Unethical, Cruel, and Likely Illegal: Anti-Choicers Make Family’s Tragedy Public Without Their Consent

Anti-choice activist Jill Stanek recently published online the name and photo of a woman who passed away following a late abortion at the Maryland clinic of Dr. Leroy Carhart. The name and picture of the woman, I’ll call her Marie, along with information about her job, marriage, and pregnancy were soon all over the internet. Protesters plastered Marie’s picture on signs and marched outside Dr. Carhart’s clinic and held a “vigil” outside the emergency room where she was treated. Internet commentators characterized Marie’s husband, parents, and sister, who traveled with her from out-of-state for the three-day procedure, as everything from bad Catholics to killers. Beyond being immoral, unethical and unbelievably cruel, making the family’s tragedy public without their consent was likely illegal.

The Information Released

Stanek first revealed Marie’s identity in a post entitled “BREAKING: Carhart’s Victims Identified,” which continues to top Stanek’s list of most read posts. In the post, she explains that clinic protestors, “sidewalk counselors” as she calls them, tracked the visits of Marie and her family members, making “real-time annotations” about how she looked and when the family came and went. Stanek gives us down to the minute details. (“The family returned again on Wednesday,[…]staying nine hours, an extraordinary length of time. They left at 4:35 p.m.”)[1]      

Stanek’s scoop also included information about what time Marie was admitted to the emergency room, how many times she “coded,” what time she died, when Dr. Carhart called the hospital, how long a medical examiner looked at Marie’s file, etc. If Stanek’s information is accurate, it would seem to have been disclosed by someone working at the hospital—in violation of HIPAA, the federal law protecting patient privacy.  Stanek says she received Marie’s name from an “impeccable informant.” This is presumably the same source who knew what happened at the hospital, though it could have been a protestor who took it upon herself to search obituaries for women who looked familiar, or someone else. Once Marie’s name was known, her obituary was found. Two protestors confirmed to Stanek that the woman pictured in it had been at the clinic. 

For extra journalistic cred, Stanek links to Marie’s baby registry. It was then taken down, presumably by someone who doesn’t want strangers looking at it and has access to the account. One likely candidate would be the other half of the registered couple, Marie’s grieving husband, who I’ll call Kevin. Undeterred, Stanek posts an “UPDATE” with a screenshot of the registry. Stanek’s later posts include a picture of Marie with Kevin mostly cropped out, which she likely pulled from Pinterest since the four versions of it Stanek has saved online include Marie’s Pinterest username in the file names.  

Stanek’s scoop is a big deal among anti-choicer bloggers and Twitter users who can now illustrate their claims that Dr. Carhart is a murderer with pictures of an extremely pretty young woman and the warning of a family’s very sad and very public story. They can use Marie’s name and the name the couple had chosen for their daughter as a rallying cry and Twitter hashtag. Lila Rose took advantage of the opportunity to go on Fox News.  

Marie’s mother-in-law expressed to a reporter how upsetting the publicity has been and pleaded for her son to be allowed to mourn in peace. Instead, strangers are tweeting pictures of him with his dead wife, photographing him leaving her funeral, making accusations about their decisions, and “remembering” a woman he just lost and they never met.

Anti-choice bloggers have been critical, to put it nicely, of those who have written about the invasion of privacy. Some have pointed to the publicity surrounding the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died after being denied an abortion in Ireland, as justification for publishing Marie’s information. However, it was Savita Halappanavar’s family who brought her story to light, not a stranger who learned what happened through likely illegal means. Halappanavar’s husband demanded an investigation into her death and her parents want a reformed abortion law to be named after her.They have chosen to make their loss a catalyst for change. We have no information that Marie’s family believes she received poor medical care, but they were free to make her story public for that or any other reason. It should have been their decision to make.

Invasion of Privacy Claims

Many of the anti-choicers circulating information about Marie and her family seem to be under the impression that publishing anything about anyone is free speech and fair game. This is not the case.  The vast majority of states recognize a common law, statutory, or state constitutional right to privacy.  There are four main common law invasion of privacy torts (a tort is a wrong with a civil remedy, as opposed to a crime). They are:  (1) unreasonable intrusion upon the seclusion of another, (2) appropriation of another’s name or likeness, (3) unreasonable publicity about another’s private life, and (4) publicity that unreasonably places another in a false light before the public.  Whether one can sue for invasion of privacy will depend on the facts of the case and which state’s law will apply.  Maryland, where the procedure and protests took place, recognizes all four privacy torts as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Public Disclosure of Private Facts

Let’s begin with the third privacy tort, because it looks like the strongest claim based on what’s been reported. Someone who makes a public disclosure of private facts can be held liable if the disclosure would be highly offensive to a reasonable person and is not of legitimate concern to the public. A private individual’s medical information is generally not something the public is entitled to know about. That’s why we have a Federal law, HIPAA, which protects patient privacy. 

