Religious Gas-Lighting

By Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

In loving memory of my baby brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10)

Religionists are those who wish to make religious law the law of the land and impose their personal interpretations of religious law upon others. They come in many flavors, be they Christianists, Islamists, or what have you. The Republican Christianists in the US are a particularly vile sort of religionist.

See, we have a little thing called the First Amendment to the US Constitution, including both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. The First Amendment is a thing of great beauty, and whatever else may be said about the Founding Fathers, they got this point right. The First Amendment to the US Constitution establishes a near-impenetrable wall of separation between religion and state, despite the Republican Christianists’ efforts to tear it down.

So, the Republican Christianists in the US, since they can’t pass through the wall, are forced to scale the wall. They have to make like wolves in sheep’s clothing and disperse themselves amongst the secularists. They have to feign secular purposes for their religious doctrinal commandments, which they would impose upon the American citizenry. They have to pretend that their personal interpretations of religious canon just happen to coincide with moral majority opinion. It’s not that they are trying to impose religious law upon the citizenry. Oh, no. It’s just that moral majority opinion just happens to coincide perfectly with their personal interpretations of religious law.

This is why you will always see an anti-abortion and anti-women advocate begin with sweeping pronouncements about how EVERYONE wants to make abortion rare. EVERYONE wants to reduce the number of abortions to an absolute minimum. EVERYONE hates abortion. EVERYONE thinks abortion is evil.

They don’t want to make women sex slaves and baby incubators, as God demands. Oh, no. They just care so much about the human rights of the unborn babies.

They don’t want to shove their religious doctrine into my uterus. They don’t want to rape me with religious law. Oh, no. They just care so much about the health and safety and wellbeing of women, that they are willing to forego their commitment to small government and a free market and their libertarian principles, in order to spend time with me in my doctor’s office to help me make my own medical decisions.

They don’t want to legalize the sub-human and second-class citizenship status of women. Oh, no. They just want women to make fully informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive choices. They want them to have all of the information.

Or, all of the misinformation.

We can’t let them get away with this anymore. We have to call a spade a spade.

This is also why I would broaden the definition of secularism to preclude the consideration of, not just religious doctrine, but also subjective moral opinions, in the promulgation of secular law. And, think about it. Religious opinion is just another subjective moral opinion. Regardless of the number of adherents.

This is also why I refuse to play their game. This is why I reject the moniker of pro-choice. I am Pro-Abortion and proud. I do NOT want to make abortion rare. I do NOT want to reduce the number of abortions to an absolute minimum. I do NOT regard abortion as a necessary evil or as an evil at all. I do NOT hate abortion. I LOVE abortion. I want to encourage women to have abortions. I think abortion may save our overpopulated, dying world and our species. Abortion is safer than pregnancy. It is almost always in a woman’s best medical interests to abort a pregnancy. If you want to save the world, have an abortion.

I am not going to let them get away with their misinformation campaign. I am not going to let them get away with pretending that the moral majority agrees with them. I am not going to let them spread lies.

We will not be gas-lighted anymore. The best way to counteract the societal effects of cultural gas-lighting? Counter-stories of truth and facts and reason and logic.

I am so incensed by the prevalence of “Pregnancy Crisis Centers”, I can’t even tell you. Why are we letting them get away with this? Why? Why are we letting them masquerade as medical professionals to trick and coerce women out of having abortions? Why are we letting them put women’s health and lives and wellbeing at risk? Why are we letting them advertise under false pretenses and spread potentially harmful medical misinformation? Why are we letting them violate the privacy of private citizens? When the government turns a knowing blind eye to violations of our secular laws, based upon religious doctrine, it perpetrates egregious Establishment Clause violations. The charade is over. The cat is out of the bag. The jig is up. Everyone knows where the white elephant is. The emperor is naked.

To show what an abomination it is to allow these “Pregnancy Crisis Centers” to continue operating as they have been, consider the following scenario:

Jehovah’s Witnesses oppose blood transfusions. Blood is regarded as sacred. Knowingly and willingly giving blood or receiving a blood transfusion is regarded as the gravest of sins against Jehovah God.

Now, the blood supply in the US has actually had a checkered safety record. There have been real concerns, in the past, about the hazards that blood transfusions pose. I am not intending to be an alarmist. I know that every precaution is made to keep the blood supply safe and that transmissions of diseases from blood transfusions are now rare. But, my point is that, compared to abortion, there have been real reasons to be concerned about the safety of blood transfusions on a large scale.

Imagine for a moment that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are the majority Christian sect in the United States. Suppose that they decide to create a slew of non-profits, which they refer to as Blood Crisis Centers, with the goals of dissuading persons from having blood transfusions and of spreading medical misinformation about blood transfusions. Suppose that they employ insidious tactics, such as placing their Blood Crisis Centers near the entrances of hospital emergency rooms, making their Blood Crisis Centers look like medical clinics, and having their staff look and act as if they were medical professionals.

Would we stand for this? Not for one moment.

Would we be confused about the religious motivations of the perpetrators? Not for one second.

Would we allow the perpetrators to feign secular purposes? Are you fucking kidding me?

I find that removing the issue from a context to which we’ve been desensitized, after having been bombarded with religious propaganda and sophistry disguised as secular in nature, and placing the issue in the context of a non-mainstream Christian sect, illuminates the problem as little else can. Therefore, I’ve taken the liberty of employing a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times and changing all instances of abortion to blood.

