Offensive Battle Armor

Warning: Some foul language and references regarding an item of clothing that may offend some readers.

Last weekend, I met Cradle of Filth for a second time before seeing them play the entirety of their Elizabeth Bathory inspired concept album, “Cruelty and the Beast”.

If you’re not familiar with the extreme metal band, you may be familiar with the notorious “Masturbating Vestal” shirt they have sold since 1997 depicting…well…a masturbating vestal/nun on the front and the slogan “Jesus is a cunt” on the back.

Being a casual Cradle of Filth fan with a husband whose musical tastes were forever shaped by Dani Filth’s high pitched screams scaring the shit out of him the first time he heard it, there was no doubt we would be purchasing this shirt at some point. It was a question of, “Am I brave enough to wear this shirt out in public or will it become highly offensive pajamas?”  

As I’m waiting in line for our meet and greet with the band, I checked my phone. Once every couple months or so, I make the mistake of looking up what “The Dicktator” has been up to and I found that lately he’s been advising people who catch Covid to take Ivermectin. I get that he’s a sheep in Jesus’ flock, but that doesn’t mean he should be telling other Christians to take livestock medication. So I’ve been reporting his horrible medical advice to Facebook repeatedly whenever I can.

In that moment, a mental lightbulb flickered on and I realized where I could wear that masturbating vestal shirt. Every week, Brian makes a post about how “We’ll be at the Blair Death Mill on Tues”. Maybe I wasn’t brave enough to wear the shirt to the mall or a restaurant, but I could definitely imagine myself wearing it while walking past Christian zealots outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic. These sorts of people nearly shat a brick over my Picket Rick sign telling them to “shut the fuck up” about their antiabortion agenda. Who knows how they would react to a shirt that calls their Savior a cunt and depicts a Bride of Christ ringing Satan’s doorbell and I relished at the thought of their potential horrified reaction.

We bought that shirt after the meet and greet with great excitement. 

The following Tuesday, my anxiety and insomnia had utterly worn me out so I took the day off. I still couldn’t sleep, though. I finally gave up and said, “Fuck it. Today’s the day!” I put the Cradle of Filth shirt on like I was putting on battle armor, threw on my husband’s less offensive Cruelty and the Beast hoodie so I could get some glazer donuts from Kwik Trip for the employees, and drove to Blair.

I had never been to the Blair Planned Parenthood before and I had trouble finding it. Google Maps was telling me it was a small, brick, non-descript, office building that looked absolutely nothing like what was shown in the street view. There weren’t any protesters outside like Brian said there would be so I thought I was at the wrong place. After circling around the block several times, I ended up in the back lot of the building ready to give up and go home when I saw a paper sign on a glass door with a blue Planned Parenthood logo. I follow the signs while winding through the empty hallways before I finally reach a desk with a secretary I sort of recognized, but didn’t know by name.

And boy, did the secretary spill some antiabortion protester tea.

In the English language, the word “we” is used by the speaker to refer to himself or herself and at least one other person. Therefore, when Brian says “we’ll be at the death mill” it gives the impression he will be there, too. However, Brian either fails to grasp the English language or is lying about his presence at the clinic as he neglects to mention that “we” doesn’t include him because he still has about three years left on a four year a restraining order against him by the head nurse practitioner for making threatening comments towards her. The “we” is actually his wife, two daughters, and anyone they can get to come with them (who he refers to as “warriors-in-training”).  

Yet despite not actually being there, he talks about things that happened at the clinic as if he had been there the whole time. The secretary checks his public Facebook page regularly to see if they’ll be at the clinic. She explained that his clinic stories are what other protesters told him since he’s not actually there and he tends to exaggerate or outright lie about what happens during their picketing.  For example, he commented about reaching out to a lot of people going to the clinic on a day when nobody came as the only two appointments they had were through telehealth.

Another instance was regarding the clinic’s upcoming closure. Yes, unfortunately, the two satellite locations are closing due to most of their patients traveling to the main location in La Crosse anyways and Planned Parenthood putting more focus into telehealth. The comment Brian made under one of his “death mill” announcements claims that “On a positive note, an employee told us that they are closing in the next week or two—hallelujah! Praise God!” That comment was made back in August and the clinic is not closing until November. According to the secretary, he wasn’t even at the clinic because of the restraining order and none of the employees had spoken to the other protesters about the clinic’s closure. That same comment he made also claims a woman came out of the clinic boasting that she had “just murdered her baby” and that the nurse practitioner was laughing “treating it as a joke”—which sounds like BS since (besides not being there due to a restraining order) the only NP that I know of that works regularly at the satellite clinics is the one that has a restraining order against him and that location doesn’t perform abortions.

This explained why Brian wasn’t there (and that he was being less than truthful about it), but where were the other protesters? Apparently, they typically don’t show up until about 3-3:30 in the afternoon. Though Brian’s posts never stated a time his group would be at the clinic, I assumed they would be there for at least a good chunk of the day due to his zealous devotion to “protecting the unborn” so I had shown up just a little bit before 1pm. If their goal was to intercept as many women as possible to harass them about abortion—a service not offered at that location—and preach the word of their God, it would make more sense to be there for the whole day and not the last hour and a half the clinic is open when there’s considerably less patients. I find it interesting that Brian ranted about the local antiabortion group putting in so little time towards antiabortion efforts when the group he coordinates is only at the clinic for about 19-25% of the time it’s open on the one day a week they operate.

I really should have called to see if the protesters were actually there before wasting the freshness of my offensive band shirt.

How far the mighty warriors have fallen

I recently had an appointment with Planned Parenthood (formerly Essential Health Clinic) for a renewal of my birth control prescription. The one who renewed my prescription was a nurse practitioner that had worked for Essential Health Clinic and stayed on when the clinics that were still open were acquired in a merger with Planned Parenthood. I hadn’t seen her in over a year so we chatted a little bit. During the conversation, I learned some new information that gave me some perspective on a few things regarding our local antiabortion protesters.

If you read some of the first AAA posts from almost 5 years ago, you’ll read about two local antiabortion protesters nicknamed “The Pastor” (Pastor Samuel Faust) and “The Dicktator” (a very aggressive man by the name of Brian). To recap, they were the most active of our local antiabortion supporters in our community and they were in charge of the picketing outside my own clinic (which didn’t perform abortions) before it closed in 2018 due to funding issues. Pastor Faust led the Jackson County chapter for the Wisconsin Right to Life and Brian credits Pastor Faust as one of the reasons he and his family are the “warriors of Christ” they are today.

For the past year, the local chapter for the Wisconsin Right to Life hasn’t been active. They weren’t really active to begin with beyond a few prayer vigils and a bake/brat sale after the Essential Health Clinic closed in town, but their activities practically came to a standstill in 2020. Some of it could be explained with Covid-19, but that still didn’t explain some other things—mainly to do with Faust. The newspaper allows one letter per person every month and Faust wrote an antiabortion piece almost every month like clockwork, but the letters stopped after January of 2020. The library still got antiabortion materials stashed away in the cubbies in the entryway from time to time, but the drop offs weren’t as frequent. I saw his daughter shopping in the store I work at throughout 2020, but not Faust even though they frequently went into together. It’s like Faust dropped off the face of the Earth.

He didn’t drop off the face of the Earth, but was driven out of the church he was in charge of and went back to Iowa. The NP had read about it in a post Brian made about his “good friend” leaving, which stated, “Because of his standing on God’s Word and for truth, he lost his job.” I’ve heard a couple things from other people regarding Faust’s pastoring like going on a rant about Muslims and lesbians during a service involving veterans (either a Veteran’s Day service or a funeral service for a veteran) and kicking a devoted woman out of the congregation because she remarried after her husband died of cancer and the new husband wasn’t that into the faith. Both instances line up with conversations I had with Faust outside the old clinic. Without knowing the specifics of the situation, I can only assume the congregation finally saw how hateful his some views really were.

