Just now, on a walk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I found this on a building:
Not even a foot away was this:
Just now, on a walk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I found this on a building:
Not even a foot away was this:
This is a guest post by Leigh Sanders.
One thing volunteering as an escort at a reproductive health clinic has taught me is anti-choice protesters have an exorbitant amount of time to oversee the reproductive lives of their neighbors. Since they believe they are acting on religious orders to participate in this sort of secular voyeurism, they have been willing to physically and emotionally harm those that get in the way of their mission. Therefore, we are trained as clinic escorts to never engage with protesters. I am limited in my intervention to meeting patients at their vehicles and offering to shield them with my big rainbow umbrella from the unholy provocation that loudly follows us to the door. Throughout history women and girls have been subjected to this sort of harassment when they exercise self-determination.
I made the mistake of walking up to a car with two anti-choice folks this morning and one of the women got out and righteously proclaimed she was “not one of us, because she was on the side of the Lord.” I had to wonder whether the Lord would actually claim her. I mean technically, she is saying the Lord is the kind of guy who would spend his down time shouting, criticizing and frightening the hell out of people. It would seem that the Lord would be busy on the other side of those women’s choices, the side that ensures children never go hungry, employment is plentiful, housing choices affordable and sexual violence eradicated.
So here is what working on the side of the Lord looks like to people who protest at abortion clinics. They stop cars from parking by acting official, as if they might be working for the clinic. When the unsuspecting person rolls down the window, propaganda, void of scientific fact, is shoved inside their car. For instance, the pamphlet uses the picture of a stillborn baby to depict an abortion despite the reality that nearly every single abortion in this country occurs on or before the 8th week. The clinic escort must intercede so the patient can arrive promptly for their scheduled appointment because the protester’s aim is to make them miss their allotted time.
Once the patients proceed to the front door, the protesters start yelling at them about the psychological “trauma” they will suffer afterwards, their impending status as a “baby-killer” and the many “resources” available to them that they are not utilizing. Today, one woman yelled back “Resources? What resources? You mean welfare?” The male protesters explained they meant the resources that come from “loving Jesus.” There is a less aggressive group of protesters that arrange pictures of Jesus to face the clinic and while holding rosaries sing hymns about hell and damnation. They are the “good” ones because they do not seem motivated to physically harm anyone. Then there are the ones like the woman who specifically addressed her allegiance with the Lord; they greet the incoming cars as if in a funeral procession holding signs that presumptuously proclaim “Your Mother Kept You.” The protesters surround the clinic until the last patient arrives and then their work is done. It is not known whether Jesus is proud of them for their stamina to harass or disappointed with them for their failure to shame. Either way they will return on Monday, ever seeking the Holy Grail of religious intolerance.
The police do not get called because the protesters are not breaking any laws. Of course, neither are the girls and women who are entering the clinic. Yet, their rights are at the mercy of fanatics who use deception, violence, judgment, intolerance and moral superiority to scar the lives of people they have never met. Because the one thing an anti-women’s health terrorist abhors more than abortion, it is a society that grants women sovereignty over their own bodies.
A guest post by Chanel Dubofsky.
The first time I escorted at a clinic, it was at a Planned Parenthood in New York City. For the most part, the protesters stayed across the street from the clinic, praying, holding a giant wooden cross, but some of them spread out onto nearby street corners and attempted to pass out “literature.” I was nervous about interacting with the antis, being physically attacked, but mostly, screwing up. The main job of a clinic escort is to make sure the patients can get into the clinic, with the minimum amount of harassment. Under no circumstances are you to escalate the situation by arguing with the antis. On one hand, it’s a lot of standing around, and on the other, you’re always looking around, up the street, down the street, behind you. Every moment matters.
Mostly, I opened doors for women and men and small children, who kept their eyes down and hustled inside quickly. It was relatively low activity kind of day, according to the other escorts. The more aggressive antis hadn’t shown up. The folks with the cross left earlier than usual. I went home atnoon, exhausted.
