Last Oregon Militant Demands His Taxes Not Be Used For Abortion Before Surrendering

CREDIT: AP Photo/Keith Ridler

A road sign marks a highway closed near Burns, Ore., near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016.

The Oregon standoff, which has dragged on for more than a month as a small group of armed militiamen have occupied a remote wildlife refuge, was ostensibly about land rights and how the federal government interacts with ranching. But on Thursday afternoon, before the last militant left at the refuge finally surrendered, it took quite a different turn.

David Fry, the lone occupier in the building after the rest of the militants stood down, initially refused to come out until his “grievances were heard.” And even though the occupation was sparked by a disagreement over land use, Fry’s grievances appeared to center on abortion.

Though Fry eventually surrendered mid-afternoon on Thursday, he first suggested he would cut a deal with the FBI only if his demands were met. He was engaged in a long and rambling discussion with U.S. officials that kept returning to his opposition to his taxpayer dollars funding abortion.

Fry’s taxpayer dollars do not, in fact, fund abortions. Thanks to a longstanding federal policy called the Hyde Amendment, the government is already prohibited from using those funds toward abortion services. Hyde has been in place for the past four decades.

Mainstream anti-abortion rhetoric, however, has successfully clouded this point. Conservative lawmakers frequently argue that government programs like Obamacare are secretly funding abortion, and claim that organizations like Planned Parenthood are finding a way to circumvent the taxpayer funding ban.

This is not the first example of the potentially dangerous consequences of relying on misleading rhetoric about abortion.

Last fall, for example, after a shooter opened fire in a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, he told law enforcement officials “no more baby parts” — an apparent reference to a a smear campaign that accused the national women’s health organization of illegally selling baby parts. Although those accusations have been thoroughly discredited, the narrative that Planned Parenthood is ripping babies limb from limb continues to influence the conversation about abortion rights at the highest levels of government.