Home / General / The War on Reproductive Freedom Is A War On Women, Their Security of the Person, and Their Privacy

The War on Reproductive Freedom Is A War On Women, Their Security of the Person, and Their Privacy



Djw observes below that opponents of reproductive freedom are nothing if not creative in their use of state coercion to obstruct and punish women who choose to obtain abortions. Non-state actors can be similarly creative, and similarly reprehensible:

With assistance from her lawyer, over the course of the next few days, AJ would learn that in addition to the anonymous phone calls that had been made to the clinic while she and her daughter waited for her procedure, people unknown to AJ had faxed her daughter’s personal information—her name, medical information, and even her social security number—to countless numbers of doctors, police, and other strangers in at least two states, without AJ’s knowledge or consent. She would discover that her daughter had been picked up from school and driven across the state border by a person that AJ did not know. And before the saga was resolved, AJ would even find out that an attorney she’d never heard of had purported to represent her daughter, and had sent threatening letters to the abortion clinic, directly interfering with her daughter’s medical treatment.

A Rewire investigation has found that at the center of the drama that unfolded in AJ’s life was a document produced by Life Dynamics, the prominent anti-choice group that is based in Denton, Texas, which receives the majority of its funding from the fracking billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks. The Wilks brothers are also the main backers of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

The document is a bogus “notice” that tricks women into believing they have signed away their legal rights to receive an abortion. Providers throughout the country have told Rewire that this document has been used for years to deceive and intimidate both patients and providers by threatening them with legal action should they go through with obtaining or providing an abortion.

For all the controversy that Donald Trump’s Kinseyian gaffe on abortion has attracted, Ted Cruz is even more horrible on the issue. As was Marco Rubio. Reasonable, moderate, thinking person’s man’s conservative John Kasich is also an anti-reproductive freedom fanatic. This is what Republican policy is.

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  • CrunchyFrog

    But God forbid you use a dollar of taxpayer’s money to provide health care for the unborn child or the mother.

    • DrDick

      Which is why they are Forced Birthers, not “Pro-Life.” They hate women and children and want them all to suffer.

  • so-in-so

    How do these actions not result in people wearing orange jumpsuits?

    Or disbarment in the case of the lawyer.

    • Roberta

      That’s what I’m wondering. Or at least forking out millions in civil damages. Fraud, medical malpractice, violation of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress…surely there’s something.

      • ThrottleJockey

        Hopefully the doj can prosecute these people for violation of HIPAA laws.

        • Interestingly, HIPAA doesn’t seem to provide for a private right of action, but it may be used to establish a duty of care in a state court action for intentional infliction of emotional distress or the like.

          • efgoldman

            it may be used to establish a duty of care in a state court action

            But… the state is Texas. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    • DrDick

      Or disbarment in the case of the lawyer.

      I would call for disbarment and orange jumpsuits for the lawyer.

    • njorl

      I think at age 14 kids gain significant autonomy with regard to medical decisions. Provided they can get at the kid, they can probably convince her to say something which they can legally construe as the right to act as her attorney with regard to medical decisions. You have to be very careful how you restrict this, or the forced birthers will turn it around and use laws to allow parents to prevent their kids from getting abortions.

    • DAS

      Even if the kid did consent to being taken across state lines and since kids do have a certain amount of autonomy in terms of deciding whether or not to have medical procedures (and rightly so), it may be that no crime was committed, but you better believe that if say a kid contacted, say, an anti-vaxxer to be taken across state lines to avoid a vaccination, the anti-vaxxer taking a kid across state lines would be investigated by the FBI (and rightly so) and it would be all over the news.

      Even if no wrongdoing can be established, certainly there should have been a major FBI investigation, etc.

  • Roberta

    I love the illustration that “family values” and those sacred parental rights over their children only matter when the family in question is male-dominated and conservative. A pro-choice single mother’s attempt to get her daughter medical treatment? That’s perfectly okay for the state to intervene in.

