Right now, the Illinois House and Senate have just passed a bill which would go after pregnancy centers in a way unmatched even by California and Massachusetts. SB 1909 attempts to criminalize, as fraud, attempts by a PRC to convince a woman to choose them over an abortion facility or not to have an abortion.
Monica Snyder shares a very emotional story about going undercover in a late-term abortion facility in Washington DC while being 28-weeks pregnant. She talks about what was harder than she expected and the perspective she gained about the employees at the clinic. She also helps Josh understand some things he had never heard about some post-abortive women, and responds to the most frequently asked questions and challenges from both sides of the abortion debate regarding this video.
Editor’s note: As you may remember from a previous editor’s note, we had technical problems on this recording day that went undiagnosed until later because I didn’t think we needed to wear the headphones this time. I did the best I could to fix it, but it’s way below my standards. Thank you for your patience.
Josh Brahm: Welcome back to the Equipped For Life podcast. We are back with my friend Monica Snyder from Secular Pro-Life. And again, if you haven’t heard the last couple of episodes, you should listen to those too. We talk about who she is and who Secular Pro-Life is and all the awesome things. But this is gonna be a very different episode than the last few. This is a very non-prepped episode because you have a really amazing story. I don’t know if amazing is the best adjective for it.
Monica Snyder: Unusual.
Josh Brahm: Unusual. Something that you, at least when you told me, I don’t think you’d been able to talk about it very much. Is that right?
Monica Snyder: Yeah, it’s still the case that I can talk about it now, but have not talked about it a lot still.
Josh Brahm: Yeah. So I found out after the fact and just… You should just share the story. I just want you to be able to – it was really obvious to me that there are really important things for people to hear about. I’ve got so many questions I want to ask you, but I think just get into the story. What happened and how did it begin?
Monica Snyder: Yes. So the short version, the conclusion we’ll get to eventually, is that I went undercover at a clinic. Not something I ever thought that I would do or had seriously considered. Basically, I was pregnant with my daughter. So right now as we record this, it is November of 2022. So I was pregnant with my daughter in the beginning of this year. I was, let’s see, I think, like, seven months pregnant in January. I was at a pro-life event with another activist who asked me, “Oh, how far along are you?” And I told her. And then later on she pulled me aside and she said, “Listen, I have a project maybe you could help me with.” My friend asked, “How far along are you?” I told her. And then she pulled me aside later and said, “I have a project I’d like to talk to you about; maybe you would be interested.” And she basically said, “We are looking for people who could go undercover at this clinic in Washington, DC,” because they wanted to find out some of the ins and outs of how the clinic was practicing.
There’s some suspicion that the clinic is not operating within the law, which is – to be clear, DC doesn’t have any gestational limits on abortion and you can still break the law anyway, depending on what kind of procedures you’re using, how you’re treating the patients, things like that. There are some suspicions that sometimes they have children born alive and then they don’t provide the kind of care they’re supposed to, but there’s not proof. And they were looking to get a closer look at this clinic. And I will tell you, when she first asked me, I didn’t think that I was going to do that, because – I can’t even tell you why. It sounded intimidating. I didn’t even really give it a lot of thought –
Josh Brahm: Totally intimidating.
Monica Snyder: – I was sort of just like, “Probably I’m not going to do that.” No. But, and I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll probably mention it again, my brother is a major source of inspiration to me, a pro-life atheist, extremely rational, extremely smart guy. And he was with me when that conversation happened and later on it was just us. He’s like, “Do you think you’re going to do it?” I was like, “I don’t know. I don’t think so.” And he’s like, “Well, why not?” And I was like, “I think I’m just afraid.” And he was like, “Well, of what, though?” Because the thing is, it’s not illegal. It is not illegal to go undercover and record things. Now, it depends on where you live –
Josh Brahm: Really?
Monica Snyder: – If you are ever thinking about doing anything like this, and I’m not saying that you should, first thing you need to do is figure out if you live in an area where it is two-party consent or not. So in a place with one-party consent, that means that you can record a conversation as long as one person involved in it consents. If you are one of the people involved in it, then you can. There are places where it’s two-party consent, and if you record a conversation there, you could get in big trouble. Just be careful. Okay? Know what you’re doing.
Josh Brahm: Okay, so maybe now I’m going to ask my first ignorant question of the day. So I understand about one or two-party state recording things, but in my head, where I went to when you said it’s not illegal – I am instantly going to trespassing laws and things like that. Are you saying that it’s not illegal for a pro-lifer to go into the clinic under false pretenses? Or…help me understand exactly what you mean.
Monica Snyder: It’s not trespassing. I call them, I make an appointment, I bring them the money, I give them the money. If I decide to change my mind later, people can do that. People are certainly allowed to change their mind after they get there. The worst thing that could happen logistically is they could realize that I’m recording, get mad and tell me to get out and it would be really awkward. And I don’t care about that. So when he and I were talking about that and I realized – I’m afraid because it’s a weird situation, I hate pretending things, I’m very blunt. I don’t know how to do it. But really, if the worst thing that can happen is they say, “Get out,” then okay. And I was in a very unique position because you need someone who’s willing to do something like that, and they have to – and I want to make this clear because it’s come to our attention since then that not everyone understands this – You have to actually be pregnant to do this. You cannot put on a fake belly or something because when you go in, they do an ultrasound. You have to actually be pregnant.
So imagine for a moment: when they’re trying to figure out people who could help them with this kind of project, how many people are willing to do this kind of thing? How many people care enough about this issue to do it? And then they are pregnant in the right time frame, in the right logistics, and all these things.
Josh Brahm: I mean, I’ve heard pro-lifers say – and this feels maybe sometimes a little bit overly, maybe, conspiratorial or something like that – I know I’ve heard pro-lifers when talking about that kind of thing be like, “I would never go into an abortion clinic if I was pregnant.” As if they’re going to get held down or something like that. I’m like, “I don’t think so.”
Monica Snyder: Oh, I’ve had people say that to me like, “Oh, I’m so glad nothing bad happened.” No, it’s not – I have a lot of things to say about this and obviously I strongly disagree with what this clinic is doing, but the reality is, at least as far as I can tell, that certainly the nurses that I talked to – and I believe this is probably the case for a lot of people who work in abortion clinics – they’re not there to hold you down and give you an abortion. They are there because they believe that they are helping you. And I’m sure there are many women that also believe they are helped by it.
Josh Brahm: Yeah, absolutely. I think, as far as I can tell, the most-likely-to-be-true stories are of places where it wasn’t so much the nurses, but maybe an abortion doctor who basically, once the person was on the bed –
Monica Snyder: Right, like, “We’re not backing out now.”
Josh Brahm: – and they’re kind of starting the procedure, and she starts saying, “I don’t want this,” and he’s like, “No, we’re not stopping.” –
Monica Snyder: “We’re already here.”
Josh Brahm: – which is really bad.
Monica Snyder: No, it is, it is. But no, I wasn’t worried about that at all. Nobody is going to strap me down.
Josh Brahm: “So we’re going to take you from the exam room, the counseling room…”
Monica Snyder: And also, as a background thing, too, I’m super confrontational. So it’s like –
Josh Brahm: Yes, you are.
Monica Snyder: That was not something I was concerned about. And this clinic that I went to – and I can tell you more about it in a minute – it’s staffed by, as far as I can tell, literally three people: two nurses and a doctor.
Josh Brahm: No one doing admin or anything?
Monica Snyder: No, I mean, one of the nurses does the admin stuff. It’s not a large clinic. It’s not a large clinic. It’s not that many people, and there’s a lot of other people around. There’s people in the waiting room. Like, realistically, how is that going to work? And that was not something I was concerned about. So I’m talking to my brother and he’s like, “Well, what’s the worst thing that can happen?” And I’m like, “Well, I guess it’d be embarrassing.” And he’s like, “That doesn’t seem that bad.” I’m like, “Well, you’re not the one doing it.” But I care a lot about this issue. I realized that I was in a unique position to help with this.
Another important background information: so, Secular Pro Life has done a lot of work trying to help people realize that there are multiple places in the country where you can get an abortion at any stage in pregnancy for any reason. Not a ton of places. Most places you can’t, but there’s, like, at least seven or eight places where you can. And to be super clear, I am not saying that someone has a wanted pregnancy and at seven or eight months you’re like, “Mm, nah.” That is not what I’m saying. When I bring this up, people are like, “Oh, you think they do it just for funsies?” They literally say the phrase “just for funsies.”
Josh Brahm: Really?
Monica Snyder: That’s like, I’ve heard that, like, eight times, “just for funsies.” No, I don’t think they’re getting a seven month abortion just for funsies, no. But in your mind, are the options “just for funsies” or “you’re going to die”? Are those the two options? Because that’s not what’s happening.
So, important background before I continue: all of the research and the – there’s a little bit of quantitative research, most of it is not quantitative, it’s qualitative – but there’s a lot of evidence to show that women seek later abortions, including post viability abortions, because yes, it could be for a terrible fetal anomaly, or a fetal anomaly that’s not life threatening but that they’re really freaked out about. And it could be for a health reason. I’m not saying those don’t happen. I’m not even saying those are uncommon. But, it’s also often because they wanted an earlier abortion and they weren’t able to get the resources together in time. It could be money, time, transportation, all sorts of things. It could be because they struggled to decide whether they wanted to get an abortion. It wasn’t like, “Mm, no, I’ll do an abortion now.” It was more like, “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.” And by the time they make the decision, they’re further along. And also –
Josh Brahm: Like denial that can happen for a long time.
Monica Snyder: Yes. It could be a change in circumstances that is not medical, something to do with finances or with the relationship. It’s not even that hard to imagine. And also it could be because they did not know they were pregnant.
Josh Brahm: Right, that’s what I was going to say.
Monica Snyder: And people think that’s crazy. It’s not crazy. And people think that when it happens, it’s like one of those reality TV shows. It’s not that crazy. When people are using certain kinds of contraception, when people have certain kinds of other issues that block or mimic symptoms of pregnancy, also do not underestimate the psychological power of denial. You may genuinely not realize you’re pregnant. And for anyone who doesn’t believe me, check out – it was a recently published study called “Is Third Trimester Abortion Exceptional?” by Katrina Kimport. And she profiles women who get abortions after 24 weeks. And some of them, it is because of a fetal anomaly. And some of them it is because they didn’t have resources earlier. And some of them it is because they didn’t know they were pregnant. A woman found out she was pregnant at 26 weeks and then she got an abortion.
