Dissecting Pro-Life Opinion Pieces: “Our Bodies, My Choice”

The local newspaper continues to publish the anti-abortion opinion pieces Samuel Faust submits on a monthly basis. August 29th brought an opinion piece titled “Our Bodies, My Choice”.

Normally, my opinion on a pro-life opinion letter would follow the letter itself. This time I’ll be putting the letter into sections and writing about each section of the letter. Sections of Faust’s letter is shown in bold italics.

“Our Bodies, My Choice”

When it comes to the abortion debate, we constantly hear the mantra (from media, politicians, and advocates) of “my body, my choice”.  Is this even scientifically accurate? When a pregnant woman visits her doctor, does he say, “Both your hearts are beating fine” or “your second body is growing and developing well.” How absurd, not to mention anti-science, such statements would be. In the interest of being consistent with science, those favoring child killing though abortion should say “Our bodies, my choice.”

While Faust is quick to condemn “choice”, he’s actually supportive of choice—just in a very specific situation. Some time ago I asked him about pregnancies that threatened the mother’s life and he was supportive of abortion in those cases, stating something along the lines of “It doesn’t do any good if the pregnancy will kill both the mother and the unborn.” He is also the chairman for the Wisconsin Right to Life’s Jackson County chapter. Believing human life to be inherently valuable from conception, the group opposes abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. As far as I’m still aware, like Faust, they make an exception for abortion when the mother’s life is at risk.

This exception is important to note because he calls abortion “child killing” and describes it as a holocaust that murders innocent babies. Let’s rephrase that: He makes an exception for what he believes is the outright murder of an innocent child. Does the exception suggest the child is no longer innocent and to blame for its own termination as being alive posed a risk to the mother’s life? Why isn’t the woman who terminates her pregnancy to save herself from death not seen as the “bigger, stronger” body dictating what happens to the “smaller, weaker” body? You never hear the part of the pro-life movement that makes such exceptions tell women they should deal with the consequences of her pregnancy—“You should have kept your legs closed if you didn’t want to die!”

This acknowledges the scientific fact that two separate human beings (each with a body, soul, and spirit) are involved with a pregnancy. It also acknowledges the fact that only one of the two is involved in making the life and death decisions for the other.

Interesting how he brings up what he calls “scientific fact” in the same breath as claiming that human beings have a soul and spirit.

Scientific fact shows that a human fetus is of human origin in the same way science can determine the tree species of an acorn. But there’s still heavy debate on when a human fetus is considered a person/human being because the majority has not come to a definite conclusion on when a developing fetus becomes a person. Some believe it’s at conception while others believe it’s at birth. There’s a wide range of opinions that person hood starts somewhere between these two points that takes various factors into account such as organ development, EEG brain waves, quickening, viability, etc. I could probably write a whole blog post about the various schools of thought on when a fertilized egg becomes a person. If science had already proven this without a doubt as Faust suggests, why is there still debate on it?

Faust may act like a big supporter for science to the point of calling others that don’t support his anti-abortion views as “anti-science”, but the reality is he’s only in favor of science when it supports his views and ignores science when it doesn’t. For example, he denies studies done that have shown that most women don’t regret their abortion or experience “Post Abortion Stress Syndrome”, a condition made up by the anti-abortion movement that is not recognized by any credible medical organization. Through the distribution of anti-abortion reading materials, he has spread various falsehoods of the anti-abortion movement (which may or may not be backed up by refuted, biased, or outdated studies or out of context information).

This is why people describe the “choice” as difficult, even agonizing, because everyone knows that it takes the life of an innocent child. The bigger, stronger body gets to dictate what happens to the smaller, weaker body.

Choosing to have an abortion can be difficult, but that’s not always the case. Just as there are women who found the choice to be difficult, there are women who found the choice was easy and knew abortion was how they wanted to proceed. If “everyone knows” that abortion “takes the life of an innocent child” then why do women get abortions?

This, by the way, is why slavery flourished. Two “bodies” were involved, but the politically “bigger, stronger” body was able to dictate the outcome of the other body. So why not amend this simple motto?

