Protest the CPC?

This article was so much fun to read:

Abortion-rights activists borrow technique from opponents in Wichita protest

You can read more here, but the gist of the story is that a group of pro-access folks have been protesting the CPC’s ~ the Crisis Pregnancy Centers ~ the anti-choice-clinics ~ around the country.  Carrying signs and handing out leaflets, just like the pro-birth group does, they highlight the misinformation and outright lies that the CPC’s tell the people seeking help there.

Let me be clear ~ I LOVE that they did that.  And I’ve been pondering whether or not I would want that to happen here.

Part of me is jumping-up-and-down eager for it.  Yes, yes yes!!  Let’s show them what it feels like to be picketed!  Give them a taste of their own medicine, show everyone what liars they are!!  It would just feel good!

This other part of me smiles sympathetically.   Shaking my head.  It is tempting.  But.

It reminds me of how I felt in my earlier days of escorting, when I would occasionally act impulsively.  You know, there was the time I screamed, “F**k you, Brady!” at the protester who used to talk about rape being a choice, how it was the wrong choice, and he would never do it, but it was his choice.

There was the time some church bussed in a load of teenagers.  They were standing across the street from the clinic, maybe 50 or 75 of them.  Dan and I were crossing the street toward them when I commented loudly that it was too bad that one in three of them was going to need an abortion someday.

One of the chaperones heard me, {which I guess I’d intended} and LOST IT.   She started screaming and ranting and carrying on, while I tried not to actually laugh out loud.   There was a police officer there that day, standing outside of his car ~ we exchanged looks, and I shrugged and mouthed, “Sorry…”

I wasn’t really sorry ~ well, maybe a little bit.

Ah, those were the days, my friends…  Dan and I eventually had to agree not to escort together for a while because we were quietly. subtly encouraging each other to act out like that.  Not helpful ways to act, but so much fun.

That’s why I know it’s my “emotional mind” that wants to protest the protesters.  The idea just feels good.

You know, one of the things I talk about in the escort trainings is Marsha Linehan’s* “states of mind.”  She talks about 3 states of mind ~ emotional mind, reasonable mind, and wise mind.  Real briefly, “emotional mind” is our feelings, it’s fast-acting, impulsive, instinctive reactions.   Emotional mind sometimes protects us, and  it motivates behavior.   Acting from emotional mind feels good in the moment, but doesn’t always work out well in the long run.

“Reasonable mind” is that logical “take a step back and consider the consequences” part of our mind.   Reasonable mind weighs the pros and cons, considers, and makes judgements.

Wise mind is what happens when emotional mind and reasonable mind are working together.   Wise mind feels good too, but it doesn’t have the negative consequences that often go with emotional mind decisions.

So my emotional mind totally wants to go picket the anti-choice clinics, the CPC’s.  My reasonable mind says that this isn’t ultimately going to be helpful.  But I don’t think I’ve found a “wise mind” stance yet, because I’m still arguing about it in my head.

How could it help to go picket them?  I play it through again.

Would it really inform anyone going into the clinic?  Of course not.  The people that are doing the protests aren’t even doing it when the CPC is open.  That’s not the point.

Would it change their minds?  No.  Not any more than their protesting changes ours.

Well, it would give them a taste of their own medicine.  Show them what it feels like!  And I can’t say that without feeling all self-righteous and like I should be on the step stool the preachers use for their ranting in front of the clinic.

That’s the real problem.  Acting like the protesters actually makes us like the protesters.  I don’t think we can just pretend to be like them ~ use their strategies ~ without becoming a little bit like them.   I don’t want that.

BUT ~ when the CPC had a fundraiser here, there were some pro-access protesters, and I thought that was a wonderful idea.

So I’m still a bit up in the air about it, letting it bounce around in my mind.  The protesters are bullies and left unchallenged, they become stronger and more aggressive.   Finding ways to push back is the right thing to do ~ but it has to be the right way to push back.

NO ~ wait ~ that’s not right either.  That implies that if we can figure out the right thing to do, the right way to push back, that it will impact their behavior.  And I know better than that.

Protesters do their thing on the sidewalk because they’re bullies and they like doing it.  It is socially sanctioned bullying.  The way to stop them is not by trying to bully them back.

Right?

Shoot, now I have to go do some research on bullying.  What are we teaching kids about bullies?  What are we suggesting parents and teachers do?  I don’t know ~ I don’t work with kids ~ but maybe that’s the path we need to explore…. I’ll let you know what I learn.

In the meantime, I need to remember that the protesters are not the problem.  They’re a symptom of the problem.

The problem is the small group of loud people who want to subjugate women by restricting their options for reproductive health and family planning.  The problem is that this group seems to be making some progress in the legislature.  That’s the real danger, and fighting back against that is where the real energy needs to be directed.

*  Marsha Linehan is the creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Behavioral Tech.

20 thoughts on “Protest the CPC?

  1. I think the difference in protesting here would be that CPC protestors are not there to shame the women going in but their signs and chants etc are aimed at those who operate and work at the fake clinic and to educate those who may mistakenly walk inside thinking it’s an actual medical clinic of some kind.

    Would our protestors mob these women trying to enter? Scream at them shamingly? Threaten them with the wrath of god is they went in? NO, our counter protestors would never sink to the traumatizing level.




    Maybe pro-choicers should open up our own version of CPCs a place where women could get all of their options unbiasedly and get referrals to a real clinic for parenting classes, adoption, abortion and birth control. Maybe that would be a better protest but until then all we can do is expose CPCs for what they are to the community. Most people/women have no idea what a CPC is until they have a pregnancy scare and need a free pregnancy test and then they get assaulted by their agenda. Unplanned and unwanted pregnancies are a source of shame culturally, it comes as no surprise that women who are harmed by a CPC say nothing about it just as most women don’t talk about their abortion because of the culture of shame and stigma that surrounds unplanned/unwanted pregnancies.

    • Of course you’re right Oubli, we would never treat women the way the abortion clinic protesters do. I was getting all excited about your idea for a friendly, factual clinic when I realized – isn’t that what Planned Parenthood is, for real? Or would it be somewhere that doesn’t provide any services themselves?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as always…

      • I was envisioning a place that does only referrals and that’s how it would the compromise with anti-choicers, except our clinics would be staffed by properly trained practitioners and would give referrals without bias. The UK has centers that are on the NHS that offer every option available and give great referrals without judgement.

  2. When I contemplate protesting, it is almost always at their churches. With signs like, “Your tithing supports domestic terrorism” and “Andrew and Stephanie specialize in casting the ‘First Stone'”, we could shame them for their behavior and give them an example of how inappropriate protests in certain places can be.

    I think it would be an interesting documentary take to have vegetarians protest a KFC with the same fervor and tactics as the pro-birthers at the clinic. Let’s see how long the patrons and the police put up with it before someone is threatened with arrest.

    But mostly, I agree with you here f. The value add to the cause just doesn’t justify the energy to pull it off. And we run the risk of loosing site of why we must escort – client, client, client. It really does no good for them.

    • Thanks, Kescort, I appreciate the support, and you’re so right, it is always about the client.

      On the other hand, I am always drawn by the idea of protesting at their church. The big one – right? Great line on Andrew and Stephanie too.

      I think the documentary is another great idea – I’m pretty sure the police would intervene much sooner if we were protesting KFC or Bojangles Chicken. So sure, in fact, that I wouldn’t do it… Fun to think about though… Thanks. 🙂

  3. The only way to stop a bully is force. That’s the ONLY thing they are capable of understanding because they aren’t the brightest bulbs in the box.

    For children, having them stand up and beat the tar out of a bully is the best way to make a bully stop. But we can’t do that as adults for obvious reasons.