The second time I escorted was in May, in Los Angeles with LA for Choice. I’m not sure what I thought would happen, but it was very different from my Planned Parenthood experience-more antis, more aggression, more required from the escorts. I was testing myself, I think. (Can I do this, even when it’s scary?)
Saturday, May 25
8:30 am: I’m not caffeinated and I haven’t had enough sleep, because, even after almost a week, my brain and body have still not adjusted to California time. I hope I’m sharp enough to do this.
9:00 am: (Still not caffeinated. Who do I think I am?) There are four of us, wearing orange tank tops that say “Pro choice Clinic Escort.” Antis, mostly women of color with rosaries, amass, some on the sidewalk in front of clinic, others leaning against the window of the T Mobile store. They start to pray loudly in Spanish. A tall, white man in a black coat, wearing sunglasses, stands near them. The other escorts recognize him. When people walk by, he tries to give them business cards that have a pictures of a fetus in utero on them, as well as a pool of bloody sludge which are supposed to be the “remains”. Some take them without looking at them. G, an escort, says to a woman who has a card in her hand, “I can take that from you if you want.” She shakes her head and keeps walking.
9.15 am: It occurs to me that what the man is doing with the cards is actually violent. Maybe people take it and don’t look at it right away, and then they’re halfway down the street, or inside the brunch place near the clinic, or in the clinic, and then they look down, and they’re horrified, triggered, angry. But this is what he wants.
10.00 am: Another white man, this one wearing white pants and a white shirt, shakes hands with the man who’s been handing out the cards. Lots of eye contact, nodding, and smiling with the women praying loudly. White Shirt pulls out a cell phone, moves to the corner of the T Mobile store window. He’s really close to blocking the sidewalk leading to the clinic. An escort sidles up to him. He turns around and goes back to his original spot, still talking on the phone. We talk amongst ourselves: Does he seriously think we believe he’s looking for privacy to make a call?
10:15 am: Business Card Man walks away from the window towards the driveway, presumably so he can hand things to the people approaching from that direction. I follow him, stand beside him. I don’t make eye contact. He moves back after a few moments. This is physical in a way that’s different from my first experience-we’re using our bodies more actively, more directly. We spread out, we cover, we go where they go.
11: 00 am: A woman arrives. She’s a regular. She has a sign that says “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. God.” Predictably, there’s a picture of a fetus on it. (Are there ever any antis who aren’t religious?) She stands near the driveway. N, another escort and I follow her. She faces the road for a while, holding her sign up so drivers in passing cars can see it. Then she turns to us. “Do you like that babies are getting murdered in there?” she asks. “Does that make you happy when you get up in the morning? Does it make you say ‘yay’?” I have no idea what to do. “You don’t have to say anything,” N tells me. “We try not to do anything that escalates the situation.” “Do you know about Kermit Gosnell? He murdered babies. He cut off their arms and legs. But you wouldn’t know about that.” N and I ignore her. She stops talking to us and turns back to the road.
11.15 am: A couple walking by stops to check out the scene. The woman who talked to N and I about Gosnell tells them that “people inside are murdering babies.” S, an escort, positions himself near them. (Sometimes people talk to the antis, and it’s okay to let that happen, unless it’s clear that they want out of the conversation.) I can’t hear what’s being said, but the couple seems attentive. They don’t want rescuing.
11:30 am: A woman stops to tells us that she’s on the board of a family planning clinic in Cleveland. “I am shocked,” she says, “that you have to deal with this bullshit here.”
12: 00 pm: A man and woman walk through the protesters towards the clinic. There’s a little kid in pink pajamas between them. They’re all holding hands, tightly.
By 12.30, the antis are gone. The clinic stops taking appointments at one. We take off our orange shirts and bring them back inside the clinic. I keep looking around, expecting a mob with crosses and signs to come streaming around the corner, but it doesn’t happen. I get in the car with N and S, and we drive away.
When we’re on the highway, S asks me what I thought. “It was different,” I say. This was a non answer, I know, but at the time, it was easier than the truth, which is that for me, today was about figuring out if I could keep escorting, regardless of my fears. Escorting is about immersion, and practice, and support. There’s a process to be trusted. So, for now, the answer is yes. I’m still in.
Last Thursday, in a speech before the irrationally titled anti-choice group “Susan B. Anthony List,” failed Vice-presidential candidate and currently underwhelming Republican leader and Representative Paul Ryan said, “We don’t want a country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it isn’t even considered.”
At present, we have no model for that: no such country exists. Making abortion illegal won’t prevent it from being considered; abortion rates are higher in countries where the procedure is illegal. Outlawing it also makes it more dangerous. Making it illegal won’t prevent it from being considered. Paul Ryan can read, so this must be obvious to him. So if he doesn’t mean to outlaw abortion, what kind of country would we build where it wouldn’t even be an option?
Well, it would ideally be a world in which there were no unwanted or unplanned pregnancies in the first place. Abstinence-only education is possibly the worst way to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Not only do kids have sex, when they do, they’re inadequately informed as to how to find and use birth control. So a country where abortion isn’t considered would have to start with a comprehensive sexual education program from the time children are old enough to get pregnant - nine years old, apparently, but we should start at 7 or 8 to be safe. We’ll obviously have to end child rape, because abortion will surely at least cross the minds of guardians, medical professionals, and child advocates if a nine year old girl is found to be pregnant. In addition, birth control will have to be free, and not only easily accessible, but abundantly available.
Stopping adult rape totally will be a challenge. People will need to be indoctrinated from birth to accept that, once born, their lives, no matter what the costs or circumstances, need to take a backseat to the unborn. Oh, you’re an adult who got raped and now you’re pregnant? To not even consider abortion, you will have to be good and convinced – brainwashed, honestly – to not even consider that your life, sanity, peace of mind, bodily autonomy, independence, future, dreams and hopes should not be 100% certain to take a backseat to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term that is the product of a traumatic sexual assault. That’s the reality.
There’s also the issue of non-viable fetuses. At this point, in the world we’re creating, there are only wanted pregnancies. Still, a person who realizes they’re carrying a child who has no brain – literally, a tiny body with no working brain – knows that pregnancy is not going to come to term with a happy ending. There are also cases of children who would only live a few days, in the hospital, in severe pain, fetuses with no heartbeat that for some reason are not naturally still-born and simply remain in the uterus, and other extremely severe fetal medical issues. It’s hard to imagine that one wouldn’t at least consider an abortion when it’s clear that the fetus is no longer alive, or as a mercy when a child who was born would suffer terribly. The solution would probably be to no longer classify this as abortion. It would be considered carrying a pregnancy all the way to term – term would end when a child was born, or a fetus was no longer viable.
So we’re going to have a world in which birth control is free and abundantly available and easily accessible, in which there is no more child rape, and in which adults are conditioned to believe that the life of an unborn fetus is more important than the life of anything else, ever, at all, under any circumstances. We’re also going to stop defining certain medical procedures as abortions. Are we now living in a world where no one will consider abortion?
Probably not. Although abortions for medical reasons – the so-called “health of the mother” exemption – has been mocked by the GOP, pregnancy can still be life-threatening. There’s no way around it. Not having an abortion can still mean that you will die. Or your mother will die. Or your wife, or your partner, or your sister, or your child. At these moments, it would be impossible not to at least consider abortion. Most people would let that option cross their mind. Many people – however selfish this option was made to seem – would consider how much they still wanted their spouse, their child, their parent in their lives. Some people – maybe, under those circumstances, even most people – would have a hard time accepting this preventable death. Hell, we fight cancer even when death isn’t preventable. We really hang on to our loved ones. I think it would be hard to condition that out of people – even for a perfect, abortion-free world.
