Sunday, October 5, 2008

I Sure Do Live In a Very Different Place

A little over a year ago, I was completing my sixth (?) year of living in a town with weekly--sometimes multiple per week-- protests against the war.

So far I haven't seen any of those here, though I understand there was a second annual "peace vigil" last night at the other UU church in town (I couldn't go due to other things in which I was involved). Today, however, while driving home from work, I saw my kid's favorite park, which spans several blocks, completely surrounded by what appears to be people fresh from church, holding anti-abortion signs that said things like "Jesus saves and heals," "abortion is murder," and various biblical quotes relating to children.

I found myself thankful that I didn't have my kids in the car so I wouldn't have to explain what the anti-abortion signs were about. Why oh why did they choose a children's park of all places to conduct their protest? That just seems so, well, anti-family values. Shouldn't a mom have the right to shelter her three or five or seven year old from the concept of abortion? Thinking about their choice of venue makes me raging mad, actually. And I noticed that very few kids were playing at this usually very busy park.

[Edited to add: Please see my post-script comment in the comments section, where I name an "adoption is the loving option" sign as the most offensive among the signs]

Now, don't get me wrong. For one thing, I am fairly pro-choice in terms of political policy, but have in recent years become semi-conservative about abortion on a personal level. Though I would support a friend in her emotional process should she choose to have an abortion, I wouldn't ever be the one to suggest it. For another, back in my old town, there were certainly occassional anti-abortion protests, but it just seemed like such a striking contrast to my old town having never seen a protest here against the war, which also involves debate over things like "murder." I actually think if there was an anti-war protest here, there would be a lot of anger about it despite the fact that most Americans are very critical of the war.

On a lighter note, I am not a Sarah Silverman fan, but she did have this hilarious episode on her show where she unwittingly becomes an anti-abortion protestor. It is very funny, and if you can put up with Silverman's type of humor, and a totally irreverant and immoral take on abortion (remember, Sarah Silverman has even joked about cancer), I recommend it. I couldn't find the whole episode online, though, so instead I leave you with a clip from the end:


hopalong said...

I think my biggest problem personally with abortion protests of that sort is that I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish. Do they really think someone is going to walk by and say "Hey, I never realized that abortion could be thought of as murder" and suddenly change their mind?

It just seems like an exercise where people can "feel" like they're doing something, but really, they're just going to be a little irritating to people who don't share their opinion, or embarrassing to people who do (at least to me).

I guess it could serve the purpose of showing numbers? I think that's usually one of the things that, say, anti-war protests accomplish best: they show just how many people are opposed to the war and are willing to actively protest it.

I'm also bothered by these kinds of abortion protests because they could be doing so much good in other ways, that it just seems a waste -- they could be offering support to people who've decided to keep a baby in difficult circumstances, for example. They could be connecting women who need money for prenatals or something with services, or helping them out themselves. They could counsel young girls who are afraid of their parents' anger/reaction to hearing about their pregnancy. They could offer free childcare to women who already have kids that they're struggling to take care of. But instead, they're shouting and holding signs.

I'm sure a lot of people do both some of those constructive things and protest, but I think that the sign-holding just makes me think that they're more concerned with feeling self-righteous than actually doing anything helpful.

Masasa said...

Come to think of it, the sign that made me the most frustrated was the one that said "adoption, the loving option" or something like that.

This perhaps deserves a post in and of itself. This is a harmful way to frame adoption, for this among a handful of reasons:

1. It implies that adoptees should be grateful that they at least weren't 'murdered.' It contributes to the feelings among many adoptees that they are told their whole lives to just be grateful, as if any negative feelings they might have about being adopted are a lack of graciousness.

2. It implies to pregnant women considering their options that adoption is the "feel good" choice. This is perhaps one of the most damaging myths out there.