    • ThrottleJockey

      I have a somewhat related question. How do you have a non-coervive heart to heart talk with someone about having an abortion like this mother did when the mother is already working 64 hours a week and their economic situation is so precarious?

      I had a niece who got pregnant at 18. Since since she and her mom were both broke I told her I’d pay for an abortion if she was interested. She said no. It was a 30 second discussion. I didn’t want to feel like I was pushing her one way or the other.

      Unfortunately the girl went on to have four other kids out of wedlock by 3 different men. She really struggles to get by at all now. She was a smart girl and when I look back I wonder what her life might have been like has she had that abortion when I offered. After that first time I never felt comfortable offering to pay for an abortion again. It’s odd she had so many kids. No one in my family is pro-life.

      • Karen24

        No guarantees that it’ll work, but the pointed question “please describe for me what kind of education and upbringing you will be able to provide for this child by yourself?” And “is the father going to be involved? If so, think carefully about how what this involves and whether or not such involvement will benefit you and the child?” Make her give very specific details about what will likely happen.

      • so-in-so

        Ask if she can’t afford prescription birth control?

      • JL

        No guarantee that someone will be interested in talking to them, but Backline is a pretty great all-options options counseling hotline (and not just for pregnant people, though pregnant people are obviously a big constituency for them). They’ll talk non-judgmentally about pregnancy, abortion, parenting, adoption, and miscarriage.

        It’s a hard question. Sometimes a person has to make a decision for themselves even if it seems like a bad one, and there’s nothing you can do other than what it sounds like you did. Karen24’s sample script might have an effect, but the effect could go either way (make the person rethink their decision or make them dig in their heels).

        • ThrottleJockey

          JL you deserve your own column. You’re like a modern-day Dear Abby. I know some smart people but you’re a walking encyclopedia. :-)

      • Roberta

        Finding the line between “coercive” and “pointing out the likely consequences” can be tricky, it’s true. But I think asking questions and then giving the person space to figure out answers is the best plan.

      • addicted44

        How can someone afford to have a kid when they cannot afford an abortion? At least an abortion only costs dollars, and does not take away a ton of time.

  • howard

    the older i get, the less i understand people who think this way: how do they become so sick?

    • ThrottleJockey

      Some people are just born kontrol freeks.

    • Pat

      Their whole world view requires that women have no consent.

      From a very young age, conservative girls are taught that once provoked, boys cannot control their lust or desires. And that if a girl’s vigilance slips and she gives in to their lust, it will destroy her life. Forever. Everyone will know she was sinful, and everyone will judge her for it for the rest of her life. If she engages in sex, no matter what the circumstances are, she is at fault.

      This makes conservative girls hyper-sensitive to boys’ feelings. It teaches them to deny their own desires, so that they are never “asking for it.” Finally, they live in terror of “God’s will,” which they know can punish them for any act of forbidden sex or sexual desire.

      When they marry, of course, their husband will dictate the frequency and manner of sex to his own liking. The conservative wife will subsume her own desires, dreams, and wishes to what her husband wants. She will also provide all the childcare and maintain a perfect home for him, so he can concentrate on deciding how to get what he wants out of life.

      All of this hinges on punishing women for having had sex.

      • Karen24


  • DrDick

    There are no more sane Republicans, part infinity. They hate everyone.

    • MAJeff

      I’m not sure there are any decent human beings in the party, either.

      • DrDick

        That goes without saying. They left before the last sane ones did.

  • postmodulator

    Minutes before, the clinic had received a threatening legal notice from an attorney in Tupelo, Mississippi, named Stephen M. Crampton, who claimed to be representing AJ’s daughter.

    Do we have any members of the Mississippi state bar here? Because every second this guy isn’t disbarred is a black mark against every lawyer in the state.

    • Do we have any members of the Mississippi state bar here?

      I believe that Anderson is one such.

    • MacK

      Technically there need not be a bar complaint – the Mississippi state bar should act on this sua sponte.

