Anti-Abortion Plan Funded By Fracking Billionaire About As Ethical As You'd Expect
So here's some conclusive evidence that hydraulic fracturing is bad for women's health: A guy who became a billionaire in the industry is bankrolling an effort to persuade lawyers to sue abortion providers for malpractice and put them out of business. Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones reports that a Texas group called "Life Dynamics" is direct mailing tens of thousands of DVDs to attorneys:
In the videos, two actors made to look like television news anchors allege that there's a "child sex abuse scandal" underway. They claim that most minors who become pregnant are not impregnated by a peer, but by an older man. Thus, any pregnant teen should be treated as if there is "reasonable suspicion of child sexual abuse," they contend. The 11-minute DVD urges lawyers to sue abortion providers, on the premise that clinics are potentially covering up the crime of statutory rape.
Abortion and family planning providers, the actors maintain, are "almost universally ignoring states' mandatory reporting laws" by not involving the police every time a minor seeks their services. This, they say, has created "an area of personal injury litigation that is enormous and growing daily." The actors direct viewers to a website, ChildPredators.com, which specifically accuses Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation of legal malfeasance.
Sheppard notes that the DVDs are an update to a strategy that Life Dynamics' president, Mark Crutcher, has been pushing for 20 years without success; by spamming attorneys with DVDs, the group hopes to reach a wider audience than with its previous efforts. The DVD packaging says nothing about abortion; instead the envelopes read "This 11-minute DVD will revolutionize your legal practice," and abortion isn't mentioned until two minutes into the pitch. Sheppard said she'd spoken to two criminal defense attorneys, neither of whom take malpractice cases, who were targeted for the mailings. One said that it seemed like "false advertising," since the package
"was designed to be something that would appeal to a lawyer that might be looking to organize their practice, but it turned out to be a pitch to sue abortion clinics."
The name "Life Dynamics" doesn't help; it sounds like they should be selling one weird trick to melt fat away.
This is not Crutcher's first attempt to use dubious tactics to target abortion providers; in an effort that supposedly inspired James O'Keefe, he
organized efforts to make and record calls to Planned Parenthood providers from women pretending to be minors in an effort to catch clinic staff on tape saying potentially damaging remarks[.]
In 2010, Crutcher also produced a video claiming that abortion is an attempt to genocide African Americans, because of course that's perfectly logical.
The DVD project, which purportedly was sent to 53,000 attorneys, is a significantly larger campaign, and appears to have been enabled by a 2011 donation of $850,000 from a foundation supported by Farris Wilks, a Texas billionaire and pastor who got rich in the hydraulic fracturing business. It's a pretty weird funding cycle -- money from a toxic business buys DVDs that are about as welcome as an AOL startup disc, sent to attorneys in the hope that they'll try to make a fast buck with bogus claims of sexual abuse, to reduce women's access to health care for the sake of fetuses for Jesus. If there's an ethically clean part of that chain, we don't see it.
While most states do require family planning clinics to report suspected abuse cases, the mandatory reporting requirement has also been used by anti-abortion activists to file nuisance lawsuits to force clinics to turn over all records on minors,
on the premise that they are necessary to determine whether abortion clinics are abiding by reporting requirements. The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights group, warned of the "growing politicization" around statutory reporting laws in 2005, documenting ways in which they were being used to intimidate providers and impede the provision of care to minors.
And, of course, as National Abortion Federation president Vicki Saporta points out, clinics are already "following mandatory reporting laws." The anti-abortion crowd's pretense of being concerned about young women's health and safety would be considerably more convincing if they weren't simultaneously trying to restrict birth control and preaching about the need for young victims to keep the rape babies that God has blessed them with.
So this whole plan turns on finding some morally flexible personal injury lawyers. In other words, it's a slam dunk.
[ MotherJones via tip from Monsieur Grumpe ]