It wouldn’t be one of Faust’s classic anti-abortion letters without drawing comparisons to slavery. Are fetuses being kidnapped, boarded onto cramped ships, and sold into servitude where they are overworked, beaten, raped, and living in awful conditions? We’re talking about the same slavery where women were often forced to have children to make more slaves, right? That seems like the opposite of abortion.

Slavery flourished because of stronger people dictating what happened to the weak? I’d argue that slavery flourished due to profit plus Christian scripture stating that owning slaves was okay (Ephesians 6:5-9, etc.) Drawing comparisons between abortion and slavery is stupid. Pregnant women have the option of carrying a pregnancy to term—“giving a chance at life” as the pro-lifers call it. Would slave owners have chosen the option of setting their slaves free? Would slave owners have chosen to let their slaves escape? Given their slaves freedom and a chance at life? No!

First, it breaks the ironclad rule of never referencing the humanity of the child being killed. If abortion was viewed even the way animal cruelty was viewed, it would end tomorrow.

Animal cruelty takes many different forms. One example of animal cruelty would be forcing female dogs to breed and birth puppies for profit in horrible conditions. Maybe animal rights activists that are also pro-choice are against the notion that females—human or dog—are merely an incubator.

Does Faust know what happens to animals? They are killed by humans. They’re killed for food. They’re hunted and killed for sport. They’re killed for their skins and feathers to be made into clothing. Animals are euthanized for a number of reasons: being decrepit or terminally ill and being in a lot of pain, being temperamental to the point they are a threat, not getting adopted after a certain period of time, for dissection, etc. 2.7 million animals are euthanized in shelters every year. Where’s the “Bigger, Stronger Body VS Weaker, Smaller Body” criticisms? Oh wait… “pro-life” ideology only applies to humans. Wouldn’t this mean that pro-lifers are selective in what type of lives matter, which is something Faust was criticizing social justice warriors of doing?

Second, it reveals the “bullying” side of this debate; the strong dictating what happens to the weak and vulnerable. The sad irony is that so many supporters of abortion see themselves as social justice warriors who defend the helpless (including animals for cruelty), yet can’t (or won’t) connect the dots that 3,000 innocent babies are being murdered each day. America needs to wake up and stop this holocaust. –Samuel Faust

“The bullying side of this debate”? Excuse me while I retrieve the retinas from the back of my eye socket because I eye rolled so hard.

Every week from about March 2016 to August 1st of this year, Faust gathered other pro-life supporters to hold signs and harass women about abortion outside of a women’s clinic that didn’t even offer abortion services. Women, including myself, experienced various degrees of hostility depending on what protester they encountered. Women were given the option to sneak out the back door so they wouldn’t have to walk past the protesters that watched them go inside and judge on why they were there. Some women waited to go to the clinic to pick up supplies when the protesters weren’t there (sometimes there was a gap between their “shifts”) because they felt intimidated by their presence. I was told of a young woman who called the clinic explaining she was too afraid to come to her appointment because of the protesters parading around near the entrance. What if the clinic hadn’t convinced her to come in and she had needed birth control to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, resources regarding a current unplanned pregnancy, STD testing or treatment, cancer screenings, or any of the other vital services the clinic has to offer, but didn’t because she was intimidated by the protesters? I confronted Faust about the negative impact they were having on women that were seeking reproductive healthcare services and he couldn’t see that their impact was anything less than overwhelmingly positive. He would later ask, “If our presence isn’t doing good, then what harm is it doing?”, showing he was completely ignorant or didn’t care about their presence being unhelpful and how it could be harmful.

One of the more aggressive protesters would talk down to women, question their beliefs (“Are you Christian?”), criticize their lifestyle, berate and throw insults, etc. In an attempt to lead patients away from the clinic, this same protester was telling women that the birthing center that also has clinic services was exactly like the women’s clinic with the exception of not offering abortion information—which was untrue as that facility does not offer their reproductive health services on a sliding scale or for free for low income women or help women apply for Family Planning Only Services waivers. Faust handed out professional business cards for a pro-life crisis pregnancy center, which often has incorrect or misleading information. The center does not state what they are or the fact they do not offer medical services, preferring to advertise themselves in a way to suggest to women that they are pro-choice and professional when they are not. The protester’s other cards had offered misleading and incorrect information on women’s pregnancy options, mainly abortion. Their intimidation through presence, attempts to get women to go elsewhere by providing misleading or false information, and questioning and belittling women sounds like bullying to me. And like any bully, when anyone decides to stand up to pro-lifers, they suddenly act like they’re the victim.

