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Oct 31 2012

Abortion: It’s Not Auschwitz

A post by Jamie

In Vancouver, BC, there is a rather annoying anti-choice blight on the corner across the street from one of the only two clinics that are not associated with a hospital. They call themselves pro-life, co-opt famous quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., and directly compare what they are doing “for the unborn” (i.e., by standing around as a visible and often vocal pillar of shame to all women, encouraging other people to campaign to eradicate women’s rights to bodily autonomy and self-determination) with what MLK Jr. accomplished for the Civil Rights Movement. Unfortunately, this is a rather tame version of the greater “pro-life” pseudo-social-justice-movement (I call it a glorified popularity contest). More on what exactly that means momentarily.

I began picketing these bigoted, misogynist hypocrites (who pull out their rosaries and start praying whenever someone yells at them), approximately six months ago, when I found out that they were actually slut-shaming women and telling them in so many words that they deserved to be raped if it should ever happen to them. I showed up for the first week in my tightest and brightest underwear, a clown wig, and a cape, holding a clown horn and a sign declaring my reasons for being there. As one of them began shaming me, I began honking my clown horn repeatedly, shouting “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over all this noise I’m deliberately making!” until her lips stopped moving. She turned to someone who was with me, and told them that I deserve to be raped multiple times. For a popularity contest that prides itself on how anti-violence it is, this is already painting a pretty grim portrait of hatred and violence against women. But wait! There’s more!

Over the past six months, they have now told numerous women that they deserve to be raped or are asking for it, and that at least half the time that a woman is raped it’s because she provoked it or secretly wanted it. They’ve grabbed and punched two of my friends (the police made up every excuse they could to avoid doing their jobs when this happened). They’ve literally cackled while a man repeatedly walked straight up to my face to yell at me then followed me around while I kept yelling at him to just fuck off, until he finally asked me why I don’t just punch him (I didn’t, because he’s able-bodied, so why  should I have to punch him to make him get the fuck out of my face? Why isn’t “get the fuck out of my face” enough?) They’ve stood by and done nothing while another man walked up and began antagonizing the one person he could most easily isolate from the group, before verbally gay-bashing him and doing the same to me before threatening to “smash [my] fucking head in.” I’d have to be utterly dense and cognitively dissonant to believe that these antagonists weren’t invited there by the anti-choicers themselves.

They’ve blocked the path of an oncoming ambulance, and once phoned 9-1-1 to sic the police on a lone demonstrator who was doing nothing more than standing directly in front of their signs (she told them that about the only thing they didn’t waste in that gesture was nuclear energy). They’ve threatened to sue us (after hearing this, we’ve invited them to try). They’ve even had a nice long friendly chat with a known anti-abortion extremist after he took all our pictures without anyone’s consent — and this is a man who, over the course of 2 decades of court hearings, has cracked a man’s skull, battered multiple abortion clinic staff, and repeatedly attempted to incense other extremists to form lynch mobs (his words, not mine) to hunt down and kill pro-choicers to “protect the vulnerable” (that’s the short list of his… accomplishments). Just this past weekend, they topped it all off by calling me a coward and a hypocrite. And the weekend before that, a different group of anti-choicers stalked me for a block and followed me into a bathroom after I left my counter-picket at their demonstration.

It was shortly after this all started that when I had my first of many miserable encounters with an organization called the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR — the Canadian clone of the American organization, Center for Bioethical Reform), which claims that abortion is genocide (this is what I meant by describing the above blight as annoying and yet unfortunately tame by “pro-life” standards), and that therefore they are all genocide survivors. They also claim that life and personhood begin at conception, that abortion is systemic violence against “pre-born children”, and that science has definitively proven everything they say (which they of course, are never able to back up with sources other than their own). They sue anyone who touches them or their property (no matter how delicately), and have been known to sue anyone who makes any claim about their materials that threatens to expose the fact that they are lying through their teeth about what it depicts.

And how do they accomplish the feat of proving all of this to the public? But by printing out 4-foot-tall placards of what they allege to be the remains of aborted “pre-born children” that have been ripped into pieces by surgical abortions. I refer to these images as abortion porn. In some cities, they also plaster street lamps with these images throughout the entire downtown core. And they’ve started dropping their abortion porn, coupled with graphic photos of child casualties of ethnic cleansing and war, into thousands of mailboxes at random across the country. CCBR is also responsible for an annual campaign that takes place at universities all across the continent, called Genocide Awareness Project, which involves horrifically graphic 6-foot-tall photo displays of dead fetuses, mass graves, and occasionally lynchings too. All while campaigning the government to once again reinstate the abortion ban that was liberalized in 1969 (at which time, homosexuality and contraception were also legalized) and later fully repealed in 1989.

