The wedding section of the New York Times is iconic. It's considered the ultimate status symbol to have your wedding profiled in the section and it's the most-read part of the paper, giving it enormous power and influence in terms of shaping ideas about marriage.
When the Times featured its first same-sex wedding, it was seen as a hugely significant moment in pop culture. And last week, another first for the newspaper's wedding section: the first mention of an abortion
In a feature article telling the story of American basketball player Udonis Haslem and Faith Rein, the Times details the couple's path to parenthood and the various challenges they faced in working towards a financially stable future together.
One of these was the pair's decision to terminate a pregnancy while they were at college.
At the time, Haslem was training for the NBA draft and Rein was caught up with sporting commitments of her own. The couple went on to have children when they felt they were in a better position to care for and support them.
The newlyweds tell reporter Linda Marx:
“I am not a huge fan of abortion, but we both had sports careers, plus we could not financially handle a baby,” said Mr. Haslem, noting how he struggled with supporting Kedonis, the son he had in high school, who is now 14 and who lives with his mother.
“Udonis appreciated that I was willing to have an abortion,” Ms. Rein said. “I found him caring, supportive, nurturing and all over me to be sure I was O.K. I saw another side of him during that difficult time and fell deeply in love. He had a big heart and was the whole package.”
Just like that. No big lead-in. No sub-heading drawing attention to it. This abortion was simply one facet of Haslem and Rein's story.
Unsurprisingly, pro-life media has condemned the Times' decision to cover the couple's decision to terminate. However, many other media outlets and blogs have praised the newspaper.
As Jezebel's Doug Barry highlights, the reference to abortion in this context - as simply a "difficult yet pragmatic" decision that many couples and women around the world face in their reproductive lives - is a sign that society's attitude toward abortion may be evolving.