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Jilted Lover Embarrasses Ex with Anti-Abortion Billboard. This is Going to Be Messy.

A New Mexico man decided to take out his grief publicly.  He paid for a billboard depicting himself holding a blackened baby-shape.  The caption reads “This Would Have Been a Picture Of My 2-Month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not Kill Our Child!”  Originally, the billboard was approved by the New Mexico chapter of Right to Life.  After the controversy began, they pulled their support.

There are a couple of nasty sticking points here, both ethically and legally.  Most notably, the object of the billboard’s ire claims (through her lawyer) that she had a miscarriage.  So there’s that.  Of course, it’s about way more than that.  To begin with, abortions are legal, and women have no legal obligation to inform anyone — including the father — when they’ve had abortions.  In other words, it’s private medical information.  So whether she had a miscarriage or an abortion, she is entitled to doctor-patient confidentiality.

But that’s honestly beside the point.  In reality, the billboard should never have gone up.  Someone at the billboard company saw the ad and thought it would be a good idea to approve it.  That’s a big deal on several levels.

As I was reading this story, I tried to put myself in the position of the billboard company employee who approved the ad.  It was a difficult exercise.  I had a hard time imagining the rationale that wouldn’t at least attempt to fact check such an incendiary message.  The thought of a lawsuit over say… harassment, defamation of character, libel… any number of nasty charges, would be tantamount in my mind.

But more than that — much more than that — there would be a thought pounding through my head like a jackhammer:  How would I feel if I approved this ad and the woman did something to herself?  What if she committed suicide?  How could I live with myself?

That’s something we on the progressive side of the fence call “human empathy,” and it’s something we do our best to cultivate in ourselves and others.  It doesn’t matter whether this woman had an abortion or a miscarriage.  In either case, she had a stressful experience at a time when her future was in limbo.  The last thing she needed was a psychotic ex-boyfriend plastering her business all over the side of the road and calling her a baby-killer.

In fairness, Greg Fultz is being portrayed as a strange, strange man.  His Facebook page lists Bill Gates and Anton LeVay (noted Satanist) as people who inspire him, and his favorite flicks include Big Love (about polygamist Mormons) and Saw. (A graphic horror film.)  It’s unclear from the various news reports whether or not he considers himself a Christian.  Additionally, his comment that the billboard is “merely a statement about anti-abortion and pro-life” is so barking mad and devoid of compassion that one is forced to question his mental state.

So I am being very careful to note that this man may not be a Christian promoting the Christian agenda.

However, with that caveat out of the way, let’s be clear on one thing:  In a progressive culture where abortion was accepted and women’s rights respected, the billboard would never have been approved.  None of this would have happened.  It is precisely the culture of misogyny promoted by the anti-abortion Christian movement that facilitated this.  One woman’s life, ruined publicly over what might not have even been an abortion.  As if that matters.

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Discussion

20 thoughts on “Jilted Lover Embarrasses Ex with Anti-Abortion Billboard. This is Going to Be Messy.

  1. Jesus. How did that ugly piece of shit manage to get laid in the first place?

    Posted by Clint | June 7, 2011, 1:37 pm
  2. Having read about this elsewhere, apparently the poor girl is 15 years younger, barely out of her teens and has numerous medical issues. She had more to consider than some old guy’s feewings.

    I’m betting this man never gets laid again. What an asshole.

    As far as the billboard company, they’re in it to make money, not regulate free speech. No matter how tacky (as billboards are inherently tacky) or controversial. They’re not to blame for the idiot paying the money to post.

    Posted by Debbie | June 7, 2011, 2:53 pm
  3. I was stationed in that town for about five years. There were a lot weirder characters out there than this yokel.

    Posted by J. Quinton | June 7, 2011, 3:04 pm
  4. I will try to tread carefully here. This is a partial agreement.

    I think it should be taken down, but not because of the message. It identifies the parties involved, and could consitute harrasement.[On that note, if the media is so concerned about her privacy why are they publishing her name?]

    With that said, if Futz wasn’t identified in the ad, his face was removed or something, then it shouldn’t have been taken down.

    Yeah it still would have been offensive, but so what? The atheist billboards offend Christians, too bad for Christians and too bad for pro-choicers and women who’ve had abortions.

