October 5, 2007UPDATE, 5:45 PM: David Crary replies, quickly (below)
DAVID CRARY, AP writer
BURL OSBORNE, Chairman
TOM CURLEY, President and CEO
KATHLEEN CARROLL, SVP/Executive Editor
AND TO FactCheck.org, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 320 National Press Building, Washington DC 20045
Dear Mssrs. Crary, Osborne, Curley, and Ms. Carroll,UPDATE: REPLY FROM DAVID CRARY and my next email to him
I wrote you on July 9, 2005 giving evidence of the incorrectness of the urban legend that both columnist Ellen Goodman and Sen. Barbara Boxer insisted was true, which AP's Justin M. Norton had reported, that there had been 5,000-10,000 maternal deaths from pre-Roe abortions. AP subsequently wrote an article setting the record straight, and I thank you for that.
Normally David Crary's reporting is well-fact-checked, yet in his story about Ms. magazine's "We Had Abortions" he made two grave mistakes.
1) He quoted the wrong pro-life expert in Judie Brown, and with full negative, politically-correct effect. He ought to have quoted any of the numerous women who have had abortions and speak nationally, even testifying in front of Congressional hearings, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of us who suffer the physical and emotional pain that abortion brought us.
Nationally, Crary should have contacted (should still contact) Georgette Forney and Janet Morana of SILENT NO MORE, http://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/about/georgette.html , and Vicky Thorn of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing (NOPARH), whose group has been providing help for post-abortive women—in nonreligious and religious settings—for the past 16 years, since 1990. NOPARH is just the nationwide "hotline" for those seeking help after abortion. There are many resources actually delivering the help:
Why didn't Crary call Theresa Burke, PhD, at Rachel's Vineyard Retreats? Stacy Massey at Abortion Recovery International? Philip Ney, MD, of Hope Alive? Mary Comm of In Our Midst? Sydna Massé of Ramah International? [READERS: ALL LINKS AVAILABLE AT RIGHT IN SIDEBAR]
Another woman to call, in the huge New York City metro area: Theresa Bonopartis of Lumina, http://www.postabortionhelp.org/ . I myself have often spoken state-wide (in Connecticut) on this as a representative of SILENT NO MORE (see the link called
"Annie - Read>>" , www.silentnomoreawareness.org/articles/reflections.html ).
2) Mr. Crary, your story was shamefully unbalanced. You never did your homework to find out how many women who have had abortions really don't feel fine or ok about what we did.
NOPARH referred perhaps 25,000* people in 14 years to receiving actual face-to-face help. In 2004, just one of the recovery services, Rachel's Vineyard Retreats, held 350 retreats worldwide, some even ecumenical, for women who had abortions, and that number is tripling every two years. They've helped Catholics and non-Catholics, even Jews and other non-Christians, in the U.S., Canada, Africa, Australia, Chile, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal and Russia, each in their native languages. [* an average of 50 Rachel’s Vineyard retreats per year in the years 1995–98; average 110 retreats a year in 1999-2002, 350 retreats a year each in 2003-05; an average of 10 to 20 people per retreat. 1,700 retreats times 15 people average = 25,500 people]
25,000 women (and some men), in 14 years, who sought this help voluntarily on their own, under no duress or coercion of any kind. Kind of makes 5,000 pro-choice petition signatures seem paltry, doesn't it?
It's much worse than that actually. There's an enormous amount of bona fide published research on this. You need not take my word for it. You could check it out sometime (our "After Abortion" blog links to much of it), though it could take you years though to cover it all. As it has taken us years.
I've given the public many of the studies' links here, http://afterabortion.blogspot.com/2004/10/shredding-myths-
about-abortions.html   and this (http://afterabortion.blogspot.com/2005/06/earlier-koop-post-got-me-thinking.html) links to all 22 studies and events--a partial snapshot, to be sure--which occurred between January 1989 (when the so-called "Surgeon General Koop report" called for a truly comprehensive study to be done) and June 2005. None of this, of course, would have been available then to Koop, or rather his staff, for their review.
Had your or Ms. Magazine's story been about such women, we all know the "for balance" number of pro-choice post-abortive women would have been glowingly reported. Not so with those who regret. Quelle surprise.
Let me show you more balanced-reporting homework you could have done:
There are perhaps 226,800 post-abortive women who regret to the point of becoming members of the National Right To Life Committee, while there are only about 39,000 post-abortive women in NARAL Pro-Choice America. In a study done in 2000, 78% of National Abortion Rights Action League's membership was female, while 63% of National Right to Life Committee's was female. 32% of NARAL's women members admitted having had an abortion. Only 3% of NRL women had had an abortion. The Encyclopedia of Associations showed that NARAL had a total membership of 156,000; NRL, 12 million.
32% of 78% of 156,000 gives 39,000 such members, while 3% of 63% of 12 million yields 226,800 women who have had abortions.
Six times more women who become active in this issue regret their abortions, or six out of every seven "activists."
It's reported in the book, Achieving Peace In The Abortion War: Predictions on Possible Social Impacts of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Cognitive Dissonance as Structural Stressors, by Rachel MacNair, Ph.D., found here http://www.fnsa.org/apaw/ch13.html .
What's worse, one published study which analyzed "associations between long-term depression and outcome of first unintended pregnancy" actually has been shown here to have had "a very weak sample for studying psychological adjustments of abortion [and] ha[s] a 60% concealment rate..."
