Abe-the-Aborted Fetus

Amie Newman

Is this recently released comic book brilliant commentary on the extremism of the most controversial political issue of our time? Or a horrible anti-choice depiction of abortion? 

Okay, so honestly? All cards on the table? I checked out this comic and thought "What.is.this.horror?!" and I wrote what you’ll read below. But when I went back to re-read the first few preview pages of the comic to see if I could find more information about its creator Z.M.Thomas I started to doubt my initial anger. I started wondering if maybe his extreme depiction of "the abortion war" was a way of sending a not-so-subtle (or maybe extremely subtle for folks like me?!) message about the ways in which abortion is publicly discussed in the U.S. – much like a football being violently flung across a field between opposing teams. 

So, while I will include my obviously humourless initial reaction to this comic below (you all owe me for being such an open book), I want to actually be clear: I am not at all clear whether this comic is meant as a graphic anti-choice screech-and-holler fest or a challenge to both pro and anti-choice activists that the politics of abortion discussion may require a superhero to change anything. Is the writer/creator making fun of the way abortion providers are depicted by extremist, anti-choice activists (much like mad scientists)? Is this supposed to be a commentary on the current state of reproductive rights dialogue? 

What do you think? I’d love to hear. Honestly. So, what follows below is my initial reaction – a reaction which is now tainted with uncertainty that maybe Z.M. Thomas and Trepidation Comics is trying to do something a bit more multi-layered than I thought.  

 

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Oh, I am loathe to write about this. I have debated the relative merits of discussing this comic vs. keeping to myself. In the end, both misery and disgust love company, crave company and I feel that it is best to share the horror. It may be that we use this moment as yet another opportunity to educate on what the abortion procedure is and isn’t. Maybe we discuss the fact that regardless of politics or religion, women will never willingly release control over our own bodies. Maybe we rally together those who treasure comic book art and support our own excellent comic artists. I will leave it to our readers to mull over. 

I am talking about a comic book recently released entitled Abe the Aborted Fetus. It was apparently (I am not joking here) first introduced on a children’s menu at a family restaurant back in 2004. A point of which, it seems, the comic company responsible for its creation is proud. Here is the synopsis:

Having
survived an abortion at the hands of Doctor Choice, Abe finds himself
caught in the middle of one of the largest conspiracies ever conceived.

I can’t bring myself to include a preview of the images but you can find them at the link above. Amazingly, the creators use the image of a coat-hanger, an age-old symbol of illegal abortion as a "tool" of a physician who performs abortions. 

Now here’s the thing. If you want to produce farcical comics with no roots in reality, go ahead. But it is reprehensible to create comics depicting physicians who perform abortions as monstrous and blood-thirsty, when you know nothing of the sort. It continues to blow my mind that those who know absolutely nothing about doctors who provide abortions can be so blindly and unapologetically vicious in the ways in which they characterize these human beings. Human beings who have children, spouses, parents, and friends. Human beings who provide abortions for women who are already mothers, who will be mothers. Human beings who assist women in times of need and sometimes in the face of tremendous challenge. Human beings who experience their own tragedies and glory. Human beings who, in the worst we can envision, are murdered by the very people who believe as the creators of Abe the Aborted Fetus do. 

Of course, the comic is an absurdly false vision of what abortion is like because, well, people like those involved in the creation of material like this also know nothing about abortion. Of course. Yet they somehow become experts on this medical procedure, they become experts on what women feel. They become experts on what the physicians who perform abortions are like. They become experts on why women have abortions (because we don’t know any better). They become experts on what the embryo or fetus looks like, feels like and acts like in utero no matter at what stage at which the majority of women have abortions (prior to 6 weeks gestation, which makes abe-the-aborted fetus a projection of this man’s twisted mind more than anything rooted even remotely in reality). They decide that in the face of their own ideological zeal they are experts on anything and everything. 

