The XX Factor

A Pro-Life Prank?

Gawker reports on a site that, like anything involving abortion, is getting a lot of attention: Birth Or Not , where a couple is purportedly going to put whether or not they have an abortion up to a vote. Adrian Chen at Gawker is skeptical of the situation and suspects the couple at the center of this is pulling a prank and that they’re possibly anti-choice nuts trying to make some kind of point. The evidence Chen brings to this is that the couple has conservative leanings (they claim to be pro-choice libertarians but are Glenn Beck fans, and he’s strongly anti-choice), and the fact that they don’t seem to understand that being pro-choice doesn’t mean you’re pro-abortion. I think it’s an anti-choice stunt.

At first blush, I gave it 9-to-1 odds that it’s an anti-choice stunt, just on the fact that the couple running it have the pro-choice view completely backwards. Putting what you do with your body up to a vote is the anti-choice view. Treating women’s bodies like they’re public property is the anti-choice view. True, most anti-choicers think a woman’s rights should be voted on in order to force childbirth, and they’re making this more open-ended, but the underlying sentiment–that women’s bodies are public property, that their choices should be determined by strangers–is what the pro-choice movement rejects.

But looking deeper into it, the odds that this is an anti-choice stunt get higher. There’s the fact that they have weekly ultrasounds, which isn’t, as far as I know, standard medical practice. Ultrasounds are fetish objects for anti-choicers, so that’s an interesting indicator. Plus, on their About page, they have this interesting quote :

Unplanned, unsuccessful pregnancy at age 20 while taking “The Pill”

To the untrained eye, that might just look like bad grammar. To someone, like myself, who works a lot in reproductive rights and therefore has read more literature, blog entries, and blog comments from anti-choice nuts, putting “The Pill” in quotes with capital letters is a red flag, demonstrating that they likely spend a lot of time in spaces where the pill is treated like some scary, evil, world-changing object, like “The Fascism.”

It’s also that they treat abortion like a lark. They claim they’ve had planned and failed pregnancies, but now they’re just going to abort? The people who believe that abortion is treated like a lark aren’t really pro-choicers. That women get abortions between getting their nails done and grabbing coffee like it’s no big thing is a myth promoted by anti-choice activists. That this myth suddenly shows up as personified by these two isn’t a coincidence.

But all this is just conjecture. I decided to spend two minutes on a little investigative reporting known as putting the URL into Whois to find out the domain registration information. Two extremely important things are learned from this. One is that they’ve paid the extra fee to hide who actually registered the site. Two, they registered the site on May 17, 2010. Their story is that she got pregnant and they wanted to put it up to a vote, so they started this site. If that was true, then the very earliest she could be in her pregnancy is 27 weeks , presuming they started the site as soon as they learned. By the time she claims she’ll be at 20 weeks–on Dec. 9–she would actually be at 29, and likely higher.

My prediction is that the voters will say they should have an abortion, and the follow-up post will be the couple rejecting the evils of abortion after taking one more look at the ultrasound and falling in love. Then this will become part of anti-choice folklore. Stunts like this are actually pretty common in anti-choice circles. For instance, Kathryn Joyce reports in the most recent Ms. magazine about an anti-choice group that staged a faux conversion at the offices of Dr. Leroy Carhart, where a woman walked up to the clinic for her abortion appointment, was supposedly talked into a crisis pregnancy center, changed her mind, and circulated the ultrasound. It turns out that the “converted” pregnant woman never actually had an appointment that day.