These last few months have been a bit rough, resulting in my depression and anxiety hitting me with maximum force. Thus, I haven’t been doing much of anything—let alone amateur activism work. The Wednesdays I had spent observing protesters from across and researching for blog posts I never ended up writing are now spent shopping, eating, and playing Pokemon Go with a good friend before slipping back into a depressive funk that leaves me wanting to take a four hour nap. Until recently, I hadn’t written any opinion editorials for the paper in months (which I may touch base on in a later post), but that was mostly due to not having anything new to add to the abortion/women’s rights debate. The most I’ve really done in terms of activism lately is the occasional post on local organizations and things they are in need of (money, items, volunteers) as I believe practical assistance is more helpful than signs and preaching beliefs ever could. Mental illness is a strange thing saps any energy or motivation for the things you care about and forces you to struggle to accomplish even the basic of personal needs.
Regardless of the state of my mental well-being, there was one thing I wasn’t going to miss out on: counter protesting the Life Chain. Held on the first Sunday in October, the Life Chain is an annual nationwide pro-life demonstration where anti-abortion protesters stand in a line—a “chain”—for an hour or so along the roadside with signs like “Abortion Kills Children”, “Pray to End Abortion”, and “Abortion Hurts Women”. This is just one special pro-life event on top of the normal daily pro-life harassment committed outside abortion providers and women’s healthcare clinics. Other special events include the 40 Days for Life, March for Life, and the various Walk for Life events typically held by crisis pregnancy centers.
A while ago, I chose to not counter protest the pro-life crusaders outside my women’s clinic thinking that it would only further intimidate patients seeking reproductive health care services and deciding that abortion and healthcare providers shouldn’t be the battlegrounds for the reproductive rights debate. However, the local Life Chain is always held on the bridge, far away from the clinic that wouldn’t be open on the weekend anyways. If you ask me, it’s fair game for opposition.
My mental health and natural ability to procrastinate caused me to put off making signs for a counter protest. But through the suggestion and motivation of a new found friend, who decided to join me, I made what we believed was the most epic sign: Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty next to the words “S.T.F.U. ABOUT YOUR ANTI-ABORTION AGENDA!” (A variation of the quote “Shut the fuck up about moon men!”) A bit blunt, I must admit. But what else can you say? I’ve tried open discussion. I’ve debated. Fact checked. Suggested better ways to help. And at least tried to be somewhat appropriate for all of it. But they don’t listen to reason. They don’t care about facts. They don’t want to put the effort into things that would actually benefit the women they claim they want to protect from the “horrors of the abortion industry”. They just want to crusade against abortion even if the tactics and end result hurts women while trying to shut down anyone that disagrees. When you’ve watched these people continually stand outside a reproductive health clinic and try to shame, intimidate, and deceive women for a year and a half….it’s frustrating and infuriating. It has whittled me down to “Oh, just shut up already! Enough!”
Last year, I had stood alone with my sign with the George Carlin quote calling pro-life supporters “anti-woman”. It irked Faust enough that he let down his overly fake polite persona and snapped at me, asking if George Carlin would think the women that were there were anti-woman. This year, I managed to gather a handful of people to join me this year. We were certainly outnumbered. It was five of us up against forty or fifty. Four of us stood together while another was brave enough to march up and down the bridge with the other sign I made. We watched Faust pacing up and down the sidewalk, occasionally stopping to chat, while the rest stood stiffly and silently. If looks could kill, we would have been dead on the spot as we garnered some dirty glares from the pro-life protesters. They seemed bothered by our presence. I hope they were as women all over the country are regularly bothered by the presence of pro-life protesters outside of their healthcare providers. I told my friend, “Our numbers may be few, but judging by the looks we are like sand in a vagina.”
As I predicted, Faust came over to us. I had tried to describe he acted with a sort of politeness that wasn’t genuine before we set out and the girls finally understood what I meant when I called him a Stepford Wife. He introduced himself to the others with a programmed kindness. Even thanked us for being there despite the fact we were on the opposing team. Mentioned it might be confusing to tell which cars were honking for whom, but that we’d “sort it out later”. When we left an hour later, he greeted us and thanked us again for coming. “Oh, you girls should submit letters to the editor! Sam can even tell you what to write!” We laughed at the absurdness of it. I always felt that some of the pro-life letters written by other authors were very similar to what Faust wrote and pondered if he had some sort of hand in them. His words to us makes me wonder if he somehow hinted that he tells people on his side what to write. In any case, I feel that the women that joined me can formulate an opinion to write a letter on without my involvement. I’m predicted he’d be quick to submit a letter of his own, perhaps referring to us as “pro-abortion” as he did when he wrote a letter immediately following last year’s Life Chain.
Earlier I mentioned that I joked that we were like sand in a vagina: small, but irritating as Hell. I hope that we’re more like sand in an oyster. The oyster is irritated by the grain of sand and does it best to get rid of it by covering it up. But eventually the grain of and will grow into a beautiful pearl that will be worth far more than the oyster. My friend and I are already discussing plans for next year’s Life Chain and hopefully more women will join us.