Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Anti-Abortion: Protesting the Protesters

UPDATED: Just for curiosity's sake, I've added a poll in the sidebar on this issue. The poll was open for one week and here are the results:

Should graphic images of aborted babies ever be used to raise awareness and promote education on the topic of abortion?

50% - YES - they show the truth for all to see
14% - NO - they're disgusting and upsetting for many people
35% - MAYBE - it depends on how they're used
0% - NOT SURE - I've never given it much thought

I took my adorably chubby nearly 6 month old granddaughter to her check up today, and was blessed to hold her, snuggle with her, kiss her soft little cheeks and see her face bloom into precious, toothless baby smiles. I absolutely love being around her, as she's such a fun, snuggly, lovey baby. Then, I came home and read this:

"Rob Rudnick would rather be flipped off than ignored. Driving a box truck with graphic, billboard-sized pictures of aborted human fetuses on it, he gets a lot of both. Rudnick, of Bend, Ore., was cruising Wheaton Way, Warren Avenue and Highway 303 on Monday afternoon as part of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s Reproductive “Choice” Campaign. Rudnick, 55, said he would prefer a negative reaction than none at all." (source)

This was how the article started off. A news article in my hometown paper about a man and his anti-abortion organization protesting abortion, in my hometown of Bremerton WA. Not unlike any other small town, Bremerton has changed a lot since I was born there, grew up there and lived there into my early 30s.

As I read the article, none of it was really "news" to me. Anti-abortion protesters have been using graphic, real-life images of murdered babies for a long time, in an effort to get the message across that babies are PEOPLE, and even the tiniest ones deserve a chance at life, and do not deserve to be slaughtered in the womb. They've also met with monumental resistance from all sides - from the passively apathetic (ironically enough) to the aggressively pro-choice - as those who see the images are (rightly) horrified and offended. I believe both sides of this issue will agree that the images themselves are brutally difficult to look at. Most of the images used in this way are clearly recognizable as very small human body parts mixed in with some bloody tissue. Such is the case of the image used on the truck mentioned in the article linked above.

While the article itself isn't really "new" news, it was the comments that drew my attention. Again and again you'll read words like "offensive" "obscene" "gruesome" "disgusting" and "horrifying". Again, both sides will agree that the images themselves are desperately heartbreaking to see. However, the vast majority of people commenting on this article also bring with them a genuine anger toward the messengers of the anti-abortion movement. How DARE they drive that truck around town where kids can see it!? How DARE they shove those repulsive images in my face and force their views on me?! How DARE they violate my peaceful, blissfully ignorant lifestyle with those REAL and violently shocking images of what "pro-choice" really means?! Indeed, the majority of comments on this article are people up in arms that these images are being used. These are not people shocked and horrified that this is the end result of abortion - these are people shooting the messenger because they are personally offended by the images that shine a light on abortion's first line victims (baby is the target, but the medically documented evidence of both short and long term side affects both physical and psychological on the mother, are irrefutable. There are always at minimum, two key victims of abortion). If I live to be 1,000 years old, it will not cease to amaze me that people respond like this to the issue of abortion. Abortion clinics in their very neighborhoods are slaughtering babies all day long, and these are people more ticked off and infuriated that someone has the audacity to show pictures of it, than they are that the act is occuring in the first place.

One of the hoped-for goals of using images like this, is to shock people into realizing what abortion truly is. At the very end of one spectrum of "pro-choice" is a bio-medical waste bag filled with the body parts of a dead baby. That is a fact and there is no way around it. All kinds of liberals will come flying out of the woodwork to deny that this is true, but all their defenses and all their crowing about a woman's right to choose, it being her body, and blah blah blah, still doesn't put that baby back together and put him back into the safety and sanctity of his mother's womb where he is protected and allowed to grow to full term. No, while the liberal lunatics* are still railing on and on about "women's reproductive rights", trash bins are still filling up with these dead babies. The very ones used in anti-abortion campaign images, in an effort to wake people up from their insane stupor, and realize what we as a culture are doing. The two sides of this issue passionately disagree on it's effectiveness, while the one side says it will never work, and other side believe it to be a genuinely effective tool to educate at least some people, who may have not otherwise realized the seriousness and the reality of abortion.

This is where the story gets personal, for me. Subjective experiences being what they are, in my own case I can tell you that using graphic images of aborted babies does in fact work to educate people on the issue, and just very well may save a few innocent, precious tiny little lives, who cannot defend themselves and need someone else to stand up for them. I've briefly mentioned this before (on the old blog in 2006, here) but I never gave the details. I think the details are important.

