ERI Statement on the Abortion Subplot in Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why”

Netflix recently published the third season of 13 Reasons Why, a show whose first two seasons were criticized for aiming graphic, mature content at a young intended audience. In the second episode of the third season, there is an abortion subplot that misrepresents the pro-life movement and sidewalk counseling so severely that it can only be described as propaganda. The character seeking an abortion first goes to a deceptive pregnancy resource center she believes is an abortion facility and then in another scene goes to the abortion facility and is met by a group of deceptive anti-abortion protestors.

13 Reasons Why logo

The primary scene we want to comment on is the scene at the abortion facility. It depicts a harmful caricature of the reality of sidewalk counseling and could be no further from what ERI teaches in the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass. The abortion-minded woman is met by a group of Christians when she arrives at the clinic. They call out to her asking her to pray with them and telling her God loves her and her baby. Then a woman approaches her wearing an orange vest labeled “Clinic Escort” and she says, “Come on, let’s walk past the crazies,” and clearly acts like she is with the abortion clinic, not the Christian group. The pregnant woman’s boyfriend says to her, “This day is hard enough” to which the woman in the vest responds, “It should be hard. Killing is a sin.” In this moment the pregnant woman realizes that she has been deceived by the woman in the vest, who is actually one of the protestors in disguise. Then, the fake escort says “Take this” and puts a bloody fetal model in the abortion-minded woman’s hand and pleads with her to not go through with the abortion. 

This is not at all representative of sidewalk counseling. We have worked with many sidewalk counselors across the United States as well as pro-life organizations who train sidewalk counselors, and we can say with confidence that deception of abortion-minded women is openly condemned. In our own training course, we instruct sidewalk counselors who wear vests for their safety because of incoming traffic to always try to choose a vest that is a different color of any escorts who are at the clinic. The vests that we will be selling online for the safety of pro-life advocates say “Pregnancy Resource Advocate” with the purpose of distinguishing them from the abortion facility because we believe it is wrong and harmful to deceive the abortion-minded person into thinking we are a clinic escort. 

Sidewalk counseling is not about protesting abortion or shaming women coming to the clinic. It is about offering information and resources to those who would like to make a different choice.

Bringing Some Clarity to the Shooting of Marshae Jones Story

I’ve spent the last hour reading various stories about the Marshae Jones case, and I’d like to try to provide a few facts worth noting, since rarely did any of the stories include all of them. Mainstream media outlets are clearly jumping on the story and being flagrantly misleading with their headlines; pro-choice groups are jumping at the chance to accuse Alabama of being racist and wanting to prosecute pregnant women for abortions; and at least one pro-life group has tried to help but provided some faulty thought experiments.

So, let’s get some facts on the table and try to think well about this tragic story.

Fact #1: Marshae Jones, the mother, was the aggressor in this fight, not the shooter.

Marshae Jones. Photograph: Reuters

Marshae Jones. Photograph: Reuters

You certainly wouldn’t know this from the headlines, but virtually every news story agrees on the fact that Jones, with three of her friends, attacked Ebony Jemison while she was on a lunch break at work with three of her friends. Jones seems to have initiated the fight because she was jealous about Jemison’s interaction with Jones’s boyfriend. All three of them worked at the same place, Jones suspected something was going on, and convinced three of her friends to accompany her to initiate a fight with Jemison.

Fact #2: Marshae Jones knew she was 5 months pregnant when she attacked Ebony Jemison.

This isn’t a case where a mother didn’t know that she was pregnant and then had a miscarriage. She was late into her 2nd trimester, and yet initiated a serious physical confrontation with another woman and three of her friends.

Fact #3: Ebony Jemison fired a warning shot in self-defense, and the bullet ricocheted off the ground and hit Jones.

Jemison wasn’t trying to hit Jones. She claims that she was afraid, (and it seems, reasonably so) and fired a warning shot at the ground hoping it would get Jones and her friends to back off. In a horrible and very unlikely coincidence, that bullet hit the ground and then ricocheted and hit Jones in the stomach.

Forcing Taxpayers to Fund Abortion? Where’s the “Choice” in That?

The rhetoric of the pro-choice position has long been a hands-off approach to abortion, arguing that every individual should be able to do as they please in regards to abortion. Pro-choice advocates have long criticized pro-lifers for “forcing their morality” on other people.

