What makes you uncomfortable

In Huntsville, AL the Pro Life protest was not comfortable today. You might remember from my post earlier that the Pro Lifers were harassing the parents at the school.  They were back today but they weren’t counting on one mother to fight back!  Not only were they not following their permit guidelines they were endangering children by once again blocking the line of sight of parents dropping off and picking up students with a huge cross.  One parent “GL” said enough is enough.

Quote from GL:

Permit says they have to be 10feet from the school curb- they told me to just come try to move the cross away- so I did.
They picked it up and ran away. — GL

Photo courtesy of Gina Lisa. As you can see they are clearly closer than 10ft.
Photo courtesy of GL. As you can see they are clearly closer than 10ft.
Photo courtesy of Gina Lisa. As you can see they are clearly closer than 10ft. The crossing guard did nothing to move them and protect the children.
Photo courtesy of GL. As you can see they are clearly closer than 10ft. The crossing guard did nothing to move them and protect the children.

 

Photo courtesy of Gina Lisa. As you can see they are clearly closer than 10ft. Instead the crossing guard took Gina's tag number and wrote her a citation.
Photo courtesy of GL. As you can see they are clearly closer than 10ft. Instead the crossing guard took Gina’s tag number and wrote her a citation.

They invited (dared me) to move it ten feet away from the curb- then they fought me to grab it back– GL

Thank you GL for taking a stand and making THEM uncomfortable! We need to make the Pro Life movement as uncomfortable as they make the Pro Choice movement. Maybe one day, they will learn that they don’t have the right to make anyone uncomfortable and they certainly don’t have the right to endanger anyone’s life.

We all have the right to be comfortable. We have the right to be comfortable and safe when we take our children to school and pick them up.  We have the right to be comfortable when we seek out medical attention.  We have the right to be comfortable when we discuss it. No one has the right to force us to be uncomfortable however it happens every single time a women walks into a clinic to receive medical treatment for any reason. Clinic escorts can only do so much to ease the pain inflicted upon the patients by the Pro Life protesters. As advocates we need to make our voices heard, we need buffer zones around clinics. We need to stand up to the clinic bullies. In the cities where the Pro Life Bullies are harassing patients and school children, we need to let them know that they don’t have the right to make anyone uncomfortable by shoving their beliefs on them. They don’t have the right to scream into the cars of children being dropped off to school. They don’t have the right to call women murderers as they seek out a legal medical procedure. As mothers, grandmothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles and people who care, we need to make sure that future generations aren’t bullied and we need to keep fighting until the fight is completely won. We owe it to the people who fought before us to make sure we were comfortable.  I’m not suggesting that we use violence. I’m suggesting we annoy them and make them as uncomfortable as they make us.

How can we do that? We can block their view. We can make sure they don’t get the good permits. We can counter protest. We can make signs that make them uncomfortable. We’ve seen this work at clinics all over. If every Pro Choice person made a donation for a sign, think of how many signs we would have to make the Pro Lifers uncomfortable. And if there was an extra person to hold the sign that someone sent, think how uncomfortable the Pro Lifers would be.

A “Perfect Storm” is brewing

A “perfect storm” is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically.  The combination of circumstances is coming together on a street in Huntsville, AL.

On one side of the road you have a Public magnet school, on the other side of the road you have a women’s clinic that offers abortions. Drawn into the eye of the storm are the parents and children from the school. The “Pro Life” protesters do not have a permit to protest in front of the clinic so they have obtained a permit to protest in front of the school. Even though they know that they are supposed to be 10 ft from the driveway, Carol Henderson is standing at the driveway during pickup and drop off with her large sign screaming into cars attempting to gain support for the Pro Life movement.

Photo by Megan Brantley/WHNT News 19
Photo by Megan Brantley/WHNT News 19

Not only are their signs offensive, but this is a traffic hazard and it’s against the permit rules. Permit rules state that you need to be 10 feet away from the driveway, she is not 10 feet away.  But to be honest, what is really going on here? The protesters that harass this clinic and school are led by James Henderson.  James Henderson has been pushing to close this clinic using any means he can think of, recently by pushing HB 527.  Which states:

This bill would provide that the Alabama Department  of Public Health may not issue or renew a health center  license to an abortion clinic or reproductive health center  that performs abortions and is located within 2,000 feet of the property or campus of a public school.