In a 1995 Michigan case, Doe v. Mills, the court found that the fact that a woman had decided to have an abortion was not a matter of legitimate public concern: “We have no hesitancy in concluding that such an allegation involves a matter that a reasonable person would consider private.  Indeed, abortion concerns matters of sexual relations and medical treatment, both of which are regarded as private matters.” The court explained that though the issue of abortion may be of legitimate public interest, the identity of a particular woman seeking one is a purely private concern.

In that case, the plaintiffs alleging invasion of privacy were women who had themselves sought abortions and then faced protesters who’d put their names on posters. Marie did not live to see her face on protestors’ signs. Claims for invasion of privacy do not survive the death of the person whose privacy was violated, so no one can sue on Marie’s behalf, but her family had their own privacy rights violated.  In particular, her husband had details about his procreation made public, which is regarded by courts as a private matter.

Jill Stanek and her cohorts would probably argue the “newsworthiness exception.” Something to the effect of “It is newsworthy because Carhart is killing women! And babies!” (Let’s bracket Dr. Carhart’s defamation claims against these people). Even if the criminalize-abortion activists could successfully argue that the death of a person following surgery—something that occurs regularly—and the details of where and when and why she was treated is newsworthy, is the identity of that person newsworthy?

Courts have generally held the names of crime victims to be newsworthy, but not the names of people who have had particular medical procedures or conditions. Furthermore, Stanek’s claims to being any kind of journalistic outlet are extremely weak given the inaccurate information and unsubstantiated claims that characterize her site. Finally, she lacked information that any crime had occurred.      

Alternatively, Stanek et al might argue that they did not publicize a private matter because the clinic was in a public place so the family’s “comings and goings were acts exposed to the public eye.” The Doe v. Mills court rejected this argument, as have other courts, agreeing with a court that had held that a couple who had attended a program at a public hospital for in vitro fertilization did not waive their right to keep the medical condition and treatment private in respect to the general public. Neither Kevin, nor Marie’s parents nor her sister waived their rights to privacy by being visible in public while accompanying Marie to the clinic. Nor did the family make the entirety of their lives public by publishing an obituary. What Stanek and other activists have done to Marie’s family looks to me like precisely what the prohibition of unreasonably publishing private facts is meant to prevent.  

Intrusion upon seclusion, appropriation, and false light

We turn to the remaining privacy torts briefly. (1) Intrusion upon seclusion is a cause of action against a person who obtains private information, that another person had the right to keep secret, through means a reasonable person would find objectionable. It concerns the manner in which private information is obtained rather than its publication. Kevin had the right to keep the details of his wife’s pregnancy private and HIPAA bars disclosure of the medical information without permission. I don’t know how Jill Stanek got the information she published, but I can’t think of many unobjectionable or even legal ways she could have. Her use of the term “informant” suggests inducement to me, but if someone sent the information unsolicited, that person could be liable for intrusion upon seclusion. 

The tort of (2) appropriation of another’s name or likeness requires unauthorized use for a commercial or advertising purpose in many jurisdictions. The classic case involves using someone’s picture in an advertisement for a product, but if I were Kevin’s lawyer, I’d still bring an appropriation claim on these facts. A number of blogs that advocate the criminalization of abortion are using Marie and Kevin’s names, photos and story to drive traffic to their sites. One that I find especially offensive has a big banner with Marie’s face and the name of Marie and Kevin’s baby above a large red “Donate” button.  Additionally, Stanek’s blog has advertisements for commercial products, an online store that’s a one-stop shop for all your pro-life gear,and info on how to book her for speaking engagements. Looks like a commercial use to me.

An action for (3) publicity that places another in a false light, entails a showing that the publication is highly objectionable because it characterizes a person falsely by attributing to him beliefs or conduct which are not his own. The alleged beliefs or conduct need not be defamatory or shameful. The kindest of the portrayals of Marie’s family have been as misguided victims lured into aiding and abetting their daughter in an immoral act. If, as I believe is far more likely, the family supported Marie in what was determined to be the best course of action in a terrible situation after weighing the risks, I’d argue they’ve been placed in a false light. Furthermore, the rampant use of Marie’s name and picture could be misconstrued as the family’s endorsement of the anti-choicers belief that abortion should be illegal. We have no reason to believe they feel that way, and some reason to believe they hold the opposite opinion.

Marie’s family members might have claims against different individuals for different torts depending on information I don’t have about who did what. Perhaps, they would have a claim for civil conspiracy under Maryland law as well. I can only discuss possibilities given that the available facts are few and disputed, but the available information suggests they would have a case.   