So if there’s no such thing as a perfect, abortion-free world, it might be worth considering that a perfect world includes abortion. Abortion isn’t a problem, it’s a solution. It’s a medically necessary solution to a number of problems that are part of our real lived experiences: rape, medical complications, miscarriages, and, unfortunately, because humans are imperfect creatures and we make mistakes and because we currently live in a system not designed to any way help us avoid those mistakes, unwanted pregnancies. When abortion is considered no more problematic than any other incredibly useful medical advancement that can and improve millions of lives, we’ll be a huge step closer to a perfect world.
I have some thoughts on how to get there, too. I’d like to think Paul Ryan, being a smart guy, would want to help, but he probably won’t consider resigning.
A guest post from Sarah Erdreich, the author of Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell is currently on trial in Pennsylvania, charged with eight counts of murder. For decades, Gosnell provided abortion services to primarily low-income, minority, and immigrant women in an unsafe and unhygienic clinic. Despite numerous complaints to state agencies and the forty-six lawsuits filed against him, Gosnell’s clinic was only inspected five times after it opened in 1979; the last inspection occurred in 1993. When officials finally did raid his clinic in 2010, it was on suspicion of drug violations. The eight counts of murder that Gosnell faces include one for a woman that died from a painkiller overdose before her procedure, and seven infants that he allegedly killed with scissors after they were born.
Those acts, together with a grand jury report that spares no detail in describing the squalid and unhygienic conditions of Gosnell’s clinic, paint a grim picture of a man that never should have been allowed to practice medicine. They also call into question just why state agencies did so little to investigate the many complaints that were made over two decades.
The state of Pennsylvania has responded by enacting new anti-choice laws that make abortion care more difficult for people to access and afford. Clinics that provide surgical abortions now must meet the same medical and construction standards as outpatient surgery centers; while clinics were exempt from some regulations, such as having elevators of a certain size, a number of the new regulations required clinics to undergo expensive renovations. In 2008, 82% of all Pennsylvania counties lacked an abortion provider; five clinics have closed in the last year, meaning that that number is undoubtedly even higher now.
Pennsylvania is hardly alone in requiring only abortion clinics, as opposed to all freestanding outpatient surgical clinics, to adhere to specific and extensive standards. From insisting that providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals to mandating the size of operating rooms, states around the country have enacted numerous laws in the past several years that sound benign on paper but have devastating real-life effects. The rationale for many of these laws is that they are necessary to safeguard the health and well-being of people who need abortion care. But when legal abortions are performed by trained medical professionals, the health risks are already very low; according to the non-partisan Guttmacher Institute, “[f]ewer than 1% of all U.S. abortion patients experience a major complication and the risk of death associated with abortion is 10 times as low as that associated with childbirth.”
When a woman dies during childbirth, politicians do not insist that all hospitals adhere to new structural requirements, and activists do not claim that since a woman died, no OB/GYN should be trusted. Yet the anti-choice movement has shown no such common sense and sound judgment when it comes to Kermit Gosnell. Instead, they have exploited this tragedy to enact laws that either force clinics to charge more for their services so they can pay for renovations, or close altogether. Making abortion more expensive and less accessible will not lower the abortion rate in this country. Instead, it will create an environment that drives women to desperate measures such as self-abortion or turning to untrained, but inexpensive, physicians.
I’ve been having some ABSURD women’s rights dreams lately, you guys. All of this legislature must be making me go a little off the deep end. Listen to this most recent dream:
I wake up in a hospital bed, in a gown, with my boyfriend. I have no idea what is going on and I’m a little disoriented. A nurse comes in a tells me that the doctor is almost ready for me, and that the anesthetist will be in soon. My boyfriend, concerned, looks at me and asks “Are you sure you want to do this?” He looks devastated. My first thought is that I’m pregnant and having an abortion, but that doesn’t seem right. I ask the nurse who comes in shortly thereafter what I’m in for, and she tells me that I’m there to have my ovaries removed. She makes it seem like it’s been state-mandated and “for my own good” (sounds kind of like mandatory waiting periods and trans-vaginal ultrasounds…
My boyfriend and I are panic-stricken (though why he’s suddenly this way, in retrospect, makes no sense… he knew all along… oh well, dreams). I’ve got an IV in, and I’m hooked up to some machines, but I’m suddenly looking for a way out, not just of the room, but out of the damn hospital. I’m trying to get up, but nurses keep coming in and “checking on me.” In my dream, I think they’re spying. I can’t find a way out, and my boyfriend can’t keep them out of the room long enough. Eventually the anesthetist comes in and puts something in my IV. I’m getting really sleepy, but I keep fighting it. I’m just trying to formulate a plan so that they can’t take my ovaries, but I can’t think straight.
The nurses are wheeling me down the hall to the operating room. They’re trying to be encouraging, telling me that I’m brave, but I’m not feeling like this is a choice, so nothing is brave about it. I’m placed in the OR and am waiting around for a few minutes, and while my thoughts are screaming to get out of there, my body can’t move. Finally, the doctor comes in and introduces himself. He seems nice, as he asks me to count backwards from 10. I tell him I don’t want to do this, but he just keeps asking me to count down. Finally, totally miserable but resigned to my fate, as it seems like I have no other options, I close my eyes and say “ten.” Then, thank god, I wake up. I gasped myself awake, and woke the boyfriend up as well.
What a terrifying dream.
I live in a state that doesn’t make access 100% easy, but it’s certainly not impossible to get an abortion. My insurance covers it, and the co-pay is even really low. I think that this dream, for me, was my pain for people in North Dakota or Ohio spilling over. I can’t even imagine what being forced to carry to term, regardless of choice, fetal anomalies and other factors notwithstanding, would do to me. The misery and fear I experienced in a dream alone was enough to wake me, gasping and terrified. Living that reality would be horrific.
Sign the petition calling for a reversal of the newly-approved personhood laws in North Dakota here.
Dear Gov. Dalrymple,
As someone who has lived in and loves North Dakota, I am appalled that the state legislature would approve such barbaric legislation and I can only hope that you will see that so severely limiting access to abortion not only hurts women and their families but their communities and your state as a whole.
One in three American women have an abortion in there lifetime. In North Dakota that’s over 115,000 women. To be fair North Dakota has has a slightly lower rate of abortions than the rest of the US, so it would be a bit fewer but we are still talking 100,000 voters in a state of not even 700,000 people and that is something to think about.
Women in North Dakota must already go to the ONE abortion provider in the entire state and undergo a 24-hour waiting period before seeking an abortion. It is not easy to get an abortion in North Dakota as it is, and yet the legislature wants to restrict it further.
Remember Ohio’s heartbeat bill last year? Remember how it failed, and the reaction? Do you really want to be that historic first who for years will be haunted as a political heretic?
As women start having their families later they are at greater risk of fetal anomalies, and we know this change is no hurry to be reversed, it is medically inappropriate to limit access to abortions in case of fetal anomaly or birth defect. It should not be up to a legislature but clinicians, namely the one abortion provider in all of North Dakota.
Now, I want you to think about your four daughters. I want to return to the fact that one in three American women will have an abortion in their lifetime. That includes, in all likelihood one of your daughters. What would happen if she discovered a pregnancy after five weeks? Do you want her to have to travel out of state? Would that maybe be more traumatic for her?
Think about it.
In this week’s edition of Totally Not Surprising News: restricting access to abortion services makes women upset, doesn’t change their mind about having an abortion.
Abortion activists have known for a while now that bills that require waiting periods and mandatory sonograms, including trans vaginal ultrasounds, don’t change the minds of women seeking an abortion. A recently released study from the University of Texas Austin, University of Alabama Birmingham, and Ibis Reproductive Health reveals that 1/3 women felt upset after mandatory waiting periods and increased regulations. A gross majority of women reported that forced waiting periods and ultrasounds did not change their mind.
But that’s okay, these committed conservative lawmakers keep passing laws that restrict access to abortion because Jesus and God and Guns and Fetus and Sanctity of Life, but not the sanctity of women that are living and poor children and women of color because that would be SOCIALISM.