Without Faust, only Brian “The Dicktator” remains. I haven’t seen him since the clinic in town closed, but thanks to the constant anti-choice rantings on his public Facebook page I was well aware that he moved onto the clinic that was still open in Whitehall and then followed them when they moved to Blair following the Planned Parenthood merger. Yes, I admit I was Facebook stalking for a bit after the clinic closed, but I hadn’t been on his Facebook page in over a year at the time of my appointment. Therefore, I wasn’t aware that the NP had successfully gotten a restraining order against him sometime last year until I actually saw her, which I was able to confirm thanks to online court records and Brian making a big stink about having to go to court.

According to the NP, he was saying things like “I hope you don’t get hit by a drunk driver on your way home because your soul isn’t saved” and other offhandedly intimidating/threatening comments when she would leave for the night. Of course, Brian claimed on a post that she made false allegations, but (as far as I was told) at the actual court date he didn’t deny saying those things. He apparently tried to argue that he said those things because she works for an “abortion clinic” (which she doesn’t–the locations she works at doesn’t perform them) and as a “warrior of Christ” he is required to preach the gospel to those who aren’t right with Christ, citing that he’s protected by First Amendment rights. The judge ruled that going to someone’s workplace every day that they are there and saying threatening comments an attempt to intimidate them into quitting their job isn’t part of the right to protest—its harassment. Living up to his nickname of the Dicktator, he appealed because God forbid he can’t harass pro-choice healthcare workers and their patients, but the ruling didn’t change. He still feels like he was the one being wronged and that the judge thought that her “feeling bad” outweighed his First Amendment rights so he appealed a second time. The case has now been taken to Madison and he believes he will ultimately prevail, but from what I was told cases like this that reach the state level are rarely ever reversed and due to Covid-19 and other things it could be 24-36 months before they even look at it. It could be 2 or 3 years into a 4-year restraining order before it’s brought to a judge.

With the restraining order in place, Brian can’t come within 300 or 400 feet of NP and (by extension) her workplace. Barring him from stalking even one clinic would be great, but the glorious thing her workplace isn’t one clinic—it’s three. Back when the clinics were Essential Health Clinic, whenever she wasn’t at the main office she was working at one of the satellite clinics that were open once or twice a week. When Planned Parenthood acquired the three remaining EHC locations in the merger, this schedule did not change. Thus, our little Dicktator cannot jump to another location to harass patients and healthcare workers like he did when he could no longer picket the clinic in town due to its closure. This doesn’t stop him from going to other pro-choice reproductive healthcare clinics she doesn’t work at, but being in a rural area means there really aren’t any other options in the area. This is evident by the fact that when the clinic in town closed Brian had to travel half an hour to get to another reproductive healthcare clinic, which happened to be another EHC location. With this restraining order, his ability to harass patients and staff are greatly reduced since in this area there aren’t other clinics like the Planned Parenthood he was picketing except other Planned Parenthood locations the healthcare worker who has a restraining order against him works at.

I find the whole situation ironic considering he celebrated the closing of the clinic in town and stated that women would have to go to a different clinic—now he seems to be having trouble finding another clinic for his own purposes.

That hasn’t stopped his wife and daughters from picketing the Blair clinic the one day a week it is open. There isn’t a restraining order against them because they’re nothing like the incredibly rude and aggressively zealous bullying family patriarch. Whenever I had seen them at the old clinic, they would hold up their signs quietly and rarely engaged with others besides other people they were picketing with. When they did talk, it was never unkind.  I was told sometimes they are able to get another person or two to join them nowadays, but these people are just as shy as the women in Brian’s family (if not more) so they either don’t last long or they picket irregularly.

As much as I disagree with Brian’s viewpoint, there is one thing he does make a point on. He often notes there are many Christians—“30 pastors, 100+ elders, and a couple thousand professing Christians” to be exact—but that most of them betray “God, the Gospel, their unborn neighbors, their congregations, and their families” and that there are only a few obedient followers that are on the narrow path towards God. Many of his posts criticize the other Christians of our community for not doing much (if anything) for the “unborn neighbors”. He’s noted that many that claim to be anti-abortion Christians show up for the annual anti-abortion vigil on the bridge that Faust had started, but then ignore “the actual slaughter” the rest of the year. He refers to these types of Christians as “false Christians”, “Sunday morning Christians”, or “Christmas Christian” because, from his standpoint, they only show up once in a while when it suits them just like people who show up for church every Sunday and then ignore the gospel the rest of the week. He’s not wrong: I’ve also observed there aren’t many anti-abortion Christians in the area that are invested in anti-abortion activities outside the Life Chain and maybe a few occasional vigils. Now that Faust is out of the state and the restraining order greatly prevents Brian from protesting most of the local clinics in the area, I realize just how weak the local anti-abortion movement really is. Faust and Brian were doing a bulk of the protesting and leading the anti-abortion activities. Losing just Faust was probably already a huge enough loss for the local movement as his nice guy façade and having a congregation possibly meant he could recruit more people to join them whereas Brian is so extreme that he puts off other Christians, especially newcomers to the anti-abortion movement. Without either of them, all that’s left are pro-life Christians that are too timid to engage with patients at clinics or only participate in annual anti-abortion activities where they don’t have to confront anyone beyond holding a graphic sign.

From the anti-abortion perspective, it’s a massive blow to the local anti-abortion movement. As a pro-choice supporter who is a patient of the clinics they targeted, I view it as karma for years of them harassing and vilifying patients (including myself) to the point some would sneak in and out the back door, spreading lies about the clinic’s services (among other things), telling women they were going to Hell, and praising God for the closure of the clinic in town while still having the audacity to claim they care about people when many of the people they were attempting to reach out to lost their trusted healthcare provider. I do not feel sorry for them. Am I supposed to sorry for those who harass patients and healthcare workers under the guise of caring for human life? Why should I lament the movement’s loss of Faust, who led the attacks against reproductive healthcare clinics in the area including the one I went to for birth control so I don’t have an abortion? Why should I feel sorry for Brian, who acts arrogantly superior to everyone else because of his faith and has belittled me to my face as well others? If anything, I feel relief that Faust is gone, Brian cannot march in front of the local Planned Parenthood locations like a little soldier, and the local antiabortion movement has been diminished. Hopefully it stays that way for a while.

Antiabortion Logic: Planned Parenthood Gives Out Faulty Birth Control

Possibly to justify the claim that Planned Parenthood is “all about abortions”, many antiabortion supporters claim that Planned Parenthood purposely gives out faulty, low dose birth control so that women will end up with unplanned pregnancies they’ll abort.

There’s a couple possible reasons why antiabortion supporters believe this.

A consumer watch dog group, Consumer Report, released a report on condom performance that stated that two out of the three condoms Planned Parenthood offered ranked low on their list of reliability. The original report appears to be no longer accessible from the Consumer Report website, but information on it is still spread through antiabortion articles and groups today. Two things should be noted about this report: 1. It was initially criticized because they performed only air inflation tests on the condoms, which pumps air into the condoms until they burst. 2. The report was done in 2005. At the time of writing, the no-longer-accessible-report is 15 years old. As usual, antiabortion groups rely on old data to back up their claims.

Guttmacher reports that slightly over half of women who had an abortion stated that they were on birth control at the time of getting pregnant, giving more reason for antiabortion supporters to believe Planned Parenthood is giving out faulty birth control. Antiabortion supporters completely ignore that every type of birth control method—even the best kind—has a failure rate. The CDC reported that 10.2 million women are on birth control pill. Statistically speaking, with a typical failure rate of 7%, up to 714,000 women get pregnant while on the pill. That’s just women on the pill and that number is much higher than the number of women who had an abortion after getting pregnant while using contraceptives.

