Abortion-Rights Leader Is Pregnant — and Her Critics Are Appalled

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  • Ilyse Hogue
    Men get No Vote on Abortions
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Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, announced her pregnancy over the weekend. (Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Pregnancies, of course, are the basis of all pro-choice vs. anti-choice arguments. But today’s focal point on the topic concerns one very specific fetus — two, actually: those growing inside of NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue.

STORY: ‘What Kind of Mother is 8 Months Pregnant and Wants an Abortion?’

The abortion-rights activist announced she was 36 weeks pregnant with twins in a Sunday Washington Post profile. And so far, reactions from NARAL’s opponents have ranged from confused to downright hostile.

“Head of Pro Abortion Group 36 Weeks Pregnant With Twins But She Thinks It’s Okay to Kill Them,” notes a headline in a Life News story. It goes on to discuss the “sad irony” of Hogue fighting a Congressional bill banning late-term abortions, stating, “Despite the fact that she has two little tots growing inside her and waiting to be born, Hogue has no problem with aborting babies at that time.”

STORY: What Happened When My Daughter Asked About My Abortion

In the American Spectator, writer Esther Goldberg mused, “Not to be indelicate, but might the President of NARAL actually have had fertility treatments?” She went on about what she imagines were Hogue’s various epiphanies. “NARAL was all about choice. Hogue wasn’t obligated to abort her twins,” she wrote. “She could choose to have them. Lucky babies! How much more wanted and loved they will feel when she tells them that they were chosen, that they are alive because she chose not to kill them.”

Hogue, 45, appears to be taking such comments in stride. “It’s been really interesting,” she told the Washington Post. “I find it so humorous when the other side gets sort of knocked back on their heels when they see me.” She recalled once walking into a hearing on Capitol Hill and having an anti-abortion advocate look at her round belly and ask, “‘Is that real?’ As though I actually had strapped on a prosthetic baby bump to wear to a hearing for some reason. It’s like, ‘What don’t you get about choice meaning choice?’”

The NARAL leader, whose babies are due in July, added, “There is this whole mentality that anyone who fights for the rights that we fight for must hate children and not want to parent. So to have the leader of a reproductive rights organization — an abortion rights organization — show up pregnant, it’s just jaw-dropping.”

On Twitter, the Radiance Foundation calling the Washington Post story an “absurd piece celebrating (but not showing) abortion,” and Religious Right commenter Perry called Hogue a “Future Hell Resider Abortionist.”

A story in News Busters went after the Washington Post writer Ellen McCarthy herself, calling the story a “puff piece” and noting, “McCarthy, of course, didn’t blink at the bizarre notion that abortion was a family decision, like buying a second car. Nor did she balk when Hogue called abortion ‘a foundational issue upon which everything else is built.’ Really. Hard to believe this country got by for nearly 200 years without guaranteeing the legal ‘right’ to kill unborn children.”

The “family decision” comment is in reference to the quote from NARAL board member René Redwood. “I think it speaks to who supports abortion in America,” she said in the profile about Hogue’s pregnancy. “The majority of abortions are opted for by women who have children already. It says that it’s a family issue. Her being pregnant with twins and still being quite vocal up until when she gives birth — it’s the reality of many American homes. Having the opportunity to make those kinds of decisions for yourself.” (Redwood is correct, according to abortion statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, which note that 61 percent of American women who get abortions have one or more children.)

Feminist bloggers have offered nothing but support for Hogue, meanwhile. “Ultimately,” notes Bustle, “Hogue represents an important distinction between pro-choice and pro-life. The pro-choice community stands for reproductive freedom, the right to make one’s own choices about abortion. Put another way: A pro-choice woman doesn’t have to get an abortion any more than a straight gay marriage supporter has to get married to someone of his or her own gender.”

Jezebel had a bit more fun with the situation, writing, “Hogue, 45, is pregnant with twins, due to give birth in July, and just really, really freaking out anti-abortion activists who don’t get how such a thing might have happened. We’ll draw you a diagram, guys!”

On Twitter, folks including Sally Kohn, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards, and Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel have offered Hogue sentiments of support and congratulations. Grassroots campaign builder 270 tweeted Hogue’s own words: “My own pregnancy is amazing for me. Because it was my decision to do it.”

But the louder the critics, Hogue notes in the profile, the more she’s inspired to fight for choice. “They think, ‘Oh, you can think it’s fine to do this stuff because you just have never experienced the bliss of being pregnant and motherhood,’ ” she said. “And most people, including me, can hold both.”

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