Letter: Abortion protesters should go home

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Every Saturday, I drive past the Planned Parenthood on [McDowell Street]. Thanks to a stoplight, I’ve spent much time observing the protesters there.

As best I can reconstruct their argument, these protesters are following this logic: Abortion services are equivalent to murder, and protest is likely to both deter people from seeking those services and change the legal climate which allows these services to be offered.

I take no position on the first premise. It is the second premise that has perplexed me. On bright, sunny days, protesters are more numerous. They are in around 7:30 but clear out before 5, occupy the space exclusively on Saturdays and are very careful to stay within the confines of the law.

The last straw was a sign that read, “Remember, everything Hitler did in Germany was also legal.” The Nuremberg trials disagree. Moreover, the actions of these protesters are also legal. People who were concerned about the actions of the Nazis did not carefully navigate public property to avoid interactions with police. People protesting Jim Crow laws were sprayed with fire hoses as they struggled for recognition as human beings. They did not go home when it started drizzling.

From my observations, one of two things is true. One, these protesters are moral cowards of the highest order. They have what they believe to be a government-sanctioned mass murder, but are too afraid of arrest, cold or damp to do anything serious. Two, these protesters are using an imagined sense of moral superiority, an artfully constructed victim narrative and a position of incredible social power to bully women. I can find no other explanation. The people who obstruct that bus stop once a week are cowards, bullies or both.

So, stop it. Go home. Pay your taxes. Hug your children. Trust women.

— Mark Wonnacott
Asheville

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104 thoughts on “Letter: Abortion protesters should go home

  1. C-Law

    I was wondering if we were ever going to have a conversation about the impulse that actually led to Roe — the intent of the founders of organizations such as Planned Parenthood, for example.

    Margaret Sanger, the organization’s founder, was a raging racist and eugenicist. She wrote in 1921 that “The unbalance between the birth rate of the ‘unfit’ and the ‘fit’ is admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization.” She went on to state that “The most-urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”

    Sanger publicly deemed blacks as defective and degenerate.

    She wasn’t the only one.

    The firm’s President in the 1960s and 1970s openly endorsed abortion for eugenic purposes. This is not supposition; it is fact. Planned Parenthood has deliberately placed its clinics in minority communities; nearly 80% of them are there today. Had the organization at any time to the present materially changed what it really thinks that would not be the case. Nor would it be the case that in many parts of cities a black fetus is eight times more likely to be aborted than a white fetus in the same metropolitan area.

    Note well that Sanger was not just the founder of Planned Parenthood; she also was the driver of the modern birth control pill, although she herself was not the discoverer. Instead she prodded others with pharmaceutical and medical knowledge to develop and test it. Much of the testing was done on women in Puerto Rico; these tests were infamous in that the women were told it was a trial to treat menstrual disorders and were not told it was experimental. In addition the dosage given was not small and increasing (as one would expect from a trial) to find an effective dose; instead it was massive, many times that necessary. Finally, the man who bought the trial to Puerto Rico, a Proctor and Gamble heir, was a eugenicist himself who believed the native population of Puerto Rico — along with others living in poverty — should be wiped out as “defective” to make room for more “fit” members of the population! Gamble was also heavily-invested in the policy of the time that “encouraged” women to undergo sterilization, many involuntarily after their second childbirth. The coercive and eugenic nature of these trials, nearly akin to a “lab rat” sort of mentality, is the history of both the pill’s development and Planned Parenthood itself.

    I suppose those pathetic protesters that bug you so much should just go away and let the racist abortionists continue their genocide against “people of color?”

    • luther blissett

      It’s 2019.

      C-Law on the Confederacy:

      “I will never abandon the truth and justice of my ancestors from the Scottish Wars of Independence, to the First War for Colonial Independence or the War for Southern Independence to comfort your ignorance and hatred.”

      https://mountainx.com/opinion/letter-civil-war-historians-should-face-reality/#comment-3125436

      So, abortion must be condemned because of Margaret Sanger, but the slaveholding separatist rebellion can not be condemned because of all of those traitorous slaveholders. Huh.

      If those protestors are so pro-life, they should block the doorways of hospices.

      • C-Law

        Luther!!

        Thanks so much for the quote and link! That is so cool you found that article, that was from over a year ago. Good eye.

        I wish you could have included the entire exchange, the little snippet you quoted is good stuff, but the entire post is a real eye-opener and needs to be fully digested. It isn’t baby formula, it real food for educated thought. My entire post and responses to you and someone posting as “BRO” really needed to be read by as many folks as possible and I hope the link you provided helps achieve the mission!

        In fact, you may not be aware, but my posts from that thread won Mountain Xpress’s “Best of Mtn X. 2018” for best online reader comment and response!

        Remember Luther, (also, Pete Robbins, boat rocker, Tim Peck, et, al…) it’s about quality not quantity! ;)

        As always, Your Compatriot, C-Law

        Deo Vindice!

    • Clarification

      Margaret Sanger was not a racist, as this article shows: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3884362
      Abstract
      PIP:

      Margaret Sanger, as a young public health nurse, witnessed the sickness, disease and poverty caused by unwanted pregnancies. She spent the rest of her life trying to alleviate these conditions by bringing birth control to America. During the early 20th century, the idea of making contraceptives generally available was revolutionary. Contraceptive usage was considered a distinguishing feature of the ‘haves.’ In recent years, some revisionist biographers have portrayed Sanger as a eugenicist and a racist. This view has been widely publicized by critics of reproductive rights who have attempted to discredit Sanger’s work by discrediting her personally. The basic concept of the eugenics movement in the 1920s and 1930s was that a better breed of humans would be created if the ‘fit’ had more children and the ‘unfit’ had fewer. This concept influenced a broad spectrum of thought, but there was little consensus on the definitions of fit and unfit. In theory, the movement was not racist–its message intended to cross race barriers for the overall advancement of mankind. Most eugenicists agreed that birth control would be a detriment to the human race and were opposed to it. Charges that Sanger’s motives for promoting birth control were eugenic are not supported. In part of her most important work, “Pivot of Civilization,” Sanger’s dissent from eugenics was made clear. By examining extracts from her books, the author refutes the notion that Sanger was a eugenicist. Another unsupported argument raised by the anti-Sanger group was that Sanger, in her position as editor of “Birth Contol Review,” published eugenicists’ views. It would be more accurate to say that the review covered a wide range of opinions and research; the eugenicists views were included because they conferred respectability. David Kennedy, author of “Birth Control in America,” does Sanger a grave injustice by falsely attributing to her the quotation: ‘More children from the fit, less from the unfit–that is the chief issue of birth control.’ This quotation should be attributed to the editors of “American Medicine.” The only area Sanger is in agreement with the eugenicists is in her belief that severely retarded people should not bear children. Several authors, including Linda Gordon, argued that Sanger’s interest in providing contraceptives to black Americans was motivated by racism. This notion is entirely misconstrued by distortions of language quoted by Sanger. Rather than wanting to exterminate the Negro population, Sanger wanted to cope with the fear of some blacks that birth control was the white man’s way of reducing the black population.

      • Meredith Hunt

        The abstract does not refute it, though the full paper no doubt makes an effort.

      • C-Law

        Curious-

        False. All you have to do is read through Sanger’s papers that are widely available to the public to know EXACTLY where she stood.

        This one is nice and short, from 1919, I suggest you check it out and discover truth from the primary source, not some abstract from a government agency…

        Margaret Sanger, “Birth Control and Racial Betterment,” Feb 1919.

        Published article. Source: Birth Control Review, Feb. 1919. , Library of Congress Microfilm 131:0099B .

        https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/webedition/app/documents/show.php?sangerDoc=143449.xml

        ***However, even IF all that you assert regarding Sanger’s and generally Progressive thinking about race and eugenics WAS true, do you REALLY want to own the multigenerational genocide of black children through abortion? Is racial genocide really a “progressive value?”

        Quick history lesson for you: Progressive = Fascist = Marxist = Corporatist = Totalitarian = the largest worldwide human holocausts of innocent blood in all of human history…

          • Meredith Hunt

            Bob Jones U was not a factor.

            The anti-abortion movement began in the 1880s and was lead by doctors and journalists who saw vulnerable women were dying in abortion parlors. That’s when laws against abortion were first codified. (Marvin Olasky)

          • luther blissett

            The anti-abortion movement as it currently exists is a creation of the backlash to integration.

            Evangelical Protestants were ambivalent about abortion through the 1970s, noting that Exodus does not treat a forced miscarriage as murder. The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution in 1971 affirming the right to an abortion . The Baptist Joint Committee opposed the Hyde Amendment arguing that it privileged Catholics. It was the political strategy of people like Weyrich and Falwell (senior) to seek common cause with conservative Catholics, and the theological / philosophical justification came later.

          • Meredith Hunt

            The thesis that the anti-abortion in its current form was born of racism is pure BS. It’s laughable. Defense for abortion (that is, demonizing anti-abortion people) is getting more and more weird and it feeds unstable, gullible minds.