It’s such a huge falsehood that even Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood employee and current antiabortion activist, stated in a 2015 Facebook post, “There is a widespread myth running around the prolife movement that Planned Parenthood gives out faulty, low dose birth control in order to create more abortions. Now, I will be the first person to come out and expose the poor practices within Planned Parenthood, but this is not one of them. Planned Parenthood gives out the exact same type of birth control that you would receive at any pharmacy.” This is a woman that attacks Planned Parenthood every chance she gets and even she says the idea that Planned Parenthood is distributing low dose birth control to make more abortions is bullshit. Unfortunately, she’s also a woman with a sketchy, constantly changing story about why she left Planned Parenthood and encourages antiabortion crisis pregnancy centers to misrepresent themselves to getting potential, abortion-minded clients to believe that they offer abortions or that they are an abortion clinic so she’s not exactly reliable for the truth. But it turns out, Abby—despite the untruthfulness in her history and the work she does now—is actually telling the truth on this one as it matches to what I can personally attest from my own experience with Planned Parenthood.

A little background: In 2007, I started getting reproductive health from a family planning clinic called Western Dairyland Women’s Health Center. In 2014, their two locations were acquired by Essential Health Clinic, which had been around for over 40 years. Essential Health Clinic ended up merging with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin this August and their remaining locations officially became Planned Parenthood health centers.

I had gotten a birth control refill right after the merger was announced, but before it went into effect and the clinic was still Essential Health Clinic. The next time I needed a refill, I would have to sign up as a new patient of Planned Parenthood (though I technically wasn’t a new patient of that clinic and staff. It was kind of weird.)

During the appointment I signed up as a new patient of Planned Parenthood, I was asked numerous questions regarding my birth control:

*Is your birth control working? (No pregnancies in the time I’ve been sexually active so “Yes”.)

*Are you at risk for an unplanned pregnancy? (What do you mean?) Are you taking your birth control properly? (Same time every day. I also have condoms and Plan B just in case)

*Do you want to become pregnant in the future? (Oh Hell no!)

*Do you want to stay with your current birth control method? (Yes. Its working!)

*Do you need condoms or Plan B with your birth control refill today? (Good on condoms, but I think my stash of Plan B expired so I’ll take that. Side note: I wish I had gotten condoms to compare with the stash I got from Essential Health Clinic.)

The questions and the multiple offerings of birth control methods seemed to indicate Planned Parenthood was about preventing unplanned pregnancies rather than encouraging it—which is what the staff did under the Essential Health Clinic banner.

Essential Health Clinic had prescribed me a birth control pill called Aubra as well as stocked me up on Plan B brand emergency contraception (something I rarely ever used, but had on hand just in case). When I officially became a patient of Planned Parenthood, I was given Aubra EQ and EContra One-Step as my birth control pills and emergency contraception respectively. The change in brands might convince antiabortion supporters that Planned Parenthood does give out defective birth control pills, but years of personal experience have taught me that name brand isn’t important with medication birth control. Since 2007, I’ve been on several brands of birth control pills. I started off on a brand I don’t remember the name to until being switched to Lutera. It was explained to me that sometimes the companies that manufacture these pills are taken over by other companies and the medications are rebranded as something else, but the pills themselves stay the same. I was switched to Aubra a few years later. Now I’m on Aubra EQ, which is made by the same company that made my Aubra pills (Afaxys). The important thing is not the name of the pills, but what’s they’re made of. I had an empty pack of my old pills and an expired Plan B packet to compare to the new medications I got from Planned Parenthood.

Both Aubra and Aubra EQ have .1 mg of Levonorgestrel and .02 mg of Ethinyl. Both Plan B and EContra One-Step have 1.5 mg of Levonorgestrel. The pills I was given at Planned Parenthood are basically exactly the same as the pills I’ve been on for years to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, which has so far been successful. In fact, Afaxys states on their website that Aubra EQ is comparable to my previous birth control pills Aubra and Lutera and that EContra One-Step is comparable to several brands of 1.5mg Levonorgestel emergency contraceptives including Plan B.

Here’s a couple of pictures showing the old and new birth control pills and emergency contraception.

 

The idea that Planned Parenthood is dishing out defective birth control medication to create more abortions appears to be nothing more than antiabortion propaganda to get people to believe Planned Parenthood is about making money on abortion.

Dissecting Antiabortion Opinion Pieces: “Cause to Rejoice (on all sides)”

An old friend came up to the coffee booth I was running at work during the Thanksgiving/Black Friday sales and I met his fiancée. He complimented me on my work supporting women’s clinics and she realized I was the one writing the “awesome letters” in response to the “prolife pastor”. I explained he wrote another one, but that I wasn’t going to respond to it.

“It’s Christmas,” I said. What I really meant was “Its Christmas so I’m dealing with enough heavy bullshit on my plate without making exchanges in the paper with an antiabortion pastor who thinks he’s a crusader for human life when actually he’s a major asshole with a side of homophobia, transphobia, and contempt for other religions and branches of Christianity that aren’t his own.”

She was disappointed in my answer and said I should write something anyways regardless of the holidays.

I don’t feel like publishing a letter. I already have regular, slightly out of control anxiety topped with holiday anxiety so the last thing I need is anxiety from needlessly worrying about the potential verbally written backlash from Faust and his half-witted cronies. But, weirdly enough, putting out a letter dissection post on my barely read blog doesn’t sound like an anxiety inducing idea. So dissect Faust’s latest antiabortion offerings to the local paper: “Cause to Rejoice (on all sides)”

“Cause to Rejoice (on all sides)”

The Guttmacher Institute recently reported that abortion levels are the lowest since 1973. This should be cause for everyone, regardless of religion or politics to rejoice. Liberals, who for decades have touted that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”, should be happy. Abortion is still legal, only about a dozen moms die each year during the procedure and the number of abortions is at record lows.

Strange that an antiabortion supporter would use a Guttmacher report as a source considering Guttmacher started off as a research branch of Planned Parenthood, the antiabortion movement’s #1 target, and many antiabortion supporters accuse the now independent organization of still being connected to the “abortion giant”. Then again, antiabortion supporters will use just about anything if it supports their side of the abortion debate—including sources they claim is in cohoots with Planned Parenthood.

As for abortion related deaths, the CDC states, “Deaths of women associated with complications from abortion are assessed as part of CDC’s Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. In 2015, the most recent year for which data were reviewed for abortion-related deaths, two women were identified to have died as a result of complications from legal induced abortion and for one additional death, it was unknown whether the abortion was induced or spontaneous.” Two (possibly three) deaths relating to legal abortion is much lower than the “about a dozen” Faust is pulling out of his ass. Yes, I assume he pulled those numbers out of his ass because I didn’t find anything that claims this (whether actual data or antiabortion propaganda).

Planned Parenthood should be happy since they claim abortion is only three percent of what they do. In fact, to be consistent, they should seek to make them even rarer.

You mean with contraceptives that Planned Parenthood was able to provide to the poor and uninsured for free or at a discount until a new rule forced them out of the Title X program? Here’s an idea: don’t suggest that Planned Parenthood should prevent abortions after crusading against them having funding that allowed them to do just that.

Pro-lifers should be happy, because fewer babies are being dismembered, vacuumed from the womb, and having their body parts sold.

Ah, the old and cliché “Planned Parenthood sells body parts” myth. By the way, wasn’t the guy that created those hoax videos that created this myth recently charged with conspiring to commit fraud?

But the question behind this statistic remains, why the steady decrease in the number of abortions over the last decades? Why do most Americans identify as pro-life?

