Crude Photographs and Thin Skinned Fanatics

“Your ridicule is just typical antics. Spineless, mindless, tragic, fanatics.”—Otep

Wednesday turned out to be quite interesting when it came to the local newspaper.

To the surprise of no one, there was a scathing pro-life letter in regards to our presence at the Life Chain this past Sunday. Although, I did find it shocking that it wasn’t written by local pro-life leader, Pastor Samuel Faust. What was surprising was that the letter was accompanied by a photo of me and two of my pro-choice comrades holding the sign we dubbed the “Picket Rick”. I already knew public photography laws and how a newspaper can use photos, but I had never seen one in the opinion section of the paper so it caught me off guard.

22237018_10154972471215840_1851432974_n
The writer included all the English signs EXCEPT for “Abortion Kills Children”. Guess he didn’t want the readers to think the “protectors of life” had a sign that might be considered as “crude and offensive”. 

At first, it bothered me. I thought of how more extreme pro-lifers have put up pictures of pro-choice advocates or clinic workers with a frame to make it look like a WANTED poster. I used to think the only kind of pro-life activist that resorted to such tactics were the extreme ones that shout through mega speakers and write down license plates of patients. Those lines have been blurred and even silent sign holders are resorting to more of the despicable kinds of tactics.

Now I kind of find the whole letter and our picture being plastered in the paper to be hilarious. There were fifty-three individuals on their side. We had five on ours. They had almost 11 times as many people as we did. We were clearly outnumbered. With only a handful of us, we logically shouldn’t have had any effect  on them. Oh, but we did have an effect on them despite our small numbers judging by this letter.  I mean…why write such a letter about our horrible picket sign language against those who pretend that they care about life and include a picture of the offenders? I’d wager that it was meant to somehow shame those that stood up in the hopes that they’ll back down and give up. Are these pro-lifers so weak and thin skinned that a small gathering of fed-up people collected on a whim is enough to make them feel like they’re the ones that have been victimized? To quote an Otep song (“Feeding Frenzy”): “If there’s strength in numbers, why are you so weak?”

The Life Chain was nothing more than a larger version of the demonstration held outside the local women’s healthcare clinic every other week. Being that this special demonstration was on the bridge in order to obtain more visibility, the public didn’t witness what such a demonstration is like when it’s paraded a few feet away from the door of the clinic. There weren’t any female patients to intimidate or harass. There weren’t any women “of a sexually active age” they felt needed to hear the gospel and anti-abortion misinformation so badly that they’ll chase those women down the block, including a young woman on crutches who yelled back she was only received birth control from the clinic to regulate her menstrual cycle. They didn’t have anybody to ask “Are you Christian?” and then belittle and pick apart that person’s personal beliefs if they were even the slightest out of line with their own. They weren’t able to distribute a wealth of misinformation and lies to those that aren’t informed. That’s being a bully. Our sign was indeed crude, but what these pro-life protesters do is downright cruel.

Our crude Picket Rick had the precise effect on the protesters we were hoping for. I hope they felt intimidated and made uncomfortable by our presence. I hope they felt disgusted by our words. I hope they felt we were being invasive and intrusive despite that we were just standing there not personally bothering anyone. Because when the demonstration moves from the bridge and back to the front of the clinic, that’s how they’ll make women feel. The letter indicates they got a good dose of their own medicine, even if they’re so caught up in the belief that what they’re doing is righteous and pure that they don’t realize this is the effect they have.

Just as women that utilize Planned Parenthood or similar women’s clinics have had to accept that there will always be pro-life protesters flaunting their anti-abortion signs outside their healthcare provider, the local Life Chain participants will have to deal with people that are fed up with their bullying agenda showing up at their vigil.

I realize I could have used more “appropriate” language to demonstrate the frustration I feel towards this “pro-life” agenda. Except…I already did through my opinion letters.

In my first letter I wrote:

“Women shouldn’t have to call the clinic feeling uneasy about going to her appointment because of the protesters outside. Women shouldn’t have to feel that there are judgmental eyes on her when she walks in and out of the clinic. Women shouldn’t have to be anxious that she will be approached and be made to feel awful about themselves, guilty, or embarrassed. It may not be the intent, but that’s the effect they’re having.”

A 12-year old pro-life protester had written to the paper and I wrote that although I found her desire to help people to be genuine, I thought that she should make better use of her efforts and reach out to organizations that directly help those in need to volunteer instead of unhelpful sidewalk crusading. In response to a letter reprimanding me for essentially daring to make such a suggestion, I wrote the following:

“A recent discussion with clinic staff revealed there are women who explain that the presence of the protester made them feel intimidated, and they come in when the protesters aren’t there. I have yet to have a discussion with anyone, including mothers and those who identify as pro-life, that didn’t feel negatively after witnessing their demonstration or speaking with them.

