This is the Worst Way to Send a Political Message Ever

Some are calling an Ohio dry-cleaning business’ choice to put a “pro-life” message on wire coat hangers the "worst marketing choice ever." Do the owners of Cincinnati’s Springdale Cleaners really think a woman considering giving herself an abortion with a coat hanger will reconsider after viewing their message?

This small gesture highlights an important fact about America’s anti-abortion movement: they are simply unwilling to address the risk of banning abortions to women’s lives.

The use of an anti-abortion message on a coat hanger is sickly ironic. Before Roe, some desperate women would attempt to self-induce an abortion by inserting a wire hanger into their uterus through their cervix. These women ran the risk of puncturing internal organs and dying of septicemia. 

A 1968 study revealed that 1.2 million illegal abortions took place each year in the United States (nearly the exact same amount of abortions that occurred in 2008, despite the fact almost all abortions were illegal at that time). Approximately 50% of all maternal deaths in the first half of the 20th century occurred as a result of illegal abortion complications. Thousands more women were seriously injured by abortion procedures performed without proper medical oversight.

Since abortion was legalized in the United States maternal death rates have dropped significantly and medical oversight has made the procedure much safer for women.  Fewer than 1% of women who receive abortion care suffer from severe complications. Every country that has liberalized abortions laws has seen a decrease in deaths and serious complications as a result of abortion.

Making abortion safe and legal has saved women’s lives, but anti-abortion forces are tirelessly trying to scale back women’s access to reproductive health care. 

By passing parental notification laws, mandatory waiting periods and biased counseling, targeted regulations of abortion clinics, and limitations of public funding of abortion, anti-abortion activists are trying to make abortions harder to obtain. However, they are not addressing the underlying reasons some women are motivated to choose abortion: economic inequality, discrimination against pregnant and parenting workers and students, and lack of child care assistance, to name a few. And the most zealous anti-abortion advocates have committed atrocious acts of violence in the name of the “unborn." Since 1977, there have been over 59,000 attacks on abortion clinics, including 7 murders, 41 bombings, and 343 documented death threats.

Desperate women will find a way to have an abortion regardless of whether the procedure is legal or illegal. The metal coat hanger is still an important symbol in the abortion debate, but not for the message Springdale Cleaners is trying to convey. Metal coat hangers remind us that if we turn back the clocks on abortion rights, we will put women’s lives at risk.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Alison Tanner

Alison is a recent graduate of the University of California - Davis, where she studied political science and women's studies and served the student body as an ASUCD Senator. She is currently a legal assistant for the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. Views expressed here are her own.

MORE FROM

In North Carolina, women can't withdraw consent after giving it

The state's consent law says that once someone gives consent, they can't revoke it.

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman was catcalled on stage and it didn't go well

Hall of fame hockey player Marcel Dionne yelled "Look at those legs!" while onstage with Raisman at the 2017 NHL Awards.

How the Senate's draft health care plan could affect reproductive services

It is very close to the House's version of the bill, and would block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for a year.

Jury in Bill Cosby case voted 10-2 in favor of conviction, according to juror report

2 jurors prevented the unanimous vote prosecutors needed to convict Bill Cosby of criminal charges, according to an account given to ABC News.

Florida higher-ed official says "women's genetics" cause the wage gap, apologizes

Ed Morton, a Florida university system board member, suggested women's genetics could be preventing them from negotiating higher pay.

Australian Sen. Larissa Waters gives speech to Parliament while breastfeeding like it's NBD

When you have to address the resurgence of black lung within the coal mining industry, but your daughter is also hungry...

In North Carolina, women can't withdraw consent after giving it

The state's consent law says that once someone gives consent, they can't revoke it.

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman was catcalled on stage and it didn't go well

Hall of fame hockey player Marcel Dionne yelled "Look at those legs!" while onstage with Raisman at the 2017 NHL Awards.

How the Senate's draft health care plan could affect reproductive services

It is very close to the House's version of the bill, and would block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for a year.

Jury in Bill Cosby case voted 10-2 in favor of conviction, according to juror report

2 jurors prevented the unanimous vote prosecutors needed to convict Bill Cosby of criminal charges, according to an account given to ABC News.

Florida higher-ed official says "women's genetics" cause the wage gap, apologizes

Ed Morton, a Florida university system board member, suggested women's genetics could be preventing them from negotiating higher pay.

Australian Sen. Larissa Waters gives speech to Parliament while breastfeeding like it's NBD

When you have to address the resurgence of black lung within the coal mining industry, but your daughter is also hungry...