Questioning the 13,000+ alternatives to Planned Parenthood claim.

A supporter of mine occasionally comments on pro-life pages and sometimes those posts pop up on my Facebook feed. One such post was a Wisconsin Right to Life post about Tammy Baldwin obstructing pro-life supreme court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The comment section riddled with insults towards Tammy Baldwin like “POS”, “loser”, and “carpet licking skank” is enough to continue wondering if there is a cut-off point on the pro-life value on human life.

Anyways, the post itself eventually led me to realize there is a Facebook page for the Jackson County chapter of the Wisconsin Right to Life. On the Facebook page, I saw this picture explaining there are 7 healthcare clinics in Wisconsin for every Planned Parenthood, which is also on the WRTL’s official website. Supposedly, there are 162 health care clinics in Wisconsin (not including private healthcare providers) so they argue we don’t need Planned Parenthood. Their website claims there are 13,540 comprehensive healthcare clinics nationwide, outnumbering Planned Parenthood 20 to 1. Live Action News states that if funding to Planned Parenthood were eliminated, the money could go towards these healthcare providers.

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162 healthcare providers compared to Planned Parenthood’s 22.

Knowing how pro-life groups use misleading and deceptive tactics, I checked their resources.

The data used for the map graphic focuses on federally qualified healthcare providers that accept Medicare and Medicaid. The problem with this is not all women—even some low income women—qualify for these types of federally or state funded insurance programs.

What would have been more helpful to low income women if somehow the map answered the following questions:

*Do these healthcare providers offer services on a sliding scale or free for women who qualify?

*Will these healthcare providers take in low income women regardless of their ability to pay?

*In the 27 states that offer such a program, do these healthcare providers process Family Planning Waivers so women that are low income yet still make too much to receive government assistance would still be able to have reproductive care and birth control?

For argument’s sake, let’s say we do cut funding to Planned Parenthood and re-direct those funds to these comprehensive healthcare providers. How would it be guaranteed that the healthcare providers would put general healthcare funding like Medicaid towards reproductive healthcare services and birth control?

It’s been pointed out that the data shows ALL federally funded healthcare providers and includes providers that absolutely do not to reproductive healthcare. For example, there is a dot on the map in the area where my town would be. The second website yielded the health care provider that dot is matched to: a dentist. Unless they offer pap smears with their root canals, this is unhelpful as an alternative to Planned Parenthood. Places like dentists, hearing specialists, podiatrists, or dermatologists are certainly NOT alternatives to Planned Parenthood or other women’s reproductive healthcare clinics.

Even if we assume that all 13,540 alternatives to Planned Parenthood did indeed have a certified OB-GYN on staff and offered the same services Planned Parenthood does (sans abortion), pro-life advocates are essentially asking that these healthcare providers take on 2.5 million patients in the event of a Planned Parenthood shutdown. If divided equally, each healthcare provider would have to take on an extra 184 patients just for reproductive healthcare and birth control.  If we take out the providers that don’t offer those services, the number of available healthcare providers decreases while the number of patients the remaining providers would have to take on would increase.  Of course, this in a completely hypothetical and unlikely situation that each healthcare provider would take in an equal portion of new patients. This is still not factoring in women who rely on sliding scales or family planning waivers to be able to obtain reproductive healthcare services.

But my favorite part in all of this was scrolling through the list of Wisconsin rural health care providers that were listed with the map’s first website resource. One healthcare provider stood out for me: Gundersen. Six of its Wisconsin locations were listed (as well as a couple Iowa locations). The reason why this is incredibly absurd is that pro-life groups PROTEST Gundersen.

For those unfamiliar with the local pro-life folklore of mid-western Wisconsin, legend has it that an employee for Gundersen happened to stumble upon a “secret policy” stating Gundersen does elective abortions in secret and went forward with the information to pro-life groups. Despite not being shown a physical copy of the policy, pro-lifers bought it and now regularly picket Gundersen. They also picket Essential Health, an affiliate of Gundersen that provides reproductive healthcare, birth control, and informational resources on pregnancy options. Interestingly enough, the chairman for the Jackson County Right to Life is in charge of the demonstration in front of the Essential Health Clinic in Black River Falls.