According to the most recent Gallup poll, 49% of Americans identified as prolife, 46% prochoice, 2% mixed or neither, 2% didn’t know what the terms meant, and 2% had no opinion. That same Gallup poll stated that 60% of people polled did not want to see Roe V Wade overturned and 60% think that abortion should be legal in the first trimester. Why do almost 2/3 of Americans not want to see Roe V Wade overturned and support abortion in the first trimester if “most Americans are prolife”? Even if we assume that number is made up of the pro-choice and miscellaneous categories, we’re left with 8% that is unaccounted for — that remaining 8% has to come from the prolife category. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but that statistically amounts to over 26 million pro-lifers that do not want Roe overturned and think first trimester abortion should be legal.

Therefore, correction: slightly over half of Americans identify as prolife and not all of them are actually antiabortion.

Side note, the poll stated that 62% of people aged 18-29 and 37% of people aged 65+ were pro-choice. So almost 2/3 of the people in the age range where you’re likely to get pregnant think women should have a choice regarding their pregnancies.

One likely reason is the undeniable scientific fact that abortion takes the life of a living human being.

Faust referenced a Guttmacher report for the basis of this letter and then cherry picked out the report’s possible explanations for the declining rates in favor of his own interpretation of reality.

“Fertility rates declined in almost all states between 2014 and 2017, and it is unlikely that the decline in abortion was due to an increase in unintended births.” Additionally, they noted “Factors that may have contributed to the decline in abortion were improvements in contraceptive use and increases in the number of individuals relying on self-managed abortions outside of a clinical setting.”

Translation: More women are preventing abortion and births through pregnancy prevention with contraceptives and more women are performing abortions on themselves.

Advances in medical knowledge such as ultrasound technology have given us a window into the womb. Entire textbooks describe details of development in the womb. We know of the various markers of growth from the miracle of conception to the first heartbeat to the functioning of each bodily system cumulating in birth. At each stage of the process the baby is 100% human as much as any of us outside the womb.

Just as a sprouted acorn still buried beneath the ground 100% oak. Do we call it a tree? Not likely.

There is no reason why one human should be denied the right to life because of size, location, development, or degree of dependency.

Interesting he mentioned “location” considering he agrees with abortion in ectopic pregnancies, which occurs when the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube and not the uterine lining. (I’m aware of this agreement because our conversations outside the clinic led to him admitting he agreed with abortion for health reasons, I called him out on this in a letter some time later, and his next letter stated he meant ectopic pregnancies and accused me of knowing this. I truly wasn’t aware he meant ectopic pregnancies only when that conversation occurred.)

But what about the woman’s life? She’s a fully developed human that’s already been birthed. What about her “right to life”? Or is that completely ignored in favor of developing, potential life that’s so easy to advocate for because you can imagine it as anything you want (people that can discover the cure cancer, etc)?

Evidently, most people agree and so abortion rates are falling.

Again, according to the Gallup poll, slightly over half of Americans identify as prolife and the data shows that not all of them are actually antiabortion.

What a greater day of rejoicing it will be when the number of abortions becomes zero because every life is welcomed and loved.

Yes, it’s something to rejoice if women are having wanted pregnancies and aren’t being forced to carry unwanted pregnancies because of antiabortion policy or harassment.

Let’s assume for the moment Faust is right that abortion rates are falling because “most Americans” are antiabortion and “undeniable scientific fact”. If that’s the case, surely he doesn’t need to waste his time writing these monthly opinion pieces condemning abortion and he’s just pandering to an audience when his time could be better spent on helpful initiatives. Pro-life supporters have zero need to harass women at reproductive healthcare clinics (many which don’t even offer abortion services) as women are choosing to give birth rather than terminate their unwanted pregnancies. Since more women are giving birth, resulting in more people outside the womb, perhaps Faust and his group of crusaders for human life that supposedly believe “every life is welcome and loved” can stop with their useless monthly meetings and quarterly group newsletters and actually give their time to helping living, breathing people. May I suggest starting with one of the local non-profit organizations like Network for Youth and Project Christmas, which were featured in short articles surrounding Faust’s letter?

These people preach that they fostered children when confronted with the fact they do nothing to help children, but I’ve never seen or heard about any of them volunteering their time or money to an organization that started off as a non-profit that helps children aging out of the foster care system. I recently held a bake sale for Network for Youth–Faust and the rest of them did not come to show their support for the sale that was heavily advertised on the radio, newspaper, and Facebook. They weren’t at the bake sale at last year’s Kristkindl festival. The owner typically thanks people by name on Facebook for helping out the organization and I never have seen any the names I recognize as antiabortion supporters that claim to care about children pop up in a post. It doesn’t surprise me–One year, the Life Chain was on the bridge as NYF was having a car wash at the fire station parking lot at the bottom of the bridge. The owner went up to the protesters, explained what her organization does, and asked for donations: she got about $80 out of 55 people (that isn’t even $1.50 per person). They boost about caring for foster children when confronted at their protests, but doesn’t help an organization that wants to help foster children and at risk youth?

I could go on, but I’ll save it for another time.

I’ll rejoice when women aren’t being harassed outside their clinics and treated like they can make decisions regarding their own pregnancies without fear and intimidation. I’ll rejoice even more if our local “prolife” ever stops doing useless self-serving things to boost their own egos under the guise of caring for human life and actually starts doing things that actually helps human lives more than harassment and letters ever will.

Anti-Abortion Logic: Demanding contraceptive use after defunding Planned Parenthood

Anti-abortion supporters immediately celebrated when Planned Parenthood withdrew from the Title X program they would have been kicked off anyways due to not complying with the “gag rule” regulation. Except Title X wasn’t funding abortions—it was helping Planned Parenthood provide reproductive healthcare and family planning services for free or on a sliding scale. It’s as if the anti-abortion movement has no clue as to why they’re celebrating and don’t care about the repercussions as long as it deals a blow to “Planned Murderhood” (as they so affectionately call the healthcare provider).

This ignorance is painfully obvious with a few anti-abortion supporters now telling women to use birth control.

Examples include:

“Keep em crossed or birth control or adoption.”

“A woman’s decision should be what kind of contraceptive use! That’s the only choice one should make! If you’re not intelligent enough to use contraceptive, you are certainly not intelligent enough to raise a child! Simple as that!”

“All you hoes better learn how to use birth control instead of taking away someone else’s life by aborting. Pro abortion is not pro choice you fucking demons.”

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Birth control? Do they mean like the kind my Planned Parenthood clinic you want to see shut down provides? Interesting.

So let me see if I got this right: Anti-abortion supporters crusaded for and then celebrated Planned Parenthood losing funding that allowed them to offer contraceptives for women who couldn’t afford them and then some of those same supporters have the audacity to tell their patients to use birth control—you know, like the kind that Planned Parenthood could have offered for free when they were still eligible for Title X grants.

Here’s an idea, Anti-Choice Supporters: Don’t tell women to use birth control if you’re for the defunding and shutdown of their clinics that provide birth control.

Anti-Abortion Movement Celebrates Defunding of Title X Funds

On August 19th, Essential Health Clinic officially became a part of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Unfortunately, this came on the same day as another big piece of news: Planned Parenthood announced they decided to pull itself out of the Title X program. Due to a new “gag rule” that would bar anyone that offered abortion services or information from receiving Title X funds, Planned Parenthood would have been kicked off the program anyways if they hadn’t pulled out.

Anti-abortion supporters have long crusaded for the defunding of Planned Parenthood so they rejoiced at Planned Parenthood losing funding without any regard on how those funds benefit those who cannot afford reproductive healthcare and contraceptives—the latter being something that helps prevent unwanted pregnancies that would be terminated at the horror of the pro-life movement.

