OpEd: “Anti-Abortion Extremism: The Effects of the Radicalization of the Pro-Life Message” C. Dianne Phillips, Sciencegranny, July 7th, 2015
I wrote a response to an Al Jazeera article published earlier this week, associating domestic terrorism and the pro-life movement in America.
The article Anti-Abortion Extremists Are Domestic Terrorists, discussed how the radicalized few, who have murdered and use aggressive intimidation tactics, are in fact the definition of domestic terrorism. From the article, and speaking specifically about the murder of abortion doctors….
“This conception of terrorism is consistent with many experts’ definitions of the term. For instance, Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, defines terrorism as “the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change.” The power of terrorism, according to Hoffman, is that it is “designed to have far-reaching psychological repercussions beyond the immediate victim or target.”
As a Catholic, I have always prayed for an end to the need and choice of abortion. I was trained as a sidewalk counselor and frequently prayed across the street from our local abortion clinic. The pro-life trainers were not radicals, and we were given explicit instructions for engaging women as they entered or exited the clinic. Our mission was simple and beautiful. Not meant to terrorize anyone.
This particular clinic performed a wide range of abortions, chemical, and surgical. Every Saturday morning, the only morning that I could get off work to actively go to the site and pray, a large truck would back up to the clinic and load biohazard containers. I prayed the chaplet of mercy when I saw these boxes exit the building, for I knew those were the remains of the little ones who had never been given a chance at life. I did not feel hate toward the mothers or the doctor…just intense sadness at the loss of life.
In the 20 years that I participated in this peaceful and prayerful ritual, I never once was hostile to anyone, and I always prayed for the mother, her baby, her family, the doctor and staff of the facility.
Having said that, I continue to pray the rosary and the chaplet of mercy daily for all, but I refuse to take part in the public displays. Why? The radicalization of the movement, especially during the ’90s and in particular during the 2008 election cycle.
Labeling as a form of Bullying:
Even though I did not meet anyone who explicitly called for violence against abortion doctors, I did, in fact, felt bullied and harassed by “AntiAbortion” activists.
As a Christian, I was totally turned off by the irrational, mean-spirited voices in the movement who labeled all, who were not radically with them, as “pro-abortion.”
Even though the local people of the organization were kind and had nothing but good in their intent, the regional, state and national speakers who came to our events were very hostile to anyone who was not radically “with them” in labeling all, who were not “pro-birth” in particular, as “pro-abortion.”
The label is offensive to those of us who support a woman’s constitutional, individual reproductive rights, yet support the life of the mother and the unborn…to help the mother to “choose” life, not death. WE are certainly NOT pro-abortion.
It is offensive and was meant to bully us all into believing the same way…to literally bear false witness and hate those who were not “with us.”
I personally was singled out on social media as a bad Catholic and a “pro-abortion” person because I supported Democrats in my voting. I did feel terrorized by those people.
Attacking someone’s faith is very personal for those who are devout in their faith expression. It is like slapping them. It was offensive and very divisive for the Catholic Church in particular.
As an intelligent, college-educated person, I knew too that the information being shared in our local churches and through mailings from the state and national “pro-life” and “right to life” organizations was full of half-truths… uniquely when characterizing candidates running for office.
When the politics were addressed, and churches allowed the misinformation and character assassination of Democrats who were Catholics, that was enough for me.
I didn’t leave my church or my beliefs, but I distanced myself from the immoral radicalism of “pro-birthers.” The radicalization of the movement was no longer about saving babies but was in fact about being mean spirited, and behaving in an unchristian manner.
There are radicalized feminists on the other end of the ideological spectrum who are just as mean spirited and inflexible as some “AntiAbortion” voices, and proudly make the claim that they are in fact “pro-abortion.”
The vast majority of the American population, however, finds the thought of abortion as something that should be ‘the last resort,’ when the mother’s life is in danger or when a young girl has been raped…and most still say it is the mother’s right to choose.
Respect for individual freedom to determine what happens to their own body is still widely supported as a constitutional right, under the right to privacy.
The constitution says it is none of our business what a woman or man decides to do with her own body, especially regarding reproduction.
We become involved when the child she is carrying is viable outside of the womb. The viability of the child is the legal interpretation of a person. Once born, that person has rights too.