The following is a parody of a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, which can be found here:

This parody constitutes a ‘fair use’ of this copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C. § 107.

Why Won’t They Say?

In a setback for ill persons facing a particularly vulnerable moment in their lives, a federal judge has temporarily barred New York City from enforcing a new law that would require so-called blood crisis centers masquerading as licensed medical facilities to disclose basic facts about their services.

These centers, run by blood opponents, have sprung up in many places around the country. They typically draw clients with advertisements that appear to promise neutral blood counseling. Staff members in medical attire collect information and perform blood tests and try to convince ill persons not to have a blood transfusion. Ill persons who share personal information are also unaware that the centers are not covered by medical confidentiality rules.

The New York City law would require these centers to disclose in ads and waiting-room signs whether they have a licensed medical provider supervising services and whether they make referrals for blood transfusions. Client information they collect would be subject to confidentiality rules.

The decision by Judge Adam Lee of Federal District Court in Manhattan acknowledges the city’s interest in preventing deception related to time-sensitive health care. The judge still granted a preliminary injunction, mistakenly perceiving a violation of free expression in the law’s modest consumer protections.

The law does not prevent the centers from disseminating their anti-blood message or discriminate against the centers on the basis of their viewpoint. Rather, it requires them to make truthful, factual disclosures about their services. The judge claimed the measure’s description of the facilities it covers is too vague. But the criteria seem adequate to guide enforcement.

As the law stands, medical doctors can be required to convey certain factual information to ill persons to help them make informed choices. Under Judge Lee’s ruling, blood crisis centers pretending to be real medical facilities cannot be made to disclose essential facts about their real services. That makes no sense at all.

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About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, City of Light, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • John F

    There is a difference between being pro-choice and actively encouraging abortion. Abortions (particular after 15 weeks) are unpleasant, often traumatic and not as medically safe as you seem to be suggesting. It’s not uncommon to come across clotting or excessive bleeding requiring hospital stays. While some women can shrug it off, the act of giving birth to an aborted foetus (which looks human) can require some women to undergo intensive counselling afterwards. As someone who is married to a Gynaecology nurse, I can tell you that carrying out abortions take their toll on the medical staff as well.

    While the battle lines tend to be drawn along religious beliefs, I see it as the responsibility of secular medical professionals to talk to women planning an abortion, truly get them to understand what will happen, confirm their reasons are valid, and if extreme cases… yes, talk them out of it – or at least insist them consult with family members or with a consellor before hastily making a decision that will live with them forever.

    Abortions should be available to women who want it, but it’s not unreasonable to ensure they have made an informed choice. The focus should be on those who are ill-equipped to deal with the pressures of parenthood, or those for whom the child was concieved against their will. It should not be seen as some simple, foolproof contraception.

    I’m not sure if you were serious in your paragraph when you say you love abortion and want to encourage women to have abortions… if so, as a secular Humanist, I want to distance myself from your comments.

  • Lena915

    John F.-I can assure you that my decision was one based upon deep consideration on what would be best for my partner and myself. Assuming that, unless you are a rape victim or a young teenager, abortion is a last-resort choice for you, seems to be a viewpoint based upon limited experience with those involved in an abortion decision. Not everyone is traumatized, as you seem to suggest. I don’t think anyone has ever assumed that an abortion is pleasant, either, much like no one assumes that an appendectomy is going to be pleasant.

    I also don’t understand this idea that going through counselling for any sort of life experience is something that needs to be avoided. The anti-abortion crowd often speaks of counselling as a fate similar to losing a limb. They make it sound like it is the last thing that you want to experience, and if you do seek it out, you are a weaker or worse person for it. How narrow-minded.

    I completely agree with you that women who seek abortions should be informed of the procedure and of all of their choices. But, I think people need to realize, that having an abortion is not always the “last resort” choice for everyone; for some women, the “last resort” would be to go through with the pregnancy.

    I also can’t garner much sympathy for an uncomfortable medical staff in an abortion situation. There are many lines of work that take physical and emotional tolls on people. But no one is forcing those people to be medical professionals. That was a choice on their part. They should know that sometimes, in the medical world, unpleasant thing happen. It’s the nature of the field. They should realize this, and prepare for it. Perhaps counselling would be the route for some of them to take.

    I get tired of others telling me how I am supposed to be feeling for a decision I made about my life that had nothing to do with them. I think people need to realize that no two abortion situations are going to be the same, and that you don’t always end up with a regretful, traumatized woman at the end of it.

  • John F

    You’re obviously a strong-minded woman who knew what you wanted and are comfortable in the decisions you have made. Good for you. But I think you’re naive if you are assuming every woman is like you.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable for healthcare professionals to attach some checks and balances to the procedure, including confirming the woman are both informed and aware of the consequences.

    Perhaps it is different in the US, but here in the UK where healthcare is free, a trivilisation of abortion to the point where it becomes a contraception would place a tremendous burden on the system. I don’t think many people, regardless of their beliefs, wants us to get into this kind of situation.

    In my opinion, depsite the assertions of your original post, this has virtually nothing to do with religion.

  • Nathaniel

    John F, maybe in the UK abortion has nothing to do with religion. That is most certainly not the case here.

    Abortion has always been the hobby horse of authoritarian religionists and the haters of female sexuality. Of course, there is considerable overlap between the two.

    Its no coincidence that it is overtly Christian organizations like Focus on the Family that are the strongest and most fervent anti-choice voices.