I don’t know how anyone believes the protesters are not judgmental or interfering with anyone’s lives when they’ll ram religion and their view on abortion and reproductive rights down your throat if given the opportunity. It’s these things that have led me and others to the conclusion that these people are not of help to women, but a hindrance to women, specifically those seeking help with family planning and reproductive health.”

Frankly, after several opinion editorials and discussion with pro-lifers that continue to harass and intimidate women while fawning over themselves through rose-colored glasses, I’m exhausted of more appropriate language. I’m exhausted attempting to argue with those that talk around in circles and throw stones. Therefore, I don’t intend on writing any more opinion editorials for the paper on this subject. I’m not even going to write a letter defending my actions or Picket Rick as we’re well past the point of polite diplomacy.  I don’t mean I have given up on standing up to this deceptive nuisance movement that calls itself “pro-life”. I’ll most certainly be counter protesting the Life Chain every year from now on (unless they give up on harassing women) and I’ll learn to fight through my anxiety in order to stand up to them when they chase women down the sidewalk. What it will mean is that I’ll be more focused on helping people in need and working with those that want all women to have access to healthcare without being harassed by these fanatical false-Christian bullies.

Advertisements

The Irritating Sand at the Life Chain

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!”

22290329_10154972360185840_1191269435_n
“I turned myself into a counter-protest, Morty. I’m PICKET RICK!” 

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.

Wooden crosses and abortion statistics

Fall is officially here. The leaves are changing color, the weather is cooling down, football season started, there’s pumpkin spice flavored everything, and…..pro-life activists are gearing up for anti-abortion events???

Our county’s chapter for the Wisconsin Right to Life kicked off the season by erecting a couple thousand wooden crosses to signify the average number of abortions performed daily.  Normally the yearly display is on the Catholic Church lawn, but this year they’ve chosen the empty lot next to my work place. So five days a week I’ll, unfortunately, have to see it and be reminded that soon pro-life groups will soon be holding the 40 Days for Life and the Life Chain. …As if the life crusaders across the country didn’t already have a platform to harass people and subject them to their anti-abortion agenda through protesting and sidewalk counseling outside of abortion providers and women’s healthcare centers…

21231600_2086638618028432_4437761125862084449_n
Jackson County Right to Life volunteers setting up their yearly display of a couple thousand white crosses to represent the number of abortions performed every day in the United States.

There is one thing I did notice about the display: the number of crosses.

The Jackson County Right to Life, which regular clinic protester Sam Faust is the chairman for, posted that they needed help setting up 3,000 crosses to “represent the 3,000 little ones that lose their lives to abortion each day in our country”. The main group, Wisconsin Right to Life, states on its “Fast Facts” that 3,300 abortions are performed every day while it’s “Abortion Statistics” section states 2,900 abortions are performed every day. One of the clinic protesters, who also participated in setting up these crosses, consistently berates on Facebook that “OVER 3,500 of God’s precious children are being SLAUGHTERED each day!”

However, the sign next to this pro-life display states that there are 2,500 crosses while another sign explains “This many babies are killed by abortion every day in the USA.”

Wow, I thought the pro-life movement gave a lot of conflicting information, but this is ridiculous! It’s fairly common for advocates to give out anti-abortion information that has been discredited or debated, but apparently they can’t even agree on what numbers to use and just give all of them!

What gives? Each number is an average based on a different source.

The vocal protester gets his number of “over 3,500” by taking the 58,000,000+ abortions many pro-life groups claim have been performed since Roe V Wade.

Wisconsin Right to Life likely bases their number of 3,300 daily abortions from 1,200,000, the number many pro-life groups and advocates commonly state as being the number of abortions performed yearly. The other number of 2,900 daily abortions matches the Guttmacher Institute reporting that 1,060,000 abortions were performed in 2011.

The Jackson County Right to Life possibly bases its original number of 3,000 abortions per day on WRTL claiming on its Abortion Statistics page that 1,100,000 abortions are performed every year.

What’s interesting is that this year’s display of 2,500 crosses shows is correct according to the latest facts. (Points for a pro-life group actually being accurate on something for once!) Guttmacher reported that in 2014, the most recent year it has a report, that 926,200 abortions were performed, which would make the daily average 2,537.

But with all the different numbers being thrown around, it took some research to determine what was actually right and where they possibly got their sources from. It goes to show that the pro-life movement isn’t all that accurate when it comes to facts.

 

Bible Donations

Lately, I haven’t been standing up to the tyrants outside my women’s clinic. Not directly, anyways.