Josh Brahm: And I’m assuming she’s not coming from the pro-life side.
Monica Snyder: No, no. Katrina Kimport is a major abortion rights advocate. And she says at least twice, maybe three times in the paper – it’s open access, anybody can read it – that we need to understand these situations, because even if we had perfect access to abortion earlier, we cannot have gestational limits because at minimum, there will always be some women who don’t find out they’re pregnant until after 24 weeks. So you don’t have to take my word for it. You can read that paper as an example. And we have other research too: secularprolife.org/laterabortion, all one word. Lots of resources there.
So all that to say, at Secular Pro-Life, we’ve done a lot of work on this issue trying to help people understand that 21-plus-week abortion, post viability abortion, even third trimester abortion – I’m not saying it’s as common as first trimester. It’s not. You’re like, “Oh, it’s only 1%.” Yeah, 1% of what number? It’s thousands of times a year. And it is not all for medical emergencies. In fact, it’s not clear that even most of them are for medical emergencies. And we have found, as we discussed this, a couple of things. First of all, moderate people, this matters to them. They don’t like this. They might not agree with us that abortion should be outlawed from conception on, but they do think that this is a problem that’s going too far. And secondly, a lot of other people, they refuse to believe us. It does not matter what I show them. I can show them websites saying that they do this. I can show them interviews of abortion providers saying that they do this. I can show them examples of women in the press saying that they have done this. And they just, they won’t believe it. And in a way, it frustrates me, but at the same time, I think it speaks to some common ground here where we – I think we both recognize, the person I’m talking to and myself, that this is very upsetting and problematic. And their emotional reaction to that is to choose to believe it is not happening. I don’t really blame them. I also wish it wasn’t happening.
All that to say, when I was presented with this opportunity, there was a part of me that felt like this was another way to try to help people understand that this is something you can do. And also, it is not just that it is legal. It’s that a lot of moderate pro-choice people have unjustified faith in abortion providers and abortion clinics and the procedures and practices they have in place. So they assume, without, I think, much evidence, that women are screened for mental health issues, coercion, other problems to make sure they’re assumed they’re given fully informed consent. They assume that everything is done in the way you would vaguely expect for any other medical procedure to make sure it’s all on the up and up and that women go into this with full knowledge, no coercion, making this decision for their own very, very good reasons, probably dire medical reasons.
And so for these combination [sic] of reasons – wanting to help out other activists who I feel very connected to; realizing I’m in a unique position; realizing this might help other people understand that this is happening… And to be clear also, I do care and am horrified by the idea of a viable child being destroyed. But also, I believe that women seeking abortion this late for non-medical reasons, there’s other things going on there that in some cases might be extremely serious that we should be understanding better and we aren’t even talking about it. We’re pretending it literally doesn’t even exist.
Josh Brahm: So talk a little bit more about that.
Monica Snyder: So I think they’re more likely to be panicking if they were carrying a wanted pregnancy of a healthy fetus and then they change their mind. I don’t think it’s for funsies. I think it’s because something is happening that they need support. I think they’re more likely to be traumatized if they do it. I think it should be obvious as to why. I think that we should always, with all abortions, ideally – if it’s going to be legal in the first place – make sure that women are doing it because they feel like it is a choice, not because they feel like they have no choice. And if they feel like they have no choice, why is that? And what can we do to make sure this is a fully freely made choice? Right?
But that gets more dire the further it goes along. And I feel like, if the reasons aren’t obvious, it’s because it’s much harder to deny the existence of the other here. Look, I have been pregnant multiple times. In the early parts of the first trimester, you can’t feel anything except maybe nausea. Right? But we’re talking about getting to a point where you’re feeling kicking, and I’m not telling anyone else how to feel about that. I have always thought that the kicking and the movements of my babies when I’m pregnant is a profound experience.
So, I agreed to do it. I was very nervous. There were certain things they wanted me to try to bring up in conversation. That’s very weird because you’re not just letting the conversation flow organically and you don’t want to draw suspicion to yourself and you don’t, you know, it’s a tricky thing. It’s all a form of dishonesty. Like, you’re pretending to be there for reasons you know you’re not.
Josh Brahm: You’re like a spy or something.
Monica Snyder: It’s uncomfortable. It’s cognitive dissonance. And I was worried that when I went in, I wouldn’t be able to hide how angry I was. I thought I would get there and be outraged at the fact that they’re doing this, you know, because I do think it is deeply immoral. I don’t think that I am a good liar. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that it’s not subtle when I’m angry, right? I’ve never been a spy, you know? And so I was worried – and I talked to the people who approached me about this – I was worried that I would get there and my irritation at least would be obvious and that would be a problem. And they suggested that probably a lot of women who go through here aren’t going to be chipper. Maybe it’s not that weird, kind of thing, whatever.
But to my surprise – and I was very surprised about this – So, another background: I’ve been in the abortion debate, you know, 15 years or something. I’ve seen people say all sorts of things. I’ve had all sorts of arguments between people that have really horrible things and try to make you mad and all these things, right? I feel like I’ve heard everything. I think I have pretty thick skin, but this is all online. It’s all just discussion. It’s, you know, it’s not in person. It’s not the same. But I didn’t think there’d be much that would surprise me. I’ve also studied late term abortion very, very extensively, like I just said.
Josh Brahm: Yeah, you’re like the expert.
Monica Snyder: If there is one, I mean, I don’t know. But I expected to go in and, you know, kind of know what they’re going to say and what I’m going to expect. And that would help too. So I expected to go in prepared, maybe a little nervous, maybe really irritated or angry. That’s kind of how I thought it was going to go. It was nothing like that. It was nothing like that. So backing up a little bit, I called multiple clinics in DC. They were not actually specific as to which specific clinic it had to be. There’s at least three clinics in DC that will perform abortions very, very late. One of them couldn’t get me in until past the time I would be there. And just a side note, if they had gotten me in, I would have been almost 30 weeks.
Josh Brahm: 30 weeks?
Monica Snyder: And they knew that. Yes. And I was like, “Well, I won’t still be in town by that time.” So we didn’t do it. Another one did not do it past 26 weeks without a more specific reason, or maybe it was 27, but I was going to be 28 weeks. And so the one that ended up –
Josh Brahm: Just for clarity, are we talking LMP or post-fertilization?
Monica Snyder: LMP. Yeah. So I called the Washington Surgi-Clinic. It was really bizarre. The woman who picked up was very cheerful. Not just, like, professional, but like, cheerful. And she asked me for my LMP, she asked me a couple other basic questions. She explained that it would be $11,400 for the abortion and that it would take three days, two days of dilation and one day of extraction. She said that I would need baggy clothes to be comfortable. She said that I had to have someone else to drive me the third day because of the medications I would be taking. And she said that they would accept cashier’s check or cash. I can’t remember if credit card, it doesn’t matter.
And so I told her all that information and she confirmed for me that the day of my appointment, I would be, I think 28 weeks and one day. I was like, “Okay.” She said nothing about it other than that. And she said, “We’ll see you there.” And she didn’t ask me anything else. She didn’t ask me why I needed it. But maybe you don’t screen over the phone, right? Maybe that’s an in-person conversation.
So I go to DC, I go to the clinic, and it’s kind of busy. It’s a small clinic. It’s not huge at all. But there were several people in the waiting room, I was a little surprised. And several of them, like me, showing – I was visibly showing by then, I can feel my daughter Ruby kicking all the time.
And so I get there, there’s other people there. Some of them seem fine; I’m not going to pretend everybody was, like, devastated. But some of them did not. There were people crying. There was someone who felt ill because of the medications that they had to take. And she called whoever her man is, boyfriend or husband or whoever, asking if he would come wait with her so she could just like – there’s no windows in the waiting room just because of where it is. It’s kind of, it’s a little stuffy, it’s whatever – she asked if he would come with his car so she could just lay down in his car, and he wouldn’t. I don’t know why, but it was very depressing to listen to.
And I started to realize what I had not anticipated – there’s several things I didn’t anticipate – but one of the things I didn’t anticipate was, there’s these women here who are about to do this for real, and I think some of them don’t want to. Like, some of them seem like they don’t want to. I don’t want any of them to, obviously. But from their perspective, some of them seem okay and some of them really don’t seem okay. And what I wanted to do was go sit next to them and say, “Are you okay? Why are you here? What do you need? How can I help you get out of here?” And I recognized that some of them would have been like, “I don’t want to get out of here, I want to do this,” I’m not saying they all wanted to get out of there. But I don’t think all of them did. And I would have liked to at least check.
So what I didn’t anticipate was, I was starting to feel like I’m not doing the right thing here, because I’m ignoring them, and they are about to do something that, for some of them, maybe it’ll be fine. And for some of them, it’s probably going to change their whole life in a really horrific way. And I’m here right now, you know. And I’m ignoring them, in the hope that this video I take will have some sort of bigger impact in the longer term, which is a super uncertain hope. I don’t even know what I’m going to get on video. And realistically, a lot of people are just going to ignore it or they’ll say it was heavily edited. I knew that way before we started. Everybody knows that. Right?
Josh Brahm: We’ve seen the David Daleiden response.
Monica Snyder: Yeah. People can release full footage of things and they’ll just be like, “No, heavily edited. And also you’re a liar.” And to be fair, kind of am. I snuck in here. I get what you’re saying. I don’t know how else to do this. So the first thing I didn’t anticipate was the feeling of deep uncertainty that this is the right move. I actually thought maybe what I’m doing is immoral, not in the sense that I’m being deceptive, but in the sense that my priorities are really out of whack here.
Josh Brahm: You can totally understand how this conflict that you must have been experiencing –
Monica Snyder: Yeah. And I had to be there for like three hours. So it’s like, yeah. That was the first thing, where I was like, I heard that woman’s phone call, I see this other woman crying, not all of them but some of them are showing. And maybe they’re all there for a fatal fetal anomaly. Unlikely. Just given the setup of the clinic, given the setup of DC laws and what we’ve known about it before. So that was hard.
