“Millennial Women Reject Abortion”? Not so fast, Life News!

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An article shared by the Wisconsin Right to Life is an example of how the pro-life movement can take data regarding abortion and spins it to suit its own agenda.

CBS recently conducted a poll about what’s on the minds of young women as mid-term elections approach. Abortion is a big political topic so naturally questions about abortion were included on the survey. Life News posted an article  about the poll titled “CBS Poll Reveals Millennial Women Reject Abortion, Feminism, and the Media”.

The title suggests women in the 18-35 age range are against abortion, but the data presented by the article and the poll claim otherwise.

Both the poll and article state, 69%—over 2/3 of the women surveyed—don’t want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. When asked about concerns over abortion restrictions, 44% of the women were concerned abortion would become more restrictive than it is now. Only 31% wanted to see Roe v. Wade overturned and 24% were concerned abortion would become less restrictive than it is now. 32% were unconcerned about abortion becoming more or less restrictive.

Where is Life News getting the idea that women are rejecting abortion when the data clearly shows a majority of women oppose Roe v Wade being overturned and are worried about abortion access becoming more restrictive? The poll results regarding women’s specific position on abortion.

The poll asks “Which comes closest to your position on abortion? Do you think abortion should be: legal in all cases, legal in most cases, illegal in most cases, or illegal in all cases?”

28% of women believed abortion should be legal in all cases.

34% of women believed abortion should be legal in most cases.

25% of women believed abortion should be illegal in most cases.

13% of women believed abortion should be illegal in all cases.

Life News took this data and tried to spin it as women rejecting abortion. “In the end, that means 72% are likely in favor of some kind of abortion restriction”. This statement isn’t wrong by itself, but a far stretch at best and completely wrong at worst when put in the context that women in general are rejecting abortion—62% of the surveyed women believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases whereas only 38% of women believed it should be illegal in most or all cases. This is in addition to 69% of women not wanting Roe v Wade overturned. Additionally, 25% believe abortion should be illegal in most cases, which means they make some sort of exception for abortion.

If one were to spin things like Life News did, one could say 87% of the women surveyed support abortion being legal regardless of whether in very specific cases, unrestricted, or everything in between. But let’s stick to the facts: out of the women surveyed, 62%think abortion should be legal, with or without some restrictions, and 69% don’t want to overturn the court ruling that makes abortion legal. Women aren’t rejecting abortion as Life News claims when a majority are supportive of keeping it legal in at least most cases.

It’s truly amazing how the pro-life movement can claim millennial women as a whole are rejecting abortion from data that clearly shows a majority of women being supportive of abortion (with or without some restrictions), having concerns about restricting access to abortion, and not wanting Roe v Wade overturned.

Update on former BRF Essential Health Clinic protesters

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As stated in my last post, Last Day of Essential Health Clinic of Black River Falls, the Essential Health Clinic in Black River Falls has closed due to funding issues and I had theorized this wouldn’t be the last we would see of this group of “sidewalk counselors”.  Turns out, I might be correct in thinking that.

One of our now-former BRF Essential Health Clinic protesters, Brian, occasionally shares posts from an antiabortion activist named Matthew Wiersema. For several months, I’ve been following the various activist activities of this person…mostly to report his graphic photos of dead fetuses/babies and read up on his activist adventures.  I’ll likely write a piece on him later, but for now I want to bring up something I saw on one of his posts a couple weeks ago.

Just a little over a week after the clinic closed, Wiersema posted about an interaction at a pizza place. Within the comment section (pictured below) was a response from Brian:

“It looks like one of the few was reaping the Harvest tonight! Good job Matthew praise God!

Hey Rob, hope you’re doing well. Are the group for the preborn coming to Marshfield anytime soon? They closed the local clinic down here about 2 weeks ago so Sam [Faust] and I are going to have to find a new place. They got one in Whitehall which is about 35 miles [emphasize added] and then we occasionally go to the murder Mill in Madison and join the Catholics over there.”

