Media Trashes Pro-Lifers Opposing Woman Crowdfunding Her Abortion as “Stone Throwing Barbarians”

National   |   Tim Graham   |   Sep 19, 2014   |   2:23PM   |   Washington, DC

This was spotlighted on Facebook by NARAL Pro-Choice America: The Economist “Democracy in America” blog is reporting that the site GoFundMe decided it would not allow women to use their site to fund their abortions. Their headline is the blandly upbeat “Seeking change.”

Then the writer Emily Bobrow — the U.S. online editor in the Washington bureau of the magazine — proclaimed that the women requesting money for these “valuable” operations are brave to withstand pro-lifers, and their abortion funding requests “turn the internet’s trolls into some stone-throwing barbarians out of Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery.’”

In that tale, a small town annually stones a member of the community to death. So who’s confusing the killer in this real-life scenario?Bobrow even retweeted Planned Parenthood’s message on her Twitter account. The writer sounded just like a pro-abortion partisan:

Abortions are expensive. They also happen to be most valuable to those who can scarcely afford them. Given these circumstances, crowdfunding seems like a reasonable solution. Before Bailey’s page was shut down, she clearly struck a chord with people. Other women with the fortitude to brave some grim comments may wish to follow suit. The subject of abortion may turn the internet’s trolls into stone-throwing barbarians out of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, but it is not clear why anyone would think it their business to interfere. A woman should have the right to raise money for a legal operation from others who support her right to have one. Soon there may be a crowdfunding site that offers these women the anonymity and protection they need to ask for help from people who sympathise with them.

Stereotypically, a woman named Bailey, with her weirdly dyed hair and nose ring, begged for more than $2,000 for a “termination” procedure:

baileyBailey’s GoFundMe page let users know that she is 23, “unemployed, completely broke, in debt, and in no position to hold down a job due to severe symptoms of a rough, unplanned and unexpected pregnancy.” Though the page had earned a lot of nasty attention from online commenters, it also raised more than $2,100 towards its $2,500 goal—until the site’s administrators took it down earlier this month. In an e-mail to Bailey, GoFundMe explained that her page had received “a high number of complaints” and that the company, as a result, would “rather not be associated” with it. On September 9th the site published a new round-up of rules banning raising funds for all sorts of projects, including anything associated with hate groups, violence, body mutilation or breaking the law. Among these new guidelines are restrictions on raising money for the “termination of life”, including abortion (“human or animal”).

The response to these guidelines—and the censoring of Bailey—has been noisily mixed. Many have latched on to the somewhat political terminology GoFundMe used to describe abortion; “termination of life” tends to be the language preferred by pro-life groups.

Apparently, Bobrow and her activist friends prefer to call it seeking “choice” or “change” or other science-denying euphemisms.

Some complain that the rules are meted out inconsistently: not a few people still use the site to raise money for cosmetic surgery (body mutilation?). Others bristle at the fact that Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who killed Michael Brown on August 9th, managed to raise more than $235,000 for legal support on the site.

GoFundMe is a private company, and it is entitled to draft its own rules. It is also not the only crowdfunding show in town. Given the outpouring of financial support Bailey received, there is good reason to believe another platform may be more hospitable towards women who need help paying for an abortion. The prospect may sound distasteful, but it is not unreasonable. Abortions are costly, and they are most often sought by women who are young, poor and undereducated. More than 40% of all abortions are experienced by women with family incomes below the federal poverty level ($18,530 for a family of three). And the procedure is rarely covered by insurance—private or public—making it a considerable out-of-pocket expense.

Bobrow even blamed pro-lifers for the high costs, that “The 205 abortion restrictions introduced by the states between 2011 and 2013 tend to make abortions costlier still. (Often women end up having a more expensive procedure later in their gestation process owing to the time it takes to raise money to pay for it.) Most of the women who pay out of pocket end up borrowing the money from others, and around a third say the cost forced them to forgo paying bills or buying food.” Note: Tim Graham is the director of media analysis for the Media Research Center, a media watchdog group. He was a White House correspondent for World magazine in 2001 and 2002. This originally appeared on the NewsBusters web site.