The idea that pro-choice is bullying is incorrect. As a pro-choice activist, I don’t “dictate” what happens in cases of unplanned pregnancies. Although I am supportive of abortion rights, I wouldn’t try to convince (much less bully) any woman that an abortion is right for her situation. She wants to parent? Fine. She wants to give the baby up for adoption? Fine. She wants to terminate the pregnancy? Fine. She’s on the fence and not sure what to do? Get her all the accurate information and resources on her options so she can make an informed decision on how to proceed with her pregnancy. Ultimately, it’s up to her—not me—to decide how she wants to proceed with the pregnancy. What I think would be best for my situation may not be best for another woman’s situation. That’s what it truly means to be pro-choice.

Analyzing Pro-Life Headlines: “The Abortion Pill is Safe? 22 Women Have Died, 411 Got Infections, and 1,041 Women Hospitalized”

Hold it, pro-life news article!

On March 28, the FDA updated its report on the abortion pill, Mifepristone (aka. RU-486). It was only recently that pro-life news sites have put their own spin on the data, including this Life News article “The Abortion Pill is Safe? 22 Women Have Died, 411 Got Infections, and 1,041 Women Hospitalized”.

“Women’s health groups claim that abortion, and particularly the abortion pill, is safe, but data shows that abortion-inducing drugs are not risk-free.

Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Whole Women’s Health and other abortion providers contend that abortion is safe and that attempts to educate women about the risks of abortion are disingenuous ploys intended to restrict abortion access.”

Interestingly, the link provided under “disingenuous ploys” leads to a section of the NARAL website detailing how pro-life crisis pregnancy centers often deceptively present themselves as legit health providers and have given women false information on their pregnancy options. The introduction for the section says, “A woman facing an unintended pregnancy deserves medically accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased information.” Planned Parenthood states that, “Medication abortion is very safe. Serious problems are rare, but like all medical procedures, there can be some risks.”

It appears the article suffers from a case of pro-life selective information by purposely leaving out certain pieces of information—in this case, by insinuating that pro-choice groups are against any education risks of abortion. What should have been stated was, “Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Whole Women’s Health and other abortion providers contend that abortion is safe and that attempts by pro-life organizations to educate women about the risks of abortion are disingenuous ploys as these groups often give inaccurate information intended to restrict abortion access.”

The article’s title lists actual numbers provided by the FDA report, possibly in order to rile up pro-life supporters without them having to read the article or the report. Twenty two women dying after taking the abortion pill does quite shocking because the article title lacks context. When did these women die? This week, this month, this year? The answer is “since the product was approved in September 2000.” These are numbers taken between September 29, 2000 and December 31, 2017—17 years, 3 months, and 3 days.

22 deaths, 411 infections, and 1041 hospitalizations in 17 years, 3 months, and 3 days!

This is assuming the adverse effects were somehow directly related to the abortion pill. The FDA notes, “The adverse events cannot with certainty be casually attributed to Mifepristone because of concurrent use of other drugs, other medical or surgical treatments, co-existing medical conditions, and information gaps about the patient health status and clinical management of the patient.”

For argument’s sake, let’s assume the deaths and adverse events were a direct result of taking Mifepristone to terminate a pregnancy. Let’s do some math!

According to the report, it’s estimated that 3.4 million women have used the abortion pill since its approval. There have been 22 deaths reported following use of the abortion pill.

(# of deaths / total # of women that have used the abortion pill) x 100 = death rate %

(22 / 3,400,000) x 100 = .000647058823529%

That number looks extremely low. That is a 1 in 154,545 chance of death after using the abortion pill. Women have a better chance of dying from pregnancy (1 in 3,800) than terminating a pregnancy with the abortion pill and dying.

