I need a break from reading about MARC encoding so I'm going tell you all about the clinic defense I recently helped organize
Some of you may or may not be aware of the pro-life campaign called “40 Days for Life” which this year ran from September 26th to November 4th. Its a national event, where people hold vigils and demonstrations outside of clinics across the country. There are two locations in my state that provide abortion services, but one seems particularly targeted. Being right down the street from a large Catholic church, there are always people outside saying the rosary, singing hymns, holding signs, and harassing those that come in and out.
That last bit is what really, truly, bothers the fuck out of me. There’s a man who sets up enormous, incredibly graphic and bloody signs up and down the sidewalks in front of the clinic. He takes down the license plate numbers of those who drive in. He doesn’t do anything with them apparently, which is why no legal action can be done to stop him (so we were told). He puts toys and baby clothes out on the sidewalk and shrubs. Along with him, people yell at those coming up to the doors, pleading with them to reconsider. Essentially, they guilt these women and try to make them feel as shitty as possible.
And that’s on any other day. This day, the last Saturday of the 40 Days for Life campaign, it was intensified. People carried crosses and a virgin mary statue, they yelled and sang hymns through the windows. Quite frankly, it was fucking obnoxious. Women going in there could be getting a pap smear for fuck sake, never mind anything else.
We had bright signs with purple letters all saying similar things: Pro-Choice, Proud to be Pro-Choice, Support Choice. This was mainly to distinguish ourselves, and show passerby that we weren’t part of the anti-choice contingent. And I think it worked. We received lots of waves and honks from people driving by, and with those going in we made a lot of them smile.
Our purpose was not to try and convince anyone, necessarily, but simply to support those women coming into the clinic and dispel the overwhelming negative bullshit of the anti-choicers on the sidewalk. It was invigorating and awesome when some got off the bus at the nearby stop, came over, and picked up a sign. It was awesome when some actually pulled over and shook our hands. The community is sick and tired of the routine harassment that they endure from these people.
We had a strict no engagement policy to avoid nasty screaming matches, as this would essentially negate our entire purpose there. But it became increasingly difficult to keep my opinionated mouth shut, so I came up with an alternative. Two women holding “I regret my abortion” signs attempted to admonish us saying, “how can you laugh and joke when lives are being taken? When murders are being committed?”
Instead of turning and responding directly, I looked to my fellow compatriots and responded, in as jubilant a tone as possible, “Hey friends, I’m feeling so great, you know why?”
"Why?" they asked curiously. "Well!" I said, "Because we live in a place where laws aren’t dictated by religious extremists who expect everyone to live by their rules alone!"
They tried to interrupt me, but I didn’t let them. “I am laughing with joy, because I am free to make my own choices as to when and how I have a baby! And it is amazingly beautiful and good that women can make these choices for themselves without fear of jail time, fines, or infection and death! Isn’t that fucking great?!”
My friends nodded and grinned. Cause that’s really what its about. I don’t give a shit whether or not you personally believe that abortion is wrong, or if your morals or religion discourage it. Don’t expect others to agree, and don’t try to legislate that agreement. At some point, pro-life activists need to understand that outlawing abortion won’t solve anything, but would only privilege the life of the unborn over the life of the living. That’s the real murder that would be inevitable if they got what they wanted.