Yet many anti-abortion supporters still managed to gripe about the whole situation despite getting what they asked for in Defund Planned Parenthood attacks. There’s a surplus of comments bemoaning about how Planned Parenthood could have continued to receive funding if only they had stopped performing those evil abortions and that they showed their “true colors” as a “murder mill” by supposedly choosing abortion over funding for reproductive healthcare services. Once again, the anti-abortion movement oversimplifies things and the truth is more complicated than they would like to acknowledge.

The gag rule basically backed Planned Parenthood into a corner and they only had two options.

The first option would have been to continue to receive funding in exchange for stopping abortion-related services. However, they believe and have campaigned “Abortion Is Healthcare”. Allowing themselves to be suppressed from giving information on abortion would be in conflict with their beliefs that patients should have access to accurate information and resources on what is a medical procedure. Choosing to comply with the gag rule would also have barred them from performing abortions and this would have decimated access to abortion services. In Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood makes up 3 out of the 4 abortion providers in the state. It would have been hard to say “My Body, My Choice” if they were responsible for obliterating access to one choice. And surely the internet comments from the anti-abortion movement would be gloating that Planned Parenthood admitted that abortion wasn’t healthcare by receiving Title X funding in exchange for suppressing abortion information and wiping out abortion access.

The other option—the one they chose—was to refuse to comply with the gag rule and withdraw from the program. From the anti-abortion standpoint, Planned Parenthood chose abortion over providing reproductive healthcare and contraceptives. What Planned Parenthood actually did was choose both. Planned Parenthood is still providing reproductive healthcare and contraceptives despite the loss of Title X funding.

So what did the loss of Title X actually do? First you have to look at what Title X actually is. It is a federal grant program started by Richard Nixon in 1970 dedicated to providing family planning services and reproductive healthcare to the poor and uninsured. Services include “natural family planning methods, infertility services, and services for adolescents; highly effective contraceptive methods; breast and cervical cancer screening and prevention services that correspond with nationally recognized standards of care; STD and HIV prevention education, counseling, testing, and referral; adolescent abstinence counseling; and other preventive health services.”  What Title X doesn’t cover, as laid out in its five major provisions, is abortion. Additionally, the Hyde Amendment bars federal funding from being used to pay for abortion (except in cases of rape/incest or to save the life of the mother). Until this gag rule went into effect, healthcare providers that also provided abortion-related services in addition to a wide range of contraceptives and reproductive healthcare services could participate in the program, but the funding couldn’t pay for abortion services.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is already familiar with losing Title X funding as their funding wasn’t renewed earlier this year due to legislature passed in 2016. Thus, when Essential Health Clinic became Planned Parenthood, they ceased to be a Title X funded clinic. This meant they can no longer offer services for free or on a sliding scale based on income. Luckily, Wisconsin is one of several states that have a Family Planning Waiver program, a program similar to Title X in that it provides reproductive healthcare and contraceptives to low income women for free. But for Wisconsin women that don’t qualify for this program or women in states that don’t have such a program, they have to pay for services in full due to Planned Parenthood not having Title X funding that would reimburse them for providing services at a discount or free.

So the anti-abortion movement is celebrating the loss of funding that would help the poor and uninsured gain access to reproductive healthcare and contraceptives. It’s unclear if this is through sheer ignorance due to being blinded by their hate for abortion or that they don’t really care about the needy despite much of the anti-abortion movement being motivated by Christian philosophy.

Dissecting Pro-Life Opinion Pieces: “SJW?”

I’ve decided to start a blog segment called Dissecting Pro-Life Opinion Pieces where I’ll analyze newspaper editorial letters submitted by our local pro-lifers.

This week, I’m analyzing “SJW?” by Samuel Faust. For those new to the blog, Samuel Faust is a pastor that’s very active in the pro-life community. In addition to being the chairman for the Wisconsin Right to Life’s Jackson County chapter and being in charge of the Black River Falls annual Life Chain, setting up the abortion cross display, and organizing the protest outside the soon-to-be-closed Black River Falls Essential Health Clinic, he also writes a Letter to the Editor on an almost monthly basis.

Faust writes:

There is a group of people known as social justice warriors (SJW) who feel so strongly about injustice that they are committed to confront and reverse it. They point out injustices like discrimination (of various kind) and income equality. They raise the voice of equality for almost every minorities group but intentionally ignore the most vulnerable group who cannot speak for themselves—babies in the womb. How can they make such an oversight? Simple, by recognizing the humanity of babies in the womb, they would have to defend them.

If you point out this inconsistency, be prepared to be called names (bigot, racist, etc.) They perpetuate the anti-science lie that a baby in the womb is a part of the mother’s anatomy. I’m still waiting for a medical doctor to write a letter with quotes from medical textbooks that say the baby inside a pregnancy woman is part of HER anatomy (she has two heads, four arms, four legs, etc.) No doctor would publicly embarrass himself that way, nor does such a textbook exist.

The next time you see someone wearing a “Defend Equality” t-shirt, stop and ask “Does that include equality for babies in the womb?” It makes me wonder if SJW means “Selective” Justice Warrior!

Some true social justice warriors of the past would include Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and Cady Stanton. These elevated the treatment of women and were vocally against abortion. A past example of a Selective Justice Warrior is Margaret Sanger. She fought for sexual freedom while seeking to eliminate minorities (she called “human weeds”) through birth control. If they want any credibility, they should realize social justice begins in the womb.

For Faust’s letter, I did write a response for the paper titled “A Lack of Credibility”:

Samuel Faust continues to spread misinformation in his latest anti-abortion editorial “SJW?”, criticizing social justice warriors for supposedly not defending the unborn and wondering if SJW really stands for “selective justice warrior”. He claimed Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and Cady Stanton were true social justice warriors, as they “elevated the status of women and were vocally against abortion”. This claim is partially inaccurate, as these women never publicly stated an opinion on the sanctity of fetal life or advocated for the unborn. One woman that was vocally against abortion was Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who Faust described as being a “past selective justice warrior” while spouting the common pro-life falsehood that she was a racist that wanted to eradicate minorities through birth control. Sanger publicly condemned abortion for most of her career and argued that it was a societal ill that would disappear if unwanted pregnancies were prevented with birth control. Although she supported negative eugenics, which sought to reduce births among those considered unfit, she rejected race and ethnicity as determining factors. African American leaders of the time saw a need for birth control in their communities, and she was asked to open a clinic in Harlem. Sanger outlined her plans to reach out to African American leaders that could dispel suspicions about the family planning clinics she was opening and pro-life supporters have since taken it out of context to propagate the very allegations she feared would arise.

Faust is suggesting social justice warriors (i.e. “activists”) aren’t defending the unborn in any capacity for being pro-choice. The reality is that these activists do defend the unborn, but not by supporting anti-abortion ideals and harassing women outside of healthcare clinics. Many people that believe a woman should be able to choose and have access to abortion services are also supportive of affordable healthcare, paid maternity leave, assistance for low-income parents, livable wages, laws protecting women from workplace discrimination, etc. They’re protecting the unborn in a realistic and practical way by supporting things that provide a safety net or improve the quality of life so women with unplanned pregnancies are more likely to carry to term.

The criticism does both ways. Does pro-life defend all life or just the unborn and those that follow a certain lifestyle? Why the utter lack of focus on post-born lives? Why does a movement that bases its views on Christian ideologies, which include serving the poor and needy, promote “pro-life” politicians that cut funding helping low-income children because those politicians believe human welfare isn’t the duty of the state? Why do supporters celebrate the closing of clinics that are pro-choice without any regard for the women who depend on them for their health and avoiding unplanned pregnancies that could be terminated? Why are supporters quick to call others “anti-science” while ignoring the data that has so-far debunked various pro-life claims (links between abortion and breast cancer, etc.)? If this movement cares about mothers as much as it claims, why isn’t fighting for things like access to healthcare to ensure healthy pregnancies, births, and babies or paid maternity leave at the forefront? Why is supporting or offering anything that would actually be beneficial to both mothers and women experiencing unplanned pregnancies relatively minor when compared to de-funding Planned Parenthood attempts, restricting abortion access, campaigning for pro-life politicians, holding prayer vigils and meetings to discuss pro-life talking points and making billboards, advertisements, reading materials, and professionally printed protest signs?

