So here’s another one of those fun anti-choice legends that are forming as we speak: Mechelle Hall of Minnesota was rolling up to a women’s health clinic in order to get an abortion back in November, when a mother/daughter duo of fetus worshippers confronted her. And she pulled a knife on them. She just got sentenced to probation—it seems like it’s possibly contingent on pleasing the victims in this case by not having an abortion, though it’s hard to tell from the report—and now she’s bleating about how her victims “converted” her and she’s going to have the baby now.
For conservatives, this is a heart-warming tale of a bad woman transformed by the power of Baby into a sweet, submissive woman that does her duty to god and country. (Which is one reason you should approach this with a big grain of salt—anti-choicers always pick the better story over the true story.) For people whose access to reality isn’t completely warped by sexist ideology, this story is fucking alarming. There are three possibilities here, in the real world:
1) Hall genuinely felt threatened by these women and acted out of character. We can probably dismiss this. People who act violently out of character aren’t usually armed like Hall was, plus her willingness to listen to her supposed assailants would discredit this reading. On the off chance they did actually threaten her, then all this tells us is that someone is lying about this story. Or that anti-choicers are bragging about how they wield the fear of violence in order to scare women out of abortions, but I don’t think they’re trying to do that.
2) Hall is the sort of person who flies off the handle at the slightest provocation. A much likelier possibility. Thousands of women parade past anti-choice nuts to get into clinics for abortions every month, and they may yell at them or taunt them on the way out, but they pretty much never pull a knife on them. For rational people who care about actual born children, the fact that a would-be mother has such a short temper is troubling. For anti-choicers, real children are irrelevant; making sure women are constantly producing offspring that society can then neglect is their priority. Hot Air is trumpeting this story, for instance. And their overwhelming indifferent to the well-being of actual children is well-documented.
3) Hall has serious mental health issues. If so, then the willingness of the anti-choice movement to exploit a woman’s mental illness in order to produce a baby they “saved”, but not getting the mother or the child any help at all, is fucking gross and despicable.
I tweeted this incident over the weekend, writing, “Convincing unstable, violent women to have children, one crazy incident at a time. Good work, antis!” Naturally, conservative bloggers, a group that delights in their ability to avoid ever arguing in good faith, pretended to be outraged. For instance, at Hot Air.
And what is Amanda Marcotte’s point, anyway? That certain people shouldn’t be allowed to have children and should have mandated abortions if they get pregnant? Does that really sound like someone who is fighting for choice?
Nowhere in my tweet did I say Hall should be forced to have an abortion, and to suggest otherwise is fundamentally dishonest. But since they asked, here’s my answer:
My point is that anti-choicers are the bottom feeders of our political system. They never met a troubled person they weren’t willing to exploit. If they were determined to fill their ranks honestly, recruiting stable people through rational arguments, they’d have no movement. They encourage troubled, vulnerable people to avoid seeking real help and instead blame all their problems on abortion’s legality. They target people who are in personal crisis in order to exploit them, and offer them little to no help, and the help they offer is contingent on using those people for “heart-warming” stories.
Let’s think about this story, from a more rational perspective, shall we? Most women who go to clinics walk by the protesters and see their bullying bullshit for what it is, and everyone knows it. But one woman freaked out and behaved in a highly irrational way, pulling a knife out instead of just ducking her head down and going in. That sent a signal to the antis that there’s probably something wrong with her—either she’s a violent person who probably would like to join up with the bully corps, or she’s a troubled person that is easy to exploit. Either way, they saw her as a mark and zeroed in. I hope for Hall’s sake and that of her child that whatever help she actually needs, she gets. But I hope she realizes her newfound fetus loving friends won’t be providing that, and goes elsewhere.
Hope that clarifies what I meant by that tweet!