Caitlin's Browser History: A Quick Word About Abortion, Based on the Vice-Presidential Debate Transcripts I Read This Morning

And about liars.
Publish date:
October 5, 2016
abortion, debates, 2016 Election

I was going to tell you all about a really hilarious Tumblr I found, but I was reading the transcripts of the vice-presidential debate this a.m., and I'm sorry, I can't. I'm going to talk about abortion instead.

Imagine my surprise when, during the debate last night, Mike Pence came right out and said, "Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that punished women who made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy."

It's almost like he forgot about about Purvi Patel, who was just released from prison after three years for the death of her fetus. It's especially weird since it happened, you know, in Indiana, where Pence is governor! Imagine that.

But I'm not going to give Pence the benefit of the doubt, and you shouldn't either. His track record really speaks for itself, but there's also this fact: The "pro-life" movement is riddled with people who are either so deceitful or so deluded that they could not truthfully navigate their way out of a paper bag.

I see this on the street at the clinic where I volunteer. The last time I told a protestor to back off and stop harassing a woman, that protestor told me, "I'm not harassing her! I'm loving her." According to her, screaming, "Abortion doesn't make you not a parent; it just makes you the sinful mother of a dead baby" is what love looks like nowadays.

Between the creation of legislation and the moment a woman actually manages to terminate a pregnancy, there are so many layers of pro-life deception that getting an abortion is like cutting through a crêpe-cake made out of lies.

Online research on what pro-life people are doing (versus what they say they're doing) is something I do pretty often. It's part of being involved in reproductive justice and owning a highly regulated body.

Trying to find a clinic? Make sure you don't actually land on a Crisis Pregnancy Center or "Pregnancy Resource Center" (totally understood if you do, though — in some states they outnumber real abortion clinics 15 to 1, they're generally co-located around said clinics, and some spend $18,000 per month on deceptive pay-per-click advertising).

"But, Caitlin, they're just trying to help!" says no one reading this website, probably. That's just not true. Here's Abby Johnson, a pro-life activist, dispensing advice on how to better confuse women into going to a CPC.

"Today's tip is specifically for pregnancy centers. [Abby talking about banquet events...] Second thing: If your name is "life," "choice," "options," or anything about Jesus in it, consider re-branding your name. Because women have already been tipped off. By Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire and Vanity Fair. That if you have those things in your name — life, choice, options, Jesus — if you have those three, those four things in your name, that you are a pregnancy resource center, and women are not going to come to you if they are considering an abortion. Abortion-minded women are not going to come to you. So consider a rebranding. And I think that's it, really."

Well, let's say you find a real clinic. You'll have protestors, obviously, but hopefully they're not doing this:

OK, provided your state has an abortion clinic you can access and you have the funds to get there and you get through the front doors, it's not over.

The internet is a powerful tool with an almost unlimited power for good, but it's also capable of doing things that are straight-up evil. Copley Advertising, a Boston-based ad firm, has been using the same technology that serves you ads for a new eye cream on Facebook after you've been googling about crow's feet to send women contemplating abortion to anti-choice websites. Oh, and they geo-fence, so they're doing it specifically while you're sitting in the waiting room of Planned Parenthood. If you're feeling nauseated, well, me too.

Oh, and one last thing: Many states have "Informed Consent" laws, which is quite the misnomer. These laws include a mandatory script or pamphlet doctors have to present to women seeking abortions. The only problem is that 15 to 46 percent of that information is medically inaccurate.

I know it's easy to watch Pence, composed, sugar-coated, and media-trained within an inch of his life, speak about how he has "great compassion for the sanctity of life." It makes abortion seem simple and calm — who doesn't like babies? — but what you saw on that stage is not at all what the pro-life movement looks like in practice, though they definitely don't want you to know that.