Wisconsin State Assembly Passes Package of Anti-Abortion Bills

While the country has been completely focused on Texas and its incredibly restrictive antiabortion bill, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed four anti-abortion bills. Gracie Skogman, legislative director of the Wisconsin Right to Life, commented, “The heart of the pro-life movement is supporting women and their unborn children. The bills passed in the Assembly today exemplify this mission.

Let’s take quick a look at what these bills actually do.

The Born Alive Survivors Protection Act (AB6) relates to requirements for children born alive following abortion or attempted abortion. If the abortion or attempted abortion somehow results in birth of a live child then it must be given the same degree of care given to children born of the same gestational age. It should be noted that abortion resulting in birth instead of termination is such a rare occurrence even according to antiabortion groups. Live Action reported that the Charlotte Lozier Institute examined CDC data and found there were 143 botched abortions that resulted in the birth and death of the fetus over an 11 year period—that’s about 13 cases among the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed each year in the United States. Furthermore, this law may be essentially useless as it requires that “abortion survivors” be given the same care as their naturally born counterparts of the same gestational age and Wisconsin’s gestational cut off for elective abortion is at 20 weeks—a whole month before most healthcare providers will even consider intervening to save the life of an infant born prematurely due to an already impossibly low survival rate and how brutal the process of NICU medical intervention actually is even for those that stand a chance at survival. Additionally, there’s already a federal law that extends protections to any fetus born after a botched abortion called the Born Alive Infants Protection Act.

The Prenatal Diagnosis Information Act (AB594) requires physicians who perform pre- or postnatal tests for congenial conditions with positive test results to provide the parents with evidence-based educational resources and supportive information about the conditions, which doesn’t sound bad as it gives parents information if they receive a diagnosis regarding their child or pregnancy. The Shield the Vulnerable Act (AB595) prohibits abortions that are based solely on the race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or congenital disability. These two bills appear to be intended to work in conjunction with each other by ensuring that women receive information about a fetal anomaly (most likely for a wanted pregnancy), but then are unable to make the decision to abort the pregnancy purely based on that anomaly diagnosis. AB595 does allow for exceptions where the congenital disability is incapable of sustaining life after birth, but specifies this doesn’t apply to any condition that is treatable. There is the potential to create cases where women would have to choose between giving birth to children who may suffer horribly depending on their condition or travel out of the state to terminate their pregnancy. Giving birth may be traumatizing to women who felt having an abortion would be more humane and traveling out of state for an abortion would only be available to those with the resources and time to be able to do so.    

A Woman’s Right to Know Act (AB593) is perhaps the most dangerous of these four bills. It requires any woman considering a two-step medically induced abortion that uses mifepristone to be informed she may be able to stop the abortion process after the first dose if she chooses to do so. In simpler terms, it requires providers to inform women about Abortion Pill Reversal, an experimental treatment that is currently not approved by the FDA. Previously, we discussed how the study on APR that antiabortion supporters applauded doesn’t prove that any continued pregnancies were the result of the treatment rather than mifepristone being such a weak abortifacient by itself that a second drug, misoprostol, is needed. The original study also didn’t examine if women experienced complications as it was only focused on the outcome of the pregnancies and a study done to determine if APR actually works had to be halted after a quarter of the participants experienced hemorrhaging. Women should have access to accurate information available to them to help them make an informed decision about an unwanted pregnancy and this law forces the spread of information that is not considered medically accurate or safe by the medical community.  

Although Governor Tony Evers is anticipated to veto these bills, it’s still concerning from the pro-choice standpoint that four antiabortion bills got passed at once during a time when reproductive rights seem to hang in the balance.

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.

The Weakest Links: Life Chain 2021

Since the closure of the Essential Health Clinic in town a couple years ago, I admit my pro-choice activities have been a bit sparse. Then again, so have the local antiabortion activities and even more so since Pastor Faust moved out of state after being booted from his congregation last year. Aside from Brian’s family making the rounds at a nearby Planned Parenthood every Tuesday (as he is unable to picket due to a restraining order), a couple of random antiabortion opinion pieces, a non-local crisis pregnancy center advertising in our newspaper and high school sports posters, their activity has been sporadic at best.  

One thing they’re still being consistent with is holding their annual Life Chain on the bridge, which occurs on the first Sunday in October every year.

I haven’t counter protested the event since 2018.

In 2019, I decided to take a break for the sake of my then-declining mental health.

In 2020, I was out of town at the time and wouldn’t have attended anyways because of Covid. They supposedly held it, but there wasn’t any photographic evidence to show for it.

