Confronting Life
October 25, 2010 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Aaron Gouveia and his wife were already having the worst day of their lives. Then came the abortion protesters.
posted by PeterMcDermott (137 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
The GMP site has been down since this morning when it was posted to Reddit - find copies of the site cached there. Salon has a (smallish) writeup.
Would like to know what happened when the cops showed up.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:17 AM on October 25, 2010


Wow, I wish I could be that cognizant when I'm a quarter as emotional as he must have been. And then they try to call the cops on him just because they were out of good counterarguments...
posted by MuppetNavy at 11:17 AM on October 25, 2010


I'd like to see a bumper sticker in response to "It's a child, not a choice" (one of the favorites in verrrry-Catholic South St. Louis)..."She's a woman, not just a womb."
posted by notsnot at 11:19 AM on October 25, 2010 [20 favorites]


Apparently Mr. Gouveia is a reporter at the Cape Cod Times.

My favorite comment from the You Tube link seems to summarize very well the protesters' profound thinking on this subject:

that dad was angry because of the abortion. yells at those women like they ignorant. its sad he did that. its awful that he and his wife aborted the baby.
posted by bearwife at 11:20 AM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Oh, I'm an angry father? I sure am. Angry with you."

He couldn't have put that much better.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:21 AM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


And... we broke it.

The site is down but someone on Reddit was kind enough to post the full text of the first link.
posted by stringbean at 11:22 AM on October 25, 2010


[T]here is a hell on Earth. Hell is sitting next to the person you love most and listening to her wail hysterically because her heart just broke into a million pieces. Hell is watching her entire body convulse with sobs because she’s being tortured with grief. For as long as I live and no matter how many children we have, I will never forget that sound. And I vowed to do everything in my power to make sure she’d never make it again.

Across a crowded street, two people with “God Is Pro-Life!” signs and pictures of torn-up fetuses managed to drive the blade in even deeper. Again, I was left trying to console the inconsolable, feeling even more helpless this time, because I wasn’t allowed into surgery with her.


Jesus. Given the circumstance, he showed extraordinary restraint.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:24 AM on October 25, 2010 [14 favorites]


Arguing with religious types is really effective. I'm sure that thousands of these abortion protestors have packed up and gone home when confronted.
posted by Sukiari at 11:25 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


He may as well have been yelling at brick wall. I think he needed to do it, and I'm glad he did, but they were just not ever going to listen, because in their minds, they're the martyrs sticking up for the victims. Their personal narrative is fixed and it would take something extraordinary to shift it.
posted by maudlin at 11:26 AM on October 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seems awfully fool hardy to proclaim the other side unwilling to learn or listen if you do the same, doesn't it?
posted by cavalier at 11:26 AM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Arguing with religious types is really effective.

More effective than snarking from the comfort of emotional distance, that's for sure.
posted by kmz at 11:27 AM on October 25, 2010 [42 favorites]


Jesus, that's amazing.
posted by boo_radley at 11:28 AM on October 25, 2010


they're the martyrs sticking up for the victims

Until they get unexpectedly pregnant.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:28 AM on October 25, 2010 [67 favorites]


> Arguing with religious types is really effective. I'm sure that thousands of these abortion protestors have packed up and gone home when confronted.

Eh, that's a pointless statement. Come back to the thread when you've had to deal with an abortion due to medical necessity for a baby that you otherwise wanted and had already named and people were shouting at you and your spouse about it. See if you have that same reaction to those idiots with their signs. Come back then and make glib statements about the futility of such things.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:28 AM on October 25, 2010 [23 favorites]


Arguing with religious types is really effective. I'm sure that thousands of these abortion protestors have packed up and gone home when confronted.

If you upset them enough, they go home to get their firearms and pipebombs and then "go pro-life" on you.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:29 AM on October 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


He may as well have been yelling at brick wall.

Except that he recorded the whole thing, and now thousands of people have seen it.
posted by swift at 11:30 AM on October 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


*because they were out of good any counterarguments*
posted by ericb at 11:30 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The other day at the adoption agency I ran into a pro-lifer adopting his fifth child (3rd special needs child). He didn't have much time to talk because he was on his way to the anti-war rally, then a letter-writing party to end the death penalty.

Lies.
posted by eccnineten at 11:31 AM on October 25, 2010 [22 favorites]


You know... I read about the pain and hurt and trauma she's going through, not just from her own loss but from the pain inflicted on her by the morally virtuous "pro-lifers" (TRUE pro-lifers who oppose the death penalty and war as well as abortion are rare indeed)...

Anyways. Here we are, watching the suffering of a a woman who most assuredly is dealing with a lot of emotional conflict and to be blamed (they love their victim blaming!)... And I see certain parallels between this and kids who have to grow up gay and deal with the social contempt and fear and mockery and violent anger thrust upon them by a so-called "loving" religion.

It's all so very... Scarlet Letter.
posted by symbioid at 11:31 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm all for free speech, but that kind of self-righteous "in your face" protest is the ugly underbelly of the First Amendment.
posted by lobstah at 11:32 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Until they get unexpectedly pregnant.

Thank you! I have been looking for that article for months.
posted by NailsTheCat at 11:33 AM on October 25, 2010


Apparently Mr. Gouveia is a reporter at the Cape Cod Times.

From that LinkedIn profile he mentions his blog: The Daddy Files, "a blog about fatherhood and parenting."
posted by ericb at 11:33 AM on October 25, 2010


LULZ - upon post-post, what eccnineten said!

To be fair, I do know a family who was very active in our local Pro-Life thing (Growing up with a fundie mom, I got to see the whole thing from the inside) who were very into adoption, and had a decent sized family with lots of adopted kids. So I applaud them for that. How many actually do that, I think is actually pretty low. Of course, one example does not a trend make.
posted by symbioid at 11:34 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish someone did this with Westburo Baptist Church at a Military Funerel......first amendment needs to kick those people in the ass
posted by wheelieman at 11:34 AM on October 25, 2010


Are they allowed to yell at patients like that? Where I come from it's illegal for the protesters to yell at people going in and out of clinics. I pass a Planned Parenthood regularly on my commute, and a while back I stopped in to give them a donation. The protesters at the edge of the property called over to me and I asked about it inside. I was told they have a right to be there at the edge of the property but that yelling at people going in and out violated the "don't go onto the property" rule.
posted by headnsouth at 11:36 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm all for free speech, but

- not if it means I have to listen to you talk about food
- I don't want my kids to read about anything involving a person dying
- only when you can speak English
- don't laugh at me if I forget my lines
- not if it makes the motorcade uncomfortable
- sometimes people need to shut up
- you can't say that on television
posted by swift at 11:38 AM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Until they get unexpectedly pregnant.

That's the beauty of it. Like most things, pro-life in your face Christian dominionists are only concerned that other people be labeled babykillers or sluts (all the better if theyre poor). Not thier perfect little Abby McLaughfin-Angel, who just made that one little mistake with Tyler SingsSoNice across the street. No one needs to know about that, stop prying into our personal lives.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:38 AM on October 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


But this story is not about convincing those who can't be convinced. It's about peeling away the soft language about Saving Precious Babies and revealing the ugly truth beneath--that it's about power and shame and the fear of women being allowed to do as they like with their wombs, including deciding to end a pregnancy.

If the odd "legitimate" (and that would only be to some pro-lifers--many would say they should continue the pregnancy regardless of the fetuses' condition) abortion-seeking married couple gets slammed in the process, well, that's just collateral damage.

I sometimes wonder if it all goes back to the jealousy some little boys seem to feel when they find out they can't make babies with their bodies, and the desire to keep women from using that power without having to get permission from some male, some where.
posted by emjaybee at 11:39 AM on October 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


> Until they get unexpectedly pregnant.

