an After abortion

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Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Why do I feel like the foxes are guarding the henhouse? Because they are.

Repeat after me:
“Exhale runs off two truths, Baker says: Abortion is legal and abortion is normal.”
OK, I’ll give them that first one.

But try as I can, I can’t just seem to get the words to roll around in my mouth: “Abortion…is…normal…”

There are 226,800 post-abortive women in the National Right To Life Committee who would argue that it isn’t, and only 39,000 in NARAL who would agree that it is.

Also from the various articles:
“Exhale is the first post-abortion counseling hotline in the country that is not linked to a pro-choice or anti-abortion group.”
I might give them the second one, this time, but ahh, the first part is not true. While at the time Em posted here that Exhale is partly funded by Planned Parenthood, it appears from this page of Exhale's current donors, that it doesn't include PP.

That update thanks to Emily, who also adds: "But it does include a number of other politically pro-choice donors, such as the Women's Foundation of California which: "work(s) to strengthen the capacity of reproductive health and rights organizations in California, protect existing reproductive rights, [and] promote policies that increase access to care and to abortion." (Em's first post about them was almost two years ago, in July 2003)

Before we think Exhale really is independent of Planned Parenthood, though:
Amy Moy is a member of Exhale's Board of Directors, as of this Winter 2004/2005 Newsletter. She's also the Director of Community Affairs for Planned Parenthood Golden Gate.
Ahem. "Not linked to a pro-choice group?" Yeah. Sure.

Going on to more of their prochoice links, as if that weren't bad enough....Exhale also admits:
“Funding comes from friends, family and a recent $3,000 grant from the Third Wave Foundation.”
From Third Wave’s own website:
“Third Wave's Reproductive Health and Justice Fund awards grants to support the training of new abortion providers, increasing access to reproductive healthcare services in underserved areas, and reproductive and related healthcare education. We support programs aimed at young women that are led by young women. We also provide emergency grants for abortion procedures, covering portions of medical costs and/or travel.”
Also, Third Wave Foundation is listed among 25 pro-choice/pro-abortion groups on this women’s health site, including National Abortion Federation, NARAL, ImNotSorry.Net, Planned Parenthood’s Allan Guttmacher Institute, Catholics for a Free Choice, Abortion Access Project, and--surprise, Exhale--to name a few.

That $3,000 might keep Exhale going only for six months, according to the Women's eNews article's statement that their "monthly budget [is] "$500", but imagine what PR it brings and who knows how much more from them and others like them? It’s $3,000 more than Emily or I have ever gotten for any of the work we’ve done to “use [our] experience to empathize with and support other women who have had one.”

But wait a minute: if their monthly budget is $500, then what's the destination for the "$250,000 annual operating budget" that this article divulges? I mean, besides the "two full-time staff, including Baker?" They have "25 volunteer peer counselors."

Volunteer, as in "unpaid."

Let's see, $500 times 12 months. That's $6,000 annually for "phones, brochures and office space." In San Francisco?? Office space and phones and printed brochures, all for $500 a month???

Sorry. I don't usually put that many question marks on anything, but my eyes are bugging out of my skull.

Then, of course, there's the travel and hotel and rental cars and meals for all those training (receiving and giving end) trips they've been doing "across the country."

Still, even considering that, it sounds to me, ladies, like someone's making mucho dinero off of women having abortions-- coming and going.

It gets more difficult to swallow, if that's possible:
"'[W]e're not a pro-choice organization,' Baker says adamantly. However, counselors must be committed to reproductive freedom and are screened on their ability to provide non-judgmental support to all callers…"
Does Baker honestly think she’s kidding anyone? Even the Associated Press reporter must have been smiling when hearing all this. “Being committed to reproductive freedom” is the decades-old euphemism for being in support of legal abortion. Does anyone still deny this, on either side?

One proof point: the abortion rights purpose of the renamed “March for Women’s Choice” in April 2004. For well over one year of this march’s planning, it was really all about abortion rights, in the organizers’ own words. And even after it broadened, from all the reports by secular, liberal press like this Washington Post article), the organizers were apparently squarely focused on it being primarily, first and foremost, about abortion rights. Even the title of that article is “Rallying for One Massive Rally: Abortion Rights Activists Hope to Descend on Mall in 'Historic' Numbers” (by Manny Fernandez, Washington Post Staff Writer, Thursday, April 15, 2004; Page B01).

If that march really was about standing for equal access to health care, comprehensive sex education and protection of all women, then they would have focused on all of that as “equal” to abortion rights, right from the start, but they didn’t.

[A side note: on Dawn Eden’s blog comments, Jan. 12, 2005, I’d written that if you cut and paste into your browser the URL “http://www.marchforchoice.org” you’d find that that the march originally was called “March for Choice” and that URL redirected to the later-named “http://www.marchforwomen.org”. Both those domains are gone as of June 7, 2005. However, it’s still called “March for Freedom of Choice” on the old N.O.W.’s October 2, 2003 press release.

It’s easy to provide “non-judgmental support” to callers who remain convinced they made the right “choice” or who need little persuasion to rediscover that belief. I wonder if anyone’s had the experience of getting “non-judgmental support” from them in spite of a caller’s new conviction that they shouldn’t have had the abortion.

How exactly did they answer this woman’s question, I wonder, from the AP article:
"'I started feeling this huge amount of grief and feelings like I killed my baby and it was very difficult for me because I'm like,
"I'm pro-choice, why do I feel like this?"'"
I’d really like to know how they deal with that kind of statement.

Mary, our guest blogger, posted a possible answer here.

This woman went on:
"It was infuriating I couldn't just say that to anyone and have them honor the decision I had made."
Does she hear the complete incongruity of what she just said? Did she really want someone to "honor her decision" to, in her own words, kill her baby? Or was this taken out of context, two sentences not one after the other?

Regardless of the answer there, given the article Mary linked to, it sounds like her statement was exactly the answer she got from Exhale: “It’s ok to feel grief, but you didn’t really kill a baby. It wasn’t a baby yet really. We honor your decision, it was a very difficult choice you had to make. You did the best you could given your circumstances.”

Yet—not surprisingly—the Associated Press and the whole rest of the mainstream media happily drank the Kool-Aid that Exhale is "…not about turning someone pro-choice or anti-abortion.”

Of course it isn’t. It just isn’t for those who already have done the about-face to become “anti-abortion.” Their “choice” of words gives them away.

Finally, pro-choice, Exhale-donor Third Wave’s homepage touts this pic and motto:

Third Wave Foundation website photo Posted by Hello

"…EXCEPT THE UNBORN and WOMEN WHO BECOME 'ANTI-ABORTION' AFTER HAVING HAD AN ABORTION.”

All skepticism aside, I really would love to see evidence that the above conclusion of mine is wrong, of course. Please feel free to contact either Emily or me, confidentially if you choose, if you have personally experienced otherwise with Exhale. If they truly are “about listening and valuing and respecting” even the negative, newly "anti-abortion" (their word, not ours) feelings/beliefs of callers, then we welcome hearing this. And please, folks, no staged, spoofed, forged, phony “first-hand reports”—either way.

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