  • Lena915

    If you notice, I never assumed that everyone thinks like me. But I did make a point to emphasize that not everyone thinks like you, either, John. Also, if you reread my post, I agreed with you that there should be some preemptive questioning before a woman fully commits to abortion. I do not claim for a second that my choice was the choice that everyone should make. But I do think it’s time to stop treating abortion like it’s the uninformed, misguided choice.

  • Lena915

    Also, John F.- Thank you for debating in a civil manner. It often goes unappreciated, but I think it’s refreshing to be able to have a discussion without it turning into name-calling and random, nonsense accusations. Thanks for being a decent person.

  • OMGF

    Another strategy of the right wing anti-choicers is to use the slipery slope argument of abortion as normal contraception. I don’t think there are any women out there who are eschewing contraception simply because they can just go get an abortion next week if anything happens.

    Also, it’s not just women’s rights and abortion rights, but also rights for gays and atheists (or really non-Xians in this country). The strategies are very similar in that they claim reasonableness and that they just want to talk about the issues, while subtlely making arguments against equal rights. I came across a good example recently where a blog purporting to be about journalism ended up being a front for Xian Reconstructionists. Their talk of wanting to discuss the journalistic issues of gay/atheist rights was just a platform to spout their hate-filled rhetoric.

  • Entomologista

    truly get them to understand what will happen

    Why does everybody assume that women are mental children who need to have abortion and childbirth explained at length before we can make a decision?

    confirm their reasons are valid

    This is unnecessarily paternalistic. The only reason I can see for asking somebody these sorts of questions is to see if they are being coerced. Otherwise, why do you feel it necessary to get all judgmental about other people’s medical procedures that have absolutely nothing to do with you?

    insist them consult with family members or with a consellor before hastily making a decision that will live with them forever.

    Bad idea. Maybe she is trying to hide from abusive family members. If she wants to talk to people, she will already have done that of her own volition. If you want to talk about hasty decisions that will live on forever, let’s talk about how a child costs $200,000 and 18+ years to raise. An adoption is still 9 months of pregnancy and childbirth. An abortion is $500 and one day.

  • Matt DeStefano

    “I LOVE abortion. I want to encourage women to have abortions. I think abortion may save our overpopulated, dying world and our species. Abortion is safer than pregnancy. It is almost always in a woman’s best medical interests to abort a pregnancy. If you want to save the world, have an abortion. ”

    I have to say, while I completely empathize with your view about “Republican Christianists” shoving their religion into their uterus, I would say that this goes a bit too far. While abortion is a viable and acceptable option for any woman, it’s going way too far to declare that it may “save our species” or even more, “save the world”. There are serious physical and psychological effects of abortion, and to ignore those because of terrible politics in America would be unfortunate.

  • Cheryl

    John, did you really suggest that medical professionals need to “confirm their reasons are valid” before women can have an abortion? Are you suggesting that “I do not want to bring this pregnancy to term” is not reason enough? There is no other reason, John, so determining whether its “extreme” and that she needs to be talked out of it is rather moot.

    You also seem to suggest abortion providers are shirking their duties to obtain informed consent. If so, then I would expect that you have reported the medical providers to your state health department or medical board so they can inquire as to the relevant policies and procedures that aren’t being followed. But you haven’t done that have you? You’re just making it up based on things you think you’ve heard and it fits with your worldview.

  • kagerato

    [Matt DeStefano]: While abortion is a viable and acceptable option for any woman, it’s going way too far to declare that it may “save our species” or even more, “save the world”.

    Birth control and abortion are actually very powerful tools for conservation. I don’t see it as obviously hyperbolic to say that they have a clear and measurable effect on preserving the world as we know it.

    Whether one realizes it or not, dismissing concerns about population growth, resource use, and other exponentially changing systems is actually making a huge value judgment. Essentially, it’s a statement that one doesn’t care what the future will be. Of course it is extraordinarily plausible that the human race will continue to exist. Of course the planet will continue to exist, regardless. The question here is what we intend for that world to look like.

    Deciding not to use the tools available to us to shape the future is a value judgment. It doesn’t become some neutral or impenetrably defensible option merely because it can be classified as inaction. This is exemplary of a kind of willful blindness that has permeated society to a disturbing degree.

  • monkeymind

    Should doctors also inform patients of the physical and psychological risks of childbirth? And confirm that a woman’s reasons for continuing a pregnancy are valid?

  • Scotlyn

    Perhaps it is different in the US, but here in the UK where healthcare is free, a trivilisation of abortion to the point where it becomes a contraception would place a tremendous burden on the system.

    John F – “a trivialisation of abortion to the point where it becomes a contraception” is hardly likely to happen in a context where multiple methods of contraception are freely available (and as in the UK), free in cost, and there is freely available sex and contraception education.

    It is strange, is it not, that those who seek to limit abortion almost invariably wish to put limits on contraceptive availability and on sex education availability, as well. That is to say, they have no genuine interest in reducing the number of crisis pregnancies.

    As one of your neighbours across the water in Ireland, I can also tell you, that the only way we are able to maintain our abortion ban, is because it is still readily available on your side. The number of Irish women (or women providing an Irish address to UK abortion clinics) remains similar to the per capita number of UK women availing of these services. If such services were not available to Irish women in (relatively) close proximity, a similar number of women would likely seek to end their pregnancies in some of the more historically traditional bloody, messy and dangerous ways – and would then present to places like your wife’s ward in much worse condition, sometimes to die. People who support abortion bans are not ignorant of this history. Meaning they have no genuine interest in saving lives. Abortion bans do not produce a net saving in fetal survival, rather they drive the process underground and produce a net loss of maternal life.

