Free Speech Constraints


ImageYou are forever talking about what you know is right for women, what women want, and what they really need.   You’ve even told clinic staff, doctors and nurses that you know they could do better in another line or work. With your particularized notion of moral righteousness, you’ve lodged complaints with police about what you know are your rights to free speech at abortion clinics. You’ve written letters to private citizens, neighbors of doctors and clinic directors, asking them to tell these professionals to find a new job, because you know better, you know what’s right. But your self-obsession as well as your presumptuous omniscience conveniently ignores the rights of others and summarily dismisses the knowledge women have of their own lives. Behaving, as you are wont to do, foolishly believing you are right when you are really wrong on so many levels, you reveal more truths about your nature than you might imagine or want. Let me spell it out for you.

  • To begin, it’s not right when you call escorts, staff, and doctors murderers because they don’t murder anyone. The carnivalesque act of calling someone a murderer is convenient because it frees you from thinking about the sacredness of women and men who offer and choose abortion services.
  • It’s not right when you use grotesque images that defy the reality of abortion. Aborted fetuses look remarkably different from all the manipulated grotesque images you use in your visual propaganda. Using such images only serves to shame, hurt and demonize women and, consequently, alienate them to your message.
  • It’s not right to say that All Women Regret Their Abortion. Documented scholarly evidence illustrates that overwhelmingly women have no regrets about their abortion. Not one bit. People make choices and live with them. It’s called life. Some women have sadness about their choice to end their pregnancy, but choose abortion anyway because they know it’s right for their situation. Your bombastic overgeneralization only makes you look ignorant and desperate.
  • Forced Birther Screaming in Women's ears with Megaphone

    Forced Birther Screaming in Women’s ears with Megaphone

    It’s not right to scream at women we’re here to help you. Take a good look at yourself. You’re a stranger who is screaming. What reasonable person would want to trust you or anything you say? It makes you look doubly foolish and deceitful when you follow with the disingenuous high-pitched scream God loves and so do we and, immediately afterward, shout, you’ll regret this day the rest of your life. Again, take a good look at yourself for you are nothing but a vacuous and mean-spirited provocateur.

  • It’s not right to publicize your own sexual fears and perversions. Telling women that the doctor will perforate their rectum and uterus illustrates your own salacious fascination with debauchery. Telling well-endowed women with cleavage, “You look like you’re all set up for breastfeeding” reduces you to a common pervert. Telling women to abstain from sex reveals your prudish anxiety about human sexuality.  In your ill-conceived attempts to lie about body parts and sexual matters, you embarrass yourself in a most undignified way, earning a big fat 10 on the Ick Factor Scale.
  • It’s not right to lie. Remember thou shalt not lie? Until you have an M.D. after your name, you should rely on reputable medical and scientific sources and not junk science in LifeSiteNews. The evidence is there for you to read. Let’s face it. You rely on the scientific and medical credibility of pediatricians, cardiologists, dermatologists and internists. Yet you throw out medical and scientific evidence when a gravid uterus is involved. Here’s the evidence: There is no post abortion stress disorder. There is no abortion-breast cancer link. There is evidence that the morbidity and mortality in pregnancy and childbirth can be more dangerous than abortion. It’s also a fact that the United States is 50th in the world for maternal health. Such transgressions illustrate the disturbed fascination with fear mongering that is your lingua franca.
  • It’s not right to inflict your religion on others. Humiliating and dehumanizing women is morally unacceptable.  Manipulating your faith to justify your heinous actions displaces your responsibility onto your God.  Like the Nazi war criminals that claimed they were only following orders, you antiabortion protesters claim you are doing God’s will. Barking like a madman “in the name of Jesus” as preface to a hurl of toxicity hardly seems godly. Face it; your morally bankrupt behavior only serves to show how unchristian and blindly intolerant you are towards others.
The Anti Abortion Brain

The Anti Abortion Brain

When I think about the pornography of your madness, your frothing, detailed rendering of humiliation of women and men who choose and provide abortion services, I have to say that the unintended consequences of your own behaviors illustrate how karma works. In plain English, you get what you give. And what you give is intolerance, disdain for truth, misogyny, desperation, alienation, and misanthropy.

If you have been following my recent posts, you know I am supporting the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride set to kick off on 23 July 2013 in New York City and San Francisco.  I discussed this summer’s action with a number of people I respect, and there is a divide in the abortion rights community on whether or not it is wise to embark on this action.  I did not reach the decision to support and join with the Riders without giving the decision due diligence; nor, did I neglect to consider the multiple outcomes of the action.

