Women across America who are seeking abortions are accidentally booking appointments at crisis pregnancy centers—pro-life, government-funded religious centers that don’t provide abortions, but instead try to talk women out of terminating their pregnancies.
VICE News investigated the misleading practices used by crisis pregnancy centers to draw in women with unplanned pregnancies, and the misinformation that is spread to discourage them from pursuing abortions.
Crowdfunding is all the rage for folks who are hungry for potato salad, or in need of some dough for their stupid orchestra, but sometimes people reach out to the masses out of desperation. Meet Bailey. Bailey needs an abortion. So she went to GoFundMe.com (tagline: “Crowdfunding for Everyone!”) to ask for $2,500 for the operation. Like anything remotely related to fetuses, it’s drawn some considerable attention in less than a week and was even removed from the site for a while.
Her GoFundMe page, originally titled the ”Stop Bailey From Breeding Fund,” informs visitors that “Bailey is currently unemployed, completely broke, in debt, and in no position to hold down a job due to severe symptoms of a rough, unplanned and unexpected pregnancy.” Having just moved to Chicago from Phoenix, Arizona, Bailey says she’s 23, likes to read and go to shows, and really, really doesn’t want to be a mom.
In the past, GoFundMe has been used for some pretty noble projects, such as collecting donations for one of the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and helping raise money to operate on the brain tumor of a morbidly obese 12-year-old. Somewhat more controversially, GoFundMe was used recently to support Officer Darren Wilson, who famously shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown, resulting in the Ferguson, Missouri demonstrations. I guess you could say the operators of GoFundMe aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
I called Bailey to ask about her plans to kickstart the termination her fetus.
VICE: Hi Bailey, how are you doing? I’m doing pretty well. How are you?
Can I ask who is the father? Can I say no to that?
Yeah, sure. OK, cool.
Sorry for stalking you, but Facebook tells me you’re dating someone named Lücifer Ryzing, right? Oh, no, that’s totally fine. I understand. There’s some other people who have figured out stuff, that don’t have any sort of good intentions, and they’re doing more intense things. [laughs] But yeah, Lücifer Ryzing is someone I’ve known for a long time, that I’m sweet with. He started the GoFundMe page. He’s the one that’s really managing that.
How far along are you with the pregnancy? I just got the ultrasound on Tuesday, the second of September and the ultrasound said 19 weeks and five days, but ultrasounds can be anywhere from seven to ten days off. It could be about 19 weeks, or I could be 20 weeks along exactly.
A Womb of Her Own: DIY Abortion and Birth Control After Hobby Lobby
On Tuesday, I was wandering around the internet and fell into a random binder full of women, which it turns out is a great place to meet badass genius revolutionaries. Jane Doe is adoula and an underground abortion provider. She writes romance novels, dreams of expatriation, and makes the best sea-salt caramels you’ve ever had. She’s spoken at statehouses and chased down riot cops. In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision that corporations like Hobby Lobby are people with important religious beliefs about contraception (and that men need Viagra but women don’t need birth control), she released a DIY guide to the basics of abortion, birth control, emergency contraception, and more. We got together in a hidden pocket of the binder so I could ask her for the details.
VICE: Why did you write this guide? Jane Doe: That’s a complicated question. About ten years ago, I wrote a guide to surgical abortions after South Dakota banned all abortions in that state. Since that time, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve been receiving—at least once a month or so—emails from desperate women who find my surgical abortion how-to and want to abort their pregnancies. For a long time, I didn’t know what to tell them, and then I found out more about medical abortion—how safe it is (especially compared to birth), how women are undergoing medical abortions at home, in privacy, and how there’s a law that lets anyone in the United States import up to 90 days of any non-scheduled prescription drug.
From there, I started actually giving away the pills to women who emailed me—a proposition that became both expensive and incredibly (legally) risky.
Then I started sending them URLs to websites that sold the pills—which is when I thought, Wait, what am I doing? I could be letting people know all of this information, everything I know about how to find these medications, how to use them, what to do if something goes wrong.
I think this information belongs to women. It’s ours. And now it’s out there. Once it’s on the Internet, it’s hard to scrub.
Were you inspired by the Supreme Court decision or was the timing purely coincidental? I’d been working on A Womb of One’s Own for about six months in total, and like many writers tend to do, I found myself procrastinating toward the end of the project. When the Hobby Lobby decision came down, and I realized the Supreme Court wasn’t actually saying that all religious expression was protected—just things pertaining to women’s health—I dropped everything else on my plate and finished the pamphlet that day.
It’s the second one that everyone is shouting about today, and for good reason. To recap: Hobby Lobby is a chain of craft stores with 13,000 employees, 572 outlets, and billions in annual revenue. It’s run by the Green family, who aren’t exactly shy about their Christianity: According to the company’s website, Hobby Lobby is committed to “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.” After the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. ObamaCare) passed, a federal agency ruled that employers were going to have to provide health-insurance plans that offered coverage for a range of birth-control options. A lot of these methods the Greens, like many other devout Christians, have no problems with, but they are super, super upset by techniques that, to quote the Supreme Court’s decision, prevent “an already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its attachment to the uterus.” (These include Plan B and IUDs, which they think of as being equivalent to abortion.)