The First Amendment Defense: Phelps v. Snyder

Privacy intrusions often go hand in hand with claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED).  For a viable IIED claim, a plaintiff must show that the defendant, either intentionally or recklessly, engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct that caused the plaintiff severe emotional distress. I think one could prove the outrageous nature of the publication and subsequent campaign to a jury, but I will hope that no one in Marie’s family will experience distress of such a severity that they would have a claim for IIED. Still, given that the harm at issue resulted from speech, let’s imagine a plaintiff in this family’s situation that had both a valid IIED and privacy claim and consider the First Amendment defense.

Last year in Synder v. Phelps, the Supreme Court overturned a judgment against the Westboro Baptist Church for IIED, intrusion on seclusion, and civil conspiracy on free speech grounds. Albert Snyder, the father of a deceased soldier sued Westboro after they picketed his son’s funeral with their signature “God Hates Fags,” “God Hates America,” and other signs. Writing for the majority, Justice Roberts explained that whether holding Westboro liable for its speech was prohibited by the First Amendment depended largely on whether the speech was of public or private concern. Restricting speech on purely private matters does not implicate the same constitutional concerns as limiting speech on matter of public interest. Contrasting cases where an individual’s credit report and a video of an employee engaging in a sex act were found not to be of public concern, the Court found that the content of Westboro’s signs related to broad issues of interest to society at large, not purely private concerns. Distasteful as their speech might be, Westboro expressed views on a public topic by picketing peacefully on public property.

In his concurrence, Justice Breyer agreed the picketing addressed a matter of public concern.  He noted that the opinion said little about the effect of television broadcasting and nothing about internet postings. He explained that the government can sometimes regulate picketing and that newsworthiness does not guarantee constitutional protection for speech. One cannot assault a person, for example, knowing the assault will be a newsworthy statement and thereby give the illegal act First Amendment protection. Justice Breyer emphasized the limited nature of the holding:

The dissent requires us to ask whether our holding unreasonably limits liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress—to the point where A (in order to draw attention to his views on a public matter) might launch a verbal assault upon B, a private person, publicly revealing the most intimate details of B’s private life, while knowing that the revelation will cause B severe emotional harm. Does our decision leave the State powerless to protect the individual against invasions of, e.g. personal privacy, even in the most horrendous of such circumstances?

It does not. Justice Breyer explained that the state has an interest in protecting privacy related interests that sometimes conflict with First Amendment values. Given the facts of the case, where the plaintiff saw only the tops of the protestors’ signs as he drove to his son’s funeral and could not hear them once inside, the state’s interest in protecting citizens from severe emotional harm would not be advanced enough to justify punishing Westboro’s speech. 

In an impassioned dissent, Justice Alito disagreed with the Court’s determination that Westboro’s speech was on a matter of public concern and explained that Westboro deprived a private person of the right to bury his son in peace by targeting his son as part of a “well-practiced strategy for attracting public attention.” He concluded that having a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated does not requiring allowing the “brutalization of innocent victims” like the mourning father.

The brutalization of Marie’s family as part of the anti-choicers strategy for attracting public attention, was accomplished through speech that was much more clearly of purely private concern than that at issue in Snyder v. Phelps. Jill Stanek and her pack are free to express their views on abortion by holding up signs the required number of feet from a Maryland funeral that say “God hates women who get abortions” a la Westboro. They do not have the right to say, “this is the name of a woman who had an abortion,” or any other medical procedure for that matter, without consent. They do not have the right to publicize a fetus’ anomalies. They do not have the right to take a dead woman and the wife of a man in mourning as their mascot.  They do not have the right to publish the names of parents and what actions they took regarding their daughter’s medical issues. 

I doubt any amount of money could compensate a family like Marie’s whose private tragedy was made public before they could even bury her. If I’d been attacked in this way, I suspect preventing it from happening to the next person would be the only motivation worth the time and heartache of a lawsuit.  Short of a lawsuit in any particular situation, however, we can hope for a better public understanding of the fact that First Amendment rights are not absolute and that we cannot use private information in any way we please that might deter the next blogger from exploiting a private tragedy for the cause.

[1] The anonymous “sidewalk counselors” tell Stanek the woman looked increasingly pale. Janet Kotowski, “a volunteer with Germantown Pregnancy Choices, which she said assists pregnant women with alternatives to abortion” gave a reporter similar information about when the family visited the clinic, saying that the woman was getting “paler and paler.” Kotowski, who Operation Rescue has referred to as a “pro-life sidewalk counselor” in the context of her complaints against Carhart, told the reporter she, “works next door and saw [the woman] in the parking lot before and after the visits.” In a complaint to the Maryland Board of Physicians, Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger, states Kotowski told her Marie was at the clinic for 8 ½ to 9 hours, which Kotowski described, like Stanek, as “much longer than patients usually stay.” Ellen Castellano also told Sullenger she saw Marie each day and described her as “weak and pale.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/frank.libbon Frank Libbon

    This case should be thoroughly investigated, and should the results reflect that Stanek illegally
    disclosed the name and medical condition of a woman, she should be charged, brought before a court of law, and if found guilty, sentenced to no less than 10 years in prison. She, and others of her stripe have no right to stick their noses in other peoples’ affairs, and represent everything that is wrong in our nation.

