An anti-abortion group in North Dakota attempted to spread its message to children at the North Dakota State Fair earlier this month by handing them squishy rubber fetus dolls, reportedly without consent from their parents.
According to Jezebel, members of Minot Right to Life, a local branch of North Dakota Right to Life, slipped the anti-abortion toys in candy bags, leaving some parents surprised to see their kids running around and playing with the detailed fetuses.
Pro-choice parents weren't the only ones concerned. Rob Port, the editor of the conservative blog Say Anything and someone who says he's "as pro-life as they come," told ABC News that he was concerned when he saw his his 5-year-old daughter being given a doll.
"My daughter wasn't sure what it was; she handed it to me with a weird look on her face," he said. "She's five. She doesn't even know how babies are made."
Port later criticized the anti-abortion activists on his blog, calling for them to "stop being a bunch of weirdos." He said he'd thrown his daughter's rubber toy away, and that he he'd found more "weird little creepies littering the garbage bins."
"Whatever group is out there trying to promote the pro-life message by handing out squish alien babies, stop," he said. "You’re doing more harm than good."
Jezebel reports that anti-abortion activists frequently use the dolls -- one version, called "Precious Ones," runs for up to $1.50 a pop -- to pass their political message to young women and children:
A customer service representative told Jezebel that the models are most often given to pregnant women at "pregnancy centers" and kids at school presentations. The customer reviews on the site (it's like Yelp for fetus-lovers instead of foodies) further imply that the doll-like figures are great for kids. "Children especially like to hold them," one satisfied customer wrote. "No other item that we hand out has the amazing effect that these fetal models have -- instant attachment to the unborn!" said another. "So many times, we hear, 'Awwwww! That's adorable!' Or we just see a girl's tears begin to form and fall."
It's unclear how much the group paid per toy, but Devyn Nelson, executive director of North Dakota Right to Life, told ABC News that they handed out more than 800 before running out. Nelson said people with his group only handed out the dolls to those who stopped by the booth, and that "no abortion talk had to come of it with any children that picked one up."
The debate over the group's tactics comes as North Dakota has emerged at the forefront of the battle over a woman's right to choose. Earlier this year, Republicans in the state passed the nation's strictest anti-abortion law, banning the procedure at as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. A federal judge temporarily blocked that measure earlier this week, calling the law "clearly invalid and unconstitutional."