Picketers vs Patients

You can find this post published at This Week in Blackness. If you aren’t familiar with TWiB, go there. Now. Well, after you’re done here. They have excellent bloggers — like the fantastic Imani Gandy, aka the Angry Black Lady, who posted this piece — and enough original radio/podcasts to keep you busy for approximately forever.


“Women have DIED in there!”

“Abortion is genocide!”

“Jesus doesn’t want you to kill your baby!”

“It’s not too late – we can help you!”

We tune them out, preferring to pretend they’re invisible. It’s understandable; they’re always there. In “big cities,” in rural towns. For us, they are a kind of constant din providing background noise to the work we do everyday. Their signs are ridiculous, their taunts complete lies. Our ability to ignore them makes the work we do possible. We shrug them off because to us they can’t matter.

But they do matter to someone: the patient.

As a clinic escort, I’ve watched the faces of women who aren’t expecting to cross a grotesque picket line to access a legal medical procedure. And why would they? Around 70% of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade and reconstituting the landscape of backalley clinics and wealthy-only access that existed in America for nearly a century.

That landscape is the goal of the forced-birth picketers standing between a woman and her rights at women’s health centers across our country. We know that abortions don’t become unnecessary simply because they are illegal. An estimated 1.2 million abortions were performed annually during prohibition. So, why do the faux-life lie screamers spend their days at clinics rather than doing something useful?

Their real goal is to humiliate women, make abortion dangerous, and drive the desperate into the waiting, deadly exam rooms of “physicians” like Kermit Gosnell.

Clinic picketers, in part, kept Gosnell in business. Many of us waging the repro rights battle suppress our rage and take them for granted; we shouldn’t. Public activists aren’t the only ones being trolled and abortion clinic patients can’t simply hit the “block” button, roll their eyes, and move on.

An AP writer tracked down one of Gosnell’s patients, a woman named Davida Johnson, who had an appointment at the downtown Philly Planned Parenthood where she was met with a solid wall of protesters.

AP photo

AP photo

As reported in HuffPo:

Johnson, then 21, had a 3-year-old daughter when she became pregnant again. She said she first went to Planned Parenthood in downtown Philadelphia but was frightened away by protesters.
“The picketers out there, they just scared me half to death,” Johnson, now 30, recalled this week.
Someone sent her to Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic, at the Women’s Medical Society, saying anti-abortion protesters wouldn’t be a problem there.

And so Johnson turned to a butcher masquerading as a doctor.

Her experience was not unique. The Philly Planned Parenthood location that offers abortion services held a “Pledge a Picket” fundraiser this year. Supporters can pledge a dollar amount – usually a dime or a quarter – per picketer over the course of the fundraiser; they allow contributors to set a ceiling in advance as traffic is typically heavy.

High profile clinics like Planned Parenthoods are not the only target of picketers. The brave Illinois doctor who’s services have allowed Dr. Tiller’s Kansas clinic to reopen is under continual threat. Her private practice is bombarded and threats continue from the so-called “Right to Life” groups. Prison walls have not stopped Dr. Tiller’s killer from spouting encouragement to those who seek to harm her and other heroes who go to work every day saving women.

”If 100 abortionists were shot, they [surviving abortionists] would probably go out of business,” said Tiller’s murderer, Scott Roeder. “I think eight have been shot, so we’ve got 92 to go. Maybe she’ll be number nine. I don’t know, but she’s kind of painting a target on her.”

Despite the threats and risks, she stoically refuses to allow their tactics to intimidate her.

Her bravery shouldn’t be necessary. We shouldn’t have to ask her to shoulder such a burden. And we sure as hell shouldn’t ask the women who come to her clinic – to any clinic – to suck it up and stroll past the taunts and the venom and the ridicule.

I think the Philly Planned Parenthood has the right idea. They display a banner for picketers to see:


The mock appreciation, proudly proclaimed diminishes the power of their sidewalk theater. It does not pick a fight or engage them in any way. Instead, it is the advertising equivalent of a well deployed side-eye – something one of my clinics back home in Chicago could use to stare down the 14-foot Guilt Jesus erected by the Pro-Life League. (I’m not kidding, it’s taller than the building.)

As we fight to change the shame narrative surrounding abortion care, we should also strive to turn screaming, lying antis and their Photoshopped placards into the next Westboro Baptist Church.

Over the past decade, Westoboro has gone from gawked at or feared because of their shock tactics, raucous taunting, use of their commuity’s children as props and dedication to their bizarre cause to a complete joke. Their protests are increasingly seen for what they are: a fundraising performance on behalf of a fabricated notion that does little more than inflict unnecessary pain on families by intruding on what should be a private event.

Tell me how their picket line differs from the anti-choice loud mouths at our nation’s women’s clinics.

A majority of this country believes Roe should be upheld and everyone I talk to about my time as a clinic escort can’t believe my services were necessary. Why shouldn’t picketers be the outcasts?

After all, picketers kill women. They should be cast out — and without delay.

As more of us come forward and tell the stories of our unplanned pregnancies and the choices we made, we must have a mind for the woman who cannot be public about her decision. We must consider that not everyone crossing the threshold of a clinic spends her days immersed in feminist writings, bolstered by an online and in-person network of encouraging friends who jump to her defense whenever needed.

On behalf of that woman – the one who didn’t know she would need to summon bravery to keep her appointment – I ask for an addition to our discourse. As clinic escort programs get added in presumed safe havens like New York, we must understand that picketers have gotten bolder. They’re standing on victories at the state-level and a political climate that produced candidates for national office who discussed when rape can be considered legitimate.

Dedicated, exhausted, thinly stretched badasses at publications continually quoted and linked to on this site and others are knocking down those victories as fast as they can. While they battle the stepping-stones that make picketers feel taller than they are, let’s knock as many as we can down off their pedestals.

Don’t avert your eyes when you see them. Instead, cross the line and shake the hands of the brave men and women wearing escort badges and vests. Add a banner to your profile picture, a bumper sticker to your car, a pin to your purse. Picketers think they have an army. We have to show them that their numbers are inflated, overstated and exaggerated. They are not welcome in our communities.

Picketers become relics of a bygone era not when they tire of showing up, but when we tire of lending them legitimacy.

Note: Responses to the majority of the anti-choice comments below (through 6/9/13) can be found at my follow-up piece, Pro-Life Illusions. I am reinstating my comment policy in subsequent posts, but felt that publishing the reactions to these two articles was important in proving how radical the beliefs and language often are with not just PLAL members, but picketers in general. I think you’ll find my descriptions of their behavior was hardly an exaggeration. When you scan through them, imagine having these things yelled at you unexpectedly.

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80 replies

  1. If you feel these are photoshopped photos, I would be more than happy to send you any number of photos of my two sons, lost at 13 weeks each in the womb and delivered between 10 and 12 days later. You can see for yourself what a baby looks like at 13 weeks.

  2. Abortion KILLS innocent human being who can feel pain. Most women are forced to have abortion. Abortionists are deceptive, pregnant women are being lied to. I understand that you just want to save women, but what about the millions of baby girls that have been aborted? Women regret abortion.

  3. Responses to the majority of the anti-choice comments (through 6/9/13) can be found at my follow-up piece, Pro-Life Illusions. I am reinstating my comment policy in subsequent posts, but felt that publishing the reactions to these two articles was important in proving how radical the beliefs and behaviors of not just the PLAL, but picketers in general are overall.

  4. Just to let you know Katie you clearly know nothing about the stages of life in the womb. Also you are lying about what people say. First off most of the times they are silent protests meaning we say NOTHING. And if we do something its things like theres’ other options or we are here to love and not judge. Clearly your conscious is telling you what you do is terribly wrong if you have to be making up all theses lies about people who value life. Sorry some of us don’t want babies thrown away. And fyi most people don’t have abortions because of a rape. And that is THE ONLY unplanned pregnancy. All the others one if you didn’t want to have a child then don’t have sex. Its as simple as that. It really is a tragedy that a baby must be killed so you can live as you please. Grow some balls and take responsibility for your own actions. Don’t kill innocent babies. Sorry some of us want babies in peoples arms not in the trash like all you people do. And go get some education before you make up lies to try and defend the horrific thing you defend. Thanks. 🙂

    • Sifting through the lack of punctuation and unprovoked personal attacks, there seems to be two main points: fetal development and behavior at protests.
      I addressed the fetal development in my reply piece complete with imagery from the University of Michigan. Please see: Pro-Life Illusions
      As to behavior at protests, I have personally had to call 911 a number of times and I was only stationed as a team-leader outside my clinic for a few short months. The Captain in our district responded personally and instructed the protesters about the Bubble Law, not running up to cars, blocking driveways and allies, chasing patients across a busy street and yelling through the fences. I was spit on more than once while simply standing at the clinic entrance. The FBI is involved in at least one case after an anti-choicer known to follow clinic staff to and from work pushed past an escort and into the waiting room of the clinic. As you were writing your comment, one of the clinics where I volunteered was being barraged with picketers who go up to cars, chase down pedestrians (some of whom are just trying to get to their work or homes) and yell lies at patients. I can only assume you haven’t been to many protests.

      • Please tell me more about how much you know. Because that is not how a lot of protests are. And I have been to 50 protests in the past 6 months thank you very much. I have a question…why are you so okay with helping someone commit murder? Because normally people are against murder..

      • It seems that your time would be better spent volunteering at a foster care agency, because that is where children end up who are unwanted or cannot be taken care of end up. You should also know that the politicians you support in your “pro-life” antics would quickly take free breakfast and lunch out of schools. Can I tell you about these “90% of women who regret their abortions,” they decided to speak up out of the 100,000s women who had abortions and know that what they did was right for them. You won’t hear from those women because it is still taboo. Your 90% is more like 10% at best.

        I haven’t ever had an abortion and don’t think I could, but I fully support people being able to go under medical procedures without harassment. I believe all picketers should have their home addresses listed so women who keep their babies know exactly where to go for support, hot meals, etc. Asking a woman to have and raise a baby with absolutely no support is foolish. Then when that misguided, unwanted child commits a crime you want to build more prisons, that surprise, you pay for through taxes. Good job, looking at the big picture. Good job.

    • Are any of the picketers Atheists?

      • Good question! Not that I’m aware of, or have ever seen. While there are secular groups that oppose abortion, they tend to be more “expand access to birth control” and “how do we make abortion less common” and other throw backs to Clintons (shame-inducing, but more understandable) “safe, legal and rare” philosophy. People who come to clinics come to shame women and companions. They carry rosaries and Bibles (both of which I’ve had literally shoved in my face) and shout Bible verses.

        Which is a good opportunity to point out that it is almost entirely (to my knowledge) extremist Biblical groups who picket. I have never seen a genuine Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim — you name a non-Christian claiming religious faith — group in front of a clinic.

  5. I have to share my experience, mainly because I’ve yet to really give it voice.

    I was raped at age 11 by a pervert. He destroyed what makes someone a woman. I was told that I would never become pregnant and if I did, in the words of my former gynecologist, it would be a miracle. Despite my own personal tragedy and my deep desire for kids, I was and remain pro-choice. I did and still do believe that a woman should be allowed a safe, legal abortion for whatever the reason when the fetus is not able to be born.

