It sounds like the synopsis of a horror movie: a pregnant woman is picked up in a van by volunteers she believes are going to take her the hundred miles to the clinic, where she is scheduled for an abortion. But the van has a different destination — a small, isolated church in a rural town.
There, in the church’s basement, she is held against her will, while a group of abortion opponents plead with her, cajole her, tell her lies, do everything they can think of to convince her to not end the pregnancy. She either agrees, desperate to get away, or holds out against them until they finally give in and agree to let her go. Either way, she is taken home or back where she started from when they picked her up, having missed her appointment and, potentially, her only chance to abort.
Sadly, this is not the plot of a movie, novel or prime time drama; this was a plan suggested by a batch of anti-choice activists.
According to the Herald Sun, the anonymous activists suggested the plan on the Facebook page for Abolish Human Abortion (AHA), the extremist Christian organization best known for taking graphic posters of fetal remains and protesting in front of local high schools. They offered the email address of a pro-choice organization arranging rides for pregnant people to the nearest abortion clinics, and said that AHA should offer to be volunteers but instead pick up the pregnant person and use the time as, “a wonderful opportunity to minister to an abortion minded woman for an hour while you DON’T take her to the clinic. And hey if you can’t change her mind by the time she gets out of your car and realizes she is at church and not the clinic she’s missed her appointment anyway.”
The idea of kidnapping a pregnant person, which is essentially what this would be, should be chilling on its own. It is even more chilling in the way it harkens back to the early 80′s and the Army of God, who kidnapped an abortion provider and his wife, threatening to kill them to end abortion.
Although the organizers of AHA have expressed the need to push the limits of dialogue and protest in whatever means necessary to force people to see what they believe is the “reality” of abortion, they have distanced themselves from the kidnapping idea. They’ve also denied any links to the group that posted the plot on their page.
“Kidnapping and abortion are sinful for similar reasons. Both are acts of human oppression carried out by the strong against weak. Both deny the weaker party their rights as human beings. If kidnapping were legalized, Abolitionists would rise up to Abolish it too,” they wrote.
Still, when broken down into smaller components, perhaps the inherent idea of the proposal — involuntary detainment of people who are doing something they believe is morally wrong — isn’t that far from the realities that many abortion patients undergo when they are using clinics with a large presence of anti-choice protesters. Many clinics report a literal gauntlet of images, “counseling,” harassment, pleads, lies and shouting that pregnant patients must endure to get into a clinic door. The use of clinic escorts is necessary for a number of them to guarantee that a patient can even make it past the crowds, some of whom will surround a patient to make it more difficult for her to walk down the sidewalk and into the building.
If they trick her into a car, it’s kidnapping. Do it in front of a clinic, hoping to change her mind, intimidate her or delay her, and they just call it “sidewalk counseling.” Now it’s time for us to make sure people know there really isn’t much difference between the two at all.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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