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Apparently, it wasn’t enough for them to harass women for over two years at the Black River Falls location. Now they’re thinking about bothering the patients at another Essential Health clinic?!  For the quadrillion-th time, they’re not an abortion provider nor do they schedule abortions for women at an actual abortion provider!

The Rob mentioned in the comment is Rob Pue, founder and publisher for the Wisconsin Christian News. A photo for one of his From the Editor columns, “The Three Greatest Threats We’re Facing”, depicts the LGBT+ flag, abortion, and Islam. “First on the list is the demonic depiction of homosexuality” it says before it cuts itself off and requires a subscription to read the rest. Even without subscription access to the articles, I could piece together that he’s a Christian conservative with anti-abortion, anti-LGBT+, and anti-Muslim viewpoints similar to or exactly like Brian’s. Brian does enough imitation and bullying on his own…imagine if there’s another person that’s exactly like him to join him outside a clinic!

I wish these zealots would leave women alone. (Seriously, can they just leave women alone?!)

Dissecting Pro-Life Opinion Pieces: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

I was going to write a piece on one of the responses I received for my opinion piece “Lack of Credibility”, but it seems it was not located in my backpack as I had thought. Instead, I ended up pulling out a newspaper all the way back from May 2nd of this year (I really need to reorganize my bag). The paper contained a pro-life letter to the editor with the long winded title “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”:

Many, in this column, have debated on the morality of abortion. This conversation is extremely necessary and those who take part in it are tenacious and brave. But, I am not here to write my opinion, even though some of you already know where I stand on this topic. Many of us have very strong viewpoints of abortion. Some see it as an option, others see it as evil. What do you believe? Some are confused. With all these opinions and statistics, it can get overwhelming. Sometimes we just wish we could push this subject away and pretend it’s not important. But, it is important. Some just want to stay out of the argument—to stay neutral, stay safe. But that doesn’t mean it’s right. By staying on the fence, we’re taking the easy way out.

Believe it or not, we need to have an opinion. Why? Because either such a simple human right is being manipulated or attacked,  or there really are thousands of innocent children being murdered by scared and frightened women. Either way, our people are being deeply hurt and it’s our job to protect them. Because if we don’t…no one will.

So I implore you, have an opinion. But don’t get it from your friends or family. Go to the source. For me, that source is the source of morality—the Bible. Look up statistics. Listen to debates. Learn how abortions are done. What about us who do have an opinion? Us who know what we want to fight for? Us who deeply believe that abortion is evil? Or us who think that the picketing pro-lifers are idiots? What about us?

Let me ask you one question. Where are you? Our American people are suffering. A wave or a kind smile to the sign-holders, though appreciated, is not going to hold up another sign up. You can do more than pinning cute pro-life quotes on your Pinterest boards! Your voices need to be heard. Your voice is the voice you’ve been given to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. Let them hear it. Stop staying silent. If you really believe in something, then do something about it. Because all evil needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing.

Please, stop waiting. Stop just believing. Stop sitting on the fence. Stop trying to stay safe. Do something. Live outside yourself. Live to fight for those that need you.

Alisa Aish, Black River Falls

The beginning of the letter actually did have a couple good points about those that chose to remain silent or not pick sides on topics that are important. At first, she seemed to be encouraging those people to form a strong opinion on abortion and take a stand regardless of what side they decided to support.

Halfway through the letter, it becomes obvious this was not encouraging people to take part in the abortion debate, but rather a rallying cry for people to get actively involved on the anti-abortion side of the debate. In the process, she negates her own statement that she wasn’t writing to express her own opinion on where she stands on the subject. For example, the way she describes those that already have an opinion on abortion and are active in the debate indicates a subtle favoritism towards one side: “Us who deeply believe that abortion is evil? Or us who think that the picketing pro-lifers are idiots?” A number of pro-choice beliefs could have been brought up—women should have the right to choose abortion (and parenting or adoption for that matter), that abortion is a reproductive right, that abortion should be safe and legal, or women should have bodily autonomy. Instead of describing what the pro-choice side stands for, she chose to highlight what that side thinks of the other. There’s no clarification as to why pro-choice supporters find such pro-life protesting idiotic. Granted, we (pro-choice supporters) do find pro-life protesting to be idiotic, especially when they picket women’s clinics that don’t provide abortion services, but our feelings on it go much deeper than mere annoyance. Women have been stalked, harassed, threatened, bullied, lied to, mislead, and given false information by pro-life protesters. Without this context combined with a lack of a description for the beliefs of the pro-choice side, the writer has very subtly implied that one side (pro-choice) wrongfully has an issue with the other side (pro-life) for combating a great evil (abortion).

The end of the letter encourages pro-life supporters to do more than offer a wave or smile to picketers or post pro-life quotes on social media, but gives no such encouragement for pro-choice supporters. After reading this rallying cry for more pro-life involvement, the first section of the letter appears less neutral on encouraging those to form an opinion on the important subject of abortion. When she states that those that take part of the abortion debate are tenacious and brave, what she really means that those that take a stance against abortion are tenacious and brave. When she says “So I implore you, have an opinion”, she’s really hoping the reader will form a pro-life opinion just like the one she claims she’s not here to write about.

Its more subtle and polite than the pro-life opinion pieces I’m used to reading where abortion is called murder and condemned outright. As the old saying goes, “You get more flies with honey than vinegar”.

Last Day of Essential Health Clinic of Black River Falls

A few weeks ago, I received a letter informing me that “As a way to balance community reproductive health and continued federal and state funding challenges, Essential Health Clinic is closing our Black River Falls, Prairie du Chien and Richland Center locations in July and August.” The last day my clinic, the Black River Falls location, was open was on August 1st.

For the past year, I feared this would happen. The day after Trump was elected, Essential Health Clinic announced it was cutting back hours on some of its locations, including my own, for the same reasons they just shut down three of its satellite clinics. Continued attacks on reproductive healthcare rights certainly didn’t help either.

I will now have to travel to EHC’s location in La Crosse, an hour from where I live, in order to receive any reproductive healthcare services and refill my birth control. I do not drive so I have to make arrangements for someone to take me there. Even if I did drive, we currently only have the one car, which my husband needs for his job. My husband works weekdays and the clinic would likely be closed by the time he got work, picked me up, and drove to La Crosse. I normally go to La Crosse with a friend at least every other week after he gets off his night shift job, but I’ll be screwed if he ever switches to day shift as our days off don’t match up. Switching my days off isn’t ideal due to the requirements of my job. It was certainly much easier and convenient when I could simply walk downtown for my appointments and pills. Being that we live in rural Wisconsin, there really aren’t other suitable alternatives to Essential Health Clinic other than the Planned Parenthood in Eau Claire, which is still an hour drive and also hated by pro-life supporters.

A few ideas of activism came to mind in the weeks leading up to the Black River Falls location closing. While at Joann Fabrics, I saw card stock on sale and got this idea to make a sign that said “Support Women’s Healthcare” in bold, pink letters on a black background to contrast with the white background signs the protesters had. With my Cricut machine, making letters for a sign was a snap! A few days before August 1st, I created an event page named “Essential Clinic Donate-A-Thon” encouraging people to come to the clinic to donate money on their last day of operation. I also created a donation page on Facebook, which earned $30. Then I learned there was a difference between donation and fundraiser pages and created a fundraiser page with a $100 goal.  (As of this writing, both pages have raised a total of $140)

“Supportive Activism” I call it.

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The sign I made.

If this had played out like I imagine in my head, I would have marched up to the front of the clinic like a motherfucking boss and held out my sign proudly. But the cruel reality is that despite my imagination and determination, I’m still an activist dealing with horrible anxiety issues. Normally, there’s two—maybe three—pro-birth zealots outside the clinic standing still in the same spot or walking back and forth like patrol guards on a video game. No amount of anxiety medication could have prepared me for them being in full force on the clinic’s last day, refusing to give women any dignity with their healthcare choices. There were four adults—five when Brian/“Dicktator” showed up—and the four children they dragged along, but only one of me. It took an hour and a half sitting in the library across the street trying to literally shake off a small anxiety attack. I finally managed to go outside and sat in front of the library for ten minutes chatting with my brother, who I ran into on the way out of the door. Eventually, I went across the street blasting Gorillaz through my earbuds to keep me calm and collected.

I wanted to be visible to motorists while not being in the way of patients and I wasn’t brave enough to situate myself in the front of the building where the adult protesters were parading a few feet from the door or the right corner of the building where the kids were situated. Therefore, I sat on the cooler full of water bottles I had brought on the left corner of the building, away from the doorstep and the congregation of zealots. I was out of the way of the patients and the antiabortion protesters, but still visible to the public.

As I’ve learned from counter protesting the annual Life Chain for the past two years and a previous attempt at supportive activism, antiabortion protesters cannot ignore the presence of pro-choice and reproductive healthcare supporters invading their stomping grounds. In my experience, they cannot resist checking out the opposition even when that opposition is far off to the side or even offers a message that isn’t necessarily pro-choice, which is precisely what happened the moment I sat down and exposed my tag board sign. Faust seemed to make a point of walking back and forth to the left corner of the block a couple of time, passing me by along the way. I think he tried speaking to me, but his voice was muffled over the sound of Gorillaz “Dare”.

Once Faust left for the day not too long after I showed up, Brian started hovering by me just like he did when I first protested the Life Chain. I had observed him being on the right side of the block the whole time he was there so I don’t doubt he was there to make sure there was pro-life presence by the Godless woman encouraging support for the clinic. When I was sure he wasn’t looking, I snapped a couple selfies with him lurking in the background.

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When he first approached me, he asked what my sign said. I figured he could read on his own so I didn’t respond and let him read the sign.

“Yeah, woman’s healthcare, but not murder. Or homosexuality, which is what your bandana stands for,” he said, pointing out the plain rainbow bandana I was wearing. The comment seemed irrelevant, but in line with Brian’s habit of continually judging others on every little thing. Technically, he’s not wrong: I did get it from Spencer’s line of LGBT+ pride merchandise, but there’s nothing about it that shows it’s specifically for LGBT+ other than the striped rainbow pattern. Honestly, I wore it because the sun was out, sunburnt scalp is the worst, and it was the only clean bandana I had on hand at the time.

He kept trying to engage with me. I could hear his loud and often rude voice over the music, but I continued to ignore him. Not engaging seemed to irritate him. He was like a child that kept trying to provoke any reaction out of me and I wasn’t giving into him.

However, I couldn’t remain silent when he stopped hovering around me to go harass a patient exiting the clinic. Her car had been parked directly in front of the clinic’s door. As she walked to her car, he followed her. Over the sound of my music, I could hear him telling her to take antiabortion literature. I didn’t catch if she vocally refused or not, but she clearly looked annoyed and didn’t want to be bothered.

At the foot of her car, he asked the one question he asks every woman when given half a chance, “Are you Christian?”

Annoyed and fed up, she replied, “I am not. Maybe you should worry about your own life!”

He started to spout Christian ideologies when I shouted, “Leave her alone, Brian!”

The woman’s passenger window was down so he continued to preach to her while she argued back until she drove off a moment later. Brian turned to me, scowled, and spoke in a sarcastically angry tone, “Now you have something to say?!” I didn’t reply.

During my time there, I got a couple thumbs up and “You go, girl!”

When someone drove by, Brian sarcastically wondered who it was for. “Was that for you or for me—”

“Probably you!” I replied.

He rambled on and on a few feet away from me. He would not shut up!  “Well, after today, you probably won’t see much of us.”

“I hope I never see you again!” I declared.

Two women from the building next door were outside taking a break. Both had worked with my mother at a popular bar and grill twenty-something years ago so I was familiar with them. They greeted me and told me I was doing a good job. We exchanged some words about the antiabortion zealots. One of them commented that they reminded her of the Branch Davidians cult from Waco, Texas or the Westboro Baptist Church. She’s probably not that far off from the truth.

In true sarcastic, “Dicktator” fashion, he finally got to me when my husband drove by and flipped him off. “How horrible! I can’t believe a man would flip his own wife off!”

I should have kept my mouth shut, but my irritation got the best of me and I couldn’t help saying, “That was for you!”

“Oh, thank God!” he said, feigning concern and relief. “I’d rather his hate be directed at me than at his wife!”

I knew he said it to strike a nerve…and it worked. In my experience with protesting Christian pro-lifers, they’ll try to find out what buttons to push and then slam on them like a child playing an arcade machine once they do. I don’t exactly have the thickest skin and sometimes my emotions get the best of me before my brain has time to think things through. The next thing I knew, I was debating Christianity, arguing that God wasn’t real as he called me hateful non-believer.

“God created you in his image! He gave you the ability to get out of bed this morning! He gave you the ability to speak of such hate!” He trailed off on the “gifts” his God supposedly gave me. “But you continue to mock him!”

God wasn’t the reason I got out of bed that morning or any other morning. On work days, it’s the need to earn a living to survive is what gets me out of bed. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of due to depression and anxiety with a touch of autism, which I’m sure people like Brian view as a punishment from God for being an unbelieving sinner.

“You’re a follower of Satan!”

“You mean the same Satan that was created by God, who is supposedly all-knowing and therefore should have known beforehand that one of his angels would turn evil?” I questioned.

He never answered the question yet continued preaching. Figures. He wants to judge non-believing sinners without answering the hard questions. I turned my music back on and drowned him out, which is what I should have done in the first place.

Right before the clinic closed, Kenny, a clinic supporter I’m acquainted with, showed up to donate money (having clicked “Interested” on my donate-a-thon event page) and on his way out made a point to let Brian know, “I love giving them money!” Not surprisingly, they got into a verbal match. Before he drove off, Kenny flipped him off and said “Fuck you” and gave me a thumbs up and said, “You go, girl!”

“Don’t you feel ashamed that’s the people you’re supporting?” Brian asked me.

I didn’t bother to give an answer, but I’m sure it’s far less shameful than standing outside a healthcare clinic to chase women/patients to their cars under the guise of “loving thy neighbor”. Is it possible to love or care for your fellow man through fear, intimidation, anger, harassment, and lies? I’m not sure what scripture dictates, but I don’t think so. It sounds more like control, manipulation, and oppression to me.

By the time the clinic closed, there was just Brian, the other woman that wasn’t Brian’s wife and me outside the clinic. Brian had spoken of plans to the other woman to stay until 4:45pm—it’s typical of him to stay past closing time to try and catch any women trying to go to the clinic that haven’t realized the clinic is closed (that’s how I met him). I’m sure the clinic staff was aware of this as I didn’t see them exit out the front of the building. I assume they parked in the back. I can’t blame them for wanting to avoid a confrontation with the circus, especially when the zealots running it were probably feeling proud and cocky about it being the clinic’s last day of operation. So I stayed put until everyone had left.

Despite my hopes that I never have to see any of these people again, I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll see and hear from these “pro-life advocates”. Faust has been writing antiabortion opinion pieces long before Essential Health Clinic took over the Western Dairy Land Women’s Health Center. There’s the annual Life Chain that they hold on the bridge every October. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if they continued to leave antiabortion propaganda at the library or even picket outside the clinic until the clinic signage is taken down in order to catch any women that aren’t aware the clinic is closed.

And so the accidental activist plagued with anxiety still has work to do.

If you wish to contribute to the Essential Health Clinic fundraiser, go HERE.