This year, CCBR also plastered two moving trucks with abortion porn, drove them across the country doing demonstrations to deliberately traumatize and emotionally agitate as many people as possible, and held a funeral procession on Canada Day for a child-sized coffin full of hundreds of plastic fetuses on the Prime Minister’s front lawn. They aren’t just a menace, they are part of a massive organized collective of hate groups that explicitly target women: the “pro-life movement”. Their end goal is to turn the clocks back to 1869 (the year the Canadian government formally criminalized all forms of abortion), and fully eradicate the rights of all women to decide what can and will happen to their own bodies.

But abortion is not Auschwitz. Full stop.

Accessing contraception, Plan B or any similar abortive at a later point in early pregnancy, or even a late-term surgical abortion for a high-risk pregnancy that either threatens the life of the mother or would result in a child that would live a very short and utterly agonizing life before dying within the first few days after being brought to term; are in no way comparable to the Nazi invasion of Poland, the rounding up and trafficking of every Jew that can be handcuffed across Europe, and the mass torture and murder of at least 10 million people over the course of 12 years. It’s just not. And say abortion is genocide — then what the fuck is the Holocaust? A particularly bad genocide? I am not a war criminal for supporting a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body. It should be considered a war crime to knowingly and deliberately minimize crimes against humanity.

Further on the issue of racism in the “pro-life” popularity contest, I’ve written here about the historical context from which the term “pro-life” arose in Canada. You’ll probably be interested to know that the short version of it is that it wasn’t even a Thing™ until the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement and the spread of anti-war activism during the Vietnam War began to happen concurrently all across the continent. Once I considered that, as well as a lot of specific information about the anti-Asiatic (wildly) racist history Canada isn’t too proud to just pretend like it never happened  –to say nothing of the trans-generational effects of these institutions, let alone the continued institutionalized racism against First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people — it suddenly seemed clear as day that the extremist anti-abortion movement that can be observed co-opting the history, language, and concepts of the Civil Rights Movement for the express purpose of subjugating women, is an outlet to relieve hidden tensions caused by being vehemently racist in a society that looks down upon picketing people of colour for failing to be white.

Anti-choicers just love to pick on the issue of sex-selective abortion in particular: that’s why we now have a Thing™ called Motion 408 (which is really a very serious threat to women’s rights in this country) to deal with. An entire third of our parliament already voted in favour of re-opening the personhood “debate”, despite explicit instructions from their party leader to vote it down. If we all just sit back and pretend that this new proposal, which assumes personhood of the fetus, is just a big joke, we’re going to see first-hand what reproduction was like in 1869 by the end of next year. The MP who tabled Motion 408 wins super dickshit bonus internets for claiming that this is a step towards ending gender-based discrimination. Honestly, that part is direct from his press release about it.

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32 comments

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  1. 1
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Ah the police. When can’t we count on them to be utterly worthless?

  2. 2
    Argle Bargle

    …has cracked a man’s skull, battered multiple abortion clinic staff, and repeatedly attempted to incense other extremists to form lynch mobs

    This guy is concerned only with the pre-born, not the post born.

  3. 3
    picklefactory

    As one of them began shaming me, I began honking my clown horn repeatedly, shouting “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over all this noise I’m deliberately making!” until her lips stopped moving.

    I don’t even have words for how awesome that is. Sic semper scumbags.

  4. 4
    Sivi

    I’m actively shocked that this CCBR isn’t associated with Margaret Somerville (my least favourite “ethicist”!) in any way.

    Also, their site immediately puts the lie to the term “ethics” in their name, and they pretty clearly don’t have much concept of what actual bioethics, or ethics, involves.

  5. 5
    Torie

    Thanks for talking about these horrific people. They drove their trucks through my city (Kelowna) not too long ago. I heard that a number of kids who saw them felt more terrified than anything else, so I guess their post-born innocence isn’t worth worrying about.

  6. 6
    HaifischGeweint

    They never filed the 9-1-1 call from the gay-bashing incident, either. Imagine my surprise when RCMP from another municipality showed up on my doorstep the following weekend, to take a 2.5 hour statement about my writing in relation to a completely different issue. No joke.

  7. 7
    HaifischGeweint

    They also seem to think that the embryo/zygote/fetus is biologically distinct from the body that it’s developing in. You know. Despite the whole shared resources shit that’s going on in there.

  8. 8
    HaifischGeweint

    I believe Kelowna is where a man threw 2 L of chocolate milk at them, soaking multiple people before RCMP who happened to be literally right there at the time walked up very delicately and said “That’s enough, Sir.” He replied “No, it’s ok, I got it,” and actually opened up a second 2 L of milk before they stopped him, arrested him, and put him in jail overnight.