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“Better options” include healthcare providers pro-life groups actively picket because of some perceived moral objection to it.

If pro-life groups want to convince women they have “better options”, then maybe they should do some research on those “better options” so they don’t look stupid when someone finds those options include places they are morally objected to.

I’m sure whoever made this just pulled the list of federally qualified healthcare centers, slapped them onto a map, and said “Look! 13,000 healthcare centers!” without researching any of the providers. Or perhaps they realized there would be less of an impact if they removed the providers that don’t offer reproductive healthcare services, aren’t helpful to low income women, or that pro-life groups protest for one reason or another.

The only thing that is certain is that these 13,000+ providers accept Medicare and Medicaid. Beyond that, its a bit questionable.

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Beyonce and the Questioning of Pro-Life Advocates

Imagine the “WTF?” look on my face when I opened the newspaper to the Opinion section a few weeks ago and found a letter titled “Thank you, Beyonce”.

What was more absurd than the title of the letter was the actual letter, praising Beyonce for her “pro-life action” of somehow proving embryos are human beings simply for being a happily pregnant celebrity.

If you are looking for “proof” that a pregnant woman is carrying a baby, look no further than the Grammy Awards. Has Beyonce put on some weight? Why would an entertainer showcase her weight gain on national TV? It’s called a “baby bump.” This bump was the centerpiece of the night. Everyone watching went “Awww!”

Why would such a big deal be made for a glob of tissue that is like a tumor or a bad tooth that needs to be pulled? Doe Beyonce know it’s a baby (actually twins)? Has she seen a doctor? No doubt she has. No doubt she is taking special care (and precautions) to ensure the best prenatal development for these children.

How do they know there are twins? Because two heartbeats can be discerned and two little bodies show up in the ultrasound. Everyone knows the twins are living human beings. That’s why everyone was sharing in their joy. These babies are precious gifts to Beyonce (and JayZ) not because they are wanted, but because they are made in God’s image. That will never change even if parents or society doesn’t want them. If (God forbid) she was to lose her twin BABIES, it would truly be a tragedy and many would mourn with her. Why? Because we all know they are babies (right now) in the womb. She referred to her miscarriage in 2011 as “the saddest thing” she had ever endured and wrote music to cope with her loss. If it was just a glob of non-descript tissue that she lost, no one would care.

These babies are precious gifts to Beyonce, and she (and the world) are already giving them special treatment. Can’t we treat all babies as special and not snuff out their lives? Though she may never admit it, her action s(and viewer reaction) is very prolife.

Thank you, Beyonce!

Written by our local protester, the Pastor, of course. I bet he didn’t pay the slightest attention to the Queen Bey until he found a way to insert her into his pro-life agenda.

My mind attempted to process the letter, which had created more questions instead of answering existing ones.

“How can he deny that people celebrating has little to do with a woman being pregnant and almost everything to do with the pregnant woman being freaking Beyonce?”

“Would people even care if it wasn’t Beyonce?”

“How does a celebrity worth millions of dollars and can afford the best of the best for herself and every single child she has and still have millions left over compare to the average woman who might face uncertainty with an unplanned pregnancy?”

“Wait a minute…didn’t Beyonce support the Women’s March???”

A quick Google search on my phone revealed she did support the Women’s March and her campaign Chime for Change was also an official partner. She was even vilified by pro-life advocates for supporting the march, which stated was on the pro-choice platform. She was also a huge supporter of Barack Obama. She also supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and performed at one of her benefits. Both candidates are pro-choice so either a candidate being pro-choice is not a deal breaker for her or she is, in fact, pro-choice herself. So much for her “pro-life actions”.