Josh Brahm: So if I could jump in real quick on that, just in case it’s helpful – and I really, generally speaking, try to avoid any kind of analogies to war because this is different than war. And those analogies break down real fast. – But I know there are stories in World War II where there’d be some kind of small band of soldiers, some small unit –
Monica Snyder: Some band of brothers.
Josh Brahm: I know, this is so hard for me not to say “band of brothers” – who are sent in behind enemy lines, and are meant to try to get to Berlin or wherever –
Monica Snyder: How many people do they have to walk over to do that?
Josh Brahm: – And it’s like, okay: then they see this SS soldier somewhere and it’s like, “Hey, we could easily kill him and maybe all these good things would happen as a result. But then we’re more likely to fail the mission,” and they’d have to just pass by all these different horrible things. And that’s an understandable thing in crazy situations like this.
Monica Snyder: And you know, I have to say, like, I have never done sidewalk counseling. I’ve certainly never done the rescue movement type stuff, none of that. But it gave me a lot of empathy for the people who are motivated by those things. Because whatever we’re talking about with, “Where is the pro-life movement going?” and, “How should we handle legislation?” and “How should we think about slowly over years converting our coworkers?”, meanwhile, there’s a woman sitting there right now. What are we going to do about it? Nothing, apparently nothing. That’s a hard thing. So I didn’t anticipate that. That was difficult.
The other thing I didn’t anticipate is that…Okay, did you ever read the Lisa Harris paper where she talks about performing a second-trimester abortion while she’s pregnant in her second trimester?
Josh Brahm: No.
Monica Snyder: It’s very moving, but essentially there’s a part where – and she’s pro-choice. She did not convert to our side. I’m not trying to misrepresent her – but she talks about how basically she is performing a second-trimester abortion and at the very moment that she pulls a foot out of this woman’s uterus, her baby kicks.
Josh Brahm: Oh my gosh.
Monica Snyder: And when that happened – I’m going to get it not exactly right, I’m paraphrasing – but she basically said that it was as if some kind of impulse went straight from her fingers right past all of her pro-choice training, right past all of her feminist beliefs, straight into her core, and she just started weeping. Okay? And she’s still pro-choice. She advocates for abortion, but in that paper, I think she was trying to lean into the conflict here that often gets overlooked.
Josh Brahm: Yeah. And she’s not the first one.
Monica Snyder: No.
Josh Brahm: I mean, there’s an abortion practitioner. I’ll never forget. He had this quote about when he was doing some kind of a dismemberment abortion, he described feeling the sensation –
Monica Snyder: Like electricity.
Josh Brahm: Like an electric current. There’s, like, people describing it –
Monica Snyder: They are dealing with this in their face in real life. And then on Twitter, people are like, “Oh, you’re just ending the process happening in your body.” And the providers are like, “Nah.”
Josh Brahm: They’re like, “No, it’s more involved than that.”
Monica Snyder: But the reason I bring up Lisa Harris is because it made me think of that, in sort of a way where it’s like, obviously I’m not about to actually get an abortion. And I know that. I am going to record some stuff, and then I’m going to walk out of here. Right? But what I didn’t anticipate is, knowing that did not stop me from feeling like Ruby was in danger. And that’s not rational. She’s not in danger. I’m not about to get an abortion. Nobody’s going to hold me down. I’m taller than both of the nurses there. And I wasn’t worried about it anyway. But I did not anticipate how much I would feel like I’m almost betraying Ruby by being here, and I feel like she’s in danger, but she’s not in danger. But I feel like she’s in danger. I got to get out of here, but she’s not in danger. “That’s dumb. Just keep it together.” And so I was feeling anxious about that.
And then I was telling myself, you know, “You’re going to leave in whatever, one hour, two hours, whatever it is, and Ruby is fine, and you are fine.” And then I realized that that doesn’t help everybody else sitting here. They’re not fine and they’re not going to be fine. Or at least at minimum, their fetuses are not going to be fine. I don’t think all of them are going to be fine either. So bringing it back to the first problem. And then the other thing that I didn’t anticipate is, even though I knew that I’m not going to get an abortion, I’m going to leave, it is still very difficult emotionally to think about all this in terms of my child.
So, I am getting my blood drawn, I’m getting my vitals taken, I’m getting an ultrasound, and I’m having these conversations with the staff there. And one of the things I asked them was if…if Ruby would feel pain. Ruby’s not going to feel pain, we’re leaving. But it was hard to even think about because, in real life, right here, right now, I’m in the building where they don’t know who I am. And if I went crazy at this very moment and changed my mind, I could literally start the procedure right now. There is nothing wrong with Ruby. She’s completely healthy. I’m completely healthy. And if I wanted to, it is legal and they will do it. They will literally…pull her apart. And it’s weird because I know that. I’m literally a pro-life activist and I try to convince other people this is true all the time.
Josh Brahm: Right.
Monica Snyder: I’m the one telling other people that this is true. But then I’m sitting in the building and I’m like, “I can’t believe this is true. I can’t believe that this is a real thing that really happens. And even more amazingly, nobody believes me.” And I’m sitting right here, you know? And so I could not ask them that question – I asked more than one person that question – without crying. I could not. And it’s funny because – “funny” is not the right word – but when the footage was released, there are some people who are like, “Oh, she’s such a good actress.” I’m not acting! I’m not acting. I was completely distraught, you know? I’m not that good of an actress.
And so talking about that, it’s interesting too, because before I agreed to do it, there was some discussion of “What will your backstory be? What will be your explanation for why you need a 28 week abortion?” The thing is, you don’t need an explanation. They didn’t ever ask. They don’t care – I shouldn’t say they don’t care. Most generous interpretation? I think they believe it’s not their business, and they don’t want to distress women who are already making a difficult decision, so they don’t pry. I think that’s how some of them see it. I also think some of them don’t care.
But either way, nobody asked me why I was doing this at any point. Never did they ask “why are you doing it?” Nobody asked me, “Why are you doing it?” Nobody asked me, “Have you already considered adoption or parenting?” “Do you need resources about those things?” That never came up. Informed consent in this context meant reading and signing paperwork about the possible risks of the procedure and the medications. That’s it. There is no counseling required. They didn’t tell me anything about it.
Josh Brahm: This is not what most pro-choice people think happens.
Monica Snyder: No. It might not be this way at every single abortion clinic. I’m sure it depends on the state, I’m sure it depends on the clinic. I’m just saying, I’m at a clinic that’s about to perform a 28 week abortion. And for those who don’t know, generally speaking, viability is around 24 weeks. If I gave birth to this child right now, she would have a very good chance of survival. And there’s no discussion of “How are you feeling about this? Is this really what you want? Have you considered these other options? Do you need resources for these other options?” That didn’t happen at all. There’s no screening for mental health issues.
And, now, this might not be the case for everyone everywhere, but this is my fourth child that I’ve birthed. For the previous ones, every prenatal exam I had, as a standard procedure, they screened for depression and other issues. Not specific to me. Because I showed any – I was fine. But for everybody, they’re like, “Have you answered this body of questions?” –
Josh Brahm: The standard.
Monica Snyder: – Yeah, just make – “How are – are you doing okay?” you know, kind of thing as a standard thing. And here they didn’t do that. Now, there’s a lot of debate about whether abortion causes mental health issues or not. The other side says it doesn’t and we’re just making it up, and we say we think it probably does. But to be super clear, they might say, “Oh, it doesn’t cause mental health issues,” and studies that showed mental health issues were for women who already had problems, right? Let’s just assume that is the whole story. That still means you have a reason to screen women to see if they already have those mental health issues.
Josh Brahm: Yeah.
Monica Snyder: Because abortion is known to exacerbate them. Which shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. And there was no mental health screening at all. And I am in this clinic, you know, two to three hours crying on and off. Not everyone there was crying. Some people were, but I was crying on and off when I was talking to them. I’m obviously not…doing this for funsies –
Josh Brahm: – doing great.
Monica Snyder: Yeah, exactly. And they weren’t unkind. The one nurse was like, “If you need to talk about things with us, it’s okay. We’re here to listen,” you know, “You’re okay. It’s okay.” Like, and I didn’t feel like she was doing that to push me towards anything. I felt like she was being reassuring. But she also wasn’t like, “Are you okay?”, you know.
I have family and friends in the medical field, nurses, doctors, whatever, and generally when I’ve talked to them about this, they’ve been like, “That’s nuts, because when we do other kinds of procedures, even much less controversial procedures than abortion – it could be like a knee replacement – but if someone is crying on an off as you’re getting ready to do it, you’re gonna be like, ‘Everybody stop everything.’ ” Right? “What are you doing? Like, what is happening right now? Are you consenting to this?”
Josh Brahm: Right. So I wonder what you think about this. I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. So you just described a couple of different ways that they might be thinking about abortion and mental health and why they should be screening. So I’m trying to come up with, like, “What is my most charitable option?”
Monica Snyder: Sure. “What’s the most generous interpretation?”
Josh Brahm: I’m not sure if it’s plausible. So I wonder what you think. Because I know –
Monica Snyder: Well, most generous and most plausible are different things.
Josh Brahm: I agree. Well, sometimes at least. But, so the way that I think about this is, I don’t want to have such a charitable view where it’s implausible and it’s dumb. I want, like, “What is a plausible charitable view?” And I kind of go with that until I’m given a reason to have it go worse.
Monica Snyder: Okay. I know that I’m just speculating too. I didn’t ask them, you know.
Josh Brahm: Right. So while we speculate here together –
Monica Snyder: We’ll speculate together.
Josh Brahm: – there are some pro-choice people that believe that the whole post-abortion syndrome thing is, it’s not that it’s caused by the abortion, and it’s not that it’s caused… you know, it’s [not], like, this thing that happens because they already had something going on. They think – I think they think that the women are fine before, they’re fine that day, they’re fine for a while after. And if they end up having guilt or depression or worse, it’s because of us. It’s our fault.
Monica Snyder: Right, right, right.
Josh Brahm: We’ve kept it so stigmatized that now we have basically caused them this harm –
Monica Snyder: Right, if they have any issues, it’s because we made them feel guilty by stigmatizing abortion –
Josh Brahm: – ‘cause it’s, like, unjustified guilt. So do you think maybe that might be in their head, and then that would be why they wouldn’t be screening?