          • luther blissett

            “The thesis that the anti-abortion in its current form was born of racism is pure BS. It’s laughable. ”

            Facts don’t care about your feelings.

    • Godslayer

      You need to Google “the Genetic Fallacy” so you can learn how to think logically.

      • Meredith Hunt

        And so what is the claim? The origins of PP have bearing on PP, and help understand who and what they are? That the eugenics and racism of MS are similar to those practiced by PP today? That PP’s current admiration of MS is a further blight on their reputation, as if abortion wasn’t enough? “Genetics” are not proof, neither with history or race. So, no one here is saying they are. So, be careful about throwing out the Fallacy word. (At the May 22 Protect Uterus Rights Rally in Asheville, I saw a sign that suggested all men be castrated and another that recommended mandatory vasectomies. No qualifiers given. No demure made by the organizers.)

    • Mark W

      This is not my favorite bad faith argument, but only because it seems to crop up only in dense walls of text. I’m willing to concede that Margaret Sanger is an abominable horror from the 7th dimension of hell, a vile racist and any other negative labels you say she earned. Couple of problems, here.

      1) Are we to demand that kind of ideological purity from all our institutions? Christianity was used as a justification for the slave trade and manifest destiny, while the Catholic Church took a clear stance of non-involvement during the holocaust. Early Christians were genocidal madpeople, and the early part of the Old Testament is literally just a list of peoples God told a small group of people to exterminate. I’ll see you out front of the church on Sunday with your signs, right? The people who wrote the constitution, at best, thought people of color should be deported from America because they weren’t intellectually capable enough to participate in American democracy, and we currently live on land granted to the US government because they had the guns to enforce treaty revisions, while the Native people who lived here did not. History is the story of people being awful to each other, and everything has a history, so best of luck.

      2) This argument is never at the forefront of anti-abortion protesters, who could not be more tone-deaf. I don’t think I’ve seen a picture of a child of color in the anti-abortion materials I’ve produced. This racist past only ever seems to come up when people who care about anti-racist work criticize anti-abortion groups.

      3) What you describe as the racist practice of drug and surgical procedure testing is true of literally every surgical procedure and drug we have. Who signs up for medical testing experiments? It’s not the Wall Street set. It’s people who desperately need money, who are predominantly people of color. Every medical treatment that gets approval gets it on the back of “lab rat” style testing on the poorest members of society. I’ll see you on Monday in front of Bayer headquarters, right?

      4) If you want to get in with the BLM set, maybe advocacy on other issues would be a better way to save the lives of people of color? Maybe protesting police violence, housing and school discrimination, predatory lending techniques, mass incarceration, or any of the other factors supporting white supremacy would be a more efficient way to save the lives of people of color?

      This is an abundantly clear example of argument in bad faith. If anti-abortion activists were actually committed to the struggle against violence that targets people of color, they’d be a lot more visible in a lot more places. There are so many other places to field this same concern if it were genuine, and until that happens, I have a hard time taking it seriously here.

  2. Meredith Hunt

    Anyone who knows a subject or activity in depth or intimately also knows that popular depictions of those subjects or activities rarely get everything right. For example, I’m a fan of Patrick O’Brian’s historical fiction series featuring Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Materin, both of the British Royal Navy. Readers may remember that wonderful movie, Master and Commander/The Far Side of the Sea, staring Russell Crowe. So, I love all those novels, about 21 of them. I also have been a beekeeper for many years, and I know without a doubt that you can not keep a loose, free-flying colony of bees in a closed-up quarters of a moving sailing vessel. O’Brien may have gotten many details right about the sea battles between Britain and France and Britain and the United States, but he got that particular aspect wrong about beekeeping.

    Imagine how much worse that section of the book would have been if he really held beekeepers in contempt and never took any trouble to talk to them, even though he sees them every Saturday morning, and then he decides to write a letter to the editor as if he knows something, or that he can deduce beekeeper’s motives and characters by brief observations at a stop light.

    In as much as anyone could be called a leader of the “protestors” who gather on the sidewalk on Saturday mornings when people are coming in to Planned Parenthood for abortion, that would be me. Actually, for the most part, those who protest, pray, or “sidewalk counsel” are comprised of various small groups or individual families who are not organized much at all. One role I play out there is sharing from my experience of some 30 years of anti-abortion work in Asheville and elsewhere.

    The writer of this letter to the editor “Abortion protestors should go home” got a number of things totally wrong. He got a couple things half right, one of them significant. There is one thing for certain: his ad-hominems say nothing about the rightness or wrongness of aborting pre-natal human beings. Even if everything he said about us is true, that we indeed are moral cowards of the highest order, or else cunning, manipulative bullies, or fair weather heroes, or all three, for that matter, it says nothing about destroying children in the womb.

    Perhaps I will respond more extensively later for print, when I get time. As a last remark, I will say that the writer’s logic is of the order of this quote from a famous person: “There are three kinds of people in the whole wide world. Those who can count, and those who can’t.”

    • Mark W

      Wish you would respond to the arguments made instead of the argument you want to. If abortion is as bad as you say it is, why go home when it rains? Does it become more moral as the weather gets worse? Is it more moral on Monday afternoon?

      I take no issue with the morality of abortion. I lack important qualifications, like a uterus or a medical degree. I have qualifications to talk about public argument, which is the subject here under discussion.

      So, if what you say is true, why not get wet for it?

      • Meredith Hunt

        I guess you believe the letter writer and his observations from the stop light.

        As for me, I have the experience and equipment to be more or less comfortable in any type of weather short of a tornado or extreme blizzard, and a 4-wheel drive rig to travel in. So, what you are asking is silly. We did all night vigils in January on Orange Street (at “Femcare”) even when it was slightly above zero F. In any case, what does that have to do with abortion?

        But as I admitted, none of us anti-abortion people respond to abortion in ways matching what we say we believe about it.

        Planned Parenthood in Asheville is closed on Mondays. It is open for abortion only on Saturdays, as far as I know.

        • Mark W

          A dozen people were willing to show up shortly after a snow fall. I drove by the intersection 2 days ago (it was raining, shortly before noon) and saw no one. We could start counting the number of people who show up and make this a scientific inquiry. I’m pretty confident in at least 3 things from my observations. 1) The number of people who show up changes based on the weather. 2) The people who do show up rarely stay more than a few hours. 3) People exclusively show up on Saturdays (Someone with more invested in stopping abortions could do more research, but it looks to me like abortion services are available 6 days a week.) I take your point about Monday afternoons. Tuesdays, then, must be a day when it’s OK to get abortions?

          I’m happy to hear dispute about these 3 observations. I’d be eager to discuss what counts as a fair and representative sample of these particular protesters (the ones about which the letter was written). The larger point, I think, and what the number of protesters there under different circumstances has to do with abortion, is that at some point, protesters are making a choice about the relative importance of what they call fetal rights. Perhaps that choice is based on liberty. Perhaps it is based on comfort. Motivations are less important at this point. They have decided that they are capable of choosing when what they call the lives of the unborn are important enough to devote their time to, and that the answer is not always. Would they kindly extend that same decision-making to others?

          • Meredith Hunt

            Mark! Of course. You are the letter writer. I should have figured this out earlier. Glad you’ve joined this discussion. I should have guessed you would. (I looked you up on the internet. Degree in Philosophy, writer of dystopian sci-fi, etc) I’ve written an published few sci-fi pieces, including in other speculative genres. One story has the campy title of “Attack of the Gravid Amazons.” It’s about an invasion of beings for whom only the pre-natal form is sentient. The story is not campy. This one is better and more subtle: “Ships Passing in the Night: Romance and Marriage between Lovers from Antisynchronous Worlds.” It is in the Mad Scientist Journal, Autumn 2016.

            About my novel. You would find one of the female characters becomes quite powerful.

            I will give serious thought to your challenge about 24 hour protest. Yours is an idea I have given only comparitively superficial thought to. I already have a response in mind. That is, the equivalency of the “burden” of motherhood (pre and post-natal) is not protesting, but adoption, both of the mother (for as long as she needs or wants it) and the child. In real world terms, it is becoming a supportive grandparent or god-parent.

            As for as last Saturday, or any Saturday. We have imperfect information, but with good reason we believe that the last people who come for abortion arrive at or about 11:00. The calculation is that everyone who has come has at least a chance to hear us and change their minds. There would be benefit to staying longer, because people come out to smoke and might accept an invitation for conversation. Also, there would be benefit to waiting until people leave, because that would be a chance to talk about any difficulty they might have post abortion. But most anti-abortion people leave sometime after 11 and before noon. Of course, I understand, it would be good to be there every hour PP is open. I’m pretty sure that PP only is involved in surgical abortion on Saturdays. Chemical abortion might be done on other days. Our information is limited. PP just doesn’t give that out easily.

            So, I don’t dispute 1 and 2, except that your print-published depiction is incomplete. Some people are not very adventuresome with weather. Note that among a few dozen, several were young children. 3 has a reason that doesn’t reflect as much upon our character and limitations.

