by Alexander Sanger

The latest ploy from those who want to criminalize abortion came this week in North Dakota (yes, that state — the one that recently passed a law banning abortions after six weeks). Perhaps frustrated by a federal judge summarily striking down the law as blatantly unconstitutional, the anti-choice folks at Heritage House distributed rubber fetus dolls — or “Precious Ones” — in candy packs that were handed out to children at the North Dakota State Fair. This North Dakota Happy Meal prize was intended to convince children of the sanctity of life and to dissuade them (at age five) from terminating any pregnancies down the road.

The only good news is that this effort is a titanic waste of money.

We on the pregnancy prevention side of things tried a decade ago to discourage teen pregnancy by distributing lifelike dolls to teens that needed 24-hour care and feeding. The dolls in the program, called “Baby Think It Over,” were seven-pound, lifelike infants made of plastic. The teens were required to care for the infants for three days and two nights. The dolls would cry and wail intermittently, could not be left unattended, and were designed to disrupt the teens’ social life, not to mention their sleep. Evaluations of the program were mixed, but one evaluation found that the dolls actually encouraged teen pregnancy by making actual childcare appear not so difficult by comparison!

Scenes at the Dakota State Fair showed the children, as children are wont to do, variously playing with, throwing, squeezing and otherwise abusing the fetus dolls. Perhaps they are getting the idea that the fetus isn’t so valuable after all — hardly the result that Heritage House intended.

What will a five-year-old Dakota girl remember at age 14 when she finds herself with an unintended pregnancy, which, given the paucity of sex ed programs in North Dakota schools, is increasingly likely? Maybe she’ll remember that the so-called “pro-lifers” were treating her like a wind-up doll and not a human being who has to confront and cope with real life issues when she still may be playing with dolls.


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