  • http://twitter.com/lifepostepic Cade DeBois

    These anti-choicers have no moral center or shred of humanity whatsoever. They are simply vindicative and malicious. So fed up with their hate and abuse. Any claim of a moral high ground they have thrown out the window wih such vile and heinious actions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allyson-Engle/502619027 Allyson Engle

    One minor correction for future reference: It’s not HIPPA, it’s The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

    • Jodi Jacobson

      Thank you so much. We will make this correction.

    • nettwench14

      I have been making that mistake too, thanks!

    • follow yr id

      THANK YOU. I see that mistake online all the time, and it drives me nuts. I’m not even in healthcare; I just have to go to the doctor and sign HIPAA forms a lot, haha!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allyson-Engle/502619027 Allyson Engle

      Everyone’s welcome. I’m a medical transcriptionist and HIPAA is very important when it comes to health documentation. It’s a common mistake.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allyson-Engle/502619027 Allyson Engle

    Seriously though, this is not their business. Why aren’t they scouring the obituaries for every woman that’s died from pregnancy and child birth?

    • jovan1984

      Easy, Allyson. The anti-choicers want to turn women into slaves for the government or criminals just for being female. Take your pick.

      • HeilMary1

        They want women to breed for pedophile priests.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allyson-Engle/502619027 Allyson Engle

          Or the Evangelical protestants want more babies to be born to grow up and keep the church going. They’re just as bad as the Catholics. That’s my former background. I’m an ex-evangelical fundamentalist protestant.

    • HeilMary1

      I scour obits and have collected several of young women who die from childbirth complications in the Washington, DC, tri-state area.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allyson-Engle/502619027 Allyson Engle

        Okay, good for you. Let me clarify. By “they”, I mean Jill Stanek and Lifesitenews that are so quick to mention any woman dying from complications from an abortion, but never seem to mention any woman dying from childbirth. That was my point.

  • colleen2

    Well, we all knew that Mrs Stanek is a classless and cruel woman but she and her goons shouldn’t be above the law. Hopefully the family and husband of the deceased woman will sue Mrs Stanek (and they will win because Mrs Stanek is not a sympathetic figure unless you’re a right wing radical)and her ‘pro-life’ informant(s) within the hospital will be fired and charged with appropriate violations of federal law. The ‘pro-life’ movement has always pretended they are above the law and they are often treated as if they were. As long as we allow them to violate the law and basic decency with impunity they will continue to do so.
    It is my hope that everyone on the right who has been getting a free ride the past couple of decades pretending that laws don’t apply to them will soon discover that they have lost the culture wars and that the diminishing number of elected Republicans protecting their useless persons will not be so eager to continue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shivaun.nestor Shivaun Nestor

    What is wrong with people? Really! These folks have absolutely no compassion, which makes their real motivations in this struggle much more clear. They don’t care a whit for the real women and families whose cause they claim to champion. I hope that every cingle person who participated in violating this family is arrested, prosecuted, and punished if found guilty.

    • jovan1984

      The entire anti-choice movement is guilty of violating this woman’s privacy.

      • Dezzydez

        Exactly. They constantly try to insert themselves into private medical situations without permission from women.

  • Minami

    Anti-choicers have no respect for women or life.

    • jovan1984

      I think we all knew that.

  • RuthDJ

    What a tragic story for the family. And then for those vultures to illegally obtain medical records and publish this family’s sad story? I hope they all go to prison for it.

  • ChristineIam

    So, they see the horrendous decision, to end a very wanted pregnancy, that ends in the death of the mother, as support for their “cause”? To me, it shows the the exact opposite.

    Pregnancy can have very tragic results. There was a baby registry. The pregnancy was wanted. Both the mother and fetus died. More proof that the GOP & Religious extreme do not belong anywhere near healthcare or vaginas.

  • jovan1984

    I’d bring terrorism charges against Stanek and her ilk.

    • Dezzydez

      They are domestic terrorists. They stalk, threaten, intimidate, and harass women and the medical staff that helps them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/theressa.morello Theressa Morello

        Don’t forget it’s a case of convert or die with these people

      • phatkhat

        We all know that only left-wingers can be domestic terrorists. You know, like the Occupy people.

    • colleen2

      would that you were a federal prosecutor

  • Abby

    Instead of launching an investigation into the journalist who uncovered the story, shouldn’t you push to launch an investigation into the death of this woman and her 33-week-old baby? She died at the hands of Dr. Carhart, not Jill Stanek.

    • Jodi Jacobson

      Abby… your ideology is showing. She had a pregnancy gone drastically wrong. Dr. Carhart was trying to save her. The autopsy showed her death could not in any way be attributable to the care provided by Dr. Carhart. Please take this disgusting sideshow somehere else. Like another planet.

