Monday Mailbag: Nooooooo!!! Save Teh Babies!!!

Here’s a letter we received today addressed to Carle Steel, who made me open it because she thought the thickly-stuffed thing was more likely a subpoena than a bundle of cash. Actually this letter was the surprise behind door number three: a three-page essay dismissing the opinions of people who find the awful, fear-mongering, guilt-tripping anti-abortion ads on Regina buses to be shitty, mean and stupid.

An excerpt:

“The thing that you said in your article was that [Advertising Standards Canada] was interested in TRUTh in advertising. Please explain why, when the TRUTh is spoken or displayed in graphic images, the pro-abortion folks want to discredit, call names, even lie or tell half-truths to try and hide the TRUTh. Why? Why do you want silence in the public square? Why do you want legal silence? Why do you want political silence on this issue?”

That’s a lot of questions for a busy guy with dozens of articles to assign and edit but I’ll take a stab at it.

First, where do you get off calling the message you’re supporting the truth? Sorry, “TRUTh” (and what’s up with capitalizing every letter but the “H”???) I saw one of these bus ads, the top of my head blew off and I assigned the story. I was mad because the only “TRUTh” I saw was a manipulative advertisement with three panels: two pictures of a developing fetus and a third panel that was all back. The caption for the three panels was “growing, growing, gone”. There’s no facts, there’s no “TRUTh“, there’s just a slimy message supporting your cause: namely, that women shouldn’t have abortions (and probably shouldn’t be allowed to, is what I suspect you really think but you know better than to write that).

Second: why do people try to discredit anti-abortioners and call them names? Frankly you discredit yourselves. But we call you names because your ideas are idiotic, archaic and uncivilized and you’re pushing them on vulnerable people with your wicked propaganda. And you’re clearly not powerless: you’ve elected a federal government that is doing the most it can to restrict women’s reproductive rights without losing the next election — just look at the funds they’ve cut to women’s groups recently, or the stink leading up to the G8 summit. Or how about MP Brad Trost’s petition to defund Planned Parenthood? Clearly you’re not the underdogs and victims you paint yourselves as.

I’d have some pity for you if you weren’t dangerous and if your ideas weren’t undermining women’s health, freedom and equality.

This is a world with real problems like poverty, homelessness, child hunger, racism, misogyny,  unemployment, domestic violence, huge gaps between the rich and the poor, human-inflicted environmental destruction,  etc. etc. And yet you and your ilk direct a ridiculous amount of energy and cash in defence of proto-human zygotes.

I’ve seen anti-abortionists lobby against abortion access, sex education and birth control. I’ve seen them throw out loaded anecdotes to defend their positions, from abortion = racism to abortion is unfair to women. I think it’s fair to say that a lot of you Samaritans care more about fetuses than you do about people. And I think that makes you ignorant jerks with freaky, medieval hang-ups.

What? You want a parade or something?

Finally, if I wanted silence in the public square I would ignore crazy, damaged people rather than poking them. You suck. Poke.

Hugs and kisses,



Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

9 thoughts on “Monday Mailbag: Nooooooo!!! Save Teh Babies!!!”

  1. I’ve always found this debate interesting.
    I think there are people on both sides of the fence that handle their responses poorly and make fools of others who believe [even somewhat] the same as them.

    If I believe that life begins at conception, [which I happen to] and If i believe that abortion stills a beating heart [which, technically, it does] then how do you take that to mean that I care more about fetuses than people?
    I believe that fetuses ARE people.
    I met a guy last summer who survived an abortion. He’s got quite the story. I mean, he grew up with a disfigured arm and the knowledge that his own mom tried to kill him.
    I know, I know, women’s rights.
    But I guess I don’t understand why it’s not ok to kill a newborn baby but it’s totally ok to kill it before it’s separate from its mother.
    And that’s where we differ. I know there’s a lot more to it than that.
    I respect your opinion, even if I don’t agree with it. Because I know that I will never agree with everyone and that’s life and I’m not just sitting here, blood boiling, red-faced, writing you an angry email because I want to change your mind.
    People have been debating this for ages. I’m fed up with bus ads and angry mobs and campaigns. No one’s going to change anyone’s mind. All those things do is make the people who agree happy, and the people who disagree angry.
    But really. “Ignorant jerks with freaky, medieval hang-ups?”
    I’d like to think I’ve researched it from both sides, have spoken with several people on both sides of the debate, as well as people affected directly by the issue, and made an educated decision. I’m not going to force my opinion on anyone, and I’m not going to be a jerk about it.
    And I sure hope other people can say the same.

  2. You don’t sound like an ignorant jerk at all. You sound like someone with a quirky, quasi-mystical outlook that I found confounding but a little charming. I think your view is silly but I don’t think you’re a jerk for having it.

    I think you misunderstand the terms of the debate.

    The pro-choice position allows both your view and the view of people with a less romantic/spiritual and more biology-based outlook to co-exist. No one should be forced to have an abortion. No one should be pushed into an abortion. And there are other legitimate options: adoptions (I have a close friend and a great sister who were adopted), and making room for and taking joy in an unplanned pregnancy (I’ve known a few of those, too) being the two that come to mind.

    The anti-abortion position wants choice removed and supressed. They are politically active in undermining reproductive rights. There’s no compromising with that. Hence sum ergo facto, I rant jerkishly. And I shall continue to rant jerkishly!

    (And if and when anti-abortionists get off their self-righteous asses and work to help and support women who choose to continue unplanned pregnancies rather than bully/guilt them into an unwanted pregnancy, I will not be a jerk at all. I will say, “good job, you guys.”)

