I’ve taken one well deserved shot at Nadine Dorries today, and now I’m back for more.
If you’ve read me last post then you’ll have noted that Dorries made this comment in an effort to suggest that the doctor who exposed the ‘hand of hope’ hoax had somehow been ‘got at’ or intimidated by the pro-choice ‘lobby’
The pro-choice and pro-life lobbies in America are far more vociferous, and unfortunately violent, than they are in the UK
As I showed, in response to this comment, there is a well documented history of violence committed by anti-abortion campaigners in the US, one that includes 7 murders, 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 cases of assault or battery, 3 kidnappings, more than 655 ‘bioterror’ threats (mostly anthrax), 41 bombings, 173 arsons, 91 attempted bombings or arsons, 619 bomb threats, 1630 incidents of trespassing, 1264 incidents of vandalism, and 100 ‘stink bomb attacks.
To put that into context, under Britain’s terrorism laws – the scope of which were extended to include the activities of animal rights activists targeting organisations and companies engaged in vivisection – such a record of activity would see those involved treated as terrorists.
Against this, Dorries raises the idea of ‘pro-choice violence’ and, naturally enough, that prompted me to do a little digging into what this might be. What follows explains what I’ve uncovered and is presented here for two reasons, first, to kill off [excuse the pun] this line of argument before it takes root in this country and, second, to demonstrate clearly the kind of foul-minded cranks that Dorries, in trying to bring this argument into the British debate, is associating herself with.
Violence, either here or in the US, is not something you associate with the pro-choice ‘movement’ and before I started digging, I must admit to never having come across any incidents of so-called pro-choice violence. That said, and knowing how heated the debate is over the pond, the possibility that there might be some truth to this suggestion, no matter how small had to be conceded, so I started out by looking for evidence of violent incidents associated with campaigning and campaign activity.
What I found was that there have been a small number of regrettable but relatively minor incidents, petty vandalism and graffiti and a small number of assaults on anti-abortion protesters, usually in contested circumstances and surrounded by counter claims of provocation but nothing remotely approaching the scale of violence meted out by anti-abortion ‘protesters’ in pursuit of their ends.
What I also found was a website which purports to document ‘pro-choice violence’ and claims to have documented@
more than 8,519 acts of violence and illegal activities by pro-abortionists.
The reference to ‘and illegal activities’ should give you a clue as to how broad a definition of ‘pro-choice violence’ this site is using to artificially inflate its figures, but if that’s not enough the site provides a few interesting numbers…
* 1,251 homicides and other killings * 157 attempted homicides * 28 arsons and firebombings * 904 assaults * 1,908 sex crimes (including 250 rapes) * 106 kidnappings * 420 cases of vandalism * 290 drug crimes * 1,616 medical crimes
That should give you the idea -a ‘pro-choice crime’, according to this site, is just about any crime committed by an individual that they manage to identify as holding pro-choice views, whether that crime is in any sense related to their views on abortion.
The site also includes a ‘database’ – which isn’t actually a database just a series of static webpages – documenting these crimes state by state, prefaced by this statement:
This database consists of a state-by-state and city-by-city listing of thousands of incidents of pro-abortion violence, from mass murder, rape, arson, cannibalism, bribery, kidnapping and maiming to cheating in sports events, animal neglect and cruelty, indecent exposure, lewd conduct and bank robbery.
No, your eyes do not deceive you – ‘pro choice violence’ really does include ‘cheating in sports events’ according to these morons, that’s how desperate they are to come up with wildly inflated figures to counter the 5,000 recorded incidents of criminal acts by anti-abortionists that can be directly linked to their involvement in anti-abortion campaign activity.
Scanning some of the detail, which is perhaps the least edifying experience I’ve had since I spent several hours digging around on Stormfront in order to expose a local BNP councillor as a fascist conspiraloon, one quickly finds a number of of common themes which bring together cases documented by this site as ‘pro-choice violence’:
Medical malpractice/negligence: Take the case of Dr David Benjamin, as reported by the BMJ:
A jury of five women and seven men took only two hours to convict Dr David Benjamin of murdering Guadalupe Negron on 9 July 1993. Mrs Negron, a 33 year old Honduran immigrant to the US and a mother of four, was about 20 weeks pregnant and allegedly paid $800 (£530) for an abortion. Dr Benjamin, whose licence had been revoked in 1993 because of charges of gross incompetence and negligence in abortions performed on five women in 1990, was continuing to practise pending the outcome of his appeal.