    I did become pregnant through what I can only believe is a miracle. I now have a beautiful, 3 month old baby boy. I watched him grow in amazement through those ultrasound pictures. I heard his heartbeat at 9 weeks. I was amazed at the tiny human growing in my belly. Watching him move at my 12 week ultrasound, however, rather changed my personal view on abortion. Perhaps it was the hormones, but I lay there, watching my tiny glow worm wondering how I could ever have considered ending my pregnancy.

    That said, I would still gladly volunteer to walk a woman to the clinic and hold her hand while she undergo what is likely one of the worst days of her life. I cannot imagine needing an abortion for whatever reason and having to deal with these idiots…

    • Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story! You have done an amazing job of explaining why a woman’s right to choose is both complicated and important. Stories like yours are why the word choice is so vital. You should be able to choose if and when to become a mother and women who want children should have access to care that assists them in making that their reality. Women who don’t want children should be able to make a different choice.
      You’re so right that no matter which decision a woman makes, she shouldn’t have to walk past a picket line. The Planned Parenthood where I got my abortion is the only place low-income women could go for pre-natal care; protesters were shouting at pregnant women who were there for ultrasound appointments. It was ludicrous. The point is that people who stand pre-judging anyone walking through the clinic doors (or simply past the front door on their way to somewhere else in the case of some Chicago clinics) are not just violating the Biblical law they claim to protest on behalf of, they simply cannot know what patients are there for.
      Thank you again for sharing your story. I hope that you and your family are doing well and have found every happiness!

    • First let me say that I am deeply sorry for what happened to you, but I also give glory to God that he gave you a child that can love you and that you can love back. I would like to share my story with you and hope you will have the patience to read through.

      I met a wonderful man who was placed in an orphanage as a child. HIs mother was rapped and got pregnant but instead of opting for an abortion, quick an easy, she chose to have him and give him up for adoption. This man grew up to become a priest. He got married and had two wonderful children. He is a wonderful person as well. He is so loving and caring and is there for anyone who needs him. He is dearly loved by all who know him. He has been a great blessing to many. Think of all the missing husbands and wives…missing brothers and sisters …think of all missing heroes that GOd wanted to give this world, but never came to be because hopelessness, fear or selfishness got in the way of a child being born. My sister was an unplanned pregnancy. My mother has at least 3 abortions before she had me (she didn’t know any better at the time) so she could have easily decided to get rid of my sister because she came at an inconvenient time. Thank God she didn’t because my sister was there for my mom and dad when they were both hospitalized for open heart surgery and when my mom had cancer and needed someone at the hospital with her. My sister was there for me when I went through my divorce. SHe is an amazing ante to my boys and she is my best friend. And the blessings my sister brought us do not end at her love and compassion. SHe got married to an amazing man who loves me like a sister. They have two gorgeous boys whom i love so much…they are the apple of my eye. I can not very imagine what my life would be like if it had not been for my sister and my brother as well. I can not imagine life without any one of the wonderful people God put in my life. I am a single woman and my boys are now out of the house and I would have been extremely lonely had my sister not been alive to day.

      We as humans can not foresee all the events in our life, but GOd can. For every child that is not given a chance to live ….the light of the world is dimmed; someone lives a more lonely life; some hero will not come to the rescue; some illness will not be cured. We have become so arrogant to think we have all the solutions…when the truth is we are killing the solutions God is trying to give to our problems that we are to face in the future!!!

      GOd wants us to cooperate in creation not in destruction. If you believe that you have a soul and you are not just flesh and blood, then you should know that your soul was given to you at the moment of conception, along with many gifts and blessings to share with others. Your life didn’t start when your mother decided you were a human being…it started when God breathed his life in you.

      How can any mother say she is ok with abortion??? Think of it…if you have a child but are ok with abortion, that means you could have had one if you had become pregnant at an inconvenient time. So that very child that you love today was at the mercy of your mood and your thoughts at the time you were pregnant. You yourself, as a loving mother now understand how precious that child is to you….so how can you say now…looking at your child ,….”i could have gotten rid of you had you come a the wrong time”. It is a contradiction!!!

      Every child is a blessing from God, first conceived in the mind of God and loved by HIm first!!.

      • That “what if” works for every person on the planet. If their parents hadn’t conceived a child — no matter the circumstances — at the precise moment they did, the resulting person wouldn’t exist. It’s a weak argument to levy at anyone — especially some who is herself adopted.

        Religious people waste a lot of energy feeling sorry for others and guilty for themselves. If you find fulfillment feeling sorry for me, you are more than welcome. Please do not feel obligated, however, as I am loved and full of love, with a more than satisfying life that affords me the opportunit to build kinship with others committed to helping those who need us.

        Life, love, choice,

        • My comment was not for you Katie…I was responding to Anon. I do not feel sorry for you at all. To respond to your ridiculous comment about Religious people…feeling sorry for others and wasting too much time feeling guilty….Actually, the correct terms are having ” sympathy” and having a “Conscience”. These are attributes necessary for a balanced personality. It is a sign of moral and emotional maturity. When a person lacks sympathy and does not have a conscience they are likely to be narcissistic and egocentric and feel that they are more valuable than others.

          Furthermore, I would like to add that most people in the world do believe their is a God out there to whom we will all have to account to one day…..especially for all the innocent lives we were meant to PROTECT but decided to slaughter instead.

          • I prefer the word “empathy” and suggest you moderate your sympathy with it.
            It is a misconception that most of the world believes in the judgmental version of god; I suggest a book on world religions.
            If yours is a Christian faith, I implore you to investigate teachings from Jesus on abortion. (You can find references to god’s people having them in the Old Testament, but with Jesus supplanting that they aren’t as relevant.) When you are unable to find any, scan for the words love and tolerance and attempt to rein in the condescending, judgmental and pointed language should you choose to portray yourself as his follower. He has some lovely followers who’s charitable works feed the hungry and tend the sick. The ones I personally know don’t appreciate the advertisement you lend their faith.

            • Here are all the verses from the bible that prove how much GOD LOVES US ALL BEFORE WE ARE FORMED. Lower are my own comments. Hope you enjoy reading this and hope is will shed some light on why Christians feel it is important to fight against abortion.

              You may not know me,
              but I know everything about you.
              Psalm 139:1

              I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
              Psalm 139:2

              I am familiar with all your ways.
              Psalm 139:3

              Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
              Matthew 10:29-31

              For you were made in my image.
              Genesis 1:27

              In me you live and move and have your being.
              Acts 17:28

              For you are my offspring.
              Acts 17:28

              I knew you even before you were conceived.
              Jeremiah 1:4-5

              I chose you when I planned creation.
              Ephesians 1:11-12

              You were not a mistake,
              for all your days are written in my book.
              Psalm 139:15-16

              I determined the exact time of your birth
              and where you would live.
              Acts 17:26

              You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
              Psalm 139:14

              I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
              Psalm 139:13

              And brought you forth on the day you were born.
              Psalm 71:6

              I have been misrepresented
              by those who don’t know me.
              John 8:41-44

              I am not distant and angry,
              but am the complete expression of love.
              1 John 4:16

              And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
              1 John 3:1

              Simply because you are my child
              and I am your Father.
              1 John 3:1

              I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
              Matthew 7:11

              For I am the perfect father.
              Matthew 5:48

              Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
              James 1:17

              For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
              Matthew 6:31-33

              My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
              Jeremiah 29:11

              Because I love you with an everlasting love.
              Jeremiah 31:3

              My thoughts toward you are countless
              as the sand on the seashore.
              Psalms 139:17-18

              And I rejoice over you with singing.
              Zephaniah 3:17

              I will never stop doing good to you.
              Jeremiah 32:40

              For you are my treasured possession.
              Exodus 19:5

              I desire to establish you
              with all my heart and all my soul.
              Jeremiah 32:41

              And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
              Jeremiah 33:3

              If you seek me with all your heart,
              you will find me.
              Deuteronomy 4:29

              Delight in me and I will give you
              the desires of your heart.
              Psalm 37:4

              For it is I who gave you those desires.
              Philippians 2:13

              I am able to do more for you
              than you could possibly imagine.
              Ephesians 3:20

              For I am your greatest encourager.
              2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

              I am also the Father who comforts you
              in all your troubles.
              2 Corinthians 1:3-4

              When you are brokenhearted,
              I am close to you.
              Psalm 34:18

              As a shepherd carries a lamb,
              I have carried you close to my heart.
              Isaiah 40:11

              One day I will wipe away
              every tear from your eyes.
              Revelation 21:3-4

              And I’ll take away all the pain
              you have suffered on this earth.
              Revelation 21:3-4

              I am your Father, and I love you
              even as I love my son, Jesus.
              John 17:23

              For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
              John 17:26

              He is the exact representation of my being.
              Hebrews 1:3

              He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
              not against you.
              Romans 8:31

              And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
              2 Corinthians 5:18-19

              Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
              2 Corinthians 5:18-19

              His death was the ultimate expression
              of my love for you.
              1 John 4:10

              I gave up everything I loved
              that I might gain your love.
              Romans 8:31-32

              If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
              you receive me.
              1 John 2:23

              And nothing will ever separate you
              from my love again.
              Romans 8:38-39

              Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party
              heaven has ever seen.
              Luke 15:7

              I have always been Father,
              and will always be Father.
              Ephesians 3:14-15

              My question is…
              Will you be my child?
              John 1:12-13

              I am waiting for you.
              Luke 15:11-32

              Katie, please don’t go around thinking that Jesus said it was ok to have an abortion…that would just add more insult to injury. The old testament is full of verses that talk about God’s great love for us even BEFORE we are formed in the womb as I have demonstrated. The old testament recounts of many events that occurred in history. …this does not mean that all these events were pleasing to GOd and he was ok with them. That would be the equivalent of saying that slavery is ok because in the old testament there were many slaves and that must mean that GOd is ok with it.

              God is a just judge…He is not a foolish one. DO you really think that we could all go around doing whatever we wanted and He would be ok with that? Could you imagine even an earthly judge acting this foolish way…. If he kept forgiving a criminal and kept releasing this criminal even though this criminal refused to change? That judge would be ridiculed. SO if you do believe in God…please realize that He is far wiser than we. If God created the universe, what little specs we are in this universe. How could we ever think we could be wiser than Him?

              God Loves us to folly but, in his wisdom, He does not force HIs forgiveness on anyone. You have to ask for it and you have to feel sorry for your sins at the very least. Yes, He is slow to anger, but his judgment is just over those who refuse to repent.. His mercy is unfathomable, but sin has a price. He does not judge us when we ask for his mercy. But to accept his mercy, one must repent from sin.

              You talk about the followers of Jesus that you know who do “good works”.Did you know that to admonish a sinner and to speak out against what is wrong is called a spiritual work of mercy. When a person commits a sin, this sin separates them from God who is all pure and love and wishes to pour out on all his children great blessing. If we CHRISTIANS keep quiet in the face of atrocities …it will also be our fault when some have to pay the price for their sins. This is not God’s fault that sinner go to hell. Hell is simply a place where He is not welcome because those who go there refused to accept his love and mercy and persist in their sin.

              You seem like a very intelligent young women….why are you investing so much time and effort on the side of destruction. Why not be on the side of creation and life and watch how much God will bless you then. You are inducing many in error by promoting abortion…there are other solutions.

  6. Thanks katie! I find all these sanctimonious aholes, who simultaneously pillage the planet and plunder in “God’s” name to be the most disgusting part of our species. You and all those standing up for planetary balance are the real hero’s…

    typical picketer supports animal cruelty by buying slaughterhouse products, revels in the sick participation in endless wars, and denies global warming. Fracking putrid people!

    • The hypocrisy is rampant, that’s for sure. Thank you for reading and being bold in standing up for women, Dana! The more we talk about this, the less power they have.

      • YOu are hilarious Katie . I was very polite in my reply to you and yet you tried to make me sound so out of line and here is Dana P …spewing venom and you applaud her. This is hypocrisy! You need to mature. All religion put aside…you are assisting in the murdering of the innocent and that is so clear you.

    • Excuse me but not all pro-lifer or “picketer” do what they do in the name of God. A lot of them aren’t even religious. Get educated

  7. Katie,

    I know that translation can be lost through written communication so please know that my feelings are heartfelt and not with contempt.

    Many pro-abortion advocates get upset as they feel that pro-lifers judge other women, however only God can judge our actions. As humans though we can and SHOULD say when we find something to be wrong, which is why we stand outside of abortion clinics. Whenever I have stood outside a clinic I have never heard anyone say anything negative. I’ve heard “We can help you.” or “please make another choice.” I’ve heard prayers and seen crying from some as it’s not easy to stand outside and see woman after woman go in and come out without their child. (You may say that it’s not a child; but that argument has already been proven wrong by science so why get into that.)

    We as humans are born with a conscience that tells us when we are doing something wrong. We can choose to listen to it or ignore it, but in the end it’s still wrong. That conscience can be tainted by public norms however and we start to see things as right which are really wrong. You yourself said that the patients feel bad when they see the picketers. You have to ask yourself, why do they feel so bad?

    The pictures you see of aborted children are not doctored. Yes they are ugly, I myself feel sick every time I see them, but you yourself admitted that a fetus in an Ultrasound has the image of a baby. The only difference when they are aborted is they come out in pieces, but it’s still a face, a hand, a leg. Abortions in this country (depending on the state) can occur up to 40 weeks and yes a small percentage take place after 20 weeks, but how many take place at 16 weeks or less? My friend just had a 12 week ultrasound. They could see a nose, a head, a body, arms, legs and the tech was even able to tell that this was a boy.

    I truly hope that one day you will use the ability that you have to draw others in through your writings for the light and not the dark. I know that people hate it when we bring God into the scenario but again that may be your conscience talking. Whether you believe in him or not, he is there and will forgive you. You just have to ask.

    I’m not asking for a response, though I’m sure I’ll get some, and maybe not some very nice ones. All I’m asking is for you to take a step back and truly look at the entire picture (which may be painful). I have tried to look at it from a pro-choice angle. I get women’s rights and the ability to choose our own paths, but there are also basic human rights that should not be ignored which is why I can’t see the world through your eyes. Please try and see them through mine. Think of how bad you felt when you heard about the kindergarten children who were shot in their schools. The pain you may have felt at hearing of their lives lost so early. This is how I feel every time I think about abortion.

    Peace to you!

  8. Is it uncomfortable to lie so much? I was there the day this picture was taken of these great kids, one of whom is mine. None of those quotes was said that day or any day when we stood outside the clinic hoping and praying that a mom would reconsider and not let her baby be killed. There is no harassment. That is a lie. These babies deserve someone to stand for them just to give a pressured woman pause and consider there are alternatives other than the violent and painful death that is abortion. A human baby is more magnificent than any sculpture or painting but those are protected and guarded, whereas the unborn child has no protection other than these folks standing outside the clinic on the day they might or might not be killed. May God’s mercy and light find you.

  9. Thanks for linking to the photograph we ran on our blog. I would encourage anyone interested in this issue to read the article that photo was attached to, which is an amazing piece on the importance of the FACE Act. Proper enforcement of that law might have led to fewer tragedies, including the assassination of Dr. Tiller.

  10. Katie, I am not a spineless and anonymous advocate for the war on women. I am using my real name and I am on facebook and Twitter. I notice that you did not respond to the challenge left by James. I would very much like to be educated about the complications from unwanted pregnancy faced by millions of women and mothers on a daily basis. Why don’t you fight back by getting in some ultrasound equipment so that you can show your patients exactly what their own fetuses look like. Take some pictures of the medical waste from the contents of the uterus, and show them to the women from whose wombs you have evacuated. If it is just a blob of tissue, what are you afraid of? The limbs that you have to count to make sure none of the baby parts get left behind? Or the fact that the 20 week legal abortion can deliver a live baby?

    Any woman who needs abortion as a medical procedure to save her life should be able to get an abortion from her doctor, who has admitting privileges at a hospital in case of complications. Why should abortion clinics be necessary at all?

    • Karen just a reminder that not everyone feels comfortable posting their names on every blog they join….this has nothing to do with spinelessness.

  11. What exactly does “legal gestation point” mean? Abortion is legal at any gestation stage.

    • Great point, great article!!! No wonder antichoice, forced-birth folks are going bonkers over this one. Good job, and keep telling the truth: abortion restrictions kill women!

