Reaching what can only be described as a new, heartbreaking low, Cosmopolitan ran an article this week arguing that opposition to abortion leads not just to “extreme violence,” but—at least in one case—to rape.
In doing so, the so-called “women’s” magazine could be allowing a North Carolina rapist to stay free and unaccountable for his crime.
The goal of the piece, written by Rebecca Grant, was made plain by its headline: “She Told a Guy She Worked at an Abortion Clinic. On Their Next Date, He Raped Her: Clinic director Calla Hales was a victim of the extreme violence abortion providers face simply for doing their jobs and helping women.”
Using a rape Hales says she suffered in late 2015 as a fulcrum, Cosmopolitan leverages her story to try and demonstrate that the attack itself—rather than an isolated, yet horrific, instance of violence—is indicative of swelling anti-abortion extremism at-large.
As the headline indicates, Hales says her attacker turned violent after she told him she worked at A Preferred Women’s Health Center (APWHC), a chain of four abortion businesses in North Carolina and Georgia.
On Hales’ telling of the attack, the man sexually assaulted her at the end of their second date, making his motivations clear even while he was raping her:
“He had me in between the seats, wrapped the seat belt around my neck, and at some point, bit me on my chest,” Hales said. “He said things like I should have expected this and that I deserved it. He asked how I could live with myself and said I should repent. That I was a jezebel. That I was a murderer. That he was doing no worse to me than I had done to women. He said he would make me remember him.”
Though she’s willing to tell her story through Cosmopolitan, Hales declined to report her attacker’s name—even after she says the man showed up at one of her clinics on multiple occasions to harass her as part of a larger group of pro-lifers who gather regularly to protest APWHC’s abortion practice.
Hales goes further during the article, in fact, telling Grant that her rapist followed up the initial attack with intimidating text messages and phone calls, and told the other pro-life demonstrators intimate details about Hale so that they could harass her as well.
Hales’ reluctance to report her attacker to police is surely understandable. What’s more difficult to reconcile is how Hales could be too afraid of the rapist’s “retribution”—as she puts it— to report him to the police, yet comfortable enough to tell the whole world about the incident through Cosmopolitan.
The Real Culprit: Pro-Lifers?
While casting those on the other side of a debate in the worst possible light is a time-honored—albeit, sleazy—way to look like you’ve won an argument, Cosmopolitan’s capitalizing on Hales’ story to sling mud at the pro-life movement is beyond the pale by any measure.
There’s no reason to doubt Hales’ story in and of itself. It could very well be that her rapist is a walking contradiction, pronouncing a high value for human life on one hand, yet dehumanizing others—even to the point of raping those with whom he disagrees.
To take Hales at her word, the man who raped her is driven by a deep, vile disregard for the sanctity and dignity of human life. That he justifies rape by condemning abortion only makes him what he already is—an evil man justifying an evil act.
Yet, rather than showing a proper zeal to bring this man to justice and—at the very least—protect his future victims from the crimes he’s sure to commit, Cosmopolitan shows it’s far more committed to “winning” the abortion debate than actually helping women and advancing their role in the world.
If the rapist gets a free pass this time around because Cosmopolitan is too busy grinding its axes, well that’s just the price of doing business.
After all, we all know who’s responsible for this rape: pro-lifers who have the gall to stand outside of abortion clinics and offer a woman in an unexpected pregnancy a better way forward.
Violence at Abortion Clinics is Actually Trending Downward
Opening the article with the story of Hales’ sexual assault, Grant backtracks to tell readers that Hales’ parents purchased APWHC when she was 8 years old, so she grew up learning to live in a contentious environment as a result.
Curiously, Grant then goes on to cite a 2016 National Abortion Federation report that actually shows incidences of violence against abortion businesses on a steep downturn over the past seven years. By NAF’s count, even non-violent crimes such as trespassing fell by more than 53 percent from 2010 to 2016 as compared to 2000-09.
Nevertheless, Grant attempts to prove that a rise in reported picketing in front of abortion clinics is tied to Hales’ rape:
In its 2016 report, the National Abortion Federation (NAF), which monitors clinic harassment and violence, found that picketing, vandalism, obstruction, invasion, trespassing, burglary, stalking, assault and battery, and bomb threats are all on the rise. Clinics reported 60,000 incidents of picketing that year, an all-time high since the NAF began tracking these statistics in 1977. The report also documented a five-fold increase in hate speech and internet harassment, which escalated after the election. The 2016 National Clinic Violence Survey, published by the Feminist Majority Foundation, found that the percentage of clinics reporting the most severe types of anti-abortion violence and threats of violence has dramatically increased from the first six months of 2014 to the first six months of 2016 — from 19.7 percent to 34.2 percent. Hales was raped in November 2015.
Now abortion rights advocates fear the violence and harassment may get even worse. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, passed in 1994, made it a federal crime to use force, threat of force, or physical obstruction to interfere with a person’s right to obtain or provide reproductive health services, but it’s only effective if enforced.
Cosmopolitan’s argument is clear, and becomes even more pronounced as the article moves along: picketing abortion clinics leads to violent assaults and rape. It’s hard to dream up a more ironclad fusion of Slippery Slope and Guilt by Association fallacies than that.
Blame the Actual Perpetrator, Cosmo
In its failed, slanderous attempt to tie Hales’ rape to an uptick in abortion-clinic violence that isn’t actually happening, Cosmopolitan is actually doing something far more dangerous in the long run.
While Grant and Cosmopolitan spill plenty of ink and pixels blaming abortion opponents for violent attacks like the one Hales suffered, their own reporting—if true—concedes that a violent sexual predator is still on the loose because Hales refuses to report him to the police.
Rather than inspiring rape victims like Hales to defend themselves—at the very least—through the legal system, Cosmopolitan pins the blame on pro-lifers who oppose an industry that not only takes a million human lives every year in the U.S. alone, but routinely covers for rapists and other sexual predators in order to keep up its profit margin.
Calla Hales and other rape victims deserve far better than this. Rather than exploitation as a pro-abortion mascot, they deserve help and healing from assaults that are in no way their own fault.
Hales’ attacker deserves to be brought to justice for his crime, and his future victims deserve protection from a violent madman.
And those on both sides of the abortion divide deserve the basic decency it takes to cast blame on actual perpetrators, refusing the ever-growing urge to slander those with whom we disagree.