Debating with protesters did distract them from doing their missionary work of harassing women, but it was exhausting debating with self-righteous, arrogant fools that act superior because of some belief that they are right with God. At one point, pro-life letters were pouring into the opinion section of the paper following my response to the “Beyonce letter”. While I felt the urge to write again, I stopped myself. I don’t have to fight every battle.

To quote Hatsumomo from the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, “Sometimes the smartest remark is silence.”

Thus, for the moment, I quietly observe the protest on a bi-weekly basis and quietly enter my credit card information onto the Planned Parenthood website to make a one-time donation in honor of Pastor Faust so that a thank you card will be sent to his church. After what happened yesterday, I’m almost convinced my Planned Parenthood donations are getting on his nerves.

My husband called me to let me know a piece of mail from Gideons International came in. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but that’s the organization responsible for putting Bibles in hotel rooms. It turned out to be a thank you card saying someone had donated four Bibles in my honor.

There was only one person that would donate Bibles in my honor: Faust.

I can only assume he donated about $20 worth of Bibles thinking it would upset me because I’m an atheist and he probably assumes I have a problem with Christianity. Frankly, I’m amused, if anything. Why would I be upset about religious literature that teaches to serve the poor and needy and to love others? It’s not so much the teachings I have a problem with, but rather the way people have warped and ignored them to justify hate and discrimination. If Faust truly donated Bibles just to get back at me for the Planned Parenthood donations, then he wasted his money.

Girl Scouts Targeted by the Pro-Life Movement

As stated in a previous blog post or two, one of our local pro-life protesters (dubbed the “Dicktator”) has a Facebook page that he uses to spout aggressive gospel and pro-life messages. His posts about protesting at my clinic intrigue me, but so do his other posts. It’s especially entertaining when someone has the balls to question his posts and if he’s truly in the faith instead of blindly agreeing with him and automatically typing in an “Amen!” in the comment section.

I probably shouldn’t look, but can’t help myself much like a moth to a flame or Otep Shamaya to the YouTube comment section of her music video for “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts”.

Most of his posts are repeating the same nonsense about inaccurate abortion statistics and criticisms about “lukewarm Christians” (despite probably being one himself). But every once in a while he’ll post something so off the wall that I have to wonder if he’s smoking meth.

The latest bat shit crazy post: Girl Scouts have ties to Planned Parenthood.

It reads:

The Girl Scouts have declined a whopping 30% since 2003 because of their ties to Planned Parenthood. This is because many Christian families are removing their children from the Girls Scouts because of the conflict in interest in being children of God and associated with the biggest mass executioner of innocent children (http://www.conservativenews.com/…/christians-ditch-girl-sco…).

Not only has the Girl Scouts allowed Planned Parenthood to have an influence on our young daughters and grand-daughters, they also have included programs to teach them sexually (https://concernedwomen.org/girls-scouts-under-fire-for-pla…/).

Thankfully, there is a Christian alternative for parents who are GENUINELY Christian and would like to protect their children from these predators- the American Heritage Girls! Please let me know if you would like a local contact information or look up the American Heritage Girls (https://www.americanheritagegirls.org/) for more information.

Please remember that our most important job as parents is to protect our children. With 70% of children being born into the Christian faith falling completely away from it by the time they graduate from high school (90% by the time they graduate from college!), it is a travesty. Don’t think that YOUR FAMILY is the exception!

We have a VERY SHORT period of influence to teach our children and we will be accountable to it to God. Please do not waste the time you have serving yourself.

GirlScout
Screenshot of Facebook post for reference. 

My immediate thought was, “What in the actual fuck? They’re targeting Girl Scouts now?!” because Girl Scouts being somehow tied Planned Parenthood seemed ridiculous. Though, to be honest, I personally  wouldn’t mind if I found out the insane amount of money I spend on Caramel DeLites every spring did go towards women healthcare. If I learned anything over the past year, its not to trust information that pro-life activists like the Dicktator presents. Usually their information is inaccurate or there’s more to the story that they’re not telling. A connection between Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood is no exception.

The first article he posted, “Christians Ditch Girl Scout’s Over Planned Parenthood Ties”, is where he got the numbers about the 30% drop in Girl Scout membership, which was based on a report done by The Associated Press. The article does acknowledge that the report doesn’t state how much of this decline is due to the perceived tie to Planned Parenthood, but makes every effort to try and convince such a tie is the sole reason for the decline in membership. The vast majority of the embedded links are from LifeNews, a pro-life news website. I don’t generally trust pro-life news websites because of the deceptive nature of the pro-life movement. My high school English classes have taught me its not wise to have all your references from one source. As an example for this case, it would be like writing an article on Japan and using “Memoirs of a Geisha” as reference.