            I wish we could have a thousand people out there every day. Call the “pro-life” churches and ask them why they aren’t there. I once organized one single street event in Asheville that had nearly 4,000 people participate. We printed that many poster-board sized signs. Stayed up all night at the silk screeners.

            Perhaps we should pick this discussion up in some other venue.

          • Meredith Hunt

            Perhaps attempting to save a life by persuasion is similar to attempting to get pregnant. Even blocking access by sitting in front of a door has its limitations. In time, long or short, the police will drag you away and then you get booked, released or not, depending upon your record, and then go to court multiple times until the case is resolved. It might result in a fine, or it might result in jail, in which case you can’t protest again until you get out. Protesting an empty building is silly. Even though a protestor might be there for three hours a week, it requires planning and prep. For years, I spent from 10 to 12 to 16 hours a day planning for others. From the other angle, pregnancy does not, in most cases, require 24 hours a day exclusive attention. A pregnant mom can sleep, work, exercise, play bagpipes, or whatever. Early pregnancy they may feel sick. In some cases, not common, they have to go on bedrest at the end. Again, I’m claiming that anyone does enough, but you carry your critique to an extreme. And say a sentence under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act may be two years, while a woman is pregnant for nine months, at which time she can “get out of pregnancy” jail. All that being said, a closer equivalency would be the anti-abortion protestor having the embryo or fetus transferred to his or her body. That not being possible, the closest thing would be to come alongside the pregnant mom and support her in every way possible, but also expecting the mom (and dad, too) to share responsibilities for her own care as much as she can. That’s what happens in well functioning families. Many people don’t have those, but if and when a woman comes to us and needs this kind of provision, I would do all I can to find it. I know a lot of people who have the means to help.

            One last thought on weather. I concede to your point, in general, but don’t concede to your value of it’s significance. The conclusion is trivial. That is, anti-abortion protestors and sidewalk counselors are subject to the weather much like everyone else, though I have witnessed many people getting wet or close to having hypothermia. On one hot day an older gentleman got dehydrated. We gave him water but he went into convulsions and we got him safely to the ground. We had to call 911. I can give you so many examples of people toughing out rough weather, (I’ve set up a large display in six inches of snow on a college campus in South Dakota… We set up the display in Oklahoma-double bracing, a simple triangle, steel barricades and sand bags for ballast– with tornadoes on the radar.) but it really doesn’t matter. There are far more significant considerations like low participation on any given day, whatever the weather may be.

      • Meredith Hunt

        Rather than wading though everything, I’m just picking a random reply button.

        In 30 years a few of us have developed what we consider a finely tuned message and approach. I won’t go into all of it here, but some of that was featured in a Time magazine cover story about what was happening in Asheville, as well as in a couple extensive AC-T stories. Look up Blue Moon Group. I’m the anonymous bad guy in the story. The stories do not contain any aspect of my POV.

        As for reaching out to abortion bound people, when we go to PP, it is when people are coming in for abortion. We bring a few signs that say, “Let your baby live. We will help” and “Abortion hurts women.” We use a battery powered amplifier and microphone. The reason is to be heard without yelling. Almost always only women speak. We speak as people are walking in. As you may know, PP employs (probably volunteers) escort who wear pink vests. The escorts (they call themselves greeters. We privately think of them as “deathscorts”) engage and talk with people to help them feel comfortable and distract them from us. So, we only have a few seconds to talk. For the most part, what we say is an make an invitation to talk. I won’t detail everything what we say. Sometimes it involves something brief about children in the womb. We are always evaluating our message. The other component of this “sidewalk counseling” is offering literature to those who are driving in and out. We have a literature packet that includes an attractive brochure about local resources for pregnant women. We are developing a Spanish version now. Another piece is about human development in the womb. When I offer literature I stay back from the driveway and hold out my hand, only approaching a car if it stops.

        Other people have other ideas about what to say and do out there. We try to lead by example and persuasion, but people are often strong minded and disagree with us. It’s a public sidewalk. We have developed friendships with those who come regularly even if we don’t fully agree with their approach. Occasionally I confront those anti-abortion people who come and are ugly and hate-filled. They are usually from somewhere else and don’t come back. Start at minute 7:30 for when it gets intense. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STbrgFQobpg&t=460s

        Something else going on out there is the public protest. I see this as a separate thing from sidewalk counseling. McDowell is busy, not so much on Saturday as during the work week. Some anti-abortion people who come do not tune in as much to the sidewalk counseling part. Their message is to the public. Sometimes I focus on the public part, esp when we have a couple hundred people there, which has happened. I like to keep the public protest away from the vehicular entrances. Of course I understand that someone coming for abortion will be aware of it all, even if they avoiding looking.

        Then there are those who come to pray. They stay for 20 minutes to an hour and then leave. They may or may not talk with us.

        I would welcome you to come visit sometime, especially if I am there. We sometimes have subs fill in for us.

        • Mark W

          I regret that I, too, have reached the random reply button phase. I want to do my best to distill the essence of our disagreement. Please, correct me if I exclude anything you find important.

          1) Who has choice?

          It is perhaps silly to use weather or other factors as a way of evaluating commitment. As I wrote the letter, it was a way to get at a question: what are the motivational factors for the people who gather in front of PP? Giving the benefit of the doubt to the sincerity of those protesters (and here I’m lumping together public protest and sidewalk counseling- I’m not sure there’s a difference for the purposes of this argument), I think it has something to do with reducing the number of terminated pregnancies. If I were to guess about the target number of terminated pregnancies for those who engage in that protest would be 0. All women who become pregnant will, whether they want to or not, carry their pregnancy to term. Their choice in the matter is immaterial. They, too, must take actions to avoid termination of their pregnancy.

          Those who engage in protest activities get to choose the time and place of their participation in keeping people from terminating pregnancies. They can choose how much risk they wish to expose themselves to. They can choose how much money they will pay or salary they will forgo. They can choose to engage in activities unrelated to pregnancy whenever they choose to.

          Those who are pregnant do not get that choice. I’ve never been and am unlikely to be pregnant, but I have spoken to people who have been. Their reactions vary: for some, it isn’t rough at all. Some even enjoy it. Others deal with a host of physical symptoms that sound like a constant case of body betrayal: body aches, nausea, difficulty controlling bodily functions, inability to sleep, constant fatigue, depression, suicidal thoughts, joint aches, heart burn. I could go on. It seems like for some people being pregnant is nine months of constant suffering followed by hours to days of greater suffering in labor. Many pregnant people, especially those who have physically demanding jobs, cannot work for the last several months of their pregnancy. When I say trust women, I mean trust them about their bodily sensations. If they say they are constantly suffering, I will not say, “No, you are not.” Since we are dealing with individual choices, individual perceptions about suffering matter more than generalities.

          So, it seems like those who protest want a right that they are denying those who are pregnant: the ability to choose where and when they will deal with the consequences of pregnancy. I think it is wrong to frame the abortion discussion in terms of who is “pro” or “anti” choice. It is about who gets to make choices and who does not. I think the people who protest are making arbitrary, unjust distinctions about who gets to choose and who doesn’t. By refusing to commit themselves to the same standard they would demand of people who are pregnant, they are committing an act of moral cowardice.

          2) What is a fair distribution of work?

          Conceiving, birthing, and raising children requires labor. Much of the work is done outside a body, and so can be done by anyone. I suspect we would find broad common ground on the ways in which our society undervalues this work and makes it difficult for those who want to to do so. We might even find broad common ground on ways to more equitably share this work.

          All of the work outside the body has little to do with pregnancy and birthing. That work is done inside the body, and can’t be done by anyone else. You point this out: the fairest solution would be to transfer zygotes or embryos between bodies. I would take it a step further: this is the only fair distribution of labor. Since it is impossible to distribute the work fairly, we, as a society, cannot demand that the work be done.

          Being pregnant is doing work. It is work that some people find difficult and others find easy, and some find it rewarding and others find it punishing. It is work that people who insist pregnant people carry pregnancy to term insist people who are pregnant do. No amount of support takes away that work. As a society, we generally agree that compelling people to work without their consent is problematic and should be avoided wherever possible.

          Suppose welding was a job so onerous, you would never do it, regardless of the salary. If someone insisted you weld, it would not matter how much assistance they provided to you or how they compensated you, you would not wish to weld. Even for nine months. People might die as a result of your refusal to weld- train tracks in ill repair could derail cars and cause accidents. Chemical tanks could rupture or leak. None of these factors would enable us to compel you to weld.

          Even when there have been social needs that compel people to labor (I’m thinking of military conscription), individual conscience has always been at least a part of the process. Men who were conscripted could claim religious exemptions and be assigned to non-combat roles or excused from the draft all together. If we are to adopt the mindset of conscription when it comes to birthing children, it seems sexist to deny women the same considerations of conscience we afforded men.

          3) What’s help?

          The position of a pregnant person is a precarious one, particularly if the pregnancy isn’t wanted. Pregnant people face unique risks to health, career, liberty, and financial safety. Because they do not feel they can manage these risks, some pregnant people choose to terminate their pregnancy. That person also faces risks to their health, but they have decided that the risks of remaining pregnant outweigh the risks of terminating a pregnancy.

