This is Emily Letts, a patient advocate at a reproductive clinic in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, just outside Philadelphia. Letts got pregnant and was, in her words, "not ready" to have children. So she got an abortion, and filmed it, and is now a hot target for online critics.
The video—which is totally safe for work—has been online since mid-March, but it became a sensation yesterday after Letts explained its genesis for an article on Cosmopolitan.com. The full piece is worth a read:
I found out I was pregnant in November. I had been working at the clinic for about a year. It was my first pregnancy, and, full disclosure, I hadn't been using any kind of birth control, which is crazy, I know. I'm a sex educator, and I love talking about birth control. Before this experience, hormonal birth control scared me because of complications I'd heard about from friends — gaining weight, depression, etc. So I tracked my ovulation cycle, and I didn't have any long-term partners. I thought I was OK. But, you know, things happen. I wound up pregnant...
Once I caught my breath, I knew immediately I was going to have an abortion. I knew I wasn't ready to take care of a child. The guy wasn't involved in my decision. I called my supervisor and said, "Excuse me, I am going to need to schedule one abortion, please." It was very early in the pregnancy, only two to three weeks.
Patients at the clinic always ask me if I can relate to them — have I had an abortion? Do I have kids? I was so used to saying, "I've never had an abortion but…" While I was pregnant and waiting for my procedure, I thought, "Wait a minute, I have to use this."
Letts' decision to come forward and share the story was met with predictable indignation, and undertones of violent ideations, from conservative pundits. Almost exclusively male conservative pundits.
- "Of course, it wasn't so pain-free and safe for the baby, but there is no mention of the baby in the entire article—or, for that matter, his or her father," said Breitbart's William Bigelow.
- "Letts did not include the man who got her pregnant in her decision to have an abortion," complained Jason Howerton at the Blaze.
- Wesley J. Smith at the National Review played disappointed dad: "Ah. good times. Becoming irresponsibly pregnant and then having a birth-like experience of destroying a fetus–complete with pictures!"
- "Gateway Pundit" Jim Hoft called Letts a "Far Left Activist" and the video a "HORROR!"
- Joe Cunningham at Red State said, "I don't know what degree of godlessness you have to have in order to not only film the slaughter of a child but feel fondness every time you re-watch it," later adding a touch of trutherism: "I do wonder, in the meantime, if she allowed herself to get pregnant for the sole purpose of making this snuff film."
- The blog Angry White Dude asked, simply: "DO YOU CONSIDER THIS ENTITY A WITCH FROM HELL...OR NOT?"
- The most measured response was from the Daily Caller's Robby Soave, who called the video "disturbing" and dismissed Letts' job as "encouraging women to have abortions."
The coverage at Independent Journal Review, the right wing's Upworthy, was good news/bad news: The good news was they at least had a female writer weigh in on Letts' video. The bad news was that writer, Emily Hulsey, resorted to gender-charged accusations that Letts was "incredibly delusional": "Just when you thought that the abortion debate couldn't get any more insensitive than college students sticking wire hangers on their campus lawn, it did. Like, tenfold."
I won't presume to pass judgment here. (Which, of course, to conservatives, is already a bad judgment.) But I will say I hope Letts stays safe. She says in Cosmo that she's already gotten her spate of death threats and hate mail. But, she adds: "Still, every time I watch the video, I love it. I love how positive it is. I think that there are just no positive abortion stories on video for everyone to see. But mine is."