    • Arachne646

      No, the autopsy did not show that at all, and to call Ms. Stanek a journalist is to forget that there is a difference between journalism and propaganda.

      • Abby

        the reason we’re even having this conversation and you know about an autopsy is because Stanek posted on it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

          Oh, so that makes “having this conversation” okey dokey, does it? Just because Stanek sticks her nose into private peoples’ business. The point is, in case you missed it, that we shouldn’t be having this conversation about a woman’s private medical information NOR her family’s private business.

          • Abby

            her obituary is publicly available.

          • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

            Her obituary did not state anything about an abortion or an exact cause of death. Obviously, her family wanted to keep that private. And if you and your kind had even a shred of decency you would have respected their wishes.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

            We’re not talking about her obit. We’re talking about her private medical records. We’re talking about out-of-control antichoicers combing through her personal life, looking for nuggets with which to sully her name and vilify her character. Don’t act like it’s something it’s not. It just makes you look stupid.

        • HeilMary1

          I’ll bet you completely ignore the far more common deadly complications of childbirth and the RCC pedophile priest scandal.

          • Abby

            have you been through the deadly childbirth process?

          • HeilMary1

            I’m too disfigured to get pregnant — my Catholic sex-hating, childbirth-fistulaed mom burned all my skin off when I was in first grade as her permanent abstinence excuse and to force miserable permanent abstinence on me. She also overdosed me on barbiturates and unsuccessfully bullied Johns Hopkins dermatologists to lop off my arms to prevent me from ever applying “slut makeup”. She also thought it was a holy hoot that childbirth nearly killed my “ungrateful” sister. I know/knew several victims of grisly childbirth complications, including a woman whose face and brain were rotted out by a female fetus-weaponized skin cancer that killed her after 15 years of suffering. An ex-coworker at USAToday told me his sister and her husband were murdered by their daughter who triggered breast cancer in her mom and a heart attack in her grieving dad, leaving herself and her siblings orphaned. My boss’s neighbor became homeless after losing his wife to childbirth and then his job from child-care duties. These true horror stories have barely scratched the surface.

          • HoosierMommy

            Twice, actually, and the second time was very much touch-and-go. My husband and I made the decision to continue the pregnancy, but that was OUR choice to make and NO ONE else’s to tell me that I was obligated to risk my life or to tell my husband that he should encourage me to do so.

          • cjvg

            I have and it did almost cost me my life, I and my child were in the hospital for almost 2 weeks, and a month of visiting nurse care.
            My grandmother did die at the birth of her 5th child, leaving her daughter to raise the rest and a baby at 13 years old!
            My grandfather never got “over” it, and wanted nothing to do with the baby!

          • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

            Doesn’t matter. Have YOU ever had an abortion? By YOUR logic that means you don’t have any right to discuss THIS issue. Hypocrite.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=578762983 Cait McKnelly

          Actually, no. The autopsy was published without personal identifying information by the Maryland State Medical Examiner’s Office. They didn’t go into detail beyond stating the death was from natural causes and listing the three contributing causes. I doubt they would have done THAT much if not for Jill Stanek and I KNOW they wouldn’t have done it without the family’s permission.Despite the ME’s determination that her death was from “natural causes”, Operation Rescue has filed a formal complaint against Carhart. They get away with this kind of BS in Kansas all the time. I don’t think they will find it quite so easy in Maryland.

        • cjvg

          We do not need to have this conversation at all.
          Autopsies are done for this reason, if there is medical negligence the state is notified and they investigate.
          No such notification was made since her cause of death as recorded also occurs during a normal birth.
          So unless you want to claim that childbirth is also an optional procedure when pregnant, you are completely wrong.

      • http://www.facebook.com/theressa.morello Theressa Morello

        She used illegally obtained information to create “pro-life” propoganda. Facts seem to be completely irrelevant to the “followers” of this movement that in reality is just a terrorist group

    • colleen2

      she died because her body could not sustain a wanted pregnancy. I would prefer to investigate the ‘journalist’ because what the ‘journalist’ did reveals the true character of your movement.

    • HeilMary1

      YOU and Stanek should be investigated for lying about childbirth’s far greater dangers.

    • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

      I wouldn’t exactly call Stanek a journalist. A real journalist and an ethical person would have at least attempted to contact or notify the family and get their permission before publishing the name. Jill did neither. To call that woman a journalist is an insult to real journalists everywhere.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

        Oh, she’s no journalist. She is, however, a world-class fame whore. She just loves the way those flying monkeys on her website pucker up and kiss her ass.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

          Please do not use misogynistic language on a feminist site. On the rest, though, I agree.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

      Unfortunately, you just care about the fetus. NOT the woman. Sad.

  • Abby

    P.S. isn’t it ironic that you have a “Donate Today” graphic in prominent view on your blog? Your argument about Stanek capitalizing on Marie’s death is void. To quote you, “looks like a commercial use to me.”