Wow, that's one of the best compendiums of cognitive dissonance that I've seen in some time.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:41 AM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


eccnineten & symbioid:

Another reason we need to get rid of the term "pro-life" for these shitheads. They aren't pro-life, they're anti-choice and anti-woman. I know several people who wouldn't consider an abortion short of trauma to the mother (including rape and incest) or child or both, but firmly believe that the choice should never be taken away.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:42 AM on October 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


I saw a bumper sticker once that said : " Don't like abortions ? Fine, don't get one !" I liked that one a lot.
posted by lobstah at 11:45 AM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think the whole abortion debate is just a convenient way to weld together religion and politics. Encourage a bunch of religious people that Jesus wants the babies to live, and then suddenly pastor just convinced his flock to vote Republican.

And of course it's just a carrot on a stick. Republicans have had many opportunities to overturn Roe vs. Wade. I mean, under Bush, they had a good majority in all three branches of government, and if they really believed abortion was murder, they would have outlawed it ASAP. Stopping murder isn't something you just politely put at the bottom of your agenda.

I really think it's a way to win over religious people people who don't believe in (or at least aren't motivated by) the GOP's voodoo economics and reduced services to the poor.
posted by MuppetNavy at 11:46 AM on October 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


I saw this earlier today. I was hoping there would be an ass-kicking. He handled himself really well, all things considered.
posted by chunking express at 11:47 AM on October 25, 2010


I'm all for free speech, but that kind of self-righteous "in your face" protest is the ugly underbelly of the First Amendment.

Couldn't these people be re-routed to a designated "free speech zone"?
posted by atrazine at 11:47 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel deeply for Mr. Gouveia and his wife, and shame on those who exhibit neither empathy nor compassion by shouting awful things at people for making medical decisions. I disagree strongly with them.

However, this thread is pretty ugly.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:47 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think many people pay lip service to pro-life beliefs because they choose to see themselves as righteous, god-fearing soldiers, keeping society from falling into the abyss. Until circumstances reveal otherwise.

I worked for an attorney I was also friends with, but we had a long standing agreement not to speak about abortion rights because he choose to see himself as an old school Catholic when it came to abortion (but as to living with his girlfriend, not so much).

Until a former client contacted him about getting custody of his daughter. The 13 year old girl was pregnant by her mom's live-in boyfriend. She was afraid that the kids in her 8th grade class would find out. Yes, she had a quick, easy, safe, legal abortion and graduated and went to live with her dad. My friend will never spout off about abortion again. These cases are not widely spoken of because it is just too painful for all involved. But there are some cases where abortion providers are like hospice workers and thank god for them.

And I think of that girl from time to time, wishing her the best.
posted by readery at 11:48 AM on October 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


This is sad.

It's eminently clear, if you find out the background of just about all of the anti-abortion protesters that stand outside clinics with signs, like these two, that they are not there for abstract philosophical reasons having to do with when human life begins. There are lots of people opposed to abortion on philosophical, or religious, or ethical grounds, who do not stand in public with gruesome signs yelling at women. The people who do that are... damaged. They're always damaged in some fundamental way -- some loss, some heartbreak, some problem in their life that they can't solve at all or can't solve to their satisfaction. The standing around with signs is an outlet. A substitution of the "problem" of abortion, which they feel they can devote themselves to doing something about, for the problem they can't do anything about.

That's why it is fruitless to argue with them. You're never going to get anywhere near what is actually driving them to be there in the first place, if you're arguing about abortion with them. Abortion is what they want to be there arguing about. It means they don't have to be confronting the thing that's really driving them.

And this man is clearly furious at his total helplessness in the face of the grinding, implacable fate that decided his baby would be dead. Would it really have been an easier day if these protesters weren't there? Maybe a little bit. A very, very little bit. But they were there, so he had someone to argue with.

So we have a man who's unable to do anything about his actual problem arguing with two women who are unable to do anything about theirs. What they're ostensibly arguing about doesn't really have much to do with it. It might as well be the weather.
posted by rusty at 11:50 AM on October 25, 2010 [25 favorites]


I was told they have a right to be there at the edge of the property ...

In this case the protesters were across the street from the clinic. Massachusetts is one of three states (the others: Colorado and Montana) that have passed "buffer zone" legislation, which can create either a "fixed" area around a medical facility or a "floating" area around patients and staff. In 2007 Massachusetts established a fixed "buffer zone" as 35 feet.
posted by ericb at 11:50 AM on October 25, 2010


Speaking of cognitive dissonance, I'm sure we've all seen this chart.
posted by Zozo at 11:51 AM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


However, this thread is pretty ugly.

It's unusual you say that, because this particular post and this particular incident is marked with an incredible restraint; things could have just as easily gotten ugly, but instead we ended up with a reasonable debate and a public shaming, which is just about the best possible outcome of an abortion thread.
posted by mek at 11:52 AM on October 25, 2010 [15 favorites]


The general actions of the anti- groups falls into one of two broad camps: punishing (in their eyes) sluts, or just plain exercising control over others. Since they themselves are pure and perfect, it's ok for them to partake in the freedom of choice, but others should not.
And it's not like we don't already have a population problem as it is. These people would love to make it worse.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:53 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone have a cached or mirrored copy of Zozo's chart? Imgur.com is pretty good for hosting images...
posted by MuppetNavy at 12:00 PM on October 25, 2010


mirrored copy of Zozo's chart

posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:03 PM on October 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


Come back to the thread when you've had to deal with an abortion due to medical necessity for a baby that you otherwise wanted and had already named and people were shouting at you and your spouse about it.

Or if you've ever had to deal with an abortion just because of an unwanted pregnancy. I feel for these folks and the horrible circumstances surrounding them, but we shouldn't have to look for extreme medical circumstances to justify legal abortions.

(I don't think that's what you were doing Burhanistan, at all. Just wanted to make it clear that women don't need any fucking justification at all for an abortion, and nobody should make them feel obliged to produce one.)
posted by Skot at 12:03 PM on October 25, 2010 [24 favorites]


It's unusual you say that, because this particular post and this particular incident is marked with an incredible restraint; things could have just as easily gotten ugly, but instead we ended up with a reasonable debate and a public shaming, which is just about the best possible outcome of an abortion thread.

I agree it's not as bad as many such threads we've had, but there's still some 'pro-life people are loons who will blow you up if you frustrate them and also they're idiots and hate women' going around.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:06 PM on October 25, 2010


I was just about to say something about the relatively 35 feet buffer zone. I figured it was working because I never see people outside the Allston Planned Parenthood (admittedly, I don't pass by it regularly). I guess it's not.

I think the worst part of the video is where one of the women says she's sorry. If she was really sorry, she wouldn't be harassing people who are about to undergo a completely legal medical procedure. As a Christian, how can you possibly say you're sorry if you don't mean it? Why does it seem that the most vocal and vehement Christians are always the ones that completely disregard Jesus' teachings?

I remember when John Salvi killed two people in Brookline. Weld was brave enough to use the word "terrorist." I had just turned 10 a few days prior. It was at that point that I gave up on Catholicism.
posted by giraffe at 12:10 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was just about to say something about the relatively 35 feet buffer zone. I figured it was working ... I guess it's not.

In this case it was.

Aaron Gouveia:
"Across a crowded street, two people with 'God Is Pro-Life!' signs and pictures of torn-up fetuses managed to drive the blade in even deeper. Again, I was left trying to console the inconsolable, feeling even more helpless this time, because I wasn’t allowed into surgery with her.

Running on pure adrenaline, and without even a hint of a plan, I grabbed my cell phone and crossed the street. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it, I just knew I wanted to make public the cowardice of these protesters. The video’s below—they didn’t disappoint."
posted by ericb at 12:15 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I tried, but I can't put my experience into words. It's all just too raw. I haven't dealt with these people directly, but the thought of them has been near at hand as my wife and I have been struggling with a situation similar to what the Gouveias have dealt with. We've probably had a consult with the same doctors who worked with them.

We may have just dodged one of the most savage bullets the cosmos can inflict. We won't know for certain for another 10 weeks or so. But our decisions at every step have been constrained by the thought of these monsters and what they might do to us. The medical options available to us were limited by a political landscape warped by their extremism. The emotional burden of our decision was multiplied by well-meaning relatives who harbor sympathies with them. And, most basically, our decisions were influenced again and again by the fear that one of these hateful faces might force itself upon us as we struggled through a painful and harrowing medical procedure. As our dreams of having a family collapsed into a sorrow so profound that to think of it now makes my hands to tremble.

I am a first amendment fundamentalist. It is the bedrock of our civil society and I would go to the wall to defend it. But these people are monsters. There is a moment at which one's defense of liberty in the abstract is confronted with the reality that it is abused by evil people who hate the idea that others might be free in ways they refuse to understand. "Right to privacy" is such an anodyne phrase. "Freedom from abuse" would be putting it more accurately.

These protesters are scum. Motherfuckers of the worst sort. The first amendment in which they wrap themselves in order to intimidate and threaten the vulnerable and hurting should be used against them. Go to their homes. Scream at their children. Shame them in public. Make them know that the world has no love in it for them. That when their hearts are breaking open, they will be met with hate.

Maybe then they'll understand.
posted by felix betachat at 12:20 PM on October 25, 2010 [72 favorites]


I don't think it's fair to say we know they hate women (and they probably don't), but they definitely seem to have a problem with modern women's sexual freedoms (the freedom to have sex without pregnancy, basically). They say it's about the fetus, but the fact they even consider exceptions like rape or incest shows that it's more about keeping around the same consequences for sex that we had in the olden days (which are very far back, contraception has pretty much existed since the Roman's time).

And the fact that most of these protesters are advocating abstinence instead of handing out condoms shows that they're more anti-sex than anti-abortion. They want there to be dire consequences for not having long term, monogamous relationships that lead to nuclear families. Hence the anti-HPV vaccine hoopla from social conservatives.
posted by MuppetNavy at 12:22 PM on October 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


ericb: "In this case it was."

The fact that Gouveia had to see the protesters at all though..
posted by giraffe at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2010


I agree it's not as bad as many such threads we've had, but there's still some 'pro-life people are loons who will blow you up if you frustrate them and also they're idiots and hate women' going around.

No, posters are saying there are some pro-life people who are loons, etc. As the chart that Zozo posted shows, those people definitely have problems with what women should and should be in control of, and that's the population where the (admittedly small) number of "pro"-life terrorists come from.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


They aren't pro-life, they're... anti-woman.

Scratch the surface of the "standing outside clinics with signs" crowd and this is a pretty common thing to find. A lot of men whose marriages ended really badly just before they took up the crusade. I can't speak to the particular two in this video, obviously. I have no idea who they are or what their issue is.

And just to be extremely clear: I'm not accusing all people who are against abortion of having, like, mental problems. I'm talking very specifically about people who choose to spend their free time in this extremely confrontational and emotionally fraught type of in-person demonstrating, which I would guess is a sliver of a percent of all people who oppose abortion in some way.
posted by rusty at 12:25 PM on October 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wow does this get my goat.

My mother was an original NOW member, anti-premarital sex, pro-abortion (there, I said it) member of a class and age of women who viewed unwanted pregnancy as akin to perpetual servitude.

(And I am adopted, by the way.)

I have been responsible about birth control since I "lost" or "forgot" or, better yet, "willingly gave away" my virginity at age fifteen. Unfortunately, as we all know, the diaphrahm is only 86% effective, and some of us, I for one, cannot tolerate alternatives. (I came of age before AIDS and condoms were like something out of Balzac or Proust, Hemingway maybe, but I digress.)

I have four live children, one whose birthday is today. Throughout my reproductive life, which I ever hope is over, because sex is fun but birth control is horribly a drag, I have had two "spontaneous abortions," technical term for more prosaic "miscarriage"--I wasn't carrying the baby properly, I guess--and three "elective abortions," one at age nineteen, pre-married, with boyfriend accompanying me to run the gauntlet of "pro-choice protesters" read anti-life love-haters in Boston MA back in 1981, and two more with my spouse and lo no protestors.

Fuck those women and their hateful signs. And the one who argues that she has adopted kids at home? Then what are you doing out on the street? Sorry, but my idea of parenting includes being around, making food, playing games, providing paper and markers, crayons and pens.

Man I just hate it that these people made a horrible day worse. Couldn't those awful sign holders just go home and stare at the wall?

Sorry for the rant, but I just hate it (yeah, I did say "hate") when people are so inexorably unnecessarily cruel to one another and cloak their cruelty in righteousness.

ok, I will go now
posted by emhutchinson at 12:28 PM on October 25, 2010 [27 favorites]


However, this thread is pretty ugly.

But not one thousandth as ugly as the ordeal that Aaron Gouveia and his wife were subjected to.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2010 [12 favorites]


If men got pregnant, abortion righs would have been put in the Constitution.
posted by lobstah at 12:30 PM on October 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


12th and Delaware

HBO Talks About Abortion In America
posted by homunculus at 12:36 PM on October 25, 2010


but there's still some 'pro-life people are loons who will blow you up if you frustrate them and also they're idiots and hate women' going around.

Yeah, who could possibly fucking imagine that anybody would actually do that?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:36 PM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Speaking specifically on the topic of the protesters of either camp:

Has anyone ever heard of a pro-choice (or anti-life, what-have you) protester killing anyone in the cause of his/her argument?

To my (limited) knowledge of this subject, the fact that I haven't heard of that happening instantly means that "pro-choice >>> pro-life" just because of their ability to present issues without going into the realm of killing someone (while attempting to justify life, no less).

It's a case of judging a group by it's bad apples but *shrug* that's how I see it. Correct me if I'm wrong about the question above.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:40 PM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I swear I saw this on reddit several months ago.

As for anti-abortion protesters... well, the only words I want to use for them don't go over well on MeFi.
posted by Decani at 12:41 PM on October 25, 2010


My heart goes out to Aaron and his wife. What a horrible day. While good for him for speaking his mind at these asshats, still, he shouldn't have to defend himself.

To each is own. I hated seeing these morons as I walked to my train while I was pregnant. They dared came up to me with their schpeal and hell I was just walking to the train to go home. I didn't need a speech telling me how horrible aborition was and let my baby live. Fuckwads--I went through infertility to have this baby. Don't give me a speech.

I hate these people and their self riteous ways. Fuck 'em.
posted by stormpooper at 12:43 PM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: they go home to get their firearms and pipebombs and then "go pro-life" on you.

I adore this. I'm borrowing this phrase for common usage. First, pornoscanners. Now this.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:45 PM on October 25, 2010


But not one thousandth as ugly as the ordeal that Aaron Gouveia and his wife were subjected to.

I agree, as I believe I said. I don't think that's a good reason for us to be ugly in return.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:48 PM on October 25, 2010


I don't think that's a good reason for us to be ugly in return.

There is nothing nice to say about people who stand in front of Planned Parenthood and taunt emotionally vulnerable women. They are morally equivalent to Westboro Baptist's protests of military funerals. Actually, they're more cowardly than the Westboro folks since they've purposefully picked a soft target. They're more akin to animal rights protesters who throw paint on little old ladies wearing fur as opposed to bikers who wear leather.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 12:53 PM on October 25, 2010 [24 favorites]


I swear I saw this on reddit several months ago.

Yeah, I also saw a Youtube clip that will be filmed tomorrow on Reddit yesterday.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:53 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree, as I believe I said. I don't think that's a good reason for us to be ugly in return.

I do. I think the left-to-center range of this country is far too damn quiet, and I think we need to encourage them to mouth off at the people who'd love to see their crazypants right wing views enforced on everyone.

On the left and in the middle, we're TOO polite. We're TOO accepting of everyone, and of giving everyone a chance to express their own views. Where is it going to get us? Where we are right now, and worse -- with a MAJORITY in the Congress, we're still acting like scared little kids who have to ask permission from right wing Mommy and Daddy before we do anything.

Fuck that. We're the ACTUAL majority. We need to speak up. Maybe one of these days the other side will notice we're not going to take their bullshit anymore.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:56 PM on October 25, 2010 [58 favorites]


I have to say, I'm not seeing any uglyness directed at any specific individuals -- and very little at the anti-abortion stance per se. The anger in this thread appears to be directed at those who stand in the street, waving their banners, seeking to terrorize women into undermining the most difficult decision that they'll make in their lives.

If you feel hurt or offended because of the anger that's directed towards those people, well, I honestly don't know what to tell you, other than suggesting that so-called 'right-to-lifers' should be taking some of that sensitivity and directing it towards those people that are being terrorized in the name of their beliefs, rather than thinking everything is always about them.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:58 PM on October 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


There is nothing nice to say about people who stand in front of Planned Parenthood and taunt emotionally vulnerable women.

I'm not trying to create a derail, so I'll just say this and no more: I don't like these people, and I think they're pretty awful. They are ignorant and hateful people. I do not think that is a good excuse for some of the comments in this thread which have lumped in ignorant people with murderers and religious people with the worst kind of demagogue.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:01 PM on October 25, 2010


Their personal narrative is fixed and it would take something extraordinary to shift it.

Two words: "asset forfeiture."
posted by clarknova at 1:01 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always use these threads as an excuse to make a donation to NARAL. So, uh, thanks for posting?
posted by crush-onastick at 1:04 PM on October 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


I have a real problem with the idea that the one with adopted children should be at home with them. What these women are doing is wrong, but to police their childcare methods is to sink to their level.
posted by NoraReed at 1:09 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know if anything has made me as pro-choice as being pregnant. I'm a in the middle of what could probably be classified as the world's easiest pregnancy, and still it's one of the more difficult, eye-opening experiences I've ever had.

There are so many things that my husband and i had to think about that never would have crossed my mind previously. When we were going over the various prenatal tests on the list from our doctor, we felt we needed to discuss what we would do if our fetus came up with any of the potential defects enumerated on the sheet. In the end, surprising myself, I was okay with continuing any pregnancy except for the ones that were completely incompatible with life. I found myself making the same decision as the parents in the article, and it hurt to think that we might have to go down that path, even just theoretically. I can't even imagine what it would feel like to actually have to go through with it.

Right now, our baby is fine and tumbling around in my abdomen like laundry as I write this. I feel very lucky.
posted by Alison at 1:17 PM on October 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


The world would be a better place without anti-abortion picketers.
posted by breezeway at 1:17 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think the left-to-center range of this country is far too damn quiet, and I think we need to encourage them to mouth off at the people who'd love to see their crazypants right wing views enforced on everyone.

Easy, and viscerally satisfying, but still, you can't end murder by murdering every murderer, you know what I mean? You can't end hatefulness by hating.

I think we need to encourage more people to ask the people shouting crazypants views on the streets if there's anything we can help them out with. You know, anything they need. Someone to talk to, some help at home? Anything like that. This plan has the disadvantage of being really hard, and probably not working the great majority of the time, but at least it doesn't multiply the overall mutual hate.
posted by rusty at 1:20 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is no way I could have spoken to those women, for that long, without using some very explicit profanity.

I sincerely wish bad things for those ignorant assholes and their families. I sincerely wish that they are exactly right, and there *is* a just God who sent His only begotten Son to die on the Cross, and that the Son really does sit at the Right Hand Of The Father in Judgment on the Last Days. And I hope he asks them, "Is this loving your neighbor as yourself? Are you reaching out and caring for your brother and your sister in their hour of need? Are you leaving the Judgment of Sins to my Father, instead of supposing to speak for him? Are you doing all of these things in My Name?"

And then I hope he casts them straight into their fucking masochistic little Hell, for the next billion eons. Fucking assholes.
posted by paisley henosis at 1:23 PM on October 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


Abortion protesters are among the lowest scum of the earth, bar none.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was thinkin' of gettin' together with a bunch of my pro-abortion buddies and sitting outside an OB-GYN's office with signs with picture of people like Timothy McVeigh and Bernie Madoff with captions like "do you really want to be responsible... for this?"

We'd also bring a bunch of pamphlets that talked about overpopulation and how the world is going to have like 9 billion people soon and that the number doesn't look to be dropping any time soon.

We'd do everything we could to persuade them they'd be bad mothers and to make them hate themselves for being pregnant. We'd make sure to drop some slut-shaming digs in there, too.

Mostly, we'd do this so that the folks that think there's some sort of equivalency between how pro-choice people protest and pro-life people protest would finally have a logical leg to stand on.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:32 PM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ok, now it's getting ugly in here.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:32 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


@zombieflanders
Agreed, every time I see a pro-life protest like this I can't help remember the Bill Hicks quote: "You ever look at their faces? "We're pro-life." Don't they look it? Don't they just exude joie de vivre?"
posted by SteveFlamingo at 1:37 PM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


This father isn't going to change the protesters minds but every time someone stands up to them, it lets them know that their numbers are thinning. Bullies are sensitive to shit like that.

Also, "swing voters" seem impressed by people who voice a strong, confident opinion. I think it's been demonstrated in the last decade that it doesn't matter exactly what that opinion is or if it can be be eloquently defended. Left leaning folks need to stop worrying about appearing shrill.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:38 PM on October 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think we need to encourage more people to ask the people shouting crazypants views on the streets if there's anything we can help them out with. You know, anything they need. Someone to talk to, some help at home? Anything like that. This plan has the disadvantage of being really hard, and probably not working the great majority of the time, but at least it doesn't multiply the overall mutual hate.

If you actually did this, at best it would come off as incredibly snarky, because for the vast majority of people standing out on the side of the road heckling vulnerable women, they WILL NOT get what you're trying to accomplish.

If they don't take it as snarky, chances are good they're going to say something like "yup, can you hold my fetus-sign while I run to McD's for a pee?" Which, again, doesn't accomplish much for you either if you're on the opposite side of the opinion fence...

And this is assuming they're willing to speak with you on any kind of reasonable level once they see you coming from near the abortion clinic or whatever...big assumption there. You've got no credibility, and they don't want your help, pal, however sincerely offered.

Or, as I said after we got a James Dobson robocall the other night urging us to "vote our Judeo-Christian values next week":

"FUCK YOU! JUST...JUST... [sputter] JUST FUCK YOU, JAMES DOBSON! You know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna vote my pagan heathen nonreligious values next week! HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT, FUCKER? YEAH!"

(and this is why my boyfriend doesn't like me picking up the house line during election season...)

Why do those robocalls make me so angry? The ASSUMPTION. The assumption that everyone on the other end of one has "Judeo-Christian values," whateverthehell that's supposed to mean these days. Not everyone is Christian. Not everyone has the same value system. To assume you can force yours down someone else's throat makes you, in my opinion, a bad person. Our side's not making them get abortions, so why do they think it's ok to hassle us if we choose to undergo that legal procedure? Particularly under the horrific conditions described in the OP.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:42 PM on October 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


felix betachat: The first amendment in which they wrap themselves in order to intimidate and threaten the vulnerable and hurting should be used against them. Go to their homes. Scream at their children. Shame them in public. Make them know that the world has no love in it for them. That when their hearts are breaking open, they will be met with hate.