          There are a wide variety of ways we, as a society, could change that person’s behavior. We could make resources for pre-natal care more widely available. We could champion mandatory paid maternity leave. We could support programs that supplement the nutritional needs of people who become pregnant. Planned Parenthood is responsible for doing none of these things, and seems a target of misdirected rage. “Sidewalk counseling” seems like trying to change the people instead of the incentives they’re responding to. Sure, the goal is the same, but the people doing the suffering during the course of that work seem to be picked pretty randomly.

          I don’t feel the obligation to visit one of these sessions to better understand what goes on at them. There are carefully chosen, publicly broadcast messages that make clear that a bus stop in a mountain town is a site where people are shamed and devalued for responding to their social incentives. If your intentions are to respect the agency of women, it seems like your first quarrel should be with those who put your message in dehumanizing terms, not with those who seek medical care.

  3. dingo

    “it says nothing about destroying children in the womb”

    Well, that’s because that isn’t what it is about, even though your painting it with that brush is a great way to appeal to emotions — something the entire anti-choice movement relies on to survive. But no one is advocating for “destroying children in the womb”.

    • Meredith Hunt

      But abortion is a violent act that destroys a child in the womb. And Planned Parenthood fights for the right to destroy children in the womb. They fight against the choice to stop abortion, against anti-abortion people acting on their beliefs. Not only do they fight, they practice what they believe on a huge scale with government subsidy to themselves. And they and other abortion advocates rely almost entirely upon emotional arguments, personal attacks, misinformation and outright lies, euphemistic language, logical fallacies, and censorship to survive. Call a pre-natal human being anything you like, but he or she is a person, defined in any meaningful, science-based way. See http://www.abortionNo.org.

      (Besides, the comment by dingo above is an equivocation. Because if the writer disagrees with my terms to describe abortion and what is aborted, even with the writer’s own terms, whatever they are (choice, clump of cells, etc?) the ad hominems say nothing about abortion.)

      • dingo

        I am not going to wade into the politics of Planned Parenthood, nor try to defend what the letter-writer initially posted, as that would just lead to a quagmire of Internet arguing that will waste everyone’s time.

        Whether or not a fetus is can be called a “child” or a “baby” or a “clump of cells” irrelevant. If there was a fully conscious human being completely reliant on my body for survival it should be up to me if I want to continue regardless of its level of conscious. If someone needed my kidney, and only my kidney to survive, the state should not be able to compel me to give it. Same thing with a fetus.

        And luckily, most of them are not fully conscious when the bulk of abortions are performed or necessary in the first place.

        • Meredith Hunt

          Though the original letter writer did bring up an important point on courage that I’d like to address, this being the anniversary of D-Day, I agree that most of what he raised is secondary to the main question.

          From my perspective, the consciousness threshold is arbitrary and philosophically based, not science-based. A human being in the womb, even at the earliest stages, is normally as conscious or viable as he or she needs to be in their natural environment. (Then there is the active potential for consciousness and viability to grow and develop.) But given that you say a person with a right to live has no right to occupy and depend upon your body, it doesn’t matter for the moment…

          I’m familiar with the Famous Violinist thought experiment of Judith Jarvis Thomson, which I believe you are summarizing. I first heard of this at the University of TN from a philosophy professor congratulating one of his students for presenting it to me. My response then was something like:

          -The person needing your kidney is your own young child.

          -The condition of kidney disease is a normal, natural part of human development that absolutely everyone experiences. Kidney disease is also short term, no longer than nine months.

          -It was your own actions that caused the need for your kidney. (Unless it was rape.)

          -The law requires an unwilling parent turn a child over to a responsible person, even if it takes time to do so. Meanwhile, the child must be provided for, or the parent is guilty of neglect, or worse. Our society usually holds a value that the greater the dependency of a person, the greater the protection and care we provide, (except when it comes to abortion).

          My conclusion is that this is a brutal position to take.

          • Meredith Hunt

            There is one more response that I just ran across. No one intends to or will ever force a woman to carry a child in the womb to term. Nor does the state force a parent to give his/her child a kidney. The law does, however, prohibit a parent from killing a child waiting on an organ donor list. Birth is a natural consequence of pregnancy, so Nature is the culprit. On the other hand, abortion forces the child, by dismemberment, etc. not to be born.

            At the “Uterus Rights Rally” in Asheville on May 22, a male person approached me and another pro-lifer, and after greeting us with “fxxx you” said a couple times, “You are rapists!” His thinking, expressed on his sign that I saw later was “Forced Birth = Rape.” What a poisoned climate this is.

            If pro-abortion-choice advocates really held to the position of bodily autonomy, I’d think they would allow the line to be drawn at a point when a human being can survive outside the womb. So, they would demand “deliver, rather than abort.” Instead, the current trend is to shoot down the state “born alive acts” on the basis of arguments that are clearly contradicted by the evidence that late abortions when children survive do occur.

      • luther blissett

        “they and other abortion advocates rely almost entirely upon emotional arguments,”

        Women have bodily autonomy. Like men. That’s not an emotional argument.

        Get a better hobby than harassment.

        • Meredith Hunt

          Rape and incest, back alley, poverty. etc. Those are emotional arguments. Bodily autonomy seldom gets beyond the slogan phase and ignores the complexity of biological motherhood. (My body, my choice, often shouted) Women are not men, anyway. The bodily autonomy equivalent for men is for an unwilling father who offers to pay for abortion and gives up all parental rights, would be free of child support for 18 years. I oppose that, too.

  4. Adam Duncan

    Mark, I am one of those who stand on the sidewalk at Planned Parenthood in Asheville. We all would love for you to stop one Saturday and have a civil conversation with us about the subject, It would be our pleasure to give you a better understanding of why we do what we do.

    • luther blissett

      Harassers aren’t entitled to “civil conversation” any more than stalkers are entitled to a date.

      • Adam Duncan

        Harassment is defined as aggressive pressure or intimidation. We are there simply speaking the truth and we’re not speaking aggressively or in an intimidating way. Our speech is based on love and care for both the women and the children. The truth is taking the life an innocent human being is murder, and we are simply there to beg the mothers not to murder their children. That is called love.

        • luther blissett

          Harassers aren’t entitled to judge whether they’re harassing people any more than stalkers are entitled to judge whether they’re stalking.

        • Bright

          Love? Really? Looks like selfishness to the max…what about overpopulation which is the single factor in destroying our world. What about kids who don’t have homes? Breeders care way more for themselves than for anything or anyone else. Be different…think.

      • Meredith Hunt

        I tend to agree with you. We have harassers stop from time to time. Though they might not be entitled, sometimes you can get through and make a human contact if you ask questions and listen to their concerns.

    • Mark W

      You have signs, posters, and slogans. Is there something else I should know? Perhaps add it to the signs.

      • Meredith Hunt

        Tangible help. Some signs say this. I personally think the “Abortion is Murder” signs should be away from the entrances of Planned Parenthood. I don’t think it’s the right message for there. I’ve told people what I think. But I don’t own the sidewalk. I wonder if the Asheville Protect Uterus Rights Rally organizers approved of the castration birth control and mandatory vasectomy signs. Women were holding those right next to me.

        • Mark W

          What tangible help is provided by comparing people in need of medical care to Hitler? Why does this tangible help stop shortly after the baby is born? There are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care right now, perhaps millions of children awaiting adoption in the world. There are lots of places to provide tangible help to children. Oh, but it’s too expensive or inconvenient to raise the few thousand children you’d need to in order to provide care to every already born child? How pleasant it is for you to make that choice.

          There are also lots of ways to provide tangible help to mothers. Real, accessible pre-natal care and counseling provided by qualified medical professionals would be. Actual, evidence-based, fact-informed sex ed would be. Greater access to birth control would be. Mandatory maternity leave would be. Childcare assistance would be. Moralizing is not tangible help. It may make you feel better, but it doesn’t help.

          • Meredith Hunt

            Mark W. There are too many distortions and misconceptions in the above comment to sort out. Also, it might not be worth my time. Part of what you call moralizing is offering tangible help. There’s a lot of government help available. Most people who walk away from the abortion place and let their children live have and know of their own resources. What people lack is a supportive community. (Once I had a fellow tell me he and his wife were aborting their child because he had just bought a house and if the baby were born he couldn’t afford the payments. He said he would change his mind if I gave him $10K. I got on the phone and pulled a doctor out of the shower. He said he would give them free pre-natal care. I told the guy, OK, I just got you $5k. Give me a day or even a few hours and I will find the rest. He wouldn’t give me any more time. A half hour later, I had the rest, but he had gone.) You don’t know us, sir. You seem to have a view about us based on a predisposition about abortion. Since abortion is a legit, choice, then we must be hateful and crazy, morally schizoid, or else just irrevocably ignorant. None of this is on point however. Even if every anti-abortion person who ever lived is among the worst people who ever lived, abortion still takes the life of a human being, a person in embryonic or fetal form.

  5. luther blissett

    Reproductive healthcare is healthcare. In an ideal world — or a decent industrialized nation — it would be covered as part of universal healthcare.

    (It would be nice if sex education in certain parts of the United States were better than “don’t” but it isn’t. The people who yell outside clinics are partly responsible for that.)

    Safe, legal abortion makes for better parents. Safe, legal abortion is a good thing. The people who yell outside clinics are fine with children locked in cages or children deprived of access to healthcare or children mowed down with AR-15s once they’re born, so to hell with them. They need a better hobby, like quilting.

    • Lisa Stidham

      I protest abortion, help the needy, sponsor children in 3rd world countries, raise my adopted grandchild and quilt. Maybe you could come up with something useful to do, too.

    • Stan Hawkins

      Put simply, do you respect the right for people to “assemble and exercise their right to free speech?” Your definition of legitimate discourse is just that. You may sincerely believe that “abortion is a good thing”, while I believe it is wrong to take the life. That does not make either of us necessarily a good or bad person.

      Finally, to wish someone to “go to hell” for exercising their right of free expression, assembly, and speech; just because they may annoy you or not subscribe to your beliefs seems self defeating falling far short of reason. However, I respect your right to say what you will.

      • luther blissett

        How about a crowd of people gathers outside your house banging drums and singing “Every Sperm Is Sacred” in the middle of the night?

        They have the right. That doesn’t stop them being terrible people who spend far too much time pushing against the limits of the law in order to harass people. They need better hobbies.

        • luther blissett

          To make the point: that something is a right does not mean it is “commendable”, let alone “obligatory”. Someone has the right to own a gun, but if he shoots himself in the groin after drinking a fifth of bourbon I have the right to suggest that he probably should not have owned a gun. You have the right in North Carolina to turn right on a red, but if you impatiently honk your horn at somebody who doesn’t, you’re a terrible driver.

          The yellers have decided that the legal choice of women to receive an abortion offends them so much that it is appropriate for them to collectively harass those women as a kind of punishment. To say that those people are terrible and should be ashamed of themselves is far less pernicious. After all, it’s not as if they feel shame, even as they try to shame others.

          • Stan Hawkins

            At least you appear to backtrack from telling them to “go to hell”, perhaps?

            If anything this thread proves that free speech does not always equate to commendable behavior. This is something we have known for hundreds of years.

            Yelling at someone, for example earlier this year as animal rights activist did while folks were enjoying a dinner out in Biltmore, most people would agree is unacceptable. You may have taken a position on that debate one way or another. It would be interesting to have a poll on animal rights activists who believe in yelling in someone’s face at dinner who also believe that pro-life activists exercising their right to assemble should “go to hell.”

            Yet, some would say is not the life of an “unborn child”, as a pro-choice advocate defined in this thread, more valuable and worthy of reasoned debate compared to the life of an animal? But, we should expect that animal rights activists would not necessarily agree with that premise.

            It seems very disingenuous and too convenient that we can call abortion reproductive health, pro choice, human rights, or the pursuit of life liberty and happiness. I would expect that once we stop calling the unborn child anything other than a child we may be able to resolve some differences.

          • luther blissett

            No, I’m not backtracking: they can go to hell.

            “I would expect that once we stop calling the unborn child anything other than a child we may be able to resolve some differences.”

            I would expect that once we stop calling an embryo anything other than an embryo we may be able to resolve some differences. And once certain men stop believing that that women are merely incubators.

          • Peter Robbins

            We’re never going to agree with you, Stan, as long as you just keep pounding your fist on the table like a postpartum zygote.

        • Meredith Hunt

          Sperm is not a human being. Leave it alone, it dies. A human embryo is a person in embryonic form. Leave it alone, it shows you what it is. Much of the pro-abortion-choice rhetoric confuses artifactual development with biological development. An artifact is made or built and only is a clock, rocket, or telephone when it has enough parts, etc. A living being begins all at once and directs its own development.

          • luther blissett

            “Leave it alone, it shows you what it is.”

            Ah, the “women are merely containers” argument. Keep going with that: it tells us a lot.

          • Meredith Hunt

            Women are not merely containers. That’s a stupid mischaracterization. They are potential mothers and other things besides, of course. The point is that a human embryo in his or her natural environment will in time show you what it is.

          • luther blissett

            “They are potential mothers and other things besides, of course.”

            Again, keep going with the “women are containers and maybe other things” argument, because it’s very revealing.

  6. Meredith Hunt

    While “moral cowards of the highest order” may be hyperbole, and while the anti-abortion protestors at Planned Parenthood in Asheville on Saturday mornings often get the police called on them, and while a few of the protestors have been arrested in the past and faced interesting court cases, and while the protestors often see middle fingers angrily flipped and hear the words yelled, and while a man with an Iranian name threatened to kill my wife if she didn’t “shut the fxxx up”, (he also called her a “dumb fxxxing bitch” https://lifeadvocates.blogspot.com/2018/07/aborting-father-threatens-to-kill-pro.html) and while some of us go out to Planned Parenthood even when it rains buckets or snows, and while I suspect that even if the protestors were heroic and self sacrificing, the letter writer would not be impressed, he does have a point.

    If abortion is murder, then the protestors (we) are not acting as if it was. I’m not sure if the letter writer is aware that during the early 1980’s, more anti-abortion activists were arrested for peacefully blocking access to abortion sites than ever were arrested historically for challenging laws supporting racial segregation. As a result of the “rescues,” pro-abortion advocates lobbied for and got passed the federal Freedom of Access to Abortion Act. They claimed that sitting on your butt and doing nothing else was violent. That act imposes severe penalties and fines.

    So, it is true that I’m unwilling to go to jail for peacefully attempting to save another’s child by “trespassing” and then remain in jail for the rest of my life. I am unwilling to lose my house, savings, and property. Call me a coward. In humility, I will own the description. I am afraid. It is sobering. Meanwhile, I will continue to go to the places of abortion and plead for the lives of the children who are killed there. I will continue to make use of the right of free speech while we still can, and maybe even when it becomes forbidden. It’s not much and it’s not enough. But it is something. It’s more than playing golf, watching cartoons, or attending the men’s prayer breakfast on Saturday morning, or whatever else all those pro-life Christians, voters, and others are doing.

    One weekend when we had about 200 anti-abortion protestors out there, I did an interview for a radio station. I said that to end the killing of children though abortion, we need the same commitment that those who took the beaches of Normandy did on D-day, an action beginning the reclaiming of civilization in Europe. And we need the same kind of support they had at home.

    • Meredith Hunt

      I said the rescues were in the early 1980s. I miswrote. They were in the early 1990s.

    • Mark W

      I have seen what I believe to be a fairly representative sample of these protests at the site I described. I have not seen anyone out there in the rain or heat.

      If you value your property more than what you describe as human life, you should probably straighten your ethics before demanding them in public.

      • Meredith Hunt

        I don’t ask anyone to do what I wouldn’t do myself. I would give up my property, freedom, and life to save the life of my own child or grandchild or friend. Does it make sense that because a person is unwilling to go t jail for the rest of his life for a stranger and lose his house and land, that he shouldn’t do anything in opposition to a grave wrong against the stranger? Or that he shouldn’t try to persuade another person to let their child live? That he should just go home?

        • Mark W

          A person is unwilling to go to jail for the rest of his life (surrender bodily autonomy), or lose house and land (expense), and so can make the choice about how much effort they should put forward to save the life of another? I mean, I’m on board, but I seriously doubt you are.

    • Mark W

      Wait a second… Your freedom and bodily autonomy are more important than what you describe as the rights of a fetus (hence your unwillingness to go to jail for them). You can make decisions that threaten the lives of what you call the unborn because you’re afraid of the consequences.

      Are you a closet pro choicer?

      • Meredith Hunt

        There’s no closet. Most anti-abortion people are out in the open about not willing to interfere with a woman aborting her child. They will write their congressman and ask him/her to pass laws, they will protest and march, they will come to the abortion places and speak or pray. They will offer and provide substantial help. They will adopt and foster parent. But ultimately they won’t get in the way. A few might, and they are in jail, but nobody knows who they are are. This is why it is dishonest for abortion-choice advocates to call us anti-choice. You should be able to figure this out on your own.

        (I don’t make decisions that threaten the lives of pre-natal children. That is active. What you said doesn’t make sense. What I said is that I don’t put myself in the way of arrest for attempting to save the life of one. That is being passive.)

        I saw a black family once drive up in two full vehicles and a couple matronly women went inside. They emerged later pulling a young girl out by the hand. They were anti-choice. The boyfriend, a white guy, came out a minute later looking mighty confused. I said, “Looks like your’re going to be a dad. Come down and talk with me. I might be able to give you some pointers.”

        • Mark W

          I really don’t see the difference between the actions you describe and “”getting in the way>” Taking up nearby parking spots is getting in the way. Making the decision to get an abortion more difficult is getting in the way. If you ask your congressperson to do it for you, is it not still your decision to get in the way? If I were to hire a 15-piece bagpipe band to play “Scotland the Brave” over and over again wherever anti-abortion activists chose to gather, would I be getting in their protest? You’ll have to scrub your hands a lot harder than that.

          The active/passive distinction also doesn’t hold water. If you believe your protest saves lives (which you do seem to believe), then doing something besides protesting is an active choice that threatens the lives of newborns. Suppose the parent after birth makes a passive choice to not feed or care for a child. I believe your sympathies would not extend to them the same way they do to yourself. The value of hairsplitting ethics requires a degree of nuance (acknowledgement that the morality of decisions is tied to their circumstances) that you seem unwilling to offer to most women.

          I’m honesty glad you’re OK with interracial relationships and that you feel comfortable telling strangers how to raise their children, but I don’t know how it gets you out of the conflict of ethics you’ve created for yourself. I hope the child that young woman is forced to bear has a very happy life, but I wish we lived in a society that let that child’s mother better control the circumstances around that child’s birth.

          • Meredith Hunt

            The legal cases would be covered in the archives of the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Mountain X and the former Greenline.. There is a difference between refusing to donate a kidney threatening to steal a kidney. I don’t disagree that being passive might allow children to die, but it is not the same thing as actively killing a child. In the case of passive parents, they have a special duty to provide for their children. How do I not allow a mother the same moral wiggle room you say I’m not applying to myself? I’d be interested to hear this. I not trying to solve my conflict. The only solution involves going to jail. You might be interested that I have explored this in great depth in a novel. Call it a literary solution. https://www.amazon.com/Then-Soldier-Universal-Man-3/dp/0984511180?SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duckduckgo-d-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=0984511180

          • Mark W

            The Mountain-X refuses to acknowledge a conversation could go on this long. Sincere apologies for the misthreading.

            I’m not sure I follow your kidney example. There aren’t really “passive” actions. You don’t make a choice not to do something. You make a choice to do something that makes the first thing impossible. I don’t decline to donate a kidney. If kidneys were infinite, I would hand them out without thinking about them. As I have only the 2, I choose to continue to use them for my well-being. I have decided that maintaining my lifestyle is more important than saving the life of another. I think that’s fine, that we are allowed to make choices, even when those choices cost other people their lives, under many circumstances.

            I’m not sure you think that’s fine. You believe it is wrong for a person to terminate a pregnancy. They should not have the right to make that choice, despite the costs to their liberty, autonomy, and property, because it will result in what you believe to be the end of a life. You believe you have the power to stop these women from terminating their pregnancies through your activism and protest. You believe you can make choices that will result in fewer pregnancies being terminated, yet a demand that you do so regardless of the threats to your liberty, autonomy, or property is an imposition on your rights.

            In short, I am asking you if you will hold yourself to the same standard you hold women seeking medical care to: it doesn’t matter what you want, or what the consequences will be. You do not have the choice to make fetal survival anything other than your highest priority. You have to protest abortion 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of the legal consequences or the weather. Much like that person will be expected to care for the health of their fetus 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of the financial consequences or the weather. You might lose your source of income by doing so. They might lose their source of income because they can’t continue to work while pregnant. You might be jailed and lose your autonomy. They have already lost theirs.

            If you are willing to be selective about the circumstances in which you protest to save what you think of as the lives of the unborn, will you extend to others the same choice about the circumstances in which they will do so?

            I will consider reading your novel, though the lack of women in positions of power in your list of characters is disheartening. In the mean time, would you consider doing some reading on Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu? It may help inform your writing.

      • Meredith Hunt

        Also, though I’m sure it makes no difference to you, but I have been arrested several times when speaking out against abortion. I’ve won some cases and lost some. One of my cases was a large part of Asheville’s current tolerance for speech in public.

        • Mark W

          I’d love to hear more about your story if you’d care to share. I don’t know that it makes a ton of difference in untangling your ethical mess, but I’m sure it’s a story from which we could all learn.

          • Meredith Hunt

            I don’t agree that not acting to save a life is the same as acting to take a life. Why is it that the law punishes people who take innocent lives, but not those who don’t donate kidneys? There is a distinction.

            Clump of cells and leaves of lettuce. The human embryo is in a totally different category of being. I think you know that. If it appears as a clump of cells, it’s a failure of perception. I consider myself a hobby entomologist and am fascinated in the complexity and sophistication in small life. Bugs are usually welcome in our house.

            Romania. I have an interest in any and every troubled time and place. Recommendations?

            Back to kidneys. Choosing to not do something in order to do another thing may be choosing to save lives in one place rather than another. So, you keep your kidneys to be healthy in order to do a good someplace else, not simply maintaining a lifestyle, but serving young people who are severely depressed.

            But abortion is a choice to take an action. It’s not passive. It is a choice to abort what has begun, and I’m using the word in a more generic sense.

            We will soon run out of corners (reply buttons) for talking on this site.

  7. Stan Hawkins

    Mark; perhaps you should just take another route to your intended destination if “freedom of speech and assembly” has a tendency to make you uncomfortable. However, your post is appreciated as it is enlightening about obvious contradictions in a thought process that also may be shared by others. So, thank you.

    Your quote: “I take no position on the first premise.” / How convenient for you to take no position on the matter of life and death of the unborn child. Some may say that is a bit cowardly or an intended oversight on your part. Some clarification may help your readers in understanding your post.

    Although, your quote: “People protesting Jim Crow laws were sprayed with fire hoses as they struggled for recognition as human beings” – seems to take the position that some have the right to be recognized as human beings. That is obviously absolutely right, but seems contradictory of your convenient approach to not taking a position on the first premise.

    I must say, it does seems a bit odd to be advocating shutting up, “go home right to lifers” utilizing a platform that advocates “free speech.” However, not surprising as that seems to be the trend these days to attempt to stifle those who take a position that ruffles the feathers of some who can’t seem to explain their position.

    Thanks again,

    Stan Hawkins
    Pro-Lifer / Free Speech Advocate

    • Mark W

      You have the freedom to say what you will. I have the freedom to tell you not to. The moral high ground of free speech is the last vestige of a scoundrel. It boils down to “What I’m doing isn’t so bad that it demands police intervention.”

      • Stan Hawkins

        Well then, I guess your problem can then be solved by seeking the least common denominator and just telling people to shut up. Duly noted.

        • Mark W

          I also have the freedom to tell you that makes very little sense.

  8. My Business - Pro Choice!!

    If you don’t agree with abortion – don’t have one. But as a woman, it is my choice what I did with my own body. The majority of these protesters that believe abortion is murder are the same people who don’t believe in public assistance- they want women to have babies that they clearly aren’t able to have, whatever the case may be, financial, emotional, whatever.. but they condemn these same women for receiving “handouts” when they can’t afford the child you are trying to force them to have. These same people also want their gun rights protected and believe in the death penalty.. where is the logic in that??

    A woman’s body- a woman’s choice. That is the way it should be. These protesters should go home. They shouldn’t be allowed to protest at Planned Parenthood or anywhere else.

    • Lisa Stidham

      How about exercising your right to choice before conception?

    • Meredith Hunt

      “If you don’t believe in slavery, don’t own a slave.”

      Put any oppressive or violent act or practice in place of abortion and you can see how ridiculous this slogan is.

      Even if the writer’s assessment of anti-abortion people and those other issues were accurate (and they are not) her claim is only that all anti-abortion people are hypocrites, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the legal, moral, and other status of the pre-natal human being, or “bodily integrity”. This comment makes no contribution to a discussion on abortion. I agree however with the writer that some opinions are so wrong and harmful that they shouldn’t be allowed to be expressed in public. For instance, a demonstration advocating the murder of innocent people.

      • luther blissett

        “This comment makes no contribution to a discussion on abortion.”

        You don’t get to make that choice, even though you desire to make so many choices on behalf of other people.

    • Richard B.

      Ms. My Business – Pro Choice: I have a question. You say in your comment “when they can’t afford the child…..”, thereby acknowledging that we do have a child here in the abortion equation.
      So, my question is…how do you rationalize that as a woman, “it is my choice what I did with my own body”, as the final be all to end all statement on the issue, basically challenging anyone to disagree as exposing themselves as bigots, chauvinists, and worse?
      You are clearly not considering, or understanding, or ignoring, that it is somewhat more complex than that, that the situation involves not one, but two bodies.
      I personally have no problem with those cases of “exception”, and people discussing abortion in good faith know what these cases are.
      But do you really believe that our society should be okay with using abortion as a birth control tool? For the convenience of the pregnant person?
      And why do parents who have a desperate need to adopt, or just want to do so for any reason? Why do these people have to pay an average of $30,000, maybe somewhat less, when we have all of these potential babies who are unwanted for many of the reasons you cite above?

      Just trying Ms. My, to open up the discussion. Trying to use a non-insulting and rational approach to create a civil dialogue, without triggering emotions that always shut off any type of discourse or debate.

      • luther blissett

        “Why do these people have to pay an average of $30,000”

        Because adoption in the US is a racket run by evangelical churches. Thanks for asking.

