It’s that time of year, y’all! No, not jelly beans and Cadbury eggs everywhere time. Well, that too. No, it’s “40 Days for Life” time! Or, as I like to call it, “40 Days to End Women’s Bodily Autonomy and Exercise Religiously-Based Manipulation Based on Medical Falsehoods” time! Isn’t that just charming?
40 Days for Life (I’m not going to link them, but be assured they have a site) is an anti-choice event designed to coincide with Lent, or the Temptation of Jesus Christ. For 40 days,anti-choice protesters make it their mission to be as obnoxious as possible outside of abortion providers’ offices and Planned Parenthood clinics. Traditionally, the 40 Days campaigns consist of standing “vigil” outside of these places, praying, and sometimes fasting. Pictures of nearly full-term fetuses inaccurately portrayed as a standard abortion appear to be encouraged. I am ashamed to say that this festival of bullshit started right in my home state of Texas (really, where else?), specifically in the Bryan and College Station area, home of the uber-conservative Texas A&M University. Since its conception (*wink wink*) in 2004, it has spread like the virulent nastiness it is, and you can probably find at least a few of these creatures at your local Planned Parenthood during the next month or so.
Now for the lies! A big part of the 40 Days event is hollering at clinic-goers as they walk through the parking lot. This doesn’t go on just during 40 Days, but it does seem more frequent, and there are usually more protestors. They carry signs such as the ones to the left, each broadcasting all sorts of lies. I have seen recently “Planed Parenthood kills children” and “It’s Not a Choice, It’s a Child.” I’ve also seen signs that aren’t lies, just the slogan “Pray to End Abortion,” which I might be able to get behind if they also weren’t insistent on getting rid of birth control. I have been volunteering for Planned Parenthood in some capacity since I was eleven years old, and I have been a consumer of their services since I was about fifteen, and never have I seen more protesters than during 40 Days. Most of my work has been in outreach and education, but recently I started doing office work, meaning that I am at a clinic nearly every week. A month ago there were no protesters. Last week, there was a range of five to twelve. Every single one of them was trying to convince me to “keep my baby.” You know, the one I’m not pregnant with because I engage in family planning.
Over the past week in particular, and my experiences at Planned Parenthood over the past several years, here are some of my favorite anti-choice lies:
- “We can help you!” No, you really can’t. Well, maybe you could, but you won’t. They never do, because pro-life isn’t actually what they are. It’s why I and many others prefer the term anti-choice. We also like “forced-birth activist,” because that is all they really care about. Those who are truly pro-life care about the life of a child its well-being, security, and happiness. They care about the life of the mother and her well-being and happiness. Anti-choicers stop giving a damn about women and their fetuses once the woman gives birth. No abortion? Check. Forced birth? Check. Have we sufficiently shamed this woman for either a) having consensual sex or b) being raped? Check! Well then, mission accomplished. They don’t support women. They don’t help them raise their children, find a good housing situation, or get a job. You know what does happen though, if they bother to interact with a woman once they have sufficiently shamed her for trying to make decisions about her body? They shame her some more, send her off to a crisis pregnancy center, and let them do the dirty work of convincing her to give up her child because she is an unfit mother (i.e., unwed, poor, not Christian, of color).
- “Abortion is murder!” Uh-uh. No. Not legally. My body, my choice, whether you call it a child or not. Try as some might to make a part of my body another person, it hasn’t happened yet!
- “Let me tell you the truth about birth control!” I heard this one last week, actually, and found it a little humorous. Not because I already know the truth about birth control, which is that it works, but because this guy thinks he does to. I can guarantee he’s wrong. He was going to tell me birth control is murder too, which is particularly laughable. Also that I’m going to hell.
- “Your baby loves you!” One, I don’t have a baby. Two, most of the women going to places like Planned Parenthood or OB/GYNs that provide abortions are probably not pregnant, they want to be pregnant. Only 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are abortion services. If I’m not pregnant and I don’t have any children, I don’t have a baby that loves me. Unless you count my dachshunds as babies, like I do. They definitely love me. If you aren’t pregnant and do have children, the protester is probably correct your baby does love you! Thanks, protester! Anyway, fetuses don’t experience emotions.
What so many protesters ignore (because I know they know) is that people go to Planned parenthood and other clinics that provide abortion services for a myriad of reasons, relatively few of which are abortions. They go for STD testing! Oh wait, they hate that too, because dirty sluts shouldn’t have sex or something, and good married Christians don’t have to worry about that. They go for birth control! Oh wait, that’s “murder” too, right? They go for well-woman exams! There might be a pass here, but you still shouldn’t support baby-killers or whatever. They go for general reproductive health care, like treatment for yeast infections and urinary tract infections! Wait, I can’t hear you! All I hear is dirtdirtypunishmentdirtysinnerdirty.
This is really just a small sample of what we get during 40 Days for Life, and whenever protesters are out there doing their thing. I also commonly hear that they will pray for me, though I’m sure that’s not a lie. They probably will, whether I want their prayers or not. I’m also wondering how long it will take the ones currently staked outside the clinic where I volunteer to realize that I’m there to work, not to receive services. I imagine they’ve start singing a different song when they discover this. I’ll keep y’all posted.
So, have you seen 40 Days protesters recently? Other protesters? Did they leave you alone or shout you down? Any particularly ludicrous heckling? I want to know!