The study suggests that waiting periods have nothing to do with women’s health, as preliminary results of the study indicate an increased negative impact upon women. The impact is particularly felt by poor women and women of color. Minority women in Texas suffer more from the restrictions, a fact that highlights how race, class, and access to abortion intersect to reinforce a monstrously oppressive system.
This news came days after Arkansas legislators instituted a 12 week abortion ban. Any woman seeking to exercise her constitutional right to have an abortion in Arkansas now is shit out of luck if she’s more than 3 months along. In a state with some of the highest rates of poverty in the nation, including a 23% poverty rate amongst children and a disturbing 40% poverty rate amongst African Americans, restricting health care access to the most vulnerable is downright evil. Would it kill them to pass some laws to take care of their record number of poor and starving children?
Considering that women often do not even realize they are pregnant until the tenth or twelfth week, the new ban is in essence, a full abortion ban. Thinking about this is mind-numbingly terrifying. I don’t want to drop into a ball of terror but this stuff is getting disturbingly close to A Handmaid’s Tale and I’m becoming less able to deal with my rage. Our rights are systematically going out the window like yesterday’s trash.
State by state, women’s rights are being rolled back in the name of deliberately misleading notions of women’s health. For instance, as if they did not want to be outdone by Arkansas, news is breaking that another restrictive abortion ban bill is making its way through the Kansas legislature.
Even our activism is being hijacked. The word “choice” has been used against abortion access and reproductive justice to sell an idea that women need an ultrasound and waiting period to “make the best choice.” Sean Hannity of Fox News recently argued that women should have the “choice to protect themselves from a rapist with their guns.”
I can’t emphasize enough that these bills are mainly impacting poor women. The Lilith Fund, an abortion fund that provides money to women that cannot afford an abortion on their own, reported on twitter that in “2012, 74% of the women we helped on our hotline were already mothers and 85% were women of color.” In Texas , Republican Gov. Rick Perry and the conservative legislature blocked thousands of poor women from access basic health care in their quest to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Family planning clinics have been forced to close because Perry directly cut their funds. Cutting funding leads directly to cutting services for women, particularly poor women, and women of color. No money, no care.
On January 25, 2013, anti-choicers from across the country gathered to march on Washington DC, in a show of their support for fetal life. This year, I’d almost forgotten about the March for Life- mostly because the event is a ton of high schoolers who are bused in to increase numbers. It’s a way for teenagers to travel, have time off from school, and hang with their friends- and sometimes they even get a little extra credit for going. So I’m not really worried about hundreds of kids taking a vacation (although you should listen to @ClinicEscort talk to a train full of them about her abortion experience here).
What reminded me that the March of Life was happening soon, was an article posted on January 23 on a Colorado news website titled “In malpractice case, Catholic hospital argues fetuses aren’t people.”
Here’s a summary of what happened: in 2006, a woman who was 7 months pregnant with twins arrived at the hospital short of breath and vomiting. She passed out, and had a massive heart attack because of a clog in her artery. The doctor on call never showed up that night, the woman died less than an hour after entering the hospital, and the twins died in the womb. A terribly heartbreaking situation. The husband is filing a wrongful-death lawsuit for the twins–he realized that his wife was beyond saving, but argues that the doctor should have arrived to perform a cesarean and saved the twins.
The Catholic hospital’s lawyers countered that fetuses aren’t people, and therefore the husband cannot file a wrongful-death suit for them.
If you ever want to know if someone REALLY believes what they are saying, pin it against money, apparently. The hospital has twice–before a court, and an appeals court–argued that persons are born, and therefore the viable, 7 month gestation fetuses are not persons. Once again: the lawyers for a Catholic hospital which has a mission stating, “Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death,’” have said,
…the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”
Now, there is a very important point here I’d like to make- if the Catholic lawyers had argued the other way, things could have been very different. If they had agreed that the twin fetuses could have a wrongful-death lawsuit filed for them, and that the Catholic hospitals recognized their personhood, they could have had the beginnings of legal precedent for recognizing fetuses as persons. Of course, many hospitals and laws already recognize the value of a viable fetus to a family, and this case couldn’t have banned abortion overnight. But they didn’t choose to do that- for this Catholic hospital, it seems that money is more important than fetal life.
