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Should Pro-Choice Supporters Counter-Protest at Abortion Clinics?

Should Pro-Choice Supporters Counter-Protest at Abortion Clinics?

Most married couples hit the farmers’ market, go kayaking, or meet up with friends at their favorite brunch spot on Saturdays. Not Tina and Grayson Haver Currin, who instead pack up their car to bring signs down to their local abortion clinic, where they counter-protest anti-choice protesters as they try to harass clinic staff and patients.

They document their activities on Saturday Chores, a site that’s gone viral. But not everyone is pleased with the idea of an abortion counter-protest, and some of their concerns are valid: Does it just feed the trolls, or does it actually make a difference?

With the growing war on women’s rights in the United States, anti-choice protests outside reproductive health clinics are escalating in scope, scale and aggressiveness. That’s been brought home with the recent Supreme Court decision striking down Massachusetts’ buffer zone, which had previously kept anti-choice protesters at a distance. Those seeking reproductive health services, along with the staff who support them, are being forced to run gauntlets of people shoving signs and pamphlets in their faces, screaming at them, and intimidating them — so much so that clinic escorts are now a vital part of the scene at such clinics. These defenders of women’s rights don bright vests and usher people through the crowd to the clinic so they can access care.

The idea of counter-protests comes from the desire to send a clear message to anti-choice protesters: They’re being watched, and the pro-choice community supports the right of women to get treatment for reproductive health conditions. Such protests are also intended as a show of support, to let patients and providers know that they are not alone. Some also argue that their presence distracts anti-choice protesters, making it harder for them to harass patients and staff. They say that like clinic escorts, they’re there to make patients and staff feel safer.

Not everyone is so sure about the benefits, though. Clinic directors point out that terrified women just see a sea of people — not a group of supporters challenging anti-choice protesters. Pro-choice activists and organizers note that some clinics don’t want to exacerbate tensions or create protests that could turn ugly, and thus that they don’t want patients, staff or supporters to engage, even when it’s frustrating. When counter-protesters go against the expressed wish of an abortion clinic, it is disrespectful, and it demonstrates a lack of interest in working with those who provide direct services. Well-meant actions can still be harmful when people don’t want them.

The debate over counter-protesters illustrates the fact that situations like these are rarely simple. In the women’s movement, as in other social movements, numerous individuals and groups with a variety of interests and concerns are coming together, and they sometimes find it difficult to cooperate on common goals.

This is a particular concern with groups that don’t respect those working on the ground doing direct service and other work, as this can spur resentments and frustration.

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Photo credit: Taber Andrew Bain.

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183 comments

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6:04PM PDT on Oct 5, 2014

So many pro-choice people here. I'm pro-life, but I would never go as far as protesting in front of a clinic.

6:28PM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

DAN-
-Getting assaulted at a clinic is in no way related to a football game. Get real. The man was there to cause trouble & acted first. Guilty as charged.
-Every sperm's a good one. Don't you worship the doctrine of Monty Python?
- God is not acting via protestors. There is no god.
- If someone claims there is a divine being, the onus of proof is upon them. I do not claim there is any divine being hence I am not obligated to provide proof. YOU ARE.
- As a nurse, I am fully aware of the stages of development from sperm & egg to living being. A zygote or fertilized ovum is a clump of cells. It has no sensation without a nervous system, no cognition without a brain & no viability. Since this also applies to a sperm or an ovum when you think of it thus, claiming a sperm is potential life (although not yet matched to an ovum) is no more ridiculous than claiming a zygote is alive when taken to the extreme by a loonie tune.
At one time the Catholic church believed a sperm was a complete human implanted for growth in a woman - of course this meant the woman was totally insignificant - except when the offspring was defective or female - then it was the woman's fault. See how dumb religion was back then? It hasn't really progressed much has it? It twists biology & everything else to suit its purpose. A congregate of cells is a living, feeling being - nah!

8:41PM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

6:48PM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

He look Ken, Dan O. found a minor typographical error in your outstanding and well researched and presented post. I guess in his little mind that makes him think he "won" or something?

Dan O., that is about as sad and pathetic as you can get, man.

6:00PM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Dan O. "Another thing you might want to consider is that since God is the creator of life being blessed with a child might just be His will for life."

Well Dan O. if your God is so powerful and wants her to be blessed with life why does he/she/it allow the woman then to not want the child ? Please do not respond by saying because God gave human free will . The response "God works in mysterious ways" is not going to cut it either .

As for protesting at clinics performing Vasectomies and at Sperm Banks , thanks but no thanks i do not care what you do with your Penis , it holds no interest to me and it is not my business .

5:12AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Ken O., Did you mean scientifically? Do you ever feel a bit challenged when it comes to spelling?

8:36PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Interesting,,, a lot of grey areas...

8:01PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

noted

9:01AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

At the ninth week post-conception, the fetal period begins. From this point until birth, the organism will be known as a fetus.

Researchers estimate that nearly 60 percent of all naturally occurring conceptions fail because the zygote never becomes properly implanted in the uterus.

As far as responding to the topic, a resounding YES there should be counter protests. The pro-choicer's should get in the faces of the "pro-lifers" and humiliate them, shout at them and make them feel as uncomfortable as they make the girls and women feel who are on legally their way to their doctors office. Pro-choice counter protesters should get there extra early to be able to take the license plate numbers of the morons, the make and model of their cars and post them on line. If any moron got in my wife's face, yelling at her, making her cry he or she would wind up staring up from the concrete wondering what happened and where their teeth were. I'd claim I was defending my wife from assault, and I'd win.

8:56AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Poor Dan O. Never finished High School Biology? Clueless clod, there's a reason the following terms exist: zygote, embryo, fetus. Full explanation for the scientificlaly challenged:
After a female egg is fertilized, the resulting one-celled organism becomes known as a zygote. Once this has occured, the zygote begins a two-week period of rapid cell division and will eventually become an embryo. The zygote divides through a process known as mitosis, in which each cell doubles by dividing into two cells. This two-week stage is known as the germinal period of development and covers the time of conception to the implantation of the embryo in the uterus.

In most cases, each male and female sex cell contain 23 chromosomes. When these two haploid cells join, they form a single diploid cell that contains a total of 46 chromosomes. The zygote begins a journey down the fallopian tube to the uterus where it must implant in the lining in order to obtain the nourishment it needs to grow and survive.
How Long Does the Zygote Phase Last?

The period of the zygote lasts for about four days. Around the fifth day, the mass of cells becomes known as a blastocyst. The germinal period will last for fourteen days, after which the embryonic period will begin. The second period of development lasts from two weeks after conception through the eighth week, during which time the organism is known as an embryo. At the ninth week post-conception, the fetal period begins. From this point until b

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