Pro-Life Group Asks Massachusetts Gov to Drop Abortion Website

State   Steven Ertelt   Apr 22, 2011   |   11:39AM    Boston, MA

A statewide pro-life group in Massachusetts is asking Governor Duval Patrick to immediately take down a state-funded web site, Maria Talks, that promotes abortion to young teenage girls.

Massachusetts Citizens for Life is upset that the modern-looking web site steers teens to abortions and does so without any input from a young girls parents and on the taxpayers’ dime. After initially taking its case to the media to complain about the Maria Talks web site, now MCFL has hand-delivered a letter to Governor Patrick asking him to take down the website pending an investigation into its funding and approval as well as requesting that an investigation be launched into the development of the web page.

Anne Fox, president of the pro-life group, requested a meeting with Patrick and said the web page is inaccurate and deliberately misleading.

“It literally coaches minor girls on how to obtain abortions without their parents knowing,” Fox complained in an email to LifeNews.com.

“Besides closing the site, there must be a public accounting of the funding and the decision making that lead to this serious violation of the public trust,” she said. “Tax-payers need to know who in the administration authorized these funds, who approved the one-sided and misleading content of the website, who chose the group involved in creating and maintaining the website, and how it was determined that this group was qualified to counsel minor girls.”

The Boston Herald also reported on the MCFL letter and said a representative of Patrick’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Linda Thayer, a former Boston teacher and vice president for educational affairs of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, says the MariaTalks.com web page tells teenagers that abortion  is “much easier than it sounds,” “more common than you might think” and “safe and effective, though some people may experience temporary discomfort.”

“The commonwealth is using taxpayer money to tell kids how to get a secret abortion, and that’s wrong,” Thayer told the Herald. “This is a misuse of state funds, especially for parents who are taxpayers,” and she called the web site “deception by omission” for describing abortion simply as “when the contents of the womb (uterus) are removed.”

The AIDS Action Committee produced the web site in 2008 using a $100,00 grant from the state Department of Public Health and AIDS Action Committee chief Rebecca Haag, in a statement to the Boston newspaper, defended the contents of the web page.

“We feel strongly that the issues that are addressed through the Maria Talks Web site are essential in safeguarding the general, sexual health of youth by informing them of their risk for unintended pregnancies, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections,” Haag said.

The web site goes on to tell teenage girls,  “The reality of getting an abortion is much easier than it sounds here” while also telling them adoption “can be pretty tough for some people, especially emotionally.” Another page has “Maria,” the web site guide, telling girls that a friend who had an abortion found it to be a “difficult decision” but decided the abortion was the “best choice … for herself, her boyfriend, her family and her future.”

The web page also urges teens to bypass parental involvement, saying, “It may be really hard for you to imagine talking to either your parents or a judge about getting an abortion, but there are people who can help you through it.” Current state law requires that children under the age of 18 receive permission from a parent or guardian for an abortion, but the web site urges girls to get around with a judicial bypass: “I know it sounds crazy . . . this really can be done and young women do this all the time here in Massachusetts.”

Although pro-life advocates are up in arms, Andrea Miller of NARAL is not, and she told the Herald the web site is “terrific,” adding, “It’s really a complete and medically accurate set of information. I’m impressed that the state has provided this information in a youth-friendly, nonjudgmental manner.”

ACTION:  Complain about the web site to Governor Deval Patrick here and your legislators at http://www.malegislature.gov