Roundup: 40 Days for Life – Legalized Harassment of Women


Ahhh, once again it is time for 40 Days of Life, the nearly six weeks of the year where harassing women is not only considered totally ok, but encouraged by anti-choice factions.

We’re only two days into the event, and already we’ve seen yelling, intimidation, and at one clinic an assault via holy water.  And we still have weeks to go.

And of course, the media loves to cover it.  From WAPT Jacksonville:

About 50 people stood in front of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization on North State Street on Wednesday. They sang hymns and held up signs protesting abortion.Anti-abortion activist Amy Martin said she regrets the abortion she had when she was 16.”My baby would be 27 today. That’s not much of a blob of cells. That’s a full-grown person who probably would’ve had a spouse and maybe children by now. It wasn’t just a blob of cells. It was a whole line of my family tree,” Martin said.

The activists in Ohio also claim this is nothing but prayer vigil, not intimidation.  From the News and Sentinel:

Diane Strippel, of 40 Days for Life, from New Martinsville, said the volunteers from Marshall and Wood counties began a vigil outside the building in Vienna where Planned Parenthood has its offices. She said the vigil that began Wednesday will be peaceful with plans to be there until Oct. 31.

“We are not here to condemn any women who come here,” she said.

Strippel said they are asking people to join them on Grand Central Avenue as well as praying in their churches and homes to stop abortion.

“We are calling on God to bring out prayer warriors to pray 12 hours a day for 40 days – the facility in Vienna refers for abortions and gives out the ‘morning after pill,’ which causes an abortion if the woman in pregnant,” she said. “We are not sure if they deal with RU 486.”

Strippel said they plan to have a constant vigil during the open hours of Planned Parenthood five days a week and if possible have a vigil there seven days a week.

But InForum, the Fargo, ND newspaper, manages to actually touch on the cost that these protests have on both the women trying to ontain services and those who provide them.

As for the organization at which the protests are actually aimed, Clinic Director Tammi Kromenaker sees the protests as an intimidation tactic.

“I think its harassment,” she said, standing on the sidewalk with escorts and protesters.

Kromenaker said she’s concerned for her patients “having to walk through a large crowd of angry, harassing protesters.”

Colleen Samson, a 40 Days for Life North Dakota board member, sees the protests differently.

“Our goal is to be peaceful and prayerful. It is never our desire to harass anyone,” she said.

For her, it’s a matter of life and death.

“The truth is, babies are dying every week in this building,” she said.

But Kromenaker believes if people protested another business in the manner in which the clinic is being protested, some changes would be made to prevent it.

Still, if you want to really understand what is going on at these clinics during the 40 Days protests, it’s best to go to live coverage coming out via twitter.  Perhaps most disturbing?  This tweet:

Who wants to tell the “40 Days for Life” protesters that the patient they harassed might have cervical cancer?

The Aiken Area Progressive puts it quite succinctly:

What the anti-choicers are doing between now and Halloween is nothing more than a legalized form of street harassment. They are not at these clinics to protest. The anti-choicers are there to intimidate and harass women. Nothing else. Imagine if misogynist men had planned a 40 Days of Catcalling and Boob-Grabbing or the like. It would get shut down before it could even start.

Mini Roundup: It looks like the effects of the failed override for New Jersey’s family planning funds are already hitting the state, as a clinic closes due to lack of funding.

September 22, 2010

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  • tramseyer

    Hi.

    I wanted to make a comment or two on the issues created by the original article by Mr. Scroggins, which is what this article is answering.

    Unfortunately, all I have found on RH Reality Check is this link to the answer.

    Am I not phrasing my search keywords correctly, or something? I would rather add my comments than create a duplicate thread.