This year I was apprehensive about going because of the on-going pandemic. Even before the pandemic, the Life Chain has had a rule about spacing people to maximize the chain and every year the protesters largely ignore that particular direction. I doubted the pandemic’s six foot recommendation for social distancing would make them consider following this rule as I’ve seen some of those same protesters come to my workplace refusing to take any basic Covid precautions. Brian in particular has been quite vocal about his anti-vax, anti-mask, Covid-conspiracy stance on his public Facebook page —even after his wife caught Covid and it was bad enough that she had to be put on a respirator for several days –and is currently and horribly advising that anyone with Covid take livestock medication to treat it. My presence at the Life Chain always results in being confronted by a couple protesters who were rubbed the wrong way and I ultimately decided I wasn’t ready to find myself face-to-face with someone who might have not taken Covid seriously for the past 18 months. But for old time’s sake I went to check out the last ten minutes or so of the Life Chain from across the street while listening to Otep’s “Generation Doom” album.

Brian, living up to his nickname of “The Dicktator” by being so zealously antiabortion that he makes casual antiabortion supporters look almost pro-choice, decided that he and a “few genuine brethren” were going to have their own little vigil the hour before the Life Chain was supposed to start on the bridge. Yet, when my husband and I had driven by the spot he was supposed to be at about fifteen minutes after the time he posted, The Dicktator and his supposed Christian posse was nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t there when we passed by again about half an hour later on our way to lunch. He wasn’t at the Life Chain when I checked the last little bit of it after lunch, either. Funny how he went on a Facebook rant criticizing the local Wisconsin Right to Life chapter for essentially not being hardcore enough in their antiabortion pursuits and he doesn’t even show up the vigil that he planned.

Taken when everyone was leaving and both signs were on the same side of the bridge.

There was one man about Faust’s age that looked like he was in charge of the vigil holding the biggest sign I had ever seen at this function. “Pro-Life The radical idea that babies are people.” There was a large WRTL sign on the other side of the bridge that read “Abortion stops a beating heart”.

I counted about 47 people and usually this bridge vigil brings in about 55-60 people at least. I noted there were fewer children this year, possibly because Brian didn’t drag along his kids and the two other boys this year.

As usual, this particular Life Chain location cannot follow the principles that’s apparently been in place since its inception in 1987.

  • “At least half of your signs should be ‘Abortion Kills Children’.”: Just like previous years, half of their signs weren’t this AKC sign.
  • “Spacing is Key. Maximize your Life Chain. Space your participants up to 100 feet apart. Only 53 people will over a full mile”:  A couple years ago, we figured out that only ten people were needed to cover one side of the bridge. The chain on the left side of the bridge was actually following this rule for the most part as there were about 10 or so people evenly spaced across the entire length of the bridge. The right side, however, didn’t extend to the other side of the bridge despite having 30 people because they were crowded together.
  • “Promote this to be a true ‘prayer chain,’ free of frivolity, idle chatter, and interaction with motorists.”: Like every year I’ve witnessed this Life Chain, most of the participants were standing in pairs or small groups and engaging in conversation with one another.
  • “The publicized Life Chain time period is 2:00-3:30 in each time zone, but each Coordinator may adjust the time to meet local needs. Please hold a 90-minute Chain if at all possible.”: According to the group’s Facebook events, they have never held a 90-minute Life Chain. If there’s one thing that Brian is actually right on it’s that a lot of local antiabortion supporters put in an hour in October and then are inactive the rest of the year.  

Once the clock struck 3pm, having put in their protesting hour for the year, they dispersed like cockroaches in the light. Some probably went to the park afterwards for the refreshments. I went home as I didn’t see any point in watching a bunch of antiabortion supporters stand around a punch bowl while they patted themselves on the back like proud peacocks even though their event was weak by Life Chain standards and general standards.

Their impact was so unexceptional that the chain barely made the local paper the following week. It’s a small town so practically anything out of the ordinary makes the paper and usually in the first two pages if its not sports related. This is what the paper had to say about the event next to a tiny photo on page 5 where the only adults visible were appear to be cisgender men:

“Jackson County families came together to form a Life Chain on the Black River bridge Sunday Oct. 3 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. as other chains formed throughout the United States. Participants prayed to end abortion, to encourage adoption and to offer hope and help to mothers and fathers so they can welcome their unborn babies.”

I think the photo an antiabortion supporter submitted of me in 2017 to go alongside a scathing opinion piece about the “rude, crude, and offensive” sign I was holding at that year’s Life Chain was much bigger than the entirety of this mention of this year’s Life Chain.

As I think of this whole affair, I am reminded of a lyric from an Otep song I was listening to while casually watching the Chain from afar:

“Strength in numbers

Counting you like sheep

Makes me wonder

Why you’re all so weak?

Feeding frenzy: the gnashing of the teeth

If there’s strength in numbers

Why are you so weak?”  

Anti-Abortion Logic: “What if your mother had aborted you?”

In response to the near ban on abortion in Texas, the Women’s March planned a Rally for Abortion Justice on October 2nd to march in defense of abortion rights and reproductive freedom. Planned Parenthood had posted a couple ads for this rally, which unsurprisingly triggered a large amount of antiabortion supporters. Many antiabortion supporters have reacted to these ads by commenting some variation of “What if your mother had aborted you?”