      • Melissa

        Abortion is not murder. Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, and abortion is a constitutional right. You expect us to respect your right to free speech when you dont respect women’s constitutional rights? Really? I am a great believer of constitutional rights, but what you are protesting is none of your business. Its personal. Whether or not a woman has an abortion has to bearing on your life at all. As you protest at planned parenthood, women go in and they come out. And you are exactly the same. Nothing happens to you. But that woman can continue her life, the way she chooses, instead of being forced into reproductive slavery. Women need to be able to control when and how many children they have. That is imperative. We dont have the luxury of birth control that is 100% effective. That’s not our fault. Thats just the way it is. But we certainly shouldnt be punished for that by being forced to carry a pregnancy we dont want. Women have rights. We are human beings too. And while you tend to focus all your attention on the “unborn”, you have my rights violated, and treat me like I’m livestock. I dont appreciate that nor does any other woman I know. I understand you have your beliefs, I have mine as well. You should respect them, they are just as important to me as yours are to you. What you have is a fundamental lack of respect for women. Our lives take precedent over an embryo. And I dont have to, share my body with anyone. I dont have to allow anything to feed off my body or to grow in my body or put my health at risk. I am an American citizen, because I was BORN in the United States. An embryo has no rights because they haven’t been born anywhere. And that’s that. The bottom line is you can protest all you want, the women you’re protesting hate you. They dont listen to you because they know you dont give a damn about them. You are there to take away their choices, and force them to be a parent against their will. And when I make life choices, I dont look for someone screaming baby killer at me to help me make my decisions. You dont matter to me, nor do your beliefs. Children need parents that want them and love them. You arent doing any favors to anyone by forcing women to have babies. You dont care if those babies are abused or trafficked into sex slavery, so long as they are born and that’s completely irresponsible. You might as well hand a newborn to just anybody on the street. Its the same thing. Parenting is for life. And you dont have the right to impose a life long sentence to women simply for having sex.

        • Meredith Hunt

          There are so many things wrong in this commentary from Melissa. Wrong about constitutional law to the essential unbreakable relationship between sexuality and reproduction, to the hostile interpretation of anti-abortion people, to human development and the value of a person at every stage of his/her life. I wish there was a way to address them all here. There are good and sometimes tangible answers for them. People build up an entire mythology based on misinformation, bias, and a defense of how they want to live, or how they have lived.

  9. Meredith Hunt

    The pro-life/anti-abortion position is that it is possible for our society to love and provide for and protect both mothers and their pre-natal children. The pro-abortion-choice people think that the pre-natal child often must die for the needs of the mother. Our view is positive and optimistic. The other view is narrow, cynical, and dark. It is that women must have a surgical operation or take pills to be equal to men. It by necessity adopts dehumanizing, demonizing language to obscure the miracle of human development in the womb and describe those who find ending that life to be abhorrent and tragic.

    I have explored this whole issue in a novel and short stories, many of the latter speculative in genre. I’ve debated and discussed abortion for decades, one decade of which was on some 50 college campuses all around the south and elsewhere, as far away as Oklahoma, South Dakota, southern Florida, and Delaware. These were never formal debates. Most often they were with small groups. Often we had noisy pro-abortion-choice protestors nearby. Anyway, I got tired of that environment (it got boring) and I started writing fiction, which has been published here and there and usually explores social issues.

    One of my best credits so far is: The Tragedy of Bernie the Homeless, published by the Dark Mountain Project, based in the UK: https://dark-mountain.net/

    So, I leave here for now. Find my stories if you like.

  10. My Business - Pro Choice!!

    Richard, I never said ALL people who are pro life are bigots what I said is the majority. I say that because the Republican party is the one always calling Roe v Wade back to the front. Who are any of you to decide what is “immoral” when it comes to abortion? Isn’t it the person who has an abortion the one who has to answer to that on Judgment Day?

    What about all of the other “immoral” things that are accepted in this Country? Like Trump for instance.. completely immoral and classless to boot. Maybe we should focus on getting him out of office.

    Why don’t those of you who are so wrapped up in forcing women to have babies that they obviously do not want to have for whatever reason- focus on more important issues in this Country. Like police brutality for example. Police officers everywhere are excused every day for actual murders of unarmed individuals.

    • Stan Hawkins

      I am a bit confused. For example, the internet resources often define “bigot” as one who is intolerant of other’s views towards an issue. If someone who expresses their pro-life views or freedom of speech and assembly privilege is auto-defined as intolerant, isn’t that the same as the “pot calling the kettle black” seemingly demonstrating intolerance towards pro-life activists views?

      Is not grouping the GOP or conservative leaning independent citizens, who believe in protecting the sanctity of life of the unborn child, in to the “bucket” of intolerance in and of itself an act of intolerance? You see, it is just not that simple and to make it so, some would say is a cop out.

      You are right of course, that it is not for anyone to judge someone for having an abortion. We can however lament the fact that we have taken the life of approximately 60,000,000 (million) unborn children in the United States since Roe V Wade or the early 1970’s. We can also lament the fact that why did this have to happen, and why with all of our resources could we not have come up with better solutions potentially saving the lives of many millions of children?

      And, we can and should question what is the motive behind the dehumanizing of unborn children, referring to them in various ways along with those who grieve for the staggering number of lives taken. If we could ever agree that, yes, these are children then we may find ourselves quite tolerable towards finding better solutions.

      • luther blissett

        “We can also lament the fact that why did this have to happen, and why with all of our resources could we not have come up with better solutions potentially saving the lives of many millions of children?”

        Tearing one’s garments over imaginary children — onto which one can conveniently project all kinds of things — is the way that conservatives distract themselves from real children, and how the US is the worst developed nation to have and raise children.

        “If we could ever agree that, yes, these are children”

        They’re not children until conservatives start complaining about them and their parents.

        • Stan Hawkins

          60,000,000 lives taken since the early 1970’s is not an imaginary number, look it up. Sure we can debate what happens to children when they are born, and under what circumstances the children are raised? We can also debate why is it that so many children are being brought to our southern border from other countries? Perhaps you misunderstand a thinking conservative who has no ill will for expectant mothers considering ending the life of their child. There are many alternatives we hope are considered and advocate in that direction.

          To your point, I say you are probably correct that some pro-life speech can be abrasive just as pro-choice speech can be illustrated by telling someone to “go to hell.” However, the origin of this post via Mark would just prefer that pro-life advocates would just “shut up and go home.” If we adopt his policy, what will we next need to shut up about? We could just treat the constitution as an “a la carte” menu where we just pick the ones we like, discarding what we don’t like today.

          Interestingly, unless I missed it, I have not read in this thread where any pro-life or pro free speech advocates have suggested anyone to just shut up. Perhaps that says something about something.

          • luther blissett

            I understand how uncomfortable it makes conservatives to be reminded that they care more about imaginary children than real ones.

            “If we adopt his policy, what will we next need to shut up about?”

            And you return to the logical pretzel that having the right to do something should be seen as an encouragement or obligation to do it. Stop putting your words in the letter-writer’s mouth.

            [The yellers’ ideal world would be one where women are denied all healthcare, not just reproductive healthcare. Doctors already require pregnancy tests before many otherwise-routine procedures or prescribing medication; if retrogressive states were to prosecute “suspicious” miscarriages, it too would be priced into their liability insurance.]

            “There are many alternatives we hope are considered and advocate in that direction.”

            The US is the worst developed nation in which to raise a child. Advocate for that to change.

        • Meredith Hunt

          Appears that because you deny realty, you have to imagine a false reality about those who present reality to you. It’s a way of making sense of it all.

    • Richard B.

      My my…My – Comparing an abortion with the existence of an elected President. Now that takes quite a stretch of one’s imagination. Not to mention changing the subject completely. So if someone makes a judgement, poses a question of morality that differs from your beliefs, then you consider that to be immoral. Do you understand the meaning of hypocrisy? Well, you just posed a perfect example of one who is a hypocrite.
      You, for instance, have determined that the Election of President Trump, his very existence as Chief Executive, is immoral, Yet you do not allow for the possibility of anyone else making such a judgment, such as me contemplating the morality of using abortion as a birth control method.

    • Meredith Hunt

      Nobody is forcing anyone to have babies. Childbirth is a natural and normally an inevitable result of pregnancy.

    • Meredith Hunt

      The reasoning within the letter writer is a bit wobbly..

      The writer says he takes no position on if abortion is murder. So, it might be or it might not be.

      But then he says, “Trust women”, which is saying that even if abortion is murder, it’s okay. Or, by this he might be taking the position that it isn’t murder, which is taking a position.

  11. Stan Hawkins

    The least common denominator of disagreement is no doubt alive in this debate. I sometimes ask myself the question; what if I am wrong? What is the greater wrong or least measure we could take? Most would agree that we all have a blind side, right? Does my political affiliation have to dictate my position, or does freedom mean I can choose my position without regard to my politics and stand my ground?