How did Girl Scouts become associated with Planned Parenthood in the first place?

In 2004, a pro-life group in Texas launched a boycott against Girl Scout cookies when it was discovered that Waco Blue Bonnet Council of Girl Scouts had sponsored Nobody’s Fool for years. Hosted by Planned Parenthood, Nobody’s Fool was an annual one-day workshop aimed at teaching preteens and teenagers in grades 5 through 9 about sex education. More fuel was added to the fire in 2010 after the Girl Scouts attended the 54th Commission on the Status of Women and held a Girl Scout Only workshop about the global issues affecting girls. As the Dicktator’s second article link details, Sharon Slater of Family Watch International claims that the Girl Scouts distributed a International Planned Parenthood Federation brochure on HIV sex, health, and reproductive rights at their panel, which she was not present for. The Girl Scouts have denied they distributed such a pamphlet and there been no evidence that they actually did.

The Girl Scouts stance on sexuality, birth control, and abortion is “Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) does not take a position or develop materials on these issues. We feel our role is to help girls develop self-confidence and good decision-making skills that will help them make wise choices in all areas of their lives.” They also state they have no partnership or relationship with Planned Parenthood while Planned Parenthood has stated they don’t have any official relationship with the Girl Scouts.

Local chapters are allowed to partner with local organizations of their choice as was the case with the Waco Blue Bonnet Council of Girl Scouts. Still, even if an individual troop was indeed able to send cookie profits to a local Planned Parenthood, such a donation wouldn’t be used to fund abortions. Women have to pay out of their own pocket in order to receive abortion services. Instead, the money would go towards expenses and services in order to continue providing reproductive healthcare services—birth control, screenings, treatments, etc.—to low income women for free or cheaply. Then again, it wouldn’t be surprising if pro-life groups found fault with providing funds for birth control and reproductive healthcare due to some bullshit belief that such things promote promiscuity.

Despite the inflammatory and inaccurate statements pro-life advocates make about Girl Scouts being associated with Planned Parenthood, it’s unlikely it’s one of the main reasons for the decline in membership. Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts, believed that the decline was attributed to more parents and families—including single parents—being financially unstable and having little time to be able to be involved with extracurricular activities. Another problem the organization faces is a lack of volunteers. In some regions, interested girls who wanted to join have been turned away or put on waiting lists due to a lack of volunteers. The organization faced difficulties in 2013 that included a deficit-strapped pension plan, rifts over the direction of Girl Scouts programming, and revenue shortfalls that lead to about a quarter of the staff being trimmed.

The only real truth in all of this is that pro-life groups lost their collective shit over a single Girl Scout troop sponsoring a sex education workshop hosted by Planned Parenthood. Its not surprising as these groups try to demonize anything associated with Planned Parenthood or similar clinics. The Girl Scouts being tied to Planned Parenthood is nothing more than pro-life propaganda spread by those that are so ignorant and gullible they’ll believe anything the pro-life movement puts out.

Terrified and bothered

I’m currently sitting at the library across the street from my clinic. Normally I do so to observe protesters, but today I’m just killing time until my annual appointment. This year this appointment includes a pap smear.

I am terrified.

Pap smears are generally uncomfortable and invasive for me as it is. The terrifying aspect comes from one particular pap smear from 2011. It was not only discovered that I have HPV, but my results came back abnormal and had to get biopsies taken. It was so painful that I had a panic attack after the doctor finished snipping tiny pieces from inside me.  Thankfully, they didn’t detect cancer, but have been terrified of pap smears ever since between that experience plus my mother having a medical history with pre-cancerous cervical polyps.

Pap smears suck. Abnormal test results suck. Biopsies suck. Cancer scares suck.

The other thing that sucks is knowing I’ll have to walk past at least one terribly ignorant anti-abortion protester that has no business being there. When I came into the library, there was one lone middle aged woman—a rare sight in a protest typically made up of older men—sitting on the sidewalk holding one anti-abortion sign while having another leaned up against the wall next to her.

Maybe some would be quick to say “Ignore them”, “Don’t let them bother you”, etc. But it DOES bother me!

My appointment with my trusted healthcare provider doesn’t feel private anymore with the eyes of ignorant protesters watching me. Do they judge me? Do they wonder if the strained and worried look on my face is because I have an unplanned pregnancy I want to abort rather than being terrified of another cancer scare? The Pastor made such an assumption with a mother and daughter he observed about a year ago. I might pick up some birth control before I leave. The protesters know what the paper bags are for. Do they look at my paper bag of birth control and assume that I’m some whore that sleeps around because I use the pill to ward off a pregnancy I don’t want?