  • equalist

    They don’t care who they harass, or even if they “baby” she was there to abort is malformed past the point of viability or even already deceased.  It’s not about the women, and it’s not about the babies, as much as they try to say it is.  It’s about controling a woman’s body and forcing other people to do and be exactly what you want them to.  In regards to the woman they harassed has cervical cancer, I’ve known more than a few who’s responses are that she should have just delayed treatment until after the baby was born.  Even if that would mean the spread of the cancer leading to her eventaul death, and even if that would mean that she wouldn’t survive to her due date and the baby would die with her.  In the eyes of many of them, the death of both the mother and the fetus is still better than the death of the fetus and the woman surviving to give birth again, or adopt a child who needs a loving family later if her fertility cannot be saved.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Last time this happened I saw a Franciscan friar protesting PP on a Sunday even though PP was closed. WTF? Don’t you think this loser would have something better to do on a Sunday.

    When the clinic was open the same friar was standing out in front of the clinic, doing his usual shaming of women when my friend and her kid walked by. He began harassing her and she called the cops. She was going to the store next to PP and got harassed just for being female and being in the vicinity of PP.

    This harassment has to stop! Does anyone have any good ideas on how to counter-act, counter-protest, etc.?

  • kevin-rahe

    It’s easy to get emotional when one comes to a full realization of what’s going on in an abortion, at least when the mother’s life isn’t at stake.  While some participants may not keep to the objective, the idea behind 40 Days for Life isn’t to harass clients or employees of abortion clinics or even protest or demonstrate against them, but only to pray for all involved.  I’ve never even seen a sign at the one I participated in other than one that said simply, “40 Days for Life.”

  • beenthere72

    I wondered what I could do too, though I’m not sure I have to the time to do anything.    I saw on their website that one of my nearby PP’s is on their list.    Might just have to do a drive-by (camera – not gun). 

  • crowepps

     It’s about controling a woman’s body and forcing other people to do and be exactly what you want them to

    In my opinion, it’s more about having tacit social approval to hate someone as an anonymous member of a mob.  The justifications for hating aren’t as important as wallowing in the intoxication of hating.

     

  • prowomen

    This isn’t harassment; it’s terrorism.  When black students were being terrorized as they were being bused and walking to enter schools, the National Guard and similar authorities escorted students to their buildings.  Why aren’t these women being protected?

    At what point was Roe v. Wade overturned and the Catholic bishops and others allowed to dictate policy to our government for the reproductive decisions women have a right to make for themselves just as men do?  
    Abortion is legal, so legal abortions and any other medical procedures, such as vasectomies, don’t give religious extremists the right to harass and terrorize anyone or bomb clinics, kill doctors, stalk medical workers and intimidate politicians in their desire to turn America into a theocracy similar to countries that allow the stoning of women for eloping.

    President John F. Kennedy said it exactly right when he clarified his Catholicism to our nation:

    “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

    Religious freedom is an inalienable right guaranteed by the United States Constitution, preventing anyone from forcing their religious beliefs on others.  Allowing any religious group to change our laws and their enforcement to reflect its doctrines is not only unconstitutional but opens the door to an entirely different religion imposing its beliefs on Americans in the future.  Many people came to America to escape religious persecution and oppression, which our government should require our tax-exempt churches to honor.

    The Catholics for Choice organization “believes in a world where everyone has equal access to the full range of reproductive health-care services–including access to safe and legal abortion services and affordable and reliable forms of contraception.”


    The ongoing intimidation and harassment of women or anyone seeking legal medical care is one of the most important reasons why it’s vital that everyone who is opposed to such tactics should vote on November 2.  Republicans are opposed to the equal rights of women and want to overturn Roe v. Wade to go back to 5,000 women’s deaths annually from illegal abortions and 100,000 hospitalizations from botched abortions.  Democrats invariably favor the right of women to make their own health decisions just as men do.  

  • crowepps

    While some participants may not keep to the objective, the idea behind 40 Days for Life isn’t to harass clients or employees of abortion clinics or even protest or demonstrate against them, but only to pray for all involved.

    If the objective doesn’t include harassing the clients and obstructing access to the clinic, why pray AT the clinic?  Are you under the impression that prayers require proximity?  In order to prevent “some participants” from getting overly emotional and ‘exceeding the objective’ by, for instance, shooting someone or setting the place on fire, a simple solution would be to hold a prayer vigil at your church.  God will still hear you.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Kevin, please tell your anti-choice friends to stop harassing us! You/they think it’s prayer but it’s harassment!

