If You Want To Avoid Anti-Choice Harassment, You Need To Opt Out

A funny thing has happened when it comes to women’s rights and reproductive choice. The more women are cut off from having access to safe, legal abortion, the more anti-choice protestors’ rights seem to trump everyone else. The right to protest outranks the right for young children to attend their schools without coming face to face with gruesome graphic posters. The right of pharmacists to refuse drugs outweighs the right for women to have the prescriptions their doctors write for them, even if those drugs in some cases may be saving their lives. The right of “sidewalk counselors” who sue over not having enough access to women arriving for abortions, so they get their chance to “talk them out of it.”

Anti-choice activists have a variety of means for harassing and intimidating women away from reproductive health clinics, some even going as far as to bring cameras to record the patients coming and going. And in all cases, this is considered a legal form of harassment that women are expected to have to simply put up with if she wants to terminate a pregnancy.

So how does one get out of being harassed by anti-abortion advocates? According to police in one recent case, a woman has to be sure that the group is well aware that the activity and contact is unwanted. Yes, you have to actually tell them you prefer to no longer be harassed. As Andy Kopsa reports, earlier this month a group of “prayer warriors” in Wisconsin sent out an “All Points Bulletin” via email, desperately searching for a pregnant woman that they had spoken to on the street outside of a Planned Parenthood, a mother of two children already who walked away crying after speaking to the “warriors.” The email included a very detailed physical description of the woman, and asked recipients to let them know immediately if they see a woman that matches it.

A group of total strangers, sending out an email with a woman’s identifying physical characteristics, outing her as seeking an abortion and asking people to please find her and send them information so they can continue talking her out of the abortion she was looking for? How could that be anything but harassment and violation of her privacy?

Yet it’s not, according to local police. At least, not unless the woman specifically told the “warriors” to have no further contact with her. Kospa writes, “‘According to [Police Chief Nobel Wray], it is legal to send such an email but could be considered harassment if the individual who is the subject of the email told the so-called “sidewalk counselors” she didn’t want further contact from them. She could have filed a complaint regarding the email.’

Running to her car, shouting at the protesters isn’t considered making it clear she didn’t want further contact? Do women need to begin wearing signs that say, “I do not give you permission to harass me or send emails that may personally identify me?”

A right to freedom of speech trumps the right to not be physically or emotionally accosted by strangers? Only if you are a woman seeking a termination of an unwanted pregnancy.

Photo credit: wikimedia commons


Pego Rice
Pego R.4 years ago


The old "Agree to disagree thing". It always tastes better over a hot Mocha Latte.. Here's sending you a virtual one |_D

Mary J.
Mary J.4 years ago


I believe we have reached an impasse. We both feel very strongly about our positions, and we have been able to discuss these points-of-view without any loss of respect. I am thrilled to have been able to have a civil conversation/debate with some one who is intelligent and capable of discussion without becoming emotionally unglued.

I am very happy to have met you and to have become your friend. Without the ability to have civil and rational conversations between people who have very strong opinions and passionate points-of-view, nothing would ever be resolved. You are respectful and I appreciate that regardless of our ability to come to an agreement on this subject.

I admire you and I like you very much :)


Pego Rice
Pego R.5 years ago

And, Mary

You have a point that it is my personal belief system that we don't make any problem better by first attacking people's right to control their own bodies. I am more of a "Prevention" minded person. Prevention is cheaper. Prevention doesn't impair people's rights or demand that all people live by the belief systems of the few. It is not "Overuse" that is driving this witch hunt, but politics. Birth control and abortion have helped to reduce crime, helped families pull themselves together and dig themselves out of poverty. Trying to reverse an important national civil rights issue is just a political football to make fiscal conservative act like religious fanatics in public policy decisions. That is something that has aided and abetted this drift towards the police state we now endure.

Pego Rice
Pego R.5 years ago

Thanks Mary

You rather prove my point that job/home instability or loss and domestic violence are way up there in the "reasons for" I've certainly used that factoid list myself.

Pot calling the kettle black? Heh, well I certainly agree with you that that they are the pot. Battling against women't right to equal rights, equal pay, against health education and birth control. Those people are at war against women and families, and then blaim them for having abortions when they are killing the very things that prevent them. Shame on them

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

Possible problems with the health of the fetus came in at 13 or 14% depending on the year.

Mercy killing is rare.

Rape (1%) and incest (0.5%) is actually less than 2%

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

I agree about the ectopics but they are rare, so I overlook them.

Mary J.
Mary J.5 years ago

With this info and much more available, I (yes I) see the potential danger for those who have your serious scenarios. If women continue to have abortions for social reasons, the abuse may cause a reversal in the legality of abortions.

Yes, lets teach more about BC, lets find new ways to avoid pregnancy. I am 100% in agreement... but we can not ignore that hundreds of thousands of women are not choosing abortion for ethical reasons. There are 2 lives. Since there are 2 lives, extreme caution should be taken and the value of life must be acknowledged and protected unless there are extenuating circumstances. I am not the only one who has this view and am not the only one who has this belief. I am just the only one besides Christopher (even though we have different reasons) that is discussing it with you.

Christopher, I understand you feel there is never a reason.. I respect that. I don't completely agree, there are times like a tubal pregnancy that the baby will never survive and will kill the mother... but we should all be working towards a compromise.

Mary J.
Mary J.5 years ago

The reason the percentages are seemingly off, is that most women give more than one reason for having an abortion. The 74% and 73% are the top 2.

•Changes in reasons, 1987–2004. Several questions were
identical or virtually identical on the 1987 and 2004 surveys of reasons for abortion and are thus comparable (Table2). The proportions of women giving four of the five most common reasons for abortion in 2004 were similar to those in 1987. Roughly equal proportions of women in both surveys indicated that a baby would dramatically change their lives, that they could not afford a baby now, that they did not want to be a single mother or had problems with their relationship, and that they were not ready for a child or another child. While some of these proportions showed statistically significant differences, in our assessment they were
not substantial, because the percentage changes were small.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

The pro-lifers are just calling the kettle black Pego. Refer to Mary J. and the blunt scientific assessment of life, however parasitic. If the women are hurt by it it is because they still have a conscience. The conveniencists ought to suffer, and the mercy killers might want to rethink maybe they don't have all the answers about what is right for someone. Presumably God does when we keep the dying comfortable, but alive.

Mary J.
Mary J.5 years ago

Pego... you are basing your opinions on your own belief as well. If you feel strong about your side and I feel just as strong about mine, how can you say I am the only one basing the discussion on 'my own' belief?

The Alan Guttmacher Institute (a special affiliate to Planned Parenthood), which actively collects the abortion data directly from providers. All numbers reported are voluntary; there are no laws requiring abortionists to report to any national agency the numbers of abortions they perform. 2005-2008 are estimates of 1,206,200 annually.

Why do women have abortions?

74% say having a baby would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities.
73% say they cannot afford to have a child.
48% say they do not want to be a single parent, or have relationship problems with husband or partner.
Less than 2% say they became pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
Source: The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Perspective on Sexual & Reproductive Health, Sept. 2005