The letter was published during my research for a piece that, at this time, I’m still working on. Part of the research involved looking into these pro-life groups—mainly the one the Pastor is the Jackson County chairman for—and seeing exactly what they do in terms of helping people. I know what these groups do based on previous research of the movement as a whole and my experiences with their advocates, but I did hope that by focusing on individual groups instead of the overall movement that I would find that they do more than make exaggerated claims about abortion and spread a pro-life message in conjunction with these claims. I wanted to be proven wrong. Instead, I wasn’t. I found that only the tiniest fraction of the pro-life movement actually involves helping others that need it, including the pregnant women they claim to want to help.

This bothers me quite a bit. Pro-life advocates don’t see the unborn as non-descript globs of tissue or fertilized eggs. They see them as people. They claim all lives are valuable. They see abortion as snuffing out human beings. So why is it none of their major efforts going into helping the children that are already born? They put so much focus into education on their version of abortion facts through billboards, pamphlets, and protests, but put practically zero efforts into ensuring that any babies that make it to term because of their efforts are taken care of. Pro-life advocates tout that 1.2 million lives are “lost” to abortion every year, but neglect to mention the millions more that are suffering because of things like poverty, hunger, homelessness, and other issues. The Pastor has certainly failed to mention this in any of his letters. It seems so strange to me that someone could preach about the “right to life” and be all about “saving lives”, but then not do anything to reflect those ideals.

I’ve read articles pointing out that the pro-life movement is made up of Christian hypocrites that are only “pro-life” until a certain point. Usually that point is after the baby is born or when he or she becomes anything that arrogant Christians find detestable. That’s why you likely won’t see pro-life Christians also advocating for other vulnerable groups like minorities, LGBT, non-Christians, etc. As a comic by Ronnie Richie asks, “So what you’re saying is…every child’s life matters….except for the ones that won’t grow up to be white, able, straight, cisgender, and further your views and ideas?”

So when I wrote my letter in response, I called pro-lifers (but mostly the Pastor) on this. And I may have been a little savage with my language because, at this point, I’m tired of being polite.

Sam Faust wrote another puff piece trying to convince the Banner Journal readers of person hood in the unborn that showcased in inability to research the topics he writes about and his ability to only cherry pick the information that supports his view regardless of its truthfulness.

Beyonce, who was thanked in his letter for her “prolife actions” of being happily pregnant, voiced her support for the Women’s March. The major sponsor was “pro-life enemy” Planned Parenthood. Chime for Change, a campaign she co-founded that aims to empower women, was also an official partner for the event. It didn’t seem to matter that the march declared it was on a pro-choice platform. Beyonce nor Chime for Change withdrew support when organizers decided to pull partnership from three pro-life groups. In addition, she was a support of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both of which support the pro-choice agenda.

Judging by this, it seems Beyonce is pro-choice even if she personally wouldn’t choose the choice that pro-lifers across the country disagree with and feel the need to stalk, harass, and bully women outside of abortion clinics and family planning providers on a daily basis about it.

While Faust is bust recycling the same anti-abortion rhetoric in his letters and harassing female patients about their options, millions of post-birth children are being ignored. Every letter of his fails to mention the suffering of American children: 14.5 million in poverty, 13.1 million in food-insecure households, and 1.35-2.5 million homeless, etc. These numbers are greater than the yearly average of 1.2 million abortions. Aren’t these children’s lives at risk for being “snuffed out” or are they considered less special than their embryonic counterparts?

In the minds of pro-lifers, they’re not advocating for masses of tissue, but human beings. Yet, there aren’t major efforts in ensuring that human beings are taken care of. I find it ridiculous that a movement that makes a huge deal about the unborn and is about saving lives under the belief that fertilized eggs are people wouldn’t be helping people that have exited the birth canal. The pro-life group Faust is the Jackson County chairman for could be providing food, clothes, and shelter to those in need, but, instead, they felt erecting an anti-abortion billboard in town would better serve the needs of people. Maybe providing basic necessities is too Christ-life for them.