When facing a dichotomous debate among two sides of the community, two camps who should be working together toward common goals, I ask myself now as I did in the past, What Would Dad Do?  Would he shrink back into the shadows, rely solely on private action and influence, or would he advocate, and actually engage in, direct action and response to those who tormented, stalked, and eventually killed him?  Obviously, we know the answer:  he did not back down!  As I wrote a couple of posts ago, I also cannot and will not back down.

Upon the 20th year after my dad’s murder by a Christian terrorist, as we face continued threat of violence, and as state after state passes draconian anti abortion legislation, I reflect not only on what my dad would do but also consider the words of Yeats:

Things said or done long years ago,
Or things I did not do or say
But thought that I might say or do,
Weigh me down, and not a day
But something is recalled,
My conscience or my vanity appalled.

Knowing I will be appalled by remaining silent, I resolved the vacillation by opting to support what I believe is the right course of action.  To that end, I co-authored a piece on the merits and need of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride with one of its primary organizers Sunsara Taylor.  I want to share with you our recent missive so perhaps more of us will come together on the need for direct, vocal, and mass support our clinics, our doctors, and our rights

Abortion Rights Are At a Crossroads:
This is NOT a Time to Lay Low – It is Time for Massive Uncompromising Struggle!

By Sunsara Taylor and David Gunn, Jr.
July 12, 2013

Across the country, people are waking up to the state of emergency facing the right to abortion. As legislators in Texas push hard to close down 37 of 42 abortion clinics statewide, new laws in North Carolina would close four of their five remaining clinics. Meanwhile, Ohio’s recently passed budget could close as many as three abortion clinics. North Dakota, on August 1st, may become the first state to effectively ban abortion. Already Mississippi’s last abortion clinic is merely an appellate ruling away from closure. We could go on.

If we do not reverse this trajectory now, we will condemn future generations of women and girls to forced motherhood, to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame. Women will be forced to have children they do not want, trapping them in abusive relationships, driving them into poverty, forcing them out of school, and extinguishing their dreams. Women will go to desperate and dangerous measures to terminate unwanted pregnancies, once again flooding emergency rooms and turning up dead women in cheap motels with blood caked between their legs.

We face two divergent roads: Either we seize control of the debate and reset the terms and whole trajectory of this fight; or we continue down the road of “established conventional wisdom,” only to awaken before long to an unrecognizable and untenable situation for women. What each of us does matters,and matters tremendously.

It is in this context that we initiated an Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. Our echo of the Civil Rights Freedom Rides is intentional and fitting. Women who cannot decide for themselves if and when they have children are not free. On the contrary, they are mere child-bearing chattel whose purpose is to serve and not actively chose their destinies.

Volunteers on this Freedom Ride will caravan from both coasts to North Dakota, traverse through the middle of the country into Wichita, and head due south to Jackson, Mississippi. Our aim is threefold: one, we must move beyond localized fights andlauncha national counter-offensive; two, we must radically reset the political, moral, and ideological terms of this fight so that millions understand that this fight is about women’s liberation or women’s enslavement; lastly, and of paramount importance, we must call forth the mass independent political resistance that is necessary to defeat this war on women.

As the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride evolved from conception to genesis, many have responded by with enthusiastic and unequivocal support. Regular people from across the country as well as those who have been on the front lines of the abortion rights struggle are joining with us in demanding abortion rights without compromise and thanking us for daring to travel to where women’s rights face harshest threat.

However, some who share our passion for the cause have raised concerns and even opposition to this action. They fear the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will be too confrontational, too vociferous for abortion, and may turn off avenues of support.
Some have argued that it is wrong for people to come into local areas from the outside. Others argue that mass political protest will endanger the chances of winning important court cases and that it is better to rely on official channels of politics.

Because the future of women is at stake, we feel it is critical to address these concerns head on. In fact, it is exactly the faulty logic at the root of these concerns that has contributed to all of us finding ourselves in such a dire situation.

First, while local ground conditions are different and unique in some ways, the fact that every clinic and every state is facing heightened assault is not unique nor is it local. We all face a national assault on abortion rights which requires a national counter-offensive. Not only is it utterly immoral for us to abandon the women living in the states most under direct duress, it is delusional to think that what happens in states like Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and Kansas will not come soon to a theater near you. Our futures are bound together and we all share the responsibility to take this on and turn the tide where the attacks are the most severe.

Second, while it is true that a great many people – including many who support abortion rights – are defensive about abortion, they should not be ashamed and this defensiveness and shame is precisely something we must eradicate.

Among the reasons many are defensive about abortion are decades of propaganda by those who oppose women’s equality but posture as defenders of “babies”; meanwhile, supporters of abortion rights have too often been conciliatory, muted, and compromising. This must stop. This fight has never been about babies. It has always been about controlling women. This is why there is not a single major anti-abortion organization that supports birth control.

