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Religion Writer Chastises Man for Wife Having Abortion

Bad luck can happen anywhere – even on a bus on the way to a Sanity Rally.

Such was the case with a poor chap named Robert Woudenberg, a photographer and New York State Department of Transportation Employee who sat on the same bus (No. 45937) as religion writer Julia Duin. The writer and rallygoer got to chatting and he told her that his wife had an abortion. Duin, who reported in the story that she’s a born-again Christian, wrote that she told the rallygoer that there was a more compassionate way.

The day was rife with charged debate talk. Somehow the conversation had shifted to Woudenberg’s 21-month-old daughter.  Duin writes, “Before she was born, I learn, there was another pregnancy. Doctors told Woudenberg and his wife that the fetus had no heartbeat, and she was advised to abort.” So Duin wrote that she asked, “Why couldn’t you have at least allowed your child to live out its short life in the womb?”

WaPo let Duin, a former TWT religion writer whose position was terminated over the summer, loose to ride one of HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington’s buses and then write a lengthy Magazine story Sunday on the rally being a farce.

FishbowlDC reached a shocked Woudenberg (pictured above with his family – he shot the photograph with a self-timer) by phone at his home in Valley Cottage, NY, Sunday night. His account differs from Duin’s story…

> Update: Duin got back to FishbowlDC past deadline. She said she sent Woudenberg his quotes for approval (which were never in discrepancy). He verifies that she sent them — but what she didn’t send is what she alleges she said to him in the story in regards to his wife’s abortion. We asked about her chastising him, to which she had no answer. She further scolded FishbowlDC for not giving her enough time to respond to our questions despite giving her nearly 12 hours. We published 30 minutes past the allotted time.

Woudenberg told FishbowlDC that he had no recollection of Duin ever saying that his wife should have carried the fetus to term. He does recall her insinuating it. “It’s a pretty intense position,” he said. “She didn’t actually say that to me. I thought she was overly involved with her feelings but I didn’t get the feeling she thought badly of me.”

Woudenberg said he was surprised she viewed the day and rally as a farce, not to mention her using her views on abortion in the story. “She uses this as a forum,” he said. “It’s not like she’s that much of a reporter. I’m kind of shocked. Hey, you won’t sell the story if she says something else that is not as opinionated. She totally got up on the defensive with me. Funny that a reporter was acting like that.”

We reached out to Duin for reaction. She did not return a written request for comment.

It’s one thing to have an opinion on a delicate subject like carrying a fetus with no heartbeat to term.  It’s quite another for a journalist to allegedly state it (on a bus to, again, a Sanity Rally). Why is WaPo allowing this to go on – in person or in the story? The author explained that she told the man her views not only because of her religion, but because of Isaiah’s Promise, an organization she once profiled that advocates a woman carrying the fetus to full term no matter if there are abnormalities.

Woudenberg told her he thought her views were in the minority.

The writer concluded on a Godless note. “I wish I could say I believed in God, “ he tells her “almost wistfully.” And then adds, “But I don’t.”

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