  12. You’ve obviously never had children, or you would know full well that you are completely wrong about the “inaccurate” and “photoshopped” images of babies. Rather than relying on information from Planned Parenthood, which is conveniently vague in order to further their abortion agenda, perhaps you should get your information from OB/Gyn’s who happen to be experts on this issue. Any pregnancy website will contradict your errant belief that babies don’t have facial features by 6 weeks of gestation. And perhaps you should take a look at actual ultrasound images, especially the 3d versions which so accurately show fetal development. Do you wonder why Planned Parenthood doesn’t allow their clients to see them? It’s because they will see a baby, not tissue. There is plenty of truthful information from unbiased doctors to be found. If you don’t believe it, then get pregnant and take a look at your own ultrasounds. Please do some actual medical research before spouting your very mistaken opinions on fetal development and what is true or not true. Here’s an amazing video of fetal development, and although it’s visualized computer graphics, it’s based on FACTUAL scientific and medical information. http://www.ted.com/talks/alexander_tsiaras_conception_to_birth_visualized.html

  13. Babies in utero as young as six weeks have identifiable facial features. This isn’t refutable, it’s simply a fact. If you are pro-choice/pro-abortion then why lie about the facts? Abortion is the termination of a baby’s life. If you don’t want to have that baby and you don’t want to carry it to term, yes that is legal, but it doesn’t make it less of a baby. LOOK AT THE PHOTOS YOURSELF.

  14. I have (predictably) received an abundance of comments like the one from “James.” Typically, I don’t allow personal attacks and am doing a follow-up piece on the anti-choice response, but I felt it was important to publish at least one. I chose a shorter one without references to Nazis or long, rambling and refuted medical claims so that my regular readers don’t have to sift through them to communicate with me and each other.
    “James” has written a response typical of someone who has had their ideology challenged and knows their position is unpopular and untenable. He perfectly exemplifies the attitudes of those who block clinics and the vitriol many of them spout. Imagine walking past 50 of him to access a clinic and you can picture why women like Davida were driven to Gosnell.

  15. As someone in women’s health, I have some questions for someone like you. I am hoping you can answer these:
    First, my research shows that Planned Parenthood’s preventive visits and cancer screenings have gone down 29% in the past 3 years, and their contraceptive visits have slipped 12% in the past 3 years. Although abortions have gone up.
    Women in the inner cities have testified that they have had up to as many as 5 abortions and received no pre or post abortion counseling. Basically, they use abortion as their birth control.
    If Planned Parenthood is supposed to be for “women’s health”, why would they not offer prevention to these women. Like an IUD or Nexplanon so they don’t keep getting pregnant as well as education and prevention so they have “safe sex” because obviously if they are having multiple pregnancies they are not having safe sex. Even if they have had HPV vaccines they are not safe from all other STD’s. I know from speaking with teenagers that have received care from Planned Parenthood for some reason they think that an HPV vaccine and a birth control pill or device is making them “safe” and don’t need any further protection. UNTRUE!
    I find this information fascinating. We would never send a young woman away without doing everything in our power to educate, and empower her. I want to understand this.
    Given the fact that Planned Parenthood was founded by a woman who wanted to rid the world of the socially unfit, partnering with the Eugenics group that funded the Nazi’s, I want to know why any woman would want to trust their health to them and not a good caring physician associated with a reputable clinic or hospital?
    All I hear is this spouting out about abortion.
    Now let me give you a lesson in gestation. At 8 weeks gestation the nervous system is formed and the fetus feels pain. By 18 weeks the Thalmus is formed and the fetus reacts to the pain. Did you know that? Did you know that when you abort a baby it feels the pain. Also, have you EVER personally seen an aborted fetus? If not then you can not say that these photos are not accurate. Are you a doctor? Are you in the medical field? Because you have lied when you have said these are photo shopped pictures. They are not.
    With the options available to women today, there is no excuse for anyone to be in a position to need an abortion or at least abortion should be a very rare. Birth control is free almost everywhere. So why do abortions keep going up and up? Answer that question.
    Why can’t Planned Parenthood get it right. Maybe it is because most of their 1 billion yearly income comes from you guessed it abortion.

  16. A quick note: I have several comments in my in-box that require replies. I promise they will be posted and responded to in a timely fashion. If you do not see your comment posted, please be patient. As long as there is not abusive language, personal attacks without merit, or long non sequiturs they will be approved and replied to.
    Thank you for your patience!

  17. While I agree that militant, disrespectful protestors are wrong to hurl insults and accusations, i do agree with their basic point. There are ALWAYS better alternatives than abortion.
    Abortion DOES stop beating hearts.
    And every day, medical science is finding ways to for babies to be born and survive and smaller and smaller weights and gestation periods.
    So please, please … why don’t abortion supporters stick to the real issue. They believe that women should have the same sexual rights as men. In other words, they should be able to be as sexually irresponsible as they choose with no repercussions, right? The chorus is “I shouldnt have to have a baby if I dont want to.”
    My message for both men AND women (including my sons) is this … “You dont want to be a parent? Then don’t have sex.” We are not animals. We have self control.
    And as for the arguments of rape and incest — horrible, horrible crimes. And yet studies consistent show that women who have had abortions after these heinous crimes have more emotional problems later than those that have given those babies up for adoption or raised them.
    And to save the life of the mother — I will ALWAYS give up my life to save my child. Period. Wouldnt any decent parent? And as gut-wrenching as it would be, i would follow the wishes of my wife and have doctors save the life of our baby before her.
    And one final question for abortion advocates … where does it end? At what point do even YOU find abortion on demand reprehensible? Partial birth abortions? Abortions because of detected birth defects? Abortion because of preferred gender? Where do YOU draw the line, if at all.