    • Foxxit

      Umm but it isn’t using anyone’s likeness without permission. It would be hypocritical if they were using someone else’s image without permission as the blogs are doing.

      • Abby

        so Jill Stanek gave permission to use her photo for this blog?

        • Arachne646

          She holds herself out as a public figure, I believe.

          • Fiona Carmody

            The image is from Flickr and legally available for public use.

        • http://twitter.com/bswen Brady Swenson

          Fiona is right, the image is available for reuse under a Creative Commons attribution license on Flickr, the source is linked in the image caption.

          • Jodi Jacobson

            Not to mention that Jill Stanek is a public figure.

        • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

          False equivalency. Jill Stanek has willingly made herself into a public figure. She seeks publicity.This woman and her family did not ask for any of this to be made public–that was forced upon them by Jill and other ‘pro-lifers’ who can’t stop interfering in the private lives and choices of others.

    • HeilMary1

      YOU exploit all women as throw-away incubators for pedophile priests and I’ll bet you donate to their defense funds!

      • Abby

        Um, I am not a Catholic.

        • HeilMary1

          You lie about everything else!

  • Bascoda

    It appears that the forced-birthers have been taking lessons from the Westboro Baptist Church. Why am I not surprised.

  • John W

    What a C U N T !!! I hope she is sued for everythiing she owns and goes to jail for her actions!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathie-Wilson/100000853526830 Kathie Wilson

    Did she really think she was helping anyone by posting this information? If so, why didn’t she get consent from the family to do it? By the way, she looks like a duck. Probably never been laid in her life.

    • LisaC

      “Did she really think she was helping anyone by posting this information?”

      Of course she did. She helped to punish “Marie’s” family for supporting her, and she helped the entire anti-choice movement by providing them with pictures of a pretty, young, white woman to blow up to poster size and parade around in “press conferences” and candlelight vigils. An African-American woman died following an abortion several months ago, but she somehow just wasn’t what the anti-choice movement was looking for in a poster child. Go figure.

      The one thing that Marie’s family can be grateful for is that anti-choicers didn’t succeed in obtaining any upskirt photos of her being wheeled out to an ambulance, as Jill delights in posting those..

      • HeilMary1

        “upskirt photos”
        Yeah, I’ll bet Jill is that kind of perv also.

      • nettwench14

        Absolutely unbelievable!!

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  • http://twitter.com/heatherr_parker Heather Parker

    Thank FSM somebody finally posted a fleshed out piece about these privacy issues surrounding this woman’s tragic death. It is my hope that a successful case based on these facts might prove a catalyst through which other individuals accessing reproductive health services, and abortion services specifically, might be able to maintain their rights to privacy in the face of such wanton disregard for the law as shown regularly by Stanek, sidewalk “counselors,” and other antichoice organizations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=521225319 Kaz Malkshur

    These anti- choicers have no moral centre or shred of humanity
    whatsoever. They are simply vindictive and malicious. So fed up with
    their hate and abuse. Any claim of a moral high ground they have thrown
    out the window with such vile and heinous actions. <—-hear hear I hope each and every one of these people faces the entire letter of the law, with acts like this they do nothing for any cause they profess to stand up for, this woman has major issues and wants to hear her own voice no matter who she tramples on.

  • AQ

    What wonderfully Christian people Ms. Stanek and her compatriots are. Really.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=578762983 Cait McKnelly

    Anything even remotely connected to Cheryl Sullenger should be thoroughly investigated. This woman is a Federal felon, convicted of attempting to blow up an abortion clinic in CA and multiple violations of the FACE act. Her personal cell phone number was found in Scott Roeder’s possession at the time of his arrest for Dr. George Tiller’s murder. She enjoys a certain measure of governmental protection as she lives in Kansas. The governor of that state and it’s legislature are overwhelmingly fetus worshiping pro-forced birthers. They are NOT “pro-life” nor are they even truly anti-abortion as they are also against those things that are known to lower abortion rates, such as access to contraception and real sex education, preferring “abstinence only” sex ed. They view Sullenger as an “asset” and even allowed her to file a complaint against a doctor for merely working with Dr.Tiller; a complaint that resulted in that doctor having her license revoked.
    Bottom line, Sullenger is someone who NEEDS to be watched.

    • HeilMary1

      I’ll bet Sullenger has sex scandals in her closet too.

      • jerome healy

        She probably doesn’t because she cannot entice anybody else to participate with her, which is why she is so motivated against those that can

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.turnbole David P. Turnbole

    Medical HIPPA laws prevent even doctors from publishing names of patients without their approval. So who’s going to prosecute this bitch?

    • pilar608

      Could we please refrain from using misogynistic insults on a feminist site?