That means that only 40% of the women who actually had abortions reported having them. Three out of every five women in that huge data set didn't admit they had an abortion.
It's only one study, of course. But if the total of 265,800 women admitting they had an abortion in that 2000 survey only represented 2 out of every 5 postabortive women (40% not concealing), then there likely are another 398,700 women who concealed their abortions, for whatever reason.
There's no way to know how many of those regret them, but the 2000 study showed that six out of every seven who became publicly active eventually regret the abortion. If that same ratio applies, then of those 398,700 concealing their abortions, perhaps as many as 341,740 more women regret their abortions.
Adding those two groups who regret could amount to 568,540 women who regret their abortions. Over half a million women.
Finally, let me ask: how many of those 5,000 women Ms. Magazine claims they have are willing to write their stories of non-regret and file them as legal affidavits in support of abortion rights laws?
Two-thousand post-abortive women who regret--including me--did just that in support of the repeal of abortion rights laws over this past several years, many with our actual names attached and available to you or any reporter via the FOIA. That number keeps growing. Contact Operation Outcry for the list, and read some online here: http://operationoutcry.org/pages.asp?pageid=23067 . They are all available from the Supreme Court as well, as we submitted the entire package of our affidavits to them and to various district appellate courts.
Would you say, given the "politicians-&-media-love-abortion" climate we live in, that it's more difficult for a woman who regrets her abortion to admit this publicly in a legal, notary-signed document, or for a woman who doesn't regret to admit this publicly by sending in her name, with no verification that it's her real name?
Associated Press' biased, non-objective, true pro-abortion colors are still showing. And the only reason why pro-choice women are drumming up signatures now, is because the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of us who do regret are finally refusing to be silent about it.
You do women a gross and major disservice in trying to keep us quiet about it. You're still par for that course.
Silent No More Connecticut State, http://www.silentnomoreawareness.org
After Abortion blog Co-Blogger, www.afterabortion.blogspot.com (as many as 20,000 hits monthly)
I received back a very immediate reply from Crary. Sorry to say, it was rather more like what I expected, although there does seem room for some light to be shone in to his thinking.
"Crary, David"My reply follows:
Thank you for this detailed and thoughtful response to my article about the Ms. magazine "We Had Abortions" petition campaign.
I've written in the past about women who regret their abortions and I will do so in the future.
But this week's article was not an occasion for such an examination; it was a straightforward look at a Ms. magazine project that up until my article had not been written about in the mainstream media. My goal was to let readers of all ideological persuasions, including foes of abortion, learn about this project and form their own opinions about it -- and I'm sure that you, like myself, have seen quite a bit of the extremely heated criticism of Ms. that has resulted.
I'm sure you also noted that one of the two petition-signing women I interviewed was quite candid in discussing the psychological scars left by her abortion, which she described as "emotionally devastating." Neither she nor I were seeking to glamorize abortions.
Again, thank you for your input. The names and organizations you cite will likely prove useful resources in the future.
The Associated Press
Dear David,He calls us "foes of abortion." Dramatic, yet telling.
Thank you for your prompt and detailed reply.
I will look forward to truly accurate articles from you on the truth of the many women who suffer(ed) from the trauma and/or regret of their abortions, but sadly, I respectfully must say that the one you linked to does not count as one such article.
You reported on six women in that article. Syverson and Jenkins were the only two of your six who changed their minds and regretted their abortions. Thirty-three percent of your sample.
Stern, Oxholm, Wall, and Weiser defended their abortions and still believe abortion is a woman's right. Sixty-six percent of your sample.
You proved your lack of balance, i.e. bias, in that article as well as in your current one. You also gave the public misinformation, hinting by your sample that perhaps 4 out of every 6 women still favor abortion after having one. The studies I supplied you indicate that such a proportion is indeed quite far from the truth.
Which you have yet to report.
I do not agree that that earlier article only was "an occasion for such an examination" and not the current one. As others have said, "I cannot imagine an Associated Press reporter doing a story on a Silent No More campaign and not bothering to acquire a new, substantial rebuttal from Planned Parenthood." http://www.dawneden.com/2006/10/action-alert.html
You and I both know, David, that when AP does a story that is considered, by AP's own style book, "anti-abortion" in nature, there is always the several-paragraphs-long chime-in by a figurehead of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW, Feminist Majority Foundation or other such national pro-choice organization.
Yet you chose Judie Brown, among the least appropriate counterbalances as she is the leader of neither a national group of post-abortive women who regret nor of a national group which actively helps such women, as I listed.
Please do the honorable things: 1) admit that you checked the inappropriate source for your inflammatory sound-bite (and appear to have done so for that very reason), and 2) admit that, had this been a story on the 2,000 women who signed their names to the legal affidavits denouncing Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, AP would have made sure we read also about how many women don't regret, either by citing this Ms. petition or some other way.
We both know that both are the case.
Then, do the truthful stories. Call those women leaders I list. Call that book author, and the research scientists. Report the whole truth.
David, please point me to your story when the legal affidavits were put together via Operation Outcry and submitted to the Supreme Court. And to your story when the numbers reached and surpassed 2,000 affidavits. Please, I honestly do hope to be corrected, but that wasn't considered news, like this petition is considered news, was it, David?
Balance, as you and AP repeatedly have displayed it, only works for you when your hand is weighing down the abortion-satisfied side of the scale. Please: prove me wrong.