    I get creeped out seeing men standing in front of PP or a women’s clinic ogling (sexually/non-sexually active) women who come in for services, for an abortion, birth control, etc. But they (anti-choicers) think they are sexually active because “they must be going to PP to get an abortion.”

    I don’t care that you pray, just pray somewhere else. I pray too, and I pray the anti-choice side quits harassing women. Stop. Basta enough!

    “Enough! Basta! Stop Sidewalk Bullying at Women’s Clinics.”
    http://www.abortioncarenetwork.org/enough-basta/enough-basta-take-action

  • mechashiva

    Before doing any kind of counter-protest, be sure to get in contact with the clinic manager. Some clinics discourage counter-protesting because it can make patients feel like they are walking through a warzone, particularly if the two sides actually start interacting with each other or vying for the patients’ attention (like trying to hand literature to patients that have gotten fliers from the opposing side). But it really varies, depending on the kind of protesters the clinic gets, how patients in that area typically respond to protesters, etc.

     

    Not saying don’t do it, just make sure it wouldn’t escalate things first. Some clinics have a “sponsor a protestor” fundraiser going on during 40 Days of Public Finger-Wagging. Perhaps you could get a few friends to each pledge a small amount of money per protester.

     

    One of the funniest stories I heard about a local PP:

    Some guys drove by riding in the bed of a pick-up truck and snatched up the anti-abortion signs as they went past. You know… funny, but kind of a douchey thing to do (not nearly as douchey as anti-abortion protesting, though).

  • mechashiva

    Jesus was against praying in public, by the way.

  • crowepps

    I would think God Himself would be pretty ticked off that prayers which are SUPPOSED to be addressed to His attention are instead being used as an egocentric display of one’s supposed piety to ones neighboring protesters (see how holy I am) and as a stick poked in the eye of the ‘bad women’ (I’m telling God on you and telling him to punish you).

     

    In my opinion, this sort of mob intolerance in the name of Christ contributes to the public impulse to secularize.  When I was a kid, nobody was much excited by Christmas carols in the schools, etc., but people are a lot less toleratent now since now ‘Christian’ is understood by most to be defined as ‘hates the neighbors and wants them to be tormented eternally’.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Before doing any kind of counter-protest, be sure to get in contact with the clinic manager. Some clinics discourage counter-protesting because it can make patients feel like they are walking through a warzone,

    This is a very important point. I have a lot of respect for clinic escorts and the clinic staff and they do an incredible job. I don’t think I would have the patience to deal with anti-choicers. This is why I don’t encourage counter-protests but in my ideal world I would love to find a way to stop clinic harassment.

    Sponsor a protester is a great program. I know lots of people who contribute to PP this way. 

     

     

  • forced-birth-rape

    I think it is sexual harassment terrorism, giving birth her underwear is not on, getting a abortion her underwear is not on. These people are irate that women, little girls, rape victims are getting out of extreme vaginal pain, and not having to dread it for nine months.

    They are harassing, terrorizing her about her body, and her vagina.

    They are sadistic perverts.

  • mechashiva

    They initially started 40 Days as a protest to be done during Lent. So, it was something done once each year in the Spring. I guess they felt so proud of themselves that they decided to do it twice per year. It probably brings in a lot of donation money and keeps the momentum of their movement going during election season. It’s totally disingenuous, in more ways than one.

     

    Why don’t people see through this crap?

  • therealistmom

    .. is the “Sponsor a Protester” action done at some Planned Parenthood clinics. Our local office (which doesn’t even have abortion services, idiot protesters) had you sign up to donate an amount of money per protester that showed up during the 40 Days of Harassment. They kept a tally of how much money the protesters were bringing in to the clinic on a large sign outside, so the asschapeaus could see precisely how much money their being there was bringing in the clinic in donations. I absolutely loved it- they had to justify being there when every time they showed up they actually benefitted the clinic financially.