Also, if each human life is inherently valuable from conception to natural death, then what about minorities, LGBT, the non-Christian, etc.? Why aren’t sidewalk counselors handing out pamphlets explaining that it’s wrong to look down on someone because they don’t follow your religion or their skin isn’t pale? Where are the pro-life protests in support of gays being treated equally and fairly? How about billboards with statistics on suicide rates among trans-gender individuals? When certain groups consistently face discrimination, bullying, and exclusion doesn’t that make them vulnerable and in need of protection? Or are these lives only relevant to the pro-life movement when an example of human suffering—such as the Holocaust or slavery— is needed to compare abortion rates to? Perhaps the lack of pro-life protection stems from many of these conservative Christians often being the ones that mock and judge certain individuals.

“Pro-life” should re-brand itself as “pro-birth” and “pro-Christian-life”, considering that their value on life appears to have some restrictions and a nine-month expiration date. If they want to continue honestly labeling themselves as pro-life, they should be following the words of Joycelyn Elders, “We really need to get over this love affair with the fetus and start worrying about children.”

The three responses that followed the next two weeks didn’t take too kindly to me daring to question their pro-life and Christian beliefs and what they actually do in response to those beliefs. Not unlike some previous responses to past letters, my personal thoughts on the subject were called erroneous and absurd. One letter blasted me for somehow completely missing the point of the Pastor’s letter while missing the point that I was trying to make about the pro-life movement being too consumed with spreading anti-abortion rhetoric to actually save lives and help others like they claim they do. One letter tried to defend that they do help people and they just don’t brag about it (apparently bragging about pro-life accomplishments is okay). The “Absolute Bullshit Award” goes to the one who tried suggesting that Margaret Sanger was a HUGE racist due her eugenics beliefs and purposely put these Planned Parenthood clinics in low income and black neighborhoods as part of some African American extermination…..despite the fact that she believed race and ethnicity SHOULDN’T determine “undesirable traits” as part of her eugenic beliefs and how birth control clinics were set up in black neighborhoods because African American leaders and professionals reached out to her because they saw a need for birth control in their communities.

The sad thing is I expected this kind of response. I wish one of them had half a brain to ask, “Why do you think that? What has led you to this conclusion about what we do?” Then again, I don’t think they know how to question. I think that they take the face value of what these pro-life groups put out without question regardless of how much truth is in it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that these people automatically assume that I haven’t done the research on what their side puts out and am just repeating things pro-choice groups say. Its a bit disappointing, to say the least.

The Power of Five Dollars

If you recall my previous post, it’s been a full year since the protesters showed up at my women’s healthcare clinic. To commemorate this awful occasion, I decided to make Planned Parenthood donations in the Pastor’s honor whenever the protesters show up so that Planned Parenthood would have to send a certificate to his church.

True to their stubborn and bothersome nature, protesters continue to show up like clockwork on a bi-weekly basis. And true to my word, I have put a $5 online donation to Planned Parenthood in the Pastor’s honor as I sit in the library across the street watching the sidewalk crusaders march around with their signage.

I figured at some point I might be confronted about it considering I assumed the certificates sent to the Pastor might say something to the effect of “Sam Simmons’ Planned Parenthood donation was made in your honor. Yay!” What I never expected was mail being sent to my home address, which is precisely what happened the Thursday after my third donation was made.

I had been sent a carbon copy of a letter he had written to Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. It was written the day before it was sent. It reads:

Dear Ms. Richards,

I was encouraged to receive a notice from your organization informing me of a donation made in my honor by Sam Simmons. Part of my encouragement stems from the fact that Sam is a low income worker at our local Wal-mart who is very talented at her job. She stands up for her convictions and I count her my friend, though we often disagree (even exchanging letters in the local newspaper).

Another part of my encouragement comes from the fact that such a notice is more proof that PP has no need of public, taxpayer funds in order to operate. Your own report attributes $1.3 billion in revenue from private donations which include corporations like Soros Fund, Exxon-Mobile, AT&T, Bank of America, Microsoft, PepsiCo (I could go on, but you know the list). When you listed donor corporations on your website )(like Coca-Cola, Ford Motor, & Xerox), they denied donating and you pulled their names. So which was it, Ms. Richards? Did you deceive by posting non-donors or did they lie to disassociate from your disgraced organization?

