Photo Credit to Utah Valley University
Recently, LDS influencer Dr. Julie Hanks expressed her beliefs concerning abortion on Instagram. In a series of slides, her post read in full:
As someone who had a working professional relationship with her for over 6 years, I am heartbroken that my mentor and former colleague has such an inaccurate and uninformed view about the facts, history, and reality of abortion. As a pro-life advocate and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am extremely concerned how her misguided and unethical views will affect her 80K+ followers.
Here are 6 Ways that Julie Hanks is deeply wrong about abortion (as well as a few suggestions for her and anyone else who honestly wishes to understand the truth about abortion).
1. Hanks is wrong when she claims that abortion has higher rates in countries where it is illegal.
Hanks gives 1 source for her claim, a single article citing a study that is easily refuted
Abortion legislation is not all or nothing
Abortions by population per 1000 women ages 15-44 are highest in Russia, where abortion is legal
Abortions in America drastically jumped after Roe v Wade in 1973, then began to decline in the 1990s amidst a variety of cultural factors (advanced medical technology & ultrasounds, pregnancy centers, sidewalk advocacy, etc.)
Her claim that abortions numbers go up in places when it is illegal is overly simplistic at best.
Hanks speaks of abortion being legal or illegal, but full bans are quite rare, and almost every state in America has incremental legislations on the procedure. Americans United for Life (a legal organization headed by Catherine Glenn Foster, a post-abortive woman) advocates for and publishes reports on such laws, which include things like limiting the gestational age at which an abortion is permitted, requiring parental consent for an underage girl to get an abortion, requiring an informed consent or mandatory reflection period prior to a procedure, etc.
We know that correlation does not equal causation, and as causation is difficult to prove conclusively, the only way to measure and possibly define how the legality of abortion would affect case count would be to dig into the numbers and compare country to country. It appears Hanks has made no such inquiry, so I took a look at some statistics comparing different nations. In her Instagram stories, she included this 2018 NBC news article which references a single Guttmacher report that is not about legality as much as it is about contraception (more on this issue later). This study openly admits to excluding India and China (where contraception is free and often coerced) and also fails to control for population size, specific abortion restrictions, and a slew of other relevant factors. Returning to the issue of legality, Russia (where abortion is legal) has the highest rates of abortion in the world, with current figures showing 57.3 abortions out of every 1,000 births. Abortion is also legal in the nations with the next highest rates (Vietnam and Kazakhstan,). This directly contradicts her claim that abortion is highest in places where it is illegal.
But what about abortion in America? Hanks misses the mark here as well. In 1972, 1 year before the landmark case of Roe vs. Wade, the CDC reports 586,760 abortions. In 1982, there were approximately 1,570,000 reported, almost triple the count of ten years prior. If abortion legality truly did decrease abortion, we would see a dip in those numbers, but instead we see a jump. A 10-year time span is not enough to make a definitive conclusion, but it does challenge Dr. Hanks’s claim.
Abortions did begin to drop in America during the 1990s and have been on a decline ever since. Let’s explore why that may be:
With each passing decade, society understands more and more about the development of human beings in the womb. 3D ultrasonography as well as fetal surgery reflect modern science that did not exist when abortion became mainstream in America following the passage of Roe vs. Wade in 1973. Legalized abortion is out of touch with the science of human biology, and, naturally, more women have chosen life after viewing an ultrasound (an estimated 80% of women who view an ultrasound image reject abortion). Pregnancy centers are another factor that have helped drop abortion rates. Unlike Planned Parenthood, which profits from women choosing abortion, pregnancy centers provide all services free of charge to their clients, which include options counseling, parenting and breastfeeding classes, pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, and other material support (including diapers, baby clothes, and formula). Grassroots movements like 40 Days for Life and Sidewalk Advocates for Life have likewise prevented an untold number of babies from being aborted.
Hanks not only fails to delve into the true statistical data concerning how legality affects abortion numbers (including accounting for significant affecting factors), she also conflates abortion legislation as all-or-nothing and is either willfully ignorant of other cultural influences that affect abortion numbers or is deliberately choosing to overlook them in favor of a narrative. It is regrettable that someone with a doctorate has neglected to take an unbiased and academic approach to data and facts.
2. Hanks is wrong that abortion is a decision between “a woman and her doctor.”
Referring to abortion as between a woman and her doctor ignores its primary victim: the unborn child who dies by suction vacuum, live dismemberment with forceps, or chemical starvation
There is no patient relationship between the woman and doctor in the vast majority of abortions
Former Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson calls it “laughable” when people say abortion is between a woman and her doctor
Repeating a common talking point, Hanks says that abortion is a decision between a woman and her doctor. But that completely disregards who the abortion primarily targets: a living human being with a heartbeat that is violently destroyed through suction vacuum (a D&C abortion), live dismemberment with forceps (a D&E abortion), or chemical starvation (RU-486 pill abortion). It is not moral to take the position that 2 or more individuals can decide that someone else will die.