  • therealistmom

    And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
  • kevin-rahe

    And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

     

    If we were looking for some kind of reward, perhaps that passage would apply.  I don’t believe anyone stands out there hoping that someone will see them and give them kudos for being such an upstanding religious person.  Thinking that’s the way 40 Days participants are is probably necessary in order to enable scorn against them, however, so it’s not surprising to see such sentiments here.  In reality, the only harassment I’ve ever witnessed or heard of in my local 40 Days for Life event was in the other direction – where pro-choicers made comments or came with signs.  We’re instructed to simply ignore them, and I think most of us do, even though it’s challenging at times not to respond.

     

    We do this in public not because we don’t think our prayers would be heard anywhere else, but to be a public witness to an evil that some would prefer remain hidden and many others would prefer to ignore.

  • mechashiva

    The quote does not suggest that the public finger-waggers are finger-wagging to get a reward… just that they’re going to get one.

     

    I don’t believe anyone stands out there hoping that someone will see them…

    Oh, lol.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Kevin, tell your anti-choice friends to stop harassing us! You/they think it’s prayer but it’s harassment!

    I don’t believe anyone stands out there hoping that someone will see them and give them kudos for being such an upstanding religious person.

    No they just want to SHAME women for being sexually active (or they think they are sexually active). The anti-choicer’s “reward” is feeling morally superior to the women they are harassing.

    I think the anti-choicers who are protesting during the 40 days of harassment are acting pompous, pious, and self-righteous (not christlike at all). I think the creepy men out there ogling women are getting their rocks off by harassing women.

     

    Standing between a woman and her constitutional right to obtain an abortion it harassment! STOP IT!

  • crowepps

    I don’t believe anyone stands out there hoping that someone will see them and give them kudos for being such an upstanding religious person. 

    Whether you believe it or not, it still may be true.

    We do this in public not because we don’t think our prayers would be heard anywhere else, but to be a public witness to an evil that some would prefer remain hidden and many others would prefer to ignore.

    Sure, “public witness to an evil”, that’s the motivation claimed by those marching with the KKK or the ‘brothers’ of the Aryan Brotherhood or for that matter the gossipy old lady with the tight-pinched lips at church who just HAS to share her speculations about the hidden nastiness she is just SURE exists in the rest of the congregation.  “Look at THEM, look at how WRONG they are, look at how good WE are in contrast and isn’t it great how God likes US better.”

     

    Just because 40 Days For Life demonstrators don’t bring a sack of rocks or a rope with them doesn’t change their motivation from that of any other lynch mob.  “Shame, shame! God hates them! Punish them! Punish them!” Disgusting.

  • plume-assassine

    40 Days for Life and “sidewalk counselors,” however benign they would like to present themselves, are still guilty of street harrassment. While trying to access medical care, I would be insulted if someone 1) said they would pray for me (because first of all, I am not religious, and second of all, the assumption is that I am being judged), or 2) tried to dissuade me from entering the clinic (because the assumption is that I am too naive to know what I’m doing.)

     

    The people who continue in their tactics are bullies, and if they want to use a front like “it’s just about prayer,” well, then that negates your protest because praying for others’ actions is totally ineffective. If you want to pray, go to church or pray in the privacy of your home. The sidewalk “”counselors”” who assume that they have more medical knowledge [are you a doctor? no? then screw off] or background knowledge of a personal situation are similarly intrusive, presumptuous, jerks who act under the paternalistic guise of “caring about women,” and feeling like they are “helping,” when all they really care about is instilling fear, shame, and embarrassment.

     

    So, to anti-choicers: Go ahead and try to limit contraception and abortion access through legal means (and sane legislators will continue to block your efforts), but understand that protesting in front of a clinic is transparently anti-woman. I perceive your presence as physically threatening, knowing that there are often violent maniacs present at these seemingly-peaceful protest crowds, such as Justin Carl Moose, who want nothing more to assault women or firebomb the clinic. In spite of what you think, such violent maniacs are not aberrations or act as a “lone wolf;” they almost always conspire with others, and at the least, their hatred is tacitly encouraged.

