In the face of an outcry from anti-abortion activists, the conservative group Focus on the Family has scrubbed a pamphlet that it distributed at anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers of information on how to avoid medical complications when obtaining a medical abortion.
The pamphlet, written by a doctor who opposes abortion rights, included a note from the author urging women not to choose abortion because “an incredibly special and completely unique person is growing inside of every pregnant woman.” But what provoked the ire of anti-abortion activists was the fact that it included safety information for women who might choose to take the “abortion pill.”
Although the pamphlet has been available since last year, it recently began making the rounds among anti-choice bloggers and activists, who were appalled that Focus would dare to instruct women on how to correctly take abortion medication in order to avoid injury.
A dismayed J.D. Hall wrote on his Pulpit & Pen blog: “In no uncertain terms, the Focus on the Family literature gives advice on how to use the abortion pill safely.” He added: “Providing advice on how to safely and healthily receive an abortion, should that be the ‘option’ the woman chooses, is deplorable for a Christian publication.”
Jeremy Lundmark of the website Theology Mix was equally outraged: “If abortion is the taking of human life in the womb, and it is, then this booklet encouraged and aided women in murdering their children. In the process, it magnified the perpetrator over the victim. In what universe is it sensible to provide safety tips to help murderers murder?”
The anti-choice group Live Action also took issue with the pamphlet, asking, “Why does this sound more like a ‘how to get an abortion’ guide than pro-life educational material?”
In a statement in response to the criticism, Focus noted that the pamphlet was meant to be used at crisis pregnancy centers by counselors attempting to prevent women from choosing abortion, but assured its critics that it would be revising the pamphlet to make its opposition to abortion more “clear.”
Sure enough, the pamphlet now available on Focus on the Family’s website differs in some important ways from the version that upset the “pro-life” blogosphere, which can still be found through the Internet Archive.
The section of the pamphlet that most outraged “pro-life” activists was this selection of “safety tips” for women taking the abortion pill, which Focus has since removed. (Pulpit & Pen’s Hall noted, however, that it was a “clever strategy” that the pamphlet brought up the threat of ectopic pregnancy in order to encourage women to seek ultrasounds.)
The pamphlet has also been revised to exaggerate the threat of medication abortion. The previous version included this list of possible side effects:
The new version paints a much more dire picture:
Also removed from the pamphlet is this explanation that eight women have died after taking the medication incorrectly, while it has been safe for those who have taken it correctly:
Focus also removed this checklist of “things to ask your doctor” (which already included problematic requirements like demanding that a doctor have unnecessary “admitting privileges”):
The old version of the pamphlet also included a relatively straightforward explanation of what an ectopic pregnancy is, complete with a graphic. All of this safety information has been jettisoned in favor of a barebones list of things that make “a medical abortion even less safe”: