The Saturday after Mother’s Day still saw a lot of anti-abortion protesters at the clinic. There were about 200 of them. At one point another escort asked me what one anti’s name was and I answered, “I don’t know. That is one I haven’t seen, but I can’t remember all of their names. There are a lot of new ones out today.” An anti overheard me and said, “Yes, and there will be a lot more of us from now on. Get used to it. You aren’t going to win.” Psychic predictions from the sidelines.
Among the new groups was one of young people carrying shiny, new fetal-porn posters. I noticed a lot of Operation Rescue labels in the bottom corner of these new posters. This particular group had brought at least twelve posters, about four feet wide by two and one-half feet high each. All of them, old posters and new, displayed a graphic image of what was supposed to be an aborted fetus or sonogram pictures of a developing fetus. One person could carry each poster and after all of the clients entered the clinic, they lined up across the property line facing the waiting room windows. There were so many of them and the posters so large, they had to stand three deep and raise the posters up so all of them could be seen.
I know I should have taken a photo of them for you guys, but I neglected to do so. You will have to just imagine the spectacle spreading across the sidewalk just beyond the clinic entrance. The sidewalk was so blocked, escorts discussed strategies for moving around them in case any clients arrived late. Luckily, we didn’t have to implement those plans.
This May 19th article by Robin Marty in RH Reality Check caught my attention. It was published the next day and described exactly what we are seeing at EMW. Marty describes this tactic perfectly:
Public protest of abortion using graphic material has been a staple of the anti-choice movement since the early ’80s, when activist Joe Scheidler advocated it as a means to engage in protest and “sidewalk counseling” in his handbook Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion. From fliers with graphic pictures that were handed out at public events and marches to larger photos outside of clinics where women would be terminating pregnancies, Scheidler was an enthusiastic advocate for the power of a gruesome image, although he did recommend that the ones at clinics be positioned away from the person doing the actual “counseling” of women prior to their entrance into the clinic in order to not scare them. He also encouraged the use of such photos at pro-choice events or when picketing the homes, private offices, clubs, and places of worship frequented by providers.
And, the new twist in those plans is:
- Still, for the most part the target remained adults, and adults in places where anti-choice advocates assume the majority would support abortion rights. That is beginning to change as more protesters are seeking to give the photos wider distribution, and directly affect those under the age of 18. High schools are becoming a favorite protesting place of late, with one “truth truck” driver stating that the giant photos of “dismembered fetuses” displayed on the side of his truck are the only way to get the message across.
Bringing the graphic photos to public events where young people are expected has backfired for the extremists more than once. Parents object to the politicizing of school events or family-friendly events. They object to their children being exposed to the photos. When and if a parent talks to their children about reproductive issues and abortion should be left up to the parents’ judgment. It is just one more way the anti-abortion groups prove they do not respect anyone’s right to decide unless it is to agree with their anti-abortion views.
Almost two years ago, protesters targeted a child’s middle school back-to-school night. Why was this child a target of their signs? The father of the child is the landlord for an abortion clinic in Germantown, MD. After public outcry about the graphic nature of the protests, this landlord decided to fight back. Voice of Choice was formed to help others targeted by these extreme tactics.
The antis do not seem to listen to public outcry or reason. They are stepping up the in-your-face efforts at locations that have nothing to do with reproduction or abortion. This week in a Texas high school, abortion photos were found in the girl’s restroom. The… “material was scattered all over the restroom.”
The US isn’t the only one to see this uptick in distribution of fetal porn. In Calgary this month, 50,000 photo postcards were distributed in an effort to “reopen the debate on abortion.” Their target audience are residents in the ridings of “MPs who voted against a motion to study when life begins.”
Melanee Thomas, an associate political science professor at the University of Calgary, questions the organization’s tactics.
She says the postcard campaign may be aimed at young people.
“Part of it is to try to convert the young to a very particular way of seeing this issue, one that is, I ought to say, not legally balanced and not constitutionally balanced with the way that we have the Charter set up in Canada.”
Targeting the young is not a new tactic for the antis. They bring their children to protest at the clinics. It is their idea of a family event and it is a learning experience for their children that frequently reverses in adulthood. This story is only one example of how minds change from our childhood adherence to our parents’ doctrine to our own viewpoint through discussion, research and reading non-religious and/or scientific articles of the facts surrounding abortion.
Marty believes the distribution of fetal photos to the young seems to be about this message:
The message implied is clear: If you want these pictures to go away, ban safe abortion. Until you do exactly what they say, they will continue to bring their protests everywhere people gather. Especially family events involving children.
Good luck with that plan. Fostering outrage against your group rarely seems to sway people to a particular viewpoint.
We need to broaden access to abortion not ban it. We need to broaden access to birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies, not make birth control harder to obtain.
We need to support individual reproductive choices.