Last week, my sister texted me, asking: “What is with this wild anti-choice story? Why did she have fetuses?” Befuddled, I simply responded, “Huh?” She messaged me back, “It’s all over social media.” I must admit that in such moments I am grateful I don’t have my own social media accounts. Curious, I did a quick Google search and was confronted with one of the most disturbing anti-abortion stories that I’ve read in a while. And, unsurprisingly, it revealed to me how the anti-abortion movement is propped up by religious factions.
On Wednesday, March 30, Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department uncovered the frozen remains of five aborted fetuses in the apartment of anti-abortion activist, Lauren Handy. The raid occured after after authorities received a tip that biohazardous material was at the residence. When questioned about it in an interview outside of her home, Handy mysteriously replied, “People will freak out when they hear.”
According to the police, the fetuses had been aborted in accordance with the city’s laws.
As of now, it is unclear how Handy obtained the fetuses and what she planned to do with them. What is clear is that the raid happened on the same day that Handy and eight others were indicted on federal felony conspiracy charges. A statement by the Department of Justice alleges that Handy and others directed a clinic blockade “to prevent the clinic from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services.” The indictment further claims that Handy and others “forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes.” Afterward, they livestreamed their activity on Facebook. The indictment further alleges that Handy and the eight others “violated the FACE Act by using a physical obstruction to injure, intimidate and interfere with the clinic’s employees and a patient, because they were providing or obtaining reproductive health services.”
If you’re like me, you’ve assumed that Handy and her fellow activists were part of a religious group. But while Handy self-describes as a “Catholic Anarcho Mutalist,” she is the director of activism for the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), a nonreligious anti-abortion group. The leadership includes self-proclaimed atheists.
However, even if some of these activists may not be religiously affiliated, their work certainly is bolstered by religion. One need not look much further than the group’s resource page, which links to Crisis Pregnancy Centers. These entities are predominantly Christian-based, fake clinics that use tax dollars and disinformation to persuade women to not obtain an abortion.
Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising also provides a link and contact information for the Abortion Reversal Pill, a pseudoscientific process that has not been approved by any leading medical organizations. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that such “reversals” are not supported by science.
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Furthermore, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising supports an organization that recruits women considering abortion “by partnered crisis pregnancy centers, sidewalk counselors, and members of the pro-life community,” and that coerces low-income women not to choose abortion by signing “an agreement stating that she will not seek an abortion after accepting our assistance.” This is despite extensive research that denying a woman an abortion to end an unwanted pregnancy increases the probability that she will live in poverty, stay in abusive relationships and experience serious health problems for years to come.
So while the overwhelming majority of anti-abortion activists are religiously rooted, there are, of course, a few who don’t identify with religion. However, make no mistake — their supporters are people of faith, not fact. After all, there is no scientific rationale for restricting reproductive health care. And there are no major medical, civil or human rights groups that support abortion bans and restrictions. In fact, analysis by the Guttmacher Institute has found that at least 10 major categories of abortion restrictions are not supported by rigorous scientific evidence.
Thankfully, the general public agrees that abortion is health care. A recent Pew study found that the majority of Americans believes that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Additionally, 82 percent of religiously unaffiliated people support legal abortions. (And 98.9 percent of FFRF members support abortion rights, by the way.) But anti-abortion legislators and activists are at the helm. For example, in 2022 we already have seen 525 abortion restrictions introduced in 41 states. And the ultraconservative Supreme Court is slated to rule on the future of Roe v. Wade in June.
These are perilious times for abortion care. We need people who favor science and reason to speak up now more than ever. Check out our guide on how you can help FFRF fight for abortion rights.
Anti-abortionists, no matter what stripe, have it all wrong.