The obnoxious jerks standing on the corner near Planned Parenthood with their stupid anti-abortion signs.
They were out there again, yesterday, when I went to pick up the pills that keep me from needing an abortion (let’s hear it for modern medicine). A man with a pro-adoption sign that wasn’t too bad, because, okay, sure, adoption is fine. Nothing wrong with adoption. And then a woman with some cheesy fetus drawing inside a big heart. I don’t know what it said, exactly, probably "abortion stops a beating heart" or somesuch.
It was funny, without knowing those jerks were there, I had been feeling a strong urge to make Paul go with me to Planned Parenthood — I thought it was just so we could spend more time together. But it turns out to have been crucial for preventing me from going to jail on assault charges.
I was trying to pinpoint why they make me so face-punchingly angry. I mean, in general I support public protests and sign-carrying as a crucial part of the foundation of a free society. People have the right to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances, absolutely. Do I object to the corner-standers just because I object to their cause? Or are their actions really fundamentally different from the actions of other protesters?
It seems like they are. I always feel like the nature of their protest isn’t general, I feel like they are trying to pick a fight with me, specifically. Like they are trying to specifically invade my privacy.
So it’s partly the nature of what it is they are protesting. Roe v. Wade was decided in favor of abortion rights on the basis of an assumed right to privacy. Anti-abortion protesters assume I do not have that right.
So, by standing outside the place where I am going for medical care — and, for nearly ten years without health insurance, Planned Parenthood was my only health care provider — they aren’t just protesting the fact that I might choose to have an abortion and urging me to choose something else. They are also implicitly protesting that right to privacy.
Their signs are directed outward, at passing cars. They want to change the laws of this land so that I, as a woman of hypothetical childbearing ability, do not have a right to privacy, do not have a right to decide what happens in my body.
Also, the fact that they are standing outside Planned Parenthood specifically, as opposed to standing outside the courthouse or whatever, makes it actually seem like they are trying to shame me for going to Planned Parenthood. Their signs address only abortion, but their presence is like a protest against every service Planned Parenthood offers, including STD testing and birth control.
And, also, whether it’s justified or not, whether it’s ideologically consistent or not, I have to confess that anti-abortion activists just piss me the hell off.
I feel like, by elevating my hypothetical fetii to personhood, they have removed my own. They’ll tell you it’s something different, of course. But there’s no getting around it, they’ve made a judgment call: who’s more important, an actual person, or a potential person? And they’ve picked the potential person. Because the actual person is just a woman and she shouldn’t be having sex if she doesn’t want to have all the babies God chooses to send her and she must be a slut anyway.
The potential person, on the other hand, since it doesn’t actually exist, is more holy and pure than anything in this world.
It’s more important than the woman, obviously, but it’s also more important than little babies that actually exist. Apparently. Judging by the actions of the anti-abortion movement. Because they all seem to be right wingers, and the instant the baby is born it goes from being the holiest thing imaginable to being a hideous drain on society. Unless it’s born to, or immediately adopted by, a wealthy, heterosexual, white, anglo-saxon, Protestant, married couple.
Now, the thing is, I don’t personally know the irritants down on the street corner yesterday. For all I know, maybe they’re warm-hearted liberal types who will personally adopt the baby you can’t care for, who support the right of gay couples to adopt, who support a social welfare system that helps poor families take care of their children. Maybe they do display the same dedication to the welfare of real-live children as they do to the pure imaginary children in their heads.
So why were they standing on the street corner with those signs? What did they think that was going to accomplish?
I mean, the sign didn’t say "I, personally will lovingly adopt your baby if you can’t take care of it." It was just a generic "Adoption: the loving choice." Right, because women who might get an abortion have never heard of adoption. And certainly the doctors at Planned Parenthood will never mention it as an option, my goodness, that would deprive them of the precious opportunity to perform an abortion! Because that’s all they care about over there! They just think abortions are such a jolly good time that they can’t wait until the next one! Which is why they provide birth control… oh, never mind.
Do they imagine that they’re going to change my mind about anything? Or are they hoping to intimidate some insecure pregnant high school girl? Or is it mostly for the benefit of the passing cars, and pissing off women going to pick up their birth control pills is just a bonus?
I suppose they have done one public service. Young women? You want to know where Planned Parenthood is? You know those anti-abortion jerks you’ve seen standing on the corner? Yeah, that’s where it is.
“..are they hoping to intimidate some insecure pregnant high school girl?”
They’re anti-abortionists defending the right to life of the unborn despite having no lives themselves and probably never had. If they got more sex in (or at least more masturbation) then the wouldn’t be so worked up about it, now wound they?
They’re new. My primary reaction was disbelief: abortion protesters in Capitol Hill? Are they fuckin’ kidding?
We must be talking about different people, the ones I saw were in Bellingham. They’re on Capitol Hill too? Words fail me.
They’re doing a 40 days of protesting deal, most likely as wide-spread as they can manage.
They makes me furious, too, for exactly the reasons you describe.
And when a Baptist friend of mine told me she had joined the board of Birthright, I wrote her a 10-page poem of protest.
That sort of thing can be hard.
Many of my more religious friends and relatives are in the “a little uncomfortable with the idea of abortion, but definitely support legal access to it” camp, which I can live with.
But some of them…
I have to be honest and say that I think that if I were pregnant, I wouldn’t be able to go through with an abortion unless my doctor said it was a serious health matter. (Of course it’s easy to say things like that when I don’t have the equipment, but that’s where the “think” part comes in.) It’s probably a matter of sentimentality more than anything else and I certainly don’t believe the fetus should be considered a human being in its own right, at least not until it’s theoretically viable (a date that keeps moving back as preemie-support technology improves, but then if the baby’s that far along, it’s not an abortion, but a c-section, neh?)
I do think it’s a life, at least once the tissues have really differentiated; I have no problem whatsoever with the use of “morning after” pills.
That said, I absolutely support the right of women (including, say, some hypothetical partner who might be carrying our hypothetical fetus) to decide that stuff for themselves. I would not be surprised to find a few women out there who are being irresponsible about it, but I can’t think of any rights in our society which I think people should lose based on the irresponsibility of a few. (Like, say, free speech.)
You know what I would like to see? VHEMT setting up in front of Planned Parenthood. :)
I would not be surprised to find a few women out there who are being irresponsible about it, but I can’t think of any rights in our society which I think people should lose based on the irresponsibility of a few
And I can’t imagine a world in which it makes sense to decide that, because some women are irresponsible, we should therefore force them to bring their pregnancies to term.
What, you have to earn the right to an abortion by being the kind of person who doesn’t need one?
Oh, I’m not even remotely suggesting that that should be the case. I just brought up the irresponsible women because that’s the biggest strawperson that I’ve heard the anti-abortionists raise. “Don’t you know some women just keep having abortions? Using them as birth control?” Well, I can’t say as I’m thrilled about that, but then I can’t say as I’m thrilled about people insisting on teaching people young earth creationism, and I don’t think they should be legally prevented either (unless of course it’s their paid job to do otherwise, and even then it’s between them and their employer, not the law). And I am sure there are a lot more young earthers than casual aborters :)
Ah… I was worried that you were merely reiterating the strawperson rather than engaging it. So I gave my standard answer to that particular strawperson.
I can see that now. When will people learn that there hasn’t been a decent strawman since Ray Bolger?
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