During the hearings for HB 527, Henderson cited a new story about the clinic owner fearing for his safety and having to carry a gun as one of the reasons that the clinic needed to be located 2000 feet from the school. Now, keep in mind the reason he fears for his safety is because of the protesters. Yes, you read that right. Henderson wants the clinic to be away from the school because of his group of protesters. His protesters aren’t fit to be around children that have been born. So I have to ask, is the harassment of the parents more fuel for the fire of HB 527 which is sure to be brought back in the spring?

It's clear from his comments how Henderson feels about the clinic.
It’s clear from his comments how Henderson feels about the clinic.

There is nothing about the clinic across the street to indicate to the average person driving down the road or turning into the school that it provides abortion services. There are no Jumbotrons in the lawn broadcasting everything, there are no flashing neon signs, saying “Get your abortion here!”  The only way to know that abortions are done in the building are by the “Pro life” protesters with their graphic signs, their megaphones, their jay walking and their general harassment of everyone in the general area.

Street view of the clinic. No flashing signs, no large tvs, no windows into the rooms.
Street view of the clinic. No flashing signs, no large tvs, no windows into the rooms.

In 2009, there was a Perfect Storm in Michigan.  James Pouillon was a member of Operation Rescue who decided to protest with graphic signs in front of a high school. He made it a regular habit to protest in front of Owosso High School, in Owosso, Michigan. He chose that high school because his granddaughter attended school there. He said it was his calling from God and that when he died he hoped that it would be on that corner doing God’s work. He got his wish because on September 11, 2009, a man who had grown tired of hearing family members complain about the graphic signs drove by, with his window rolled down and shot Mr Pouillon.  The Pro Life movement made James Pouillon a martyr. But it should be noted that the shooting of Mr Pouillon was not about Pro Choice or Pro Life, it was simply about the protesting and the graphic signs. The day before the shooting, the man who did the shooting, James Drake had lunch with his mother. The subject of the protesters at the high school came up and how much the graphic pictures bothered Mr Drake’s nieces. Mr. Drake  muttered that he would take care of that problem the next day.

But the real worry is how long will this side-show of protesters be allowed to endanger the lives of people before a parent or a grandparent has had enough. How long will they be allowed to block the line of sight, yell into cars and harass parents and students because they can’t harass patients across the street.  The school board and the city do not need to wait until tempers reach a boiling point.

This is not about the clinic or its location.   The 1st Amendment doesn’t come with a code of conduct.  However, these protesters seem to forget that their rights end where someone’s rights begin. You can’t claim to be “Pro Life” if you are willing to endanger the lives of living, breathing children and their parents.  You can’t use your bad behavior to punish someone else because you don’t like a service they offer.

 

Statement on the Alabama House of Representatives vote on HB 527

The Alabama House of Representatives has put HB 527, the so called “2000 foot bill” that equates reproductive health centers with sex offenders on their special order calendar for Tuesday, May 27 at 1PM to be voted on the House floor.  It is #7 on the special order calendar,  If you can make it to the State House in Montgomery, we need you there in the front row of the gallery wearing your best prochoice gear to show the lawmakers that we will not idly stand by while our legal healthcare rights are taken away from us!  This bill could close EVERY reproductive healthcare center in the state.  No signs are allowed in the gallery, which is on the 7th floor.

Here is our statement on the House vote on HB 527:

Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates stands firmly against HB 527 and the targeted attack on womens healthcare in Alabama. This bill was brought about out of the frustrations of the anti-abortion protesters in North Alabama who have been attempting to block access by manipulating existing laws unsuccessfully. These protesters are now seeking to use the Alabama State Legislature as a pawn at the expense of the taxpayers to carry out a personal vendetta. By likening a health care facility to a sex offender in the wording of the bill it is clear that the intent is not to make women safer, but to deny access in Huntsville. These last minute attempts to force this bill through the legislature would be better served to fix our state budget, and not create an ongoing legal battle by violating the constitutional rights of Alabama citizens.”

Giving every Alabama woman a voice for choice.