I say disgraced, not only due to the gristly (now exposed) practice of selling baby parts, but also the pattern of deception you employ. Your deceptive (& bogus) claims demonstrate your lack of scruples in a quest for financial gain. Here are three:

  • “Abortion is only 3% of what we do!” This would be like the Green Bay Packers claiming that football is less than 1% of what they do since they sell much more food and clothes than they ever do game tickets.
  • You spoke on national TV about PP performing mammograms, though you told Congress under oath the PP owns ZERO mammogram machines.
  • You claim to offer prenatal care, though its available at only 5 od the 650 health centers.

How are private donations coming so far in 2017? Elaine Wynn went “on record” with her $1 million donation. Whenever funding is at risk numerous million and billionaire celebrities brag about their giving. This is all more proof that you don’t need public fund to kill babies. Between the billionaires like Bill Gates, George Soros, and Warren Buffet and indigent Walmart workers like Sam Simmons, your abortion business will NEVER need to use public/taxpayer funds. Sam is a hard and effective worker who sadly has been manipulated by your deceptive PR campaigns. You should return her donation encouraging her to use it for her daily needs and let the “deep pocket” billionaires fund the murder of babies in the womb.

Perhaps I should let you in a way to score $5,000. I’m giving this prize to anyone who can produce a medical textbook that proves a baby in the mother’s womb is part of her anatomy (for those nine months she has two heads, four arms, four legs, and if the baby is a boy, she has male reproductive organs.) The money is sage because we all know the baby is NOT a part of the woman’s anatomy any more than a quarter is if she swallows it.

My hope (and prayer) is that more and more moms will choose life for their babies so PP, though never lacking in funds, will have to pursue other ways to make money.

Regards,

Pastor Samuel Faust

Wow.

First off…I know I don’t make a lot of money, but—goddamn!—he made me out to be destitute vagrant scrapping the bottom of the barrel! Not sure where he gets the idea that we’re friends other than that “love thy neighbor” or “love your enemies, too” Christian beliefs, but my real friends would never describe me in such an insulting way. At least, I think it was supposed to be insulting considering the reaction from my husband and a co-worker who read the letter. My husband went into husband-mode over it because he found it belittling to his wife while my co-worker said, “What an ASS! Who is this guy?!” (I don’t think I’ve ever heard her swear before this moment). I don’t find it insulting because I’d have to value his opinion.

Also, if the Pastor wants to talk about disgraced organizations that employ deceptive methods in order to manipulative people he should look at his own pro-life group and the crisis pregnancy center he supports. For example, the vast majority of the CPC’s I’ve looked into (so far) had two websites: a “secret” website for donors laying out its pro-life goals and Christian bias and an official website that strips away any religious references and replaces it with pro-choice and helpful language to make themselves appear like a family planning center.  Not to mention, PP hasn’t been found to sell “baby parts” and the man who made the heavily edited hoax video that pro-life supporters blindly believe and were outraged at was recently charged on multiple counts over it.

But most importantly, how the Hell did he get my address? He does know a little about me through discussions I’ve had with him outside the clinic to distract him from doing his protest work, but my home address was not one such thing he learned. I’ve contacted Planned Parenthood to double check and see if maybe my address was listed on the certificate or if he was somehow able to contact them and obtain that info that way. I have yet to hear back from them, but I find it highly unlikely after looking at their privacy policy. I’m also not listed in the phone book. My guess is he did a little digging on me. I didn’t even go as far as to send the PP honor donation certificates to his house, instead opting to use his church’s address seeing as its fairly public knowledge due to it being listed in the newspaper every week along with the other local churches in the area (plus, his contact info came up during research on a couple pro-life organizations not having known beforehand he was associated with them). Personally I’m not worried anything will happen now that he has my address, but I find it a little disturbing he knows where I live.

I’m still going to make minimal donations to Planned Parenthood, which I’ll assume will be a bi-weekly thing if the protesters keep schedule. A little carbon copy letter isn’t going to stop this “indigent” activist and I hope he enjoys the $5 donations made in his name.

