The more I read about the organization, the more impressed I was with their calm, direct, and effective dealing with anti-choice bullies.
From their own website:
“Voice of Choice” was established as a calm, measured response to anti-abortion activists who engage in misguided, raging protest tactics that are often ill-informed and only serve to victimize women, pro-choice professionals, law-abiding businesses and unaligned bystanders.The organization was started by Todd Stave who owns a building he rents to an abortion provider. One evening anti-choice bullies showed up at Parents night at his sixth grade daughter's school carrying posters with Steve's name, phone number, & address asking people call him to "stop the child killing." The anti-choice bullies also began calling him at home around the clock.
In the below interview with Rachel Maddow, Stave notes until recently nobody did much to directly fight back against anti-choice bullies. The attitude was always if you ignore them, they will hopefully go away. But they don't. He decided to fight back by using the anti-choice bullies own tactics against them. He organized a group of 20 friends to collect the bullies names and phone numbers. These volunteers called the anti-choice bullies and told them:
In a very calm, very respectful voice, they said that the Stave family thanks you for your prayers. They cannot terminate the lease, and they do not want to. They support women's rights.This story and more is told in an article in Jezebel found here. I also found an article in Reproductive & Sexual Health Justice found here. In the Jezebel article it notes:
Stave's approach was so appealing that he was flooded with people from all over wanting to help. So he organized Voice of Choice, which now has about 3,000 volunteers. They don't just fight back for Stave anymore. They'll make calls on behalf of whoever is being bullied by anti-abortion protesters, whether it's a doctor or a landlord or their family.In addition, Todd Stave has guidelines about who Voice of Choice will make calls for. If it is just the run of the mill protests outside clinics, he doesn't step in because he feels that's their 1st amendment right. Protesters must be personally harassing before Voice of Choice gets involved.
As Steve notes in his interview with Rachel Maddow, the anti-choice bullies don't like getting these unsolicited phone calls. His response is they were willing to offer their direct unsolicited advice, why can't the pro-choice movement offer theirs?
In the Rachel Maddow interview, he notes how anti-choice bullies target businesses who supply products or services to abortion clinics. I guess the goal is to make it as difficult as possible for the clinics to remain open.
How effective are Voice of Choice's tactics:
“About 80 percent of people will stop the harassment after being contacted, 20%, the hard-core, won’t,”
I want to ask a question I've had the last few years. According to the Guttmacher Institute, about one-third of women will have an abortion at some time. If reproductive rights are so personal, so necessary, and so common, why are we losing this debate? While Roe hasn't yet been overturned (it probably will be if a Republican wins in 2016) the anti choice movement has been very successful at chipping away at abortion rights. In 1977, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment which prohibited taxpayer funded abortions. This amendment made abortion legal in name only for part of the population returning poor women back to the pre-Roe days as evidence by Rosie Jimenez story. In later years, the anti-choice movement would chip away at reproductive even more by closing clinics, introducing waiting periods, and all kinds of obstacles to make it difficult as possible. The latest tactic is force clinic closings under the guise of patient safety as noted in the New York Times. The article asks at what point do all these restrictions violate the "undue burden" clause in Roe v Wade? I think they all do.
Is it because well funded Republicans shaped the debate for years - making abortion = murder the major meme? How can pro-choice advocates take the debate back?
I don't have the answers. This is what I do know. There's nothing about the anti-choice movement that is pro "life" or for family values. They present themselves as being for life and for family values but it is total bullshit. We need to take that ground back as in reality the pro-choice side is the pro-family values side. I watched the below 25 minute You Tube video by Physicians For Reproductive Health.
This video talks about physicians who performed abortion services before Roe v Wade. Yes, there were doctors who risked losing their license and going to prison. There was a reason they risked so much. Thousands of women died each year from self induced abortions. In the video, physicians tell horrible stories about what women had to go through before abortion was legal. I don't want those days to become a reality ever again.