  • crowepps

    Many, many women perceive ‘walking the gauntlet’ as physically threatening as is having someone stalking along beside you talking at you even when you tell them to leave you alone and that you don’t want to talk to them.

     

    Their protests that they’re just trying to ‘help’ are disingenuous.  They have been told over and over and are well aware that lining the sidewalks and invading someone’s physical space and insisting on speaking to someone who doesn’t want to listen to them and the bullhorns and shouting and signs and playing chicken with people’s cars are scary.  That’s precisely why do they do all those things, they WANT to scare women and aside from the sick pleasure of feeling scary and powerful they hope some of the women will be scared away altogether.  I see it as anti-social and disruptive behavior that unfairly coopts the public space and violates the rights of fellow citizens.

  • mechashiva

    Yeah, it really would be great if every major pro-life organization took a very public stance against “sidewalk-counseling” and all forms of protest at women’s clinics (protest in front of Civil Hall all you like, since that’s where laws are actually made). Additionally, publicly denounce ambiguous advertizing and distribution of misinformation concerning abortion, adoption, fetal development, and degree of assistance provided at Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

     

    I mean, raise the standard of your movement, people. Keep your CPCs open, as honest, charitable organizations with a known agenda for anyone unsure of their decision who wants to hear the pro-life argument for choosing to give birth. Keep on lobbying for legislation supporting a pro-life viewpoint, and support candidates who side with you on the issue. By all means, do that.

     

    Just quit harrassing patients who choose the decision you disagree with, because it’s just classless, for lack of a better word. Quit harassing staff because you aren’t going to change an abortion staffperson’s mind. They’re well-informed about the issue, already know your side of the argument, can think for themselves, and have obviously already drawn their own conclusions. So, take it up with the people who actually have the power to stop them from continuing to do their currently legal jobs.

     

    You know, I think it would actually make the pro-life lobby stronger if they did that. As much as I’d ultimately like to see pro-lifers fail, I’d love even more to raise the standard of conduct in the debate and just see people treated like intelligent adults instead of ignorant children who need guidance from the side that “knows best.”

  • kevin-rahe

    Just because 40 Days For Life demonstrators don’t bring a sack of rocks or a rope with them doesn’t change their motivation from that of any other lynch mob.  “Shame, shame! God hates them! Punish them! Punish them!” Disgusting.

     

    Perhaps that would be a reasonable assertion if every abortion didn’t involve a second victim.

  • prochoiceferret

    Perhaps that would be a reasonable assertion if every abortion didn’t involve a second victim.

     

    So does that mean it’s okay to intimidate and verbally harass every woman who walks into a clinic, or just the ones who are having an abortion?

  • arekushieru

    Why do you claim that they are ‘victims’?  Because they don’t consent?  Or because they lose their lives?  Either way, your position is untenable.  NO fetus consents to birth, either and a lot of those on the list for organ transplants die because they are still waiting for an organ.  Hmmm….

  • rebellious-grrl

    So basically, because of your beliefs you feel you are entitled to harass women. You do not seem to grasp the idea that what you are doing is highly offensive.

     

    As a woman, I will make the decision on when I will or will not have a child. YOU will have no voice in my decision process. Interjecting yourself in my VERY PERSONAL decision is rude, insulting, disingenuous, belligerent, arrogant, mean-spirited, etc.  Get the point? eh?

  • kevin-rahe

    You do not seem to grasp the idea that what you are doing is highly offensive.

     

    I happen to have participated in 40 Days for Life only during hours that the facility I pray at was closed.  Even if I went there during hours it’s open, however, I’d avoid making assumptions about any particular person’s purpose for going there – they could be going in to fill a vending machine or deliver office supplies.

     

    To your point, however, if I were doing something that I felt was truly the right thing to do and there were a group of people outside the establishment I was using who thought that what I was doing was wrong and were therefore praying for me and the rest of those involved, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, because I’d know that in that case their prayers were actually supporting me and my decision, even if those saying them didn’t realize it.

  • rebellious-grrl

    prayer doesn’t need proximity, but whatever.

