It's a matter of pure luck that Annie Weiss didn't do what she sometimes does when opening a diaper box the other day: Ask her 4-year-old son to reach in and help unpack the supplies mom had just bought for his 2-year-old sister.
Had the boy done that on Monday with a box of Luvs that his mom had bought from a Wegmans supermarket in King of Prussia, the preschooler would have seen a photo of a dead fetus in an open palm.
The graphic antiabortion missive, printed onto a business card broadcasting www.abolishhumanabortion.com, apparently had been slipped into the box at the store.
"I can't imagine if he had found that," the still-shaken 31-year-old mother told me as we met at her Conshohocken home Tuesday morning. "I don't even know what I would have had to say to him."
Weiss, a Cherry Hill native who's raising her family in Montgomery County, was horrified to make the discovery while in her kitchen Monday. She called Wegmans; she posted an outraged, homemade video showing her discovery on a prominent Main Line Facebook page, and, after I reached out, agreed to talk to me, too.
Her message — and I couldn't agree with her more on it: "I don't care if you're pro-life or pro-choice; I care about the fact that you're invading my privacy. When you're sticking it in my face in a box of diapers, now I don't have a choice. I have to look at it."
Sadly, she wasn't the only one hit by this appalling act of misguided advocacy.
A spokesperson for the Rochester, N.Y.-based chain of family-owned stores told me Tuesday this was not an isolated incident — and they are investigating.
"Over the weekend, there was one other customer who had a similar experience (different product) purchased at the King of Prussia store, followed by the customer you spoke with," spokeswoman Jo Natale told me by email.
She said that store employees "immediately scoured the shelves," after which they found "approximately 10 similar cards tucked in a variety of products on the grocery shelves."
As of Tuesday morning, Natale said, "we have no idea who is doing this, but our asset protection team is investigating to determine what our next steps should be."
No other store appeared to have been targeted in this way, she added.
I sent a message to the so-called abortion abolitionists whose web address was on the card in question, but I did not immediately hear back.
I had reached out to Weiss after seeing an angry post she had made on the Facebook page, Lower Merion Community Network, Monday night. She was livid — and wanted people to know what an appalling intrusion into her privacy this was.
When we met at her home earlier Tuesday, she impressed upon me that her outrage wasn't based on ideology but on the extreme tactic that this represented.
For any other person, she said, finding that card might have triggered a traumatic response. Say you'd ever lost a child during pregnancy or after childbirth; this would not have been a benign discovery.
I can't wait to hear from Wegmans as its investigation unfolds. Whatever charges are allowable under the law are in order for whoever did this.
Let me be clear, of course, that advocacy is noble and a right in this country.
Just a few days ago, Weiss was in New York City and passed a Planned Parenthood protest in the street. She had the option to walk on by — and she did, she said. But this gruesome, desperate maneuver of infiltrating your shopping cart, she said, crosses a line that no one should think is OK.
"Everybody knows somebody who's been affected by the whole pro-choice/pro-life argument, and it's never been in my face that way," she said, "until yesterday."
It's no secret to anyone that the tone of political debate in our country right now is bordering on toxic during all hours of the day and night. It's also no secret that the abortion-rights divide has been a lightning rod for decades, with opponents and supporters only more entrenched as a new Supreme Court is expected to potentially radically redraw what is and isn't allowed under federal law.
But what's not so evident — and what this Conshohocken mother has the courage to show us all — is that common decency has a voice, too. And it is only when decent people like Weiss decide to take a stand that anyone can see just how off-the-mark caustic extremism can look when it bubbles to the surface.
I'll be following this case as it unfolds. Until we know who was behind this, let's thank Weiss for not fearing the scorn of the social-media slayers. Let's thank her for producing a video of the diaper box, and the card, and posting it onto Facebook as an alert to other shoppers.
Let's thank her, above all, for showing us all the power of commonsense outrage — and having the guts to share it with the world.
If they find who did this inside a private establishment, I'd agree with the one idea that Weiss threw my way as we imagined what sort of penalty would be appropriate.