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By and large, the emails that come to me through the Abort73 website are mostly variants of the same basic questions or assertions. It’s rare when a question comes in that I haven’t already heard, but such was the case a few weeks back. The question centered on Gisella Perl and was prompted by the post below—which has now been reposted hundreds of thousands of times:
Gisella Perl was forced to work as a doctor in Auschwitz concentration camp during the holocaust.
She was ordered to report ever [sic] pregnant women do [sic] the physician Dr. Josef Mengele, who would then use the women for cruel experiments (e.g. vivisections) before killing them.
She saved hundreds of women by performing abortions on them before their pregnancy was discovered, without having access to basic medical supplies. She became known as the “Angel of Auschwitz”.
After being rescued from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp she tried to commit suicide, but survived, recovered and kept working as a gynecologist, delivering more than 3000 babies.
**I want to nail this to the forehead of every anti-abortionist who uses the word “Holocaust” when talking about legal
Every Child is a Work of Art. That's the message behind Abort73's newest shirt design. The culturally astute will notice a nod to Frida Kahlo—the iconic, feminist artist who made a career for herself painting selfies. Like so many other famous artists, Kahlo is far more popular now than she ever was in her own lifetime. Susan Fisher Sterling, Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) notes that Kahlo is a perfect fit for today's "narcissistic body culture"—one that is "obsessed with ourselves and sexuality." Stephanie Mencimer, a former editor of Washington Monthly who now writes for Mother Jones, adds:
Kahlo's Communism--now treated as somehow sort of quaint--led her to embrace some unforgivable political positions… Less scandalous but worth noting is that Kahlo despised the very gringos who now champion her work, and her art reflects her obvious disdain for the United States. One wonders what the postal service was thinking when it put Kahlo on a stamp…
With that in mind, Frida Kahlo may seem a strange figure for Abort73 to lean on. In fact, it's a connection I never would have thought of myself, but that's the beauty of collaboration! "Every Child
The title of this post takes a simple statement—abortion is not complicated—and says it in a complicated and confusing way. Why? Because the issue of abortion is both simple and complex; it is clear and complicated—as evidenced by an abortion-advocating feature that appeared in Salon magazine last week. It is titled, “The abortion I didn’t want.”
Author, Caitlin McDonnell, writes in the subtitle, “After [my abortion], I felt grief, emptiness -- and relief. Why don't we tell stories that are emotionally complicated, too?” She’s right about one thing. It is the emotion of unwanted pregnancy that makes abortion such a complicated and contested issue. The ethics of abortion are rather simple.
To me, the most interesting aspect of McDonnell’s piece is the description she provides of her principled refusal to tell the abortion clinic staff that she wanted an abortion. She firmly believed that she needed an abortion, but she could not bring herself to say she wanted it. She writes:
During my intake at the women’s clinic, I told them that I [couldn’t] say I wanted an abortion but that I thought they should do it anyway. Understandably, they didn’t know what to do with me… They
Be careful how you argue. I was reminded of that last week while listening to an abortion-related sermon clip that kept popping up in my network feeds. In this instance, a courageous, high-profile pastor was exactly right about the evils of abortion, but he was wrong about some of the facts. Unfortunately, he is not alone. I’ve heard the same misstatements before, and the widespread sharing of the clip in question simply illustrates how extensive our general ignorance can be.
At the heart of the confusion is a discrepancy between fetal age and gestational age. The fetal age of an unborn child is measured from conception. Gestational age is measured from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period. Embryologists—who study prenatal development—use fetal age. Obstetricians—and abortionists—use gestational age. Generally speaking, the fetal age of an unborn child is two weeks less than the corresponding gestational age.
People can get into trouble very quickly when they start to unknowingly mix these aging metrics—as was the case in the sermon I heard. Here is an excerpt:
By eight weeks… babies will suck their thumbs, they respond to sound, there’s evidence
Today is the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that struck down all state prohibitions against abortion. Within two years of that verdict—in 1975, the year I was born—the annual abortion total surpassed one million. In the forty years that have followed, more than one million innocent and helpless human beings have lost their lives to abortion every single year—until now. Yesterday, I completed my latest round of analysis on state-level abortion data which revealed that the total number of U.S. abortions in 2013 was approximately 984,000.
Here’s the good news: 2013 marks the first time since 1974 that fewer than one million human beings lost their lives to abortion in the United States.
Here’s the bad news: In 2013, almost one million human beings lost their lives to abortion in the United States.
We might not have the "official" 2013 abortion tally for another year or two. We may never have it since the Guttmacher Institute tends to only publish abortion statistics in three year increments and the CDC data is perennially incomplete. Either way, I feel pretty confident in the reliability of my calculation model—which correctly estimated the 2011 total (1.06