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The pro- choice community must recognize we are in the midst of a “holy war” and change our tactics accordingly. Because in many ways, they’re winning.

By Bill Baird, cross-posted at On The Issues Magazine

My wife Joni and I were  the only one protesting in front of the National Right to Life Committee’s annual convention this year, from June 29-July 1 in Washington, D.C.

I’d just turned 80, and this year’s event was the 37th time I had been there to greet them. As always, I came with an eight-foot  cross inscribed with the words “Free Women From the Cross of Oppression - Keep Abortion Legal.” 

The convention’s organizers knew to expect us. I’ve been there nearly every year since 1973. They’ve even featured me in their newspaper as an “abortion entrepreneur”   — for the free birth control referral services I started in 1964, for the abortion clinic that was burned to the ground by an anti-abortion terrorist in 1979, and most of all for the 1972 Supreme Court decision, Baird v. Eisenstadt, which secured the right to contraception for all women. Eisenstadt, which I won after a five-year fight and a jail term,  is well known to be a cornerstone of 1973 ‘s landmark Roe v. Wade, which the Committee is sworn to overturn.

This year, that goal may have seemed closer than ever to the Committee, given the victories achieved in so many states. It felt more essential than ever  to come to the Hyatt to neutralize the anti-choice propaganda they were feeding the media, and to try to guess their next steps.Photobucket

The day the conference began, the Supreme Court decision on health care was issued by Chief Justice Roberts, to the shock of organizers.  “Bill did you hear the news about the Supreme Court?” Ernest Ohlhoff, Religious Outreach Director for NRLC, asked me in the hotel elevator.  “[Chief Justice John] Roberts turned!” Others denounced Roberts as a “traitor” and “turncoat.”

An early speaker was Sue Thayer, who worked at Planned Parenthood as manager of Iowa's Storm Lake and LeMars Planned Parenthood clinics for 18 years. After she was laid off as part of a regional PP downsizing last year, Thayer  began a 40-day prayer ritual outside of the Storm Lake clinic; after its pre-planned closure, she  proudly proclaimed that she and her allies had “prayed it away.”  Since that time, Thayer has worked closely with anti-choice forces, most recently by accusing Planned Parenthood of Medicaid fraud.

Thayer closed by telling workshop participants, “God’s people need to rise up.  I think God’s people are sick of [abortion.]” She was echoed by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who bragged that his state is now a total “pro life state.” This was more than three years after the brutal murder of abortion provider George Tiller, MD, killed in that state by an anti-abortion terrorist while attending Sunday services at his own church.

Saying that as a politician he only has “one constituent” - God - Brownback complimented NRLC for its “very strategic legislative agenda,” calling them very “tactical” (because they have sliced away at reproductive rights bit by bit, or what I call the “bologna method”).   Brownback said, “The place you change America isn’t in Washington, it’s in the states.”

Both confirmed what I’ve been saying for decades: that the pro- choice community must recognize we are in the midst of a “holy war” and change our tactics accordingly. Because in many ways, they’re winning.

And right now their goal is the Presidency.    While the convention attendees seemed demoralized by the  Roberts decision,  I have a feeling there will be a backlash that will find them rallying behind Mitt Romney even stronger.

“There’s one way of turning back Obamacare and it is who you vote for as president,”  Brownback said. Calling Rick Santorum a great hero of the pro life movement and a personal friend, Brownback stressed the ‘need’ to elect the nominee who defeated him: There's a guy in this race that's pro life and there's a guy in this race that is not.  I’m going to push hard on Senate and House races too,” he added, stressing swing states.

The man they’ve chosen to support was ironically once a supporter of Roe v. Wade. When he was governor of Massachusetts, he endorsed the state’s long-established Right to Privacy Day in honor of Baird v. Eisenstadt.  “It is appropriate that all Massachusetts citizens recognize the importance of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Baird v. Eisenstadt,”  read Romney’s 2003 proclamation, “a decision that was quoted six times in subsequent cases including Roe v. Wade.”  But by 2005 Romney had deleted the Roe v. Wade reference from the proclamation, and the following year, 2006, refused to issue the Right to Privacy Day proclamation at all, withdrawing his support from birth control.

 By then, Romney was already preparing for his 2008 presidential bid, but he might as well have been revving up for last month’s convention. That increased emphasis on restricting birth control was worse than we’d seen before.

The National Right to Life Committee leadership pretends to not take a stand on birth control, but its mostly-Catholic members individually tell you they believe only in abstinence  or rhythm (which I have called Vatican Roulette for decades).  They believe that the pill, IUD and anything that prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus are abortifacients: thus no RU486, no morning-after pill.

This past March, the 40th anniversary of Baird v. Eisenstadt, was greeted by a blistering editorial from Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life.  “The Catholic Church forbids the use of artificial contraception,” she wrote before reeling off a set of distortions about “increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cervical and liver cancer  [....] decreased desire and sexual dysfunction and stroke.” She finished with,  “Is a contraception prescription with every paycheck such a good idea?  Clearly the answer is no.”

That was a message dutifully repeated by the young people we met at the convention, some of them teenagers. 

Read Part Two: Young Women and Men Unite.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This enrages me (10+ / 0-)

    Do Americans KNOW that they are aiming for theocracy?

