Thank you, Pro-Life Action League!
I always enjoy when the opposition commentary proves my point. The fixation on one sub point from my last piece – Picketers vs Patients – is just the latest example of anti-choice activists knowing their position is untenable and unpopular. They fear the truth:
They are the minority.
The “retaliation” piece for their newsletter detoured around this premise and took aim at my credentials, at a few supporting links, and eventually at my character. The male, non-medically trained author’s own lack of credentials on women’s health issues was apparent. He didn’t even attempt to refute that public opinion is on the pro-woman side and that overwhelmingly the American people find his position extreme, dangerous and entirely unsupported by science.
It was revealed via omission as the comments rolled in that even the anti-choicers themselves understand they have no protected right to be at the clinics harassing women. They don’t challenge my position that communities can oust them because they know their tactics don’t just bend the law; very often, they snap it in sharply in half. Their intimidation of not just clinic workers and doctors, but patients and passersby isn’t lawful. Even in states/cities with Bubble Laws, they routinely trespass on clinic properties. During their pursuit of patients, I have personally seen picketers get physical with, shout at, spit on, shame and divert into oncoming traffic anyone they think may be associated with the facility.
The Pro-Life Action League (PLAL) staffer who penned the “rebuttal” has a clear intent – and it isn’t to reeducate me or to inform the larger public about abortion facts. His sole purpose is to intimidate me and others into silence. The hope is that flooding my site with antichoice propaganda and personal attacks while publishing my picture on the PLAL page will sit me back down and have me looking over my shoulder. Sir, I’m afraid I have bad news:
You can’t intimidate me.
I was inoculated against crazy, baseless rhetoric three decades ago and my booster shots are up to date. You are only getting this much attention from me because your presence has a real, detrimental affect on women – living, breathing human beings who die because of your harassment.
Allow this to be your notice: you no longer shape the discourse on women’s health in this country. The comments listed below as an example of your vitriol, lies, passive aggressive nonsense and gult tripping bullshit will not be published again here or entertained elsewhere.
I am the majority. We are the majority. You are yesterday’s news.
The number of shares, reposts, positive comments and “Hell Yes!” messages I’ve gotten have dwarfed your response. People’s personal stories along with their exhaled appreciations are still pouring in. And that’s real. One in three women in America require abortion care in their lifetimes. Many of them used to think they were alone and that their routine medical procedure was a third-rail topic.
I suggest you all find hobbies. Do it quickly, as people released of the shame put upon them by others historically move on with only a glance behind them at the once powerful, now shrunken shells left in their wake. Just ask the Westboro Baptist Church. If they’re out of constructive suggestions, I hear knitting is making a comeback.
Before the comments flood in calling me callous and unfeeling and crass (oh, wait, too late), yes, women’s health issues can be funny. Calling out hypocrisy is a long-held comedic tradition. Even before the days when Shakespeare’s fool was the only truth-teller on stage, comedy has served to point the finger at institutionalized unfairness and fake righteousness. There is a reason why our nation’s comics are called on to add commentary during news broadcasts and Oscar Wilde nailed it:
Sarcasm is the coping mechanism so many of us in the pro-choice family employ that we sometimes forget not everyone speaks the language. This recent exchange got some entertaining responses from Twitter trolls:
Yes, if you call me racist and misogynist names, I’m going to block you. Go ahead and complain about it if it helps you cope with the pain.
— Imani ABL (@AngryBlackLady) June 8, 2013
— Imani ABL (@AngryBlackLady) June 8, 2013
The brunch was real. The frustration was real. No, we didn’t get tattoos and go on a murder spree afterward. Obviously. But following an afternoon of being called a baby killer, murderer and Nazi sympathizer, you find yourself chuckling or you find yourself committed.
My gift to you is an assortment of my very favorite comic commentary on abortion and a woman’s right in general to bodily autonomy. Fugelsang, Camp, Hicks, Carlin and Stanhope are the masters at shining a bright-ass spotlight on conservative hypocrisy and self-righteousness. (We can talk later about why there is so little usable uploaded material from female comedians later.) And because these people cling to religion as their motivation, I’m adding in a theological thought from Jamie Kilstein that’s simply a better way to go. Enjoy and share widely.
Biblical Refutation by John Fugelsang:
….and as a bonus, a word on conservative and GOP “love” of Jesus.
Truthful ranting by Lee Camp:
“Pro-life” label smack down by Bill Hicks:
Basic Logic by George Carlin:
Angry irreverence by Doug Stanhope:
A theological solution to misogyny by Jamie Kilstein:
A note: I don’t expect anyone to sift through all of these comments. Please don’t if you care about your sanity and blood pressure. They are here as examples, for public record, and because I’m not afraid of anti-choice propaganda. I do not, as a rule, publish personal attacks or falsehoods on my site. However, as the Picketers vs Patients piece was penned to prove a point about the intent and tactics of the forced birth movement, I will break my rule this one time to allow their own words to put the exclamation point on my premise.