     

    I guess you believe you need proximity for prayer to work. Maybe I’ll start praying outside of churches that the religious right will stop harassing women who exercise the right to their bodily autonomy.

     

    I believe the RIGHT thing is to trust women, to trust her choice. I deeply believe, and without a doubt believe, in a woman’s right to choice. I will fight for this. I pray for this. I pray that 40 days ‘for life’ stops. I pray women stop being harassed at clinics. I pray that people like you will quit praying for women to be forced to remain pregnant. I pray the anti-choicers will get a clue and realize that abortion as always existed and will always. I pray abortion remains a safe and legal. It’s really annoying that you think your side has a “ownership” of righteousness. Because I am on the side of righteousness when I trust women to decide what is right for them, and their family. To make the very personal and hard thought decision on when the right time is to bear children or not. Insulting so many women is not the side of righteousness. It’s wrong.

  • kevin-rahe

    I learned last night that 2,811 babies are walking around on this Earth today (well, maybe not all are walking yet :-) thanks to those witnessing to the truth by praying outside abortion clinics during 40 Days for Life, including one whose mother decided after seeing a group of people praying outside the abortion clinic not to abort him or her in my own area just last week.

     

    The price of a few women taking our efforts wrongly is well worth the good we are doing, obviously.

     

    God bless all those who are taking part in this effort.

     

    Love The Truth

     

  • robin-marty

    I learned last night that 2,811 babies are walking around on this Earth today (well, maybe not all are walking yet :-) thanks to those witnessing to the truth by praying outside abortion clinics during 40 Days for Life, including one whose mother decided after seeing a group of people praying outside the abortion clinic not to abort him or her in my own area just last week.

     

    The price of a few women taking our efforts wrongly is well worth the good we are doing, obviously.

    if you can cite an alleged number of “saved” babies, I assume you also have stats to back up your “few women” who took “our efforts wrongly.”

    How very “ends justifies the means” of you.

    When did you become the arbitrator of what a price is and when it becomes somehow “well worth” it?

    I’m glad you allegedly had “one baby saved” in your area last week. How many women were yelled at, blocked, confronted, prayed at, or in the case in Fargo repeatedly now doused with “holy water” in order to “save” it last week?

  • saltyc

    Well I’m not glad about “one baby saved” because what that is is one woman coerced by guilt into not having an abortion that day, having an abortion later, or worse yet, taking a pregnancy to term and giving birth to an actual baby she didn’t want and will be stuck in a family life of misery.

    People aren’t jumping for joy when a woman marries a man she doesn’t love, but was guilted into it, so why be glad when she gives birth to a baby she doesn’t want, only because she was guilted into it?

  • kevin-rahe

    You all really need to find something you can be joyful about every day.  If you did that – even if at first you had to force it – I bet that eventually you would see how much better it is to wander about this wonderful world than to never have a chance to do that.

  • prochoiceferret

    You all really need to find something you can be joyful about every day.

     

    Oh, we do that. It’s just that we’ve found something to be joyful about that isn’t “spouting ignorantly on how other people should live and what they should do with their bodies.”

  • beenthere72

    If I never had a chance to do it, I wouldn’t know what I was missing, would I?   And not everybody lives in such a ‘wonderful world’ as apparently you do, Kevin. 

  • rebellious-grrl

    Sure Kevin, whatever you want to believe. There are psychiatric medications for your condition. Have you ever been checked for Schizophrenia? I think you are a pea-brained idiot that has nothing more to do than harass women on the street in front of clinics and on the blog.

    I thought you didn’t participate in ’40 Day’ when the clinic was open? So when you said before you didn’t harass women now you are saying you do. What’s the real story Kevin.

    And God/Goddess bless all of the abortion providers, the abortion clinic staff, the clinic escorts. (My god doesn’t have a penis)

    The truth is women have and will always have the right to the bodily autonomy. I will fight for a woman’s right to choice for the rest of my life. And may “40 Days” be damned as a hateful misogynist terroristic act.

    You know nothing about truth or love.

  • rebellious-grrl

    He can’t cite it because he is making it up.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Kevin are you Oprah now?