Oh my god I love this. If somebody makes a database, like the anti-choice nut-bags have to help them stalk, intimidate and murder doctors and nurses, I will absolutely print up some huge posters of teen aged girls crying and march in front of their places of work.

Fuck, I'll do it at least two full days a week.
posted by paisley henosis at 1:48 PM on October 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Here is the Wikipedia article about US states that have buffer zone laws.

I did some clinic defense when I lived in California. The protesters kept to their side of the street. We kept to ours. The only confrontation I ever had in the process was when I offered to share some donuts with the protesters. We had more than we needed or wanted - I thought it would be nice. I guess I made a mistake in purchasing abortion donuts that day. I had no idea - I thought I was just getting jelly and glazed.

Nonetheless, while I don't agree with what the protesters said or how they said it, I do believe that they have a right to express it.

At the time, one of the requirements was to make notes on who the protesters were and take their license plate numbers down if they drove. I certainly hope that the procedure now includes taking photographs. It's better to be able to provide people with information on who, in the past, has caused issues so that other escorts know who acts in a particular way in the future.

In 1987, I think, Ursula K LeGuin wrote a fabulous essay about abortion and how abortion protesters are taking the wrong approach. She likened it to the Aesop fable about the wind and the sun: if you create a world where there are far more palatable options (contraception, reproductive education, support for mothers with unexpected pregnancies, etc) then you will reduce the demand for abortion. Reduce - not eliminate.

But things like this tend to get lost because they're reasonable.
posted by plinth at 1:53 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The equivalent of pro-life posters isn't teenaged girls crying; it's women bleeding to death from non-medical-professional-abortions.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:53 PM on October 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Planned Parenthood has lost two clinics in California due to budget cuts, and there are a slew (58?) in New Jersey that are up in the air due to the governor's anti-choice agenda.

This thread has reminded me that since I'm laid off, I have some time to go escort at clinics (though the closest clinic to us looks to be pretty unmolested, in a strip mall on Vermont).
posted by klangklangston at 1:55 PM on October 25, 2010


ericb: In this case [the buffer zone] was [working].

That's good to hear, because the previous buffer zone law, passed in 2000, didn't work for shit, at least at the Brookline PP location. A protestor grabbed the shoulders of someone I know, presumably in a brute force attempt to stop her from going in. Of course it was illegal, but what police department was going to station cops outside the clinic to watch out for that kind of thing?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:55 PM on October 25, 2010


bitter-girl.com: You're probably right. I did say I doubted it would work. I'm just trying to think of some kind of tangent to approach the whole thing from, because direct opposition is exactly what they are there for. It's like throwing booze at an alcoholic, as far as effective resistance.

I'm also trying to be a more empathetic person, because yeah, my first impulse is to hate the hell of those fuckers too. But it's so clear that that doesn't accomplish anything except increasing the overall hate in the world.
posted by rusty at 2:35 PM on October 25, 2010


There is nothing nice to say about people who stand in front of Planned Parenthood and taunt emotionally vulnerable women. They are morally equivalent to Westboro Baptist's protests of military funerals. Actually, they're more cowardly than the Westboro folks since they've purposefully picked a soft target. They're more akin to animal rights protesters who throw paint on little old ladies wearing fur as opposed to bikers who wear leather.

The outcome of the Westboro Baptist's free speech case at the Supreme Court could have a major impact on abortion protesting. Many people expect that the court will rule that the kind of hateful, confrontational and degrading speech that Westboro practices is not protected under the First Amendment, and that such protesters can be sued for infliction of emotional distress. It will be very interesting to see what length the court's conservative majority goes to limit that ruling so that it can't be applied to anti-abortion protesters.
posted by thewittyname at 2:45 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Arguing with religious types is really effective. I'm sure that thousands of these abortion protestors have packed up and gone home when confronted.


I'm pretty sure this is supposed to be snark, but it's actually pretty true to my experience. Protesters of any variety really don't like being personally confronted, and if you do it loud enough, angry enough (of course, making sure not to violate any laws), and for long enough, people will leave. Moreover, we have this narrative that religious protesters are fundamentally unreachable, and impossible to communicate with, and it's just fundamentally not true. I recall, a number of years back, I was taking classes at UT El Paso when one of the major anti-choice groups hit the campus, 30 foot tall signs and all. I spent most of the day talking to people. Sometimes I was trying to convince them that they believed in a gray area enough to feel conflicted about being a part of the organization (which worked in one case enough for the guy to just walk away from the booth he was standing at). Sometimes I was just responding in anger, especially to the guy with sign of "holocausts throughout history", in which, after asking him whether he understood why I, as a Jew, would find this particularly offensive, and following his response defending his sign, I simply asked, "so, who's the Nazis? Because as someone who believes in a woman's right to choose, I want to hear you call me, to my face, a Nazi." He mumbled something under his breath and promptly stopped his loud ramblings he had been spouting for an hour before I confronted him. Underlying all of this is simply the fact that if you work hard enough to make people feel unwelcome, they will, and they're react accordingly.
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 2:53 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


My wife and I had to run a gauntlet of these type of protesters at Tiller's in Kansas many times over a week-long procedure. It was especially awful to have "don't kill your baby!" yelled at you on thursday when the fetus had been dead since tuesday. They made a show of taking down our (out-of-state) license plate number. I guess just to add an additional element of intimidation.
posted by werkzeuger at 3:13 PM on October 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


I certainly don't think that these abortion protestors are useful, but what was this guy's point? He was pissed off and wanted to lash out at the people who lashed out at him.

Should we make protesting at abortion centers illegal? Certainly a lot of people have suggested this, but where does that end? I would rather have abortion protestors AND freedom of expression in this country, than neither.

Going out into public may expose you to things you may wish not to encounter. For some people this is gay people kissing, for others it is abortion protestors. Stooping to the level of the idiots you wish to condemn is certainly no way to change anybody's mind, nor is it what I would call civil conduct.

My first comment another way, "You can't reason somebody out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into."
posted by Sukiari at 3:26 PM on October 25, 2010


I'm all for free speech, but that kind of self-righteous "in your face" protest is the ugly underbelly of the First Amendment.

Surprisingly, there are very few people lobbying the government to censor the things they themselves love to hear and say, or uncontroversial platitudes everyone agrees with.

So, basically, if you're not for the "ugly underbelly", well, you're not really a supporter of the intent of the First Amendment. Because if it's not something we all agree with, or meaningless pap, then it offends someone.
posted by orthogonality at 3:37 PM on October 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


The problem is that I can sympathize with the pro-life camp (some of them. Not the bozos). I discussed this with a friend of mine and he's pretty firmly pro-life. He's not particularly anti-woman and he's conservative personally, but not ludicrously so. His position is that the fetus is a living human. As such, he thinks abortion is murder (and, to his credit, he doesn't make exceptions for anything other than the health of the mother. At least, I think that's to his credit. No incest or rape exceptions because the fetus is still just as much a living person under those circumstances). He wants to stop what he sees as hundreds of thousands of murders performed every year.

Well, what do you say to that? The whole "If you don't believe in abortion, don't get one" position doesn't work here. If someone said to me "If you don't believe in slaves then don't own one" then I'd think they'd just made the stupidest argument in the history of stupid arguments. If you see a huge injustice you don't just say "I'm not participating so it's okay", you try to stop it. Right?