  • Vanessa12

    Anti-choicers practice the Deadly Sin of Pride. There is now way they will ever be rewarded for their actions. And I bet they get a nasty surprise when their time comes.

    • RachelBailey

      One can only hope.

  • DavidChicago

    Very simple, sue the hospital for HIPAA violations. Ultimately they are supposed to know everyone who had access to that information, when they looked, etc. The law requires access controls and audit trails.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

    These lunatics pull underhanded shit like this then simper, “Oh, we just want to help them heeaaal. Hopefully this experience will cause them to stand up for liiiife.” If it were my family, delivering a hearty, legal bitchslap to Stanek would go a long way to providing satisfaction.

    • HeilMary1

      And I’d merrily join that long, long, very long line forming for the pleasure of also bitchslapping Stanek.

      • Abby

        spoken like a classy woman.

        • HeilMary1

          YOU abuse all women as throw-away incubators for pedophile priests. How classy is that?

        • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

          While I agree that no woman should ever be confronted with that term, I would also like to ask why you aren’t standing up for the women whom Stanek has called murderers and is trying to deny rights?

  • http://www.facebook.com/barentw Barent Wagar

    Stanek is the poster child for why abortion should be legal. Imagine how much better the world would be if her parents had removed her before she clawed her way out.

    • HeilMary1

      She had parents? — I thought she hatched from a slithering reptile egg!

    • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

      Except that her parents may have wanted and chosen her. How I wish they had felt differently, however.

  • CherriBrown

    Bullies are bullies. Agree with Frank Libbon, unconscionable actions by Ms. Stanek, and because I work for a hospital, absolutely illegal for person who released information, and criminal intent to harm on Ms. Stanek’s part. This will be a very interesting case.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.clarke.16 Kimberly Clarke

    Anonymous, where are you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/katy.wolf Katy Fruge Wolf

    This makes me more sad than words can say. This poor family. What can we do to help them?

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  • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

    This woman’s family and fiance did not ask for her information to be public–they didn’t ask for her name to be given out, for her face to be posted on placards and for the details of her life and health to be discussed and judged by total strangers. That someone, in their zeal to promote their ’cause’ would invade their privacy like this is nothing short of disgusting. But this is what anti-choicers do–and it’s what they always have done.

    • nettwench14

      To use her name and likeness in their FUNDRAISING efforts has to be illegal as hell! No way they should get away with that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jen-Clark/100000568225513 Jen Clark

    Anti-choicers are the biggest goons I’ve ever seen in my life. I say kevin sue them, sue every last one of them that was involved in this. I can’t believe these people are so vile and sneaky. Next thing you’ll know it, they’ll be sneaking through peoples windows and posting daily articles about whose having sex, and whose doing what. And posting articles demeaning people for being “less than a woman” for not conforming to gender stereotypes…oh wait, they already do that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000368585975 Luanne Greene

    This case should be referred to and investigated by the DOJ. These people are causing ACTUAL harm to innocent parties. If they wanted to make an example out of Aaron Swartz for merely sharing educational articles on the web with the permission of their creators, this should be worthy of any US Attorney’s time. In the meantime, I say fight fire with fire. What’s stopping the random harassment of these people by doing the exact same things to them as they are doing to this family?

    • nettwench14

      I thought of Aaron Swartz also! Where are the prosecutors when an actual CRIME occurs?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Susan-Wood/100000491513214 Susan Wood

    If the woman had a baby registry, it’s safe to assume that she and her husband wanted the child. If she needed to have an abortion, it must have been because of complications that threatened her life. I doubt she died only from the abortion procedure. These fools are arguing against themselves and don’t know it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/amber.mellott.3 Amber Mellott

      As far as I understand, this was a wanted pregnancy, until they were told there was something ‘wrong’ with her baby. The procedure caused amniotic fluid to mix into her bloodstream and cause horrific clotting. It is so sad, because she didn’t need to have an abortion @ 33wks… she chose it, and in doing so, ended both of their lives. I can’t understand how this is arguing against anything- except homicide!? I wish more people would turn their aggression toward the ‘doctor’.

      • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

        Actually, I think my anger is fine right where it belongs–with the people who have shamelessly invaded the privacy of this woman and her family for the sake of a ’cause’.

      • BotanyBuff

        “Wrong” like a contition incompatible with life, perhaps? “Wrong” like the pregnancy might kill the mother? “Wrong” like they had to make a difficult call on wether to proceed with a high risk pregnancy? How DARE they made a private and doubtless painful decision to undergo a legal medical procedure!

      • cjvg

        This condition also happens during childbirth, did she not have to have one of those either?

        My understanding is that pregnancy ultimately leads to child birth, which carries the exact same risk for “amniotic fluid to mix into her bloodstream and cause horrific clotting”

      • Kristen

        and i guess you know all of this because you know her family right?

