Internet Abortion Vote Looking Like An Anti-Choice Prank (Updated)

Illustration for article titled Internet Abortion Vote Looking Like An Anti-Choice Prank (Updated)

A couple's website asking the Internet to vote on whether they should terminate their pregnancy is now mysteriously down, not long after one blogger suggested it was an anti-choice stunt.


Last night, Gawker's Adrian Chen spoke to Pete and Alisha Arnold about their site, Birth Or Not, which they said they created when Alisha was pregnant a second time, in May. She had a miscarriage, her second, and now says she is 17 weeks pregnant. If you find it mystifying that a couple that had multiple pregnancies and miscarriages now wants to put their abortion to a vote, it's not the only thing that's fishy here. Per Gawker:

We asked the Arnolds if this was some sort of a prank. "No, it's not. We are taking this very seriously," Pete replied. We then asked if this was some sort of convoluted pro-life stunt. Alisha laughed. "It's definitely not a pro-life campaign," she said. "I believe in a woman's right to choose."

And yet they found out the gender of the child, repeatedly refer to their fetus as a baby, and talk about fetal development in terms of growing eyelashes, tastebuds, and the bones forming on his face. Does that sound like someone blithely going for abortion by crowdsource?

Chen wrote last night that Alisha "liked" Glenn Beck on Facebook and Pete voted for Bush in 2000, but reportedly not in 2004. But her profile now appears to have been scrubbed of Beck mentions. Also, check out Pete Arnold's Facebook photo on an otherwise empty "fan" page created last year (or at least, the page of a Pete Arnold in Apple Valley, MN):

Illustration for article titled Internet Abortion Vote Looking Like An Anti-Choice Prank (Updated)

Amanda Marcotte also raised the red flag this morning, finding even more reasons to be suspicious — the site referring the "The Pill," capitalized as it often is when vilified in anti-choice literature, that they're having and posting online weekly ultrasounds, which have been a key front of anti-abortion efforts lately (although that could also be attributed to Alisha's previous complications).

More broadly, the principle is off. "Putting what you do with your body up to a vote is the anti-choice view," Marcotte writes. "Treating women's bodies like they're public property is the anti-choice view." Furthermore, while every woman's experience is different, treating abortion like "a lark" is the anti-choice view of how women make decisions about their pregnancies.


That they got called out on the stunt — presumably culminating in not having an abortion because that's really a baby in there, with eyelashes — may be the reason the site is now down. It could also be that the server was unprepared for an influx of traffic, though they've already survived a 4Chan invasion. We've contacted the couple to ask them to clear it up, and will keep you posted.

Update: The site is cached here.

Update 2: As of now, the site is back up.

Vote On Whether This Couple Gets An Abortion [Gawker]
A Pro Life Prank? [Slate]


Irin Carmon

FYI, they've agreed to an interview later today, though it could always fall through. Taking suggestions for questions, including on suspect gestation timing.