Here are a few of those comments (spelling and grammar mistakes included):

“Has anyone else found it strange that people are screaming for abortions when their mothers didn’t have an abortion?”

“Better be glad your mom didn’t feel that way”

“Choose life your MOTHER did, you wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t.”

“Are t you glad your mother didn’t abort you?”

“Abortion is murder! Are you not glad your mother didn’t abort you!”

“Dear Ralleyers, Aren’t you glad your mothers did not abort you?”

“Aren’t you glad your Mother didn’t choose abortion?”

“Every one of you women should be thankful that your mother didn’t selfishly decide to destroy your life while in their womb.”

“Don’t forget to thank your mom today that she did not abort you”

“Everyone remember to be thankful that your mother chose to be pro-life and gave birth to you”

“Your mother’s all chose life for you. Sad you don’t want the same for your child. You are selfish self centered brats.”

“I like the bumper sticker that said, your mom was pro life”

“Imagine if we all would have been ABORTED!”

“If they had been aborted, they couldn’t protest. Their moms decided to keep them. Think on this…”

“What all you ‘abortion justice activists’ do not realize is that if your mother had aborted you, you would not be alive to have any say in this issue. EVERY SINGLE PERSON on this planet was a mass of tissue that fed off the host body. But for all you activists, your mother’s gave you a chance at life. Think on that for a while”

Whenever I see antiabortion supporters ask this hypothetical abortion question involving my mother I ask, “You mean my abusive mother?”

What if she did have an abortion? She probably would have been happier not having children that ended up being diagnosed with varying levels of autism during a time when autism was relatively unknown and there was little to no support for it so my parents were all alone in learning how to raise kids with autism. My father possibly wouldn’t have put up with an abusive relationship for as long as he did because there wouldn’t have been kids to consider. Since I wouldn’t have existed, I wouldn’t have suffered the mental damage I still struggle with that partially led me to supporting reproductive rights so women can have a choice about having children. More importantly, there wouldn’t have been any children to become my father’s replacements for emotional, mental, and financial abuse when he did finally decided after years of abuse and manipulation to file divorce and move to the other side of the state just to get away from her.

Antiabortion supporters ask “What if your mother had aborted you?” in an attempt to force pro-choice supporters to rethink their stance on abortion because their own mothers chose to give them a chance at life. When I think about it, I doubt my mother would have felt she actually had any choice regarding her pregnancies due to being raised Catholic. She likely was taught that it was her duty as a woman of God to bear children even if she didn’t want them and that abortion and birth control were evil, though admittedly I can’t be for certain if this was the case. What I do know for sure is (according to her) she had a falling out with the church when she divorced her abusive first husband and later when she had me out of wedlock with a different man who wasn’t involved in the church at all—her church refused to baptize me on both grounds. Maybe if a “pro-life” religion hadn’t possibly pressured her bear children regardless of what she wanted—just like the antiabortion movement does now—and then ostracized and abandoned her for having children outside some dumb archaic rules, things might have been better for her. Instead of making me rethink my stance on reproductive rights, this hypothetical scenario has only further solidified it.

Now that we’ve pondered alternative timelines where pro-choice supporters were aborted, I have a follow up question for the antiabortion supporters: What are you doing to ensure that women don’t end up like my mother?

Pro-Choice Logic: Taliban Comparisons

Accidental Activist Adventures has analyzed ideas and analogies from the antiabortion movement, but today we’re going to look at one that’s recently come from the pro-choice movement.

At the beginning of September, the most extreme antiabortion bill in this country went into effect in the state of Texas.

S. B. 8, also referred to as the “Texas Heartbeat Act”, bars abortion once cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound, which can be as early as six weeks gestation when many women are unaware they are pregnant (some have been calling the law a six week ban or even a total ban for this reason).

It’s not the first law to attempt to ban abortion at the first detectable signs of cardiac activity (which is not considered a heartbeat since there’s no heart to pump blood at that point). What makes this law unique from any other so-called “heartbeat law” is that to ensure the law is enforced it allows any private citizen to file civil suits and collect damages against anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion post-“heartbeat”. Researchers at the University of Texas reportedly wrote that S.B.8’s language “is so broad that anyone who offers information or referrals for abortion care, drives the patient to a facility, helps them pay for an abortion—or intends to do so—could face a civil suit.” The Texas Right to Life had even created a pro-life whistleblower website so that Texans could report possible violations, which backfired horribly.  