I probably sound like I’m repeating myself a lot, but this is a big deal. If a Catholic hospital will argue in a court of law that fetuses aren’t persons, then perhaps we shouldn’t respect their argument when it’s based upon the concept that fetuses are persons (which is quite often). If they really, truly believed and supported their position, they wouldn’t argue against it. If even Catholic hospitals following the rules of the US Catholic Bishops (some of the biggest fighters against abortion) don’t believe their ideas, why should we consider laws they try to pass? Or let them have ways to opt out of the birth control mandate?
I don’t think we should. Of course, these types of things aren’t decisions I get to make personally. But I can remember these facts about antichoicers while I am having discussions with them: that anti-choice people get abortions too; that more people are calling themselves pro-life, but support for legal abortion has not decreased; that Catholic hospitals don’t always follow the idea that life begins at conception. Some people are incredibly sure of themselves, until they face a trial of their beliefs. My goal is not to change minds overnight, or push people further into their beliefs, but to open their mind to the vast possibilities around them. Sharing this story about a Catholic hospital denying the personhood of fetuses is one way to show the world is not completely black and white for anyone, but a huge ball of gray.
This weekend, the International Prolife Youth Conference will be happening in California. Their theme is “Abolitionist Rising,” an attempt to compare the abhorrent practice of slavery to legal abortion. Hosted by Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust & Priests for Life, the conference’s goal is to equip youth to fight against abortion and change their perspective of the anti-choice movement.
While many anti-choice supporters, websites and blogs are mourning the election results, the IPYC facebook (which we will not link to) has stayed upbeat. I wondered if perhaps they thought they found the cure to the dying GOP platform: getting youth involved. While it sounds like a good idea, the anti-choice movement gravely misunderstands today’s youth.
The Presidential election just a few days ago tells us a lot about millennials. Sixty percent of those 18-29 years old voted for President Obama, compared to 44% of those 65 and older. There is a clear trend towards younger people being more progressive. The Center for American Progress found that of 21 core values and beliefs held by America’s youth, only four of them could be deemed conservative. They also found that 84% of today’s youth believe that “we should do everything we can to make sure that people who want to use prescription birth control have affordable access to it and that cost is not an obstacle.” Remember that anti-choicers are strongly against birth control, including financial coverage of it and the use of it by women of all ages.
Advocates for Youth researched what today’s young people think about abortion. 68% of Millennials believe abortion should be available in their community, compared to 60% of the Boomer generation (interesting to note the high majority of both; this is one explanation for why the majority of anti-choice leaders are older people). Today’s youth are more multicultural; there are more people of color among today’s youth than among previous generations. This diversity is another point against conservative, anti-choice groups who have a difficult time reaching out to people of color (their “black genocide” movement seems to incite more anger than anything).
Perhaps the IPYC leaders are excited because they believe they can mold young people’s minds into becoming anti-choice? Their facebook description states the conference will “change your perspective of the pro-life movement across the nation.” They might have a point there–until these young people decide to educate themselves on the issues instead of just listening to speakers. Take the example of Libby Anne. Upon doing her own research, Libby Anne realized that the anti-choice movement actually does more to cause abortions than stop them. She realized that the policies of the pro-choice movement reduces unplanned pregnancies and helps women around the world. Youth attending the IPYC will likely listen to speakers this weekend claim they want to “help women,” but many will soon see that the anti-choice movement is causing a lot more harm than good.
So this weekend, when you see anti-choice activists tweeting about the IPYC, remember that just because the election is over, it doesn’t mean the anti-choice movement is going to give up or go home. They didn’t four years ago, and they definitely won’t now. We can’t stop caring either! Sign the Bill of Reproductive Rights, tell the American Association of University Women what you think Obama and Congress should do on Day One, join the fight to repeal the Hyde Amendment–let’s set our own priorities!