Yet, for the most part, I don’t care what these people think about me. But it isn’t just me experiencing this. Other women, who may be feeling as vulnerable as I am right now for whatever reason, have to go through this when they shouldn’t. Women deserve better than being confronted outside their healthcare provider and possibly be intimidated by opinionated zealots that are part of a deceptive movement that think it is their God given right telling women what is best for them!

God and the Pro-Life Movement

One of the local pro-life protesters—nicknamed the Dicktator—has a public Facebook page that he only uses to preach gospel and speak out against abortion, usually the two being one and the same. He almost always posts on when they’ll be demonstrating down at the local women’s clinic, which they always do every other Wednesday when the clinic is open. “Today, we will be at the women’s clinic pleading for women to not murder their own child and to share the Gospel with those who do not know God.” (Despite the fact the clinic doesn’t offer abortion services or referrals.)

Sometimes he posts about his experience involving the anti-abortion demonstration. These posts pique my interest on days when I had been across the street at the library as, at times, he claimed to have positive reactions all day while I had observed frustrated female patients, unhappy faces, and the occasional shouting match or driver giving a one-fingered salute.

What interests me even more is how he starts almost every one of these posts: “God was again glorified today!”

Well, it’s certainly not unusual for Christian pro-lifers to believe that their God is being glorified through their efforts to “save lives”. After all, the Bible instructs Christians to “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.” (Proverbs 24:11) and pro-life advocates believe embryos are people.

Still, I wonder if their God is truly being glorified by the actions of the pro-life movement. This curiosity was stemmed by a statement listed on the protesters’ anti-abortion cards: “The Bible says that murderers will not inherit the Kingdom of God. It also says that liars, thieves, drunkards, sexually immoral, and those who take God’s name in vain won’t inherit the Kingdom of God.” When you consider the protesters’ involvement in the pro-life movement, it’s easy to see that they themselves actually fit into one of these categories.

The reason we have protesters outside my women’s clinic, despite not performing abortions, is due to the wide spread belief among local pro-lifers that the hospital the clinic is affiliated with performs elective abortions under the radar. Supposedly, an employee at Gundersen found a policy that stated they do elective abortions and decided to go forward with it. However, this employee did not show a physical copy of this “abortion policy”. In fact, none of the protesters have seen the policy this employee spoke of. Yet they spread around the belief that the hospital performs elective abortions in secret as if it were factual. This has caused both the protesters and their supporters to spread lies about the clinic: that they do abortion referrals, that they send women wanting abortions to Gundersen, they have to include abortion information in their all-options pregnancy counseling because the clinic makes money when Gundersen performs an abortion, they’re funded by Planned Parenthood, etc. Meanwhile, the only indication of an “abortion policy” is found in their online handbook, which states, “Abortions when necessary to protect the health or life of the patient or when the pregnancy was the result of sexual assault or incest.” I’ve attempted to correct the group leader on this and they’re still spreading the lie that women can simply waltz into Gundersen as she pleases to get an abortion. They seriously believe doctors give out medically necessary abortion on demand without a real medical reason and they can be performed right up to the day you’re supposed to give birth!

Like many pro-life protesters, this group has anti-abortion reading materials that they try to hand out to as many women as possible. Their cards contain false information and misleading resources. One of the resources was so deceptive that I initially believed it was a pro-choice website that was connected with pro-choice or neutral health care centers like my women’s clinic. Later, I found it was purposely set up this way to lead women to crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), the ultimate weapon of the pro-life movement. Not surprisingly, the protesters have cards for a nearby crisis pregnancy center that they hand out and leave at the library across the street.

The protester leading this group is the chairperson for the Jackson County chapter for the Wisconsin Right to Life. In October 2016, he invited me to a Christian seminar they had for teenagers to teach them about sex. Not only did it not contain any comprehensive sex education, the speaker and the pamphlets provided had stated some falsehoods about abortion and birth control.

If you ask me, there is an awful amount of lying, spreading of falsehoods, and supporting of those that deceive just within this tiny group of Christian protesters. Remember what their cards said about liars? Liars are one of the groups of people that won’t inherit the Kingdom of God. This is in reference to the Bible’s Book of Revelations, which states the groups of people mentioned on the card are doomed to the fiery lake of burning sulfur in Hell. The irony in all this being that the cards themselves contain outright lies and deceptive resources. Even more ironic is that they’re being handed out by Christians that believe they are saved because they’re standing up for the unborn, but don’t realize that their salvation is probably in jeopardy for spreading lies and supporting pro-life groups and crisis pregnancy centers that are deceitful. Christian teachings explain that God has a great hatred for liars and deceivers.

