for California’s 37th House District who earned just 7.6% of the primary vote. “It’s not a clump of cells. It’s either a baby or it’s not.”
Using someone’s tragedy to push a political agenda is astonishingly insensitive, especially so soon after the loss. The rationale behind this sort of message also ignores the fact that plenty of desired pregnancies end in abortion — and more generally, grossly misses the mark of what it means to be supportive of abortion access and abortion rights.
It is possible to support a person’s right to abortion, access to reproductive healthcare, and bodily autonomy, while at the same time grieving the loss of a desired pregnancy.
“Chrissy can mourn the loss of her wanted pregnancy and also support any person who wants to choose to end their pregnancy at the same time. These are not contradictory. In fact, they are consistent because it is about honouring people, especially women, in their deeply personal experiences they have with pregnancies,” says Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
“The decision to become a parent is one of the most significant anyone makes in their life, and having the freedom and access to end a pregnancy or to have a child safely and raise them in a healthy environment are the aims of reproductive justice,” she continues. “It’s not a contradiction. Everyone should have the health care, including abortion, and resources to support their decisions about their lives and their families.”
If Webber’s tweet has you questioning humanity, hopefully the fact that dozens of commenters are calling him out for his insensitivity will bring you some comfort. “A clump of cells is nothing more that a clump of cells,” wrote @ScientistMel. “If a person wants that clump of cells to develop into a human… that’s intent and desire to raise a human once the clump of cells can sustain itself in a world without maternal (internal) assistance.” Another commenter asked, simply, “What is wrong with you?”
“Every day, people around the world have varying experiences with their pregnancy outcomes. Sometimes it’s by choice, and other times it is not,” Choimorrow says. “Either way, these are very personal experiences for people and no one should pass judgement.”
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