Until then, who speaks for the unborn? Who speaks to their potential to live life to it’s fullest? It certainly can’t be the voices of the radicalized “AntiAbortion” groups.
In my opinion, no sane person is “pro-abortion,” not really. Many pro-choice people would stop to render aid to a hurt kitten or puppy, but do not allow themselves to visualize a small human person being killed in an abortion.
I think for many, it is out of sight and out of mind, and clearly a personal issue…” none of their business.”
The social problems that led to the unplanned pregnancy are their business, and that is where they could make a difference. They are correct that the woman’s choice isn’t any of their business.
The personal choice, however, should be an informed, intelligent, choice, free of coercion, for the expectant mother and father. It most certainly should be kept private with the consent of their doctor.
Life must be a viable choice. Poverty and/or convenience must not be the only driving force for making a choice.
“Pro-life vs. pro-birth:”
Anyone who only wants a child born, but doesn’t want social programs to help support that child, are not “pro-life.” They are what I consider, “pro-birth.”
I am pro “all” life. All have dignity. All have the right to pursue life and happiness. That means education, home, food, healthcare, and a living wage…a fair chance at achieving success.
All life is sacred, and all should have a right to dignity and the opportunity to pursue a happy and healthy life. The life and dignity of all human persons should be the goal.
I am definitely Pro-Life in my personal beliefs, but I guess I am also pro-choice too, but not in the way you might think.
I think the time to choose is before getting pregnant, especially if you are empowered to be in charge of your own reproductive choices and have easy access to reproductive education and birth control methods, natural and/or otherwise.
All women should be empowered to have the right to say NO, and men should respect that.
In cases of rape and incest and extreme poverty, the choices are limited. There needs to be extra compassion exercised in dealing with victims of sexual abuse.
Religion should not be the limiting variable in how to deal with such a case. The doctors, the woman, her family, all should be involved in the private decision to use techniques to inhibit the ability to conceive from an attack.
It is not the government’s job, or a church’s to make such a private and painful decision.
The health and well-being of the mother and child should be considered after that point, not mere convenience.
Separation of Church and State:
In a civilized society, where a diverse population of people must peacefully co-exist, it is essential to have laws that protect all citizens, not just impose the will of a select few on the entire population.
I personally believe in the separation of church and state. Jesus did too.
“Jesus Answers the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes
13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 “Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.”http://biblehub.com/nasb/mark/12.htm
Freedom of Religion:
Freedom from religion means that we all have freedom of religion. A theocracy only serves to force the religious norms of one religion on all people.
I certainly don’t want to live in a country where individual rights of privacy and personal freedoms are dictated by a chosen few with a specific religious agenda.
The Freedom to Choose:
The greater good of a diverse society is to keep specific religious precepts out of politics and law.
The common good is vital to all Americans. The freedom to make individual choices about reproduction is essential. Not just for women, but also for men.
No government or church should dictate how a diverse population should procreate or not procreate. The individual person must have the freedom to make personal choices when dealing with their own health and reproduction.
I am a Catholic. Praise God I live in America where I have the “freedom” to choose to follow my religion of choice, instead of some state-sanctioned religion, selected by a chosen few or banned from having a religion at all. I choose to not use birth control. I choose life and would never have or encourage an abortion. I choose to be a devout Catholic. God chose me, and I said Yes. It is my faith, my baptism, my sacraments, my God and Father, and it is His grace that is given to me freely without reservation. He doesn’t force me to choose Him. I freely choose a grace-filled life.
What about Abortion?
If extremism is not the answer, what is the answer for putting an end to the abortion of babies in America? How do we touch the hearts and minds of those who would choose death instead of life? It is not by demonizing others who do not believe as we do.
In a civilized society, we must make abortion a non-choice, not by criminalizing women who must painfully make that decision, but by making life a viable choice.
If we indeed are “pro-life,” we must actively support the individual citizen, the family, the mother, the father, and the children.
WE must support social programs that promote life. WE must attack inequality head-on as a society and get rid of poverty. WE must advocate for social programs that help everyone by providing and advocating for…
- Quality Education
- Wage Equality – A living wage for all who work.
- Quality, affordable daycare for parents in the workforce
- Quality, affordable healthcare for everyone – Healthier people are happier and more likely to choose life instead of death
Make abortion a non-choice by making “life,” a viable choice for all, regardless of socioeconomic status. C. Dianne Phillips