Benjamin was convicted of murder as was Dr Milos Klvana, referenced in the same article, albeit in different circumstances:
There has been only one other case nationwide of a doctor being convicted of murder in connection with the death of a patient. In 1989, in Los Angeles, Dr Milos Klvana was convicted of the deaths of eight infants and a fetus for his actions in trying to deliver babies at home.
Dreadful though and other cases of medical malpractice in the provision of abortion services are, they are not examples of ‘pro-choice violence’ – no one was murdered, attacked of threatened for opposing legal access abortion. A significant number of the malpractice related reports cited poor conditions in abortion clinics/practices with or without the added frisson of unsubstantiated claims of cannibalism:
The Board of Healing Arts of Kansas suspended the medical license of Kansas City abortionist Krishna Rajanna on March 25, 2004, after it conducted an unannounced inspection of his “Affordable Medical and Surgical Services” abortion mill and found a rodent and medical waste stored without lids.
In the Spring of 2005, medical authorities raided Rajanna’s abortion mill after former employees alleged that he had coffee cups full of syringes lying around, stored medical equipment near a blood-stained toilet, had a blood-spattered carpet in his operating room, and put aborted preborn babies in refrigerators the employees used for lunches. One employee said that she witnesses Rajanna microwaving an aborted baby and mixing it into his own lunch. Rajanna denied this last allegation, saying that he is a vegetarian, but did admit keeping fetuses in Styrofoam cups in the refrigerator along with food and drink. He was not charged, simply because there are no laws in Kansas that prohibit the eating of aborted babies. Ex-clinic employee Julia Walton Garcia made the fetus-eating charge to Detective William Howard of the Kansas City Police Department and to District Attorney Nick Tomasic. Howard said that “Julia went on to describe how she and the other girls actually witnessed Rajanna microwave one of the aborted fetuses and stir it into his lunch. Julia claimed that she shared this [information] with some of the other employees, who confirmed that they had seen him do the very same thing.”
Unpleasant? Yes, but hardly pro-choice violence – the conditions described here (minus the unorthodox microwave meal, which was never proven) are less an indictment of abortion and more an indictment of the state of the US health care system, which can be great when you’ve got a full-on insurance package but absolutely appalling if you’re poor.
Still, this is Kansas and how’s a nice inbred Kansas girl to know that a guy named Krishna will almost certainly be both a Hindu and a vegetarian – and I do love the bit about their being no laws in Kansas against the eating the aborted foetuses, even if the claim that this was the only reason why he wasn’t charged with cannibalism is a load of bullshit.
Another ‘favourite’ theme is that of ‘forced abortion’, as in the sad story of Katelyn Kampf (no relation to Mein, so I understand) a nineteen year old girl kidnapped by her hitherto respectable parents (property developers) who then attempted to drive her to New York and force her to have an abortion – and in a delicious piece of American irony, she escape her parents clutches in the town of Salem – Arthur Miller eat your heart out.
Kampf’s story that of the classic kid who ran of the rails – after attending a moderately expensive prep school ($20,000 a year fees) she met her black, South African, boyfriend while at college, got pregnant and dropped out.Meanwhile the boyfriend add a conviction for theft to a prior for burglary and at the time of the kidnapping, was in jail on a six month sentence – and Kampf has since had her own brush with the law, specifically shoplifting (cognac) from a supermarket, prostitution and driving with a suspended licence but six other unspecified warrants, so it looks like this is a story with no winners.
And the reason for her parent’s cross-country dash? Katelyn has managed to conceal the pregnancy long enough to ensure that no abortion could be carried out in her home state (Maine), hence the parent’s ‘need’ to ship her over to New York, where its higher upper time limit of 24 weeks would have made a legal abortion possible.
