A woman named Jennifer Fulwiler recently wrote a piece called “What I Learned from Praying in Front of an Abortion Clinic.” This piece provides an interesting and disturbing look into the anti-choice movement and their “40 days for life” protest. From being made to sign a contract to be “peaceful” (as peaceful as a group of anti-choicers could be, anyway), to how she claims that the anti-choice movement views women, it provides an eery look into the other side.
Like virtually every other anti-choice article ever written, this piece fails to honestly address the women involved in abortion. Fulwiler claims that the anti-choice movement, along with the sidewalk harassers, truly care about women. The truth is, the vast majority of the women who are walking into that clinic don’t want you there. Just put yourself in their position. Most of them are not particularly happy to be there (who likes surgery?) and just want to go through the experience with as few complications as possible. Many of them consider you, sidewalk “counselors,” a complication. Sidewalk harassers are strangers who, despite claiming not to judge, are there because they think these women are or are about to become murderers. Who the hell likes to be considered a murderer? Sidewalk harassers are there presenting themselves as hostile, unfriendly people, no matter how friendly or quiet they claim to be, and if they did respect women, they would respect the fact that the vast majority of them do not want creepy people standing outside of their doctor’s office “praying” for them. This is why so many women are grateful for clinic escorts. Furthermore, Fulwiler states later in the article that, by harassing women at their clinics, “mothers (are) saved from undergoing a procedure that would harm them both psychologically and physically”. Why, hello there, paternalism! Fulwiler’s internalized misogyny becomes painfully obvious here. Women do not need you, Jennifer Fulwiler, to decide that having an abortion would hurt them psychologically. You also don’t get to make up facts about the safety of the procedure; especially considering that an early abortion is safer than carrying a pregnancy to term.
Fulwiler states that “communities don’t want abortion facilities in their neighborhoods” because she got some positive responses from people driving by, and again completely neglects to look at it from the woman’s point of view. Someone who doesn’t want or need an abortion may not necessarily want an abortion provider in their area. It’s a tough fact to face, but people generally only see things from their point of view and fail to understand the need for abortion providers until they themselves need one. She forgets, however, that the women who are here in the first place obviously want, and need, an abortion provider in their area. A lot of these women are grateful to be able to access abortion in their area, rather than having to drive long distances just to obtain a simple medical procedure.
At first glance, Fulwiler may have seemed like the only level-headed anti-choice activist I ever encountered. It didn’t take long, however, to unearth the paternalism and misogyny in her writing. Fulwiler, you are free to continue your sidewalk harassing, but pro-choicers will continue to counter it. Pro-choicers, “40 days for life” is coming up on the 28th. If you can, please turn this into “40 days for women’s lives” and volunteer to become a clinic escort by calling your local clinic and asking if they need any volunteers. A list of the locations which are being targeted can be found here.