The ‘Auntie Network’ For Abortions Is The Underground Railroad, All Right — In Reverse

The ‘Auntie Network’ For Abortions Is The Underground Railroad, All Right — In Reverse

A hotel proprietor Michigan has taken it upon herself to help women seeking abortions by providing free lodging and transportation to their appointments.
Liz Wolfe
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A hotel proprietor in Yale, Michigan, has taken it upon herself to help women seeking abortions by providing free lodging, as well as transportation to and from the appointment, at the historic Yale Hotel, which is about an hour away from the nearest clinics, located in Flint and Sterling Heights.

This offer isn’t open to all women seeking abortions. It is Shelley O’Brien’s way of helping women from states like Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, Arkansas, and Missouri—states that have recently passed or toyed with passing more restrictive abortion laws. She clarified the offer in her initial Facebook post.

It’s O’Brien’s prerogative to do so, and it’s every private business’s right to express (or abstain from expressing) political or moral beliefs. Still, the Washington Post write-up of O’Brien’s heroic actions showed all kinds of logical leaps:

After watching multiple state legislatures pass new laws that would make it difficult or nearly impossible to obtain an abortion, O’Brien started thinking about the Underground Railroad that helped enslaved people in the antebellum South make their way north to freedom, she told the Detroit Free Press. If a comparable network could help today’s women access safe and legal abortions, she wanted to be part of it. And as the manager of a hotel, she had something to offer them: A free place to stay.

Acting on your convictions is only admirable when your convictions don’t result in the deaths of millions of unborn children. The idea of abortion help networks—termed “Auntie networks”—being akin to the Underground Railroad, which helped free enslaved African-Americans by safely ushering them north via safehouses, hidden paths, and abolitionist volunteers, is horribly misguided. In fact, assisting in abortions is more like a reverse Underground Railroad, ushering women and children along the path toward darkness, bondage, and evil.

At the time of the Underground Railroad, supporting the abolition of slavery was a fringe idea based in strongly held convictions that human beings cannot be inferior to one another, and that we cannot subjugate them due to convenience or popular opinion. Slavery grew out of deep moral depravity. The parallels are obvious.

Pro-lifers, too, are abolitionists. We want to see abortion abolished in our lifetimes. Being a pro-lifer feels, in many groups, like a fringe position. You need only watch the plethora of TV shows and movies where abortion is depicted (sometimes paid for or otherwise assisted by Planned Parenthood employees and offices, which doesn’t scream propaganda at all!) to see there’s a growing movement in the entertainment world to view it as completely acceptable.

Just like slavery abolitionists, pro-lifers feel compelled to speak out against the belief that human beings can be termed inferior due to age or reliance on a mother’s body. We believe we cannot subjugate them due to convenience or popular opinion. Our rhetoric currently attempts to erase or downplay their humanity, and much of it focuses on how a woman’s needs and rights must be placed above the right of her child to continue to develop, free of harm and violence.

Our society, by and large, believes it’s easier for women to abort—dehumanizing the child instead of grappling with the complex moral trade-off at play—than carry the baby to term for nine months and give the child to a family who will love him or her. (Adoption is so rare, in fact, that in 2014, fewer than 20,000 children under age two were placed with adoption agencies in the United States. Meanwhile, there are roughly 1 million abortions annually.) We erase unborn children’s status as human beings because it’s easier on us. If we confront the moral complexity of abortion, we’re afraid of what we might find and who will be guilty.

In no way do Auntie networks resemble the Underground Railroad. Pro-choicers believe female liberation is built on the backs of other beings. Pro-lifers dare to speak the unpopular truth that feminine empowerment does not come at the cost of ending our children’s lives.

The Washington Post article continues, quoting O’Brien more: “And I’ve been called a baby killer. And it’s like, ‘No, I’m not killing babies in the basement. I am just giving someone a place to stay or maybe a ride.’” Well, giving someone a ride to go terminate a pregnancy, or kill a baby, doesn’t exactly mean you’re morally absolved. But kudos, I guess, for not doing it in the basement.

Liz Wolfe is managing editor at The Federalist, based in Austin, Texas. Follow her on Twitter.

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