Forced abortions do happen, unfortunately. Sometimes its the partner providing the coercion (and in rare cases such coercion has resulted in domestic violence murder – which, of course, the site happily chalks up as more ‘pro-choice violence’) often its teenage girls who are most vulnerable to such pressures from parents and family members – and the genuinely ‘pro-choice’ view in such cases is that woman should be given the protection she needs to ensure that any choice she makes is hers and hers alone. (This is not a view shared by the site, which includes in its spurious stats a number of cases of ‘wanted’ children who were aborted, i.e. cases in which the father of the foetus attempted to prevent the abortion taking place. The bottom line here is that this site, and its supporters, are in no position to get all judgemental on questions of choice and coercion, not when they’d happily force hundreds of thousands of women to have children they don’t want – to cite cases like this is not only distasteful, if par for the course, but utterly hypocritical.
Some of the cases cited as ‘pro-choice violence’ are considerably more left-field than that of Kampf.
Take the case of Eileen Janezic, a pro-choice activist who, in 1993, murdered ‘pro-life activist, minister and radio talk show host, Jerry Simon’ by shooting him through a window, after which she kept the police at bay for six hour while loudly quoting passages from Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible. Surely that’s a pro-choice murder – or did you spot the part about quoting the Satanic Bible and figure that there’s more to this story than meets the eye?
The Janezic case is famous enough, in the US, to have been cited in psychological journals from which we learn both that she was suffering with a bi-polar disorder at the time of the murder and had a very specific issue with Simon and his wife, one that had nothing to do with their views on abortion – Janezic had asked them to testify on her behalf in a child custody case and they refused. This refusal, coupled with a mental illness and an unhealthy interest in Satanism is what pushed Janezic over the edge – what each of the parties thought of abortion never came into it.
Then there’s another famous case, that of Byron (Low Tax) Looper, a Republican Party candidate who, in 1998, was convicted of the murder of his rival for public office, Tennessee State Senator (and Democrat) Tommy Burks.
Again, Looper had campaigned on a pro-choice platform -amongst many other things – and Burks was an known opponent of legal abortion – and this is the South, so don’t be surprised that their respective parties seem to be the opposite of what you’re used to.
At this point I’ll Wikipedia pick up the story:
In 1992 Looper returned to Tennessee and became a conservative Republican. He lost a race for the state house in 1994, but in 1996 he legally changed his middle name from Anthony to “(Low Tax)” and was backed by the Tennessee Republican Party in a race for the technically nonpartisan post of Putnam County Tax Assessor, which he won. He was the first Republican elected official at any level in Putnam County in over a century.
As tax assessor, Looper used his office’s equipment to flood state media with a number of bizarre and self-congratulatory press releases, though he failed repeatedly to file property tax valuations with the state government on time. Some charges were made that Looper offered reduced tax assessments to local businesses in exchange for large political contributions, although few if any businesses actually responded to the offer. Later, an ex-girlfriend sued him for child support and fraud, charging he had used his official position to steal her house.
In March 1998, Looper was indicted on 14 counts of official misconduct, theft of services and official oppression. Looper claimed the charges were politically motivated due to Democratic control of Putnam County politics and the Tennessee General Assembly. This was an expected argument due to Looper’s past obsession with conspiracy theories and allegations of political witch hunts by Putnam County Democrats who he claimed were “out to get him” during his tenure as Tax Assessor. The Cookeville Herald-Citizen regularly reported the Republican Tax Assessor’s bizarre antics and public verbal assaults of Putnam County elected officials. The Tennessee Republican Party soon claimed no connection with Looper, though campaign contributions and lists of paid political consultants proved otherwise.
Bynow, you’re probably thinking ‘Looper by name, Loopy by nature’, which is not far off the mark, but his actual reason for murdering his opponent was rather more prosaic in character:
Wes Rex and Joe Bond were both prominent witnesses for the prosecution, as were two political consultants who reported having been contacted at various times by Looper, who told both of them that he wanted to run a political race and felt the surest way to win would be to murder the opponent.
By a quirk in Tennnessee (since repealed), Looper had a point – even though he faced a charge of murdering his opponent, by killing Burks within 30 days of the date of the election he ensured that Burks could not be replaced one the ballot paper and nor could Looper be removed from the ballot, which would have given his the seat by default had Burks’ wife not ran a successful write-in campaign to take the seat. And we think some of our elections get a bit rough at times.