  18. Katie, thanks for your work and for this thoughtful, well written article. You have plenty of great points, but the one I drew the most inspiration from was the fact that we have popular opinion on our side, it’s just a matter of making ourselves more visible in order to show our numbers while giving, “…the woman who cannot be public about her decision” the freedom she deserves. Thank you!

    • Thank you right back! It’s amazing how many people don’t realize we have the public opinion. Overwhelmingly, people who don’t describe themselves as “pro-abortion” – or “pro-choice” even — still recognize the danger of reinstating prohibition. They know the history of women dying or they simply don’t feel it’s the government’s business to get between a woman, her family and her doctor.

  19. Hi Katie — I’m curious what you think is “photoshopped” about the abortion photos the protesters use? You just linked to a picture of one of them holding a sign, not any evidence that they’re photoshopped.

    I certainly support a woman’s right to choose, but the reality of the situation does look messy, even if it is just a non-sentient organism. What do you think is inaccurate about the signs they use?

    • If you look at the photo of a supposed aborted fetus it isn’t medically accurate. It’s portrayed as the “medical waste” created from abortion procedures; at the legal gestation point, there wouldn’t be facial features. I’ve also seen six month old babies depicted in Petri dishes.

      • It’s medically accurate because the fetus is ripped to pieces. You are a sick person.

        • I dare you to bring actual photos to prove them wrong. Please, show me what a clean aborted and ripped into pieces fetus looks like. Until then, whatever you say is just words. You are just another spineless advocate of infant genocide.

          • James, darling, your “infant genocide” is a myth used to defend and justify decades of misogyny. Educate yourself and come back to us when you understand the complications from unwanted pregnancy faced by millions of women and mothers on a daily basis. Until then, you are just another spineless (and anonymous! ha!) advocate for the war on women.

            • Netiya, have you seen an ultrasound at *any* stage of pregnancy? Are YOU educated as to when the fetal heart begins to beat?

              • I have! In fact, I have multiple ultrasounds from when my own (unplanned) pregnancy. I am also medically trained, so I am intimately familiar with the various stages of fetal development. And absolutely nothing I have ever come across in any medical literature has shown me any justification for the harassment patients receive when they attempt to obtain a legal, wanted, medical procedure.

                Like Katie, I was also a clinic escort, and witnessed firsthand how anti-choice sidewalk bullies would verbally – and often physically – attempt to intimidate people as they entered and exited the building. How is crowding so close to a woman she is forced into a city street in an attempt to get get away from you “pro-life”? How is continuing to try to hand literature and talk about the evils of “killing your baby” to a distraught women who has already stated she is there to have her dead fetus removed from her uterus in any way “pro-life”? There are dozens of stories I could tell about the horrors I personally witnessed, and dozens more that were relayed to me through friends who were escorts at different clinics…and I’m only one person.

            • Funny thing is it is a very small percentage of women that end their pregnancy for rape. I don’t care if you didn’t want to get pregnant. You should have thought about that before you went and had sex. That is your fault for making stupid choices, not the child inside of you. You have no right to end the child’s life just so you can live as you want. Think before you do things and then you wouldn’t have these “unplanned pregnancies” now would you? And maybe you guys should go look at the real pictures of aborted babies and go learn your facts before you defend someone killing a human being. If it is alright to kill a baby then why can’t we just go kill whoever we want. The people standing outside the clinic NEVER shout the lies you say they day. You just feel guilty because you know what you are doing is wrong and you make up whatever you can to make yourself feel better. Hope that’s going well for you.

              • This is a great place to celebrate the (partial) victory of the Plan B emergency contraception pill becoming available over the counter! Let’s make birth control so available and accessible that most of this comment is negated.
                It sounds as though you might be ok with the “abortion is illegal except in cases of ” situations like they have in Ireland. Not only is that no realistic, it’s deadly. Pregnancy is a risk and it does end in fatalities. Outlawing abortion with few exceptions increases those risks and those deaths. A great piece on that by Jessica Valenti was just published in The Nation. I recommend it: http://www.thenation.com/article/174665/abortion-and-magical-thinking
                (See my reply to a previous commenter on women being sexual.)

      • I don’t believe that the photos are doctored. Also, the data on abortions before it became legal have been admitted to be wrong by the pro-choice organization that used them. You could check this out at http://www.grtl.org/dos/roevwade.pdf and at http://networkedblogs.com/LXPoU

        I’m not trying to attack you, but the links give pretty supported refutation.

      • I don’t know enough about medicine or photoshop to say whether the pictures are photoshopped, but I understood that by three months, a fetus’ facial features are fully formed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFY_KPFS3LA

      • It depends, I suppose, on which photos you are looking at. You are (deliberately?) vague in citing specifics, but, speaking from personal experience, I have had 5 miscarriages. Two were gradual over the course of weeks, and much of the baby was re-absorbed on ultra-sound, so it was harder to discern the actual baby. Three happened between 6-11 weeks, very quickly in one torrent of hemhorraging resulting in an intact amniotic sack. In all of these cases, the baby was clearly visible, albeit very tiny, and features were discernable. They looked very much, in fact, like the aborted fetuses seen in “pro-life propaganda”, minus the evidence of violence. I also gave birth to my 16 year old son 16 weeks early, at 24 weeks gestation. He was legally abortable at this point, but I can attest to his utter humanity. To those skeptics who say the baby feels no pain, I say visit a NICU. These babies respond to both painful and pleasant stimulus appropriately, their siblings voices, music, their mothers’ heartbeats. They cry with needle sticks, they relax under caressing hands. I did not meet one nurse or doctor in the huge medical center NICU where he was cared for who was pro-abortion. They work too hard to keep these babies alive. You have a right to your beliefs, but every individual has an obligation to face down the cold, hard truth before accepting the media’s agenda-driven rhetoric. And YOU have a responsibility to research and post factual information if you are, indeed, a truth-seeker. Woman have the right to at least know what they are choosing.

