When a mother-daughter duo confronted Mechelle Hall outside a Minnesota women's clinic in November, urging her against terminating her pregnancy, the 26-year-old pulled out a knife. She waved it in the air and then held it to the 21-year-old daughter's throat. This week, Hall pleaded guilty to second-degree assault against Leah Winandy -- and revealed that the protesters who caused her to lose her cool also successfully changed her mind. Hall decided against having an abortion and now thanks the protesting pair "for being there."
"If they weren't there, I probably would have gone through with [the abortion] and regretted it for the rest of my life," she told the Duluth News Tribune. "It probably would have gone the other way. I’m sincerely sorry for doing that to her." The Tribune explains that "she was stressed out and they made her realize that she didn’t want to end the life she was carrying inside her." Apparently, all it took was saying to her: "Please don’t kill your baby. Fear God" and "Look and listen to your ultrasound," according to Winandy's account of what she told Hall.
It's a total anti-choicer's wet dream. Much like Abby Johnson's incredibly unreliable tale of converting from Planned Parenthood clinic director to antiabortion protester, this story plays to the anti-choice mythology that pro-choicers will convert if only they're exposed to the reality of abortion. Activists believe themselves to be preaching the truth and many will take whatever means necessary to spread the word. This just serves as a dangerous message: Take things far enough, push women to their breaking point, and you'll change their minds! This is already a favored tactic -- the picket lines at besieged clinics can resemble a ghastly Halloween procession, what with the grim reaper costumes and gruesome images of aborted fetuses -- and Hall's about-face just offers further reinforcement.
After the Abby Johnson yarn, any "pro-life" conversion story should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism (and I've got plenty of extra doses, if anyone is lacking). I would love to pull at the pretty little bow that has been metaphorically placed on this case, but, unfortunately, Hall hasn't returned my calls for comment.