It’s an interesting story, just not one that has anything to do with abortion rights.
This site is also not averse to stretching a point either, citing this incident as another example of so-called ‘pro-choice violence’:
Hays, KS – Vandals wreaked havoc at cemeteries and churches in three small western Kansas communities. Figures of Christ were smashed to smithereens, headstones were broken, crucifixes were pulled from an altar and destroyed, and a memorial to unborn children was vandalized.
The story comes from the 1998 annual report of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which you’d expect to unlikely to be overly tardy in linking such an incident to the actions of ‘pro-choice’ activists had it any evidence to support such an assertion, but as it has no such evidence it makes no such connection, unlike our fearless ‘pro-choice violence’ monitors who think this is absolutely the work of the pro-choice lobby and absolutely not the work of a bunch of pissed-up teenage scrotes, which is the infinitely more likely explanation. Oh, and it is Kansas again, by the way, so you’d better factor that in your interpretation.
Okay, this is all very well, but what all these murders and sex crimes – how do they shoehorn all that into ‘pro-choice violence’?
Well, let me give you an example from their ‘database’…
Murder (10 counts), Rape (11 counts), Theft and Drug Possession
Convicted rapist Chester D. Turner appears to be one of the deadliest serial killers in Los Angeles history. On November 1, 2005, Superior Court Judge William R. Pounders ruled that there was sufficient evidence to put Turner on trial for the murders of ten women between 1987 and 1998. Two of the women were pregnant – one was 6½ months pregnant and one was between four and five months pregnant.
The 38-year-old Turner was serving an eight-year prison term for an unrelated 2002 rape conviction. He had also been jailed on theft and drug possession convictions.
Police scientific investigator Carl Matthies testified that Turner’s DNA was matched to sperm found on the bodies of all ten victims, and said that the probability that someone other than Turner raped the victims was about one in one quintillion.
Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson said that “Clearly those kind of statistics strongly indicate not only did this defendant have sex with them, he killed them.”
Medical examiner Lisa Scheinin testified that all ten women were strangled and nine had cocaine in their systems. She also said that the preborn child of one of the murdered women was viable. Prosecutors charged Turner with eleven counts of murder and added the possibility of enhanced penalties for multiple murder and murder committed during rape. The district attorney’s office charged Turner with murdering Annette Ernest, 26; Anita Fishman, 31; Regina Washington, 27; Paula Vance, 31; Mildred Beasley, 45; Andrea Tripplett, 29; Desarae Jones, 29; Natalie Price, 31; Brenda Bries, 31; and one unidentified woman who appeared to be in her 20s. They also said that Turner may have been involved in as many as twenty murders.
On November 15, 2005, Turner pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Turner’s defense centered around the excuse that he was a drug dealer, and the DNA evidence was explained by the fact that his customers were all prostitutes who often paid with sex. However, a jury saw through his subterfuge, and found him guilty of all eleven murders (including one count of second-degree murder for killing a viable preborn child) on April 30, 2007, recommending the death penalty in May 2007.
On July 10, 2007, Superior Court Judge William A. Pounders agreed with the jury and sentenced Turner to death. Dorothy Patterson was only eleven years old when Turner strangled her mother Regina, who was nearly seven months pregnant, with an electrical cord. She grew up as an only child, but would have had a little sister if not for Turner. Now 28, she said “I came for closure. It’s been a very long time. I just want justice to be served.”
Now you may be wondering what any of that has to do with abortion and abortion rights? Well, let me explain.
There are two lines of argument here of which the simplest, and most specious, is the argument that abortion fosters a lack of regard, in society, for the unborn foetus and therefore, using that delusive bit of reasoning, the fact that two of the women were pregnant at the time there were murdered means that the ‘pro-choice lobby’ are morally culpable for these murders – because if abortion was illegal then no man would ever murder a pregnant woman, would they?
The second argument is considerably more pernicious and devious and requires an understanding of how abortion law in the US differs from that in the UK.