    We can’t pick and choose what groups we can offend and which ones we can’t. I’m offended by the pro-choice movement.

    At my university a pro-life group was denied club status because They posted “offensive” pictures in the girl’s bathroom. I never seen them, but they were apparently of a disformed fetus and the student board feared that they would offend women.

    In other words, the pro-life movement needs to stop pointing fingers in ads and just stick to a broader point and they should tone down some of their ads.

    I will only action for the billboard to be taken down if it gets specific and identifies a person[s] that’s harrassment.

    I will not action for it to be taken down if it’s just offensive, though I may advocate that they tone it down a bit.

    Posted by cptpineapple | June 7, 2011, 3:49 pm
  5. With that said, if Futz wasn’t identified in the ad, his face was removed or something, then it shouldn’t have been taken down.

    I agree completely. The anti-abortion folks have every right to make their misogyny public in ways that don’t harm people.

    At my university a pro-life group was denied club status because They posted “offensive” pictures in the girl’s bathroom. I never seen them, but they were apparently of a disformed fetus and the student board feared that they would offend women.

    I have mixed feelings on this one. We censor less graphic material than that on TV. I’m not sure I’d advocate for them being denied status, but perhaps inform them of their obligation to keep their messages family friendly, since a university campus is open for children to walk about.

    In other words, the pro-life movement needs to stop pointing fingers in ads and just stick to a broader point and they should tone down some of their ads.

    Yes. I agree completely. Thank you for the comment.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 7, 2011, 4:34 pm
  6. Having read about this elsewhere, apparently the poor girl is 15 years younger, barely out of her teens and has numerous medical issues. She had more to consider than some old guy’s feewings.

    That doesn’t surprise me. If I can say this without seem like I’m ad hom’ing, this guy doesn’t seem like he gets a lot of play from attractive girls his own age. It’s very sad for the poor girl on any number of counts.

    As far as the billboard company, they’re in it to make money, not regulate free speech.

    My point isn’t about free speech. It’s about litigious speech. I’ve owned a business before, and one of the first things your lawyer tells you is all kinds of things to look out for to avoid getting wrapped up in legal battles over something you or your employees said or allowed to be said, or whatever.

    That ad… specifically because it identifies someone (albeit indirectly) whose consent was not obtained… just screams of litigation. And since it’s gone national (who didn’t think this would go national?) the potential for a very, very large settlement is serious.

    It was a very, very bad decision to not at least hold off on posting it without consulting a lawyer first.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 7, 2011, 4:38 pm
  7. I was stationed in that town for about five years. There were a lot weirder characters out there than this yokel.

    It’s probably the dry heat..

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 7, 2011, 4:40 pm
  8. Hamby, I hope you and others can get past the anti-abortion =misogyny “meme”.

    Posted by cptpineapple | June 7, 2011, 4:57 pm
  9. I hope you never have to learn first-hand why it is misogyny.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 7, 2011, 5:49 pm
  10. Hamby I know you just see me as a sexually innate naive little girl.

    One of the most difficult things with morality is it’s hard to imagine yourself in the situation. We have this observer effect where we judge people in tough situations such as the wife who shoots her abusive husband. Technically she could have filed for divorce and pressed charges, but can we really say we wouldn’t do that in the same situation? After all when we think of the best course of action, we’re not getting hit in the face with a golf club.

    Truth is, I don’t know what I would do if I was pregnant and had to make the decision. For one thing I hope I, or any other woman, is never faced with that decision. I hope I’m careful enough to not be put in it, but I know that life doesn’t play out the way we plan.

    I know it’s not easy and I understand that. If a woman tells me she had an abortion, I’m not going to call her an immoral bitch cunt slut.

    I just want them to know there are other options out there. Which is why I advocate the counseling. You may say the counseller may try to prevent the abortion. But guess what? It’s also possible that the counseller will convince her to have the abortion even if she doesn’t want it. I don’t see how one is more moral than the other.

    I also don’t see how that’s an overall issue. That’s why the counsellers will only be Social Workers with appropiate training. It’s like saying you shouldn’t see a family doctor because they may prescribe useless drugs you don’t need because they are in the pockets of some drug company.