  • Scotlyn

    This free paper provides a raft of tables and statistics for anyone wishing for some quantitative back-up for their arguments. One thing that jumps out, is that not only is there a huge reduction in maternal death rates when abortion services are legal, accessible and safe, there is also a decline in the overall rate of abortions. Just in passing, John F., one can see that, for example, in Western Europe (where, other than in Ireland, abortion is generally legal, accessible and safe and so is contraception and sex education) the rate of abortions declined from 48 to 28 per 1000 women aged 15-44 between the years 1995 and 2003. (Hardly a picture of it becoming “trivialised to a contraceptive method”).

    Yet, because in many parts of the world abortion isn’t legal, accessible or safe, at the time of this paper being published, 2009, worldwide 192 women were dying every day of complications arising from unsafe abortions.

  • Matt DeStefano

    “Birth control and abortion are actually very powerful tools for conservation. I don’t see it as obviously hyperbolic to say that they have a clear and measurable effect on preserving the world as we know it.”

    Birth control and abortion are substantially different from a medical perspective. Birth control is generally devoid of negative side effects and can in fact do certain things to help regulate one’s life (not an expert, but I would imagine having a more regular menstrual cycle would be helpful), while abortion is an invasive procedure (although not uniformly) which has measurable and not insignificant physical and psychological side effects.

    This isn’t to say abortion is evil/bad, but it’s hardly mankind’s savior. If you want to argue that oral contraception is one, it would seem to have a much more obvious case.

  • cat

    I am pro choice, I don’t think that abortion is a worse choice than not having one, if it is a choice. A person should be able to make an informed consent (informed with actual medical facts, not with religious silliness) decision about their own body. However, pressure to have abortions or sterilization can be horrible and oppressive as well as pressure to not have them. The right wing opposition to elective abortion is ridiculous, and unrelated to historical problems around coercion, but those historical problems are real. I have heard horrible stories about women and girls with disabilities being forced to abort, there is a history of coerced sterilization as well. There is pressure to use abortion as eugenics prevention to prevent people with disabilities from coming into existence. There is a history of coerced sterilization of black and native american women (and, to a lesser extent black and native men). I don’t just look back at pre-Roe America and see denials of birth control and abortion to those who wanted it, I also see Buck v Bell and my grandmother who refused any pain medications while giving birth because she was afraid they would put her under and she would wake up to find that they had removed her uterus, because growing up on a reservation had made that a not unreasonable ingrained terror. There should not be pressure or encouragement either way, there should be freedom and full access and support for people no matter what they decide to do with their body. Legal and easy access to elective abortion is part of that, as is freedom from coerced sterilization, access to health care and child care, comprehensive sex ed, etc. Reproductive justice does not begin and end with legal accessible abortion.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy


    I love your two questions in comment #12. Succinctly exposes the paternalism underlying the push to make sure that women are making “fully informed medical decisions” about abortion.

    There was this recent article in the UK about a campaign to REALLY fully inform women by letting them know that abortion is safer than pregnancy.

    And, what was the reaction to this by anti-abortion and anti-women groups,

    reliably — they became much, much less concerned that women be fully informed about their medical decisions regarding abortion.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    And, as Cheryl points out so perfectly,

    (And, I’m not an expert on medical malpractice and legal informed medical consent, but)

    I think I’m safe in saying that all doctors need to obtain fully informed consent from their patients before they perform any medical procedures. Otherwise, it’s battery.

    So, if the evidence points to abortion being safer than pregnancy, and this is exactly what the evidence does show, doctors are exposing themselves to legal liabilities by not informing women of this fact.

    But, what do we have instead?

    We have laws in the US, which, unfathomably and preposterously, force doctors to tell women lies and to coerce women, which place their lives and health in jeopardy, and why?

    Because God says so.

    In order to impose Christian Sharia upon women.


    We can’t stand for this anymore. We have to expose this sophistry.

    We will not be gas-lighted anymore.

    We will not allow people to violate our secular laws in order to impose religious law upon others.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Thank you, kagerato, for your comment #11.

    If anyone wants to talk about evil. If anyone wants to talk about what’s immoral.

    Let’s talk about the global gag rule and the current push to reinstate it by Republican Christianists in Congress in the US.

    The global gag rule is EVIL.

    This rule is saying, Fuck the world. Fuck it. Fuck women too. We don’t care if we destroy the planet or our species. We don’t care about the resulting armed conflicts over diminishing resources and the millions upon millions of environmental refugees. We don’t care about whether women are sex slaves or no. We don’t care about the obscene maternal mortality rates in many parts of the world.

    This rule is saying, We only care about imposing our Christian Sharia on all of the world’s women. That’s all we care about.

    Even if we have to burn the world to the ground.

    And, in my personal opinion, that is Evil. Pure evil. Monstrous.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Medical abortions, in which women takes pills to abort, are now being conducted online, and women do not ever even have to leave their homes in order to obtain an abortion. They receive the necessary medication at their homes. (In some instances, they do go to a clinic to get the medication. It looks like it varies depending upon the country and the legality of abortion. And, accessibility to a clinic.)

    Women are led thru the process online by medical doctors.