Proverbs, the same book that tells Christians to stop those being led to death, contains several verses concerning lying and deception: “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful” (12:22), “The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace” (13:5), and “A truthful witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies” (14:5). It also explains one of the six things the Lord hates is “a lying tongue”. Other verses about lying include “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another. (Leviticus 19:11)”, “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:16)”, and “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness. (Exodus 23:1).

The New Testament tells the story of Ananias and how he and his wife met their demise because they chose to lie to the apostles. Ananias sold a plot of land with the intention of giving all the proceeds to the apostles, but he secretly kept a portion of it for himself with his wife’s full knowledge. When he presented the remainder of the money to the apostles, Peter saw through his deception on how much the land had really sold for. Ananias died on the spot after Peter declared he had not lied to the apostles, but to God. The same fate met his wife hours later when Peter questioned her about how much the land sold for and she lied.

There are a couple examples of lying that could be taken as exceptions to the rules. The Hebrew midwives lied to the Pharaoh of why they weren’t killing the male babies as ordered and Rahab lied about harboring Israelite spies. God approved of the midwives saving the children and Rahab welcoming the Israelite spies, but it’s not explicitly stated that God actually approved of them lying about it. The act of lying committed by the midwives and Rahab were also one-time thing done in an extreme situation unlike the protesters that continue to lie on an average Wednesday even when corrected on their “facts”. To me, lying to truly wicked men is a lot different than lying to potentially vulnerable female patients seeking help at a place that doesn’t even offer the abortions they’re fighting against. Regardless, these two instances are stacked against an overwhelming amount of Biblical evidence that God despises lying and deceivers while valuing honesty and integrity.

Honestly, I think the zealots outside my clinic are going straight to Hell. Yet these actions aren’t isolated to a tiny group of ignorant protesters demonstrating a small town family planning clinic. They’re actively participating in a movement that is built upon lies, deception, and denying the truth in order to further their goals. Not to say that my own side of the fight hasn’t spread its own falsehoods, but pro-life claims to be “pro-truth”—and even that is a lie.

The ultimate weapons of the pro-life movement are the crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life ministries designed to counsel women out of getting an abortion. How they accomplish this is dishonest.  At first glance, they appear to be women’s clinics or even abortion providers as their advertisements and official websites have been stripped of any religious affiliation and replaced with pro-choice rhetoric. Many are set up near abortion providers or family planning centers and use similar names or outer décor in hopes that women wander into the wrong place by accident. CPC’s have been largely criticized for not only being deceptive, but also providing inaccurate or unreliable information and greatly exaggerating the effects of abortion. By using dishonest tactics to exploit vulnerable women facing an unplanned pregnancy, the people involved with crisis pregnancy centers seem to have become the kind of person their God despises.

As I researched several pro-life groups, I found similar narratives across their mission statements. They believe human life is sacred and valuable and that it’s their duty to save, protect, and defend life. You would think with so much of the pro-life movement being steeped in Christian beliefs that pro-life activists would be emulating the charitable behavior of Jesus in order to help those in need. Being a prophet and the Son of God, he did a lot of educating about the word of the Lord, but an equally large portion of his work was his acts of charity. He didn’t come across the needy and think that their troubles could be solved by preaching gospel. He fixed issues head on by feeding the hungry, healing the sick, etc. He commanded followers of Christ to do the same. Surprisingly, you don’t see this in the grand scheme of the pro-life movement.

Instead, most of their work goes into educating (which is laced with untruths), just as Jesus educated the people about the Lord. None of their major efforts includes ensuring that the children they save from being aborted are taken care of and have a stable future. They’re quick to disagree with abortion and tell others that adoption is the better choice, but rarely do you see them rallying for assistance to give needy parents the means to provide for their children. There aren’t missions to provide food, clothes, shelter, healthcare, or education to the babies they save or to anyone in need of those things. The extent of such charitable works can be found within the lying, deceptive crisis pregnancy centers as many do offer a minimal amount of baby items to mothers, but women more than likely have to run the gauntlet through an “Earn While You Learn” program in order to obtain “Mommy money” to “buy” items stocked at the CPC. I will admit that maybe it’s just me, but I don’t seem to recall instances where Jesus instructed people to help others only if they met certain requirements.

If you need proof that pro-life groups only educate while doing nothing to serve the needs of the people they want to help, take a look at the Wisconsin Right to Life. They list all of their pro-life accomplishments on their website. They give exact numbers on things like how many educational/fundraising events they held, how many grants were awarded so college students could start or continue pro-life groups on campus, how many teenagers and college students were trained at pro-life summer leadership camps, how many media interviews and press conferences were conducted, how many emails and action alerts were sent out, how many unique visitors visited their website, how many right-to-life laws they had involvement with getting passed, etc. But how many emergency grants did they provide to pregnant women in need of immediate financial assistance the previous year? “Several”. (By definition, several means more than two, but not very many.) I’m far more interested in practical help like this emergency grant than their anti-abortion propaganda, but there’s only a vague indication on how many they’ve given out (“dozens” over the years and “several” last year) and there’s only a sentence worth of information on it buried within a mountain of anti-abortion education with falsehoods and specific accomplishments.