Surely it is the only way for them to produce such ridiculous images? They must justify their own hubris in order to leverage lies, push false images and encourage blind devotion to an even cloudier ideology. 

Clearly this kind of a "comic book" is meant for those who are as extremist as the creators are. But if this should fall into the hands of some who do not have the means by which to critically dissect such images, it is disaster. It seems that it is being lumped in wtih other indy comics and is listed on the Indy Comic Book Week’s blog. 

Instead, why not check out these amazing artists of the comic book and graphic novel variety who actually create based on what they know, based on their own lives, their own experiences or craft stories that don’t rely on violence, exploitation, lies and deception. Some of my favorite female artists:

Alison Bechdel 

Mikhaela Reid

Lynda Barry

Jessica Abel

Jessixa Bagley

Ellen Forney

Marjane Sartrapi (more of a graphic novelist than a comic artist but any opportunity to mention her should be seized)

News Sexual Health

State with Nation’s Highest Chlamydia Rate Enacts New Restrictions on Sex Ed

Nicole Knight Shine

By requiring sexual education instructors to be certified teachers, the Alaska legislature is targeting Planned Parenthood, which is the largest nonprofit provider of such educational services in the state.

Alaska is imposing a new hurdle on comprehensive sexual health education with a law restricting schools to only hiring certificated school teachers to teach or supervise sex ed classes.

The broad and controversial education bill, HB 156, became law Thursday night without the signature of Gov. Bill Walker, a former Republican who switched his party affiliation to Independent in 2014. HB 156 requires school boards to vet and approve sex ed materials and instructors, making sex ed the “most scrutinized subject in the state,” according to reproductive health advocates.

Republicans hold large majorities in both chambers of Alaska’s legislature.

Championing the restrictions was state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla), who called sexuality a “new concept” during a Senate Education Committee meeting in April. Dunleavy added the restrictions to HB 156 after the failure of an earlier measure that barred abortion providers—meaning Planned Parenthood—from teaching sex ed.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Dunleavy has long targeted Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest nonprofit provider of sexual health education, calling its instruction “indoctrination.”

Meanwhile, advocates argue that evidence-based health education is sorely needed in a state that reported 787.5 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 people in 2014—the nation’s highest rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Surveillance Survey for that year.

Alaska’s teen pregnancy rate is higher than the national average.

The governor in a statement described his decision as a “very close call.”

“Given that this bill will have a broad and wide-ranging effect on education statewide, I have decided to allow HB 156 to become law without my signature,” Walker said.

Teachers, parents, and advocates had urged Walker to veto HB 156. Alaska’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, Amy Jo Meiners, took to Twitter following Walker’s announcement, writing, as reported by Juneau Empire, “This will cause such a burden on teachers [and] our partners in health education, including parents [and] health [professionals].”

An Anchorage parent and grandparent described her opposition to the bill in an op-ed, writing, “There is no doubt that HB 156 is designed to make it harder to access real sexual health education …. Although our state faces its largest budget crisis in history, certain members of the Legislature spent a lot of time worrying that teenagers are receiving information about their own bodies.”

Jessica Cler, Alaska public affairs manager with Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, called Walker’s decision a “crushing blow for comprehensive and medically accurate sexual health education” in a statement.

She added that Walker’s “lack of action today has put the education of thousands of teens in Alaska at risk. This is designed to do one thing: Block students from accessing the sex education they need on safe sex and healthy relationships.”

The law follows the 2016 Legislative Round-up released this week by advocacy group Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The report found that 63 percent of bills this year sought to improve sex ed, but more than a quarter undermined student rights or the quality of instruction by various means, including “promoting misinformation and an anti-abortion agenda.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: ‘If You Don’t Vote … You Are Trifling’

Ally Boguhn

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party's convention.

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party’s convention.

DNC Chair Marcia Fudge: “If You Don’t Vote, You Are Ungrateful, You Are Lazy, and You Are Trifling”

The chair of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), criticized those who choose to sit out the election while speaking on the final day of the convention.

“If you want a decent education for your children, you had better vote,” Fudge told the party’s women’s caucus, which had convened to discuss what is at stake for women and reproductive health and rights this election season.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

“If you want to make sure that hungry children are fed, you had better vote,” said Fudge. “If you want to be sure that all the women who survive solely on Social Security will not go into poverty immediately, you had better vote.”

“And if you don’t vote, let me tell you something, there is no excuse for you. If you don’t vote, you don’t count,” she said.

“So as I leave, I’m just going to say this to you. You tell them I said it, and I’m not hesitant about it. If you don’t vote, you are ungrateful, you are lazy, and you are trifling.”

The congresswoman’s website notes that she represents a state where some legislators have “attempted to suppress voting by certain populations” by pushing voting restrictions that “hit vulnerable communities the hardest.”

Ohio has recently made headlines for enacting changes that would make it harder to vote, including rolling back the state’s early voting period and purging its voter rolls of those who have not voted for six years.

Fudge, however, has worked to expand access to voting by co-sponsoring the federal Voting Rights Amendment Act, which would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that were stripped by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder.

“Mothers of the Movement” Take the National Spotlight

In July 2015, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office released a statement that 28-year-old Sandra Bland had been found dead in her jail cell that morning due to “what appears to be self-asphyxiation.” Though police attempted to paint the death a suicide, Bland’s family has denied that she would have ended her own life given that she had just secured a new job and had not displayed any suicidal tendencies.

Bland’s death sparked national outcry from activists who demanded an investigation, and inspired the hashtag #SayHerName to draw attention to the deaths of Black women who died at the hands of police.

Tuesday night at the DNC, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, and a group of other Black women who have lost children to gun violence, in police custody, or at the hands of police—the “Mothers of the Movement”—told the country why the deaths of their children should matter to voters. They offered their support to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech at the convention.

“One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine. I watched as my daughter was lowered into the ground in a coffin,” said Geneva Reed-Veal.

“Six other women have died in custody that same month: Kindra Chapman, Alexis McGovern, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Raynette Turner, Ralkina Jones, and Joyce Curnell. So many of our children are gone, but they are not forgotten,” she continued. 

“You don’t stop being a mom when your child dies,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis. “His life ended the day that he was shot and killed for playing loud music. But my job as his mother didn’t.” 

McBath said that though she had lost her son, she continued to work to protect his legacy. “We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and we’re urging you to say their names,” she said. “And we’re also going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders, like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.” 

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, called herself “an unwilling participant in this movement,” noting that she “would not have signed up for this, [nor would] any other mother that’s standing here with me today.” 

“But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven, and … his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, who is still here on Earth,” Fulton said. “I did not want this spotlight. But I will do everything I can to focus some of this light on the pain of a path out of the darkness.”

What Else We’re Reading

Renee Bracey Sherman explained in Glamour why Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s position on abortion scares her.

NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue told Cosmopolitan why she shared her abortion story on stage at the DNC.

Lilly Workneh, the Huffington Post’s Black Voices senior editor, explained how the DNC was “powered by a bevy of remarkable black women.”

Rebecca Traister wrote about how Clinton’s historic nomination puts the Democratic nominee “one step closer to making the impossible possible.”

Rewire attended a Democrats for Life of America event while in Philadelphia for the convention and fact-checked the group’s executive director.

A woman may have finally clinched the nomination for a major political party, but Judith Warner in Politico Magazine took on whether the “glass ceiling” has really been cracked for women in politics.

With Clinton’s nomination, “Dozens of other women across the country, in interviews at their offices or alongside their children, also said they felt on the cusp of a major, collective step forward,” reported Jodi Kantor for the New York Times.

According to Philly.com, Philadelphia’s Maternity Care Coalition staffed “eight curtained breast-feeding stalls on site [at the DNC], complete with comfy chairs, side tables, and electrical outlets.” Republicans reportedly offered similar accommodations at their convention the week before.