      • Denverite


        • MacK

          Hey, I get you – it’s Mississippi

    • Emily68

      Is “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander” a recognized legal principal? Probably not, but still someone might try a letter to the Mississippi state bar saying, “I’m Stephen Crampton’s attorney, and per his request, please remove him from your list of licensed attorneys in this state. He won’t be practicing anymore.”

      • DAS

        I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • King Goat

    And their dignity. It’s true and probably should put that out so Kennedy might pay attention.

  • Peterr

    The actions of Life Dynamics, like Trump’s “gaffe” yesterday, is but the logical extension of the thinking of much of the pro-life movement. In their eyes, abortion is murder, period. Given that, it follows that damn near anything is acceptable when it comes to stopping it. The only reason NOT to punish women for seeking an abortion is political — you’ll never pass a total ban on abortion if it includes a 10-15 year prison sentence for the woman who seeks one.

    Life Dynamics and groups like them will stop at nothing, and as long as folks like the Wilks keep funding them, this will continue. (Yet another reason to oppose fracking, I suppose.)

    • so-in-so

      I have o think that if they once succeed in overturning Roe v. Wade and make abortion outright illegal that they will quickly move on to “of course the woman must be punished, abortion IS murder!” As usual, Trump’s problem for them is stating their core principles without the cover of the established coding.

    • DrDick

      Life Dynamics and groups like them will stop at nothing, and as long as folks like the Wilks keep funding them, this will continue.

      At least until we start throwing them in jail and subjecting them to massive civil judgments. There are certainly numerous grounds for both here.

  • Joe_JP
  • MacK

    I’m pro choice, but … many years ago in law school I was excoriated for the advice that a woman seeking an abortion should pay cash and use a false name. That is not to say that i think the woman should have to, but that I thought then and still think it is sound advice, for the very reasons this post shows – I had direct experience of anti-abortion extremism in my teens. I have no doubt that the anti-abortion groups if they could get patient names would, and that they would disseminate them.

    • ThrottleJockey

      The former Attorney General of Kansas once sued clinics to get patient names. He succeeded. Although he was ultimately disbarred.

      • MacK

        This was before that event, but my sister in law – who was in law school with me – reminded me of my point at the time of that subpoena.

      • Lester Freamon’s Tweedy Impertinence

        Ugh. Fucking Phill Kline! What a loathsome shitbird. His disbarment was the least he deserved. What’s the matter with Kansas, indeed? (Frank is full of shit but I live here and ask that question of myself weekly if not daily)

    • Peterr

      I’m sure the Kansas state legislature will be happy to pass a new law criminalizing the use of a false name when seeking medical treatment.

      • DrDick

        And requiring three forms of state issued ID before receiving such treatment. “Pro-Life” means not giving a damn about the lives of anyone else.

  • brettvk

    I was just listening to an NPR interview with the head of the Susan B. Anthony list, who asserted that there are plenty of resources available for any woman who wants to raise a child, so no one needs an abortion for economic reasons. (Also no one will seek an illegal abortion once abortion is banned in the US, so no problem!) Inskeep did the usual NPR nonjournalism of not challenging this, but in his defense it’s hard to even start with it.

    • kg

      I heard the interview too. She also said that women shouldn’t be prosecuted because they’re being “driven” to abortions by abortionists and a certain culture and therefore shouldn’t be prosecuted should Roe go away. Basically saying that women have no agency of their own and cannot resist the influence of those evil abortionists and their evil culture.

    • Richard Gadsden

      It’s a shame that the journalist didn’t have the courage to just say “I’m sure we have listeners who are going though this at the moment, so if you can just quickly run through those resources?”

  • MacK

    It strikes me that falsely representing yourself to be the attorney in fact for any individual is grounds per se to be disbarred. Perhaps some of the lawyers involved should face a bar complaint. Indeed, a member of a state bar who gained knowledge of such activity by another lawyer is typically obliged to report it and a state bar should act on the facts related in this story sua sponte without any complaint being made.