This seems odd to me. We’re talking about a movement dedicated to “saving lives” under the belief that fertilized eggs are people. Yet they practically have zero efforts in those who are already born. It’s not as if they lack the means to do these things. While I was unable to determine how much pro-life groups and the crisis pregnancy centers rake in through donations as a whole, we can recognize the fruits of their labors through billboards, advertising, professionally printed protest signs, anti-abortion propaganda reading materials, lobby for anti-abortion laws and lobbying against “anti-life” laws, etc. According to Pro-Life Across America, their anti-abortion billboards average monthly costs are $500-$3000 (not including artwork and production costs). In 2010 and 2011, they had 6,500 billboards. By their monthly estimates, it would have cost at least 39 MILLION DOLLARS to keep the billboards up for a full year. The CPC supported by the local protesters, APPLE Pregnancy Care Center, raised $20,380 last year with its annual Walk for Life event. With the average costs of a baby in the first year averaging nearly $10,000, that sort of money could have “sponsored” two babies for an entire year and still have a little bit left over.

With many pro-life groups stating that much of their donations go into their work instead of administration costs, there’s really no excuse as to why these pro-life groups cannot put at least some of the donations they receive towards helping people obtain basic necessities to live, especially with goals to “save lives”. Jesus and his disciples were able to feed a group with 5,000 men (not including women and children), a task initially seen as impossible as they only had five loaves of bread and two fish yet managed to pull it off despite what little they had (Matthew 14:13-21). Imagine what these pro-life groups could do if they stopped investing so much in scare tactics and abortion lies and started working towards helping people in need.

These groups and activists are so focused on attempting to “save” the unborn from “slaughter” through sinful deception and lies that they are ignoring an even greater number of people in need of help. According to their interpretation of what a person is, how many lives are lost to abortion yearly? 3,000 lives a day so this would roughly figure to at least 1,095,000 lives lost to abortion every year. Guttmacher estimates that about 926,000 abortions were performed in 2014.

What about other at-risk children?

How many children live in poverty? 14.5 million.

How many children live in food insecure households? 13.1 million.

How many children are homeless? 2.5 million (in 2014). 

As you can see, these numbers are much greater than any abortion statistic regardless of who put them. The pro-life movement considers the unborn at every stage as much of a person as these children who need help. Issues like poverty, hunger, and homelessness are also some reasons why women get abortions. A woman that feels she needs to get an abortion because she’s not in the best situation might be less likely to terminate her pregnancy if there was help to be able to take care of herself and her child after birth. So why isn’t the pro-life movement, which claims to want to save lives, not doing anything to help these people (which are supposedly equal to the unborn)? It’s hard to ignore the needy that are hungry as hunger statistics are routinely plastered in newspapers, television ads, and even packages of food. “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered (Proverbs 21:23)”. “If anyone has materials possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3: 17)”.

The overall narrative of the pro-life movement argues that every life is valuable and deserves to be protected and defended, but despite this many still pick and choose what lives are valuable and deserving of such protection. I’m not convinced that the pro-life movement is truly about valuing life and protecting the vulnerable when a lot of those same people that are part of and support the movement are quick to discriminate, judge, mock, and exclude certain groups of people and justify it with Christianity. When certain groups consistently face discrimination, bullying, and exclusion doesn’t that make them vulnerable and in need of protection? Where are the pamphlets saying it’s wrong to look down on someone just because they don’t follow your religion or their skin is not white? Where are the protests in support of gays and women being treated equally and fairly? How about billboards with statistics on suicide rates among trans-gender people, the number of children in the foster system and the number of children who age out of the system having no life skills to make it in the world, or how many women die at the hands of their abusers and that these people are in need of our help?

They even place value on the women and children they claim they want to help. Any woman instantly becomes worthless if she goes through with an abortion and she’s branded as a murderer as she exits her appointment. She’s only considered of value again if she ends up being a part of the 5% of women that regrets her abortion because pro-life advocates need examples of remorseful women to sell the myth that abortion traumatizes the majority of women. If her abortion was medically necessary to protect her own health or life, she’s judged for not seeking second opinions until she got a more “pro-life” answer. If a conservative pro-life protester convinces a woman not to abort she becomes more valuable because she “chose life” and the child is a “blessing”, but if her child grows up to be gay, transgender, Muslim, atheist, a pro-choice activist, or anything that your average pro-life Christian disagrees with then that same protester might say the parents failed this child that is now immoral and worthless.