In response to this law, many pro-choice supporters have drawn comparisons between the antiabortion movement and Muslim extremists—mainly the Taliban—with a variety of nicknames like “Texas Taliban”, “Christian Taliban”, “Abbott Taliban”, “Televangelical Taliban”, “Talipublicans”, and “Y’all-Qaeda”. Texas itself has been accused of being “invaded” by the Taliban and has been called things like “Redneckistan” and “Howdy Arabia”. There have been political cartoons depicting like Muslim women in burkas asking to “pray for Texas women” and a Texan cowboy fist bumping a man in a turban. The likes of Stephen King, Alyssa Milano, Joy Behar, Michael Rapaport, Harry Shearer, and other celebrities have expressed anger over the law while either calling antiabortion Texan lawmakers and their supporters “Texan Taliban” or that the Taliban would love the new antiabortion law. Many have compared the Texas Heartbeat Act to Sharia Law. Similar comparisons were made when Alabama enacted its own heartbeat bill.

It certainly wouldn’t be surprising to find that the Taliban banned abortion considering the well-documented history of the military organization stripping rights from women. Therefore it is surprising there doesn’t seem to be any concrete evidence of the Taliban ever enforcing abortion bans. Abortion has apparently been mostly illegal in Afghanistan since 1976–18 years before the Taliban was founded. There are explanations that what is happening in states like Texas isn’t Sharia Law because Sharia actually supports pregnancy termination until the fetus gains a soul at 120 days gestation (making Sharia law more liberal than the Texas law). One article explained that religious councils in Taliban controlled areas were more likely to justify abortion based on poverty.

Furthermore, the Taliban is made up of men whereas the American antiabortion movement, while arguably having a large number of men, has quite a few women in high ranking activist or government positions. In fact, it was a woman, Shelby Slawson, who introduced the Texas heartbeat bill to the state’s House while she was surrounded by six women who co-sponsored or supported the bill.

Even if the Taliban had stripped abortion access and were exactly like the American antiabortion movement, the comparison would still be unjust. Sajida Jalazai, a Muslim assistant professor living in Texas, wrote an excellent piece on how using Islam to critique abortion bans only excuses the actual issue through perpetuating Muslim stereotypes. “Not only do they re-hash the age-old Islamophobic stereotypes about the inherent and uniquely repressive nature of Islam (particularly in relation to the treatment of women), but they also overlook the roots of modern anti-abortion movements in America in connection with white Christian nationalism,” she writes. She goes onto write that such comparisons give the false impression that such incredibly restrictive measures on reproductive rights is normal over in backwards foreign nations populated by crazy brown zealots while it’s an anomaly here in a country where citizens are supposed to have freedom.

From the viewpoint of those that have paid little to no attention to what’s been happening with reproductive rights, it may seem like the antiabortion movement has suddenly resorted to extreme measures of a terrorist group to get what they want when in actuality it’s just business as usual for antiabortion supporters. We’ve been experiencing interference with our reproductive rights for decades—not by Muslim extremists, but by Christians who believe a zygote, embryo, or fetus is exactly the same as the person carrying it in their uterus. They only appear to have suddenly resorted to drastic measures because they got a huge win with a piece of legislation that has made a bigger dent on legalized abortion than any other law that merely chipped away at those rights or was immediately overturn by the higher courts.

The antiabortion movement is not an American or Christian version of the Taliban, but simply evangelical Christian culture rooted in misogynistic religious interpretation. They haven’t suddenly adopted the methods of a foreign military or terrorist organization—they’re doing the same shit they always have been doing. The antiabortion movement isn’t a stranger to radical methods to fight abortion with stalking and harassing patients, resorting to acts of violence against clinics and the people that work there, setting up fake clinics next to real ones to mislead patients, cutting funding to family planning to get back at abortion providers that also have reproductive healthcare and contraceptive services, and coming up with legislature that purposely undercuts abortion rights in the hopes that the Supreme Court will deem it constitutional and overturn Roe v Wade as a result. Hell, this isn’t even the first Texas law to have a drastic impact on abortion access as an earlier law, H.B. 2, forced over half of Texas’ 40-plus abortion providers to close before it was overturned three years later.

Yet, for some reason, the American antiabortion movement currently isn’t being seen as its own entity with its own religious beliefs and ways of conducting things. It could be argued that comparisons are needed to help those outside the fight for reproductive rights grasp how extreme the antiabortion movement can be, but why is the go-to comparison often the Taliban and rarely white extremists like the Nazis (who actually did enact antiabortion policies)?Despite there being a Christian American terrorist group—the Army of God—the movement is compared to non-white foreign terrorist groups that have nothing to do with attacking and stripping abortion rights in their own countries, let alone America. You’re more likely to find antiabortion zealots compared to Muslim terrorists before they’re compared to the self-righteous Pharisees of the scripture they believe makes abortion a sin. An antiabortion law that rewards people that snitch on others for helping someone obtain an abortion will be compared to Sharia Law long before they’re compared to Judas betraying Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.   

It’s frustrating to see the antiabortion movement compared to non-Christian extremists rather than being called out for being Christian fanatics, especially since comparisons to the Taliban ultimately do not have any effect on the antiabortion movement. “I would rather be called a Taliban than a democrat any day of the week,” one Facebook user wrote on an ACLU post. Another user wrote, “if the taliban want to protect innocent babies maybe they’re not so bad after all.” Others, like antiabortion immigration attorney Christine Flowers, scoff at the idea that limiting abortions to six weeks in one state of the country is even remotely comparable to the Taliban’s human rights violations.