    This thrills me to no end.

    There are no clinics to stalk or bomb. Women don’t have to face harassment for their decisions to abort.

    It’s no more invasive than taking oral contraceptives or emergency contraception.

    I want a huge public campaign to advocate for more online medical abortions, which women can do themselves in the privacy of their own homes, anonymously, without the intrusion of the Christian Sharia brigade wanting to get up in their uteruses.

    Of course, the anti-women and anti-abortion groups are incensed because this limits their ability to impose Christian Sharia upon women, I mean, they are really worried about the healthcare women are receiving and whether or not those women are making “fully informed medical decisions” about abortion.

    I can’t wait until we have free medical abortions as preventive care as part of all insurance coverage, just as we do now for contraception.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Thank you, Scotlyn, for speaking the truth about what is happening in Ireland.

    And, I just want to point out that this penalizes poor women and minor girl children, who can’t afford to travel to the UK to receive abortion care.

    Women who already can’t afford to have another child.

    Women who are trying to make the responsible choice.

  • RipleyP

    I found the altered report quite enlightening in demonstrating the concept by removing the particular emotive aspects of the original subject. I have to admit this is a tricky subject for me as I have to make so many assumptions as to the needs, mental state and sometimes the vulnerability of the person considering the options.

    I find the centers quite nasty as they seem to be designed with the idea of tricking people and misinforming. It’s like a medical quackery with a religious component.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy


    Your comment makes me so happy.

    That is exactly the effect I was hoping that this post would have.

  • Mike

    Then I suppose that China’s policy on to allow each women or couple to have only 1 child and all other babies MUST be aborted to help control the countrys population, as a very good idea

  • J. James

    I never thought I’d say this, but Ms. Braasch, I think that you’ve gone a bit overboard with this one. I agree that the counseling is outrageously stilted and that counseling is absolutely absurd, you don’t see me getting mandatory counseling if I decide to have a vasectomy(Christian: “think of the speeeeerm!!!”), granted, that’s highly unlikely considering I’m seventeen, but still,
    ” I LOVE abortion. I want to encourage women to have abortions. I think abortion may save our overpopulated, dying world and our species. Abortion is safer than pregnancy. It is almost always in a woman’s best medical interests to abort a pregnancy. If you want to save the world, have an abortion!”

    That is going way too far. Abortion IS a major medical procedure, and I don’t know who you hang out with, but around these parts it is not only traumatic but it will get you SHUNNED. A far more worthy cause to substitute in for “Abortion” in this entire rant would be “Contraception”. I don’t have to tell you that the Regressives are crusading against condoms and the Pill. It would be entirely reasonable if that’s what you were talking about. Besides, look at it this way: with abortion, it’s almost ENTIRELY on the woman. With Contraceptives, it’s much more equal. Both sexes are invested in it.

  • John F

    #25 this was my point too. I am, to use American parlance, “pro-choice”, but found the proclamation of Love for abortion in the OP completely over the top.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Why can’t I love abortion?

    Abortion is a medical or surgical procedure that saves women’s lives.

    Are you saying that there is something wrong with abortion?

    Because I beg to differ. There is nothing wrong with abortion.

    Would it be ok if I said that I love vasectomies?

    I love vasectomies too.

    Not as much as I love abortion, but I have a lot of love for medical procedures to go around.

    The nice part of having already been shunned out of my family and community is that I can say whatever I like without fear.

  • OMGF

    but around these parts … it will get you SHUNNED.

    Then there’s something wrong with the shunners, not with the procedure or those being shunned. Sorry, but the bad reactions of victim blamers don’t make for a compelling argument against something.

  • Scotlyn

    Matt DeStephano

    abortion…has measurable and not insignificant physical and psychological side effects.

    Any chance you’re going to provide some evidence and/or quantification for this assertion?

    Cat – I do agree with your important point and note that the key feature of both forced abortions/sterilisations and denied abortions/sterilisations/contraception, is the denial that women have a will of our own and that we own our bodies. The harm always begins with an attack on our will.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Yes, exactly, Mike, you caught me. As someone who has devoted her life to advocating on behalf of women’s rights as universal human rights without compromise, the first thing that I want to do is start forcing women to have abortions.

    If you aren’t interested in having a serious conversation, then don’t waste our time.

    Yeah, here’s the thing, Mike, you know what happens when you give women free and unfettered access to the full range of comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights?

    They overwhelmingly choose to limit the size of their families.

    They overwhelmingly choose to enter the political and economic lives of their communities.

    They overwhelmingly choose to send their children to school.

    They overwhelmingly choose to improve the lives of their children and their families and themselves.

    And, no one has to force them to do so.

    That’s the beauty of it.

    But, you know what, if we don’t act now, then we will reach a point where, as a species, we’ll be making a choice between forced population control and the survival of our species.

    Does anyone want to wait to act until we reach that point?

    Or, maybe we should just criminalize heterosexual sex?

    Advocating for abortion rights is starting to sound pretty good, isn’t it?

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    I am doing my part to eliminate any psychological effects of abortion by trying to remove the stigma attached to abortion.

    By talking about how awesome I think abortion is.

    Did I tell you how much I love abortion?

  • Teleprompter

    Arguably, there can be no law at all without resorting to subjective moral opinion. To make rules for how society functions, groups of individuals must evaluate their options according to their own values and experiences – which can be subjective in their own right. What is your alternative?

