Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality
“They make earrings out of them,” the teenage girl told me. Stone faced, pained. I remember her eyes looked like they were begging. She stretched out arm across the card table to hand me The Proof of what she said; a pamphlet with a picture of human fetuses dangling from earring hooks. If I remember right the earrings if worn would graze ones clavicle.
We had just come to the mall, my high school friend and I to people watch (boys!), eat fried food (chimichangas) and shop for prom dresses (Gunne Sax). It was the only entertainment we had wandering the mall, and smack in the middle of it sat that table.
It was set up outside the now defunct Walden Books and I remember it clear as day. Stoic, mournful young women (watched over by ladies I assumed were their mothers) seated behind stacks of pamphlets, flyers and books plastered with images of dead bloodied babies. Thinking about it now, they could have been Operation Rescue judging by the graphic posters on easels flanking the table display.
They told us they were aborted babies, they walked us through their information spread, pointed out tangled piles of discarded fetuses on this pamphlet, babies with their microscopic limbs ripped to shreds on that flyer and a picture of those earrings. I bought it. They hooked me and I was horrified – what woman could do such a thing? I signed up for newsletters scribbling my name on a piece of lined paper stuck to a clipboard. That is all I remember. I don’t know if my friend and I talked about it any further; we probably walked off , fed our high-metabolismed faces and tried on prom dresses.
That was over 25 years ago and the anti-choice movement is still in the business of shock, awe and lies. I am talking about the moving vans with dead fetuses splashed on the sides pulling up in front of women’s health clinics, people with posters of dead babies weeping outside Planned Parenthoods around the country. But it is the state and federal legislators who use false information, graphic images (implying almost full term fetuses are routinely aborted) and religious rhetoric to pass increasingly abhorrent laws aimed to end a woman’s right to an abortion I worry about most.
Reuters published a piece the other day about just this issue. Briefly setting this up, the article is titled: ”ABORTION SAFER THAN GIVING BIRTH: STUDY”. Here the article addresses the issue of these lies as they impact legislation and the trickle down impact it has on women seeking abortion:
Depending on the state, however, doctors legally must go over the risks of abortion in language that may be misleading, researchers said, with skewed lists of possible complications. Others require a 24-hour waiting period in between the counseling and the abortion itself.
Harwood said that laws regarding what’s said between the doctor and a woman seeking an abortion often hamper doctors’ attempts to inform patients in a balanced way.
“It is certainly an impediment to have the state dictate my informed consent process beyond the usual,” Harwood told Reuters Health.
“Abortion care and pregnancy care should not really be any different than consenting people for any other procedure.”
Davis agreed that state-mandated discussions have no place in abortion counseling. She said she was glad to see the new report, which helps dispel “misinformation” and “lies” about abortion risks included in some state laws — such as the idea that abortion is linked to cancer. (Reuters article)
I have a handful of very religious, conservative friends. Most from elementary and high school and all on Facebook. This affords me the ability to see the lies of the anti-abortion movement up close and personal. I wrote the other day – on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade a disturbing interaction I had with a gang of anti-choice men on the subject of forced ultrasounds in Texas. Here is a snippet from that exchange:
Likening – by Texas law – sexual assault (penetration via transvaginal ultrasound) mandated by the state to taxes as rape? That is the kind of crowd we are dealing with. The conversation deteriorated. This from my post in The Frisky:
Under the Texas penal code penetration of a woman’s vagina without her consent is sexual assault. In other words, it is rape — which is punishable by imprisonment. All this is why I took umbrage, in the Facebook exchange I mentioned above, with a man who likened “rape by the state” via the Texas’ transvaginal ultrasound law to his paying taxes to “the IRS.” And the conversation deteriorated from there, culminating with one gentleman telling me I was lucky my mom didn’t abort me and to shut my “pie hole.”
It would have been simply hilarious if the premise were not so disturbing. I wouldn’t take these things so seriously if the men on this thread didn’t represent the radical right the GOP is pandering to right now. I would brush it off if there weren’t erroneous “heartbeat” “fetal pain” waiting period, forced ultrasound, anti-tele med, etc. bills being introduced in statehouses around the country.
And the lies and rhetoric are only going to get worse. This is an election year. Nothing rallies the right-wing base like a poster of a bloodied fetus.