Sometimes I can forget this, because the pro-lifers that I generally see/hear about are the loud, annoying fuckheads who don't deserve my respect. Other times I'm reminded that there is a real divide here and there are compassionate people on both sides and I see no way of bridging this gap. I don't know what to think then.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:43 PM on October 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


orthogonality, Where did I say I was against the First amendment ? Because I said it had an "ugly underbelly?" That's some serious parsing.
posted by lobstah at 4:02 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Should we make protesting protestors at abortion centers illegal? Certainly a lot of people have suggested this, but where does that end? I would rather have abortion protestor protestors AND freedom of expression in this country, than neither.

Going out into public may expose you to things you may wish not to encounter.
posted by gerryblog at 4:03 PM on October 25, 2010


Stooping to the level of the idiots you wish to condemn is certainly no way to change anybody's mind, nor is it what I would call civil conduct.

Have we reached the point that confronting somebody and challenging them is considered uncivil? Because I didn't hear him telling them they were going to burn in hell, or calling them babykillers, or thrusting grotesque photos in their faces, or anything like that. Whereas they had been doing exactly that, it seems.
posted by Lexica at 4:07 PM on October 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, what do you say to that?

Thompson's Violinist.

I also like Andrew Koppleman's "Forced Labor" argument that the 13th amendment should be read to prohibit the state conscripting the physical body of one particular citizen (as opposed to merely taxing labor, assessing fees, etc.) for the interests of another, even if that other citizen has some moral claim. It's a novel argument, it's true, and no court is likely to break new abortion precedent by accepting it, but that they won't adopt it doesn't entail they ought not adopt it. Personally, I think it's watertight. (In "Forced Labor Revisited," Koppleman says that, for all its critics, including Arlen Specter, none have actually said what is wrong with the argument other than to say it is preposterous.)
posted by Marty Marx at 4:15 PM on October 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's Never Lurgi, I'd want to ask your friend why a potential person, one who cannot live on their own, trumps a fully grown human woman, who is living, breathing, thinking, and feeling physical and emotional pain. They cannot have equal importance if they are not, in fact, equal.
posted by agregoli at 4:15 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you see a huge injustice you don't just say "I'm not participating so it's okay", you try to stop it. Right?


The problem with your argument here is that your friends position is based upon politics and faith rather than science and compassion for others.

If such people were genuinely concerned about life, they'd surely be campaigning to end all those preventable deaths that are caused every year by widespread availability of firearms. And God alone knows how many preventable deaths occur due to the poor coverage of health care the US population has under the current health system. But not only do those for whom life is supposedly so precious not seek to prevent these deaths, they actually actively seek to perpetuate the status quo, thereby ensuring that such deaths continue.

A much greater injustice than what amounts to little more than the elective removal of a bunch of cells is the complete and utter refusal to do anything about the outrageous levels of child poverty in the USA. Nobody makes the decision to have an abortion lightly. Many people do so on the basis that they simply wouldn't be able to care for a child and provide the bare necessities for a civilized life in the USA. It seems pretty clear to me that if these anti-abortion people were genuinely concerned about injustice, they'd be working to create a society in which everybody who conceives a child feels that they'd be able to provide for its material needs and it's family wouldn't find themselves living under a bridge or out of a car.

But these particular injustices appear to pass unremarked and unremarkable in the land of the brave and the home of the free.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:23 PM on October 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


geezus wekzeuger, am so sorry to hear that.

shakespearian, am sorry, but those protesters ARE aiders and abeters of not only the terrorists who do end up murdering doctors and bombing hospitals but every monster that commits any act of sexual violence against women. this is the permission they need to do harm "because they can" or "because they deserve it". this is fertilizer to our culture of misogyny. plain and simple.
posted by liza at 4:42 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's Never Lurgi, I'd want to ask your friend why a potential person, one who cannot live on their own, trumps a fully grown human woman, who is living, breathing, thinking, and feeling physical and emotional pain. They cannot have equal importance if they are not, in fact, equal.

Oh, man. This really isn't the right argument. You could apply the same argument to an infant, really.

Ethically, the pro-choice side needs to stand firmly on the conviction that fetuses are not human beings. Not at all. Otherwise it's just an ethical mess. We can't judge who is and who is not equal.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:44 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure we can, Mr. Roboto. A dying violinist is a person, but the state can't pass a law requiring that you be strapped to a table so your kidneys can be hooked up to his for the duration of a life-saving procedure.
posted by Marty Marx at 4:50 PM on October 25, 2010


"can make the argument," that is, not "can judge who is and is not equal"
posted by Marty Marx at 4:51 PM on October 25, 2010


A dying violinist is a person, but the state can't pass a law requiring that you be strapped to a table so your kidneys can be hooked up to his for the duration of a life-saving procedure.

Yeah, but the state can require a parent to care for a child, which seems a closer analogy in some respects. I dunno. If a fetus is a human being, I'm pretty sure I'm pro-life. Big if, though.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:55 PM on October 25, 2010


They can require the parent to provide financial support, which is different than, say, requiring breastfeeding.
posted by Marty Marx at 5:02 PM on October 25, 2010


All analogies are inadequate, really. It's a unique situation. And I'm uncomfortable viewing it up as a situation in which the interests of two human beings are in conflict.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:05 PM on October 25, 2010


liza : That aiders and abeters line seems a bit of a stretch.

Anyway - I've a game I like to play with these metafilter abortion discussions. I like to swap the word abortion in my head with the word vivisection. It's astonishing what sort of a light it throws onto the argument.

I think the vehemence of the anti-abortion side is due not to religion, or right-wingedness, or a hatred to women. I think the vehemence is simply there because they have an absolute belief in a moral position which is not shared by the law or by a large segment of the community. I'm not sure whether painting anti-abortionists as kooks helps or hinders the pro-abortion position, but I am sure that the portrayal of anti-abortionists as foaming-at-the-mouth religio-mentalists is nothing but propaganda.

mr_roboto : I've tried to apply many of the pro-abortion arguments to infants, and after much musing came to the rather unfortunate conclusion that although regrettable, mothers should be allowed to kill their infants. The whole thing left me still pro-abortion, but with a much greater understanding of the indignation expressed by the anti-abortion crowd.

(By the way - Neither of the last three sentences are meant in any way to inflame people. I know this is a hot button topic and everyone is very angry about it. I'm trying to play nice here.)
posted by seanyboy at 5:11 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


it's not a difficult concept. (via reddit)
posted by five fresh fish at 5:14 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


mr_roboto :

I actually do classify the fetus as being human life. But I think that in this situation (as with other situations), it is OK to take the life.

I have a bit of a problem with saying it's OK to abort before 22 weeks because before that time the fetus is not yet alive. It seems a little bit like there's an uncomfortable moral truth that we as humans are trying to avoid. It feels like an excuse.

Of course some excuses, some lies are maybe better for society than the truths they hide. Saying we do not value some lives makes for a very uncomfortable truth, and it makes a mockery of absolute moral positions.
posted by seanyboy at 5:18 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


The idea that all human life is sacred is one of those simplistic, insufficently-examined, feel-good notions that is long overdue for rigorous re-examination.

The population of this polluted planet has gone from something like six billion to something like nine billion in my lifetime. We can morally primp and righteously preen about the sanctity of human life until we die, if that makes us feel noble and righteous. And that will be our delusion. Our generation(s) have that "privilege", because we won't have to face the consequences of such ill-considered, sanctimonious cant.

Overpopulation is the herd of elephants in the room. It really is. It's the major factor behind global warming, pollution, poverty and all manner of human and planetary ills. We have to stop breeding so fucking much. No, we really, really do. We have to stop presenting the holy nuclear family and the sanctified 2.4 sprogs as natural and righteous and decent. We have to start resisting the knee-jerk assumption that reproduction is a human "right"; is the thing "normal" people should aspire to; is the goddamned be-all and end-all of the average human life.