    • Gwen

      A few pertinent thoughts:

      * The rule in Texas, anyway, is that an attorney-client relationship exists when someone comes to you seeking legal advice. They were definitely in touch, so some kind of A-C client relationship probably existed, at least for the purposes of privilege.

      * However, the fact that a relationship exists does not justify an attorney in making threats that the client hasn’t explicitly approved of, regardless of her “intent” with regard to the pregnancy.

      * I would assume, unless the form specifically names the lawyer who will be contacting you, that for legal purposes, he reached out to her. Although in some cases that is acceptable, this sounds awfully close to being barratry.

      * The Texas Rules (and I think the ADA rules… not sure what they do over in Mississippi re: professional ethics) has a big catch-all section for dishonest behavior (in Article 8) that goes well beyond the rules in Article 4 about misrepresentation. I would imagine that there would be a plausible case for disabarment in Texas for this on that basis alone.

      With all that said, somehow I still suspect that any bar complaint would be dismissed, if only because Crampton is probably so sincere in his wingnuttery that it couldn’t be considered dishonest behavior (or add a refrain about how the client “should have known what she was signing” or any of the other blame-the-victim tropes that the legal community could rattle off in their sleep).

      • postmodulator

        No, the patient in the story never approached Crampton for legal advice. She got cajoled into going to this pregnancy crisis center by a teacher (which, JFC) and this center approached Crampton. Whereupon Crampton decided that he was the patient’s lawyer.

        Either that violates professional ethics or the professional ethics aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

        Seriously. Can a third party you’ve had contact with find a lawyer for you, and can that lawyer then do whatever he wants in your name?

        • Hogan

          AJ would later learn that Crampton had been in contact with her daughter while she was wrestling with her decision about whether to continue her pregnancy.

          • postmodulator

            Ah. Missed that. But wait, that’s still not “she approached him,” necessarily.

        • efgoldman

          Either that violates professional ethics or the professional ethics aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

          IANAL, but it seems to me, in TX and MS, the state bar would do somersaults to avoid discipline.

  • …Life Dynamics, the prominent anti-choice group that is based in Denton, Texas…

    Jaysis, I just looked up their address. I could walk there from my house. ((horror emoji))

    • D.N. Nation

      Go protest. Round up a group and harass people who work there up to the point of near-violence.

      • MacK

        Take their photos and put them on the internet – ask their names…….ask people going in and out of the building if they know what they do….

        And sneak back in the night and festoon the place with coat-hangers…

      • Denverite

        Now, now. Having to live in Denton is enough of a hell for anyone. It’s Ft. Worth but without the cosmopolitaness.

        • I attended a mathematics conference at the university there once. The dorm we stayed in was also hosting a cast’s worth of Up With People zomboids.

        • BubbaDave

          It’s Ft. Worth without the cops raiding gay bars and smashing skulls, maybe.

          I actually sold some computer gear to Life Dynamics, about 17 years ago, when I had no idea who they were. When I got there to deliver the stuff, there was a really creepy vibe. When I got back to the office I poked around on the Web, figured out their nature, and wished I’d told them to stick their purchase order somewhere unmentionable. Because evil.

          • Jean-Michel

            It’s a more liberal city than Fort Worth, despite being surrounded by one of the most conservative counties in the state; this is thanks in part to presence of two fairly big and fairly high-ranked universities (University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University). Remember that this was the city that compelled the state government to go to court to block local fracking bans. It also has an outstanding local music scene that keeps getting better, since (as Erik noted in the linked post) it’s attracting a lot of musicians who have been crowded/priced out of Austin.

            • skate

              No surprise about the music scene. UNT has one of the best music schools in the country.

  • Murc

    Related to this whole general thing, from the AP:

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh television station WTAE said it has ended its relationship with anchorwoman Wendy Bell over racial comments she posted on Facebook about an ambush shooting at a cookout that left five people and an unborn baby dead.