Before proceeding, I recommend grabbing a stiff drink and this handy Anti-Choice Bingo card provided by the fantastic “Brazen Queer,” Twitter friend and fellow escort:
In this marathon response session you will find the most common types of anti-choice activist tactics: the faux-lifers engage in (often anonymous) personal attacks, sanctimonious lectures, yelling, Nazi references, repetition/persistence, generic respectful (rare), the guilt-trip personal story with a respectful tone, and the long, passive-aggressive manifesto. That last one happens to be my favorite.
Pro-choice activist family! Feel free to steal, download, link to, and otherwise use the snarky, deliberate, informative, tongue-in-cheek, ridiculous, sanity-saving graphics sprinkled in between commenters. I needed them as I was editing; I figured you could use them as well. I know we don’t often humor the antis, but from now until forever, there will be an archive of answers to the most common lies and lunacy hurled by their ranks. I plan to simple refer back here when the insults and “questions” reappear. And they will.
These are all now published at the original Picketers vs Patients post, which means, if you’re so inclined, you can feel free to tack on your own additions where the commenters – who you know subscribed to the follow-ups – will see them.
From: James. submitted on 2013/06/07 at 11:50 am
“It’s medically accurate because the fetus is ripped to pieces. You are a sick person.”
From: James, submitted on 2013/06/07 at 11:54 am
“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.”
Reply: The authoritarian mindset is a remarkable thing. It vacillates between “No, YOU prove it!” and personal attacks. Make no mistake, it’s a genuine reaction. The emotion is real. Chris Mooney’s fantastic book, “The Republican Brain,” explains (in well-written, readable prose I promise) the science behind the conservative’s overdeveloped “fight or flight” response. When presented with information – facts, opinions, anything – that conflicts with their firmly held beliefs, they experience all the bodily responses of someone under direct threat.
Reading this book changed my debate style, slanted my reaction to folks like “James” from anger to resigned pity, and – quite possibly – saved my sanity. It doesn’t excuse them from controlling their emotions and responses, but it does keep me from wasting my time engaged in unproductive shouting matches.
From: Cathy, submitted on 2013/06/08 at 11:05 am
“What!? Kate, you are totally ignorant of fetal development. You better take a class, quick, before making statements like this!!”
Reply: I have a Biology degree. You better take another look at my Credentials page, quick, before making statements about a person’s background and education! Also, try getting my name right the next time you rebuke me.
From: Anonymous, submitted on 2013/06/08 at 10:58 am
“Katie, you are totally ignorant of fetal development. You need an anatomy course!!”
Reply: This is “Cathy” again. Posting anonymously (but from the same IP address) is one way to inflate the numbers of anti-choice supporters. It’s a tactic groups like The Million Moms use to make a few thousand people look like a million.
From: Colleen, submitted on 2013/06/09 at 2:03 am
“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.”
Reply: Your convictions are so firm that you were at a clinic one day?
From: Roofus, submitted on 2013/06/09 at 2:28 pm
“embryos have facial features remarkably early! Six weeks old, around the time when the majority of abortions are performed and already sporting a nose, eyes, cheeks, a mouth, all those features of a human face. A SIX MONTH OLD BABY WOULD CRACK A PETRI DISH. idiot.”
Reply: I’m glad you agree that a poster of a six-month-old baby depicted in a Petri Dish would have to have been made by an idiot. If I see the picketer who carries it again, I’ll pass along your message.
I can’t publish this one as it was submitted; the commenter left it on my Credentials page where it is both inappropriate and a non sequitur. Attempts to email the commenter so they could repost on the Picketers vs Patients page resulted in a predictable “user not found; undeliverable” autoresponse. Anti-choice activists often use fake email/handles and post anonymously both to avoid responsibility for their words and so that they can post repeatedly under the spam filter. Most don’t understand what an IP address is.
From: Bill G, submitted on 2013/06/06 at 10:49 am
“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.”
Reply: “Bill” veers off topic immediately and then begs me to “stick to the real issue.” In answer to the question you’re most clearly proud of, sir, I never find abortion on demand reprehensible. Conservatives should find it reprehensible that the government regulates what goes on between me and my doctor.
Plenty of medical procedures would be criminal were they performed unethically – organ transplantation, for example. You can’t procure an organ on the black market and then ask your doctor to operate on you. Doctors have medical associations and ethics boards that guide and limit their behavior. Deviating from accepted practices can result in lawsuits and the loss of medical licenses/practices. Abortion should be like any other medical procedure: legal and overseen by the AMA and like groups.
From: Renea, submitted on 2013/06/08 at 11:46 am
“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”
Reply: The fixation on Planned Parenthood is something I sort of get because they’re high profile, but they aren’t the centerpiece of my post. Clearly, you have some specific issue with them that I’ve stepped into. Beyond that, I don’t need to have a child to be able to open a text-book – something I did frequently while obtaining my Biology degree.
From: joni isom, submitted on 2013/06/07 at 9:24 pm
“Submitted on 2013/06/07 at 9:24 pm
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 gettingpregnant 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.”
Reply: Nazis = lost argument.
From: Michelle, submitted on 2013/06/08 at 11:43 am
“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.
Reply: I did look at them; I took the photos of the guy holding the placard last year. Also, just so you know, when you yell, you sound hysterical and most people tune out.
From: Amy, submitted on 2013/06/08 at 6:29 pm — In reply to Netiya Shiner.
“Netiya, have you seen an ultrasound at *any* stage of pregnancy? Are YOU educated as to when the fetal heart begins to beat?”
Reply: As evidenced by her strong blogging on pro-choice issues, I am sure Neitya can respond for herself should she choose to.
From: Amy, submitted on 2013/06/08 at 6:26 pm
“What exactly does “legal gestation point” mean? Abortion is legal at any gestation stage.”
Reply: Abortion is not legal at any gestation age. Roe introduced term “viable” into the legal discourse on abortion. As in a subsequent reply, I suggest the book Crow After Roe for legal background and the Center for Reproductive Rights as a source on specific/current legal challenges/issues.
Respectful in tone/generic:
From: jerry, submitted on 2013/06/07 at 7:04 pm
“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.”
Reply: Thank you for being respectful. Wrong, but respectful.
From: Kat, submitted on 2013/06/08 at 3:15 pm
“Footage of a developing human: http://youtu.be/gaK0VPV9NlE”
Reply: This is short enough that I contemplated not responding. However, it can’t be said too many times that when you’re intent is to lecture someone about a “deeply held belief” or “the sanctity of life,” sign your name. Doing this anonymously weakens your point. When you ask someone for proof and cannot leave a traceable trail, you lose the argument by default.
From: Anonymous, submitted on 2013/06/09 at 4:20 pm
“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.”
Reply: Unless you’ve been up close to that specific placard there would be no way for you to tell. Setting that aside, the size of the head in comparison to the forceps is beyond that of even a full term baby. The picture simply doesn’t make any sense. Where’s the rest of the photo’s background? Why would you Photoshop that particular part of the picture in the scenario you’ve described? And even if it were magically accurate despite the inadequate tools, a third trimester procedure isn’t relevant in Illinois where the picketer is standing. That, of course, brings us back to the entire purpose of the picket line: to intimidate women with false information and attempt to guilt and/or terrorize them away from a legal, licensed clinic and its competent, caring staff.
The respectful in tone personal story guilt-trip:
From: Anonymous, submitted on 2013/06/07 at 10:15 pm
“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.”
Reply:Some of this is redundant, but here I want to make one specific point. I’m accused of deliberately being vague on a website with all of my information – including a name which singles me out down to my genome – by an anonymous commenter.
From: Sydney M., submitted on 2013/06/08 at 12:50 am
“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?”
Reply: Untrue on all points.
I recommend the new book Crow After Roe by two brilliant authors on the reality of the legal landscape in America concerning abortion. They’re great about answering questions originating from good faith positions.
Again, I’ve pointed out that I wasn’t conflating the early embryonic differentiation that happens with most species pre-evolutionary divergence with real human noses, eyes and ears. At the gestation point you’re describing, most mammals have face-like features. As 98.5% of abortions occur in the first 20-weeks (as I stated in my post), here is the relevant imagery from the University of Michigan medical school:
I’ve seen the “proof” of verification. It’s several years old and does not state which photos the letter’s author is authenticating. It will surprise none of my readers (if they don’t already know) to hear that the Dr. Anthony Levatino is a “pro-life” advocate who lobbies congressional panels and is a highly paid speaker who’s fees range from $5,000-$100,000+ through Speakers Access, a booking group that boasts “20 years of experience in working with world celebrities.” He’s nothing more than a hired hand.
The passive aggressive manifesto:
From: Renee, submitted on 2013/06/09 at 10:14 am
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!
Reply: A fetus is not a child.
A word of thanks: To my subscribers, listeners, Hal Sparks Radio Program ustream chatters, fellow activists, pro-choice badasses, writers, talkers, Twitter followers, and friends: you’re all heroes for helping change the narrative. You dwarfed the response from the anti-choice activists! An incredible number of you clicked – and are clicking! – share buttons, reposted, retweeted, commented on and even put this piece up on your own pages. Go support each other’s sites and thank drop a thank you for caring about women’s lives
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Categories: Finding My Voice