    There are ethics boards to prevent family doctors from doing that, and there should be ethics boards for the counsellers as well. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s better than nothing. It’s better than a woman just having the abortion because she doesn’t know what options are available to her.

    I bet you’ll discard this because I’ve never had my vagina penetrated by a penis, or never spent the night hogtied and ballgagged in the closet, but I still wanted to put it out there. Just because I’ve never done those things, doesn’t mean I don’t think or research my position.

    Posted by cptpineapple | June 8, 2011, 12:22 am
  11. Pineapple,
    You’re Canadian. And I’m sure in Canada, the social workers are held to respect the individual rights of the patient and can be disciplined for injecting their religious feelings into a case. And while that’s technically true in the States, I’m afraid you’re not taking into account what state legislatures in more conservative states have done to coerce girls into carrying the child to term no matter the situation (including rape and incest). Some states demand parental consent for minors to have abortions, effectively taking the decision away from the individual, but that’s not the worst. Texas recently passed a law requiring women of all ages to look at their fetus via sonogram before allowing them to have an abortion, which while disturbing enough. doesn’t hold a candle to the law Nebraska passed in 2009. In Nebraska, a woman (again, of any age and cause of pregnancy) is required to receive a psychological evaluation before getting an abortion; I see a particular perversity here given that women with mental problems (who would theoretically be denied the abortion) are the last people who should be trusted with the responsibilities of prenatal care. Both laws were passed by Republican legislatures to illustrate fealty to a conservative Christian constituency. Those are the worst laws I’ve yet encountered when it comes to curtailing the rights of the mother, but there are more awaiting passage in many places.

    My point is, given the current rationale of the GOP, counseling organizations are a fair target for restrictive legislation, and no one stands in the way of this legislation for women in thoroughly red states. Even without official government backing, pro life groups in the states operate pre-natal counseling “clinics” the purpose of which are to attract women seeking abortions via misleading language and then hit them with the big Christian guilt trip once they’ve asked for help. My point is, women in the United States cannot count on a counsellor to be open to every option and it’s not realistic to assume that’s changing in the near future. The federal government actually doesn’t have the power to force states to hold to strict standards on pre natal counseling (though that may happen someday via Supreme Court decision, I seriously doubt it). We’re facing a crisis now in which young women who were denied quality sex education are sexually mature targets for a population of young, feckless males who are equally ill-informed about contraception. These are the couplings that fill our schools with attention-starved problem kids and bring down everybody’s expectations. Safe and legal abortion is an unsightly but necessary guarantee that the problem isn’t as bad as it could possibly be, and I’m not prepared to restrict any woman’s access on any basis.

    Posted by Clint | June 8, 2011, 4:15 am
  12. Clint, please add to your list the following:

    South Dakota: Passed a law requiring state approved “counselling” before obtaining an abortion. Cleverly neglected to open any state approved “Counselling Centers.”

    Kansas: A judge effectively OK’d death threats against the abortion doctor. The only abortion doctor. Because the rest are dead or too afraid to perform abortions.

    In the “Coming Down the Pipe” category: Georgia barely nixed a law banning “racist abortions” a while back. That would have essentially forced doctors to deny abortions to black women or face litigation.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 8, 2011, 2:36 pm
  13. I bet you’ll discard this because I’ve never had my vagina penetrated by a penis,

    No. I discard other of your opinions on that basis, but not this one. I discard this one because your understanding of American women’s problems with regard to reproductive healthcare is apparently woefully misinformed (which is odd, since I’ve given you plenty of resources on this very blog…) and you’ve clearly never witnessed firsthand the nearly medieval manner in which women are treated when they want an abortion. You’ve never had to deal with your family calling you an insensitive whore because you have the audacity to prefer an abortion to dropping out of college and living in poverty. You’ve never experienced the degradation of realizing that you are little more than a baby machine to all the men in your church.

    These are all realities on the ground in America. And I hope none of it ever happens to you.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 8, 2011, 2:41 pm
  14. Sorry guys, ironically the counsoling neglects most of those problems or are orthogonal to them

    If South Dakota passes a law requiring counsoling, they are under the legal obligation to provide it. We can get lawyers to force state to open up the centers,

    Hamby, the point of the counsoling is so the woman doesn’t have to go to her family or her church for support or help. Wouldn’t you agree that a Social Worker is better than going to her pastor?