It was either 1979 or 1980, and I was about 16 years old. My friend called me and said "I think I'm pregnant and I need to get an abortion". She might as well have said "I think I'm an alien and I'm going to grow wings out of my forehead and fly back to mother planet". The news of a potential pregnancy was shocking enough but to hear her say "abortion" was just completely foreign and mind-blowing to me. In my young mind this was a dark and scary and mysterious kind of thing that no one I ever knew actually did, but one of those things you heard about "other" girls doing, that made them not pregnant anymore. Somehow I didn't connect it to the reality that it was a procedure that ended the life of the baby, because even in 1979 the propaganda machine was in full motion to convince girls that while they may be "pregnant" according to the tests, it's not really a "baby" yet, so we shouldn't think of it that way. No one I knew really knew what an abortion was, or what it entailed, we just knew it was a frightening medical procedure that hurt, ended the pregnancy, and then was never talked about again, ever. In 1979 it was still a shameful thing to become pregnant outside of marriage, and it was even more shameful to ever discuss having an abortion. Our culture may have already been on the slippery slope to full-on liberalism, but at least we still knew what right and wrong was, even if we didn't follow it like we should have.

As far as I know, we didn't have an abortion clinic in Bremerton, so my friend wanted me to come with her to Seattle to a clinic she found in the phone book, and drive her home after the procedure. She was borrowing her mom's car and gave her some story about where we were going, and she didn't even care that I didn't have my driver's license. She'd already contacted the clinic and made the appointment, and they informed her that she had to have someone else drive her home, as she would be sedated and unable to drive. I very reluctantly agreed to go with her, not realizing what I was agreeing to. More than anything, she was my best friend and I knew I just needed to be there for her, even though I didn't honestly have a clue what she was doing. We boarded the ferry, sat in the car and cried the whole way there. As we drove up to the clinic and parked, there wasn't much talking, but we agreed I'd just wait in the car outside until she was done. What neither of us knew, was that there would be anti-abortion protesters outside the clinic that day.

While she was inside and I was waiting in the car trying to process in my own thoughts what she was doing, one of the protesters walked up to the car. I don't recall if it was a man or a woman, but they asked me if I was there to have an abortion. I said no, my friend was inside. They asked if I'd like to see some material they were handing out to the public and I said sure, and took a pamphlet. The protester walked away and I started reading the pamphlet. It was small, but it was loaded with the medical facts about the different kinds of abortions, and the complications common with each type of procedure. I couldn't believe what I was reading but at the same time I knew it was all real. With each section on the different types of abortions, there were pictures of the aborted baby to show the reader what the baby looked like after the specific procedure. Immediately my eyes welled with tears as I stared at the pictures of the dead babies. In my mind I went to memories of my neice and nephew when they were newborns and how soft they were, how sweet they smelled and how precious, innocent and defenseless they were. That was my only experience with babies at the time, and I looked at the pictures again of the babies in the pamphlet and just sat there in the car and wept, and wept. Those little boys would never wear adorably cute tiny little baseball caps, and those tiny little girls would never get to wear a pretty summer sundress and dance in the daisies. My heart felt like it was going to blow up out of my chest as I just sat there and cried for them. Suddenly it occured to me, what I was seeing in the pamphlet was exactly what was happening in the brick building right in front of me. Heartbreak turned into a frightening kind of fury, and to this day I'm stunned at the courage that filled me and my scrawny little 16 year old body.

I wiped my face, jumped out of the car and ran inside to the clinic. I didn't see my friend so I just called out her name. "Please!" I yelled, as loud as I could in the direction I thought the rooms were in, that she might be. "Please do NOT let them kill your baby, please get out of here before it's too late!! I'll help you, my mom will help you, you don't have to do this!!" It never even crossed my mind that there were other girls and women in that clinic, there for the very same reason my friend was. I never even really noticed them until I yelled that and someone started crying. I looked in the waiting room and it was packed. A girl was crying, most were just staring at me like I had 11 heads. Then it hit me that many of those girls and women in the waiting room that heard what I just said, were there to kill their babies too, even if they didn't realize that is what they were doing. I started crying again, and yelled for my friend again and begged her to come out. I guess it was their security that ushered me out of the building but my friend was right behind them, crying and following me to the car. She'd already been sedated but they had not yet performed the abortion. I drove us home, but I don't remember doing it. We got on the ferry and talked about all sorts of things pertaining to having a baby. Bottles, baths, poopy diapers, a baby's first steps, etc. She was scared, but when I showed her the pamphlet, she was even more disgusted that she almost did that to her baby. I promised her that as her best friend I would be there for her and the baby day or night. I would help her no matter what, and that she wouldn't have to be alone through it. I promised her my mom would help too (even though I had no idea how I was going to tell my mom that my best friend was pregnant!), and I just needed her to know that she didn't have to be alone through any of it, and that she had people who cared about her and would be there for her. I do remember at point in the car we laughed that I came running into the clinic like a nut, and screaming for her. She said all she heard was my voice calling her name, and she knew she had to leave. We were both surprised I wasn't arrested that day. That would have been an interesting phone call home, for sure.

The next day we spent hours talking about this, and how she would break the news to her mom, and then how I would break the news to my mom. Sadly, that day never came. What neither of us knew at the time was that mixed with the sedation she was given at the clinic, was a drug to dialate her cervix and induce labor to make it easier for the "doctor" to perform the abortion and her body to then react "naturally" to no longer being pregnant. She went into premature labor and the baby didn't make it, as she was very early in her pregnancy, about 7-8 weeks. This all happened nearly 30 years ago, and to this day I wish I would have been 10 minutes sooner rushing into that clinic. I didn't know, she didn't know, and we all learned a hard, heartbreaking lesson the hardest way possible. To add insult to injury, she received a detailed invoice in the mail about a month later that described everything they had done "for her" while in the clinic. The drugs used were listed, and that's how we found out why she really lost the baby.

This was my personal education into the topic of abortion, thanks entirely to an anti-abortion protester who used graphic images of aborted babies, in their material. I wasn't able to save my friend's baby that day, but it did open my eyes to what abortion really is, and I have been outspoken about it ever since. I am one person that can say YES, these images are offensive, obscene, repulsive, disgusting, awful and violent, and they WORK. Sadly, the pro-choice propaganda machine has been at full speed for many years, loudly and boldly trying to get us all to believe such nonsense as 'it's not really a baby'. All anyone has to do, is see the physical evidence for themselves to realize they've been lying all along.

While I agree with some of the commenters (on the article I referenced above) about not wanting your kids to see these images, I would rather they DO see them so that we can discuss it, and they can understand what abortion really is, rather than them never see it, and buy the lie that organizations such as Planned Parenthood want them to believe instead. I would much rather my kids know the truth about abortion, and that's the one thing pro-choice organizations do NOT want people to know.

It is an evil, twisted, sick culture we live in and it's not improving. Adults and children alike NEED to be armed with truth and facts, if they're going to make any kind of difference at all. I only wish we lived in a society that found it unthinkable to ever need these kinds of images to wake people up from their apathetic, delusional slumber.

In conclusion, there is a rather interesting irony to today's article I linked to. My local hometown newspaper now called the Kitsap Sun used to be called the Bremerton Sun. It was that same paper that I wrote a letter to the editor on this very issue, about two years after taking my friend to the abortion clinic in Seattle. The experience was so profound to me that I had to write about it and many friends suggested I submit it for publishing in the paper. With all the wisdom and passion of an eighteen year old girl, I poured out my heart to young readers like me, and begged them to educate themselves on what abortion really is, and to seek the alternatives. My letter was published, and within days my phone began to ring (my number was listed and I used my real name) and the folks calling me to respond to my letter had the same kinds of things to say to me, as the commenters in today's article. I was just the messenger and they verbally shot me with as many insults and degrading names as they could come up with.

As they say, the more things change, the more things stay the same. I don't know anything about this pro-life organization touring Bremerton right now, but if what they're doing opens the eyes of someone and in turn spares the life of one precious baby, it's worth all the nasty insults people can dream up. Maybe all those people shooting their mouths off (or their keyboards, as it were) against this sort of awareness campaign would like to volunteer as a part of a medical waste clean up crew in the local abortion clinic for a week. It's disturbing to think that even that, may not wake some people up to the fact that abortion is the slaughter of innocent children.

(*The dictionary defines a lunatic as someone who is marked by extreme recklessness, wildly unsound mind, foolishness and/or eccentricity. I believe that the behavior of anyone advocating a practice or a procedure that involves the invasion of the womb for the sole purpose to destroy the life growing inside, qualififes as the textbook definition of a lunatic.)

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe