Allies Must Do Better if They Want to Support Abortion Rights

Abortion has become one of the most contentious issues in the United States, and tempers are escalating on both sides of the aisle. But there are good ways and bad ways to be an ally and support the right to an abortion – and, unfortunately, bad behavior is making the media rounds these days.

In Alabama, a state legislator attempted to rebuke the GOP for its push for a total ban on all abortion. But his argument for why abortion needs to remain legal and accessible may have done more harm than good.

During the ban’s debate, Democratic Rep. John Rogers of Birmingham stated:

Some kids are unwanted. So you kill them now or kill them later. You bring them into the world unwanted and unloved, then send them to the electric chair. So you kill them now or kill them later. But the bottom line is that we shouldn’t be making this decision.

His assertion led to extensive condemnation from lawmakers in both parties.

Rogers claims that he was only trying to explain the hypocrisy of Republicans, who force people to give birth to unwanted children but then refuse to offer any support to those families by stripping them of financial assistance, health care, jobs, homes or education. It’s this abject poverty and lack of opportunity that can then lead to a variety of social ills — including a higher likelihood of incarceration, among other effects, thanks to an inherently racist legal system.

But regardless of his intentions, Rogers’ remarks failed to convey those sentiments — and following up by getting into a verbal battle with one of the president’s sons didn’t help things, either.

It’s the inability to stop, as well as the escalation, that tends to get those who claim to be allies in supporting abortion rights in trouble. Take Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims, who now very well could be responsible for one of the largest crowds of anti-abortion protesters a local Philadelphia Planned Parenthood clinic has ever seen.

Sims, who says he was a clinic escort for the last seven years, filmed himself aggressively interacting and questioning protesters at his local clinic, chastising them for their treatment of patients seeking care.

The Washington Post reports:

The confrontation outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia escalated quickly. A state legislator held up his phone and filmed himself saying the clinic was one of the most heavily protested in the country. Then he flipped the camera and approached a woman pacing the sidewalk with her back turned and a rosary in her hand.

“How many children have you put shoes on their feet today?” Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims, a Democrat, asked the woman. “Have you fed any children today, or have you just stood out in front of a Planned Parenthood, shaming people for something that they have a constitutional right to do?”

But his interaction drew the attention of anti-abortion activists once the news spread online. Opponents rallied around the mostly silent, female protesters and defined Sims as a bully — especially once he began demanding the identities and home addresses of those protesting the clinic.

Rather than shame protesters away from the clinic, Sims’ comments encouraged some of the biggest names in the anti-abortion movement to organize a massive rally at the building to show support for the “praying peaceful protesters.”

There’s a reason that when clinics have on-site escorts, they’re trained to ignore anti-abortion activists and deescalate any potential interactions between protesters, patients and patient companions. There’s simply never a situation in which escalating at an abortion clinic is going to end in positive results. With a dedicated network of right-wing social and online media, anything that can be perceived as aggression against an abortion opponent will be repackaged and amplified as a violation of the religious rights and freedom of speech.

Abortion opponents desperately want to change their image to that of the oppressed victim and the protector of civil rights — even when they’re harassing providers and patients, not to mention forcing people to give birth against their will. Unfortunately, not all of our allies understand how easily their actions can be manipulated and used against them, as well as against the right to safe and legal abortion.

And while they’re learning that lesson quickly, it’s coming at a very high cost.

Photo credit: Robin Marty

23 comments

Leanne K
Leanne K29 days ago

How about half the population vote these dimwits out

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Anna R
Alice Rabout a month ago

thank you

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Lesa D
Lesa DiIorioabout a month ago

thank you Robin...

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Alea C
Alea Cabout a month ago

John Rogers is absolutely correct when he says all these people do is protest, they do nothing to help all those unwanted babies, rather they hurt them by voting republican.

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pam w
pam wabout a month ago

The amazing hypocrisy of ''Christians'' who demand to take control of women's bodies is stunning. They WILL lose this fight.

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Loredana V
Loredana Vabout a month ago

Very good article (as usual). Our (re)actions could be used against us.
Thank you.

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Wesley S
Wesley Sabout a month ago

Very good points! Don't engage in THEIR games! They want the confrontations. Don't give them that. You're creating their ads for them.

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RK R
RK Rabout a month ago

Stop abortions with behavior changes such as ending personal egg and sperm donations for the cause.

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohnabout a month ago

Noted

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Olivia H
Olivia Habout a month ago

Thanks very much

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