If there is one thing that pro-lifers are good at, it is creating posters intended to shock and blame. The most disturbing and extreme pro-life poster I have ever seen is, by far, the "Malachi" poster (circa 1993), which shows a blown up photograph of a supposedly aborted fetus. Lately, the pro-lifers have been less graphically disturbing but just as relentless, displaying phrases like "Abortion is Murder". Last weekend posters like these were on exhibit at a pro-life rally less than one mile from my school. Over 50 people came out to stand with National Life Chain Sunday, a project of a Christian pro-life ministry based 45 miles north of Sacramento, CA called Please Let Me Live. These "life chains" are held in numerous cities across the U.S. on the first Sunday of every October (for a list of cities that participated, click here).
The event, which was advertised in the Community Calendar of the Dallas Morning News, was facilitated by the Immaculate Conception (how ironic) Catholic Church and lasted for about an hour underneath the hot Texas sun. I was unable to attend, but a group of about 15 counter protestors, made up of mostly students, were there to represent the pro-choice side. Even though the Life Chain manual encourages "Chainers" to accommodate counter protestors with kindness, the manual does advise them to refrain from conversation. But, according to a North Texas Daily article, there were instances of heated debate between some pedestrians and protesters. One of the things that upset the counter protestors the most was when a male protestor brought his daughter over and proceeded to tell her that they were evil and wanted to kill all children. Additionally, according to the counter protestors I spoke with, the pro-lifers engaged in scare tactics, including taking pictures of them and asking if they have had abortions themselves.
Maybe it's just me, but it seems contradictory to be teaching hate at a Christian event centered on prayer. But then again, pro-life rhetoric is steeped in contradiction. For example they are against abortion, but also against most of what can prevent unintended pregnancy (contraception, condoms, sex-ed, etc). They say that abortion hurts women, but so does taking away their right to choose when to have children. They pray to end abortion and claim that "God's salvation plan is the surest weapon against abortion" instead of acknowledging real ways to prevent unintended pregnancies. But in the middle of a protest, it is impossible to effectively argue with baseless, irrational rhetoric; the most outrageous will almost always gets the most attention.
Debates like these are both deafening and silencing, but there must be a place where the rhetoric disappears and all that is left is the reality of the situation. As you go to the polls next month, keep in mind the reality of anti-choice legislation. Take the time to find your candidates' positions and understand the real implications of voting them into office. Strip away the rhetoric and find the answers to the questions that are important to you. This mid-term election is crucial to securing a pro-choice U.S. Know that there is a reality behind the rhetoric and that reality is yours.