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

LauraKlassenJustSayingConsent_1024_512_75_s_c1

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.

AandAAlexandriaCenter2update
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.

New Study on Abortion Pill Reversal Cites Dangerous Health Risks

Early last year, antiabortion groups were overjoyed about a study that supposedly proved that medication abortions could be negated with progesterone therapy. Critics argued that the study was too flawed to conclude that Abortion Pill Reversal actually worked. Mifepristone, the first drug of a medication abortion which APR seeks to reverse the effects of, isn’t that great of an abortion method on its own, which is the reason for Misoprostol being included in the medication abortion regimen. The success of Abortion Pill Reversal may be due to the failure rate of Mifepristone.

Another major flaw was that the study was not a randomized placebo-controlled trial due to the unethical implications of giving placebos to women that regretted taking Mifepristone and wanted to save their pregnancies. Researchers from the UC Davis attempted the first-ever randomized clinical study on Abortion Pill Reversal to test the effectiveness of progesterone therapy to “reverse” the effects of Mifepristone. The trial intended to enroll 40 women who were planning a surgical abortion. These women would have taken Mifepristone two weeks before their scheduled appointment and then followed up with a regimen of progesterone or placebos until their appointment.

Twelve women had participated in the trial. Six of the women who had participated in the study had detectable heartbeats at the end of their progesterone or placebo regimen. Four had been on progesterone therapy and two were given placebos. To antiabortion supporters, this is an indication that Abortion Pill Reversal works. However, with Mifepristone not being that effective by itself, as many as half of women who only take Mifepristone continue their pregnancies. The original study on Abortion Pill Reversal reported that slightly under half of women on progesterone therapy continued their pregnancies. With half of the women in the clinical study having continued pregnancies after taking Mifepristone, there isn’t enough evidence from the study to conclude whether Abortion Pill Reversal works or if its success is the result of Mifepristone’s failure rate.

Enrollment in the study was halted due to safety concerns after three women were sent to the hospital for severe hemorrhaging. As two of the women were in the placebo group, Charlotte Lozier Institute accused the study of misleading people into thinking that Abortion Pill Reversal is dangerous. “Pro-abortion researchers would rather continue to mislead women about the real risks of the abortion pill regimen Mifeprex than protect them from the risks of this dangerous drug,” said Dr. Tara Sander Lee of the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

The study’s conclusion did list risks of Mifepristone and how safety concerns regarding those risks were the reason they could not determine the effectiveness of progesterone therapy:

“We could not estimate the efficacy of progesterone for mifepristone antagonization due to safety concerns when mifepristone is administered without subsequent prostaglandin analogue treatment. Patients in early pregnancy who use only mifepristone may be at high risk for significant hemorrhage. [emphasis added]”

As of right now, the risks of Abortion Pill Reversal are unknown. The original observational study concluded that progesterone therapy was safe for the fetus as there were a low number of birth effects, but gave zero information on how the women actually carrying the pregnancies were affected. APR may be potentially dangerous due to progesterone having a lot of side effects and the increased risk of blood clots, stroke heart attack, and breast cancer. With no data on how women who flooded their systems with progesterone were affected, we don’t know how safe the actual regimen actually is.

The halted clinical study may have indicated that not taking both pills in the medication abortion regimen is dangerous to a woman’s health. By extension, Abortion Pill Reversal could be dangerous as it’s only done on women who haven’t fully completed the process of medication abortion.

“Encouraging women to not complete the regimen should be considered experimental,” said Dr. Mitchell Creinin, the lead researcher on the UC Davis study. “We have some evidence that it could cause very significant bleeding. It’s not that medical abortion is dangerous. It’s not completing the regimen, and encouraging women, leading them to believe that not finishing the regimen is safe. That’s really dangerous.”

This should be greatly concerning to anyone that cares about women’s health. Eight states—five within the past year—have enacted laws forcing abortion providers to tell patients that the process of medication abortion can be negated after taking the first pill despite Abortion Pill Reversal being largely unproven and not FDA approved. These states along with antiabortion supporters that truly believe APR works are putting women’s health at great risk by telling them they can stop their medication abortion halfway, which potentially carries high risk of hemorrhaging, and reverse their abortion with an experimental and possibly unsafe treatment that may not even work.

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.

Love Line: Another pipeline to antiabortion crisis pregnancy centers

LoveLine
The front page of Love Line uses phrasing similar to what crisis pregnancy centers commonly use in their advertising.  

October saw the launch of Love Line, an initiative dedicated to connecting women facing unplanned pregnancies to resources. On the surface, this sounds like a fantastic program for women. Unfortunately, there’s reason to be wary of Love Line.

The woman behind Love Line is antiabortion activist Abby Johnson, who now instructs antiabortion crisis pregnancy centers to give potential clients the false impression that they offer abortion services. Much like her ideal crisis pregnancy center, the website is professional and business-like without a trace of an antiabortion agenda despite an article and a video describing Love Line being pro-life in nature and it being a project under Abby Johnson’s antiabortion umbrella organization ProLove Ministries.

Love Line connects women to antiabortion crisis pregnancy centers, which exist to steer women away from abortion services regardless of whether they follow Abby’s advice to practice deceptive and predatory advertising tactics. This is not made clear until you go seek help from Love Line. The contact form on the “Need Help?” page includes “I’m considering an abortion” as an option for why you’re contacting Love Line. Without the knowledge that the initiative was created by a well-known antiabortion activist using the very tactics she tells crisis pregnancy centers to use and the website connects women to antiabortion ministries, women seeking to terminate their unplanned pregnancies may be lead to believe that Love Line will help them obtain abortion services.

I wanted to see for myself what Love Line was really like and see if it was like how I anticipated. I tried using the chat on November 10th at around 4pm. Despite Love Line touting itself as a 24/7/365 crisis line, there wasn’t a representative available on the online chat. The chat still gave me the option to send a message with the indication that someone would contact me through email. I sent the message “Looking for abortion information and where to get one”. By the time I went to lunch at 10am the next day, I still had not received any sort of response in my inbox.

There was a representative by the name of Pam on the chat when I went to lunch the next day. So I went on the chat using a pseudonym to see what Love Line does when faced with a woman that is seeking abortion services. Were they going to be truthful or were they going to resort to the same tactics Abby Johnson has told these antiabortion crisis pregnancy centers to use in order to bring in more abortion-minded women? Let’s dissect that chat? Let’s dissect the chat that occurred.

(Note: I have omitted the fake name I used. I also had screenshots of the chat. Unfortunately, the editing program I was pasting the screenshots to decided to close out and I was an idiot who didn’t make a save file before the program crapped out. So I just have the chat I transcribed with the timestamps.)   

Me (10:17): Hi. I’m looking for abortion information and where to get one.

Pam (10:18): Hey [name omitted]. My name is Pam. Have you taken a medical grade pregnancy test and had an ultrasound?

Pam starts off the chat with an unassuming question that’s actually a crisis pregnancy center tactic. Crisis pregnancy centers often use terms like “medical grade” or “lab quality” to describe their pregnancy tests to make them seem like they’re like what you would get in a doctor’s office or that they are of a superior quality.  Some centers like the Choices Pregnancy Services even outright claim their urine-based pregnancy tests are better at detecting the hCG hormone.

A nurse practitioner at my clinic explained that their urine tests aren’t better than over the counter tests at detecting hCG. Lab Corp explains, “Generally, when used correctly, the home test should produce the same result as the urine hCG test done by your health practitioner.” Google “medical grade” or “lab quality” pregnancy tests and the vast majority of the results are from crisis pregnancy centers and their affiliates rather than actual medical providers or medical suppliers, indicating that only crisis pregnancy centers use these terms.

As for ultrasounds, we’ll get into that in a bit.

Me (10:19): Just a pregnancy test from Walmart.

Pam (10:20): ok. Where do you live?

Me (10:20): Eau Claire, WI

Choosing Eau Claire will come into play later.

Pam (10:21): alright – have you ever had an abortion before?

Me (10:21): No.

Pam (10:21): Ok. How old are you?

Me (10:21): 29.

That’s younger than my actual age, but in hindsight I should have went even younger and played that “Young woman who has her whole life ahead of her and is not ready for kids” sort of angle, I guess.

Pam (10:23): Alright. So there are a few requirements in your state. First, you need options counseling which is required 24 hours before an abortion. An ultrasound is also required. I can send you to get an ultrasound at no cost. This is helpful to determine if your pregnancy is in the right place and growing. This will also determine exactly how far along you are. What has you considering abortion?

It’s obvious to me she intends to send me to a crisis pregnancy center for the no cost ultrasound—that probably won’t be obvious to someone actually experiencing an unplanned pregnancy going onto this website seeking help.

Again, Pam’s answer seems unassuming, but there’s a tactic about crisis pregnancy centers laced within. She truthfully stated I needed an ultrasound for abortion services. She stated she could direct me to a place (which turns out to be a CPC) that will provide an ultrasound for FREE. By putting those two things in the same paragraph, she created the impression that CPC’s provide ultrasound imaging for women seeking abortion services…FOR FREE. They may very well provide an ultrasound for women seeking abortion, but there’s a crucial piece of information that’s left out: Ultrasounds from CPCs likely won’t meet abortion requirements.

In Wisconsin, under SB206 (also known as “Sonya’s Law”), an ultrasound with certain requirements must be done before any abortion is performed and it must be done by the physician performing the abortion or by a physician of the woman’s choosing. If a woman chooses a physician outside the abortion provider, that physician has to supply the woman with a certificate stating that she had the ultrasound and that it meets state requirements as shown in Section III of the Abortion Information Certification Form that has to be filled whenever an abortion is performed—options counseling, an oral explanation of what the ultrasound depicted, displayed the ultrasound image so the woman could view (though she has the option to refuse), a medical description of the ultrasound images, and provided the means to visualize the fetal heartbeat and an explanation of it. As many CPCs aren’t medical in nature, its likely a crisis pregnancy center won’t have a licensed physician that can perform the ultrasound as many CPCs don’t have any qualified medical staff. Even in cases where a CPC does have a physician on staff, there’s probably zero chance of that physician—being that they work for an antiabortion ministry—giving the proper certification required to obtain an abortion.

Women more than likely will be unaware of what the law requires and crisis pregnancy centers take advantage of this by luring women with promises of completely free ultrasound imaging services, knowing full well that their ultrasound images don’t comply with abortion laws. The idea is that women who decide to have an abortion will schedule an appointment only to find they haven’t met state requirements when they get to that appointment because their no cost ultrasound is medically worthless, thus delaying the abortion—hopefully past the point where she is able to get one.

Me (10:24): I don’t want children.

Pam (10:25): Ok. Do you have any idea how far along you are – if you could take a guess?

Me (10:26): Its been about 7 weeks since my last period.

Pam (10:27): Ok what was the first day of your last period

Me (10:29): I think it was around September 28th?

Pam (10:30): That would put you right at 6 weeks pregnant having conceived on or around October 11. Does that sound right?

Me (10:30): I’m not sure. I’ll take your word for it

The First Response “How Far Along Am I?” tool matched Pam’s estimate of how far along I was so at least that checks out.

If I had thought of it then, I would have picked an earlier date and made my non-existent pregnancy further along. One tactic of crisis pregnancy centers is to tell women they’re further along than they actually are to get them to believe they are past the point of being able to get an abortion. It might have been interesting to see if she would use that tactic.

Pam (10:31): That’s okay. [name omitted]- are you available to talk on the phone?

Me (10:31): I am not.

Pam (10:33): This is an important decision. I would love to be able to talk with you at some point. I don’t take this lightly—so if you would like to speak on the phone let me know when you’re available.

Me (10:36): I’m not that comfortable speaking on the phone.

I was being honest about not being comfortable speaking with her on the phone. Damn phone anxiety and general anxiety.

Pam (10:38): Ok. I can give you information about what is required by law in your state, clinical information about steps of the procedure whether it’s medical or surgical, the development of your unborn baby and I can refer you for free ultrasound and STD testing. Talking to you helps me in determining your emotional state and what support you have. This is not a decision you should make when you’re emotional. And it shouldn’t be made in haste.

She didn’t ask me about my emotional state or what support I had. She asked one question regarding why I was considering an abortion. My answer wouldn’t have given her enough of an indication of what I was feeling and she didn’t really press the issue further. I think she automatically assumed I was being emotional and in a rush to get an abortion.

Note the use of “unborn baby”. Not my pregnancy or the fetus, but “unborn baby”. At six weeks gestation, I’d argue the resemblance to anything that looks like an actual baby. Another tactic of CPCs: Calling it an unborn baby in hopes that it will play into my feelings and I’ll connect with the fetus so that I won’t want to abort. It’s subtle and sometimes effective.

Me (10:39): Okay. So where can I get one?

Pam (10:40): The ultrasound?

No, the procedure I asked about over 20 fucking minutes ago.

Me (10:40): I meant an abortion, but that too

Pam (10:41): Ok. Let’s get you a medical grade pregnancy test and ultrasound first. This will be at no cost and give you some clinical information. What is your zip code

Me (10:42): 54701

Pam (10:45): Ok. There is a pregnancy care center that is free: 2600 Stein Blvd 715-834-7734. They are open from 9AM-3PM

This is why I chose to tell her I lived in Eau Claire: APPLE Pregnancy Care Center on Stein Boulevard. Aside from researching the center, I went there a couple years ago posing as a woman facing a pregnancy scare. They are so deceptive they have TWO websites: one for potential clients devoid of any antiabortion agenda  and one for potential donors and supporters detailing their “pro-life” mission (Two websites like this is another CPC tactic).

I laughed out loud when Pam gave APPLE PCC for the free ultrasound and “medical grade” pregnancy test. First off, they don’t have ultrasound services at all—legit or not. Second, to call their pregnancy tests “medical grade” would be ludicrous as they are self-administered. Seriously, they look almost exactly like the one you can get at Walmart for $.88 and I had to drop my own urine onto the test while a non-medical volunteer watched, which is not how a medical setting would perform a pregnancy test. Also, no STD testing because they’re not medical at all. This CPC has no medical staff or actual medical services, a fact I wasn’t informed of at my walk-in appointment until a volunteer had me sitting in a room. I certainly wouldn’t trust them to give any woman accurate “clinical information” as Pam told me they would.

Me (10:45): Free?

Pam (10:47): Yes. It is free. I can call ahead right now and get you an appointment if you give me a moment. Is your last name [name omitted] (from your email addy)

Me (10:48): Yes, but I’m on lunch right now. I can give them a call later.

I should have let her book an appointment for me and waste APPLE PCC’s time. Why the Hell didn’t I think of that while doing this chat?

Pam (10:48): Ok. They are open until 7PM on Thursday so maybe that will work better!

Me (10:49): I’ll have to check my schedule.

Pam (10:50): I understand. Just so you understand – this is not an abortion clinic. It is a resource center that provides services at no cost and options counseling for women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy. I don’t want you to go in thinking it is an abortion clinic.

At least she gave me the courtesy of informing me it’s not an abortion clinic. HOWEVER, it’s been over 30 minutes since I asked about where to obtain an abortion and her telling me about a place that can give me that abortion ultrasound for free. NOW she tells me they are not an abortion clinic.

By this point, I felt I was being led on. I noticed she wasn’t giving me the answers I actually wanted, but instead trying to get me into a crisis pregnancy center to get ultrasound and “medical grade” pregnancy test services. Dragging out a conversation and not giving direct answers to get women into a center is another tactic of crisis pregnancy centers as described in a NARAL report:

* The Option Line Handbook stresses to volunteers that “while [they] are on the phone, [their] objective is to schedule an appointment” so that women will come to the center. While the guidelines advise volunteers to give clients only factual information, the handbook also pressures them to keep the client interested and provide responses, whether or not the volunteer is qualified to do so, by reminding them that “callers are looking for fast answers and may turn elsewhere if they do not get them.”

* In a documentary about crisis pregnancy centers called 12th & Delaware, a CPC director trains volunteers in the telephone script she uses to divert questions from potential clients and lure them into the center: “If you don’t hook her right away, she hangs up on you. When she calls and she says ‘Do you do abortions?’ I say ‘Are you calling for yourself or are you calling for your friend?’…and we engage in conversation. Because if she calls and says ‘Do you do abortions?’ and I say ‘No,’ click. [The CPC director pantomimes hanging up the phone]. I’m trying to get her in the door. Take control of the conversation…I don’t mind the criticisms of taking control. ‘That doesn’t sound fair.’ Well too bad!”

Me (10:51): Will they help me obtain one?

Pam (10:52): They will give you all of the information you need before you obtain one but they will not help you get an abortion. In order to make an informed decision, they will provide you with these pre-surgical services at no cost.

Not exactly what I asked. Good job at misleading. And “pre-surgical” services at a place you don’t even realize lacks the services you’re trying to sell me on? Give me a break!  

Me (10:53): Where they tell me where to get one?

Pam (10:53): Not likely.

Probably the first straight answer I’ve gotten to any of my questions!

Me (10:53): I don’t think they are going to help me then

Pam (10:56): They will help you by giving you the free test and ultrasound. You can at least get that before you pay an abortion clinic to provide that service. A Planned Parenthood charges anywhere from $100 – $150 for an ultrasound and then an abortion costs between $450-$550 in the first trimester, depending on the type of procedure and how far along you you are. They don’t provide ultrasounds for free at abortion clinics especially when they are required by the state in advance.

And any organization that offers funding won’t fund the ultrasound.

Something worth mentioning: “Pam” is likely Pamela Whitehead, an executive director of Abby Johnson’s umbrella organization ProLove Ministries. She spoke with Catholic News Agency about her work fielding calls for Love Line. “Too often we think we know what a woman needs and we don’t really listen to what she says to us and I think if we listen long enough, we really hear her need.” Pam seems to be acting in the manner of the very person she describes. It’s one thing if you listen to a woman’s situation and find there’s a better solution to her issue, but that’s not what’s going on. I came into this conversation seeking abortion information and her immediate response was to ask if I had an ultrasound and pregnancy test with the intention of shoving me into a crisis pregnancy center. That tells me that she thinks she knows what abortion-minded women need and already had a solution lined up

Pam has just informed me that the center won’t help me obtain an abortion. Now that I’ve expressed that I don’t believe they will help me with what I’m asking–which they won’t–she’s desperate to get me into that center with promises that they’ll help me obtain the requirements needed to get an abortion. See the problem? If you offer services that help women meet the requirements of abortion, you’re helping women obtain abortions. You can’t say you don’t help women get abortions AND your services will help women meet state requirements so she can get an abortion.

Note that she keeps emphasizing the “free” part—you guessed it, another crisis pregnancy center tactic. Free sounds way better than $100-$150. But as noted before, crisis pregnancy centers likely won’t comply with state laws as a delay tactic.

The last sentence isn’t specific on what she’s referring to, but I believe she’s referring to organizations that help with funding abortion for women. If that’s the case, it’s a damn lie. The National Network of Abortion Funds lists various groups offering funding to cover the costs of abortion. Depending on the group and how they use the funding, which is all based on donations, they can also cover the costs of things like travel and lodging. While Wisconsin based groups didn’t specifically list ultrasounds as something they covered, one Michigan based group that also helps surrounding states (like Wisconsin) did. “When funds are available, the following applies: If you live in Michigan or a surrounding state, the Jane Doe Fund can help you pay for your abortion. They can also something help pay for ultrasound [emphasize added], contraception (including emergency contraception), or assist with transportation, lodging, and childcare related to your appointment.”

Me (10:57): I think I’d rather go to the Planned Parenthood. Can you tell me where the nearest one is?

Pam (10:58): You’ll have to seek that on Google.

Me (10:58): I’ll go do that. Bye.

She tells me how much Planned Parenthood charges for ultrasound services, but then won’t direct me to one when I think it’s the better option for my situation. I should have called her out on it—“I figured you could tell me where one is since you told me their prices.” But I was so shocked that she told me to Google it…arrrrgh! This is supposed to be an initiative that helps women with unplanned pregnancies, but if women are seeking an option they don’t agree with—and they don’t make it clear beforehand they’re against it—then the extent of their so-called help is “You’re on your own. Google it.” It was infuriating and frustrating, even though I wasn’t actually seeking abortion services and knew the “catch” behind Love Line and the crisis pregnancy center she was getting me into. I was so pissed that I decided to end the conversation right then and there and left a bad review on the customer service. (Fuck you, Pam.)

I think this experience made me angry because I put myself into the position of a woman considering an abortion and found how they would treat this woman. They will not give her straight answers and drag out the conversation for as long as they possibly can while trying to get her into the nearest center that also won’t give her the answers or services she’s seeking. (And a center that doesn’t even offer the no-cost services Pam went on about for 41 minutes about!) She’s not going to get answers to the questions she’s asking because these people are doing everything they can to get her into a center that will guilt and shame her or promise to offer material assistance to convince her to not terminate her pregnancy.

Love Line is obviously not good for women seeking abortion services, but it may not even be that great of a resource for women who do want to continue their pregnancies. It’s true that the vast majority of crisis pregnancy centers offer material goods and resources for women who want to be mothers, but it’s almost always connected to a program (“Earn While You Learn”) where women have to earn points to be able to “buy” the items they need. Love Line makes no indication on their website that resources from crisis pregnancy centers often aren’t simply given and women may have to work for them.

If the center follows Abby Johnson’s advice, resources may be limited further. During her workshop “Competing with the Abortion Industry”, she stated, “If I were to open a pregnancy center, I would not have pregnancy items past six months. Are we running a charity? Are we running a place where we want women to become self-sufficient? Self-sufficient right? …have maternity clothes, have those things available for the women while they’re pregnant, but cut them off.” It’s concerning that a woman that has instructed crisis pregnancy centers to cut women off from resources after a certain period of time has now created a website to connect women to those same resources without informing them whether or not those already limited resources may have a limited time period.

Love Line is essentially another pipeline to crisis pregnancy centers that hide their true nature of attempting to limit a woman’s pregnancy options under the guise of being helpful and resourceful. Sure, if the website is to be believed, Love Line has already helped women who did want to keep their pregnancies or already were raising children and that’s not a bad thing. But women also deserve transparency and honesty alongside unbiased, accurate information on all their options and reliable resources regardless of whether or not they want to continue their pregnancies—not being lead on and preyed upon with predatory, misleading tactics by the antiabortion movement.

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.”

img_4031img_4030img_4109

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: “The viability smoke screen”

Samuel Faust submitted his monthly, anti-abortion propaganda piece just in time for Valentine’s Day! So I bring you a dissection of his latest Letter to the Editor titled “The viability smoke screen”:

The pro-abortion crowd proved once and for all that any talk of viability is nothing more than a smoke screen meant to distract.

Look no further than the recently passed New York abortion law allowing children to be killed up to the moment of birth. It doesn’t matter if the baby is healthy, happy, and capable of surviving outside the womb. If mom wants the child dead, the child must die.

Holy misinformation, Batman! Faust had leaped from cherry picking and dove straight into outright lies.

Regarding abortion rights, New York stands out as it had legalized abortion three years before the landmark Roe v. Wade case. It allowed elective abortion until 24 weeks into a pregnancy. It included an exception for a life or death situation, but not for protecting the health of the mother or when the fetus wasn’t expected to live regardless of it being past the viability point and medical intervention (i.e. an absence of fetal life). While Roe v Wade makes exceptions of preserving health and absence of fetal life situations when a woman is past the point in her pregnancy when she is allowed to terminate, the New York law did not and made abortion a crime after 24 weeks unless the pregnancy was an immediate threat to the mother’s life. Doctors could have been prosecuted under state law for performing abortion in rare cases when the pregnancy threatened the mother’s health (but her life wasn’t in immediate jeopardy) or when there was an absence of fetal life. Therefore, women who fell into these exceptions had to travel out of state to terminate their pregnancies.

The Reproductive Health Act brings New York state law up to code with the federal law set by Roe v Wade. As with the previous law, elective abortion is available up to the 24th week (“the point of viability” in NY) and anything after that point must fall under an exception that must be assessed by a doctor before approval for a pregnancy termination can be made. The difference between the old law and the RHA is that the RHA decriminalizes abortion while adding the two aforementioned post-viability exceptions the previous law didn’t cover. What the law does NOT do is allow women to decide for any reason to terminate a pregnancy at any point in her pregnancy.

So often I discuss with pro-death people who confidentially declare, “Well, the baby can’t survive outside the womb.” The term is viability. But look closer—many babies are born premature (three or more weeks before their due date) and survive just fine. Yet while they are in the womb, their life can be snuffed out.

“Pro-death”. How cute.

And if you want to get real technical, I’m guessing at least most premature babies wouldn’t be able to survive outside the womb without medical treatment. These premature babies didn’t come out the womb as if they were simply miniature versions of the 40 week old baby and didn’t exactly “survive just fine”. Hospitals have whole units for these types of cases–NICU–because these babies need round the clock care in order to survive.

If viability becomes a factor, then abortions should be outlawed after 22 weeks (just beyond through the pregnancy). But the viability argument is a smoke screen from the Left used to cloud the abortion issue because viability is meaningless to them.

The centerpiece of women’s rights is the freedom to kill their unborn child. If viability determines when the child can be killed, then women are no longer in charge. This undermines their entire position. If the mother is not allowed to decide who lives or dies, she has lost the right to choose; thus, viability threatens choice and is meaningless to the Left.

Faust is not technically wrong in pointing out this paradox in the pro-choice side and it’s a flaw I’m willing to admit to. But maybe he should also acknowledge flaws on his own side, too. Pro-life paradox #1: Point out flaws in the pro-choice side, but ignoring flaws in your own logic. Flaw like Pro-life paradox #2: Saying “abortion is murder of innocent babies” because “God says so” when that same God drowned an entire population that included pregnant women carrying “innocent babies”.

And correction: the centerpiece of the abortion debate is bodily autonomy. And this does have some flaws. While pro-choice supporters unanimously agree elective abortion is okay through the first trimester and most of the second, there’s debate on what’s acceptable going into the third trimester possibly because of one question: when does a fetus become a person? The argument of bodily autonomy starts getting a bit dicey when the fetus starts looking more like a human baby and less like a fleshy alien with a lemon-head.

To pro-life supporters, personhood comes with conception. To pro-choice supporters, the answer becomes complicated by a variety of factors, which has led to many schools of thought on when human life gains personhood. Viability—the ability to survive outside the womb, albeit with medical intervention—is one such factor and one many agree on.

It is my personal belief that personhood is officially gained upon birth when it becomes its own separate being and doesn’t physically rely on a host for sustenance. However, I’m also inclined to think there should be a cut-off point on when a woman can get an abortion in order to protect her health. There’s no denying that the further a woman is in her pregnancy, the more risky abortion becomes. Perhaps–just throwing this out there– there should be a point where a woman can elect to get an abortion and anything after that point is taken on a case-by-case basis. Fetal viability could be the deciding factor on what that point could be—currently, most experts agree that point is at least 24 weeks.

Science has debunked the viability smoke screen since babies born at 22 weeks, 6 days gestation ARE surviving outside the mother’s womb. That child is NOT a part of the mother’s anatomy. The child is a separate and unique human being and deserves protection.

Science has also debunked links between abortion and cancer and “post abortion stress syndrome”, but the pro-life crowd refuses to acknowledge this. Pro-life paradox #3: believing science when it supports their cause, but denying it when it supports choice.

New York liberals showed their true colors by abandoning any pretense of viability to affirm “open season” on unwanted babies regardless of any consideration. This cold-hearted and calculated mindset comes from those who claim to protect the weak, oppressed, and marginalized among us.

Except, as previously stated, this is not what the Reproductive Health Act actually does. But that hasn’t stopped pro-life supporters from coming up with fantasies of fully pregnant women faking depression or some other illness in order to convince some “pro-abort doctor” that will let the woman have an abortion without trying out any treatment first. (No really: this is an actual argument I saw.)

To any who claim to champion the poor and oppressed, but cheer this New York law, you need never wonder why you have zero credibility.

Coming from the man whose on the side of claiming to champion human life and that the voiceless and defenseless need protection, but then turns a blind eye towards human suffering outside the womb.

Pro-life paradox #4: Claiming to champion human life while doing nothing that actually helps human lives outside the womb (and maybe in the womb to some extent) and then criticizing those who have supported efforts to better the lives of others just because they support a woman’s right to choose what’s best for her. It becomes more of a paradox if the pro-life beliefs are based on Christian beliefs, which tells followers to help others.

Not to mention many pro-life supporters have also attacked and marginalized certain groups of human beings (like the LGBT+) because “God”, thereby becoming oppressors of these groups.

Pro-life paradox #5: Claiming ALL human life is sacred and invaluable, but then showing that the sacredness of human life is negotiable when the fetus in the womb grows up to become something that supposedly defies the laws set by Christianity.

Handmaid at the 2018 Life Chain

The Life Chain is an annual, one-hour pro-life demonstration that takes place on the first Sunday in October. In 2017, over 1500 cities and towns had Life Chain demonstrations. The organization behind the Life Chain, Please Let Me Live, doesn’t seem to consider itself a demonstration, but more like a prayer vigil. “Life Chain is a time for prayerful self-analysis, repentance, and serious commitment to helping end abortion in our nation. Accordingly, LIFE CHAIN is not chiefly a demonstration, and its witness is not intended for the viewing public only. Instead, its first goal is to minister to its own participants—to those who call Christ their Lord and hold pro-life messages that declare abortion a grave evil that defames the name and holiness of God (Leviticus 18:21).”

The Life Chain in Black River Falls, WI is run by the Jackson County chapter, led by Pastor Samuel Faust, of the Wisconsin Right to Life. Faust and a few of the people that participate in the Life Chain had stood out in front of the Essential Health Clinic until that location closed using the same signs distributed by the Life Chain organization. From my perspective, the Life Chain is just a bigger version of the demonstration that was held in front of the Essential Health Clinic and lacking in frustrated patients to potentially harass with verbal scripture or anti-abortion handouts.

This was my third year counter protesting the Life Chain.

Due to some poor planning on my part, I was unable to get anyone to join me in this year’s counter protest. Still, I had already decided far in advance that I was going to make a bold statement whether I counter protested alone or with others. Thus, I began the construction of the “Handmaid’s Tale” costume about a month or so before the Life Chain.

For the uninitiated, the story of The Handmaid’s Tale revolves around a dystopian United States where women as a whole are suppressed by a patriarchal society while the few fertile women that are left are forced into child-bearing slavery for the ruling class as “handmaids” because of an extremist interpretation of scripture. Women right’s activists have drawn comparisons to the themes of the novel and television series to the continued attacks on women—particularly on reproductive rights—by conservatives. About a month after the television series debuted on Hulu in 2017, 20 women dressed in the red capes and white bonnets similar to those worn by the handmaids on the show gathered in the halls of the Texas state capitol building to protest several anti-abortion bills that were on the legislative calendar. Since then, the handmaid attire has become popular for pro-choice activists when representing reproductive rights and bodily autonomy during protests.

The scarlet dress and cape was certainly striking against the backdrop of the cloudy, grey October afternoon. Judging by some of the looks I was getting as I approached the bottom of the bridge, I imagine it was a sight to see for the pro-life representatives. Possibly even more so when I displayed the sign I had made criticizing their lack of “pro-life vigils” for post-fetal children.

43823182_982860085234851_8530940175352594432_n

The sign I held had an additional message on the other side and I had an extra one-sided sign with me, but I must admit my anxiety got the best of me and the other two signs were not made visible. Sometimes being an activist with anxiety issues sucks. (Here are the signs for your viewing pleasure.)

