Life Dynamics, the Denton-based pro-life group that long ago earned a permanent spot on Planned Parenthood's anti-choice hall of fame, has always prided itself on being a bit different from its allies in the abortion fight. It's less about standing outside of abortion clinics with photos of bloody fetuses than conducting opposition research and distributing propaganda.
Among its many ventures: Project Choice, in which abortion providers' responses to a survey on their personal misgivings, supposedly conducted as part of a student project, were collected and published; "Spies for life," which enlisted thousands of volunteers to infiltrate abortion clinics and pro-choice groups and report on misdeeds; and Bottom Feeder, a 16-page cartoon tract of off-color jokes about abortionists that was mailed to 30,000 medical students. (Q. What do you call a busload of abortionists going over a cliff with one of its seats unoccupied? A. A crying shame.) Basically, Life Dynamics was James O'Keefe when James O'Keefe was still in diapers.
The group is also quite fond of malpractice lawsuits, which have been a favorite weapon since 1992, when founder Mark Crutcher began a direct mail campaign urging lawyers to sue abortion providers, thus forcing them out of business. That effort has never really stopped; it just mutated slightly. As Mother Jones reported on Monday, tens of thousands of attorneys across the country have recently begun receiving anodyne-looking DVDs:
The DVDs look innocuous from the packaging. The envelope doesn't say "abortion" anywhere on it. The envelope simply states, "This 11-minute DVD will revolutionize your legal practice." Abortion is not mentioned until two minutes into the video. A lawyer in New Hampshire, Ted Barnes, sent Mother Jones the copy he received, noting that he works mostly on criminal defense, not malpractice cases.
Another Manchester, New Hampshire-based lawyer, Michael J. Iacopino, said he received a DVD in the mail; he also mainly handles criminal-defense cases. From the packaging, he says, he mistook it to be something about how to manage his firm better. "To me it was false advertising," said Iacopino, a partner at Brennan Caron Lenehan & Iacopino. "It was designed to be something that would appeal to a lawyer that might be looking to organize their practice, but it turned out to be a pitch to sue abortion clinics."
The video, which Life Dynamics has posted to YouTube, takes the form of an imitation newscast featuring anchors Alan Ackles (an actor who most recently scored a couple of cameos in the Dallas remake) and Blynda Lane ("Fun is my middle name. Lovin' Jesus is my game.").
Ackles and Lane proceed to explain that there is an epidemic of adult men raping underage girls which, they say, is the cause of 60 to 80 percent of the teen pregnancies. Yet pregnancy clinics and abortion providers are ignoring the problem and, in the process, are violating laws requiring them to report suspected cases of sexual assault.
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The logic goes like this: When a girl comes in for a pregnancy test or an abortion or contraceptive services, "she is providing clear evidence that she is or has been sexually active," Lane says. "Since she is not legally old enough to give consent for sexual activity, this evidence constitutes reasonable suspicion of child sexual abuse."
And that's where the lawyers come in. "Make no mistake: What you're about to see could literally revolutionize your practice," Ackles tells viewers. "It can also put you on the cutting edge of solving one of the nation's most troubling, but most hidden, social problems."
This line of argument isn't new. Life Dynamics has long maintained childpredators.com, which is dedicated to exposing what Crutcher has called "a nationwide pedophile protection ring. They [Planned Parenthood et al] are knowingly and overtly protecting men who sexually abuse and rape children."
He's been making that argument for a decade or more, and it's yet to gain much traction beyond a dedicated contingent of pro-life activists. Clearly, the problem is not in the message but in its packaging, which a quaintly antiquated campaign of sending badly produced DVDs through the mail will undoubtedly solve.