    If I am wrong about this issue, I would then have to say that a life growing in a mother’s womb is just a gang of cells and is no big deal – let’s let it slide. I would then have to say the mother’s choice of birth control overrides the consideration for the gang of meaningless cells growing in her womb. Then I suppose I would then need to take the recommended course of the origin of this thread and just shut up about it and go home.

    Simply said, I would prefer to be wrong, except in the case of the life of the mother at risk – her decision, about a method of birth control than be wrong about the priority of a gang of cells representing life given to a child.

    Thanks.

    • Mark W

      Great application of the precautionary principle, but I feel like your starting point might be a little iffy. If we start from the presupposition that all things are alive and entitled to rights, and we can only violate them if we are certain that we are protecting more things with rights, we’re going to run into trouble at dinner time if we need to kill 20 lettuce plants to make our salad. If you feel this is an unfair characterization of your position, please explain how a clump of cells is different than a head of lettuce.

      If, instead, we believe all things we currently recognize as alive are rights-bearing, life’s a little easier to navigate. That position would require that we not violate the rights of a thing we currently recognize to be alive (say, women, for instance), unless we have certainty that by doing so we are protecting the rights of something else which we currently recognize as alive.

      • Stan Hawkins

        Many in this debate possibly are caught in the middle and do not occupy extreme positions. Scribing these positions has a tendency to spark emotions as we have read. The right to say what you will is usually protected in various ways as it should be. And so it goes.

        I am not particularly skilled enough to debate the complete value and rights of a “head of lettuce.” However, I do know and everyone should know from personal experience, that our lives are attained only through the creation and gift of life by cells coming together in the mother. Perhaps, we can all agree on that, and reflect upon what impact would be missing from our communities and families if we were not allowed to be brought forth alive from our mother’s womb? In other words, we are here and we are alive.

        The “head of lettuce”, as far as we know, can’t think through the implications of the aforementioned premise. Medical professionals, from my experience, do tell us that newborns recognize the sound of the mother’s voice and to a lesser degree the fathers from “their” time in the mother’s womb. I can’t speak to any experience with a “head of lettuce” other than to say it doesn’t last long “if you don’t keep it in safe places.”

        Now, as to being caught in the middle. Just as there are many anti-gun violence advocates who hope and pray for fewer incidents of gun violence, there are many who still believe in the 2nd amendment and the right to bear arms and decide to own guns including semi-automatics. The right to end the life of a child in the mother’s womb is equally controversial. The taking of a life can be found in both of these issues, thus we often find activist on both sides of these issues facing one another.

        That said, leaving our politicians set aside, can we not agree that much fewer incidents of gun violence, and much fewer incidents of the mother ending the life of a child are the goals? There are laws, or at least court cases that currently protect both the right to end the life in a pregnancy and the right to own a gun, all of which are under pressure from various individuals or entities. I fear many simply miss the point and just pick up the “soup du jour” talking points from the talking heads on TV who are really just selling us soap, cruises, or drugs.

        Is the goal to scribe the best retort, or is the goal to save lives and find the best action plan to achieve that goal while observing the law of the land?

        • Mark W

          I’m pretty sure we can both engage in verbal sparring as a way to frame our values and engage in the work of policy compromise to solve problems collectively, but I take your meaning. Let’s talk policies.

          I suspect everyone in this thread would agree our adoption system is in serious need of reform. We could probably find common value ground on making it easier and less costly for loving families to care for kids in need of homes. About 670,000 kids will spend time in foster care this year, and about 100,000 of them will be adopted (source: https://adoptionnetwork.com/adoption-statistics). From that same source, kids spend an average of three years in foster care before they are adopted (or age out). Speeding up the process will require suspending our belief that biology always produces the best parents. Reducing the cost will require a recognition that we, as a society, will pay for the costs of parenting failures eventually (in the form of social services, incarceration, etc.) and that it’s cheaper to pay them up front than to wait. Mandatory paid maternity leave for adopted mothers would do a lot of good there, too. But that’s child raising, not child birth, and no one’s protesting in front of DSS or picketing fire stations where parents can safely leave children they can’t or won’t raise. It seems like adoption and foster care are really only barely part of the conversation.

          We could probably look to the example of countries with both liberal abortion laws and really low abortion rates and provide easy access to birth control, mandatory paid maternity leave, and free or reduced cost daycare for the first 5 years of life (source: https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide). It’d be expensive, sure, but it’s the lives of children we’re talking about, here. Coercing people to pick up those costs seems a bit like inviting a friend to a restaurant, ordering a bunch of food, then sticking them with the bill while we slink out the door with a smug sense of moral superiority.

          We could also find common ground on evidence-based, comprehensive sex education. While abstinence only sex ed is better than nothing, we can dramatically reduce abortions with sex education for teens that includes birth control (and consent training- not in the source, I just think it’d be swell) (source:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3194801/ ).

          Planned parenthood makes literally none of those decisions. If we want to, as you put it, save lives and find the best action plan, these steps might get more juice for the squeeze than shouting at individual women. When we’ve done all we can to reduce rates of pregnancy termination, we can come back around and fight about the tough cases. Let’s take care of the easy ones first, though.

          • Peter Robbins

            Hey, maybe we could even get Planned Parenthood to help out with contraception, sex education, family planning, etc. You know, if we asked them nicely.

          • Stan Hawkins

            Thank for your contribution to this issue. Having considered and read most of your sources you noted in your last post, I have noted some trends that bring a few questions to mind. It seems that the area of the US known as New England has consistently experienced fewer teen pregnancy rates and fewer incidents of terminating a pregnancy. See article below in the first few paragraphs:

            https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2014/09/what-behind-declines-teen-pregnancy-rates

            It is usually accepted that New England is a more affluent area of the country as compared to say the Southwest or Southeast United States. Since you place an emphasis, and rightly so, on education as a piace holder of possible solutions to saving lives, let’s talk about education.

            Being a conservative, (although we do spend taxpayer money) it is probably not surprising to you that I may be an advocate of private schooling options, especially as an alternative for those kids who find themselves in circumstances of economic hardship for whatever reasons. While education can mean many things to different people, it is this writer’s opinion that education can provide hope, and where hope is found, personal responsibility may also be found – leading to better economic opportunites and healthcare – saving lives. The statistics shown in your sources and the above source do show that economic status does have an impact on the number or ratios of terminations of pregancy, or as I say the taking of a life.

            Certainly your research shows that a combination of factors coming together in education can reduce the incidents of taking a life, but it is not clear that this leads necessarily to a better quality of life outcome. Which, my premise, a better economic outcome can be achieved by more educational opportunites and options to raise people up from the cycle of “living at the bottom rung” of the ladder. It seems living at the bottom rung of the ladder leads to higher ratios of breakdowns in personal responsibility and as your sources show, greater incidents of terminating the life in the mother’s womb.

            However, the trends in the New England area do stand out and prompts questions as to why? See source below in the third subsection:
            https://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/regional-economist/october-2012/measuring-the-effect-of-school-choice-on-economic-outcomes

            Certainly hopeful economic opportunites can as some have said lift all boats. But, as we know the economy rises and falls in cycles. If we have an issue we want to do something about, should we rely soley on tax payer dollars being used in our public school systems, or should we aggressively promote giving parents or guardians of children options, who want to try something different- to break the cycle of “bottom rung living?” It seems a fact that a more affluent circumstance leads to better outcomes in many ways.

            You may have some resources that can shed more light on these questions. Not to change the subject, but certainly school achievement and thus hope for the future is a debate in the Asheville Public School system currently.

          • luther blissett

            “If we have an issue we want to do something about, should we rely soley on tax payer dollars being used in our public school systems, or should we aggressively promote giving parents or guardians of children options”

            “Options” for me means no options for thee. If you want to send your children to private school or homeschool them, do it out of your own pocket. (Also, private schools should pay taxes.) But you’re skirting around the things you find inconvenient, namely that other countries manage things better with a much smaller variance between rich and poor, because they support parents better and teach sex ed properly.

            Poor people will have kids because kids project hope a generation forward. When they choose not to have kids, it’s because they’re preserving some hope for themselves.

  12. Peter Robbins

    I have as little confidence in the self-evident correctness of your moral terms as you do, Stan. That’s why I would trust matters to the conscience of the woman and refrain from shouting unsought counsel at her from across the street. But then I’m a stickler for decorum in public discourse.

    • Meredith Hunt

      I’m not defending SH remark, because I think it needs more work, but he did say “if”. It’s a hypothetical. It doesn’t show uncertainty, but honest reflection. Everyone should do it.

  13. luther blissett

    1. Claiming that women need to be informed of “alternatives” is patronizing paternalistic nonsense, especially in a state like North Carolina that shovels funds to “crisis pregnancy centers” that peddle lies and misinformation:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22770790

    2. The yellers know this, and yet disingenuously cloak their ongoing attempt to shame women because they’re invested in shaming women as a pastime. They believe that shaming (at least sometimes) works.

    3. They apparently lack the capacity to feel shame themselves.

    • Meredith Hunt

      The world is so much more complex than LB can admit to. For instance, not all women are the same.

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