If we want to turn the tide, we have to tell the truth: there is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion. Fetuses are NOT babies. Abortion is NOT murder. Women are NOT incubators.

A great many people are hungry for this message. They are furious and searching for a meaningful vehicle to make their outrage felt. It is only by asserting the positive morality of abortion rights that we can call forth and mobilize the tens of thousands who already share our resolve. Only through direct action and a polemical shift can all of us stand together and change how millions of others are thinking. Shouldn’t this emergency situation awaken us to the need to change public opinion, not accommodate it?

History has proven that directly confronting oppressive social norms can be disruptive and scary; yet, it is a necessary and uplifting part of making any significant positive change. Many argued that it was wiser for LGBT people to stay closeted until society was more accepting; others counseled against the Civil Rights Freedom Rides out of fear that it would only rile up the opposition, but it was only when people took that risk and got “in your face” that broader public opinion and actions began to change.

We must create a situation where being anti-abortion is seen to be as socially unacceptable as it is to advocate lynchings, anti-LGBT violence, or rape (although, if you listen to some on the Right, rape advocacy is not necessarily off their table).When we reach that summit, we will be on our way to turning the tide.

Third, while court cases are important – even essential – it is only through truly massive independent political struggle that we stand a chance at defeating the truly unyielding and powerful foe we face. Every setback the anti-abortion movement experiences only makes them more determined and every victory only makes them more aggressive. They will not be appeased if we lie low. No court case or election or new law will stop them. Not only has the existing power structure proven unwilling or unable to do so, people who believe they are on a “mission from God” are not bound by human laws and do not yield to public opinion.

But they can be defeated. Forced motherhood is deeply opposed to the interests of humanity. If we get out there and tell the truth, if we resist, if we clarify the stakes of this battle, and if we mobilize wave upon wave of the masses to get off the sidelines and into the streets with us, we can win. There is a tremendous reservoir of people who can and must be called forth to join in this struggle. We have seen this vividly in Texas. Let us not underestimate the potential that exists in every state across this country.

We stand at a crossroads. For the future of women everywhere, let us refuse the worn pathways that have allowed us to lose so much ground. We must not lay low, hope these attacks will blow over, and allow women in some parts of the country to be forced into mandatory motherhood while hoping to preserve the rights of a shrinking few. We cannot continue to foster the attitude that abortion is the 21st Century’s Scarlet Letter while allowing abortion providers to be further stigmatized and demonized. We cannot recoil from the massive fight that urgently needs fighting at this moment in this time.

Now is the time for courage, for truth telling, for stepping out and launching an uncompromising counter-offensive. We have right on our side. We call on everyone who cares about the future of women to join with us in strengthening the national impact and influence of this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. Join with us at our kick-off rallies in New York City and San Francisco in July 23. Caravan to meet us in North Dakota, Wichita, Kansas, and Jackson, Mississippi. Send a donation or a message of support. Reach out to individuals and religious communities that can provide safe passage to the courageous individuals who are giving up their summers and putting everything they have into winning a different and far better future for women. Most importantly, let us together take the rough road to victory. It may be less traveled, but only through struggle can we reap the benefits of love’s labor won.

To learn more about and get involved with the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, go to: http://www.stoppatriarchy.org/

Sunsara Taylor writes for Revolution Newspaper (revcom.us) and is an initiator of the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women (StopPatriarchy.org)

David Gunn, Jr. is the son of David Gunn, Sr., the first abortion doctor to be assassinated by an anti-abortion gunman, and blogs for Abortion.ws

Abortion

I first want to apologize for being incommunicado for the last five days.  My spouse and I slipped out of town to spend some “quality time” together.  We actually had a wonderful time not talking about the kids or about our mortgage payment.  Geez, I don’t even recall having one serious argument!

And now I’m back in the Washington, D.C. area and all anyone is talking about here is the upcoming election.  You just can’t avoid all of the debates, the talking heads on the cable shows, the campaign commercials and the political predictions.   Of course, the group that is probably getting the most attention is the now-famous “Tea Party.”   I’ve written about these folks before.  I’ve talked about how I really have no idea what they want and what they would do if they got elected.  All I can gather is that they are angry at everyone and they think it’s time to “clean house.”    Well, that sounds all well and good and it is a very simple phrase that appeals to a lot of folks in this country who are too lazy to think about the real issues that confront our nation.   Still, there are enough yahoos in the good ole USA that some of these Tea Party candidates actually have a chance of winning.

So, let’s take a minute to think about what would happen if a “Tea Partyer” is sent to Congress in January.

