Picketers vs Patients

You can find this post published at This Week in Blackness. If you aren’t familiar with TWiB, go there. Now. Well, after you’re done here. They have excellent bloggers — like the fantastic Imani Gandy, aka the Angry Black Lady, who posted this piece — and enough original radio/podcasts to keep you busy for approximately forever.


“Women have DIED in there!”

“Abortion is genocide!”

“Jesus doesn’t want you to kill your baby!”

“It’s not too late – we can help you!”

We tune them out, preferring to pretend they’re invisible. It’s understandable; they’re always there. In “big cities,” in rural towns. For us, they are a kind of constant din providing background noise to the work we do everyday. Their signs are ridiculous, their taunts complete lies. Our ability to ignore them makes the work we do possible. We shrug them off because to us they can’t matter.

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5 thoughts on “Picketers vs Patients

  1. Colleen

    I was there the day this picture was taken of these great kids, one of whom is mine. None of those quotes was said that day or any day when we stood outside the clinic hoping and praying that a mom would reconsider and not let her baby be killed. There is no harassment. That is a lie. These babies deserve someone to stand for them just to give a pressured woman pause and consider there are alternatives other than the violent and painful death that is abortion. A human baby is more magnificent than any sculpture or painting but those are protected and guarded, whereas the unborn child has no protection other than these folks standing outside the clinic on the day they might or might not be killed. May God’s mercy and light find you.

    1. Heather_R_Parker Post author


      Fortunately, I have never been at that clinic when you or any of the other antichoice sidewalk “counselors” have been there, so I can’t vouch for the the veracity of your claims.

      But having been to various other clinics, I CAN say that I have personally heard those various statements being hurled at women entering clinics. So, no, the fact that women are harassed going into clinics is NOT a lie. Even just standing there holding a gigantic banner with false information is harassment enough.

      Actually, let me share a story: When I was just a lawyer-in-training, my roommate for the summer (a visiting scholar working on a doctorate in public health) had her husband visit for the weekend. Unfortunately, their chosen method of contraception (a barrier method), failed. I offered to go with my roommate to the local Planned Parenthood to get emergency contraception because, working with the law firm that represented that Planned Parenthood I knew precisely how vitriolic the protesters at that particular women’s health center were.

      As we pulled up to the health center, there was A LOT of shouting. My friend, already upset that her husband had had to leave and she wouldn’t see him again for two months, started shaking. When we got out of the car, IMMEDIATELY, a throng of protesters ran up to us, thrusting pamphlets depicting photoshopped pictures of dead fetuses (or, more often, pictures of miscarriages or stillbirths).

      At this point, my friend (my extremely PROCHOICE friend) began to cry. Not because she thought she was “killing her baby;” my friend was there to PREVENT a pregnancy. She was crying because she was under attack by random strangers during what should have been a private medical appointment.

      As we neared the door, my friend was ASSAULTED by one of these protesters (yes, assaulted – that’s the legal, criminal term for someone touching your body without your consent) when a protester grabbed her arm and attempted to keep her from entering the health center, all the while yelling at her to “not kill her baby.”

      So, please, Colleen. Don’t tell me that protesters are just there peacefully. Perhaps some are (though even these protesters intimidate women during what is meant to be a private medical appointment). But I have PERSONALLY witnessed protesters ASSAULTING patients entering women’s health centers, which is a far cry from someone just standing and praying.

      1. Colleen

        I’ve been going with my kids’, 1-2 times a month for 18 months and never once was a woman touched. She is asked a question not to harass her but to let her know there are alternatives to killing the unborn child and there are resources to assist her at no cost. Many women do regret an abortion that they were sometimes forced into by unloving boyfriend, father, step-father, etc. Often we see young girls crying and I wonder if they actually have a choice! One woman ran out, on March 2nd at Family Planning Associates in Chicago, and grabbed the sidewalk counselor’s arm asking for help cause her boyfriend was pressuring her. That help was lovingly given. I am pro-woman, pro-baby, and pro-life. Thank you for publishing my comment and taking the time to respond. I disagree with you but I appreciate you telling me about your experience.

      2. Heather_R_Parker Post author

        Do you take your children to stand outside of cancer treatment centers to talk to them about other options? Outside of dental offices? No? Then you shouldn’t stand outside of women’s health center’s, either. These are PRIVATE medical decisions to be made between a woman and her doctor. They are not up for public debate.

        NO ONE should be pressured into an abortion – that is wrong, and it is not prochoice. But no one should be pressured NOT to have an abortion, either – and that is PRECISELY what you and other protesters do: attempt to pressure women not to have abortions.

        Again, these decisions are not about you – you are not in these women’s shoes. These decisions belong to these women and to these women alone. Attempting to interject yourself into another’s medical decision-making process, let alone the decision-making process of a COMPLETE stranger is hubris at its worst.

        If you TRULY want to reduce the number of abortions in this country, your time would be better spent volunteering for an organization that provides comprehensive sex education to our youth and provides low cost, efficacious contraception. The two things thing that have been proven to have the greatest impact on lowering the unintended pregnancy rate (and therefore the abortion rate) are comprehensive sex education and access to contraception.

        If your goal is truly to prevent abortions, and not just to harass and shame women, I suggest your focus your energies there.


        – H

      3. Colleen

        Except it is not a “medical decision”. The Abortionist is a killer of unborn children and the woman’s choice is death for a child with no voice. I could not disagree with you more. Those children deserve protection from the violent bully that is an abortionist just like children in a playground need protection. Except our society gives them none and women do not realize the deep emotional pain they will go through, nor the gravity of the “medical decision” they cannot undo. Morality is what needs to be taught nor efficacious contraception. We obviously come from different sides of the spectrum. I’ll still be out there and happy that there is up to 75% increase in no-shows when we do. There is world of difference between cancer treatment, a root canal and a baby being suctioned to pieces and her skull squashed in utero. How do you miss the lopsided logic? Just as the Abolitionists spoke truth to those who called slaves property we will continue to speak truth to those that call killing babies “medical decisions”.

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