    Our best course of action is to keep fighting for buffer zones and working with all forms of media to expose the anti’s for what they are — not benevolent caretakers of life, but immoral and hypocritical oppressors who are use fetuses as meat shields for the agendas, thereby continuing to ensure abortion continues to happen at high levels because they care more about punishment instead of progress.

    • Longtail! I dont’ think beating bullies up is the most helpful thing to do! Is it really???? I’m gonna do some research for real now!

      But you’re right about the action we need to take – and I LOVE the line “Use fetuses as meat shields for their agendas.” Perfect.

      Thanks.

      • There are many strategies to dealing with bullies. I was talking specifically about kids. Child bullies are incredibly dumb.

        Adult bullies are even dumber.

        With adults, you have to expose them, humiliate them, disable them, and leave them with no recourse. Like the folks that was rolling their car back and forth trying to run over the feet of the antis until they gave up and left.

        So keep taking that video and posting it. Support add campaigns. Get involved in forums.

      • Thanks for clarifying that, Longtail! The therapist in me wants to find a kinder, gentler way, but I’m afraid you might be right. For sure, I don’t have the answers. But yeah, I guess I’ll just keep taking video. 🙂

        Thanks!

  4. I can see how it would be tempting to protest A Woman’s Choice because they give out false medical information and spend a great deal of time bullying on the sidewalk, waving fetus porn and chasing poor women down the street who just want health care. Of course, I do not want clients going in to the Resource Center to use their services to feel like we are shaming them for using a pregnancy resource center and keeping their baby–which is their choice. I think handing out literature and protesting when clients aren’t there is probably the best thing to do.

    • Hey, Kyborn,

      Yeah, it is tempting, but no, I don’t think any of us want their clients to feel shamed, and I appreciate you keeping the focus on that. It looks like we have a consensus then – protest, but not when there are clients there!

      Thanks for commenting.

    • The reason I say this, as much as their BS offends myself with my medical background is because I really am pro-choice and if that choice is to have the child and they find comfort using a CPC then I want them to feel comfortable carrying to term. My objection to CPCs are the lies and deception and claims of helping mothers when most of their time is spent bullying women. I have been to their website and noticed their hours are based around when it is most convenient to protest the abortion clinic, not when working mothers could make the best use of their services.

      • Oh, me too, Kyborn! I totally support whatever people decide, I just don’t like the tactics the CPC’s use – the deception and lies. They clearly think that the end justifies the means. And yeah, I’ve noticed that too – that their hours are more convenient for protesting than for serving their own clients. Interesting. Thanks for adding to this discussion!

  5. Interesting discussion. I would be so ready to go and protest… I guess the big question would be, how would it help the people who are going into those centres seeking help? Would it shame them, harass them, make them feel worse about the situation they’re in? Make them much less likely to ever approach a women’s health service like Planned Parenthood when they needed it?

    • Yeah, I agree – and I think the CPC protesters are doing it during a time that the CPC is not open, so at least it avoids this. Carol’s comment – about it raising public awareness – seems valid to me, and could be done when no clients are coming or going.

      Thanks for the input!

  6. Well said, fml221!

    It *is* tempting to give them a taste of their medication (foul as it is), and I agree- that would put us down to their level. (And adding to the tensions already here).
    I have been thinking about whether the antis had been bullies in their schools, now they are adults, transferring their need for power and control to their protesting. Giving them the same ‘high’ like in school. That’s just one of my theories..I”m still mulling on it.

    Again, great article!

    • Good questions, Wolfers, I’ll look forward to finding out what thoughts you have around this! And thanks for the kind words…

  7. When I consider protesting outside AWC, the main benefit, to me, would be to get press coverage — in terms of some public education about CPCs and their lies. Besides having signs, we could hand out the new KRCRC CPC pamphlet (it could be our “press kit”).

    • Oh, that makes sense. I can see where that would fit into a reasonable plan to impact the legislature and send a message that the outspoken pro-birth folks are not actually the majority. Good point – thanks for sharing that!

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