Monica Snyder: Who’s “they” in this?
Josh Brahm: The people that you’re going to – the employees –
Monica Snyder: No, no. What you just described, I think most of the time, is a common thought of pro-choice activists.
Josh Brahm: Yeah.
Monica Snyder: And I think…in fairness to them, I think we do stigmatize abortion –
Monica Snyder: – and it does affect how people perceive it. We sort of – that’s kind of part of our thing. You know?
Josh Brahm: Right.
Monica Snyder: So that’s not untrue. But I think that the people who work in clinics – and I’m saying this based on the way that people treated me there, but also based on reading Lisa Harris, reading Warren Hearn, reading some of these providers who’ve done this, especially later term, reading Danger Talk and –
Josh Brahm: They talk a lot about that on the –
Monica Snyder: They talk a lot about – they’re much more blunt and realistic about what abortion is doing – and by that I mean killing a human – and about how deeply emotionally fraught it can be for the women seeking it. In fact, in some ways pro-choice people are trying to talk out of both sides of their mouths because they’re trying to say, “This is a really deeply serious, very difficult decision, but also if it’s difficult, it’s because of you.” We all, I think, understand that there is some element of the discourse that’s stigmatizing that is true. Whether we’re correct to stigmatize it or not is a different discussion. But that’s true.
Josh Brahm: Right.
Monica Snyder: But also, like they say, most women aren’t just like, “I will just go get an abortion.” Why is that? Okay? Anyone who’s had a wanted pregnancy, or an unintended pregnancy that ended up being a source of joy, or an unintended pregnancy that was difficult but then they birthed a kid and they loved them, or all sorts of other circumstances – look, forget the abortion debate. Anybody who has experienced having children understands this is an emotionally fraught issue. That shouldn’t be confusing.
And so if someone is seeking an abortion at any stage – but I would argue, the later it is, the more likely you should be just like, even if you’re pro-choice, “What’s going on? Is this what you want?” Because the further you go, the more fraught it is. And I think the people that are staffing the clinic don’t check. I think there’s a couple different reasons you could say that people don’t check. I think a lot of it is, not wanting to be stigmatizing, not wanting to be getting in your business. You’ve probably already, from their perspective, gone through a lot of people judging you and questioning you, and they’re just here to, you know, “You know what you need for your life.”
Josh Brahm: “You’ve already figured it out. You’ve already thought about it.”
Monica Snyder: Yeah. “We’re just here to help you make this decision you’ve already made and – not make it, but, you know, facilitate it. And you’re not going to get that judgment from us.” Right? I do also believe, yes, I do also believe that there are some people involved in clinics that…I do believe there are some people that…it makes a lot of money. You know? I think that’s true too. I think it’s as one-to-one as what our side says sometimes. I think there are a lot of true believers.
Josh Brahm: There are some abortion doctors.
Monica Snyder: There are a lot of true believers in abortion clinics and there are some that are making a lot of money. And maybe that’s kind of like…it happens to be both, you know? But in any case, they did not ask me anything about mental health issues, even though I’m crying on and off at a 28-week abortion for no medical reason. And I brought up – if you watch the footage, I brought up a couple of times – you know, I feel stupid being here. I feel stupid that I took this long to get here. I think I’m further along than anyone else here. You know, I should have made a decision sooner. It’s not like there’s anything really wrong with her. It’s just, and I would just say something to the effect of like, “It’s just, it’s not…I thought I could make it work. It’s not going to work. Right?
So, they never asked me anything about her fetal health history because why would they? It’s not necessary to this. It’s not required legally. It’s probably just going to be upsetting, whatever. So, but then I made sure, in case they thought that it was none of their business, I made sure to say there’s nothing wrong with her. Right? Just to make sure we’re all clear. But it doesn’t matter. It’s legal. And I said I wanted it.
And so, and they would reassure me, you know, “People come along as far as you.” One of them said, “You know, it’s not all the time, but we have it happen regularly.” One of them said, “Oh, sure, all the time.” But it could have just been that she was just trying to be reassuring, you know, whatever. You can’t quantify it. But at no point, even when I first called, nobody was like, “28 weeks?” They’re like, “Okay.” You know.
The other thing I noticed that I thought was concerning – so again, in contrast with my prenatal visits, when I would go to my prenatal visits, the occasions when my husband was off working and couldn’t go with me, he was not allowed to come back with me until they brought me back by myself first, made sure everything is safe at home – again, not because of me personally: standard procedure, every single time – and then they let him come back.
Josh Brahm: I’ve had the same experience.
Monica Snyder: Yeah, I think it’s quite common. I think it’s a good idea.
Josh Brahm: Yes, absolutely.
Monica Snyder: But now I’m at this clinic at 28 weeks and nobody asked me if I’m safe at home. Nobody asked me if I’m feeling any pressure from anyone. Nobody asked me anything. And it’s the same conversation we just had. Maybe they feel like it’s none of their business, but the odds of someone getting a 28 week non-medical abortion because they’re feeling coerced… I could be wrong; it seems to me that would be higher than twelve weeks or eight weeks or whatever, you know, maybe not. But it seems like –
Josh Brahm: I’ve been trying to – I’ve literally been doing that math in my head and – because it’s like, on one hand, it seems like the coercion would likely to be happen[ing] earlier, assuming that she told him about the pregnancy soon.
Monica Snyder: Assuming that she told them, yes.
Josh Brahm: And she might not have. So if she was in denial or she didn’t figure out she was pregnant for a while or whatever, and then she told him…and if she then ends up in an abortion clinic later, that does feel plausible to me that it is more likely than in first-trimester –
Monica Snyder: Yeah, there could be a theory for that.
Josh Brahm: – that he was the one pushing her, because he’s not been feeling the baby kick. He’s not having the same phenomenological experiences that she is. So obviously I don’t know. I’ve never seen a study on it.
Monica Snyder: Sure. There probably isn’t a study on it.
Josh Brahm: You and I are on the same page on, like, what seems most plausible. And I think we understand pro-choice people and what they’re going through fairly well.
Monica Snyder: They might not agree, but…So either way, there was no discussion of “How does your partner feel about this? How does your family feel about this? What’s up? Are you doing this of your own volition? Do you feel safe at home? Do you feel like, if you had this baby, you’d be safe at home?” All of those things.
Josh Brahm: Nothing.
Monica Snyder: And see, there should be common ground here because there’s research to show that women are at increased risk of domestic violence when they’re pregnant, when they have a new baby – which we should all agree is really f’ed up and not okay.
Josh Brahm: Yep.
Monica Snyder: But I feel like sometimes some pro-choice people…they see that research, they see, “See, so you better let her get an abortion.” And okay, let’s say we didn’t care about the morality of abortion. Is that the only answer? I feel like you’re saying, “If she’s more likely to be in danger and so she’s getting an abortion because she’s scared, the main thing is make sure she can get that abortion.” Shouldn’t the main thing be, “Why is she scared? What if she wants to keep this baby and she decides to get an abortion because she’s in danger?” That’s not pro-choice.
Josh Brahm: So I wonder if what’s happening there sometimes is that – and this is where their bias comes in even if it’s subconscious for them – where they do often, I think, look at these women. I mean, the employees. And there is sometimes this sort of – sometimes it’s a feminism thing, sometimes it’s not – but like a, “You could have a better life if you don’t have kids until later.”
Monica Snyder: Oh, no, I absolutely think that’s true.
Josh Brahm: If you are in here and even thinking about not having this kid, then clearly you shouldn’t have this kid. That should be five or ten years in your future.
Monica Snyder: Or if you are in an abusive relationship, “Don’t have this kid get out of the relationship, have a different kid later in a better situation” – no, I absolutely think that’s true. I absolutely think that’s a big part of the mentality. And that, I think, goes back to a lot of different things, but part of it is fetal personhood and all that stuff. There’s also – I’ve been noticing this more and more – if you read the “shout your abortion” page and stories and things – certainly not in all of them – but in a large portion of them, women talk about how they believe this soul can come back to them at a different time.
Josh Brahm: Wait, okay, this is new to me.
Monica Snyder: Really?
Josh Brahm: Tell me about that. Like, they’re believing a reincarnation kind-of-a-thing?
Monica Snyder: They are having some kind of – I don’t know if they would call it reincarnation, but they’re saying – they’re thinking toward their fetus, “I love you so much. I’m so sorry, but this is a very bad situation for these reasons. And so I trust you to come back to me when I’m in a better situation to have you.
Josh Brahm: “That’s my next pregnancy” kind-of-thing?
Josh Brahm: Yes, exactly. Bounce back kind-of-thing. It’s not uncommon. It’s not the majority of them, but I’ve been following the SYA page more in the last few months and at least of the ones I’ve scanned, it’s like a fourth of them.
Josh Brahm: Really?
Monica Snyder: I mean, that’s just, back-of-the-envelope calculation, take it for what it’s worth, but it’s definitely not, “Oh, I read this one time.” I keep seeing it. Where it’s like this idea of like, “Really sorry, love you. I’m not saying that casually; deeply felt. And please come back when I’m more ready.” Or “I will see you in heaven later.” Or that kind of thing.
And I think this is another thing providers understand that we don’t, and that the pro-choice activists don’t. Where it’s like, I just read an article that was published last year – I just read it, but it was published last year in the Boston Review. I think it was called “Why I Provide Abortions.” And there’s a lot of things in it that are really disturbing, but there was one part where she talks about a woman: she has her abortion. It’s later. It’s not third trimester, but it’s like, I think it was past first trimester. I can’t remember, I can’t remember. But she asks if she can keep the remains. And they’re like, “I’m sorry. Our clinic doesn’t really facilitate that.” And she’s like, “Okay.” And so they’re like, “Do you want to say goodbye?” And so she bows her head and says, “I love you. I’m so sorry.” And it’s that kind of thing where it’s like, it doesn’t seem like she wanted to do that. And I feel like that’s even more likely later on. And maybe I’m projecting too much because of how I feel about abortion, but she’s also crying and saying she’s sorry. So back to the clinic –
Josh Brahm: Well, can I just react to that real quick?
Monica Snyder: Yeah.