When I pointed this lack of help towards other vulnerable groups, the responses were quick to defend the unborn while ignoring needs of others who clearly are in need of help. One letter suggested if such things are so important to me then why don’t I put up billboards while downplaying the statistics I listed about those in need by claiming the government inflates numbers. How ironic that a pro-life person, who deeply cares about the unborn, would attempt to push the responsibility of caring for others onto someone else. Another letter tried to convince that there will always be issues like hunger and homelessness and that there’s nothing anybody can do to fix it. Remember the story of Jesus and his apostles feeding 5,000? That was deemed as impossible and yet they still accomplished it. Jesus teaches to help the needy and I believe this story teaches to do just that even when the odds are stacked against you. Pro-life Christians do just that when they stand outside abortion providers and women’s health clinics. I think picketing pro-lifers realize that most women won’t listen to them, but they still go out anyways because even if they only convince one woman not to abort its considered a life saved. They’ll put in the effort and tout the word of the Lord when it comes to the unborn, but suddenly forget the teachings of Jesus when confronted with the idea that they’re not doing enough to help those in need and make excuses for why they can’t or don’t help. Are people that have already been born somehow less of a person than their embryonic counterparts or are Christians silently admitting that they don’t want to serve the poor and needy like their Christ instructs them to? How can anyone be passionate about saving unborn lives, but be indifferent towards the suffering of post-born lives?

Over all, the movement gives the impression that not every life is as inherently valuable as they claim and some restrictions may apply when it comes to the right to life. A bit hypocritical, don’t you think?

Matthew 23 talks about hypocrisy in leaders. From what I understand, it refers to a group of highly regarded preachers that were known as the Pharisees. While they appeared righteous, Jesus pointed out that they were hypocritical, indifferent, and had too much pride and thus did not know the Lord. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like white washed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to the people as righteous, but on the inside are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)

On the surface, the pro-life movement appears to be righteous and good through its claims of valuing all lives and putting efforts to saving lives, but its inner workings is full of lies and deception and the only people they’re trying to save are the unborn. They speak of their cause being honorable and moral, but what they actually do to achieve their goals is despicable.

Jesus also warned his disciples about bogus ministers who would present themselves as Christians that would exploit people for their own purposes. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) Of course, Jesus was likely speaking about religious leaders within the faith and not leaders of the pro-life movement. However, there are church leaders that actively participate in the pro-life movement. In fact, the person leading the demonstration outside the women’s clinic in town is a pastor himself. He should be examining what the pro-life groups he’s associated with does to determine if it truly aligns with the Christian faith and, ultimately, convince others not to contribute to a cause that continues to be incredibly dishonest. I’m not saying he should change his view on abortion, but rather consider the actions these pro-life groups are doing in response to abortion. As a Christian leader, he should know better as he’s studied the scripture probably more than your average Christian. He knows he shouldn’t lie or deceive. He knows he shouldn’t follow the crowd in wrong doing (Exodus 23:2). He knows anyone that says “I know God” yet doesn’t keep his commands is a liar and does not know God (1 John 2:4). He knows that every Christian, including himself, should examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5).  Instead, he participates in the sinful dishonesty while doing nothing that would actually benefit the women he claims to want to help and encourages others to join him while claiming this is God’s will. He’s not any better than the pious Pharisees: righteous on the surface, but corrupt within.

The more I study the scripture, the more I believe the pro-life movement is not glorifying God. If the scripture has taught me anything it’s that Christians cannot glorify their God through sin because whoever commits sin is of the devil. While there is no such thing as a sinless Christian, the good ones don’t make a habit of sinning and are remorseful when they do. However, the pro-life movement either believes their lies and deception is for a greater good or they truly believe the lies they spread. One way or another, they don’t believe they are doing any wrong doing and, therefore, won’t ask for forgiveness for the sins they are committing. Remember that Revelations stated all liars will have their place in the fiery pit. Not just those with ill intent or makes exceptions for those that habitually lie for a good cause. Just through their lies alone, they’re not obeying the Lord. They disobey even further by remembering Christ’s teachings of helping others when its convenient for them and make excuses as to why they cannot help when faced with issues of human suffering they don’t want to tackle.

Pro-life advocates might be in for a surprise when they find themselves in Hell with the women they screamed at outside abortion providers (assuming that God finds abortion to be equal to murdering a person outside the womb). It seems the pro-life movement is not only anti-abortion and anti-woman, but also anti-Christ.