  3. A hearty atheist “God bless you,” Anonymous.

    For some reason, your letter reminded me of long late night drunken arguments with one of my mother’s musician/American bible belt friends. (The order of the two is important, because was a musician long before she was a Christian. I suspect she spends long nights getting drunk and wondering why the U.S. of A isn’t mentioned anywhere in the bible). Anyway, at the end of it I was arguing fiercely for late term abortions, and she was arguing for no abortions at all ever ever ever. Nine year olds raped at machete-point? Bully for her! Bun halfway out of the oven? Abort the fucker! I don’t think either of us believed our respective extremes, but the framing of the debate (and it really is a debate, not a conversation) forces everyone into the extreme of their camp. In this case I always won because she was small and couldn’t hold her liquor and so would pass out mid sob as she imagined all those sweet little severed arms. I don’t actually drink that much, which is why abortion is still legal to this day.

    Yet in spite of my heroics, I also know that Steve gets peeved at me for not getting out there and hurling insults as forcefully as he does. Having the actual (though temporary) infrastructure to assemble a baby puts a damper on my anti-anti-abortion rage. I wish it didn’t, because I really find those extreme religious pro-lifers obnoxious, especially when they tell me to have an unwanted baby or my boobs will fall off.

    You, I like, especially the “I’m not going to force my opinion on anyone, and I’m not going to be a jerk about it,” part, which whether you like it or not lands you in the pro-choice camp, for which I want to say both “Sorry” and “Welcome.” Thank you for your comment.

  4. Amen Stephen!

    The thing that drives me nuts about the anti-abortion crowd is that they are often the same people who are also anti-planned parenthood and anti-sexual education. This debate is inextricably tied to religious ideology and the naive and dangerous belief that abstinence is going to cure the problem of unwanted pregnancies and that birth control is somehow going against god’s plan.

    Anonymous talks about his friend who was mangled from a botched abortion – I have to wonder whether the reason is because his poor mother had to go to some back alley hack. If not and this botch job actually happened in a hospital then it’s a horrible freak accident but statistically there are far more women who are mangled or die from back alley abortions than what has happened to your friend. According to “One 1932 study estimated that illegal abortions or complications from them were the cause of death for 15,000 women each year. Current, more conservative, estimates of the death toll still stand at between 5,000 and 10,000 deaths per year.”

    I am three weeks into a six-week stint in Mexico. Living in a very Catholic small fishing village, I am struck by how many young women are saddled with multiple children (granted, some by choice). Not only is abortion illegal in Mexico, birth control is fairly difficult to get a hold of, especially outside of urban areas. Many of these women, without control over their reproduction, are tied to the home, baby factories, their own dreams and goals made incredibly difficult because they received neither sex education nor reproductive options apart from abstinence.

    Anti-abortionists may talk about protecting babies, but what they really want to do is take women back to a time where we didn’t have a lot of choices about a lot of things.

  5. Hm.
    Firstly, and most importantly: Amy: I’m a girl. A 23 year old girl. You referred to me as “he” and I’m not. So, there’s that. Now I’m worried that I write like a boy. Do you think I write like a boy?

    Anyway, the point is not that.

    The point is that I think everyone has really good points. There are things that both “sides” have to say that the other “side” refuses to even think about.

    I say “sides” in quotes because I don’t really think there are two sides to this argument. I think there are probably 64 thousand or so, and every one is slightly different. Which is why my skin crawls when someone lumps all of the “anti-abortion” crowd together.
    I’m well aware of pro-life activists who gather in front of abortion clinics in the states and yell at young women who are on their way to get abortions.
    I know what they’re trying to do–they’re honestly, whole-heartedly trying to save a baby. They’re just going about it in a really, really unloving and yes, naive, way, and it makes me sick to think I’m getting lumped together with them.

    I would love to see them coming alongside women, presenting them with other options–like Stephen said; adoption, etc– loving them, LISTENING TO THEM.

    Amy, Carle, Stephen, my intention was never to debate whether pro-choice or pro-life is the bandwagon to jump on.
    I just think that lumping a group of people together, assuming that they all are exactly alike, believe all the same things for exactly the same reasons, is a little bit unfair.
    there are jerks on both sides, there are legitimately good people with pure motives on both sides.
    You can call my opinion “silly”, but, again, it’s something I take very seriously –not because I’m self-righteous, not because I want to take away women’s choices [remember how I am one?], but because I love these people, and like any of you, [I hope] I want the best for THEM.
    It’s not about proving a point, or about judging people.

  6. As long as women can legally and practically make their own choices then I’m happy.

    Right now they can’t in much of the world.

    When I’m picking on the anti-abortion mob, I’m specifically criticizing anyone who’s working to undermine that choice: by sending money to churches that lobby against family planning aid, by supporting politicians who put fetuses before women or by harrassing patients at abortion clinics, for some examples. That stuff gets me worked up. For good reason.

    But a person can be pro-choice and personally opposed to abortion. Nothing wrong with that. That’s not the position being criticized here.

  7. Also Anonymous: I assumed you were a girl from the writing style. But this is a good reminder to not make assumptions.

    (This also shows why it’s good to use a code name that gives readers some idea of your gender.)

  8. I don’t like the ads either, I find them distasteful. But the same could be said about most ads these days. Would I prefer it if the ads were not placed? Yes. But does that mean that they should not be there? No.
    One thing I’ve always found odd is that I rarely see ads on either side of the abortion issue anywhere BUT the bus.
    I feel a little iffy on abortion myself, I mean I think it ought to be legal but if presented with the decision to abort or not to abort…. it wouldn’t be easy.

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