Ann Scheidler talks about the mail fraud incident on Fox News Chicago
We receive unusual phone calls at the Pro-Life Action League offices often enough, but one call in late March topped the list. A concerned woman from Minnesota called to find out if it was really possible to purchase a do-it-yourself kit from us for $400—or 3 kits for $1,000—for performing an abortion at home.
She had received a mailing from “American Women’s Health” offering a Home Abortion Kit for sale. The mailing, which claimed the kit would “break down the fetus into bio-waste in a mere ten minutes” purported to be from the Pro-Life Action League and gave our name and address.
The ad also said the “bio-waste” could be “disposed of down the toilet, down the drain, or into a compost heap” even “up to the eighth month of pregnancy.” The woman—who works for a pro-life organization—was very relieved to discover this was a hoax and promised to mail us the original immediately.
Fake Ad Sent to Pro-Life Groups
A few hours later, John Jansen took a call from the Kentucky Right to Life Association in Louisville. They had received the same disgusting advertisement. They immediately faxed us a copy of the mailing and put the original in the mail. In the mid-afternoon we had a similar call from California.
By the end of the week, we had received a number of undeliverable letters from the Home Abortion Kit mailing, since our return address was on the envelopes. They had all been sent to churches and state affiliates of the National Right to Life Committee—clearly some kind of twisted attempt to sow confusion within the pro-life movement.
The same day that calls about the At Home Abortion Kit began coming in, I called the Chicago Police, who said it wasn’t a police matter. They referred me to the United States Postal Service, and I submitted paperwork about our mail having been tampered with. As the hoax went on, League Vice President Ann Scheidler contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well.
Positive Media Makes Hoax Backfire
We never heard back from either the Postal Service or the FBI. However, the media took interest in the story, including a report on Fox News Chicago. The Fox reporter who came to our office to interview Ann was appalled by the mailing. On TV that evening, Ann explained that the hoax is disrespectful to everyone—even pro-choice women obtaining abortions.
Picture of the instruments supposedly included in the home abortion kit
It’s puzzling why this deceiver would spend so much time and money on such a bizarre project. The paper, envelopes and color printing, the time stuffing and sealing envelopes, and especially the postage, all must have really set him back! But Ann remarked that perhaps that’s just the point: It’s disgusting. Maybe the hoaxer targeted people he knew would be most horrified and offended by the ad, just to upset them.
While we may never know who perpetrated the hoax or why, whoever it is cannot be pleased at the positive media that we received thank to that disgusting mailing. The hoax clearly backfired.