  • Mike

    “But, you know what, if we don’t act now, then we will reach a point where, as a species, we’ll be making a choice between forced population control and the survival of our species.”

    I am very interested in having a serious conversation about this issue. Ideas such as this, is exactly why China has implemented its 1 child only with forced abortion policy.

    You seem to be extremely supportive of a persons rights, freedoms, and choices as long as they make decisions that are within certain acceptable options but how dare they do something outside your prescribed orthodoxy.

    This would seem to make you no different than the christian fundamental theocrats you so strongly vilify.

  • Dan B.

    There is no doubt that abortion has strong implications for women’s empowerment. However, being an ex-Christian and having spent plenty of time around the religious pro-life crowd, I can say, as a former insider, that your implication that religious pro-life advocates want to make women “sex slaves and baby incubators,” is worse than a caricature. It’s not even close to being true. Or, at least, it has nothing to do with their views on abortion. I know it’s tough to imagine, given the emphasis so often placed on “traditional family roles,” and the like, but for the religious right, it’s an issue of life, period. The debate for them centers squarely on the notion that a fetus and a baby are the same thing, and that termination of pregnancy is murder. That’s it. Call it childish or naive, but really is no hidden agenda to keep women down, or to turn them into subservient baby incubators. It never enters into their minds because it doesn’t have to, so strong are their feelings about the personhood and rights of the unborn. Even if they do want to keep women down, the wires never cross. I know it seems like an incredible statement, but it is universally true in my experience. Whatever else you want to say about pro-lifers, what you see really is what you get.

    The most I might grant you is that the fact that many religious conservatives aren’t particularly concerned about the empowerment of women means that they can be insensitive to the impact that abortion rights really have on that issue. If the discussion is to advance at all, we need to do away with caricatures and stop imputing sinister motivations to the other side. There is a real and difficult ethical debate to be had here, and we’re not having it and instead are contenting ourselves to throw cheap shots at straw men. Both sides are guilty of this, but incendiary rhetoric like this isn’t helping.

  • OMGF

    Dan B.,
    Wow, not this again. Do you really want to argue that a religious thought that automatically places women into an inferior status is somehow not anti-women? That their insistence (against the historical record of their own religion) on treating unborn babies as more important than women by default has nothing to do with their Biblical injunctions against women’s right? Please.

  • Jim Baerg

    BTW I’m puzzled by the term ‘gas-lighting’. It seems to be a metaphor I haven’t run into before.

  • Leum

    Dan B, I used to believe the anti-choicers cared about the life of the zygote/embryo/fetus, but then I say this. The anti-choicers’ policies are not consistent with wanting to preserve the life of the zygote/embryo/fetus, but they are consistent with hating and wanting to control women.

    In fact, Adam, could you please include that chart in every post we have about abortion? It would seriously save time.

  • kagerato

    @Dan B:

    So then, thinking happy thoughts is an excuse for wretched and unjustified behavior? It is not a caricature of anyone to correctly describe the implications of their actions. “Meaning well” is not a get out of jail free card. You wouldn’t accept that kind of reasoning in any other context.

    Never mind the obvious examples of theocrats who actively and publicly espouse misogynistic views on a regular basis. “Ordinary” people who follow those same religions couldn’t possibly be in any way influenced by that. (Isn’t it strange how people who claim television brainwashes children into a life of violence and sexual debauchery turn around and claim that the leaders of powerful institutions have had no impact on them?)

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Dan B.

    Oh, you’re right, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops just came out in strong support of free birth control for all women with health insurance (no co-pays), because they are most interested in preventing those unwanted pregnancies that result in the murders of all of those fetus-sized souls.

    Oh, wait, no they didn’t.

    That’s right. It really is just about imposing Christian Sharia upon American women.

    Do you know what rocks?


    But, what else?

    Incendiary rhetoric. I like to think of myself as a muckraking polemicist, so that’s kind of my stock in trade.

    But, you know what else even?

    If someone calls me a murderer, for having control over my own body and my own life and my own sexual and reproductive choices, then I don’t think responding in kind is out of line.

    Misogynist pales in comparison.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Here’s my prescribed orthodoxy, Mike:

    Women are human beings.

    That’s it.

    I won’t compromise on this one iota. None. Nada. Zip.

    Come hell or high water.

    Now, lots of people think we should compromise on this issue, for lots of reasons.

    But, I won’t. And, I don’t.

    I will not cede this territory. Debt ceiling and geopolitics be damned.

    Which means that I will never force women to have abortions. Ever. Even if it means that we will succeed in destroying ourselves.

    If you think that makes me as bad as those who would destroy the earth and our species in order to impose Christian Sharia upon the world’s women, then so be it.

    But, unlike the Christian Sharia brigade, I don’t want to see us destroy ourselves. I am not trying to bring on the Armageddon of my feverish apocalyptic phantasmagoric nightmares.

    I am going to do everything in my power, short of violating the humanity of women, to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

    Fortunately, all we have to do is give women full access to their humanity.

    We can save ourselves by giving women full access to their humanity. Including abortion rights.

    Imagine my delight in discovering that the path to salvation coincides perfectly with my prescribed orthodoxy.

    Sweet Jesus.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy


    I think it comes from some old play.

    It has come to mean trying to convince someone that they’re crazy and that something that is actually happening is not actually happening.

    It is trying to make someone lose their grip on reality by making them question their perception of reality.