If we do not start doing this voluntarily, it will have to be enforced, at some point. No, don't sneer and snark, think. It will. If we do not voluntarily curb our dumb biological urge to push an infinite number of infants out of our dumb, greedy genitalia, then we will have to have it enforced. Really. Nine billion people. Nine billion people, most of whom think they have some goddamned right to inflict their precious 2.4 infants on the world. Do the math. We either choose to adjust our paradigm our we will have to have that adjustment forced upon us.
posted by Decani at 5:24 PM on October 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


Of course a fetus is a human life, what else could it be?

It just isn't a person.
posted by sotonohito at 5:40 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I should probably add that at least part of my point with that rather ranty post was yay, go abortion, and to the very deepest pit of hell with anti-abortion protesters.
posted by Decani at 5:52 PM on October 25, 2010


decani,
It turns out they lied to us in elementary school. Overpopulation was something people worried about in the 60s and 70s, but it turns out that if you give women access to careers and education and birth control, they decide to have less than 2 babies on average. That's happened in every single developed country, and as incomes rise in developing countries it will happen there too. Right now the major worry is that populations will fall too fast so there will be way too many retired people compared to working people. Although I'm very pro choice, the last thing we want right now is to encourage people to have fewer babies than they otherwise would.
posted by miyabo at 6:13 PM on October 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


Back when I was a young idealist, I truly believed that feminism had won the major battles it needs to fight. The older I get however, the more I realize that in many respects, we haven't even gotten started.

The thing with being anti-abortion is that there is no possible way to be against abortion yet still believe in equal rights for women. It simply doesn't work. If you believe that the rights of an unborn fetus trump the rights of a pregnant woman, you're saying that women give up all control over their own bodies the moment they decide to have sex. There is no such thing as 100% effective birth control--pregnancy is pretty much always a risk you take. It's the only risk that women bear alone however. Saying you don't believe in abortion is the same as saying that women should be punished for having sex, and really, that's the same as saying that you hate women. It's a position that's just as ideologically harmful as the one the loony protestors are taking.

I also get incredibly mad when I see people protesting abortion who have no earthly idea what it's really like to go through pregnancy and birth. I've always been pro-choice, but having a kid of my own has really made me passionately so.

Overall, my heart goes out to the Gouvelas, and I applaud Aaron for taking a stand against such hateful people. To all those anti-abortionists who don't think you're so hateful, I urge you to think your position through and realize how damaging your position is to the equality of women.
posted by Go Banana at 6:46 PM on October 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yeah, but the state can require a parent to care for a child, which seems a closer analogy in some respects. I dunno. If a fetus is a human being, I'm pretty sure I'm pro-life. Big if, though.

It's not just "require a parent to care for a child" though. It's "require a woman to give over her bodily functions" for that child. Even if a fetus were equal to an infant, the question is, should a woman be required by law to give up the use of her own body in service of the needs of that infant. No other adult can take any of the responsibility, and the child cannot do even the most basic things (like breathe or digest) on its own.

It's not the same as being required to care for a kid, which, actually, I don't know is true, since in many jurisdictions the kid could be moved to a foster home if he or she's being neglected. That's not an option with a pregnancy.

As for having basic disagreements about whether the fetus is or isn't a person, that's fine - people have different beliefs about whether god exists and whether eating meat is okay too. But that the government could make a law about what the "right" answer to those questions is, is untenable. The government doesn't have jurisdiction over beliefs.
posted by mdn at 6:51 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


seanyboy:

this is very simple: SLAVE WOMEN used to be raped by their owners to produce more free labor. and when their pregnancies were an inconvenience to the owner, they were forced into abortions.

THE RIGHT TO AN ABORTION has nothing to do with the vagaries of white middle class ennui. THE RIGHT TO AN ABORTION is THE RIGHT TO NO FORCED PREGNANCIES. it is about THE RIGHT TO NOT BE TREATED AS A SEXUAL OR REPRODUCTIVE SLAVE.

the problem with the reproductive rights movement is that it has always had the face of a white middle class woman. abortion has unfortunately been sold as a sort of middle class entitlement and not as what it should have unequivocally been: ABORTION IS AN EXTENSION OF THE 13th AMENDMENT AND THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY.

those screaming lunatics standing 35 feet from the abortion clinic are not people who want to save "a baby". they are people who believe the womb in women --let them be their wives or their daughters-- are their property. ask "pro-lifers" about "parental rights". almost invariably you'll go down a slippery slope where their children are their property until whatever age they can get away with it. and although a lot of these people would balk at "the state" telling them what to do with their children; they are the same exact people who stop at nothing at pushing laws that basically put the state in the position of "ward of the children". it's why we have compulsory "abstinence-only" programs. they're really are not for them or their kids, but for the people they want to control and dominate --most of those slutty, liberal, feminist, sex enjoying women having babies.

FORCED PREGNANCIES as well as FORCED ABORTIONS are TOOLS OF SLAVERY. there's really no "penumbra" around the issue: the woman either has the freedom and right to control her body and her reproductive powers --a freedom granted to her based on the rights attained through the abolition of slavery-- or she doesn't.

now, can you imagine GRISWOLD v. CONNECTICUT or ROE v. WADE argued based on the 13th amendment? yeah ... me neither.
posted by liza at 7:05 PM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't think anyone in this thread is disagreeing about abortion rights. I don't think there's any need to shout.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:27 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not to nit-pick, but it drove me crazy how he kept calling them the "lowest common denominator" Generally that just means something that can be appreciated by idiots, like brainless reality shows. In fact "common denominator" usually means something everyone can agree on.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


We have to stop presenting the holy nuclear family and the sanctified 2.4 sprogs as natural and righteous and decent. We have to start resisting the knee-jerk assumption that reproduction is a human "right"

That this can be posted here in the context of an abortion thread and be met with approval is funny, given the nearly uniform Mefite moral outrage a few days ago at paying junkies to voluntarily submit to sterilization. Not that I disagree with you.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:35 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Overpopulation is the herd of elephants in the room. It really is. It's the major factor behind global warming, pollution, poverty and all manner of human and planetary ills. We have to stop breeding so fucking much. No, we really, really do. We have to stop presenting the holy nuclear family and the sanctified 2.4 sprogs as natural and righteous and decent. We have to start resisting the knee-jerk assumption that reproduction is a human "right"; is the thing "normal" people should aspire to; is the goddamned be-all and end-all of the average human life.

If we do not start doing this voluntarily, it will have to be enforced, at some point. No, don't sneer and snark, think. It will. If we do not voluntarily curb our dumb biological urge to push an infinite number of infants out of our dumb, greedy genitalia, then we will have to have it enforced. Really. Nine billion people. Nine billion people, most of whom think they have some goddamned right to inflict their precious 2.4 infants on the world. Do the math. We either choose to adjust our paradigm our we will have to have that adjustment forced upon us.
Right, if it wasn't for all those forced reproductive restrictions I'm sure countries like Europe and japan wouldn't be facing population declines. Oh wait they didn't do that and their populations are still declining!

It turns out that when people people in the first world are less likely to reproduce, so as living standards go up, fertility will drop. Human population is projected to peak in the next few decades and start going down on it's own, without any need for any kind of intervention.
posted by delmoi at 7:36 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not just "require a parent to care for a child" though. It's "require a woman to give over her bodily functions" for that child.

Where does the line between "bodily functions" and "personal autonomy" lie, though? If the state can compel an individual to perform some actions, where do we draw the line for actions that are too private to be compelled?