Donate to PP in Pastor’s Honor

March officially marks a full year since…ugh…the protesters showed up at my women’s clinic.

The zealots are still as stubborn as ever, showing up with their signs for the short amount of time the Essential Health clinic is open every other Wednesday to harass any female patients about abortion…

…despite the clinic not performing abortion services and wanting to help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies that could end with abortion by offering birth control to women, mind you.

Leading this pack of wolves in sheep’s clothing is the Pastor, a man who is very active in the prolife movement. His prolife accomplishments includes leading the yearly Life Chain at the local bridge, funding two anti-abortion billboards for a year with church funds, being the chairman for the Jackson county Chapter for the Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL), leaving cards at the library for a lying crisis pregnancy center, and writing absurd opinion letters for the newspaper. None of these efforts have shown to be of any actual help to the women he bothers the crap out of on a bi-weekly basis.

Back in November, women were encouraged to make donations in Vice President Mike Pence’s name to Planned Parenthood. 82,000 donations were made in Pence’s name. Reportedly, for each donation made in Pence’s honor he received a thank you note from Planned Parenthood (which cannot be used for the purposes of a tax deduction either).  The act of donating in Pence’s name was a big “fuck you” to the new presidential administration that seeks to chip away at reproductive rights and women’s health, which Pence did when he was governor.

In honor of the anniversary when protesters started harassing female patients, I will essentially “Mike Pence” the Pastor by making small donations to Planned Parenthood for every week the protesters are at the clinic. I could have PP send the thank you letters to his house as his phone numbers are listed with the WRTL and the Life Chain and it would be easy to find the numbers in the white pages to get an address. Instead, I’ll use the address for his church, which is listed along with the other area churches every week in the paper. He wants to bother women at their trusted healthcare provider so I’ll be a bother at his trusted place of worship.

I only wish my own clinic had something similar in terms of honor donations, but I also support Planned Parenthood and feel that if we don’t stop the crusade against them then places like my clinic will be next for “de-funding”.

Billboards or Help? Pt. 2

In my post Billboards or Help?, I wondered if the Pastor had something to do with the newly erected Wisconsin Life to Right anti-abortion billboard. I’m even more convinced he did have involvement with it as I recently found he’s the chairperson for the Wisconsin Right to Life’s Jackson County chapter.

This speculation came from the fact his church had sponsored TWO anti-abortion billboards in 2013. I incorrectly stated these billboards were from the Wisconsin Right to Life when in fact they’re from Pro-Life Across America. I apologize for the error and made a correction note in the post.

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In my original post, I wondered how much one of these billboards would cost. While researching a little about this Prolife Across America, a pro-life Christian group that just deals with anti-abortion advertising, I actually did find some average costs for these billboards. According to their FAQS,  “The average cost of a billboard is $500 to $3000 per month – depending upon the size of the billboard and the number of people who will see the ad on a frequent basis (artwork and production costs not included).”

Assuming these numbers could apply to billboard erected in a small town area, the Pastor’s church could have paid $12,000-$72,000 for both billboards. I’m assuming the costs were on the lower end of the price range. Still, even the cheapest amount is a LOT of money.

For arguments sake, let’s assume the two billboards cost the lowest amount of $12,000. What could have $12,000 paid for besides an expensive billboard?

I suggested money that goes to one of these billboards could have been better invested in women’s health clinics that help to reduce unintended pregnancies. With $12,000, Essential Health could have provided one of the following:

*A year’s worth of oral contraceptives to 240 women.

*160,000 condoms. Every individual who came to Essential Health for medical care in 2015 could have received 32 condoms.

*An IUD, which offers up to ten years of pregnancy prevention, to 24 women.

*48 comprehensive sexual education presentations

These pro-life groups are so concerned about saving babies yet hardly (if any) of their efforts go into things that would help women take care of their babies if they decide not to have an abortion. Baby Center’s “First Year Baby Costs Calculator” roughly estimates that to raise a baby through the first year costs $10,398. This is including “moderately priced” regular daycare for six months. If regular childcare isn’t needed, this cost goes down to $5,790. Instead of paying for an expensive anti-abortion billboard, the money could have paid for ALL the costs of one baby for the first year (two babies if daycare is not needed) and still have money leftover. 

