There was a protest at a women’s health clinic in Wichita, Kansas, this week. I know, I know. That’s about as surprising as if I had said “the sky is blue.” However, this protest was different. It was led by pro-choice activists.
According to the Kansas City Star, protesters from across the country, called the Abortion Rights Freedom Riders, converged on a crisis pregnancy center called – without a hint of irony – A Better Choice. They held signs that said “Fake Clinic” and “Stop Forced Motherhood” in front of the crisis pregnancy center, which happens to also share a parking lot with Operation Rescue, an anti-choice group known for their graphic protests of abortion clinics.
The leader of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman, didn’t see any similarities between his protests and the protests of the crisis pregnancy center. From the Kansas City Star:
Contacted at a conference in Seattle, Operation Rescue leader Troy Newman said the protesters can “stand out there in the rain” and rejected comparison of their protests and his.
“I don’t see anybody coming out of that place (A Better Choice) with a sad face,” he said. “Unlike an abortion clinic, everybody who’s going in and out of there are happy.”
Hmm… Citation needed, please. Even among women who weren’t thrilled to get get an abortion, a hefty majority – 80 percent – think they made the right choice.
Newman is partially right about one thing. While these protests may look similar to the ones by Operation Rescue, they are not the same. You see, protests in front of abortion providers are designed to intimidate and shame women into making a choice that isn’t right for them by using erroneous information. These protests, on the other hand, don’t seem to be doing that. This seems especially true since the center wasn’t even open on the day of their protest. Sure, they call those who work at the crisis pregnancy center liars, but given what we know about the information CPCs provide, that’s actually a pretty safe bet.
However different they may be in their objectives, there is no doubt that the CPC protest has taken a page out of the anti-choice playbook. Protests, at the core, are a demonstration of support for a person or position, right? It’s about getting attention and galvanizing support for a cause by showing less bold people that they are not alone. In that sense, these CPC protests and the typical Operation Rescue protests are cut from the same cloth.
Newman, however, doesn’t see it that way. He sees these protests as an act of desperation. Why these protests are an act of desperation and not others, I’m not sure. His evidence seems to be that there are many more CPCs across the country than abortion clinics. This isn’t surprising, however, since abortion providers have been specifically singled out for onerous regulations all over the country.
No one is doubting that anti-choice activists are well-organized and effective, but now pro-choice activists are fighting back. As long as they don’t start murdering people in cold blood, I say that it’s time to get loud.
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