Perhaps it’s pro-life supporters that need to work on their credibility as they cannot seem to get their facts straight and address its own hypocrisies.

There were a few things I wasn’t able to fit into the response or felt wasn’t necessary for the opinion piece.

It’s interesting that Faust calls for questioning those that wear “Defend Equality” shirts considering I wore that type of shirt consistently for about the first year the protesters were picketing my clinic. At the very least, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that was aimed at me.

No movement is so perfect that it lacks any “selectiveness”. The Love is Love movement outright rejects pedophilia, incest, and rape as being acceptable forms of love. Those that spread a message of tolerance are typically intolerant of racism and misogyny. Pro-Life Across America rejects photos of babies whose parents are not in a heterosexual marriage for their billboards because it goes against their Christianity-based beliefs.

Supposedly, the Wisconsin Right to Life’s Jackson County chapter is offering $5000 to anyone that can prove with a medical textbook that a baby is a part of the woman’s anatomy during pregnancy by his own specifically stupid definition. Faust gloats about still waiting for such proof to be shown to him in his letter (isn’t pride a sin, Pastor?) A fetus/baby is not a part of the woman’s anatomy in the way Faust ridiculously explains and this dumb explanation is not what is meant by “a baby is a part of a woman’s anatomy during pregnancy”. A more accurate phrase would be “a baby (regardless of stage of development) is connected to a woman’s anatomy during pregnancy”. If it weren’t connected, there would never be any cases of babies experiencing crack withdrawals upon birth. It affects the woman’s own anatomy by creating a whole new organ (the placenta) to extract nutrients, stretching the skin, pushing organs upward, and increases hormone production to the point where it can affect dental health. Birth involves pushing out the baby through a birth canal that has to expand to accommodate live birth or getting sliced open via C-section and stitched back up. If Faust’s challenge hadn’t included a very specific definition of what it means for a fetus/baby to be “part of” a woman’s anatomy and textbook proof, he would probably be out of the money I doubt exists.

And, of course, he brought up Margaret Sanger. Pro-lifers love to bring up Margaret Sanger and the 1939 letter to C.J. Gamble as much as blindly devoted Donald Trump supporters love to bring up Hillary Clinton and her emails. I have researched and continue to research Margaret Sanger. I find that her history and views are complicated at best and not so black and white. She was a supporter of eugenics, but didn’t share the racist viewpoint of leading eugenicists of the time and “uniformly repudiated the racist exploitation of eugenics principles.” One writer, Gloria Steinem, suggested that the embrace of eugenics may have actually been a political ploy to broaden birth control’s appeal. Her focus minority communities was the result of being asked to open a clinic in Harlem and, as Time magazine states, “because that was where, due to poverty and limited access to health care, women were especially vulnerable to the effects of unplanned pregnancy.” Her mission was to empower women to make their own reproductive choices, but her alignment with eugenics and work with minority communities have given pro-lifers the opportunity to twist facts and paint her as a racist that was out to eradicate minorities.

Analyzing an opinion letter on Planned Parenthood and crisis pregnancy centers

Whenever Faust submits one of his anti-abortion letters to the paper, more letters echoing the same ideology are likely to follow so I wasn’t surprised to see this letter in the paper last week:

Here are some tidbits of information regarding Planned Parenthood (PP) and Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Wisconsin. According to Planned Parenthood’s own report from 2014-2015:

*PP’s non-abortion services (birth control, cancer screenings, etc.) have decreased over time.

*98% of American women never visit a PP facility in any given year.

*.08% of women of reproductive age went to PP for a breast exam (none received a mammogram).

*PP performed 323,999 abortions in 2014 nearly one-third of the nation’s abortions.

*Their revenue in 2014 reached almost $1.3 billion dollars, and they received $553.7 million in taxpayer dollars that year.

There are eight Crisis Pregnancy Centers within 50 miles of Black River Falls. There are four-plus centers in La Crosse, one in Eau Claire, two in Marshfield, and one in Necedah:

Apple Pregnancy Care Center, Eau Claire 1.800.712.4357

Agape Pregnancy Resource Center, La Crosse 608.784.4966

Birthright of La Crosse, La Crosse 1.800.550.4900

New Life Resource Center, La Crosse 608.785.2377

Gerard Hall La Crosse (Maternity Home) 608.392.3985, 24/7 helpline

Birthright Marshfield, The Hannah Center, Marshfield (Maternity Home) 715.387.6300

7 Sorrows of Our Sorrowful Mother, Necedah 608.565.2417

These dedicated centers do not receive tax dollars but are helping women over the long haul.

This list does not include help provided by Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Service.

Katie Edwards

Black River Falls

I had seen the report she was referring to some time ago and I remember wondering what factors could be contributing to these decreases in healthcare services. Were they affected by new guidelines recommending pap smears be performed less often? Were women getting longer-term birth control like IUDs, which may result in fewer visits as women only need these types of birth control replaced every few years? Did some low-income women gain access to insurance through the Affordable Care Act and now gets reproductive healthcare through a regular doctor? Could Planned Parenthood performing nearly 1/3 of the nation’s abortions be the result of anti-abortion groups and lawmakers lobbying for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws that have forced many independent providers to close down?

Anti-abortion supporters don’t ask questions as to why healthcare services are decreasing. They see reports like this and automatically declare that it’s proof of their beliefs that Planned Parenthood is nothing more than a “murder mill”.

Planned Parenthood did indeed receive $553 million in tax dollars that year. HOWEVER…A legislative provision called The Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion services except when it’s medically necessary to save the life of the woman or in cases of rape or incest. Seventeen states use state funds to provide medically necessary abortions—Wisconsin isn’t one of them. Title X, a grant program that helps provide family planning and reproductive healthcare services to low-income women, strictly prohibits its funds from being used towards abortion services. Translation: TAXES DON’T FUND ELECTIVE ABORTIONS!!!

The writer neglected to describe the services crisis pregnancy centers have to offer, but the letter seemed to imply that they were somehow better alternatives to Planned Parenthood and were more beneficial to women. Luckily and somewhat ironically, I’m currently researching 64 crisis pregnancy centers in Wisconsin—here’s a quick run-down of their services:

*21 claim to have medical staff. Yet 56 offer pregnancy tests. This could mean that, for a majority of centers, pregnancy tests aren’t being administered by medical professionals or the tests themselves are self-administered (three centers admit their tests are self-administered. From personal experience, Apple PCC does self-administered tests—they didn’t state they did, however).

*50 provide material support—diapers, formula, etc. —to mothers. 20 of those centers state material support is through an Earn While You Learn program where women earn points through classes and/or Bible study to be able to “buy” items.

*All 64 offer options information. In general, centers insisted on an appointment to receive information, but some had some information on their website. 18 centers had information on their website that was inaccurate or exaggerated (abortion causes breast cancer, miscarriage rates being as high as 40%, etc.)

*35 perform ultrasounds. 18 describe their ultrasound services as “limited”, half of which describe “limited” means only confirming a heartbeat and gestational age. Only six of those centers claimed to have medical staff. There could be 29 centers operating ultrasound machines without people that aren’t trained to use them and/or the guidance of medical professionals. In Wisconsin, women must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion and Wisconsin law states that abortion providers have to perform this ultrasound themselves or arrange for a qualified person to perform it. This didn’t stop three crisis pregnancy centers from suggesting they do ultrasound imaging for the purposes of receiving an abortion. They do this as a tactic to delay or prevent women from getting abortion services. Women seeking abortion services are promised a free ultrasound only to find out at their appointment that their free ultrasound image is medically worthless and doesn’t meet state abortion requirements.