$12,000 could have provided one of the following (based off Walmart.com prices and no taxes included):

*480 cans of 1.4lb Similac formula ($24.98 a can). Assuming a baby goes through about a can a week, this would provide 20 babies with six months worth of formula.

*20,512 4oz tubs of Gerber baby food (2pk for $1.17). Assuming a baby on solid food eats 3 times a day, this would provide 37 babies with six months worth of baby food.

*254 boxes of Pampers 252pk diapers ($47.19 a box). I’ve read a baby goes through 3,000 diapers in a year (give or take) so this would provide a year’s worth of diapers to 21 babies.

What would have been the best way to use that sort of money in order to help or save lives?

Two anti-abortion billboards that may have zero effect on some people or guaranteeing that at least 20 babies get enough formula and solid food to be fed for an entire year?

Two anti-abortion billboards that may have zero effect on some people or covering the costs of contraceptives for 24-240 women so that they are much less likely to be in the situation of having an unintended pregnancy that may end in abortion?

The answer should be obvious especially to those who claim they are there to help those in need. But, as I stated in the original post, that would require pro-lifers to get their heads out of their Bibles so they can use their brain and think of ways to reduce abortion rates that doesn’t involve guilt, deception, religion, or laws that stomp all over women’s reproductive rights. It also would require a sense of actually giving a damn about the babies they “save from the abortion mills” once they are out of the womb.

Should pro-life groups been allowed to sponsor the Women’s March?

This past Saturday, tens of thousands of women took part in the Women’s March on Washington as well as sister marches across the entire nation. Women took a stand to show the new government on their first day in office that “our presence in numbers too great to ignore” and that “women’s rights are human rights.”

The Women’s March on Washington created a bit of a stir when it decided to include the pro-life group New Wave Feminists among the list of official sponsors for the event. Many feel that a major part of the women’s rights movement is women having safe access to abortion and control over her fertility, which pro-life groups oppose. More controversy was created when the march dropped New Wave Feminists as a sponsor. Many pointed out women’s rights are more than just reproductive rights and believe that pro-life advocates can still call themselves feminists for supporting other areas of women’s rights. Thus, some criticized the event for ultimately excluding pro-life groups from sponsoring the event.

While the march didn’t bar pro-life groups and individuals from participating in the march, many pro-life advocates felt the backlash of including pro-life groups in the event and their eventual rejection from the list of sponsors made them feel unwelcome.

Should have pro-life groups been included in the Women’s March? My personal answer is a huge “OH HELL NO!”

No, seriously, what a terrible idea!

The most obvious and simplest reasoning for this answer would be completely conflicting opinions on abortion. That might not be a good enough reason for some so consider what the pro-life movement has actually done and the individuals involved.

Anti-abortion protesters target abortion providers and harass the women seeking abortions. They also target family planning centers that don’t offer abortion, but have information on abortion as an option. So women who are seeking birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing, treatments, pregnancy counseling, adoption and parental assistance referrals, and other care that may or may not be related to abortion services are also berated daily by pro-life protesters simply for receiving health care at places that are demonized by pro-life groups. Protesters “warn” women about abortion by screaming in their faces and reciting God-fearing gospel regardless of whether these women are seeking abortion services or reproductive health care or even when they’re only pedestrians on the sidewalk. The women that exit abortion providers are told they are awful human beings and child murderers for making what should be a personal decision of not continuing their pregnancy. The women that go to family planning clinics that offer abortion information are told that their trusted healthcare provider is horrible for having such information to give. Pro-choice activists like me get called pro-death, anti-life, godless, and immoral. They call it “sidewalk counseling”. I call it “sidewalk bullying”.