Interestingly, the pro-choice movement is now advocating what it has long condemned — imposing their beliefs on other people. They are seeking to do this by requiring taxpayers to directly fund abortion. For the pro-choice movement, supporting abortion is no longer an option that one may voluntarily choose, but one they wish to force everyone to support. Ironically, there is no “choice” involved here.

One way to demonstrate the error in this logic is to present a hypothetical scenario that substitutes the unborn child with a toddler. Pro-choice advocates generally agree that killing a toddler is never a moral or legal way to reduce suffering, even if the child is not loved or cared for. By demonstrating that toddlers and unborn children are both morally equivalent, we can make a case for why killing an unborn child should be considered as immoral as killing a toddler.

Kansas Bombshell Shows Why State Constitutions Matter

The Kansas Supreme Court dropped a controversial 6-1 decision that overturned a state abortion restriction and cemented a right to abortion into the Kansas Constitution. This prevents Kansas from enacting any further abortion restrictions for the time being; however, there is still a way for the pro-life people of Kansas to find a way out of this situation.

Kansas Judicial Center building.

Kansas Judicial Center building. CC Image courtesy of A.D. Modlin on Flickr.

In 2015, Kansas passed a law banning Dilation and Evacuation abortions, otherwise known as D&E procedures or dismemberment abortions. The procedure is performed for most second trimester abortions, and this state law was among the first of its kind in the post-Roe era. After the law was struck down by a Kansas district court in 2015, the state appealed to the Kansas Court of Appeals, which issued a 7-7 split decision in 2016, failing to reach the majority necessary to overturn the lower court’s decision. The state of Kansas appealed once again, this time to the Kansas Supreme Court, which delivered a disappointing 6-1 decision to strike down the law.

The court’s decision was rooted in Section 1 of the Kansas Bill of Rights, which reads:

Equal rights. All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Section 1 of the Kansas Bill of Rights is similar to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights, which has often been interpreted to preserve “fundamental rights” such as the right to send your child to a Christian school and the right for schools to teach foreign languages.

However, this protection of unenumerated rights is a double-edged sword, as the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the right to abortion was also a “fundamental” and “inalienable” right protected by Section 1 of the Kansas Bill of Rights. The court stated:

Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights affords protection of the right of personal autonomy, which includes the ability to control one’s own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination. This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life — decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.

As discussed in my recent article Pro-Choice Doesn’t Have to Mean Pro-Roe, the overturning of Roe v. Wade would allow all states to make their own abortion restrictions. Because of this decision from the Kansas Supreme Court, the state of Kansas would not be able to pass any additional abortion restrictions even if Roe was overturned, as the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision is binding within the state. Now, if Kansans want to nullify the court’s decision, they will need to pass an amendment to the Kansas Constitution protecting the right to life for unborn children.

Heartbeat Laws: What You Need to Know

Several states passed abortion restrictions in the last calendar year, and more are entertaining similar bills right now. Most of these laws, dubbed “heartbeat bills,” seek to restrict abortion after the fetus has a detectable heartbeat. All of these laws are in conflict with the holdings of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and the goal in passing most of them is to provide a test case to overturn Roe.

The “heartbeat bills” are generating a lot of press, and most people want to know what exactly the laws would do if they were allowed to stand. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and hyperbole circulating from deceitful or inaccurate sources. Our goal is to help you become informed about the contents of the laws in order to have accurate dialogue. Looking at the text of the laws and related state statutes and case law, we have compiled a reference table for you below:

Facts are as of 5/29/19

Footnotes:

  • (+) The goal of the heartbeat bill is to ban abortions after 6 weeks, but the requirement to test for a heartbeat opens the door for abortions potentially as late as 12 weeks because some ultrasound methods don’t detect a heartbeat as early.
  • * Missouri has backup bans at 14 weeks, 18 weeks, and 20 weeks in case earlier laws are stricken down.
  • ** Case law strongly indicates that women will not be held liable for criminal abortion in Georgia; the same case frowns upon investigating miscarriages. However, it is possible that women could be charged with some type of manslaughter because the law declares unborn humans with heartbeats to be natural persons.
  • *** A provision related to parental notification took effect immediately.