    I usually deplore government intervention. However, in this case I think it would be better in this case.

    It’s preciously BECAUSE that there’s no coherent support system for the woman exists.

    For all you know, if a woman goes into Planned Parenthood, she is pressured to have an abortion.

    Another thing about counsoling, we can sue them if they are biased and pressure the woman out of an abortion. We can argue for state church seperation etc… We can’t do that with Pro-life groups or Pastors. We can’t sue a Pastor or have him lose his job if he pressures a woman out of an abortion, but we can do that for a counsoler.

    There are drawbacks to it and oppurtinites for manipulations. And you’d be right, but we can hire lawyers to regulate government policy, we can argue the consitution we can make sure the government understands their legal obligation. We can’t do that with private groups or churches. Just because Christians are trying to push in ID, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hire biology teachers.

    So it boils down to whether you want them to go to a church for guidance or to a social worker for support of their decision.

    Posted by cptpineapple | June 8, 2011, 3:17 pm
  15. Alison, I want them to seek help if they want it, and go straight to the clinic if they’ve already made up their mind. I don’t want to force them into anything.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 8, 2011, 3:44 pm
  16. Christ on toast, woman.

    We’re telling you that there are already laws in place that short circuit your suggestion. We’re telling you that in the states where those laws were passed, a majority of citizens support those laws. Women living in these places do not have the option to hire a lawyer, fight law at the state supreme court level, get access to counseling and THEN make a reasoned choice about having an abortion. All of that takes significantly longer than nine months, for one thing, and we are dealing with poor people who don’t have access to the slate of options available to people who are wealthier and better educated. Hell, if you’ve got a good job and medical insurance, I’m sure you do have the option to have a baby and give it up for adoption, provided you don’t want to raise it. Women in the United States who wait tables, and clean bathrooms don’t have the option to give up a month of pay, even if they can get leave from their job.

    Posted by Clint | June 8, 2011, 4:15 pm
  17. I don’t want to force them into anything.

    I agree, we should provide the necessary information.

    Clint, that’s why we should advocate to change the laws, numbnuts.

    Also, you don’t have to be rich. If and ID movement is trying to shove ID into your local school, you don’t have to hire a lawyer, you can report it to the ACLU and I bet they’ll do all the legal mumbo-jumbo for you.

    I’m not under any delusions that it will happen anytime soon.

    I know this is a time sensitive issue, but I still think some professional help is better than no professional help at all.

    Just let me run the country for a year or two, I have it all figured out in my noodle.

    Posted by cptpineapple | June 8, 2011, 7:41 pm
  18. Since when are we talking about ID?

    And don’t you dare call me numbnuts. I have nearly twenty years of data confirming that my reproductive organs work just fine, Ms. Virgin.

    Posted by Clint | June 9, 2011, 12:42 am
  19. Hey dude, when you can carry a child in your body for nine and a half months, you can decide whether to keep it or not. ‘Nuff said.

    Posted by Dawn | June 10, 2011, 5:32 am
  20. If he sincerely believes that he is telling the truth (even if he is actually wrong), then preventing someone from spending money to vent publicly about it, in a billboard that doesn’t even publicly identify the lover by name in a clear way, is hardly something that requires legal intervention.

    It may make him a jerk, but so what? It isn’t a crime to be a jerk, in general. It certainly isn’t unusual for people to feel a compelling need to vent about an ex-lover (spouse or otherwise) and put their situation up to the public for discussion and judgment, even if that public discussion isn’t binding. There was a semi-organized forum called “love court” in France in the Middle Ages that did the same thing (and like the public in this spat, didn’t have the authority to do anything to enforce its judgment).

    We do not need the state imposing good manners on everyone, and we shouldn’t expect people selling the ability to display a message widely to take any more responsibility for the message vis-a-vis the person who is actually paying for the ad than the owner of a copying machine used to print fliers instead.

    Posted by ohwilleke | June 10, 2011, 5:50 pm

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