Josh Brahm: So obviously it makes sense to us why that would be a thing that she would say, right? Because even pro-choice women, a lot of times, this is not what they want to be doing. They feel like this is the least bad of all the options, even for the kid. I get all of that.
Monica Snyder: Yes. And really quick, just like how pro-choice women mourn their miscarriages, they could also mourn their abortions.
Josh Brahm: Yes. Yes.
Monica Snyder: It’s a mistake that both sides make to think that pro-choice women don’t mourn miscarriage or abortion. That is incorrect. Please continue.
Josh Brahm: So, going back just real quick – before we move on – to the, for lack of a maybe more accurate word for them, this kind of reincarnation kind of a view, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to people who are not religious and imagining myself in the shoes of a non-religious person, just like at an empathetic level and trying to be as understanding and everything. And I have really become [sic] to appreciate how much, like, I kind of like the idea of reincarnation in that view. There’s a kind of a, “How nice would it be if just every time we get to try again and take a little bit, like a subconscious level, what we learn from the past.
Monica Snyder: Sure.
Josh Brahm: I’m tracking with that. There’s no evidence of it being a thing, but I understand why people would sometimes kind of grab onto, “I think that’s just kind of how the universe works.” I can get that. And yet it’s surprising to me a little bit that this specific version of…kind of reincarnation happens, and it feels to me – and tell me if you disagree – but it comes across to me as that deeply wishful thinking of a, like, “I’m trying to figure this out. I don’t want to have this abortion. And how much better or comforting is the thought that this isn’t really a killing.”
Monica Snyder: Well I definitely think it’s wishful thinking.
Josh Brahm: Yeah.
Monica Snyder: But I get the strong psychological motivations to believe those things. And I don’t think – I don’t like to use the word reincarnation because in my mind that implies some kind of consciously-thought-out doctrine or specific religious belief. And I suspect for a lot of the people talking about this, they’re not thinking the word “reincarnation.” They’re just thinking…like, the spiritual, not religious, vaguely, “I don’t know who, how things could work or what could be out there, but I’m hoping this is how, you know – I’m hoping that I can see you again some other time.”
Josh Brahm: Yeah. And I think what I’m trying to say – is that I think there are people who, like, would defend reincarnation as, like, their worldview. And I’m saying, I don’t think all of these women you are describing fall into that camp.
Monica Snyder: No.
Josh Brahm: I think that there are some women who are like, this is the first time that they’ve kind of thought of the idea of maybe a soul being [unintelligible]
Monica Snyder: I think it’s almost entirely ad hoc. I think that it’s a way of processing and hoping.
Josh Brahm: They’re believing what they need to believe, which is something that everyone does sometimes.
Monica Snyder: Oh yeah. No, I get it.
Josh Brahm: So there’s no negative judgment or anything from me on this.
Monica Snyder: As someone who like…I’ve had two miscarriages and I’m an atheist and I experienced a very strong pull to want to believe all kinds of things. It makes sense.
Josh Brahm: Totally understand.
Monica Snyder: Yeah.
Josh Brahm: Okay. I’m glad you told me about that because that is…I don’t read the Shout Your Abortion hashtag very much anymore.
Monica Snyder: It’s interesting. You would think that it would be mostly, “I did it, I’m not sorry. Now I have this great career,” and there are some like that, but it is stunning to me how many of the stories involve deep sorrow and grief. It doesn’t seem like “shout your abortion.” And consistently it’s like, “I have no regrets, but I cry every single day.” “I have no regrets, but I still grieve it.” And regret and grief are not the same thing, to be fair.
Josh Brahm: Yes, yes.
Monica Snyder: But it’s just weird because we talk about regret – both sides talk about regret – and I think it’s too one dimensional. And I think sometimes when pro-life people say that she’ll regret it, what they mean is it’s going to hurt a lot. And then the other side says, “Well, they said they didn’t regret it. They just cry every day.” And you’re like, “Okay, I feel like you might be making my point.”
And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying everyone cries every day. They don’t. But it’s amazing how many Shout Your Abortion stories involve zero social support. Sometimes the partner or the parents [are] actively defying you and belittling you and all sorts of really difficult situations.
There’s so many of them where it’s like – there was one I read where she was feeling just so heartbroken and she went and sat outside a cemetery and she made a little bundle of flowers for herself and, like, had her own private ceremony to grieve. So you’ve got this Twitter rhetoric of “clump of cells,” “We’re ending a process happening in our body. And what’s the big deal?” It’s just a farce. For both sides it’s a farce. I’m sure there are some non-zero-number of women who get abortions who are like, “Clump of cells, I don’t care.” But for the most part – please, okay? It’s a joke –
Josh Brahm: It’s much more complicated.
Monica Snyder: – it’s a frigging joke, okay? People are feeling any which way about it, but there is some recognition on both sides – now they may – now, I’m not saying they think, “Oh, this is a fully valuable human baby.”
Josh Brahm: Of course.
Monica Snyder: But it’s also not, “Clump of cells, who cares?” Like, give me a break.
Josh Brahm: So interesting because I mean, as someone – I feel like I’ve really tried not to put people in boxes, you have challenged an assumption that I would have made about anyone using #ShoutYourAbortion. And I haven’t read that hashtag in quite a while.
Monica Snyder: I think the idea of it was one certain way. But that’s not how it has manifested.
Josh Brahm: Right, and that was the other thing I was going to say. It’s, how frustrating must those people be to the original people –
Monica Snyder: Well, they don’t have to publish it and they do. So…you know?
Josh Brahm: Oh. It’s just like they’re..?
Monica Snyder: There are people who run these Shout Your Abortion accounts and they republish these stories that are submitted, you know, it’s not like it’s…
Josh Brahm: Why? What do you think? Why?
Monica Snyder: I think they want people to understand that a lot of people need abortions and they are allowed to talk about it and they don’t have to just hide in silence and not explain why they did it and what they’re going through. And some of them don’t feel grief or regret. They just feel relief. Some of them feel joy. That is true.
Josh Brahm: Right.
Monica Snyder: And some of them feel deep grief and still don’t regret it and want it to be a legal option. And I think the people who run Shout Your Abortion want you to understand that. They want you to understand these are real human women that you know them, you love them. They’re going through a lot. They’re full human beings with complicated situations. And when you’re just like, “Abortion kills humans, end of story,” you’re skipping over so much, and we want to have a broader conversation about who’s getting abortions and why. And to some extent, I agree with them. I still have the sticking point about killing valuable human beings, but I also think that there’s…Yeah.
I also think that, in some ways – at least from what I’ve been reading of it – it is undermining some of the pro-choice rhetoric, too. When people say, “Trust women, they know what’s best for their lives,” I get it on some level. But how many of them think that what would really be best for their lives is, they could get the help they need to not have to do this? Very few of these stories do sound like, “I’ll get an abortion, I’m not even sorry, and now I can go on to win this Grammy” or whatever you’re doing. That’s not much of it, I don’t think.
Josh Brahm: Yeah. I’m just really glad that you’re sharing about that. Okay. So back to your…just, what happened –
Monica Snyder: Back to the clinic, So –
Josh Brahm: Yeah, the story.
Monica Snyder: Yes. So anyway, I’m telling you my impressions and all the things I didn’t expect. It was very emotional.
Josh Brahm: It’s really helpful.
Monica Snyder: Basically, I go in there, I check in, I pay in cash. I asked them if that was weird. They said it wasn’t. $11,400, the most cash I’ve ever carried in my life – Just for a side note, not my cash, right?
Josh Brahm: Yeah, I kind of assumed this probably because –
Monica Snyder: – The people I’m working with figured that out –
Josh Brahm: – This is an investment into…obviously…
Monica Snyder: Yeah, are you kidding? I shop at Goodwill, okay? So waiting in the waiting room for a while, they call me back, bloodwork, vitals. There were two different staff, one of them in particular, I actually – no joke – really liked her. Really sweet, maternal, supportive. I totally believe that she believes she is doing this to help people. She’s been doing it for years. We talked about her kids, my husband, whatever. I got along with her fine.
I did not ask to see the ultrasound and she did not offer, which I expected. She did not…I’m trying to remember what I even asked her. There’s footage of it on YouTube. But she…I asked her, “Will they feel pain?” “No, they won’t.” We talked about the procedure. “How’s it gonna work?” I had some more specific questions about how the extraction works and what will happen then. And she answered pretty candidly, I thought.
But there were some things where I was like, “Can I talk to the doctor who’s going to be the one doing it?” Because the nurses don’t do that part. They do prep work and medication. She said, “Yeah, you’ll be able to talk to him. You can ask him any questions you need to,” and so on and so forth. Then I go back to the waiting room and wait a while.
Different nurse calls me back to do medications. Kind of asked her some of the same questions. Still tearful, especially when I asked about the pain thing. I remember she said, “She will not feel anything. We do it as humanely as possible.” And then she said something about how, by the time you wake up, she will have passed away. And they mirror your language. They don’t say “the fetus” or whatever, which I think is smart. It’s just stupid not to.
Josh Brahm: Meaning, if you were using the word “baby,” they would use the word “baby.”
Monica Snyder: Right, yep. Saying pronouns. You know, who are we kidding? They’re not saying “the pregnancy.” All that stuff. The whole time this is all happening, Ruby is moving. Then I asked her some other specific questions about the thing, and she said, “That would be a better question for the doctor, because he’s the one doing it.” Fair enough. I asked her if I could talk to him. “You’ll get to talk to him before you start.” “Okay.”
And then she has three medications she wants to give me, and that is a pain med and an antibiotic and Xanax…which is to keep you calm. Anti-anxiety. And if you don’t already know – and I wasn’t totally sure about this in that very moment – but it has known and common side effects having to do with cognition and memory and sleepiness and all these things. That’s not the point of it. Those are side effects. But they are common sometimes 10% or 20% of the time, okay? I did not want to take a Xanax because I wanted to leave, but also because I hadn’t talked to the doctor yet, and I was intending to.
And so I said, you know, “Hold up. Can I speak to the doctor first and then take these?” She’s like, “Well, not really because you need X amount of time for them to get into your system before he can start the dilation, you know, and they’ve got a tight schedule.” They did have a lot of people there because of earlier cancellations because of weather and different things. And so she said, “You really need to take them now and then talk to him.” I was like, “Okay, well, would taking Xanax affect my clarity of thinking?” And she’s like, “No, it shouldn’t.”