    In the play (I think it was a play), someone slowly dims the gas lights in a house, and when the subject questions the dimness, the perpetrator keeps telling him/her that he/she is imagining it.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy


    I’m not going to get into a debate about moral anti-realism and legal theory right now.

    Rest assured, that this is a debate I am likely to entertain in the near future.

  • Lou Doench

    Sarah, just want to applaud you for taking this stance. I’ve been describing myself as pro-abortion for years. For too long we’ve ceded the moral high ground to wishy washy equivocation from spineless Democrats who are nominally “pro-choice” but happy to trade away women’s fundamental rights for an inch of compromise with the rabid Christ-o-paths (iPads auto correct had a he’ll of a time with that one).

    By declaring ourselves pro-abortion we stake out the moral high ground again, a place where we can confidently advise a woman to have an abortion if we chose. Where we could talk about it without shame. I agree, abortions save mothers lives. We need to be shouting that from the rooftops.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Thanks, Lou.

    You and me, we’re like peas and carrots.

  • J. James

    Miss Sarah, with all due respect, you are wrong. Not only am I also for abortion, I never said I wasn’t, but I agree that it saves lives in more ways than physical. But you are thrusting it into a role that doesn’t suit it, and you are endangering arguments for ALL abortion by being factually incorrect and giving the Regressives something to attack and make infinite strawmen(women?) out of.

    For instance, “Abortion will save the world.” That is all SORTS of wrong. But before I go into it, you do NOT need to lecture me on the ills of overpopulation. Trust me. I KNOW. But I digress. Statistically speaking, the countries that have the most abortions are the ones with the most stable population growth. This is not entirely coincidental, obviously. But the countries where the population is growing exponentially are the ones where abortion is simply unavailable, too dangerous to consider, or most of all, unwanted.

    Contraception, however, DOES fit that role, and that is the role it should be in. Abortion’s role is to empower women to lead their own lives, make their own decisions, and serves as a backup if contraception fails, mostly. Abortion just does not parse with places like Afganistan. You have to warm them up to the very idea of contraception first.

  • D

    Dear Sarah,
    Fuck the haters. I’m with you all the way on this one. The world’s overpopulated as it is, and I think a preponderance of abortions would go a long way towards normalizing the procedure. And then you wouldn’t hear such twaddlecock (it’s funny, ‘cuz it’s like a Spoonerism for “coddle talk”) about how people need to “ease into” things or whatever. Fuck easing into things. Go for the brass ring: all out, all the way, all at once. Take whatever you can get along the way, by all means – but never, ever, ever lose sight of that final goal, and never for a moment act like you’ll be satisfied with anything less.

    Even if it means living perpetually unsatisfied. Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.

    I do have one minor correction, though. You ask, “Why are we letting them advertise under false pretenses and spread potentially harmful medical misinformation?” I don’t think that the harm of medical misinformation is ever a mere potentiality.

    Love and kisses,
    The Letter D

  • Ebonmuse

    BTW I’m puzzled by the term ‘gas-lighting’. It seems to be a metaphor I haven’t run into before.

    This link may help explain the term, Jim.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Awww. Thanks, D.

    That warms the cockles of my heart.


  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    J. James,

    I hear what you are saying, but we need all types of warriors in this fight. Think of D, Lou, and me as the cavalry.

    Also, paradoxically, and I know this to be true in the ghettoized suburban housing projects surrounding the major cities of France (I’m working on a policy report on this subject regarding a research study I conducted in France, and, if I ever get off my ass and finish it, I’ll get it published. I know there’s good info in there), it can actually be easier, safer, and more anonymous for women and girls to procure emergency contraception and abortions, especially medical abortions, than it is to procure regular oral or other forms of contraception.

    So, you have a lot of these women, and especially minor girl children, relying upon, in particular, emergency contraception and medical abortion, as their primary form of contraception.

    And, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Of course, we should strive to make regular contraception far more accessible to them.

    But, I want them to gain access to their sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights however they can get it.

    And, if it’s easier for them to get abortions and emergency contraception (the morning after pill), that’s A Ok.

    I’m completely fine with that.

    Because, I don’t have any problem with either option.

    And, I don’t want to stigmatize any options. We cannot afford to stigmatize any options.

    In some societies women have greater access to some options; in other societies, women have greater access to other options.

    When we stigmatize reproductive healthcare options, women suffer and die.

    That is why I can state, unequivocally, my profound love for abortion.

  • Matt DeStefano

    scotlynMatt DeStephano [sic]
    Any chance you’re going to provide some evidence and/or quantification for this assertion?

    Google is your friend, but I’ll provide a few sources. Heres a pro-choice site detailing the possible side effects, and it has its own sources.

    I’m not trying to demonize abortion, but it’s one thing to celebrate modern medicine, and another to proclaim abortion as the savior of mankind.

  • Matt DeStefano

    Also, paradoxically, and I know this to be true in the ghettoized suburban housing projects surrounding the major cities of France (I’m working on a policy report on this subject regarding a research study I conducted in France, and, if I ever get off my ass and finish it, I’ll get it published. I know there’s good info in there), it can actually be easier, safer, and more anonymous for women and girls to procure emergency contraception and abortions, especially medical abortions, than it is to procure regular oral or other forms of contraception.

    Wow, that’s really interesting! Why was it easier/safer/more anonymous for them to get an abortion than to get regular contraception? It shocks me that a medical/surgical abortion could be considered ‘safer’ than a regular oral contraceptive.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Because there’s less chance that their families and communities will find out.