And is it standard for a woman to talk with her doctor before an abortion? To answer this, it’s critical to first distinguish between elective abortion and those done for so-called “exceptions” (rape/ incest, fetal anomaly, etc). While a woman may consult her physician concerning abortion about one of these cases, the overwhelming majority of abortions performed in America are elective. This is also true here in Utah, where the latest study shows that of 2895 abortions, only 78 (2.6%) were done for these exceptions, whereas at least 2733 were done for elective or socioeconomic reasons.
Former Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director Abby Johnson calls it “laughable” when people say abortion is a decision between a woman and her doctor. Watch the clip below:
“The doctor comes in who, by the way, has no conversation with a woman before the abortion. The fact that many people say abortion should be a decision made between a woman and her doctor is laughable. There is never a time when the abortion doctor goes in, sits down with the woman, and goes over risks, alternatives, and benefits to abortion. It does not happen.”
Hanks first completely disregards the victim of abortion (the child) and now promotes the lie that elective abortion is a decision that is carefully weighed with a medical professional with whom a woman has a trusted relationship. There is almost never a relationship.
3. Hanks is wrong that contraception decreases abortion rates
The Guttmacher Institute (which is pro-abortion rights) shows that over 50% of American women who got abortions were using contraception
Former abortion clinic workers have confirmed that Planned Parenthood uses failed birth control as a way to generate revenue
It is not surprising that Hanks claims more access to contraception is a solution to lowering abortion rates. Though this may seem to make sense at face value, the numbers tell a drastically different story: The Guttmacher Institute is the research arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (hardly a conservative or right-leaning source), but even their most recent figures show that over half of American women who got abortions were using a contraceptive when they became pregnant.
Former executives such as whistleblower Abby Johnson have even gone so far to say that Planned Parenthood’s marketing strategy relies on this, as failed birth control means more opportunities to sell abortion to vulnerable women. She wrote the following on her Facebook page:
Why does Planned Parenthood care so much about providing contraception to the masses? Because they care about reducing abortion rates? Of course not. You see, according to their own numbers, 54% of women who are seeking abortions were using contraception at the time they got pregnant. They know that these methods will eventually fail. And because they have already developed a relationship with these women, they are more likely to go back to them when their method fails. This provides an opportunity for Planned Parenthood to sell them an abortion.
There is more contraceptive use in our society than there ever has been (much of it free or subsidized). But contraception is not a catch-all and in some cases may even give a false sense of security in preventing unplanned pregnancies. Despite Hanks’s claim, the statistics on contraception demonstrate that it does not reduce abortions.
4. Hanks is wrong when she claims “education” decreases abortion
Hanks does not give a clear definition of what she means by “education” but has previously expressed support for Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) in Utah
Fomer abortion clinic workers have exposed how these education classes are ways to market their services to young people
In Utah, the director of education is married to the main abortion doctor at PPAU
The oft-repeated talking point about “education” is purposefully vague. What kind of education? Learning about the purpose of sex from a Judeo-Christian perspective could certainly decrease abortions, as could learning about fetal development. But as Hanks has expressed her support for so-called “Comprehensive Sex Education” (CSE) in the past, it’s safe to assume that is what she is referring to here.
Here in our state, Planned Parenthood of Utah (PPAU) is at the forefront of organizations who advocate for CSE to be adopted in the classroom. However, they have a strong financial interest in having young people use birth control and get abortions. Once again, former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson confirms that the abortion industry uses sex education to generate a demand for their own services. Watch her comments below:
Hanks would do well to learn that the PPAU Director of Education Annabel Sheinberg is married to Dr. David Turok, the lead abortion provider for PPAU. The connection between “sex education” and abortion could not be more clear. They use these classes to build relationships and market themselves (read this article, which includes audio clips and images from our investigator who attended one of PPAU’s sex eduation classes).
5. Hanks is wrong when she implies that men are left out of the equation on abortion conversation
Abortion enables bad men to avoid commitment to their female partners and shun the responsibilities of fatherhood
Both women and their male partners are responsible for taking care of their children (including not having them killed during pregnancy)
Hanks’ suggestion that some men be forcibly sterilized shows how radical and ridiculous her views are
Hanks says she wants men to be included in the conversation about abortion and to bear more responsibility. What she doesn’t seem to understand is that abortion is a perfect way for men to escape responsibility! It enables them to be sexually involved with women while having no commitment to them or to any potential children they may create together. Don’t want to get married or pay for childcare costs? No problem, just drive her to Planned Parenthood and pay a few hundred dollars for an abortion. What’s more is that the pro-life movement is very vested in men bearing responsibility for the children they’ve created. Pregnancy centers often offer fatherhood classes, and those who advocate for risk-avoidance or abstinence-based sexual education know that men are most likely to be committed fathers within the confines of marriage. It is disappointing that even as a therapist, Hanks is either unaware or unwilling to mention how irresponsible men can use abortion to exploit women.