I wasn’t surprised when a pro-life representative chose to stand beside me and try to chat. What did surprise me was that he acted in a way I haven’t seen from a pro-life supporter participating in a demonstration. He wasn’t preachy, sarcastic, or acted like he was morally superior for taking on an anti-abortion view. Heck, he even offered me hand warmers in case it got too cold for me despite me being what some might call a “pro-abort”. Maybe “respectful” is the word I’m looking for?

Another thing that wasn’t surprising was being approached by Faust. He introduced me to the man standing beside me and acted like he was my friend, even declaring as such to the man I was chatting with (“I consider her my friend…though I’m not sure if she thinks the same” in that cheerful yet sarcastic tone of his). He recognized my attire from the Handmaid’s Tale, stating he had started reading the book yet never finished it. He didn’t say anything about my signage other than an “Oh…yeah” that sounded artificially cheerful, but also like he was holding back what he really wanted to say.

But Faust being Faust, he spouted one of his more well-loved anti-abortion arguments in a sarcastic tone after explaining I was chatting with a doctor. “Since there seems to be some…confusion…on whether it’s a baby in the womb, he would be the man to know that it is its own person and not a part of the woman’s anatomy… or that a woman doesn’t have two heads or male reproductive organs during a pregnancy”. Ugh, I haven’t talked with Faust for so long that I’d forgotten how unbearable he could be. If I hadn’t decided beforehand to try not to get into a heated argument, I might have taken the opportunity to ask the doctor questions about fetal viability even with the assistance of modern medicine or if fetal life is indeed completely separate from the mother as Faust suggests (placenta, absorption of nutrients that the mother intakes, growth pushing up mother’s internal organs, pregnancy possibly agitating existing health issues, etc.) Besides, this doctor had been nice to me so I wasn’t going to be a dick like Faust and use this doctor as bait for an argument.

Faust probably wasn’t there to specifically try to provoke me into a debate, but rather I happened to be there while he was gathering signatures for Scott Walker, claiming the governor has the power “ban abortion tomorrow” in Wisconsin due to an existing law. However, by doing this, Faust was breaking Life Chain principals. The manual put out by the organization behind the Life Chain (Please Let Me Live) states, “PLML does not minimize the importance of politics. We in prolife must be politically involved. Yet we must not combine our politics with the LIFE CHAIN. To do so would weaken our emphasis on prayer, it would lead readily to disunity in our ranks, and it would sharpen media attacks against us. It is, therefore, urgent that all LIFE CHAINS refrain from political activity.” Additionally, its list of principals for coordinators (like Faust), says, “Avoid all political activity! Only God can end abortion and meet our nation’s vital needs.”

Besides Faust engaging in political activity, there were other things about the Black River Falls Life Chain that didn’t fit in with the official rules. Another Life Chain principal is “Insist on a true “prayer chain,” free of frivolity, idle chatter, and interaction with motorists.” I witnessed people forming into pairs and groups to chatter with each other and the kids were running around with each other for a bit. Another Life Chain principal that was broken was, “Maximize your Life Chain. Space your participants up to 100 feet apart (only 53 people will cover a full mile; 215 will cover 5 miles; 530 will cover 10 miles).” I counted 40 people when I first got there and more arrived afterwards so I would say there was probably 50-55 people total. This would mean the Life Chain should have started at the bottom of the bridge and extended all the way to Culver’s had they spaced themselves out properly in accordance with principals. Instead, there were two “chains” due to the group deciding to take up both sides of the road and both were concentrated on the .2 miles of bridge with very inconsistent spacing due people to breaking off into smaller groups to chat or keep each other company. By the rules of the Life Chain, this was a pathetic, broken, and improperly managed chain.

43770148_300889603971897_4195561824122306560_n
An example of the improper spacing of participants. Too many people grouped together in one space. There’s a huge gap in-between the group that ends on the left side of the photo (partially hidden by a car) and the group that starts in the middle of the photo. 

 

I chatted with the doctor for most of the Life Chain. Some of it was idle chatter like the weather. We both commented that we weren’t really sure if the honking from cars was positive or negative. “I guess it depends what finger goes up,” the doctor said with a chuckle. He asked if the statistics about children on my sign were United States statistics and lamented it was worse in some other countries, describing a time he had gone to an orphanage in the Philippines.

“It was bad. You almost wanted to grab all of them and take them home.”

“Well…why didn’t you?” I asked. I don’t know why I asked. Maybe I was half-expecting the pro-lifer BS of making excuses as to why they won’t take unwanted children while telling others to put their unwanted babies up for adoption instead of aborting.

“Unfortunately, there’s a long process involved with adopting a child from another country. And its insanely expensive.” I can’t say I disagree with him there.

“So what do you think is the solution to these issues?” he asked. I think he was being sincere when he asked.

“Do you mean about abortion or my sign?”

“The statistics on your sign.”

“Well, I wouldn’t cut assistance programs like our governor has. Universal healthcare. Birth control readily available to everyone so there’s less children like this.” I admit it wasn’t the most eloquent sounding answer, but anxiety issues make it hard to form words especially when you’re not expecting to be asked such things.

“I think we’re on the same side,” he said. I think he meant we both care about the well-being of people even if I don’t necessarily agree on fetal life having personhood.

“You agree? Even with the birth control?”

“Of course! I agree with doing the sensible thing!”