The first thing that he will be asked to do is to vote for the Speaker of the House (the position currently held by Nancy Pelosi).  There will be two people running for that position, one nominated by the Democratic Party and one by the Republican Party.  There will not be a nominee from the Tea Party, so from the very beginning this new person will have to cast their lot with one of the established parties.  And, of course, they’re going to vote with the Republican Party.

Abortion

Then they have to try to get on a committee that will be of great relevance to their district.  If the Republican Party takes over the House of Representatives, as is predicted, the chairman of every committee will be a Republican.  So, that young, brash Tea Party person, who may have spent some time during the election bashing both parties, will then have to make an appointment with the chairman of the committee they want to be on and perhaps have to explain to him why they spent the election season bashing his party.  Now, won’t that be interesting?

Then the Tea Partyer will start voting.  One of the most important matters they vote on first is the budget.  Generally speaking, Members of Congress get to vote on two versions of a budget – one offered by the Democrats and one by the Republicans.  So, the new Tea Party person will have only two options.   Oh, sure, he or she can put together their own budget on behalf of himself and the maybe 3 other Tea Partyers in the House.  That budget might have suggestions like cutting all federal support for public education, eliminating the Medicare program and reducing the minimum wage.  The final tally on that proposal would be in the neighborhood of 4 in favor and 431 against.  Now, that is really shaking up Washington!

So, what it will come down to ultimately is that these Tea Party folks will

Abortion

wind up voting with the Republican Party 95 percent of the time.  Oh, sure, they’ll go to the floor of the House and give a fiery speech about the “special interests” and the old ways of Washington that need to be changed.  They will then make thousands of copies of that speech and mail it to their constituents to show how they are “fighting” for the common man.  Their constituents won’t know that when they gave the speech there was no one else on the floor or in the galleries except for an intern or two.

They will accomplish nothing.  They will vote with the Republican Party.  But their constituents will have no idea.  They will just be thrilled that they sent a “fighter” to Washington, D.C. to shake things up!

Is this a great country or what?

Abortion Violence is wrong

Abortion Violence is wrong

As you probably know, a group of Muslims have indicated their interest in building a mosque a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center.  Understandably, folks are up in arms, screaming that it would be an insult to the memory of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2011.   I totally understand their reaction.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to wake up every day only to think about the loved one who was killed on that day.  But there is a bigger picture that opponents of the mosque are missing.

This country was founded on several basic freedoms, including the right to practice one’s religion.  And I would argue that that freedom extends to the desire to construct a site where your followers can congregate.  This debate over the mosque reminds me of the debate over the right of anti-abortion protestors to express their views on the abortion issue.  And, the pro-choicers may not like it, but I would generally defend the right of protestors to exercise their freedom of speech, including participating in some rather ugly activity.

Now, before you bust a gut, let me acknowledge that there is a limit to free speech and the fact is that most cities have laws that restrict certain activity.  So, for example, most cities have noise ordinances that would restrict the use of bullhorns outside of an abortion clinic.  Most cities have stalking laws that prohibit protestors from following someone and putting that person “in fear of bodily harm.”  Some cities have enacted laws creating “bubble zones” around an abortion clinic that protestors cannot enter.   Meanwhile, however, many people allege that the protestors are “harassing” abortion clinic staff and patients, but “harassment” is much harder to prove.  Generally, when the police get a call from a person claiming they were being “harassed,” the police will go to the site and try to resolve the problem without making any arrests.    Finally, on the federal level there is the FACE law (“Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances”) which basically guarantees the right of a woman to walk into a clinic unimpeded.

So, there are a crap load of laws out there that can be enforced.  And, as always, the police use them at their discretion.

But, back to the bigger picture.

I support the right of an anti-abortion protestor to stand in front of a clinic, as long as they are not trespassing.   I support their right to hold up those very ugly aborted fetus signs.  I support their right to scream at the top of their lungs as long as they don’t violate the noise ordinances.  I support their right to call the patient and/or the clinic staff “murderers.”   Indeed, in the mid-1990’s, when the Congress was considering the FACE law referenced above, I worked with the pro-choice Members of Congress and insisted that we insert language in the bill that reaffirmed the protestor’s right to free speech.

I don’t like the fact that the anti-abortion protestors are out there in front of the clinics.  I think it is mean spirited, not very Christian like.  I think all they do is upset the women who are already in a somewhat emotional state.  And the workers in the abortion clinic are understandably sensitive to the anti-abortion activity that is taking place in front of their very eyes.

But in this country, we need to think long term.  As in the case of the mosque, we need to remember that the Constitution guarantees some very basic and important freedoms that should not be restricted to accommodate some short term political agenda.