At least two customers opened products they purchased at the Wegmans in King of Prussia this weekend and found something unexpected: a card expressing antiabortion sentiments and directing them to the website of an Oklahoma-based abortion "abolition" group.
In at least one case, the card also included a photo of what appeared to be a dead fetus in the palm of a hand. Annie Weiss, a 31-year-old mother of two who lives in West Conshohocken, said she bought a box of Luvs diapers Sunday afternoon, and when she opened the box on Monday, she found a business-card-size piece of paper inside that read on one side: "God hates the hands that shed innocent blood." On the flip side was the graphic image.
"I was upset because it's very invasive," Weiss said. "I didn't have the choice to see that card."
A Wegmans spokesperson said that in addition to Weiss, one other customer reported a similar experience involving a different product. Employees have since scoured the store and found and removed about 10 additional antiabortion cards tucked in a variety of products on the grocery store's shelves.
"At this point, we have no idea who is doing this," spokesperson Jo Natale said, "but our asset protection team is investigating to determine what our next steps should be." She said no incidents have been reported at other stores.
AHA asks its supporters to employ a variety of tactics, including ordering "drop cards" and placing them in public spaces in their area. The card Weiss found can be purchased online — a 500-pack costs $16. The Abolitionist Society of Philadelphia suggests supporters place the cards in the slots of ATMs, in public restrooms, and on supermarket shelves.
Toby Harmon, 41, who lives in Norman, Okla., said he's among a group of founders who created the first abortion abolitionist society, designed the Abolish Human Abortion symbol, and today run a website that sells "abortion abolition resources," including the cards like the one Weiss found. Harmon said the group has distributed "a couple million" cards since 2011.
"Whoever left that drop card in Philadelphia," he said, "I sent that to them at some point."
He said Abolish Human Abortion (AHA), a Christian group, separates itself from the "pro-life movement," which he said has focused too narrowly on incremental changes to legislation, adding, "If abortion is murder, you don't fight it or regulate it as health care, you abolish it."
The abortion abolitionist movement has chapters across the country, including a Pennsylvania and a Philadelphia affiliate. Maureen Bowen, who lives in the Philadelphia area, is involved with both chapters and said that while she grew up with antiabortion opinions, she identifies with the abolitionist movement today. (She said she didn't leave the drop cards in the King of Prussia Wegmans.)
"Allowing abortion in some cases along the way to totally abolishing it is not a sound strategy, and it's not consistently Christian," she said. "We think it dehumanizes babies to say that some are worthy of protection and some are not."
Graphic imagery has long been a tactic used by some antiabortion activists. In 2014, an Ohio-based group projected still photos of bloody fetuses on Independence Mall as part of an antiabortion protest, and last fall, a group of Penn students protested abortion with graphic photos of fetuses outside an on-campus library.
Harmon defended the graphic nature of the image on the cards, saying, "People don't want to see it because they don't want to think about what they approve of."