If we want to call out the antiabortion movement and the actions it is taking against reproductive rights, it shouldn’t be done through Islamphobic scapegoating. To put it in the words of legal analyst Imani Gandy: “Stop with the ‘Sharia Law in Texas’ bullshit. This is right wing Christian evangelicalism. Homegrown. Stop invoking a racist boogeyman.”

Anti-Abortion Logic: Comparisons to Gardening

Sometime last year in the comment section of a Planned Parenthood Action post, an anti-abortion supporter used gardening as a means to defend the antiabortion idea that “consent to sex = consent to pregnancy.”

“I agree having a child begins with creating a child. You don’t plant a garden and then when a plant starts growing you destroy that seedling. You make a decision to have a garden before you plant the seeds.”

This wasn’t the first time I had seen this particular anti-abortion gardening analogy and it most likely won’t be the last time I see it. Now that my garden is planted for the summer, I remembered I had begun to dissect this analogy last year, which is why I had copied and pasted the now deleted comment.

For Christian anti-abortion supporters, it probably makes sense to use gardening as a means to explain something as the Bible compares people to fruit trees. As a gardener with over a decade of experience, I wonder if this antiabortion gardening analogy was thought up by a supporter that has never tended a garden before. “You don’t plant a garden and then when a plant starts growing you destroy that seedling” implies that gardeners always see their planted seeds and transplants to fruition and therefore women must see their unwanted pregnancy to term and “bear fruit”, but this simply isn’t true. In fact, gardeners kill many living things in their garden, including things they purposely planted.     

Many gardeners make plans to destroy seedlings resulting from seeds they plant. Tiny seeds like carrots and lettuce are difficult—if not damn near impossible—to plant one by one so many gardeners will sprinkle such seeds over the ground without worrying about proper spacing. Gardeners might broadcast larger seeds if there’s a large area to plant. Additionally, not every seed will germinate regardless of size, especially with older seed, and thus some gardeners who are more particular about spacing or start plants indoors may plant more than one seed per hole to better their chances that there will be a plant in that spot. Unfortunately, gardeners end up with crowded seedlings once those seeds that have been planted so closely together germinate. The solution is to remove (and ultimately destroy) seedlings that are too close together until you’re left with seedlings that are at the proper spacing. This is called “thinning” and it is a gardening basic that’s described in gardening books and most packets for seeds that don’t require being started indoors in colder areas with shorter summers.

Sometimes gardeners will plant things with the intention of having those plants stay in the garden and later they come to the realization they actually don’t want it in their garden. For a personal example, a couple years ago I planted moon flowers because I thought they looked pretty on the seed packet picture. The white flowers were indeed pretty, but I discovered its vines are incredibly invasive and they will wrap themselves around anything they can get their little tendrils on. The original moon flowers had gone to seed—meaning they had completed their life cycle and created more seed—and two summers later I’m still ripping out moon flower vines out of my garden plot at the community garden. Yes, I had wanted these flowers for my own viewing pleasure, but I had planted them ignorantly. In order to protect the overall health of my garden and my plans for the vegetables I had planted, I had to destroy these new moonflower seedlings. If I had let them live, they would have continued to wrap their vines around my other plants until they choked the life out of them.  

Some perennial plants grow in clumps and can become overcrowded, resulting in poor plant growth. The solution is “dividing”, which requires digging up the parent plant and dividing it into smaller sections. In plant terms, this can be quite brutal as sometimes the root ball easily can’t be teased apart and parts of the plant have to be hacked away with a knife or spade, but doing so will improve the health of the parent plant. The smaller portions that are removed from the parent plant can be planted elsewhere, making plant division a good way to propagate plants without having to plant more seed. But not every gardener wants the new plants created from the original parent plant. Case in point, I divided my massive and overcrowded chive plant this year, but had no need for more the smaller chive plants that resulted. Instead, I threw the smaller plants into the community garden compost. I essentially did the plant equivalent of how anti-abortion supporters view abortion by ripping smaller plants away from the bigger plant and left the smaller plants to die. 

Even if gardeners tediously plant their seeds one-by-one at the perfect spacing and everything they plant is wanted, gardeners will still have to deal with weeds. Think of weeds as the unplanned pregnancy of gardening. The only true way of avoiding weeds is to not have a garden. For those that don’t want to abstain from gardening, there are several methods to prevent weeds such as physical barriers like mulch, landscaping fabric, and tarps as well as chemicals that either kill weeds or prevent their seed from germinating. But like contraceptives that prevent unplanned pregnancies, these weed preventing methods are not entirely foolproof. Usually at some point, regardless of whether preventative methods are used, gardeners will end up with weeds. Like an unplanned pregnancy, the individual gardener will have to decide if they’re fine with them existing in their garden and taking up precious nutrients or if they’re going to get rid of them by ripping them out of the ground or dousing them in weed killing chemicals.