I think it's clear that reproduction is in some respects the most extremely private bodily function conceivable. So if there's a line, it probably falls short of reproduction.

But then again, pregnancy is inherently temporary, so the action compelled has an inherent limit.

But then again, pregnancy has serious health risks, so the action compelled is dangerous beyond its "typical" consequences. Even a healthy pregnancy has permanent physical and emotional consequences. So maybe the "temporary" argument doesn't apply.

I think these arguments get very messy. It's only easy if a fetus isn't a person.

It's not the same as being required to care for a kid, which, actually, I don't know is true, since in many jurisdictions the kid could be moved to a foster home if he or she's being neglected.

Right; but the neglect is still considered a crime. If the neglect results in the death of the child, it is a severe crime, and severely punished.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:44 PM on October 25, 2010


Have we reached the point that confronting somebody and challenging them is considered uncivil? Because I didn't hear him telling them they were going to burn in hell, or calling them babykillers, or thrusting grotesque photos in their faces, or anything like that. Whereas they had been doing exactly that, it seems.

But what's the point? What is the proper response here? Showing photographs of people who are happy because they didn't have stillborn children? Telling them that hell is a myth that was invented to keep them ignorant and afraid?

Of course I support this guy's right to confront anti-abortion protestors. What he intends to do with his right, is another question. The choir has been preached to already. They agree.

Yelling at people who can not be swayed by reason seems awfully pointless and vain to me. Hah- he showed them, quoth the anonymous youtube crowd!
posted by Sukiari at 7:58 PM on October 25, 2010


The population of this polluted planet has gone from something like six billion to something like nine billion in my lifetime.

Wait... what? Nine billion is the figure projected for 2050.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:05 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Always relevant: The Handmaid's Tale.

P.S. Just for the record, the comments on this review are super-stupid, but oh well.
posted by emhutchinson at 8:11 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm all for free speech, but that kind of self-righteous "in your face" protest is the ugly underbelly of the First Amendment.

And the guy taking the camera and making the video to expose them and talking them down is how the First Amendment self-corrects.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:55 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Decani: "stuff"

Let me go out on a limb and make a guess here... you're a childfree_harcore member?
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:00 PM on October 25, 2010


.
posted by empatterson at 11:49 PM on October 25, 2010


That was both for the couple who endured this painful situation and for the tone of this thread. Bah.
posted by empatterson at 11:56 PM on October 25, 2010


All y'all might like to know these [deleted] are currently organized to protest at clinics.

You might consider volunteering a few hours to confront them, or to escort women, or to otherwise counter their hate-mongering.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:15 AM on October 26, 2010


It's a collection of cells that has the potential to become an autonomous, living human being.

Pregnancy changes a woman's body forever. There's no question about that.

I had to walk through a group of people holding these signs up at me and it sucked and I had nothing to say to them at the time because if I'd opened my mouth I'd have cried and everyone knows that tears just suck all substance out of an argument. I've been arguing with them ever since though, loud and anguished cries of fuck you and the reasons why, but usually only to the radio or tv or newspaper or magazine or monitor when I hear or read about it. I figure I'm having the same effect as I would if I did it to them in person, but without fear of actually being involved in physical violence.

I'm glad that this guy was able to articulate his feelings to these people, even if the individuals involved won't be changed by it. It's just so good to see someone arguing back to this kind of emotional bullying.

Abortion is so personal. I can't put into words how offensive I find the whole pro-life movement when it involves this kind of incredible intrusiveness into, in most cases, complete stranger's lives.
posted by h00py at 2:43 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I meant to say carrying a child to term and then childbirth, not just pregnancy.
posted by h00py at 2:45 AM on October 26, 2010


The thing with being anti-abortion is that there is no possible way to be against abortion yet still believe in equal rights for women. It simply doesn't work.

I don't think it's that simple. "Equal rights for women" is not easily defined and two people can disagree about the details even while agreeing 100% on the principle. You don't want to treat men and women identically under the law, you want to treat them equivalently. Men and women have different biology and the law must take that into account.

Women can choose to abort. Men can not. If the woman feels she's not ready to be a mother (or for many other reasons), she can make that call. Good. A man can't. There is a movement (to which I do not subscribe) that says that men should be able to "abort" in the sense that they should be able to say "I'm not ready to be a father and I don't want this". Women can do it, why not men? Women have an "out" and men do not. Is that a violation of equal rights? We could say that the law permits men to abort if they get pregantn, but that's just getting silly. You have a law that applies only to one group and not another. Is that a violation of equal rights or a recognition that men and women are different?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:29 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


two or three cars parked under the stars: Wait... what? Nine billion is the figure projected for 2050.

I was born in 1983, according to the graph you linked the global population in the year I was born was roughly half of what it will be in 2050, when I will be 67 years old. 2050 is a ways away, but it isn't outside the range of 'in my lifetime.'
posted by paisley henosis at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2010


Oh, man. This really isn't the right argument. You could apply the same argument to an infant, really.

Uh, no, I couldn't.
posted by agregoli at 5:24 PM on October 26, 2010


> Go to their homes. Scream at their children. Shame them in public. Make them know that the world has no love in it for them.
No, I don't think we should direct our anger at their children. There are more rational ways to do things.

How about getting the local press (TV stations, radios, college papers, etc) involved? Pass them this heartbreaking story. Find out where these abortion protesters go to church and get reporters to do a story on the subject. Have them interview the pastor and church leaders (on camera if possible) if they condone their members broadcasting this type of hateful message. Put the weight on the church's shoulders.
If their leaders are against abortion protesting on the side of choice and compassion, good, then that would be a positive message reaching far more children than you can scream at.
If the church leaders actually tell their members and promote abortion protesting, then the public would see them as another Westboro; and I don't think any church and its members like to be labeled as haters and possibly turned into a national story.

I hope we are better than some misunderstood sign holders.

...but if do you like signs, then you could always organize flashmobs to outnumber these abortion protesters at clinics (ala Superheroes vs. Westboro Baptist Church); many funny signs to be made, lots of youtube opportunities.
 
posted by querty at 10:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


paisley henosis, Decani said the population "has gone", not "will go", to 9 billion in their lifetime. Is it really pedantic of me to care? I just think it makes a difference whether over 2 billion people actually exist or not.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:32 AM on October 27, 2010


I'm sure countries like Europe and japan wouldn't be facing population declines. Oh wait they didn't do that and their populations are still declining!

Wow, delmoi. Are you one of these people who say that global warming is clearly a lie because they had an unusually cold winter in Shitkick Minnesota this year?
posted by Decani at 2:29 PM on October 30, 2010


Where does the line between "bodily functions" and "personal autonomy" lie, though? If the state can compel an individual to perform some actions, where do we draw the line for actions that are too private to be compelled?

What are you thinking of where the state can compel actions, though? Imprisonment? That's a punishment. Is keeping the baby meant to be a punishment for having sex, then? What can the state compel you physically to do that isn't retributive?

I think these arguments get very messy. It's only easy if a fetus isn't a person.

well, I think the point is just, even if you are not sure how developed a fetus is, we are sure how developed the woman is, and her rights trump the fetus'. That doesn't mean the fetus necessarily has to die - but, whoops, without using the mother's body, it's totally incapable of life! So actually, just by nature's rules, it does have to die.

that says that men should be able to "abort" in the sense that they should be able to say "I'm not ready to be a father and I don't want this". Women can do it, why not men? Women have an "out" and men do not. Is that a violation of equal rights?

Because it isn't the right not to be a mother, it's the right not to have your body used by someone or something else. So a man still has the equivalent right in that no one can hook up to use his kidneys while he's asleep. That whole "right to control your body" thing really is the point.
posted by mdn at 8:28 AM on October 31, 2010


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