That is not true. I don’t know if she knows that’s not true or not, although it would be weird if she didn’t because she’s a nurse and she’s giving it to people. So if she doesn’t know – she’s either lying or she’s not doing her job sufficiently well, because that is totally untrue.
One of my sisters is a doctor. And my sister didn’t know I was doing this. Almost nobody knew I was doing this, because until they decide if they’re going to release the footage or not, you don’t talk to anybody about it. I messaged her later. I message my sister about abortion debate related things all the time. So I didn’t even have to explain it. I was like, “Hey, somebody told me that if you take Xanax, it won’t affect your clarity of thinking. It was in the context of if a patient has to take it before they get an abortion.” She was like, “What!? That is…Man, people say the stupidest things.” She thinks I’m talking about Reddit.
Josh Brahm: Right, right.
Monica Snyder: No, that is not true! I’m like, “Oh my gosh.”
Josh Brahm: That makes me mad.
Monica Snyder: Anyway, that was later. So she says, “Will it affect your clarity of thinking?” “Oh, no, it shouldn’t.” “Okay.” Contextualizing, this is talking to a woman getting a 28-week abortion who has been crying on and off and doesn’t seem – she has lots of questions.
Josh Brahm: Right!
Monica Snyder: She has a lot of questions, she’s crying, she’s kinda taking her time. And you’re like, “Take the Xanax and then you can talk to him.”
Josh Brahm: She wants you to take the Xanax, right?
Monica Snyder: And the most generous interpretation, the most generous plausible interpretation? She’s got a lot of people to get through and I’m taking forever.
Josh Brahm: Right.
Monica Snyder: I don’t think it’s necessary that she’s like, “Yes, do it so we can make $11,000.” I don’t know if she even cares. But she definitely wants me to take the Xanax and move on with my life.
Josh Brahm: She thinks it’s going to help you.
Monica Snyder: Yeah. Well, and that’s the other thing too. There’s a paternalism here where they’re like, “If I can just get her through this, her life will be better for it.” I mean, I don’t know if that’s what this specific individual is thinking. I just feel like there’s an undercurrent of that.
Josh Brahm: I know that exists because I have literally heard that from people who used to work in abortion clinics that have expressed that kind of a thing.
Monica Snyder: Well, and you see it throughout anyway when they talk about how you shouldn’t even have to offer the option of the ultrasound. They shouldn’t have to listen to a fetal development description, and even if it’s accurate, they think that you’re making it harder for them. What does that mean? Why would it be harder for them if they’re sure? This is reality, right? Anyway.
So, I was like, “Clarity of thinking no, it shouldn’t.” And then I was like – again, I’m not…I don’t have a problem with confrontation. I was like, “Hmm, I don’t mind staying longer today if it means I can talk to him first and then take this and wait.” And she was like, “Yeah, that’s…That’s not how we do it.” She wouldn’t do it. So I was like, “Okay.” And then I’m in an awkward position because I’m not going to take this Xanax.
Josh Brahm: You’re wanting to talk to the doctor, but you’re not going to take this Xanax.
Monica Snyder: I’m not going to take this Xanax. I don’t want to take anything they gave me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I believe it really was like acetaminophen and antibiotic and Xanax, but like, “How far are we going to take this?” And so I said, “I’m just going to step out and call my husband one more time.”
And I could tell – or, I could be misinterpreting – but I believe she was slightly irritated because she’s got a lot to do and I’m like hemming and hawing. But she didn’t – she wasn’t rude. She was like, “Okay, sure. And you can just take this when you get back.” And I was like, “Okay.” So I did step out. I did call my husband for real. And he didn’t pick up the phone, which I didn’t actually need to talk to him. I just – you know. And then I called –
Josh Brahm: Was this to give you a moment of, like, “Let me figure out what I’m going to do now?”
Monica Snyder: No, I knew that – yeah, I was trying to think about – but I knew I was probably going to leave now because I’m not taking this medication. But I didn’t want to just be like, “You know what? Never mind, bye.”
Josh Brahm: Okay, it’s kind of a cover because it seems like you’re as far as… yeah –
Monica Snyder: Well and also, based on the way I’ve been behaving the entire time, I don’t think anyone’s going to be shocked if I’m like, “Never mind.” And I bet I’m not the first person to have ever done that. And so I did step out. He didn’t pick up. I called one of the people that was coordinating this with me and talked about what happened. And they were like, “Do not take any medication.” And I was like, “I wasn’t planning to.” They’re like, “Yeah, don’t.” Yeah, okay.” And then they’re like, “You should just go. It’s time.” Okay.
So then I went back in. I was crying again, just in the whole thing. And the irony was – I forget when this happened in the time frame – but there was one point when I was sitting in the waiting room and I was kind of crying. And one of the other women in the waiting room was like, “Are you okay?” And I wanted to be like, “I’m okay. Are you okay?” But I was just like, “Yeah, thank you. I’ll be fine,” kind of thing. And again, feeling that whole uncertainty.
And then I just went up to the window – I was still crying – and I was like, “I changed my mind. I’m not going to do it.” And they were like, “Okay.” They took out fees for the ultrasound and gave back the rest. That’s the other thing people ask. They’re like, “Oh, they’re just going to keep it.” They didn’t keep it. That would be super illegal and something that probably a lot of people, however they feel about abortion: “Give me my money back,” kind of thing. But they didn’t do that.
And then I left. And then – okay, I’m very extroverted. I get energy from other people, right? I was exhausted. I could not stop crying the whole way home – “home” – the hotel I was staying at. All I wanted to do was lie on my hotel bed and feel Ruby kick and remind myself that, you know –
Josh Brahm: – you’re pregnant –
Monica Snyder: – it’s over –
Josh Brahm: – she’s ok –
Monica Snyder: She’s fine. Those guys aren’t, but it’s whatever. And then also just the bizarreness of experiencing so much of that firsthand, seeing exactly how it goes, and knowing – and this is exactly what happened – that a whole lot of people are still not going to believe me. There’s nothing I could do. I could literally be the one recording it in real time and showing it to you and telling you I experienced it firsthand. And you will not believe me. And to be fair, some of them won’t believe me because I’m a pro-life activist. You know, they don’t trust me. I have a bias here, a very obvious bias. Okay? But that’s why I recorded it.
Josh Brahm: And it’s also not – and I hate to say this – but it’s also not like conservatives, and even pro-lifers who’ve done things like this, have never deceptively edited things. Like there has been stuff.
Monica Snyder: Sure. But so it’s interesting, because we did all this work – and you don’t know when you do this if they’re ever going to use your footage or not. You give it to them and they figure out if they think it will be helpful or not. And that was the deal you signed up for. So I was glad when they did decide they were going to use it. And a big part of the reason they did was because the Xanax thing, because that was unusual. That was a new thing. Because I never got to talk to the doctor. When I left, I was like, “All of that, all of that time and prep and emotional energy, and I didn’t even see the doctor,” right?
Josh Brahm: Was that like the primary goal? Was that the hope?
Monica Snyder: Yes, yes. But it turned out that the Xanax thing was a big deal. We actually filed a complaint with the DC Medical Board about that, which I don’t expect anything to come of at all. Look at Justice for the Five. They didn’t even investigate that. “It’s fine. Nothing to see here,” right? But we did what we could. You throw everything at the wall, you see what sticks.
So we filed a complaint with them. They released the footage. And sure enough, of course, of course, people say “heavily edited”…There’s nothing in the footage that they released that mentions I’m 28 weeks. So they say that she was 28 weeks and people are like, “No, she wasn’t.”
We actually have a recent secular pro-life supporter – very smart guy – and he said, “Oh, I’ve used this footage in so many of my conversations. It’s extremely effective.” Not online, but people he knows. And he said he did get some pushback with her, like, “How do you know it’s 28 weeks?” And so he went and found my birth announcement and he calculated back. And he was like, “Well, she said she had the baby on this day. She has pictures of the baby and this would have been then, so, ah, 28 weeks.” You know? So I was like, “Dang, you’re good.”
Josh Brahm: And that would be, like – if you were trying to make stuff up, that would be like the weirdest thing to be lying about.
Monica Snyder: Well, they want to believe that if this does happen, it’s only to “whatever-” weeks.
Josh Brahm: Oh, okay, they’re hoping that you’re actually like 22 weeks or 18 or something.
Monica Snyder: Yeah, and that we just edited it out of the footage and we’re like, “Oh, it’s 28 weeks.” No, I was literally 28 weeks.
Josh Brahm: I’m tracking now. Okay.
Monica Snyder: Also, they want to believe that, somewhere else that’s not in the footage that we released, that I said that my baby had anencephaly or that I said that I had preeclampsia. They want to believe there’s something else I said that convinced them that we’re leaving out. And so that’s why it doesn’t make sense because “Really, I lied to them and it’s for a severe fetal anomaly.” And I get why they want to believe that. I really do, okay? That did not happen.
And what I am telling you goes with all the evidence we already have listed on our website about this stuff. And with abortion rights proponents research when they talk about this and they say, you know, “You need to let it be for any gestational age because some women will need it because they didn’t know they were pregnant,” that has nothing to do with anencephaly, right? So I expected “Heavily edited, heavily edited, heavily edited, heavily edited.” We all expect that, right? What I did not expect – and this actually almost just amused me – is some people said it was staged, meaning we had to make up an entire clinic.
Josh Brahm: Wait, that you built multiple sets?
Monica Snyder: So like the whole thing is staged. So like this nurse actress, right? And me an actress, and we’re all just acting out this amazing facade, you know, in order for – and I don’t know if they even thought that much through when they said the word “staged.” But I was like, “heavily edited is one thing. That would, like, not be that hard to do. Staged? You are giving us way too much credit.
Josh Brahm: And you are not that good of an actress.
Monica Snyder: I’m not that good of an actress! And also just like, just the overhead of doing that would be crazy, right? So “staged.” And there were people who on our side who were impressed with how well I pretended to be pregnant. I wasn’t pretending to be pregnant, guys. I was actually pregnant, okay? With an actual, you know, live fetus, right?
Josh Brahm: This would have ended so quickly if you weren’t actually pregnant.