    The threat of violence / social ostracization for using contraception/emergency contraception/abortion in many communities/societies is still very real.

    We contribute to that threat by stigmatizing abortion.

    In Paris, they recently launched a brilliant program wherein girls can obtain free and anonymous “sexual and reproductive health credit cards” from their public school nurses, which they can use at any public women’s health clinics to obtain free and anonymous sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortions, contraception, and emergency contraception.

    Absolutely brilliant.

    We desperately need this in the US.

    So many women in the US, who also face violence/social ostracization for using contraception/emergency contraception/abortion, could use a program such as this.

    If women cannot take control of their bodies openly and publicly, then we need to help them do so privately and anonymously.

  • Scotlyn

    Dan B:

    It never enters into their minds because it doesn’t have to, so strong are their feelings about the personhood and rights of the unborn.

    Dan B. I know such people extremely well, and love some of them dearly. I know they have strong feelings about “potential human life” as they phrase it, and the “rights” they believe this accords to the unborn.

    But I also know, from their behaviour, that they do not have strong feelings for the personhood of the unborn. Or I would know the birth/death dates of the “persons” they miscarried. I would be able to visit the graves of the “persons” so miscarried. I would know their names and hear them talked about as individuals.

    But of the many spontaneous miscarriages I personally know have taken place among the anti-abortion people I am acquainted with – not one has a name, a gravesite, or a memorial date (apart from the private grieving that might be experienced and remembered by the miscarrying mother). A potential human life is not the same as an actual human person, someone we have named and given an identity to, someone we collectively recognise as having a publicly recorded and recognised birthdate (a start-into-being-a-person date, if you will), and when human persons die we publicly record, memorialise their deaths according to our various cultural habits. Miscarriages, especially early ones, are purely private events, and no one, even the so-called “pro-life” people, actually behaves in a way that is consistent with the belief that a human person has died.

  • Scotlyn

    Google is your friend, but I’ll provide a few sources. Heres a pro-choice site detailing the possible side effects, and it has its own sources.

    Interesting. The site you quote does not list ANY psychological complications of abortion, although I don’t doubt that having to navigate seas of vicious-faced protesters to obtain one might certainly produce some nightmares. Socially induced guilt is also a known mental health hazard.

    So, to the physiological complications, of which the greatest number are listed as “minor.”

    One of the most troubling ones is pain/cramping. The often prolonged cramping pain of actual labour is so well known as to require no references (it’s biblical even).

    The most dangerous complication is bleeding. Your site lists an <0.2% rate for post-abortion transfusions, with less risk for earlier abortions than late ones. Please compare this to a 0.23-0.28 rate of post-partum transfusions for vaginal or elective Caesarian deliveries and 0.49% for an emergency Caesarian delivery.

    You’re already pregnant – so your risk of complications, especially the one that might kill you, is, very simply, higher the longer you keep it.

    Also, please note, this site does not list any increased risk of breast cancer or depression, or infertility, all of which anti-abortion people will unscientifically stress.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    I don’t think it’s a serious debate to anyone other than the anti-abortion, anti-women crowd that abortion is safer than pregnancy and childbirth.

    I think it’s a fairly well established medical fact.

    This is from the Planned Parenthood website:

    “Abortions performed later in pregnancy may be more complicated but are still safer than labor and childbirth.”

    This site also explicitly states that abortion does NOT cause breast cancer.

  • Vin720

    I am totally atheist but am total against abortion on moral grounds. It is killing of a life. There is such a long wait of willing adoptive parents who mourn for kids. Abortion is the law of the land, so be it, but its not just the religious right who are trying to outlaw it.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy


    In my personal opinion, I am blown away by your immorality and callous disregard for human life.

  • kagerato

    [Vin720]: There is such a long wait of willing adoptive parents who mourn for kids.

    Wrong, though a very common propaganda point. The number of children in need of good adoptive parents far exceeds the number of willing and capable people looking to adopt.

    There are several obvious reasons why you cannot merely adopt a child on a “next day” basis, and that’s the cause of your waiting list. There are background checks to be done, medical examinations, legal forms to be completed on both sides, and many other issues.

    It’s also important to note that most of the children who would jump at the chance to be adopted into another family never receive the chance. Not because they were aborted, of course. It’s because the law and social norms favor parental control to almost the complete exclusion of the child’s will.

    See also: immigration. Go check the figures on the number of immigrants legally allowed into United States against the number of requests and illegal entries. It’s a sad — and probably malicious — statement to say that anyone who wants to enter this country can do so. It’s unclear how many families would send a child to a first world nation for adoption if given the option, but it’s pretty easy to understand why a family living in poverty would consider it.

  • Hibernia86

    Well, to be fair, the number of people in America who want to adopt a healthy white baby exceeds the number of healthy white babies available to be adopted, though I’m not saying we should set abortion policy on race or disability.

  • Matt DeStefano

    @ scotlyn

    Of course,I wasn’t comparing childbirth and abortion, I was comparing abortion and contraception.

  • Scotlyn

    Matt – that comparison doesn’t even make sense. Abortion is generally not used when contraception works.

  • Scotlyn

    There is such a long wait of willing adoptive parents who mourn for kids.

    It is worth pointing out that adoption is fast becoming a new evangelical crusade – apparently for recruitment purposes.

    One tip they must have picked up from the Jesuits – “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.”