“Really? That’s interesting because…well, in my own experiences…pro-lifers have been against birth control.” I had thought about a discussion I had with Faust some time ago about contraceptives. He claimed “We aren’t against birth control”, but further discussion indicated that he was against the pill, IUD, etc.—“unnatural” birth control. In his mind, acceptable birth control means fertility based birth control, abstinence, and maybe pulling out. Another anti-abortion activist I’ve exchanged comments with on Facebook believes contraceptives like the pill are abortifacients.

“I’ve never had an issue with them. I have never had a problem with prescribing them to women. In fact, when they came out with it, I thought it would be the answer to abortion! I thought ‘This is great!’” Well, this was insanely interesting: an anti-abortion supporter prescribing birth control pills to women and thinking it’s the sensible thing to do rather than keep women in the dark and insisting they just close their legs to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. Even more so considering what I learned after the Life Chain: the organization considers certain contraceptives, like the pill, to be abortifacients. One of the principals for Life Chain coordinators is “Educate your participants about abortifacient birth controls (use an appropriate handout)”. Though I don’t think Faust would get very far trying to educate a doctor on birth control.

“Huh, I guess we do have some common ground!”

Even if we didn’t agree on everything, my conversation with the doctor was rather pleasant and I actually wouldn’t mind chatting with him on the subject again. I guess I have been so used to expecting pro-lifers to try and ream me a new one for supporting abortion (if women want one) that I wasn’t expecting someone to be genuinely respectful.

I can’t say the same for the old lady that arrived a little late to participate in the Life Chain and, having seen my sign earlier, had approached me to set me straight about what they do. She had a salty attitude to match the preachy, self-righteousness I was so used to seeing in pro-life supporters as she informed me that many of the people at the Life Chain have adopted or fostered children.

“I thought you should know we ARE taking care of children!” she snottily said.

Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s GREAT that people are fostering or adopting children. But I’ve noticed it’s been used as a defense when you call out pro-lifers on the hypocrisy of the pro-life movement not taking care of living, breathing, definitely viable children outside the womb with regularly firing brain waves. Basically they’re saying “Well! I’ve adopted/fostered so there!” as if adopting or fostering a child (or two) while telling women thinking about abortion they should simply put their unwanted babies up for adoption is helping ALL children in need.

I had told myself I wasn’t going to get into a debate, but I couldn’t help myself.

“So why aren’t these children the main focus of what you are doing then?” I said as I pointed to the statistics on my sign.

“We’re helping both!” she insisted, still salty AF.

“But you’re NOT focusing on these children. There’s WAY more children suffering from these issue daily than those that are being aborted. These numbers are MUCH higher than abortion rates.”

“I’m not sure where you get your statistics or if you know how many children are killed by abortion…”

“About 2,500 abortions everyday based on current statistics,” I said cutting her off.

“Oh, more children have been killed more than that!” she said, sounding sure of herself.

“Okay, 2,500 to 3,500 depending on the year.”

MY statistics don’t agree with YOUR statistics!”

“You…you don’t agree with statistics?”

My statistics are much higher than your statistics!”

She likely got her “statistics” from pro-life groups instead of doing any actual research. The post “Wooden crosses and abortion stats” explains how the pro-life movement has thrown around different numbers to describe daily abortion rates and where they likely got those rates. But seriously? “My statistics are much higher than your statistics”? I’m surprised she didn’t start singing the song “My God’s Bigger than Your God” by Anti-Nowhere League!

“Don’t you think those numbers would go down if we took of these children first?”

Look! Even if we housed all the homeless, there would still be abortion!

She stormed off in a huff before I could explain a couple of the issues I was pointing out on my sign could be factors in making abortion decisions and if helping solve those issues would help lower abortion rates. Or why abortion is more important than these other issues to the pro-life movement. Don’t people die from things like hunger, exposure to the elements due to homelessness, neglect, aging out of the foster care system with no safety net (and possibly facing hunger and homelessness), etc.?

“Wow.” I don’t believe she was looking for a fight yet I don’t believe she was expecting me to question her. I think she thought I would just nod my head, accept her answer of adopting/fostering children at face value, and become enlightened.

When everyone started to leave, I stayed put until everyone had left the bridge. I found it was quite easy to get their attention on their way out by not trying that hard, though situating myself directly across from the parking lot most likely helped as well. A bright red dress that’s a recognizable symbol for oppressed women and a high contrast sign criticizing the pro-life movement probably had same attention grabbing effect as holding an “ABORTION KILLS CHILDREN” sign in front of a family planning clinic has. Those on my side of the street had to walk directly in front of me before they could cross the street to get to their car. I noticed some look at me or read my sign, sometimes with that pained look on their face that seemed unsure how to react. More notably, some looked at the sidewalk trying not to acknowledge my existence. I had seen this sort of avoidance from the patients of the Essential Health Clinic, which was picketed by some of the very same people participating in the Life Chain, and now they were doing it to me.

Good! I hope my presence was unwanted. I hope they felt uncomfortable, disgusted, frustrated, outraged, etc.. And if they complain about it in the opinion section of the paper, I will say things that sound similar to what Faust has said when confronted with opposition to the group’s presence outside the clinic: “An overwhelming majority affirmed my presence”, “If my presence wasn’t doing any good then what harm was it doing?”, etc. I hope I made at least one of these pro-lifers feel the same way they made women feel by picketing their healthcare and family planning provider.