Abortion Rights Opponents Are Targeting Patients Seeking Care in Blue States

Within the post-Roe period, as draconian abortion bans sweep the nation, cities like New York, Chicago and Santa Fe stay important holdouts for sufferers looking for abortion care — and in addition a website of ongoing focus for the far proper.

Proper-wing vitriol aimed toward huge metropolis abortion suppliers in “blue states” was already a daily characteristic of the political panorama earlier than the Supreme Court docket overturned Roe. As my NYC for Abortion Rights comrades and I mentioned in Truthout beforehand, the anti-abortion proper has lengthy had its eyes on New York, which it dubs “the abortion capital of America.” We are able to count on that avenue confrontations with anti-abortion forces in New York Metropolis and different city facilities will proceed to escalate as extra individuals cross state strains to hunt abortion care, and as anti-abortion forces intensify their scrutiny of the nation’s remaining suppliers.

As an abortion clinic defender in New York Metropolis, I used to be current at a current face-off that occurred on October 29, when a far proper evangelical group known as “Love Life” confirmed up exterior the Deliberate Parenthood clinic within the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan to harass abortion sufferers.

Love Life recurrently holds “Prayer Walks,” which tremendously resemble the Catholic Archdiocese of New York’s “Witness for Life.” These encompass the anti-abortion activists (or antis) strolling from a close-by church to SoHo’s Deliberate Parenthood location intimidate abortion seekers. Usually, the antis will congregate reverse the clinic, ostensibly to “pray for the unborn.” A lot of them stand at strategic factors instantly in entrance of the clinic and on pedestrian walkways with pamphlets to be able to conduct “sidewalk counseling,” which is in actuality direct harassment of sufferers.

On October 29, a bunch of about 10 clinic defenders — counterprotesters who use direct motion to oppose harassment of clinics by anti-abortion activists — gathered within the chilly hours of the morning in downtown Manhattan to oppose a Love Life “Prayer Stroll.” I used to be current as one of many clinic defenders. Because the church doorways opened, a mass of about 40 anti-abortion activists streamed out, of their signature mild blue t-shirts. The group included males, ladies and kids — sadly, it’s not an unusual sight to see the abortion rights opponents bringing their children with them to harass abortion sufferers. When Love Life members encountered us linking arms and chanting, “New York is a pro-choice city!” — they hesitated, earlier than turning round and heading again into the church.

We weren’t positive that that they had completely given up although — and positive sufficient, after a short interlude, the doorways opened once more and 10 burly Love Life males emerged. These males weren’t so daunted by our linking arms — they pushed and shoved the clinic defenders, who had been primarily ladies and femmes, with growing ranges of aggression of their haste to achieve the clinic. One in all our members was really pushed to the bottom. We heard one in all these males pull out his cellphone and name the cops. “It’s ANTIFA!” he cried.

Lastly, we reached the clinic, the place the male Prayer Walkers gathered on the sidewalk throughout the road to hope. Clinic defenders opened umbrellas to dam them from view of the sufferers. This time, there have been only a few “sidewalk counselors” — most of them, presumably, had been with the group that remained within the church. After about half an hour, each teams dispersed.

The far proper group Love Life was fashioned in North Carolina in 2016, impressed by the efforts of Jason and David Benham. It’s a registered nonprofit that receives thousands and thousands of {dollars} in donations and has outposts throughout the nation.

Jason and David are the sons of Flip Benham, former director of Operation Save America, a far proper, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ and Islamophobic offshoot of the infamous anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. In North Carolina, Love Life has bought property surrounding an abortion clinic to be able to extra successfully harass sufferers and employees.

Love Life recurrently reside streams its harassment of sufferers as a recruitment instrument. Its web site, social media presence and messaging are vivid, slick and couched in constructive, upbeat, women-centered language with a big splash of the American entrepreneurial spirit. The next message seems in all capital letters on its web site: “Do you know that Love Life was began when a bunch of entrepreneurs determined to do one thing about abortion of their metropolis? What if you happen to could possibly be a catalyst of cultural change in your metropolis whereas nonetheless main your organization or proudly owning your online business?”

In 2019, Love Life opened an workplace in New York Metropolis, the place the group recurrently conducts clinic harassment campaigns in Manhattan and the Bronx. The goal is evident — to deliver an finish to abortion entry nationwide. Love Life claims to supply materials wants for expectant mother and father, like offering diapers and internet hosting child showers. “Allow us to assist you!” is the group’s frequent chorus, as members observe sufferers proper as much as the clinic doorways.

Earlier in October, Love Life held a “sidewalk counseling boot camp.” Dozens of opponents of abortion rights flocked to New York Metropolis from Tennessee, Kentucky, Miami, and elsewhere, presumably to coach for elevated harassment campaigns. There have been much more “sidewalk counselors” at this motion. I obtained a replica of one in all their flyers — printed in coloration on costly paper, clearly not a DIY job. The flyer lists a cellphone quantity and web site for supposedly “reversing” the abortion capsule — a medically unproven and harmful process. It describes varied abortion procedures utilizing intentionally manipulative language, and lists “potential emotional results” of abortion comparable to “self hatred, self-destructive conduct” and “sexual dysfunction.” The entrance of the flier reads, “God has individuals right here that can assist you by way of your complete journey of being pregnant and past…. Your youngster is just not a mistake.”

Deliberate Parenthood maintains a strict coverage of non-engagement with opponents of abortion rights at clinics and tends to frown on clinic protection, on the grounds that direct motion of this kind politicizes a medical concern and creates a extra worrying surroundings for sufferers. However volunteer escorts had been clearly untrained to deal with the growing aggressiveness of those hecklers, enabling them to crowd sufferers proper from the second they exited their automobiles to after they entered the clinic, even banging on the doorways.

And the right-wing activists distributing pamphlets usually are not legally allowed to observe sufferers — however they did, tailing sufferers for about half a block as they exited the constructing.

With no pressure that retains opponents of abortion rights away from clinics, it’s clear they really feel emboldened to escalate of their techniques. And with ‘90s-style clinic invasions on the rise throughout the nation, it’s clear that we’ll want a ‘90s-style clinic protection presence to reclaim and defend the clinic house. Clinic protection was a vital a part of the abortion rights motion within the post-Roe period of violence in opposition to clinics. The Bay Space Coalition In opposition to Operation Rescue, one such group from that interval, acknowledged: “Our first line of protection for cover of reproductive rights is self protection. We can not depend on courts, police or legislatures to guard our elementary rights to regulate our our bodies and reproductive choices.”

The appropriate continues to move state-wide abortion bans with a watch towards a federal abortion ban in addition to legislative makes an attempt in opposition to contraception. However it is usually beginning to understand that the “love the fetus, hate the kid” public notion isn’t doing anti-abortion agitators any favors. Love Life’s advertising and marketing supplies insist that it gives expectant moms with all their materials wants — although they don’t totally specify what these is perhaps. And now mainstream Republicans like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are making overtures towards paid household depart — paid for out of the household’s future Social Safety funds, not by employers or by larger taxes on the rich.

As we proceed to defend abortion within the streets, the left wants to show the hypocrisy of many of those right-wing efforts to fight the GOP’s “hate the kid” picture drawback — and it additionally must mobilize progressive forces to satisfy the fabric wants of staff and households.