What Conservatives Freaking Out About Those 'Coat Hanger' Necklaces Don't Understand

ByMaureen Shaw

Since 2009, the DC Abortion Fund (DCAF), a nonprofit that offers grants to Washington D.C.-area women who can't afford the cost of an abortion, has been giving monthly donors a coat hanger pendant to thank them for their support.

The conservative media finally caught wind of the necklace last week and in the supercharged atmosphere of the impending Hobby Lobby birth control Supreme Court case, managed to create a highly charged news cycle out of nothing new or noteworthy. The resulting meltdown among abortion opponents, however, was nothing short of epic.

The anti-choice Twitterverse exploded with vitriol over this so-called "Death Jewelry," attacking not just the DCAF but liberals who support abortion rights:

Facebook feeds weren't spared, either: 

Even Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol jumped into the conversation, blogging about her disgust over "abortion enthusiasts" and feminists who, she claims, "celebrate the destruction of babies ... as a fashion statement" and "love to wear death on their necks." Other conservative media and bloggers, including former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, added their own two cents as well.

The uproar eventually prompted DCAF President Val Vilott to issue a statement, attempting to set the record straight. As Vilott noted, the coat hanger has long been a symbol of the reproductive rights movement and the dangers women face when abortion is not accessible:

The coat hanger is a reminder of women's suffering when abortion is placed out of reach. It is a promise from reproductive justice advocates to never go back to the grotesque world our anti-choice opponents are striving for: a world WITHOUT safe access to abortion, where women might have to resort to horrific alternatives like a coat hanger.

Indeed, prior to abortion's legalization in 1973, women often relied on self-induced or "back alley" abortions to terminate unwanted pregnancies, suffering permanent injuries or even death. Today, 41 years post-Roe v. Wade, anti-choice efforts — from strict building requirements on clinics to Medicaid restrictions on abortion and much more — are making it harder for women to access and afford abortion care. This is why, according to Vilott, the DCAF and other similar funds are experiencing an uptick in requests for help.

The conservative media greatly missed the mark with their reports on the necklace. The DCAF and its pro-choice supporters aren't celebrating abortion when they clasp a coat hanger pendant around their necks. They are declaring their support for safe and accessible abortion care and warning against the ensuing dangers that threaten to erupt if that care disappears.

Now, it remains to be seen whether the anti-choice community will respond with its own statement piece. Fetus pendant, anyone?