Pro-life ministries have set up crisis pregnancy centers in an effort to counsel women against abortion. CPC’s have been known to use deceptive methods to get women through the doors such as wiping their websites clean of religious references, manipulating Google’s search engine so that their CPC pops up in the search when women type “pregnancy symptoms”, falsely advertising abortion services, and use of similar advertising and language of nearby abortion providers and family planning centers. More often than not they set up shop next to or nearby abortion clinics and family planning centers with the idea that women will go into the wrong place by accident. Inside these places, they give women false information about abortion and birth control. The worst places have lied to women about how far along they were or their pregnancy results so they don’t seek abortion. This is not an accident or a few isolated incidents, but deliberate tactics that’s taught in seminars on how to run a crisis pregnancy center.

More extreme members of the movement, specifically those belonging to domestic Christian terrorist groups, have resorted to fear and violence against abortion providers and pro-choice people. Threats, assault, vandalism, arson, bombs, acid attacks, shootings, attempted murder, and murder have all been committed by pro-life people in the name of the pro-life movement. Yes, pro-life advocates committing murder in the name of “saving lives” and some pro-life advocates celebrating such heinous acts.

Does a movement whose tactics involve stalking, harassing, bullying, threatening, deceiving, and even harming women on a daily basis to help meet their goals sound “pro-woman” to you? It shouldn’t. That’s because it isn’t.

Does it make sense to welcome groups that are part of such a movement as major sponsors for a march and have those sponsors marching alongside the women they belittle and abuse every day? It shouldn’t. That’s because it doesn’t.

Would including groups that team up with law makers to continually whittle away at one aspect of women’s rights have gone against the march’s stance on standing up for and protecting women’s rights? It should. That’s because it would have.

So did the Women’s March on Washington make the right choice in not including pro-life groups as sponsors for the event? Absolutely. As activist Jessica Valenti put it, “Inclusivity is not about bolstering those who harm us.”

In Mourning

Today I am in mourning. Our president elect, Donald Trump, has been sworn into office.

I mourn as a woman. Our country now has a president who bragged about being able to get away with sexually assaulting women because he’s a celebrity and judges women based on how good her body looks, but doesn’t believe she should have rights over that body. What it means for my fight for reproductive rights, I’m not certain at the moment.

I mourn as a bisexual woman with friends who are also part of the LGBT community. No, Trump holding an upside-down rainbow flag after the election isn’t enough convince me he’s for LGBT as he’s put staunch conservatives who aggressively opposed LGBT rights in his cabinet and made Mike Pence, a man who once removed funds for HIV treatment and put it into conversion therapy , as his vice president.

I mourn as a person who was once ashamed to be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome because a few of my peers called my younger brother “stupid” and “retarded” for having a more severe form of autism. I mourn as a God mother whose God son came physically disabled for a time when one of his seizure episodes paralyzed one side of his body and had to go through physical therapy to learn how to fully walk again. It greatly disgusts me that some are so lacking in decency that they could see a candidate openly mock a person with a disability and still vote for him.

I mourn because my cousin is half-Hispanic and his father (along with some of his family) came to the US from Mexico. How many Trump supporters would care that my uncle is one of the kindest and sweetest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing when their candidate painted Mexicans in a negative light throughout his entire campaign?

But mostly I mourn because I feel having Trump for a president will bring out the hate in the people who put their faith in him. After the election concluded, there was a surge of Trump supporters harassing and attacking minorities, LGBT, and women and felt justified in doing so because that’s what Trump did during his campaign.

I’ve tried to make sense of why people voted for him. Maybe they voted along party lines and this just happened to be the asshole the Republicans put up. Maybe they hated Hillary so much that a racist, homophobic, sexist, draft-dodging, self-absorbed billionaire somehow seemed like the better option to then. Maybe they really did believe he’s going to “Make America Great Again” despite the fact he can’t even keep his own businesses from going bankrupt. Whatever the reasons for putting this orange asshole into office, it’s a slap in the face to me, my friends, and my family.

But this doesn’t mean I accept defeat. I’ll do my best to defy this potential tyrant, even if it only means being outspoken at every injustice this man commits from now on.

Today, I mourn. Tomorrow, I fight.