Anti abortion activists are against abortion. Period. But there’s more to their rhetoric than merely proclaiming that abortion is morally wrong. Yes, there is more than simply being against a legal, safe medical procedure. In fact, it is through an examination of symbolic acts and artifacts that the activists use (literature, images, performances and verbal messages), that we can more fully flesh out the personae known as anti abortion activists.
Oppositional – Their lives are bound by ancient superstitions that stand as an impediment to science and progress. Relying on faith, they view the world in oppositional and controlled ways. For example, consider the archetypal metaphor of day and night. Antis are to day what pro choicers are to night. They are the ones who wear white, while others wear black. Their worldview accommodates no shades of grey. Nuances do not factor into their tightly bound world. So, for example, to clinic clients, they say things like:
They want your baby to die. We want your baby to live.
With them, you’ll have a lifetime of regrets with a dead baby. With us, you will no regrets, a lifetime of happiness and a beautiful baby.
Your daughter deserves better than abortion. She’s going to mourn for this child for the rest of her life.
Make the right choice and not destroy life.
And to volunteer and clinic staff, the antis are fond of oppositional comments such as:
Get a job where you don’t have to kill for a living.
Why don’t you cross over to our side?
When you laugh at me, you’re laughing at God.
To make their point more visually punctuated and to signify their sacredness, they wear and carrying crosses and crucifixes, decorate the adjacent lawn with ornaments such as white crosses and white coffins, and chant prayers and spells to exorcise the evil spirits.
Another aspect of this oppositional thinking is their proclivity toward discriminating between the sacred and the profane. For example, offers of money to help women carry their pregnancy to term is sacred while offers of money to help women defray the cost of an abortion is profane. While doctors who earn money performing general surgery are sacred, doctors who earn money performing abortions are profane. While dental clinics are sacred, abortion clinics are profane. The say things like:
Their bread and butter comes from killing babies.
They’re banking on your daughter to forget to take her birth control pills so she gets pregnant and has to have an abortion.
This doctor doesn’t care about you. All he wants is your money.
In an attempt at amending what they view at evil, antis sprinkle holy water on the ground outside the abortion clinic, chant prayers and spike the lawn with white crosses and images of a white Jesus (who was, without a doubt, not white).
Authoritarian – From the strict doctrines binding them in their faith, antis are like the dragons that guard the door to progressive thinking. For them, their faith is absolutely true and completely adequate to explain everything. In their worldview, absolute conformity to the doctrine is mandatory. They learn from authoritarian teachers and preachers. Hence, they learn to be authoritarian toward others. In fiery, white-hot lightening, they lash out toward volunteer escorts:
You need to examine your motives for being so happy here at an abortion center.
You should be ashamed of yourself. You know in your heart that abortion is wrong.
Keep in mind that the antis do not know the women and their companions who enter the clinics. Nevertheless, they’ve singed total strangers, with comments like:
You don’t want your daughter to be hurting for the rest of your life
Don’t kill your baby today. Your baby deserves a birthday
Abortion is not the answer to the problem you’re facing today.
You’ve had your fun sleeping with her. Now be man and take care of her.
If your daughter conceived in rape, it’s the way God wanted it to be.
Ask God to forgive you.
In an effort to make their point, they often resort to finger-pointing, to shoving their signs in people’s faces telling them they “need to see this” and posting signs with straight forward pronouncement “Babies killed here” or “Be Gone Satan” or “Abortion is the Holocaust.”
Fear Mongering – Imagine living amongst humans where their nature has been programmed by magical thinking and heapum powerful juju. Using words created by humans and printed in man-made books, they declare their programming to be the Hocus Pocus of the Great Sky God. Lacking wisdom, they demand you too turn your life over to their GSG. They warn that if you don’t do as they say, because they know what is best, you will live in eternal flames. At abortion clinics, they spread their fear mongering words, often marinated in magical thinking, with comments like:
Abortion is associated with a 400% increase in breast cancer.
They love to talk about dead babies, stopping a beating heart.
The child you kill will haunt you at night.
Your baby has a heartbeat and brain waves and feels excruciating pain when the doctor tears his little body apart.
They’re going to turn your baby into baby road-kill.
They’re going to tear your uterus apart.
My girlfriend died in this clinic two weeks ago.
You’re going to cry for the rest of your life.
They’re going to suck your baby’s brains out.
The blood of that child is on your hands.
Mommy, please don’t let them tear my arms and legs off.
And if the words don’t scare the living hell out someone, these folks resort to gruesome images of a bloody full term fetus in pieces, Auschwitz signs with each letter of the word dripping with blood or spill red paint wherever they can.
Pro Fetus Anti Woman – Anti abortion activists call themselves prolife but that’s a misnomer. They’re really pro fetus. Taking the pro fetus position symbolically annihilates the woman carry the fetus, which is a pretty damn difficult place to be, if you ask me. In their magical thinking, the fetus is at the top of their value hierarchy while the aged humans are near the bottom. It’s no wonder that the average age of an anti abortion activist qualifies for senior citizen discounts. This older generation was socialized to believe that women were subservient to men, that people were heterosexual, that marriage meant children, that motherhood defined a woman and that young children were more valuable than old people. You can hear how this misogyny plays out when activists make comments like:
Let your baby live.
Your baby loves you and is innocent.
Your baby has the right to life.
Your baby has the right to have a birthday.
Anti woman comments are evident when the anti abortion activists say comments like:
Women use abortion as the easy way out.
Abortion is a selfish choice.
What gives you the right to kill your child?
Think about your baby’s soft, soft heart and your hard, hard heart.
You’re the mother of a dead baby now.
Even a cursory inventory of images used in the antiabortion industry reveals an obsession with the fetus and with babies. From microscopic fetal images to full color photography of children smiling, the antis are fixated. In their artifacts, the fetus figures prominently in rosaries sporting fetal dolls floating in the beads, in poster-sized baby announcements, in empty manger scenes (as if all babies are Jesus?), in baby dolls they carry in infant carriers and in the live babies they borrow from friends as props. While the fetus is foremost in their visual world, women are relegated to the occasional incubator status in the objectified form of a swollen, pregnant belly.
In Sum – A closer look at the personae of anti abortion activists provides a glimpse into their beliefs. They often claim that prochoicers have a hardened heart but the reality is that they are projecting their own ossified head and heart. Unable to moderate, unwilling to recant, and unable to see their own aggressivity, they hold fervently to the belief that what they do outside abortion clinics, on the Internet and at rallies is the right thing to do and is the right way to do things. And despite millions of people who share their faith, it is in name only. The anti abortion activists have their own special interpretations of how their faith is to be performed. And it’s quite the unbelievable performance!