Author, activist, and person perennially taking no shit Lindy West appeared on Thursday’s Daily Show to explain the title of her new book, Shout Your Abortion. Started as a hashtag online in 2015 (because, 2015), the phrase was originally appended to a friend’s strikingly honest story of how her own decision to terminate a pregnancy was both the right choice, and her right as a human being. Intended to counter the then-current and completely bullshit “Planned Parenthood is a baby-parts factory” propaganda films making the rounds of your most gullible relatives’ Facebook pages, that one post started a movement that, West told Trevor Noah, seeks to take back the conversation about abortion from “a tiny fringe group controlling the narrative.”
Calling the campaign “morally neutral,” West told Noah that her new book pairing photos and stories of women who have had abortions is intended to reframe the conversation the “evangelical right” wants to have about the issue. As West put it, it’s time for pro-choice people to stop feeling cornered by the prevailing rhetoric into expressing their rights by pleading, “We’re so sorry about this constitutional right that we have,” and start acting like the overwhelming majority (some 71 percent) who think that a person who can get pregnant is in charge of their own body. (West told Noah that she intentionally uses gender-inclusive language because “trans men and non-binary people can get pregnant, too,” with the acclaimed wordsmith asking, to applause from Noah’s crowd, “Why would I be inaccurate in the way that I speak?”)
As to the way that anti-choice activists have forced the conversation about abortion into a decidedly binary one, West was characteristically blunt in dismissing the hypocrisy involved. As she told Noah, one in four people who can get pregnant have abortions during their lives, regardless of party, religious, and geographic lines, and that, by seeking to outlaw abortion, such people are seeking only to legislate that some people will be able to have abortions conveniently and safely. Citing the fact that it’s pro-choice people who actually work on issues (comprehensive sex education, free birth control) that would affect the rate of abortion, West claimed that the cruelty is part of the point of anti-abortion rhetoric, and that it’s intended to trap poor people in the “cycle of poverty” for generations. “That’s the goal,” said West, concluding with the dig that, for the rich and powerful, “their wives, and mistresses, and daughters are always going to go and get an abortion somewhere.” And, perhaps, have their personal attorney pay for it. Allegedly.