Now, a lot of people might find the belief that stopping a man’s sperm from meeting a lady’s egg is fine but stopping a fertilized egg from sticking to the uterus is AWFUL MURDER AND MUST BE STOPPED: a bizarre bit of hair-splitting. Those people might also note, as some have, that the owners of Hobby Lobby aren’t using these devices themselves, and they aren’t even paying for them directly—they’re paying for insurance plans that allow some women to get these horrible, no-good, very bad birth-control options. But the grounds on which the Greens challenged the ACA don’t require them to prove that their beliefs are correct; it’s enough that they feel that paying for certain kinds of plans is a sinful act. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which was passed in 1993 with Democratic support, for what that’s worth) says that laws can’t “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless there’s a “compelling governmental interest” at stake and the law represents “the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.. Since corporations count as people (yeah, I know, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), Hobby Lobby could claim with a straight face that its rights were being violated by the ACA, and the five more conservative justices could with a straight face concur. So presto change-o, the court has decided that companies that really, really want to deny certain types of health coverage to people can totally do that.
Thursday’s Supreme Court decision didn’t do much to alter access to clinics, but rather laid what we already know about the abortion debate in America: Being cornered by strangers who want to talk about your uterus and pray for your unborn child is obviously horrifying and invasive, but it’s not illegal. Because while you may have the right to get an abortion, someone else has the right to make you feel terrible about it.
Abortion is often treated exclusively as a women’s health issue. Most of the research on the topic deals with the female party involved in an unwanted pregnancy. This is in part because, let’s face it, the women’s perspective is more important, as it’s ultimately her body and her choice, but also because the female party involved in the abortion is the patient seeking medical intervention. So doctors and researchers can reach out to them directly for feedback, surveys, etc. with greater ease. Contacting the so-called “impregnators” is not so simple.
There is precious little research into the male experience of abortion; Google mostly coughs up pro-life fear-mongering sites about men manipulated by liberal she-devils into agreeing to abortions, who now live haunted by visions of the blessed angel-children they cruelly murdered. While thankfully devoid of that kind of thing, academia doesn’t fare much better, information-wise. A 1999 study by psychiatric and obstetric researchers at University Hospital in Umeå, Sweden outlines why: “Most studies of legal abortion are focused on the women and when abortion and contraception are discussed, attention is mostly centered on the role and responsibility of the woman. Hospital staff often meet only the woman and not the man in cases of legal abortion, which can result in the risk of abortion being regarded solely as a female issue. Thus, the participation of the man remains largely invisible.”
Everything You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know About Abortion
Founded in 2007, the Museum for Contraception and Abortion in Vienna, Austria, is world’s most thorough collection of all the different methods and objects humans have used to stop them producing other humans. Recently I was given a tour of the museum by Christian Fiala, an abortion provider who founded the museum (pictured, below left), and this is what he told me as we walked through the exhibits.
There is, of course, a backstory as to why I started working in this field [of abortion and contraception], which is considered a big taboo in Austria—even more so in the Alpine region of Tyrol, where they wouldn’t even rent out an apartment to my girlfriend and me because we weren’t married.
Back then, I had just started attending med school and was shocked to discover that loads of my colleagues didn’t know how to protect themselves from STDs and unwanted pregnancies, despite their professional education.
How to insert an old-timey pessary into the cervix
After spending a year in Thailand, where I saw women dying on a daily basis during failed self-induced abortions, I decided to take action. I wanted to help and support the victims and help educate their partners about the risks and possibilities—especially when the choice isn’t fatherhood.
French Right Wingers Rioted Against Pretty Much Everything Last Weekend
On Sunday, we arrived at Bastille Square in Paris under heavy rain, ready for a protest that had been billed as a “Day of Anger” by the dozens of far-right groups responsible for organizing it. The demonstration had a nebulous array of gripes: They hated abortions, the gays, the Jews, and so on. Most of all, though, they hated the French president, François Hollande and his Socialist Party. Hollande actually become more popular since news broke of his affair with actress Julie Gayet, but his approval rating is still a dismal 31 percent, and that seems unlikely to change no matter how much sex he has.
That isn’t to say that the far right is more popular than he is—Bastille Square was far from full. The organizers claimed there were over 150,000 protesters at the event, but the police said there were only about 17,000, which sounds closer to the truth.
Before a fist had been shaken in anger, about ten members of the militant, frequently nude feminist group FEMEN showed up to protest against the protest. By the time we arrived they had already been bundled into police vans, the crowd chucking shouts of “whores” at them as they were whisked off to the station. Their clothes had been left behind on the street, and we wondered what would happen to them.