Friday, July 11, 2008


I was planning to write about my garden and the incredibly humid weather, but something very controversial happened to me today. If you feel very strongly about Right to Life issues, you may want to stop reading. I'm not going to be writing about abortion or women's rights or Roe vs. Wade, but I'm sure this discussion will stir up some feelings. This is just my take on something that happened to me today.

I was driving to the local gas station, down a busy expanse of street when, faster than I could blink, a swarm of abortion protesters started marching into traffic. To their credit, they weren't purposely trying to be disruptive--they were apparently crossing to get to their assigned posts around an approximately half mile radius of the intersection I was approaching. And they were carrying extremely large (approximately five foot tall), extremely graphic (close ups involving blood and broken limbs) pictures of aborted fetuses.

I almost threw up in my lap. I choose not to discuss hot topics. Those who are close to me and know me very well, know exactly how I feel about those hot topics. I choose not to broadcast them--whether it's about gay marriage, abortion, politics, or whatever. My opinions are MY business. Other people want to share their opinions, and that's fine, I don't say much about it.

What is NOT fine with me, is individuals carrying around graphic pictures and waving them for drivers to see. And for young children in the backseat to see. Young children who cry hysterically for twenty minutes afterward, asking what's wrong with the babies in the pictures.

I believe in freedom of speech, freedom to gather, etc. I also believe that people should not infringe upon other people's rights.

I believe that if parental consent is required for fifth graders to participate in sex education in school...if parental consent is required for a twelve year old to get into a PG-13 rated movie...if parental consent is required for a sixteen year old high school junior to watch the movie "Glory" (about the Civil War) in a U.S. History class...then parental consent should damn well be required for those demonstrators to wave their pictures in front of children in cars. I would challenge any of those demonstrators to allow a complete stranger to force their (demonstrator's) toddler to see a graphic, bloody, violent, R-rated movie. I'm guessing they wouldn't go for it. So what gives them the right to inflict any of that on MY child? What gives them the right to force me into a position to attempt to explain something that a toddler can in no way understand?

Do any of those demonstrators have consent forms from the mothers to advertise the photos of those allegedly (I only say "allegedly" because I have no idea where those pictures came from) aborted fetuses? Because if not, then in my mind, how is it any different than child pornography? What would happen if another random group of "demonstrators" paraded around showing blown up pictures of naked, dead adults? What would happen then? I bet there would be a media frenzy, uproar from churches and politicians and police. But this? There was nothing! Nothing to stop these individuals from displaying their propaganda to the unsuspecting citizens of that neighborhood.

And get this...the demonstrators had "warning" signs posted about the graphic nature of the photos--facing the opposite direction in areas past any streets, so there was no way to turn around and avoid it. It was the worst when I was stopped at the red light at the intersection, and there was no safe place to look. There were pictures everywhere--in front of, behind and on both sides of me. So I looked down in my lap, trying not to lose my temper. And trying not to notice the faces of the children in the car next to me, tears running down their faces as they pointed to the pictures and the man behind the steering wheel reaching back and trying to cover their eyes.

I'm a big girl. I'm an adult and I can handle it. I'm upset, but I'll recover. I'll pray about it and ask God for help in getting my temper to simmer down. But I'm also a mother and as long as my child is a minor, it's MY right to determine when I think she can cope with discussion about issues like this, not some anonymous demonstrator waving a giant picture in front of my windshield.

I'm done with this now. If you read this far, thank you.


Anonymous said...

I read all of it. Very very very good post, Martha. I'm sorry for Munchin and I agree with you. There WOULD be politicians, police, and arrests involved if it were any other topic parading such "propaganda".

Cheryl said...

Wow! I've never seen anything like that. I had no idea that's what those kinds of protesters do. That should be against the law!

Jenny said...

I am very strongly against abortion. Many many people I know are involved in pro-life action groups. I am good friends with a few who do sidewalk counseling in front of abortion clinics.

I have never heard of such a thing as you describe! That's horrible! It's one thing for people who are making laws about abortion, and for women considering abortion to know what happens to their baby... I think that can be a powerful tool. But to hold a sign with this at an intersection??!! For ALL the world to see, including innocent children??

That's deplorable.

For what it's worth, the above comment, "There WOULD be politicians, police, and arrests involved if it were any other topic parading such "propaganda"."
befuddled me. I would say if there was any topic that would get politicians, police, etc.. involved, it WOULD be the pro-life movement, as unpopular as it is.

Thanks for a good, yet maddening post :)

Martha said...

Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. I appreciate that you recognized that my issue was just with how the demonstration was handled. I absolutely believe in everyone's right to share feelings/opinions, but this demonstration just seemed to be in a completely wrong area (residential with family-friendly stores at the intersection). I also felt some of it was sneaky, as there was a large gathering of the protestors at the driveway of the local church I attend--it was upsetting to think that my home church (a parish I've belonged to for 17 years) would have condoned such a graphic display. Thankfully, I called to ask (before jumping to any conclusions) and was relieved when I was informed that they had nothing to do with it--they don't believe in frightening the public into action or terrifying little children. In fact, I'm sure it came as a shock to the demonstrators that the staff at that Catholic church shooed them off the property and asked them to take it somewhere else. I'm sure the demonstrators thought it was a worthwhile display, but I'm still reeling from it.