      • Katie, abortion is legal during all 9 months of pregnancy because of Doe vs. Bolton. That being said, babies do have facial features very early! I saw my oldest son on ultrasound 5 weeks after conception and you could already see the orbits of his eyes, his nasal pits, a mouth…a very human looking head. Not to mention a body with a large beating heart, arms and legs (fingers and toes were just developing). This is a little more than a month after he was conceived. Most abortions are performed after this point.

        Did you know the photos anti-abortionists hold up have been medically verified?

      • Katie, you are totally ignorant of fetal development. You need an anatomy course!!

      • What!? Kate, you are totally ignorant of fetal development. You better take a class, quick, before making statements like this!!

      • Sidenote: Obviously, I was not referring to the vague outlines viewers can project features onto that show up in ultrasounds relatively early. Anyone who’s studied developmental biology knows that at the early stages when you can draw evolutionary lines, there are perceivable shapes in the picture. I was responding in particular to the placard I describe as “photoshopped” in my piece where the features are those of a fully developed baby, not a fetus. Less than 1.5% of abortions happen after 20 weeks; that particular placard (which I photographed myself) is not accurate.

        • Footage of a developing human: http://youtu.be/gaK0VPV9NlE

        • The text in the upper right corner of the placard states that the fetus was aborted in the third trimester in Houston, Texas in August, 1987.

        • 1.5 % of 50,000,000 is 750,000. The actual number is a little more formidable looking than that little “1.5%”. This is euphemism at its best( or worst) Why are pro- abortion advocates so cagey about the truth? As far as I’m concerned, one butchered, dismembered or scalded baby is one too many. Did you ever honestly ask yourself the reason you are so offended by pictures of aborted babies – could it be that the violence depicted in them is, indeed, profoundly offensive? If you are so convicted, then you should stand solidly by its gory reality. Don’t try to change the truth

          • The reason that number is important is that nearly 100% of the abortions occurring past 20-weeks happen to save the mother’s life or because the pregnancy isn’t viable. Leaving a non-viable fetus inside a woman is not just cruel emotionally, it can be dangerous physically. I wasn’t being cagey — as you acknowledged, that percentage is accurate.

            • From a pro- aborts view, unviable can mean a whole host of things. For instance, the majority of Down’s babies conceived( 92%! according to studies by the AMA) are aborted. These are viable babies with a chromosomal irregularity. I work with Down’s people and find this to be an appalling form of discrimination against the disabled. These are warm, wonderful individuals with very rich lives, just different challenges. And definitive testing for chromosomal issues happens into the 2nd and 3rd trimester. I urge you to investigate the large number of third trimester abortion clinics which will terminate for any reason, including sex selection . (Where is feminist outrage over this one?) Kermit Gosnell has many compatriots who practice, not only abortion, but infanticide well into the last weeks of pregnancy. Woman have worked to overcome male domination for decades. I find it ironic that we are using our new- found political clout to trample on the rights of someone smaller and weaker- the unborn baby. I guess we have learned from history that might does , indeed, make right.

              • From the University of California, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health:

                …there is no clear legal or medical definition of “viability.” During debates in Great Britain about whether to lower the gestational age of legal abortion from the existing limit of 24 weeks, the issue of viability was considered by the Commons Science and Technology Committee. The Committee found that “while survival rates at 24 weeks (the current upper limit for abortion) and over have improved since 1990, survival rates (viability) have not done so below that gestational point.” The Committee concluded that there was no scientific basis—on the grounds of viability—to reduce the upper time limit from 24 weeks.

                Gosnell’s actions were illegal. The state failed to inspect his facility despite feminist/activist/writer call for them to do so years before he was arrested.
                I’d look forward to your producing the stats on Down’s Syndrome, but as you’ve posted anonymously that’s not likely.

                • I received an extremely long reply from this Anonymous commenter. I was looking for a link, not spam. I would email this request to them, but they have chosen to hide behind anonymity. Should they choose to shorten their reply to a length that is courteous to other readers, I will post that.

                  • Gosnell is one among many. Research Leroy Carheart, Douglas Karpen, Stephen Chase Brigham, Nicola Irene Riley, to name a few. All of these late term abortionists are being investigated or have been indicted on charges of infanticide. One (Karpen)has actually been accused of twisting the heads off of survivng babies by his own clinic technicians who assisted in the deliveries! The whistle was finally blown on Gosnell because he was selling prescription drugs illegally; complaints about his abortion practice (which date back to the seventies!) were largely ignored.

                  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10521836?dopt=AbstractPlus# This is the link to the abstract cited in the New York Times article which reported the statistic that 92% of Down’s Syndrome babies are aborted. I’m not hiding- my identity is irrelevant. The truth is all that matters.

  20. Thanks for this Katie. So many are unaware that this goes on at clinics around the country every day.

    • I’m working on changing that. I have to believe that people are only ambivalent because they’ve never seen what we’ve seen. You’re a hero, Dennis. Stay safe and thank you so much for the work you do.

  21. I am in constant awe of what you say and do.
    Thank you for saying what alot of people wish
    they had the balls to say.
    Keep fighting and stay true! 🙂


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