And what about women? If she truly wants equality between men and women, Hanks needs to acknowledge the role that women play in abortion (including being more sexually responsible). We understand that a great deal of women experience pressure or coercion to have an abortion, but women who abort are not blameless. By treating women with kid gloves and excusing them from their responsibility to protect their own children (as well as making the bizarre suggestion on her Instagram stories that some men should be mandated to undergo vasectomies to prevent abortion), Hanks reveals just how radical and out of touch with reality she is.
6. Hanks is wrong to advocate against human equality
Hanks has long called for women’s equality, but she denies that equality to human beings that are young, small, and dependent (even if they are female)
Hanks agrees that it should be legal to use a suction vacuum or forceps to dismember and kill a human being
Hanks should be forthright in admitting that her belief in human equality does not extend to all human beings
For years, Hanks has positioned herself as an advocate for women, and she encourages them to find their assertive voice and claim their place as an equal member of society. But by her self-proclaimed label of being “pro-choice,” she is against human equality.
Above is a picture of a human fetus at 10 weeks. Though the face, eye, arms and legs, and heart are present and clearly visible, Hanks thinks it should be legal to kill this little one. She does not believe this fetus is inherently equal because it is small, dependent on its mother, and still in the womb. Although she speaks about gender equality as one of her central themes, Hanks agrees with the law that says it is legally permissible to use a suction vacuum to kill it, even if this small human being were female.
It is disingenuous for Hanks to brand herself as an advocate for human equality when she simultaneously expresses that she is pro-choice (the “choice” being whether or not women or their partners have the moral authority to legally kill their literal offspring). If Hanks is going to continue to speak in support of equality, she should at least be intellectually honest and admit that there is an entire demographic of human beings who she does not believe are fully equal.
Dr. Julie Hanks’s views on abortion are anti-science, anti-equality, and anti-woman. She is trying to play both sides by calling herself both pro-choice and anti-abortion, but when you understand that abortion deliberately and violently kills a human being, you cannot think that is an acceptable choice for someone else to make.
Suggestions for Dr. Hanks & Others Who are “Pro-Choice”
Here are a few suggestions for Hanks and any others who want to look past the talking points and understand the truth::
Watch “The Silent Scream” on Youtube or watch the abortion procedure scene in “Unplanned”
The Silent Scream is a video by former abortion doctor Bernard Nathan that shows a live ultrasound procedure of a 13 week fetus that has a visceral reaction when the abortion instrument is introduced into the uterus. Once sucking its thumb, it’s face grimaces into what looks like a scream before it succumbs to the suction and violently dies on screen.
“Unplanned” is a film based on Abby Johnson’s book that shows the moment she realized how graphic and brutal abortion is. It also depicts an ultrasound procedure (though simulated) where a fetus’s arms, legs, torso, and head are pulled into a vacuum and ripped apart.
If Hanks or anyone else is going to defend or condone legalized abortion in any way, she should make sure she understands what it looks like. If she cannot bring herself to view these videos (and they are tough to watch), she should abandon her "pro-choice" position.
Listen to the stories of post-abortive women
Our group Pro-Life Utah holds healing retreats for women who have been negatively affected by abortion. Some of them have decided to publicly share their stories:
Mary Taylor is the president of PLU and has been very open about how she was manipulated by her partner and lied to by an abortion facility about the size and development of her 11-week old baby. You can read more of her experience here.
Dusty Johns is another brave woman who has told her story about how having been physically, sexually, and emotionally abused led her to getting an abortion at the Spokane Planned Parenthood where she suffered a deeply traumatic experience. Watch Dusty describe what happened or read it here.
Watch Former Abortion Provider Dr. Anthony Levatino describe the mechanics of 1st and 2nd trimester abortion.
Dr. Levatino (pictured above holding forceps used in a D&E abortion) once performed 1st and 2nd trimester abortions and has since testified before Congress about the graphic nature of the procedure. Levatino has since teamed up with Live Action to create animated depictions of the mechanics of each type of abortion procedure. Watch them here.
Once again, when speaking about the topic of abortion, it’s critical to be clear what we are talking about. Let's drop the euphemisms and the talking points.
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Why Abortion is NOT “a woman’s right to choose”
H136 and the anti-abortion push in Utah