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The Women’s Support Center states it does ultrasounds while mentioning an ultrasound is needed for an abortion, suggesting that they perform the required ultrasound needed for abortion services. They neglect to mention that their ultrasound images don’t meet state requirements for abortion services.  

 

*13 perform STD testing. Only 4 offer treatments for the STDs they test for.

*2 offered prenatal care—in the form of prenatal vitamins.

*Only 1 center performed pap smears.

*None dispensed birth control or performed mammograms.

I wonder if services were intentionally left out of the letter as crisis pregnancy centers have a mixed bag of services and are mostly not medical. Planned Parenthood doesn’t perform mammograms, but neither do crisis pregnancy centers—well, Wisconsin’s crisis pregnancy centers anyways.

Based on the services alone—not including the misinformation crisis pregnancy centers spread and deceptive tactics they have employed—crisis pregnancy centers aren’t a better alternative to Planned Parenthood as most don’t provide medical services and when they do those services are extremely limited.  Planned Parenthood may not provide mammograms, but neither do crisis pregnancy centers—well, Wisconsin crisis pregnancy centers anyways.

Perhaps the only real benefit of crisis pregnancy centers would be its material support to women that carry to term and need help obtaining baby items, but I’m not entirely sold on it. There was one crisis pregnancy center–the Alpha Women’s Center–that actually provided a breakdown of how their version of Earn While You Learn works.

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Provided I’m doing my math right, a woman would have to complete 4 lessons or memorize 8 Bible verses in order to receive the maximum amount of diapers (20) the center will give out per week, per child. This doesn’t seem like a lot when you consider a newborn can go through 10 diapers a day.  Also, I’m admittedly concerned that they list used car seats as used car seats can be unsafe due to lack of instructions, missing parts, unnoticeable damage, or aging plastic.

Lessons are 2 points each while verse to memorize are 1 point each. The amount each baby item costs varies, but the larger the item the more points it costs. Consumable items cost less points, but the center limits how many of these items can be earned per week, per child. This is assuming the items are in stock as there’s a disclaimer stating they cannot guarantee the availability of the item as most of the items are donated. This is also assuming women are comfortable participating in this particular Earn While You Learn program as it’s completely based around Bible study. (I personally find it to be an attempt at religious indoctrination in exchange for baby goods.) I don’t doubt this can be helpful to women that need a little help rounding out their consumable supplies, but I do debate that it helps women “for the long haul” when its required that women complete a potentially large number of tasks for a small amount of items that may not be in stock.

Contrary to what the opinion letter claimed, tax dollars do help fund crisis pregnancy centers. A lot of tax dollars that has gone towards crisis pregnancy centers has come from federal programs for abstinence-only education. A center in Wisconsin petitioned the city of Madison for low-interest loans to build a maternity home, which could have come from the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund and Community Development Housing Reserve Fund had the city council not withdrew support over concerns about the crisis pregnancy center’s misleading medical information. While governor, Mike Pence took $3.5 million from the state’s Temporary Assistance For Needy Families and gave it to Real Alternatives, an anti-abortion group that helps open, finance, and direct women to crisis pregnancy centers. Seven states have used TAFN dollars to fund crisis pregnancy centers, apparently giving $30 million over the course of 4 years.  The Bush administration gave $60 million in federal tax dollars to crisis pregnancy centers. These numbers seem small in comparison to the tax dollars Planned Parenthood receives in order to give women access to reproductive healthcare and family planning services. However, its a lot of tax dollars to be giving to anti-abortion groups that have used deception and inaccurate information to misguide women about their options.

This isn’t including money generated from the sales of Choose Life license plates or fundraising events like the various Walks for Life that are tax free because these crisis pregnancy centers are non-profit organizations. Again, money that goes to anti-abortion groups that lie to women and, at best, offer a couple healthcare services that may or may not be provided by licensed medical staff.

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Apple PCC of Eau Claire’s Walk for Life 2017. This sort of money could cover the costs of at least two babies in the first year. 

Of course, the deception or the lack of essential services doesn’t stop anti-abortion supporters like Katie Edwards from praising crisis pregnancy centers and making them out to be valuable alternatives to women’s healthcare clinics regardless of whether they actually provide any medical services or if they’re known to be untruthful to the women they claim to want to help.

Girl Scouts Targeted by the Pro-Life Movement

As stated in a previous blog post or two, one of our local pro-life protesters (dubbed the “Dicktator”) has a Facebook page that he uses to spout aggressive gospel and pro-life messages. His posts about protesting at my clinic intrigue me, but so do his other posts. It’s especially entertaining when someone has the balls to question his posts and if he’s truly in the faith instead of blindly agreeing with him and automatically typing in an “Amen!” in the comment section.

I probably shouldn’t look, but can’t help myself much like a moth to a flame or Otep Shamaya to the YouTube comment section of her music video for “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts”.

Most of his posts are repeating the same nonsense about inaccurate abortion statistics and criticisms about “lukewarm Christians” (despite probably being one himself). But every once in a while he’ll post something so off the wall that I have to wonder if he’s smoking meth.

The latest bat shit crazy post: Girl Scouts have ties to Planned Parenthood.

It reads:

The Girl Scouts have declined a whopping 30% since 2003 because of their ties to Planned Parenthood. This is because many Christian families are removing their children from the Girls Scouts because of the conflict in interest in being children of God and associated with the biggest mass executioner of innocent children (http://www.conservativenews.com/…/christians-ditch-girl-sco…).

Not only has the Girl Scouts allowed Planned Parenthood to have an influence on our young daughters and grand-daughters, they also have included programs to teach them sexually (https://concernedwomen.org/girls-scouts-under-fire-for-pla…/).

Thankfully, there is a Christian alternative for parents who are GENUINELY Christian and would like to protect their children from these predators- the American Heritage Girls! Please let me know if you would like a local contact information or look up the American Heritage Girls (https://www.americanheritagegirls.org/) for more information.

Please remember that our most important job as parents is to protect our children. With 70% of children being born into the Christian faith falling completely away from it by the time they graduate from high school (90% by the time they graduate from college!), it is a travesty. Don’t think that YOUR FAMILY is the exception!

We have a VERY SHORT period of influence to teach our children and we will be accountable to it to God. Please do not waste the time you have serving yourself.

GirlScout
Screenshot of Facebook post for reference. 

My immediate thought was, “What in the actual fuck? They’re targeting Girl Scouts now?!” because Girl Scouts being somehow tied Planned Parenthood seemed ridiculous. Though, to be honest, I personally  wouldn’t mind if I found out the insane amount of money I spend on Caramel DeLites every spring did go towards women healthcare. If I learned anything over the past year, its not to trust information that pro-life activists like the Dicktator presents. Usually their information is inaccurate or there’s more to the story that they’re not telling. A connection between Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood is no exception.

The first article he posted, “Christians Ditch Girl Scout’s Over Planned Parenthood Ties”, is where he got the numbers about the 30% drop in Girl Scout membership, which was based on a report done by The Associated Press. The article does acknowledge that the report doesn’t state how much of this decline is due to the perceived tie to Planned Parenthood, but makes every effort to try and convince such a tie is the sole reason for the decline in membership. The vast majority of the embedded links are from LifeNews, a pro-life news website. I don’t generally trust pro-life news websites because of the deceptive nature of the pro-life movement. My high school English classes have taught me its not wise to have all your references from one source. As an example for this case, it would be like writing an article on Japan and using “Memoirs of a Geisha” as reference.