    Santorum/Bachmann 2012

    by sujigu on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 08:19:43 PM PDT

  •  When The Right to Privacy is secure, the right of (5+ / 0-)

    bodily choice is secure. Until then, not!

    The Second American Constitutional Convention.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 08:25:25 PM PDT

  •  We are losing, losing, losing this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Carol in San Antonio, G2geek

    As long as abortion is an issue of shame and wrong doing it can only get worse.  Abortion should be celebrated with honor and gratitude.  there should special foods, gifts and ceremony in support of the woman and her honorable choice.  There should be gratitude towards the fetus for the sacrifice of it for the welfare of the living.  There should be ceremonious acknowledgment coming away with good feeling for the moral choice of abortion for a woman that is not prepared or otherwise able to raise that child.

  •  The term is "Forced-Birther." (10+ / 0-)

    "Right-to-Life" is their own Orwellian propaganda.

    "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

    by Troubadour on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 10:07:56 PM PDT

  •  I think the way to win the abortion game is on the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    other end.  The consequence of outlawing abortion is more babies.  Within 12 months of Roe v Wade becoming law we sequenced for the first time DNA.  The difference now as opposed to then is that through the mystery of science we can determine parentage.

    I have a modest proposal - tough child support laws that are actually enforced.  Oh I know we have laws but they are not as tough as they could be and they aren't enforced as they should be.

    Now I am not a guy and I don't have children yet but if I knew that my ability to drive a car, purchase real estate or even rent an apartment, maintain my security clearance or leave the country was predicated upon my having a job and making timely child support payments I would like abortion to at least be an option.  I have found reality beats morality in just about every situation.

  •  there's a point where you have to declare war. (4+ / 0-)

    Not stand outside the forced-birthers' conventions politely with signs, but barge right in, with a crowd, and disrupt the hell out of their gatherings.  

    This can be done with humor or with seriousness, or it can even be done with stealth, but the goal should be to disrupt their conventions to the point where it becomes impossible for them to do business.

    Of course they'll try to hide the locations of their conventions, but the information will always leak (all it takes is one spy on their email list), so it will never be possible for them to entirely prevent some kind of disruption action.  

    Same case with their hand-picked stooges in government: random noisy protests and disruption operations.   Some of these might be disguised as anti-abortion and pro-theocracy demonstrations or something else altogether: the point being to cause our adversaries to waste their time and be unable to get anything done.  

    And lastly, it's time to take the protests right into their churches.  If they insist in barging into our lives where they are not welcome, we can return the favor.  The more we can push them right over the edge into overreacting and exposing their agenda, the better.

    And then keep it up on all fronts.

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 02:17:01 AM PDT

    •  I agree. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, G2geek

      I see signs that the sane public has had enough of these Forced Birther whackjobs. I pay very close attention to this issue.

      They know their signs and stance are incendiary. They also are ashamed of the Forced Birther violence.

      So do they stop and reexamine their actions? No. God told them to shame women and kill doctors.

      So now they take the disgusting snuff porn and a camera. That is so they can record people objecting and throwing their snuff porn away and present the films as "prochoice violence."  They are narcissistic and therefore unaware of what their vids actually show.

      We have given the malignantly scrupulous an excellent platform from which to display their asses.  Too bad malignant scrupulosity is not a painful condition, except to others. I document some of what I am writing here below. I would just post the vids but I do not know how:

      I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

      by CherryTheTart on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 03:45:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Eisenstadt v. Baird (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the reminder that birth control was essentially contraband before the 70's.  Doctors would not prescribe contraception for single women.  Condoms carried warnings on them - "not for the prevention of pregnancy," "for the prevention of disease only."  The rhythm method depended on a cooperative and trustworthy partner.

    The oral contraceptive was approved for use in 1960.  There was a massive campaign in the media to discourage its use.  Catholic doctors wouldn't prescribe it.  Other doctors wanted a patient's husband to accompany her to the appointment and give his approval in person to the prescriber.  Nevertheless, the birth rate started declining and many women saw it as a godsend.  

    Student activism, the underground abortion movement, and the women's movement changed the dynamic that made the Baird lawsuits successful.  The reproductive Luddites have never gone away.  As much as they try to deny it, the oppression always has a religious justification.

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 04:36:58 AM PDT

  •  I've never forgotten the Griswold v. Connecticut (4+ / 0-)

    decision of 1965, nor the Eisenstadt v. Baird decision of 1972.  I've always been grateful to Bill Baird and Estelle Griswold.

    We are so complacent, most of us.  I was an abortion rights activist in the 1990s, defending clinics, marching in parades, participating in counterprotests.  I'm old now, and tired.  But it doesn't seem as if the young care to take up the fight.  One reason may be that the young are trying to find jobs so they can continue to live.

    This is one messed-up country.  I blame my husband's former country, England, for exporting its religious freaks to these shores in the 1600s.

    Just hope my three-year-old granddaughter doesn't have to live in the Republic of Gilead.  However, her old witch of a granny will tell her about Queen Anne's Lace, rue salad, and pennyroyal tea if that comes about.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 05:06:16 AM PDT

  •  It was pretty chilly here. You had to warm up (0+ / 0-)

    I don't have the exact statistics.  I don't think anyone does.  

    But if there are150,000 condoms at the London Olympics, there were probably some handed at in 2002.

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