Monica Snyder: This is the internet. You know, you can find anything on the internet. But there are some people who are like, “This doesn’t make any sense because it’s illegal to record healthcare conversations. So how did she get this video?” And I’m like, “Do you know what the word ‘undercover’ means? It says in the title, ‘undercover.’ ”
Josh Brahm: Right. Investigative journalism. This is not a new thing.
Monica Snyder: “What do you think is happening?” Yeah. But the most common one was “heavily edited,” “no proof it’s 28 weeks.” And I expected this too, before I did it, which is what happened where people are like, you know, “She’s getting all emotional about the lies she has scared herself with,” you know, “I have built up this narrative in my head of what’s happening with these women. And that’s not what’s happening. And I’m crying at my own false narrative in my head. And everyone’s wondering when the crazy person will get out of the clinic because” –
Josh Brahm: But that’s reaching.
Monica Snyder: But that’s definitely things people have said, you know? Yeah.
So I wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Washington Times saying a lot of things I’m telling you. And I tried very much – I went back and forth with the people I worked with on this, on how they wanted to go and how I wanted to go. We do not have the same style. Mine is a very, “Here’s exactly what happened.” And I feel like sometimes theirs is like trying to make it a little more, you know, like the… like the clickbait-y kind of thing. And I get it.
But one of the things I wanted to mention was how I genuinely liked the first nurse I talked to and she was very sweet and supportive because that’s the truth. And because I want to emphasize that I’m not trying to just spin all of this in my direction, you know? And also, we – our side – needs to accurately understand what is going on and who we’re dealing with. It’s not going to help us to, you know, make them into Snidely Whiplashes. Right?
And so anyway, the reason I bring it up is because somebody – you know, we have a very dedicated set of trolls on Twitter, a lot of them, very dedicated. And one of them was like, “She said something about how you even admitted that they were, you know, kind of trying to help you and you were lying to them and da da da da da.” And I was like, “Yeah. Continue. What else? I know I said that. I was there, you know, I’m aware.” Anyway.
Josh Brahm: Like, “Gotcha! I found your own words!”
Monica Snyder: “You got me. How did you figure that out?” It was, oh, I’m not kidding, a life changing experience. And I – another context of this I didn’t mention before – So I have four live children. I have a son who was a twin, lost the twin, had another miscarriage after that, and then had this last pregnancy. So this was a rainbow baby. The whole pregnancy was under a shadow. And I felt even, you know, more protective of her than previous pregnancies because of those experiences. And so that also added an edge to it.
And even after that was over, I left DC, I went home, it’s been months, you know, 28 weeks, I still have, you know, a lot of the pregnancy left to go. I thought about it all the time. I thought about it when she moved. I thought about it when I did checkups. Every checkup I had after that, I thought about the women in those clinic. I thought about when I gave birth. I have thought about it when I have held her countless times since then. She is seven months old now. I think about it all the time. I think it has changed my relationship with her.
Josh Brahm: Really?
Monica Snyder: And she will never understand that or know, but…
Josh Brahm: In what way?
Monica Snyder: I still think about how – this doesn’t make any sense, okay? I still think about how it feels like she was in danger and now she’s safe.
Josh Brahm: Yeah.
Monica Snyder: And I’m glad she’s safe and I feel, like, a little on edge. And part of that –
Josh Brahm: Does it feel like you both went through almost like a shared trauma thing, experience together?
Monica Snyder: I mean, it’s weird to say that because she doesn’t think so. But like –
Josh Brahm: I understand. I don’t know better language for it.
Monica Snyder: I feel like, between having two miscarriages before her and then doing this also, I feel like…I’m so glad she’s okay. And I mean, obviously, I’m glad all of my kids are okay, but I feel like she came close to the edge and came back, but she didn’t. She’s been healthy – the whole pregnancy was healthy. There was no problem. There was no problem with the birth, there was no problem postpartum. If you didn’t know anything about me and just had, like, my medical records, there was no problem with her at any point. But I feel like it was really close, and I have to reassure myself that she’s okay.
I had a dream two weeks ago that there was some kind of world-record-breaking tidal wave and I had her and I was trying to climb the stairs of this building and I knew the tidal wave was going to submerge the whole building, at least for a little while. And I was trying to figure out how long she could hold her breath. And then I woke up and I was just like, “There are no tidal waves in Missouri. Everything is fine.”
And to be fair, those dreams aren’t uncommon with any newborn, the vulnerability of them. I had protective dreams with my other newborn children, too. So I’m not saying [that] it’s just that, but there’s something with her. I think about it all the time. I think about her being there with me. I think about the other women who were there. I think about the women who are there right now while we’re talking, the women who’ve been there since, the kids who went in with them and didn’t come out. Right? I think about… I think about all of it.
And it’s weird because like I said, I’ve been pro-life activist at least since 2009 and I’ve cared about this issue the whole time. But I do feel like it was a life-altering experience and I did not expect that at all. I expected to be irritated. I expected to be nervous. And then I expected to go give them the information and move on. And I feel like it changed my life.
Josh Brahm: Yeah. So that doesn’t surprise me at that point.
Monica Snyder: It surprised me.
Josh Brahm: Yeah, I understand. I mean, I’ve tried to explain sometimes to people that – because there are pro-life activists that have never been in front of an abortion clinic.
Monica Snyder: Sure.
Josh Brahm: And you were inside of one. But I’m saying like, even…it’s like, I kind of feel like every pro-life activist who’s spent a little bit of time at least in front of a place –
Monica Snyder: Yeah, I agree, I agree.
Josh Brahm: – where like you’re seeing – even if you’re just there to hold a sign or pray or whatever – to see women go in pregnant and to see them walk out not…
Monica Snyder: Just to help ground yourself that this is a real phenomenon we’re dealing with.
Josh Brahm: This is real.
Monica Snyder: Yeah. It’s not just an online debate.
Josh Brahm: Like, you need that.
Monica Snyder: And the online debate does matter.
Josh Brahm: Yes.
Monica Snyder: But like it’s difficult because you have us trying to sway an entire nation in a certain direction, which is going to be slow and over time and incremental and “don’t worry about how much it works, just do what you can.” And that’s mostly where I live.
But when you’re at a clinic – you don’t have to be inside it, you can be outside of it – and you’re thinking about how for this individual person walking in right now, it’s not some theoretical political debate for their kid or for them.
And again, I am not trying to say that every single woman who gets an abortion needs and wants us to save them. I’m not saying that. But I do think a lot of them would rather have not been doing this. And I think both us and the pro-choice side and Republican and Democratic politicians, whoever the powers may be, could be doing more. And I think there should be plenty of common ground for us to work on together to make that happen. I don’t think that should be controversial.
Josh Brahm: No. And it’s also an argument – and I agree with everything you just said, but instead of repeating what you just said, I’ll just add one more – it also goes to explain why it is so – if there could be well trained, kind, loving sidewalk counselors in front of every abortion clinic during all of their open hours – because I believe that plausibly some of those women that you saw in the waiting room, they might have changed [their mind] just if someone outside had offered another option.
Monica Snyder: We know that that is true, Josh. We know it’s true. I can’t say for the specific individuals, the specific time that I went, but broadly speaking, we know that we have people who are sidewalk counselors because a sidewalk counselor turned them around. We have people who are sidewalk counselors because no one was there for them and they got an abortion. We have people who have changed their mind because of the rescue movement, too.
I understand it’s controversial. I’m not taking a side. I’m just saying that we know there are some women that even at the 11th hour, even if they’re sitting in the clinic, we know that if you give them the information, some of them call that number and leave.
Josh Brahm: This is, like, one of the main points that we made in this sidewalk counseling masterclass. And every speech about it is trying to help people understand.
If you can understand anything about sidewalk counseling, understand this: that as incredible as Jacob is at that, which is why we’ve based the entire course on the way that he does it because he has a very unique kind of ERI-style way of doing it. I love it. But as good as he is at that, – and there are times where you’re going to need a lot of those skills that he’s using – but there are so many people that literally, it’s just your presence that makes all the difference. You don’t have to have all these things to say.
Monica Snyder: They might not even talk to you. They might just see your sign that says, “We can help you; here’s a number,” and they don’t talk to you and they still leave. And I’m not saying everybody, a lot of people don’t. I get it.
Josh Brahm: And it seems illogical to pro-lifers who are distant from the thing, but I’ve talked to women who have described of their abortion day a decade ago or whatever, going to the abortion clinic and, in their mind, having made an agreement with themself that it’s like, “I’m just looking for a sign. If there is anything that I can perceive, even if they’re not religious, just something like the universe, is providing them a sign –
Monica Snyder: Yes, yes, yes.
Josh Brahm: – then I will stop. And then they say, “And there were no pro-lifers in front of the building. There were no billboards. There was no anything. And so I went in and I had the abortion. I didn’t really want to.”
Monica Snyder: We did an interview for our blog about this that I found extremely impactful over this woman named Gabriella who, – and I apologize to her in advance if I don’t get the story exactly right now, because this was a little bit ago – but she talked about how she got pregnant, you know, by mistake, she panicked, and she went and got an abortion. And almost as soon as it was done, she realized she’d made a horrible mistake. She wished she had waited a little bit longer, thought a little bit more.
And she talked about how there were sometimes counselors in front of that clinic, but not the day that she went. And now she counsels in front of that clinic, the clinic where she got the abortion years ago: she counsels in front of that clinic. And the whole reason she does it is because she doesn’t want anyone else to go through what she went through. Right?
In some sense – and she does care about the prenatal life – but for her, the big thing was what she went through: the woman. And she wants to make sure she’s there if somebody else is in her position, you know, “You don’t have to do this. Look, if you are determined that you want to do this, and it is legal, I can’t stop you. I’m just saying if there is some part of you that could use some other help, I can help you,” you know?
And this is what’s so frustrating about the whole sidewalk counselor thing. I recognize there are people outside of clinics that are a bunch of jerks. Right?
Josh Brahm: Yes, yes.
Monica Snyder: I think that they irritate us probably as much as they do the other side, because they’re completely undermining –
Josh Brahm: It’s the most common question we’ve gotten since we put out the Sidewalk Counseling Master Class.
Monica Snyder: What’s that?