I was going to do a visual representation of the death rate, but the large number of women that have used Mifepristone VS the extremely low death rate made this impossible. The visual representation would be like taking the total length of 31 football fields with end zones included (technically, 30.9856481 football fields) to represent the total number of women that have used the abortion pill and showing that a little over 27/32 of an inch would represent the women that died after using the pill.

Let’s calculate the death numbers in with the rest of the women that suffered adverse effects after taking the pill.

Cases with adverse effects: 4,185

Hospitalizations, no deaths: 1,041

Blood loss, requiring transfusion: 598

Infections: 411

Ectopic pregnancies: 97

Death: 22

(# of adverse effects / total # of women that have taken the abortion pill) x 100 = adverse effects %

(6,354 / 3,400,000) x 100 = .19%

Not 19%. Point 19 percent. Meaning it’s just below 1/5 of 1%. That’s about 1 in 535 chance of suffering adverse side effects after taking the pill.  Not as low as the death rate, but still extremely low. In our hypothetical 31 football field visual, almost 7 yards would represent the women that suffered adverse effects, including death, after taking the pill.

The pro-life movement is already making the risks of Mifepristone much bigger than they actually are, but there’s more to the report than what pro-life news sites are reporting. The article completely failed to mention a particular footnote on the report itself. It reads: “The fatal cases are included regardless of causal attribution to mifepristone [emphasize added]” followed by the causes of death in each case. Its exclusion from the article may not be a simple oversight. Other pro-life articles on the FDA report have also failed to show this footnote. Live Action showed screenshots of the adverse events summery, but cut out the footnote explaining the causes of death. Its likely pro-life news neglected to mention this footnote as some causes of death occurred after taking the pill yet couldn’t be attributed to the pill (or are at least debatable).

Top: the FDA’s lengthy footnote regarding the causes of death in women that have taken Mifepristone. Bottom: Live Action’s screenshot of the report with the footnote cut out. 

Causes of death include:

Sepsis x8

Ruptured ectopic pregnancies x2

Substance abuse/drug overdose x1

Methadone (a type of opioid) overdose x1

Drug intoxication x1

Suspected homicide x1

Suicide x1

Delayed onset of toxic shock-like symptoms x1

Hemorrhage x1

Unintentional overdose resulting in liver failure x1

Drug overdose of undetermined intent and cardiac arrest x1

Combined drug intoxication/overdose x1

A case of natural death due to severe pulmonary emphysema x1

One unknown case of death despite autopsy (tissue samples tested negative for C. sordellii) x1

At least three of these deaths—methadone overdose, suspected homicide, and natural death due to a lung disease—could not have been caused by the abortion pill or the abortion itself. This would mean the actual number of deaths that could have been caused by Mifepristone is 19.

In the other five cases where overdose is the cause of death, the drug that caused the overdose is not stated. It does seem possible to overdose on Mifepristone. However, Mifepristone has to be administered in a medical setting by a healthcare professional so an overdose by the pill is unlikely. Assuming these deaths cannot be attributed to the abortion pill and were caused by other drugs, the number of deaths would be 14.

Pro-life groups could argue the suicide was a result of the woman being mentally traumatized by her abortion—and that may very well be the case—but it’s debatable without knowing the woman’s health history or what she was feeling after terminating her pregnancy.  The case where the cause of death wasn’t determined despite an autopsy is also debatable. Excluding these deaths would bring the number down to 12.

What’s the death rate for 12-19 deaths in 17+ years?

19 deaths: (19 / 3,400,000) x 100 = .00055882% (1 in 178,947 chance of death)

14 deaths: (14 / 3,400,000) x 100 = .00041176% (1 in 242,557 chance of death)

12 deaths: (12 / 3,400,000) x 100 = .00035294% (1 in 283,333 chance of death)

Whether its 12 or 22, the death rate is extremely low. The overall risks of complications are extremely low as well. Regardless of the number of women whose deaths can or cannot be attributed to Mifepristone or complications arising from the abortion itself, women deserve to know the risks of abortion even if they are rare, which seems to be the case when it comes to abortion via Mifepristone.