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  • Chris Jacobs

    If you are trying to respect Jennifer’s family, why bring more attention to this than already has been brought to it? People that didn’t know about Jennifer and her baby, now do. And now we know about Jill Stanke as well.

    • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

      We didn’t mention the woman’s name out of respect for her and her family’s privacy. Why don’t you do the same? And as for Stanek, people need to know how reprehensible her and the anti-choice movement actually is.

      • Chris Jacobs

        My point was that everyone can now go to Stanke’s and find out the names and all about the family. My bad for using her name. I wasn’t thinking.

        • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

          Understood–apologies for jumping to conclusions. Unfortunately once something is out it’s pretty much out. It’s a shame that Stanek and her ilk have no respect for a family’s privacy during a time like this. Ghouls, voyeurs and jackals–it really disgusts me.

    • colleen2

      why bring more attention to this than already has been brought to it?

      Because laws were broken and this woman’s rights and those of her family were violated. The religious right should not be allowed to continue to operate as if laws don’t apply to them.

    • cjvg

      So you would like for them to be able to continue to do this again and again to other families, without any legal and moral repercussions?

      Why report rape, lets just not do that so the victim can heal in silence
      Unfortunately your mindset has almost won that battle, less then half of rapes get reported according to the FBI.

      All that did is making rapes more and more horrific up to the point were rapists are now publishing photo’s and accounts with the victims name on public media and send them to the victims acquaintances.
      Yes, that not reporting is working well for rape victims too.

  • goatini

    Stanek’s crowing over on her blog about a supposed “abortionist” that allegedly “quit doing abortions at Planned Parenthood”. The “letter” that liar Scabby Johnson supposedly received is linked to, and it’s obvious to anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with reproductive healthcare that the “letter” is fake.

    Did I mention that this alleged supposed “abortionist” is ANONYMOUS?

    Because in Stanek’s Bizarro World, the confidentiality of patient information in a tragic case is subject to her blatant violations, but the “privacy rights” of an imaginary “abortionist” are sacrosanct.

    Different day, just more BS from Stanek and her vile misogynist forced-birth cabal.

  • goatini

    Stanek and Scalia – Separated At Birth?

  • nettwench14

    Excellent reporting and legal analysis! The RHREALITY site just gets better and better. “sidewalk counselors” as she calls them, tracked the visits of Marie and her family members, making “real-time annotations” – this sounds awfully like stalking to me, or like a lynch mob! I had to stop reading this when you said they were using this woman and her baby on a page with a red DONATE button! That is horrendous and evil and I am too upset now to even read the rest. I will have to come back and finish it when I calm down! The poor family – I cannot imagine!

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  • annette gander

    Please don’t call us “anti-choice” We are Pro Life. You wouldn’t like us calling you “Pro Death”

    • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

      Show me anything about “pro-life” that is actually pro-life , and I might.

    • BotanyBuff

      Ok, We’ll switch to “Pro-Birth,” or perhaps “Pro-Reproductive Coercion.”

      • Dezzydez

        More like pro-force birth whether you consent or not.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ella.warnock.7 Ella Warnock

      *Snork* You DO call us pro-death.

    • Dezzydez

      There’s nothing about anti-choicers that is “pro-life.” They could care less if a woman can not care for a child, if her health is in danger from the pregancy, or whether a woman will risk her life for a back alley abortion because people like you got rid of accessible and safe clinics. You only care about forcing women to give birth, after that you could care less. “Pro-life” my ass.

    • cjvg

      That would be factually inaccurate!
      You deny women choices!
      We leave the choice to the woman, they can chose an abortion if needed, or they may chose not to!

    • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

      We are not Pro-Death. However, YOU are not Pro-‘Life’.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kelley.gaithercurtis Kelley M Gaither-Curtis

    Anybody else read this and think of that movie ‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’? Creepy.

  • jennewinn

    How many children does this Stanek woman have, that she has so much time to stick her nose into other people’s beds and business?

    OK my point: If she was putting her body where her mouth is , she would be so busy with her own babies, she wouldn’t have time for anybody else’s.

    OR she is using birth control, maybe even abortion herself . . .

    OR she is so repulsive nobody will help her get pregnant.

    Why don’t I include the possibility she might be unable to have children for medical reasons?
    Because nobody who had been through that would expose others so viciously.

    • HeilMary1

      Many professional anti-choice harpies have been exposed as complete sexual hypocrites: Susan Carpenter McMillan and Leslie Unruh had affairs, abortions and divorces in their closets.

  • http://twitter.com/JenGStarr Jennifer Starr

    The current notion on the anti-choice boards regarding this story seems to be that because some women choose to make their abortion stories public, all women lose the right to keep their stories private. It’s like that woman in Indiana talking about trans-vaginal ultrasounds. Why is it that the concept of ‘personal choice’ seems to elude these people? Can someone explain this to me?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kelley.dane Kelley Dane

    Stanek belongs in prison. In Somalia. Get OUT of my country you freak!