    Leaving aside the horrific slayings here… AP’s style guide permits this? Really?

    There’s no such thing as an “unborn baby.” To be a baby you must, in fact, have been born. What’s wrong with “ambush shooting at a cookout that left five people, one of them a pregnant woman, dead.”

    I don’t think the person writing that copy meant any overt harm by it. But that’s kind of the point. Framing is insidious. “Unborn baby” or “unborn child” has entered the lexicon as part of deliberate effort by the forced birthers to place fetuses on the same level as, you know, actual people, and in fact to devalue the actual people who are, in their eyes, mere incubation tubes for said “unborn.”

    • sonamib

      I dunno, I’m fine with the phrase “unborn child” if the woman wants to carry her pregnancy to term and wants to have a new kid. People get pretty devastated when e.g. their cherished pregnancy ends in miscarriage. Of course, if the context is unknown, no journalist should assume that the fetus is an actual “unborn baby”.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        I’m pretty sure some people thought of pregnancies in terms of “unborn children” before the anti abortion freaks came along and made it one of their catchphrases. There was an obituary in the Cedar Rapids paper not long ago of a twenty-something woman who died in a car wreck and was predeceased by her “unborn child” and survived by her parents and husband. I surely wouldn’t start playing word games with *them*

    • so-in-so

      Eh, I’ve heard the term for a long time. “Fetus” was pretty technical for daily use until the pro-life folks got busy claiming abortion was murdering babies. Even “Unborn child” was not uncommon in the recent past.

      • alex284

        That’s the point murc is making – why are we talking about the fetus at all?

        • sonamib

          Murc made in fact a stronger point :

          There’s no such thing as an “unborn baby.” To be a baby you must, in fact, have been born. What’s wrong with “ambush shooting at a cookout that left five people, one of them a pregnant woman, dead.”

          (emphasis mine)

          I agree with him that in this specific instance there was no need to refer to the fetus. I disagree that there’s no such thing as an unborn baby. There are a few parents I know who felt pretty strongly about their kids before they were born and had already planned room decoration etc. a few months in advance. A fetus can be an “unborn child” if the mother really wants the child to be born. It can also be an “unwanted pregnancy” if she doesn’t.

          • so-in-so

            Actually disagree, the fact that a victim of the hooting was pregnant does IIRC add an additional murder count against the perpetrators and/or would count against them in sentencing, so it is germaine to the shooting itself. YMMV as to the story about an anchor being fired for being an idiot racist in her spare time.

  • alex284

    I suppose it’s just the nature of this site that everyone is focusing on the lawyer’s actions, but I’m wondering about how the teachers could get away with this. They put one of their students in contact with an adult stranger who was not associated with the school in anyway behind the parent’s back and aided in a plot to drive one of their students’ across state lines where who knows what was going to happen to her.

    These teachers are lucky that the most this unknown woman wanted to do with that student involved legal shenanigans.

    Being a former teacher myself and having gone through all sorts of workshops about how basically everything is either is or risks child molestation when it comes to interacting with students in anything other than a professional manner, I’m just gobsmacked by these teachers’ behavior. Why aren’t they fired?

    Ugh, I know why, of course. The principal is probably the biggest asshole of all and gave them a big pat on the back.

  • varmintito

    I have been a teacher and a lawyer, and the actions of the teachers and lawyer in this story are profoundly unethical, immoral, and contrary to the professional obligations they are bound to uphold.

    Crisis pregnancy centers are not bound by any code of professional ethics because they are not medical care providers (they only pretend to be), but this sounds like a blatant HIPPAA violation.

    Morally degenerate scum, the lot of them.

    • brettvk

      it seems to me that AJ’s first target for redress, if she wanted to pursue it, would be an action against the teachers and the school here. I imagine AJ will not sue the shit out of these monsters because doing so would expose her daughter to all kinds of backlash. It’s absolutely infuriating that a teacher could abuse a student in this fashion. I hope at least word gets out, so no other young woman will have her trust betrayed like this.

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