Gardeners go beyond plants and kill other living things. Look at any garden center that pops up in every big box store during the summer and you’ll find at least half an aisle dedicated to chemicals that kill or deter a wide variety of living creatures and diseases that invade gardens. Much like weeds and unwanted pregnancies, it’s up to the individual to decide on what they feel is the best way to handle them. Some gardeners wish to avoid the more toxic chemicals completely or until natural methods prove ineffective while others have no qualms about immediately spraying their plants with Sevin at the first sign of an infestation. There are times plants become too infested or diseased to be worth saving and it might be best destroy the plant so it doesn’t infect the healthy plants in the garden or the soil they’re growing in. When you’re in a community garden like I am, there are times where several gardeners have the same pest problem, but each will have different ways of dealing with it. Last year, I was pissed that the influx of rabbits had mowed down my pea plants to the ground level yet never sought to destroy them—even affectionately calling any bunny I saw “Usagi” and scolding them—while another gardener came with a BB gun with the intent of extermination.

Perhaps, the only part of this anti-abortion garden analogy that’s accurate is that gardeners make the decision to have a garden before planting. People make the decision to have a garden because they have plans for the fruits, vegetables, and flowers they put into the ground. There isn’t a garden that grows perfectly and gardeners will have to deal with gardening related issues—possibly even ones their own actions have caused. When faced with issues that would interfere with those plans, they have to make decisions on how best to handle them just as women weigh out their options when faced with an unplanned pregnancy or even a wanted pregnancy where problems were detected later.

Gardeners do destroy seedlings—even ones they planted themselves—so maybe using gardening as an argument against abortion wasn’t the best idea.

Anti-Abortion Logic: Covid-19 Will Save Lives (Re-Examined)

A previous blog post dissected the antiabortion idea that “If Covid-19 forces Planned Parenthood to be closed for two weeks, the virus will have SAVED more lives than it has taken.” As antiabortion supporters believe that fetuses are people, they believe the amount of lives that would be saved from abortion related death during this hypothetical shut down would be greater than the total amount of lives Covid-19 has taken.

Over three months after the first reported Covid-19 death, this logic has not held up even with the idea that fetuses are people in mind.

Planned Parenthood’s last annual report states that they performed 345,672 abortions, averaging out to 947 abortions per day. Based on this daily average, Planned Parenthood would perform 13,258 abortions in two weeks.

As of June 3, the CDC reports that that Covid-19 death toll in the US and its affiliated jurisdictions is 106, 202 deaths. Currently, this would average to 1,117 deaths per day. If this average held up, 15,638 people would die from Covid-19.

15,638 (Covid-deaths) – 13,258 (abortions) = 2,380 more people dying from Covid-19 than Planned Parenthood abortion.

Currently at this point in time, Covid-19 is resulting in more deaths than abortion performed by Planned Parenthood. This is assuming that fetuses are people and therefore an abortion results in the death of a person. However, data on abortion-related deaths relates to women who died from complications of having the procedure and not pregnancies that were terminated. As stated in the previous blog, 108 women died from complications from the procedure between 1998 and 2010. The death toll on Covid-19 this year is currently 983x times more than the death toll of abortion related deaths in a 12 year time span. Currently, there hasn’t been a single report of anyone dying from abortion complications this year. Covid-19: 106K+. Abortion: Zero.

Whether you believe fetuses are people or not, closing down Planned Parenthood would not save more lives than the virus has taken.

Anti-Abortion Logic: Consent to Sex is Consent to Pregnancy (now with donuts!)

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Anti-abortion activist, Laura Klassen, made a video ridiculing the pro-choice talking point of sexual consent being separate from consenting to gestating a pregnancy as justification for abortion rights, which was discussed in an earlier Accidental Activist Adventures blog.

“Consent to eating all the donuts is not consent to gaining weight. #Duh #Science #JustSaying”, says the Tweet preceding the video of her sarcastically eating donuts.

The pink wigged activist must have been too busy stuffing her face with sugary sweets in an attempt to “own” pro-choice supporters to remember one very important detail about weight gain:

You can get rid of unwanted weight.

If you eat all the donuts and find you gained weight, you don’t have to carry that weight. There are ways to get rid of it. A couple methods include diet pills and medical procedures like liposuction and lap band surgery.

You know….like how if you have sex and find yourself with an unwanted pregnancy, you don’t have to carry it. There are ways to get rid of it. Strangely enough, you can either take a couple pills or have a medical procedure done to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy.

Alternatively, women have used stairs to get rid of either of these things.

Instead of utterly destroying the pro-choice side of the consent debate, she ended up further supporting the idea she was trying to ridicule in the first place because she forgot how weight works. #JustSaying

Covid-19 Renders Some Pro-Life Centers as Non-Essential

Crisis pregnancy centers are often touted by the antiabortion movement as being medical facilities that could replace Planned Parenthood despite most not being licensed healthcare providers and only offering extremely limited reproductive and pregnancy healthcare services, if at all. As much as antiabortion activists like Abby Johnson want to claim that crisis pregnancy centers are as “medical as a Planned Parenthood”, the COVID-19 pandemic proves otherwise.

Wisconsin has been under a safer at home order since March 24th, which closes down non-essential businesses and services. Healthcare providers are the few that are exempt as they provide an essential service. Planned Parenthood, a legit medical provider regardless of what the antiabortion movement claims, hasn’t announced any temporary closures of its Wisconsin locations and all of them appear to be in operation with extra precautions put in place due to COVID-19.

The same can’t be said for the 68 known crisis pregnancy centers in Wisconsin, which have been impacted by the stay-at-home order or the COVID-19 outbreak.

*25 centers (36%) have temporarily closed.

*15 centers (22%) have reduced hours or services and/or are only offering services through appointment or roadside pickup.

*14 centers (21%) have either announced they’ll remain open or posted about offering their normal services.

*14 (21%) centers have an unknown status as they haven’t updated their Facebook or client websites regarding any changes to their operation.

Out of the centers that have closed:

*9 centers only offered options counseling (usually with pregnancy tests) and material assistance like diapers, formula, and other baby items. While pregnancy tests may sound medical, especially when centers refer to them as “lab quality” or “medical grade”, many centers actually use self-administered tests—essentially, over the counter pregnancy tests you can get at the store. Heartbeat International, an organization that supports a wide network of crisis pregnancy centers, explains that non-medical centers “should only advertise that they offer pregnancy tests (which the clients will then use), not testing.” Material assistance almost always comes in the form of an Earn While You Learn program, a system created by crisis pregnancy centers where women earn points through classes and/or Bible study to be able to buy the items she needs.  

*9 centers had options counseling with pregnancy tests and material assistance plus “limited OB ultrasounds”. Like pregnancy tests, ultrasound imaging at crisis pregnancy centers are less medical than they appear. Although many centers claim their ultrasound imaging services are used for the purposes of confirming the pregnancy, gestational age, and viability in order for women to make an informed decision about their pregnancy, the actual purpose of these one-time limited ultrasounds is to show women seeking abortions their developing fetus in hopes that it will convince them not to terminate. Pregnancy Support Center of Dodge County claims on their client website that women can get a limited ultrasound to determine viability in order to determine if an abortion is needed, but their donor website explains the real purpose of their “free lifesaving ultrasound” is so that “abortion vulnerable moms can see their baby and its precious heartbeat.” Ultrasounds at crisis pregnancy centers are not used to diagnose issues with an on-going pregnancies. APS Medical explains that their ultrasound services won’t give a “diagnosis of medical abnormalities”, which is strange for an organization claiming to be medical in its own name. Limited ultrasounds at crisis pregnancy centers are more of a glorified ultrasound keepsake rather than a medical service.

*The remaining 7 centers had STD testing in addition to pregnancy tests, options counseling, material assistance, and limited OB ultrasounds. However, only two of those centers—both Hope Life Center locations—offered treatment for the STDs they test for, but in limited capacity and only to female clients.

*1 center (in the ultrasound category) has prenatal care, but only in the form of giving prenatal vitamins. It is the ONLY center out of the 68 total centers in Wisconsin that states they offer prenatal vitamins to pregnant women that wish to continue their pregnancy.

*None of the closed centers provide contraceptives, pap smears, breast exams, or comprehensive sex education.

While some centers claimed to have closed voluntarily to protect clients and staff, it’s unclear if this is actually true due to the way crisis pregnancy centers present themselves and often hide what they really are. Clarity Clinic and Seed of Hope claimed their closures were due to the Covid-19 outbreak, but it should be noted that their closures started on the same exact day the safer-at-home order went into effect, likely indicating that the order deemed them as non-essential and forced them to close. Tomorrow’s Choice Family Resource Center and Care Net Pregnancy Center of Green County have admitted they’re closed until further notice because of the governor’s orders regarding non-essential businesses, which is likely due to the fact these two CPC organizations don’t provide medical services.

These closures could change. The Bay Area Life Center and the A & A Alexandrina Center reopened in order to give some material assistance. Both centers don’t offer medical services.

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A & A Alexandrina’s homepage when they were closed (top) and when they reopened (bottom)

But most of the centers that remain open must be medical…right? Well, no. Out of the 29 centers that are confirmed to be open, whether fully or in a limited capacity, only a little over a third of them (10 centers) offer medical services.

*9 centers provide STD testing, but only 3 provide treatment for the STDs they test for.

*2 centers provide pap smears.

*1 center provides breast exams.

*None of the open centers provide contraceptives, prenatal care, or comprehensive sex education.

