I helped organize a counter-protest this morning to an anti-abortion protest in front of Planned Parenthood, and while I was able to keep my cool for the most part, the level of misinformation and the lack of critical thinking skills left me shaking my head in dismay (and muttering the F-bomb under my breath).
We set up across the street from Planned Parenthood and they began to trickle over to stand in front of us to hide our signs. I stood my ground in front of one man as he tried to push his way past me and threatened to call the police because I was standing my ground. He pushed me again.
“Sir, what you just did is classified as assault. If you don’t move away from me right now, I will call the police and I will press charges.”
He pushed again.
“I’m trying to save babies,” he said.
I stood firm. “I’m trying to save women. Now, move away or I will call the police and I will have you arrested for assault.”
I stared him down and he moved on.
I stood in front of another woman and she started yelling at me.
“I’m 73!” she said.
“I’m 63,” I answered. “What does that have to do with anything?”
I asked her if she’s for universal access to health care. Naturally, she said something about the poor babies.
“What about the poor women?” I asked.
“I’m a Christian,” she said.
“So am I. What about the already-born?”
I told her I chose not to have an abortion when I was advised to, and then my son was killed by a health care system that wouldn’t take care of him because he couldn’t get health insurance.”
“God took your son,” she said. “God has a plan.”
I lost it. Fortunately, my rabbi friend, Wolff was standing there and folded his arms around me.
“What took her son,” he said to the woman, “had nothing to do with God. Her son was killed by greed, not God.”
Meanwhile, I was sobbing and mumbling, “fuck off,” into his chest so she wouldn’t be able to hear me.
“I used to be an agnostic,” she said. “I tried every religion there is before I was born again.”
Wolff tightened his arms around me and glared at her silently.
The woman backed off, and the next time she tried to talk to me about how God took my son, I excused myself, turned around and walked away. I don’t need to talk to someone with the critical thinking skills of a rock.
“I wonder why it’s God’s will when greed kills your son, but not when a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy,” Wolff said.
Another man carrying a Christian flag tried the God thing again. He had overheard me speaking about my son.
“Bless you for choosing life,” he said. “God will bless you because God has a plan.”
I glared at him and said, “God didn’t kill my son. A greedy doctor did by choosing to let him die rather than save his life. Please just leave me alone.”
Then another woman asked why I seemed so angry because she, after all, was so loving with her anti-abortion sign.
I told her I’m angry because my son died and she and her friends didn’t seem to care about that at all.
“Oh, you’re angry because you couldn’t kill your baby,” she said.
I couldn’t even imagine where that had come from, so I explained that I had chosen not to have an abortion, but that our broken health care system had killed my child.
“So, you wish you had been the one to kill him?” she asked.
“Fuck off,” I said and walked away. That was when I had to leave. I can’t stand having someone think it’s OK that people are dying every day from lack of access to health care, that if you close women’s clinics, women die, and then turn around and call themselves “pro-life” or “Christian” because they want to limit women’s choices.
A few of the people I spoke to wanted to see alternatives to Planned Parenthood open up, wanted to see everyone have access to health care, were anti-death penalty and anti-war. I really liked talking to them, even though we disagreed on abortion.
But the vast majority of people I encountered were ready to hate me without knowing anything about me. All it was about was their view of God and trying to force it on me. The Romanian man I met said it beautifully.
“God is there to love us and help us through the worst of things. We honor that by loving each other, even if we don’t agree.”
As we were speaking a teenage girl said to me, “God has a plan.”
“Please don’t tell me about God and plans,” I said. “If you ever lose a child, perhaps you’ll understand where I’m coming from here. God had nothing to do with my son’s death; it was a greedy corrupt system where he couldn’t get insurance and he couldn’t get care. Planned Parenthood took care of me when I was uninsured and they gave me contraceptives. When I got sick, they treated me and probably saved me life. They helped me prevent an unplanned pregnancy, so you could say they helped me prevent having to have an abortion.”
A young man stepped forward and tried to tell me something about pregnancy, speaking over me as I spoke to the young woman.
“First of all,” I said, “Never talk over me. That’s just rude, and it won’t save the lives of any pre-born children, OK? And since you’ve never been pregnant and never will be, you have no place lecturing me on pregnancy.”
Let me just say it one more time for emphasis.
God did not take my son from me. God had nothing to do with it. My son died from greed. He died from a broken health care system. He died from negligent homicide.
If we take women’s clinics away, women will die, and while they may not matter to you, they matter to me and to all the people who love them.