Pro Life Terrorism


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

The United States Holocaust Museum, defines the holocaust as “the state-sponsored systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945”. The Nazis’ unspeakable horrors were inflicted on six million Jews. Millions more were targeted for destruction including Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), people with mental and physical disabilities, Poles, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political dissidents.

So when the culturally insensitive, U.S. anti abortion cartel compares the Nazi holocaust to the legalization of abortion, I would suggest that they are being intellectually dishonest. Abortion in the United States is not a state-sponsored, systematic mandate to require women to abort. In fact, the only thing that is systematic about abortion is the anti abortion cartel’s relentless persecution of abortion clinics and their clients and staff and their ruthless legislative and prosecutorial activities making access to abortion difficult, if not impossible, and increasingly more expensive. And on a local level across the nation, though not systematic, there remains the ever-present anti abortion protesters’ dogged efforts at shaming, disrespecting and terrorizing women at abortion clinics. So, let’s face the facts. These rancorous protesters, in claiming that abortion is like the holocaust, are claiming that the United States deserves the same fate as Nazi Germany–namely, to be overthrown, to be shamed, and to acknowledge a very dark past.

More to the point, if the comparison was taken to a logical conclusion, to the equivalent of the Nuremberg trials, we could say that just as Adolf Eichmann was found guilty, so too would Bernard Nathanson be found guilty. Instead of the typical hero-worshipping at prolife dinner parties where Nathanson gets paid to tell his abortion stories (and where gushing admirers would open their wallets), he would be found guilty of engineering the American version of the final solution.  Clearly, the anti-abortion movement is far too quick to forgive and forget. Linking abortion (and not Dr. Nathanson) to the abortion-holocaust can only mean that its comparison is nothing more than a propaganda campaign.

Further, the  abortion-holocaust comparison conveniently overlooks the fact that the Nazis desired births to serve as proverbial “fodder” for the rearming of the military. The desired births concept was frightening then as it is now. I’ve read that  Bob Pawson, NJ coordinator for prolife educators and students wrote, “Abortion is the primary factor causing America’s economic recession. America is suffering the consequences for killing fifty-million people who are supposed to be among us today as teachers, producers, consumers, taxpayers, leaders, inventors, and problem-solvers. It’s no surprise that a nation which slaughters nearly twenty percent of its future customers, investors, and entrepreneurs also kills its own economy. Wrong moral choices have negative consequences. Evil acts generate their own punishment.” This type of thinking is akin the the Nazi mindset that believed that desired births would serve as proverbial “fodder” for the rearming of the military. What can I say? We’re still dealing with a tiny minority whose vestigial thinking and financial support  make them either dangerous or annoying or both. So sad.

But, let me return to my article. Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, one of the chief architects of the Holocaust, and personal friend of Adolph Hitler, stated that the evil of abortion lay not in the loss of an individual life, but more in the fact that many women through abortion lost their ability to have children later. Fortunately, today’s abortion techniques very rarely leave women incapable of subsequent pregnancies. And, as a noteworthy aside, abortion is not an evil. It is an essential, safe, legal medical procedure for millions of women and their families.

On a more personal note, the holocaust-abortion comparison is genuinely offensive to the relatives and descendants of those families who died at the hands of Nazi German troops. Critics like Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said those who compare the Holocaust to abortion prove that they do not understand the Holocaust. This offense reminds me of the many graphic, grotesque and, frankly, incongruous tactics used by the anti abortion cartel. Their tactics capitalize on the monstrous by creating a macabre circus but fail miserably to compassionately respect and understand the women who must wrestle with an unplanned pregnancy.

For those who have flunked the logic test when using this glib and immoral comparison, they should recall that the Nazis cracked down on anyone who agitated on behalf of the Jews or took steps to help them. In contrast, the anti abortion cartel in the United States has a strong political voice. Ongoing efforts to convince women to carry their pregnancies to term, and to give those women assistance in doing so, are entirely legal and legitimate, and often effective. Let’s not forget that crisis pregnancy centers are not analogous to the “secret annex” in The Diary of Anne Frank. They should also recall that the Nazis believed once a Jew, always a Jew. The unborn are not like the Jews. They don’t stay unborn for long. It seems to me that those in the anti abortion movement have a morally relevant reason for distinguishing between Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jews and the treatment of the unborn under U.S. law. But we will likely wait quite some time before some find their way to their logic textbooks.

Another flaw in the abortion-holocaust comparison is the shaky premise that fetuses are full human beings with the same status and rights thereof. This fails to recognize that fetuses are completely dependent on a woman’s body to survive and that the fetal mode of growth and survival fits the technical definition of parasite.

This shaky premise also fails to recognize that pregnant women would be forced to forfeit their own human rights in exchange for fetal rights. In the view of many in the anti abortion movement, fetuses are vulnerable persons being exterminated because they’ve gotten in the way of selfish women. What these folks conveniently forget is making abortion illegal would be a serious infringement on women’s human rights. Abortion is a universal practice, occurring in every society and throughout history, regardless of laws. Therefore, the anti-abortion movement’s naive opposition to it may be a far stronger indication of misogyny than of a concern for unborn babies. And outlawing abortion doesn’t just kill women, it also negates their moral autonomy, cripples their economic independence, criminalizes them for their biology, and generally turns them into all-around second-class citizens.

But perhaps these sentiments reflect the ugly truth within the anti abortion cartel–that the unborn are more valuable than the women who house them. Viewing women as animals with an obligation to reproduce for the state sounds eerily like the Third Reich and the anti abortion cartel.

After nearly ten years of observing anti abortion protesters, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. The commonplace protester is white with red-neck tendencies, scientifically-challenged, medically inept, dogmatically deluded, and generally diversity-defiant. Additionally, among this dreary assortment are folks with waistlines that are in direct correspondence to their intellectual capacity and women who are seriously fashion-challenged. Owing to their brainwashing, they are as useless as scuffed brown shoes without soles. In fact, their products, their messages and their brands are like Wonder Bread in an artisanal bakery, Oscar Mayer bologna in an Italian salumeria or a Hostess Twinkie in a French patissierie. Compared to the creativity of the majority who trust women to make decisions for themselves about abortion and contraception, these interchangeable trolls are boring with a capital B. Standardized, commercialized, reproducible fiends fit for no one, they arrive at clinics across the nation every Saturday morning to worship what they cherish: themselves and imaginary babies. But, they worship with the same old tunes, the same old messages, and the same old signage.

I’ll acknowledge that there are a minority who are more creatively odd than most.  For example, in Allentown, PA, one fruitcake fetal crusader thought it was perfectly OK to use holy water to “baptize” women’s abdomens as they entered the walkway to the clinic. Of course, she did not ask permission for this conjured rite. Another woman, named Mary, performing in the street with chanting and invocations, sprinkled holy water on the clinic door and pedestrian walkway and then doused herself from head to toe with the water. With that last act, I thought the local loony bin had misplaced one of their inmates. Mary was one of those protesters who gave voice to the phantom fetus by yelling “I want to live. Please don’t kill me.” There are other protesters, like Joyce, who thinks ventriloquism will convince women not to abort. She uses a saccharine falsetto voice to grind out “Mommy, Mommy please don’t kill me, Mommy.” Then there’s old white Joe who invokes Martin Luther King’s name as if he was Jesus Junior every time he sees a person of color. Making unknowable claims about King’s position on abortion, Joe wallows in racist comments. But as Dr. Wallace Best, a religion and African American studies professor at Princeton succinctly stated, King “stood for justice, equality and fairness and certainly against any kind of discrimination,” something Joe will never understand nor ever embrace.

Anyway, the overwhelming majority of protesters use messages that are simply banal. What we’re left with are reruns week in, week out. It’s a stark contrast to the more progressive folks who use vivid messaging in support of women.

In Kentucky, one abortion clinic attracts the best and the worst. The volunteer escorts are the best at walking women to the clinic past some of the most vile protesters I’ve ever seen. They have a Mary there too. She’s one serious whackadoodle, complete with her big bible, hellfire and brimstone. She’s also a shover. She has no problem shoving escorts, no guilt about blocking women from exiting their cars and no difficulty telling women they’re “gonna burn in hell for eternity” or “The bible says thou shalt not kill.” Mary is also a holy roller big into laying on a hands and so animated that I wonder if she’s really just a busker. Joined by this Pentecostal type are snoopy, arrogant priests. They add their crucifixes and rosaries to the cacophony known as the circus of the absurd. There is nothing like a weird brew of stewed priests and salty Baptists to give a Saturday morning its special flavor. It’s what’s on the menu every Saturday morning in this lovely southern city. In comparison to this Barnum & Bailey environment, progressive men and women assert their support for women with ingenious and encouraging messaging.

In Allen, TX, women seeking abortions don’t stand a chance with the droll protesters. Whether speaking in English or Spanish, they swarm women as they attempt to walk on the sidewalk leading to the clinic. Working in pairs, one walks in front of the women, offering help while the one in the back keeps repeating, “You’re making a big mistake. You’re making the biggest mistake of your life.” Other protesters line the sidewalk should to shoulder with their typical accessories: rosaries, Guadalupe image, crucifix, and other assorted signs. Because of the proximity to Mexico, much of the city’s population speaks Spanish. So, the protesters have translated their same old, desert-dry messages. Que lastima! But some bilingual women have created posters that cut right to the heart of the issue.

In North Aurora, IL, the abortion clinic is relatively new but the anti abortion trolls look the same. Same old tired signs, same old anger, same old righteous indignation that women have a choice about what to do with their reproductive health. They use the tiny white coffins lining the sidewalk (been there, done that), plaster the surrounding area with signs (been there, done that), tell women that they will regret their abortion (been there, done that). Yawn!!! Is this the best that this mid-west city can produce? Where is the ingenuity? It’s with the progressives, that’s where!

What I have noticed is that most of the freak shows keep using the same old materials. The same old fetal images. The same old bloody Malachi image that they worship. The same old rosaries and the same old worn bibles. The same old messages. The same old white men and women. The same old dumpy dimwits. It’s like going to going to same movie or reading the same book—the ending is always the same. Even the well-funded extremists like Flip Benham and Troy Newman are forever using the same old stuff. I had to laugh at Newman’s braggadocio back in October 2007 when he claimed his Operation Rescue rocked Fargo, ND with their purported “Truth Truck” and their literature. Well, guess what? It’s 2012 and his latest visit to Fargo this month had the same result. Zip. Zilch.

I’m hoping that one of these days there will be someone with a fresh approach, something new and innovative. But to do that, they’ll have to infuse a bit more intellectual and creative energy. Sadly, intelligence and creativity are missing within the anti abortion cartel. For now, it’s just the same old freak shows, same stuff, different day that net the same old results. Zippity Do Da.

Next Page »