Sex and Abortion Go Hand In Hand

It is likely that the early 70s was a confusing time for those interested in abortion. Last time I mentioned in my blog that, with the 1973 court case Roe v. Wade setting the political forecast, abortion was likely at the forefront of discussion topics. In this fashion, abortion was probably a touchy subject. Not for the usual reason of being something that is not accepted widely, but instead maybe because the sudden rise in advertisements for abortion could have made it awkward. I mean, to go from something not spoken about to something you can’t get away from…there has to be some element of societal shock there somewhere.

Is it possible that this sudden influx of pro-abortion advertisement lead to a societal oversaturation of all things abortion? This week in a 1973 Emory Wheel, there was an abundance of abortion ads and blurbs. In fact, on one page in particular, there were four abortion ads, three of which were nestled right by one another. This time period was different from today in many ways. For one, abortion was just on the rise to social and public acceptance. Abortion was still a young idea and something fresh on the political picnic table. In addition, abortion was publicly and heavily advertised. Although the only evidence of these assumptions are the numerous Emory Wheel ads, the fact that a college publication was speaking so loosely about something as serious as abortion is strong enough to stand alone.

As if these ads broadcasting statements like “Pregnancy Isn’t Always Beautiful,” aren’t enough to raise an eyebrow, adding to the confusion are the sexualized ads in the Emory Wheel. A full spread was dedicated to the Derby Day festivities. Said to be a philanthropic event for an on-campus fraternity, this event was seen as a “rite of passage” for many women. “Derbie Day is a lot like that airline commercial where a sexy stewardess says ‘I’m Debbie, fly me’…Officially what Derby Day is about is spirit, but if you want to get a real message, think about Debbie.” Seeing as though this advertisement was in the same publication as the plethora of abortion ads, it is safe to say that sex was prevalent, and not far behind was a semblance of a celebration of abortion. Readers of the Wheel were likely old enough to be beyond the birds and the bees conversation so the editors had to be aware of the fact that they were publicizing the action that lead to the need for abortions…and viewers could see this. All this is to say that it is interesting to observe, in this era of the 70s,  how publicly accepted abortion was and at the same time how prevalent sex was just like it is in current times.

Today, abortion has receded into the shell of societal distress and politics. It has returned to a state that seemingly mimics what the conditions may have been like before abortion was completely legal and advertised in college newspapers. Yet sex continues to sell. So what has changed? What has happened that has forced the conversation of abortion into the shadows while keeping sex at the tip of society’s tongue? Even more concerning, is the question of what we do now that people four decades down the line will look at and tilt their heads to the side.

Note Nov 15, 2012

Note Nov 15, 2012 (1)

Note Nov 15, 2012 (3)

Note Nov 15, 2012 (4)

2 thoughts on “Sex and Abortion Go Hand In Hand

  1. Jsmit: The juxtaposition of overt (sexist?) representations of sexualized women in the Emory Wheel with *so many* ads for abortions is striking. On the one hand, as a feminist, I am all for sexual freedom for all women, but I am not sure that is what is happening at Derby Days? I wonder if the women pictured have agency? Are they taking off their clothes because it makes them feel sexy or are they taking off their clothes because they are told that is what is sexy and that is what will get male attention? It feels like objectification to me, but I would have to talk to the women in the pictures to really know. I also *can’t believe* your last image- what a find! FOUR ads about abortion on one page. That is unbelievable. I wish we could talk to the Wheel staff from that time and hear more about the climate on campus at that time. Well done.

  2. Very intriguing. I find it interesting in the comparison between ads for contraception and ads for abortion. In the 1970s, like you mention, abortion ads are very abundant, but you don’t really see that many birth control or condom ads. In current times abortion is not significantly publicly advertised whereas you see a large amount of contraceptive ads. This could be a shift in the attitude to place emphasis on preventative measures rather than post-fertilization procedures.

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