On January 14 The New York Times ran an intriguing story about the pro-abortion/post-abortion counseling group Exhale.

The journalist writing the story, Shoshana Walters, contacted me last week asking my thoughts about MTV’s No Easy Decision. Then the Arizona shootings derailed that story, so its focus was changed, Ms. Walters called back to say, to spotlight on questions the show raised about Exhale, a thesis I found intriguing.

From the article, excerpted on page 2, Exhale has apparently tried all these years to publicly portray itself as “neutral” on abortion, when it is not. Exhale’s leadership is now bothered by the fact its cover has been blown and is trying to walk that back.

One question I’m left wondering is why Exhale wanted the cover of neutrality. Isn’t that underhanded? What would pro-aborts say about pro-life counseling groups that tried to cover up their ideology?

Moderator Carla and I have discussed at length the differences between pro-life and pro-abortion post-abortion counseling. In fact, I asked Ms. Walters had she spent any time with a counselor on our side, which she had not. I put Carla in touch with her, although Carla was never quoted in the story.

So the weekend question is: What do you imagine are differences between pro-life and pro-abortion counseling after abortions? Don’t forget the NYT article is excerpted on page 2…

Exhale, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland [CA],offers free counseling to any woman who has had an abortion. For years, however, the group has tried to distance itself from the polarizing debate surrounding the issue….

But the organization’s ability to stay above the political fray is being severely tested after the group agreed to participate in a television program called No Easy Decision. The program, which was broadcast Dec. 28 on MTV, followed a teenager’s decision-making process as she chose to have an abortion….

But some opponents of abortion, including Bill O’Reilly sharply criticized the program as “glorifying” abortion. Jill Stanek, a popular anti-abortion blogger, inaccurately accused Exhale and other “pro-abortion ideologues” of underwriting the program….

The reaction to the program has frustrated some Exhale staff members who said they never wanted anything to do with politics…. It has also raised questions about whether an organization that calls abortion a “normal part of reproductive life” can avoid being drawn into the political battle over abortion.

“What Exhale does is allow post-abortive mothers to come in and debrief and get out all their grief and fears and whatever, but then its ultimate purpose is to support abortion,” Ms. Stanek said. “It wasn’t pro-life post-abortive groups that MTV called. It was a group that was decidedly pro-abortion.”…

Ms. [Aspen] Baker said Exhale’s participation in “No Easy Decision” did not compromise its neutrality. “That’s the way the debate works: people suck you in, and the way they discredit you is by saying you’re one thing or another,” she said. “We’re not pro-choice. We’re very clear about that. Women’s feelings about abortion should not be politicized.”

The hot line opened in 2002, shortly after Ms. Baker had an abortion….

[S]he said that afterward she felt that she could not find support from an organization without a vested political interest….

Ms. Baker said the organization had filled a need by providing support and counseling without political bias….

“Anything that gets thrown into the abortion debate is just pounced on and ready to be made politicized,” Ms. Baker said.

On a recent weekend night, Lauren Gard, a counselor, received a call from a young woman who said she deeply regretted having an abortion. As the woman cried, Ms. Gard, who had an abortion 3years ago, told her that she “deserved to be happy,” and urged her to open up….

Mr. Pinsky announced Exhale’s Web address at the end of the program….

Exhale also found itself at the center of a debate it had tried to avoid….

Despite the scrutiny, Ms. Baker said she viewed No Easy Decision as a victory for Exhale….

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