Additionally, the centers that haven’t announced whether they are closed or open have zero medical services, providing a pregnancy test alongside options counseling and material assistance at best.

The main goal of crisis pregnancy centers isn’t to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare to women, but to counsel women against having an abortion and share religious gospel. Heartbeat International explains this mission in an article telling centers to stay on target during this outbreak: “The mission of pregnancy centers is not to operate a pregnancy center! It is to reach those facing life and death decisions about their pregnancy with the Gospel of Life!” Any time legislation has been put in place to regulate these antiabortion centers, they have successfully fought for the right to be considered religious outreach organizations that enjoy 1st amendment protections in order to continue to be dishonest with women seeking legitimate services. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that 75% of Wisconsin’s centers don’t provide real medical services and that over a third of Wisconsin CPCs have shut down during Covid-19 despite exemptions for medical providers and essential businesses.

Covid-19 has rendered many centers as non-essential during these uncertain times, but lying to women about their pregnancy options should never be considered essential at any point in time.

Anti-Abortion Logic: Consent to Sex is Consent to Pregnancy

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Consent is a big deal in the pro-choice and women’s rights movements, particularly when it comes to sex and bodily autonomy. Sometimes antiabortion supporters will use consent as a way to deflect a woman’s right to an abortion and the rights over her own uterus by arguing that if a woman consent to sex then she consents to pregnancy. More specifically, that the woman consents to gestating a pregnancy that may result from the sex she consented to—“penetration is consent to gestation”, if you will.

It shouldn’t have to be explained, but consent to sex is not consent to gestating pregnancy. For clarification, this isn’t to say that sex doesn’t carry the risk of pregnancy or that there is zero correlation between sex and pregnancy, which is what many antiabortion supporters assume pro-choice supporters actually believe when they say “consent to sex isn’t consent to pregnancy”. What is truly being argued here is that an agreement to have sex isn’t an extended or implied agreement to carrying any pregnancy to term that may result from having sex.

The definition of consent is “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something”. If the woman does not agree with gestating a pregnancy, then by definition she has not consented to gestating a pregnancy.

The antiabortion movement wants to treat consent to sex like a binding legal contract or a User Agreement with fine print regarding pregnancy that would be glossed over by the average person. “Consent to sex is consent to pregnancy” is basically the antiabortion movement saying “You’re not allowed to have an elective abortion because you accepted any possible pregnancy upon consenting to sex. Did you not read the terms and conditions?” This logic would sound ridiculous if applied anywhere else. For example, telling a lung cancer patient they should be denied treatment if their cancer was the result of smoking—“Smoking is consent to cancer”. Or telling a traffic accident patient they cannot receive treatment for their injuries because it was implied they accepted the risks of driving when they sat behind the wheel.

Sexual consent is an agreement to participate in a sexual activity. One way to describe the rules is with the acronym FRIES:

*Freely Given: “Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

*Reversible: “Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before and even if you’re both naked in bed.”

*Informed: “You can only consent to something if you have the full story. For example, if someone says they’ll use a condom and they don’t, there isn’t full consent”.

*Enthusiastic: “When it comes to sex, you should only do stuff you want to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.”

*Specific: “Saying yes to one thing (like going to the bedroom to make out) doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others (like having sex).”

Nowhere does it state that engaging in consensual sex means you automatically consent to a pregnancy. But for argument’s sake, if sexual consent is connected to pregnancy consent, then consent to pregnancy should have to abide by sexual consent rules. If consent means you’re willing and wanting to do something rather than being pressured or expected to do something, those things must be present to consent to a pregnancy. If consent is reversible, women can change their mind about a pregnancy. If consent is specific and not implied or assumed, then saying yes to sex doesn’t mean saying yes to pregnancy and women can specify she doesn’t agree to gestate any pregnancy that may result from the sex that’s been mutually agreed upon.

The thing about pregnancy is women can get pregnant from non-consensual sex because biology and reproduction aren’t contingent upon consent. If “consent to sex is consent to pregnancy” then a lack of consent means automatically not consenting to a pregnancy in cases of rape. Right? Well, no. There have been rape victims that willingly chose to carry pregnancies resulting from their assault, indicating that sexual consent and consenting to pregnancy are completely separate from one another.

If a woman doesn’t consent to sex and therefore is raped, wouldn’t that mean a woman—a rape victim—has the right to an abortion should that rape result in a pregnancy she doesn’t consent to? No, according to the antiabortion movement. In the past, much of the antiabortion movement was in favor of abortion exceptions in cases of rape and incest, believing that it was cruel to force victims to go through pregnancy and birth. Currently, antiabortion activists and politicians see exceptions for rape as misguided because abortion is viewed as murder no matter if the circumstances of conception were consensual or not. So antiabortion supporters don’t really care about whether or not a woman gave consent, but are certainly willing to use it to pressure and shame women into gestating unwanted pregnancies.