Josh Brahm: It’s, “What do I do? –
Monica Snyder: “How do I get rid of this guy?”
Josh Brahm: – about these – this guy with a bullhorn and a big graphic sign who is basically chasing women into the clinic with Bible verses.
Monica Snyder: Yeah. Are we sure he’s not a sleeper agent? Like, what is…
Josh Brahm: I’m pretty confident – like, I guess… Because there have been cases where it’s like some pro-lifer will end up –
Monica Snyder: Of course he’s not, but I’m just saying, good grief.
Josh Brahm: It’s usually someone – it might be, like, an abolitionist. There’s usually a really strong anti-Catholic thing and a Calvinist thing.
Monica Snyder: Okay. That’s definitely my main concern right now.
Josh Brahm: Right, I know. It’s like the weirdest thing ever. But anyway, it’s usually like a Calvinist thing. And I’m sorry, it’s just true. I have a lot of experience with these guys. They’re for reals, but their theological view is basically, they don’t even need to track with their effectiveness, because –
Monica Snyder: There is a secular equivalent of this too. It doesn’t even have to be theological. It’s just like, “My job is to say the truth,
Josh Brahm: Right.
Monica Snyder: I’m like, “Great. Thank you for that.
Josh Brahm: And I care about us actually helping people, and –
Monica Snyder: I mean, I don’t wanna – I’m not… I’m not saying –
Josh Brahm: Of course we’re not gonna lie to them.
Monica Snyder: Right.
Josh Brahm: But it’s more complicated than just saying true facts.
Monica Snyder: There are better and worse ways to do this. “Do you care about – What is your metric of success?”
Josh Brahm: Right.
Monica Snyder: “What’s your metric of success? Do you guys know what I’m saying?”
Josh Brahm: There’s a woman who interviewed to come to – as my assistant a while back, and she did sidewalk counseling. So I asked her, “How many babies have you saved?” She’s like, “She either said none or like, one or two.” And she’d been doing it for like five years or something. And I’m like, “You need to reconsider the way that you do this because that’s not a good…” There are sidewalk counselors –
Monica Snyder: You gotta pump those numbers up. Those are rookie numbers.
Josh Brahm: – who are seeing lives saved every week or whatever.
Monica Snyder: Right, right.
Josh Brahm: Like maybe the methodology is –
Monica Snyder: Flawed.
Josh Brahm: – part of the thing, here.
Monica Snyder: We could use a scientific method here. We could examine this. Yep.
Josh Brahm: We really could. So people, please – sidewalk council – I know it’s scary. We have a course.
Monica Snyder: And all the sidewalk counselors I’ve talked to say that. They’re like, “We just need more people. You don’t have to be good at it. You don’t even have to say anything.” You know?
Josh Brahm: Yeah.
Monica Snyder: And sometimes too, by the way, just as a practical point, sometimes they just need you there too because it’s safer for them if there’s more than one person there.
Josh Brahm: Yes.
Monica Snyder: You don’t even have to talk to anyone going in and out of the clinic.
Josh Brahm: You’re just the one with the camera phone ready in case something crazy happens.
Monica Snyder: Or just the extra eyeballs. Or just – or they need someone like, “Hey, can someone run and get some food? I don’t want to leave and abandon my post.” Right? There are lots of logistical things that they need, and you don’t even have to talk to anybody. But if you did want to, you don’t have to be the super-persuasive, “I have the answers to everything.” You can just be like, “Can I help you?” You know?
Josh Brahm: There are very easy 101 ways to do this.
Monica Snyder: You know, it’s funny. I went to the tragically-named Hope Clinic for Women. It is in Southern Illinois. It is right across the river from St. Louis, Missouri. So Missouri has banned abortion at conception, etc. And the Hope Clinic for Women is one of the geographically-closest clinics. And for people who aren’t familiar with the geography of Missouri, St. Louis, which is the largest city, is literally on the river across from Illinois. When they say, “Oh, you have to leave Missouri to go to Illinois,” for all the people in St. Louis, that’s like a 20-minute drive.
But anyway, it’s called the Hope Clinic for Women. It’s got a bunch of, you know, rainbow signs and Black Lives Matter and all kinds of unironic, you know, stuff. I went there a couple months ago with Terrisa. She wanted to meet one of the counselors there, so she was talking to him, and I was kind of just talking to other people over there.
And there was this pair of women there –I thought this was funny – one of them was a sidewalk counselor, and she has her brochures, and she has her – I think I could be wrong…I remember her having a rosary. I think she did. Something prayer-related, you know? And, you know, she’s standing on the legal section where the sidewalk is, and there’s a driveway, and she would chat with me, but she would, you know, go if people are coming. She’s like, “Do you want a brochure?” Most of them ignore her. It’s fine.
But what’s funny is, the other woman she was with is not a sidewalk counselor, and she finds it intimidating to approach cars and to talk to people. And that – I get that. But here’s the funny part. She was a rescuer. And so by that, if you don’t know, I mean that she had, in her past at some point – I don’t think recently – had gone into clinics. And in her case – like, there’s different forms of rescue. Some of them go in just long enough to give people information, and then they bail, right?
But some of them, they won’t leave. They will not leave until they are arrested, right? So she’s, like, willing to be arrested. To her, that’s fine. But to approach women going in and try to talk to them? Too intimidating.
Josh Brahm: I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around this one.
Monica Snyder: Different personality, man. I think she just felt like – I’m speculating – but I think she just felt like, maybe she’s not very conversationally persuasive, but she doesn’t have a problem just sitting here. You know? Different personality.
Josh Brahm: It feels kind of like a warrior inside.
Monica Snyder: Yeah, exactly. She’s, like, fine with that kind of confrontation. But there’s a lot on the line when you’re talking to the woman going in, you know? And you have to – and I don’t pretend to know how to do this, obviously, given what I just told you – you have to be prepared emotionally for them to not listen to you.
Josh Brahm: Yes.
Monica Snyder: Maybe many times over. You know, how do you do that? Right? It’s a hard thing. I don’t pretend to have all the answers there.
Josh Brahm: You remember that in the end, you just try to be that last potential help, and you know that they still have free will, and that it’s not going to work out every time, and it’s not your fault.
Monica Snyder: I believe that I have a moral obligation to do what I can with what I have, and if it’s not enough, it’s not enough. But if I don’t even try, what is that? You know? You can’t feel the way that I feel about this issue and then be like, “But, you know, what if somebody yells at me?”
Josh Brahm: Right. Well, I’m really grateful that you did this, that you’re sharing the story. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from hearing it. I feel really, really empathetic toward you. I know I can’t fully imagine what you experienced, but I know it was not a walk in the park.
Monica Snyder: It’s much different than I thought. Yeah.
Josh Brahm: Wow. So we’ll point people to the video and they can see.
Monica Snyder: Sure.
J; I haven’t seen it.
Monica Snyder: Well, they never did – as far as I know, they never did release the full footage, which is unfortunate a little bit. Although part of me is like, how many people who say “heavily edited” actually care if you release full footage?
Josh Brahm: There’s very few that actually watch the full footage, but I kind of think that we probably always should just so we can, if nothing else, say, “Look, if you want to watch the whole thing…”
Monica Snyder: If nothing else, you can see me walk into the building and realize it’s not a stage. It’s not like a video set or whatever.
Josh Brahm: It would take… People have no understanding of Hollywood, of the amount of money that it takes to put together a good hospital set. It is way more complicated.
Monica Snyder: Just keep that… When you do watch it, keep that in mind.
Josh Brahm: For people, like, watch any – I’m sorry. This – I know this is kind of mean – but watch any movie made by a Christian movie company and look at their sets and be like, “Hey.” As if the pro-life movement could do this.
Monica Snyder: If you have actual medical people watch the show Scrubs, they’ll be like, “No, no, no, no.”
Josh Brahm: Right. No, no. Right.
Monica Snyder: It’s just… It’s implausible. It’s very implausible, but so whatever. That one, I was actually like, “Okay, okay.” I knew..Here’s the reality. There are going to be people who will automatically believe us because they’re pro-life and they will be shook by this. Maybe it’ll shake some of them into activism. And there are going to be people who are not going to believe us no matter what. And in fairness to them, we have an agenda. We do have an agenda. Right?
But there’s some middle ground there. And my buddy I was just telling you about who’s been using it in his private conversations, right? And I know a couple other people who know me personally and who they said, “I know this woman personally, and I know that she was pregnant and she did this.” And them having that connection to me has been enough for the people they’re talking to, to be like, “We could…” you know – interested in discussing this. Not just like, “Fake.” But it’s always going to be a spread.
I knew before – It was funny. I was actually feeling so ambivalent when they finally released it because part of me was like, “Nobody’s going to listen, anyway.” And I didn’t actually – I felt very ambivalent. I didn’t talk about it on Secular Pro-Life for a little while because I wasn’t yet emotionally prepared. So much of the work that we do, I expect a lot of flack and I don’t care. But this one was so much more emotional for me that I was more dragging my feet to affiliate my name with it because I knew people were going to say that I lied.
What’s funny is, I actually found out it was released because someone I know messaged me and immediately linked me to it and was like, “Is this you?” And I knew they were going to release it soon. I didn’t know when exactly. And she recognized my voice immediately. And I did not expect that at all. And a cousin of mine who I hardly ever talked to, she was like, “Can you call me really quick?” Because she’s really into pro-life stuff too. She’s like, “Am I allowed to ask you if this is you?” And I was like, “Yeah, it’s not… Yes, you can. It is, actually.”
But anyway, I knew before they released it that people wouldn’t believe it. And what can you do? I don’t know. What else can I do? I could not possibly give you more information about later abortion and about how much it doesn’t have to be medical-necessary. I’ve done everything I can do. I’ve literally gone to the clinic and filmed it for you, while I was pregnant, to try to show you this.
It gives me sympathy too, by the way, for, like, animal rights activists. In fact, pick almost any human rights violation. Sometimes in the pro-life movement, we’re like, “How come people don’t care about this?” Oh my gosh, pick a topic. It’s really hard to get people to face it because then it’s unpleasant and they might have to do something. Anyway, okay.
Josh Brahm: Well, thank you for sharing.
Monica Snyder: Yeah.
Emily Albrecht will be speaking at the Options for Women Evening for Life.