I think we’ve all heard of Roe vs Wade, the pivotal Supreme Court judgement, which sets the framework for abortion laws in the US, although the specifics of the actual laws in place can and do still vary from state to state.
The central ruling in Roe vs Wade is that abortions are permissible for any reason a woman chooses up to the point at which the foetus becomes viable and that any state laws which seek to override that principle constitute and unconstitutional breach of the rights of privacy and due process. Unlike the UK, where – strictly speaking – abortion is still illegal under the Offences against the Person Act but permitted on medical grounds under the 1967 Abortion Act when carried out by licensed practitioner, women in the US have an actual right to have an abortion up to around 24 weeks gestation providing they find a doctor willing to perform the procedures. What American women don’t have benefit of, however, is a framework for legal abortion set out in Federal statute – Roe vs Wade is not law, but a constitutional precedent set by a court and precedents can be challenged, interpreted, reinterpreted and sometimes (although thankfully not yet) overturned.
The core strategy of the anti-abortion lobby in the US is defined almost entirely by Roe vs Wade in terms of a variety of different strategies each of which seeks to whittle away at the ruling and find exploitable loopholes which can be used to justify restrictions in legal access to abortion – and Nadine Dorries strategy throughout the current debate is no more than an attempt to use those same strategies to try to bring about restrictions in our own laws, even though many of them are completely inapplicable due to the way in which the situation in the UK differs from that in the US. She doesn’t seem to realise, for example, that her arguments on foetal pain and gratuitous lionising of Dr Sunny Anand are completely irrelevant in the UK because our own laws are constructed in such a way that what a foetus may or may not ‘feel’ and when have no bearing on any of the legal grounds for an abortion or on the question of viability as this is treated in the UK.
Roe vs Wade is susceptible to wedge strategies which seek to nibble away at its provisions and one such strategy in the US has been to lobby for laws which, in the case of the murder of a pregnant women in which the foetus also dies, treats the foetus as a separate individual – the aim being to establish that a foetus has ‘rights’ in law in its own rights and preferably that those right come in existence well before the 24 week definition of viability in Roe vs Wade. In a number of states, murdering a pregnant woman is a two for one deal, a deal which anti-abortionists hope will provide a platform from which to successfully challenge Roe vs Wade.
So the attribution of the murder of pregnant women to ‘pro-choice violence’ serves a political purpose – more so because pro-choice groups in the US have seen this strategy for what it is and challenged the legality of provisions allowing individuals to be tried on the basis of getting two murders for the price of one in order to head the challenge to Roe vs Wade, that they know will be coming, off at the pass.
The good news is that in most states that have enacted these laws, courts have ruled that separability provisions in homicide statutes have no bearing on the question of reproduction rights. The bad news, of course, is that by challenging this kind of salami-slicing, pro-choice groups have been put in a vulnerable and easily attacked position, one which can, and has, been played to reinforce the suggestion that murders of pregnant women can be legitimately linked to the question of abortion rights.
Now this may be a valid piece of legalistic legerdemain in the US but its also just about as sick and twisted a piece of legislative opportunism as one can possibly imagine and in raising the ‘issue’ of alleged ‘pro-choice violence’ Dorries appears to be indicating her willingness to buy into just this kind of perverse and inhumane agenda, one in which no tragedy is too great for it not be used as grist for the propaganda mill.
Unless, Dorries is prepared to qualify her remarks very carefully – and on past form I doubt that very much as she run away from every other challenge to her position in this entire debate and then lied through her teeth to cover her arse – then one has to take the view that this is precisely the kind of agenda she intend to introduce into the UK, an agenda under which – to give an extreme example – the fact of Harold Shipman having, at any time, referred a patient to an abortion service, would be treated as valid grounds taking on anything from the 15 murders he was convicted of to the 200, 250 or even 400 cases of suspected involuntary euthenasia that some think he may have perpetrated, onto the list of ‘pro-choice violence’ peddled by the likes of Dorries.
All this seems to further support the view that many are coming to, and some have held all along, that this pretty much nothing that Dorries wouldn’t say if she thought it might assist in her personal crusade to deprive women of their right to access safe, legal, abortion services – this is mendacity on the grandest of scales, and I – for one – am having none of it.