How did Girl Scouts become associated with Planned Parenthood in the first place?

In 2004, a pro-life group in Texas launched a boycott against Girl Scout cookies when it was discovered that Waco Blue Bonnet Council of Girl Scouts had sponsored Nobody’s Fool for years. Hosted by Planned Parenthood, Nobody’s Fool was an annual one-day workshop aimed at teaching preteens and teenagers in grades 5 through 9 about sex education. More fuel was added to the fire in 2010 after the Girl Scouts attended the 54th Commission on the Status of Women and held a Girl Scout Only workshop about the global issues affecting girls. As the Dicktator’s second article link details, Sharon Slater of Family Watch International claims that the Girl Scouts distributed a International Planned Parenthood Federation brochure on HIV sex, health, and reproductive rights at their panel, which she was not present for. The Girl Scouts have denied they distributed such a pamphlet and there been no evidence that they actually did.

The Girl Scouts stance on sexuality, birth control, and abortion is “Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) does not take a position or develop materials on these issues. We feel our role is to help girls develop self-confidence and good decision-making skills that will help them make wise choices in all areas of their lives.” They also state they have no partnership or relationship with Planned Parenthood while Planned Parenthood has stated they don’t have any official relationship with the Girl Scouts.

Local chapters are allowed to partner with local organizations of their choice as was the case with the Waco Blue Bonnet Council of Girl Scouts. Still, even if an individual troop was indeed able to send cookie profits to a local Planned Parenthood, such a donation wouldn’t be used to fund abortions. Women have to pay out of their own pocket in order to receive abortion services. Instead, the money would go towards expenses and services in order to continue providing reproductive healthcare services—birth control, screenings, treatments, etc.—to low income women for free or cheaply. Then again, it wouldn’t be surprising if pro-life groups found fault with providing funds for birth control and reproductive healthcare due to some bullshit belief that such things promote promiscuity.

Despite the inflammatory and inaccurate statements pro-life advocates make about Girl Scouts being associated with Planned Parenthood, it’s unlikely it’s one of the main reasons for the decline in membership. Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts, believed that the decline was attributed to more parents and families—including single parents—being financially unstable and having little time to be able to be involved with extracurricular activities. Another problem the organization faces is a lack of volunteers. In some regions, interested girls who wanted to join have been turned away or put on waiting lists due to a lack of volunteers. The organization faced difficulties in 2013 that included a deficit-strapped pension plan, rifts over the direction of Girl Scouts programming, and revenue shortfalls that lead to about a quarter of the staff being trimmed.

The only real truth in all of this is that pro-life groups lost their collective shit over a single Girl Scout troop sponsoring a sex education workshop hosted by Planned Parenthood. Its not surprising as these groups try to demonize anything associated with Planned Parenthood or similar clinics. The Girl Scouts being tied to Planned Parenthood is nothing more than pro-life propaganda spread by those that are so ignorant and gullible they’ll believe anything the pro-life movement puts out.

Questioning the 13,000+ alternatives to Planned Parenthood claim.

A supporter of mine occasionally comments on pro-life pages and sometimes those posts pop up on my Facebook feed. One such post was a Wisconsin Right to Life post about Tammy Baldwin obstructing pro-life supreme court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The comment section riddled with insults towards Tammy Baldwin like “POS”, “loser”, and “carpet licking skank” is enough to continue wondering if there is a cut-off point on the pro-life value on human life.

Anyways, the post itself eventually led me to realize there is a Facebook page for the Jackson County chapter of the Wisconsin Right to Life. On the Facebook page, I saw this picture explaining there are 7 healthcare clinics in Wisconsin for every Planned Parenthood, which is also on the WRTL’s official website. Supposedly, there are 162 health care clinics in Wisconsin (not including private healthcare providers) so they argue we don’t need Planned Parenthood. Their website claims there are 13,540 comprehensive healthcare clinics nationwide, outnumbering Planned Parenthood 20 to 1. Live Action News states that if funding to Planned Parenthood were eliminated, the money could go towards these healthcare providers.

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162 healthcare providers compared to Planned Parenthood’s 22.

Knowing how pro-life groups use misleading and deceptive tactics, I checked their resources.

The data used for the map graphic focuses on federally qualified healthcare providers that accept Medicare and Medicaid. The problem with this is not all women—even some low income women—qualify for these types of federally or state funded insurance programs.

What would have been more helpful to low income women if somehow the map answered the following questions:

*Do these healthcare providers offer services on a sliding scale or free for women who qualify?

*Will these healthcare providers take in low income women regardless of their ability to pay?

*In the 27 states that offer such a program, do these healthcare providers process Family Planning Waivers so women that are low income yet still make too much to receive government assistance would still be able to have reproductive care and birth control?

For argument’s sake, let’s say we do cut funding to Planned Parenthood and re-direct those funds to these comprehensive healthcare providers. How would it be guaranteed that the healthcare providers would put general healthcare funding like Medicaid towards reproductive healthcare services and birth control?

It’s been pointed out that the data shows ALL federally funded healthcare providers and includes providers that absolutely do not to reproductive healthcare. For example, there is a dot on the map in the area where my town would be. The second website yielded the health care provider that dot is matched to: a dentist. Unless they offer pap smears with their root canals, this is unhelpful as an alternative to Planned Parenthood. Places like dentists, hearing specialists, podiatrists, or dermatologists are certainly NOT alternatives to Planned Parenthood or other women’s reproductive healthcare clinics.

Even if we assume that all 13,540 alternatives to Planned Parenthood did indeed have a certified OB-GYN on staff and offered the same services Planned Parenthood does (sans abortion), pro-life advocates are essentially asking that these healthcare providers take on 2.5 million patients in the event of a Planned Parenthood shutdown. If divided equally, each healthcare provider would have to take on an extra 184 patients just for reproductive healthcare and birth control.  If we take out the providers that don’t offer those services, the number of available healthcare providers decreases while the number of patients the remaining providers would have to take on would increase.  Of course, this in a completely hypothetical and unlikely situation that each healthcare provider would take in an equal portion of new patients. This is still not factoring in women who rely on sliding scales or family planning waivers to be able to obtain reproductive healthcare services.

But my favorite part in all of this was scrolling through the list of Wisconsin rural health care providers that were listed with the map’s first website resource. One healthcare provider stood out for me: Gundersen. Six of its Wisconsin locations were listed (as well as a couple Iowa locations). The reason why this is incredibly absurd is that pro-life groups PROTEST Gundersen.

For those unfamiliar with the local pro-life folklore of mid-western Wisconsin, legend has it that an employee for Gundersen happened to stumble upon a “secret policy” stating Gundersen does elective abortions in secret and went forward with the information to pro-life groups. Despite not being shown a physical copy of the policy, pro-lifers bought it and now regularly picket Gundersen. They also picket Essential Health, an affiliate of Gundersen that provides reproductive healthcare, birth control, and informational resources on pregnancy options. Interestingly enough, the chairman for the Jackson County Right to Life is in charge of the demonstration in front of the Essential Health Clinic in Black River Falls.

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“Better options” include healthcare providers pro-life groups actively picket because of some perceived moral objection to it.

If pro-life groups want to convince women they have “better options”, then maybe they should do some research on those “better options” so they don’t look stupid when someone finds those options include places they are morally objected to.

I’m sure whoever made this just pulled the list of federally qualified healthcare centers, slapped them onto a map, and said “Look! 13,000 healthcare centers!” without researching any of the providers. Or perhaps they realized there would be less of an impact if they removed the providers that don’t offer reproductive healthcare services, aren’t helpful to low income women, or that pro-life groups protest for one reason or another.

The only thing that is certain is that these 13,000+ providers accept Medicare and Medicaid. Beyond that, its a bit questionable.