    I’m sure that was exactly what his 9-year-old daughter needed — she was accompanying him to the store when they saw these assholes, and was traumatized by the images.

    The CCBR instantly responded by posting the video of it on YouTube and generating poster after poster, comparing a still of at least three protesters getting rightly soaked, to huge mobs of people throwing food and drinks on a Black person and two white people who appeared to be their lunch company, at the time of the Civil Rights Movement.

    Yes, because fighting to systematically eradicate equal rights is exactly what the Civil Rights Movement was all about, eh?

  9. 9
    composer99

    O’Brien would be proud of the CCBR’s Newspeak. Doubleplusgood!

  10. 10
    No Light

    They are fucking scum, pure and simple.

    Round-up and massacre of disabled children and adults, Jews, Romani, and gays and lesbians = genocide.

    The organised slaughter of the First Nations all across North America, and the continuing shameful situation = genocide.

    The atrocities in Darfur, the Congo, Somalia, Eritrea = genocide

    Abortion = private medical procedure, like dental work or a Sigmoidoscopy. Not genocide.

    Pro-liar idiots = not survivors of anything, merely proof that people too stupid to breathe and walk at the same time, are actually capable of independent life. Who knew?

    Thank you for your activism,

  11. 11
    Tualha

    The MP who tabled Motion 408…

    As I understand it, in the US, to “table” a measure means to stop considering it, while in the UK, it means to enable its consideration. It sounds like Canada follows the UK practice?

  12. 12
    mynameischeese

    Oh. Gross. Appropriating the civil rights movement while they’re limiting the rights of women…These people have no shame.

  13. 13
    stuartsmith

    I look forward to the day that medical science allows us to extract an embryo or fetus without harming it (or, obviously, the mother,) and implant it in a new host. Then ‘pro life’ types can put their money where their mouth is and save any fetus they like.

  14. 14
    Tualha

    Yes, I’m sure they’ll be lining up for that <rolls eyes>.

  15. 15
    spiffo

    You’ve got to love how none of their arguments involve the pregnant woman at all. She’s completely irrelevant. As far as they’re concerned, she’s not a person, and has no rights.

    So the real question they’re asking ISN’T when personhood begins, but rather when it ends. What if the embryo is going to be a girl? Does it still get personhood? In that case, at what point is her personhood revoked? Before, or after being born?

    Also, I wonder what their take is on fetal resorbtion: should the surviving fetus be tried for murder? If so, would they want the fetus put on trial before or after birth? And should it be tried as an adult?

  16. 16
    Kalliope

    But it’s a bare breast and a condom demonstration that would REALLY traumatize children, according to these people.

    Really, the fit the definition of “perverted” perfectly.

  17. 17
    dianne

    Technically, there are embryos that could be implanted without danger to anyone but the person they’re implanted into: they’re the leftovers from IVF. Occasionally, a “pro-lifer” woman will take them on, but it’s pretty rare.

    Personally, I think a man could do the same with a little creativity and willingness to take risk. Ectopic pregnancies implanting on the intestinal lining can survive. Men have intestines…so why not implant a “snowflake baby” there?

    Oddly, I haven’t yet gotten a “pro-life” man to agree to this idea. No, not even when I make it clear that it’s a complete hypothetical and I do not have an IRB willing to let me do this sort of thing or even funding for it…Almost as though they’re afraid to risk themselves even in theory.

  18. 18
    HaifischGeweint

    Indeed. One of the most insulting aspects of their “activism” was when they hired a guy who sings for the Vancouver Canucks, to sing the national anthem at their debut in front of the Art Gallery here — within which, there was an exhibit of Aboriginal artwork; and just on the other side, there was a flash mob of indigenous drummers protesting the desecration of their ancestors’ graves by a condo developer on a national historic site that was once their village.

    The CCBR still has not yet acknowledged that they were on unceded Coast Salish territory that day, and does fuck-all about the Cree communities that don’t even have fresh drinking water, or the Inuit who don’t have enough food and can’t afford what’s left. It makes me furious.

    They also refuse to get involved in any capacity, to excise the people who have been assaulting pro-choicers and telling them they deserve to be raped, from their movement. They feign helplessness and demand that by sheer force of will alone, everyone recognizes that those people are different and the CCBR condemns their actions. Yet not only has the CCBR provided them with the materials they use to picket that abortion clinic, but when it was here, they didn’t even shuffle their feet or shift their weight when they found out they were standing right in front of those very same people.

  19. 19
    HaifischGeweint

    Yes, journalists say “tabled” to say “now a date has been set for this thing to be voted on”. Took me some time to figure that out as well, because when I first read it, I went “but they’re still going to vote on it” in my head. lol

  20. 20
    HaifischGeweint

    “Pro-lifers” are opposed to IVF because it’s “playing God” and “deciding if and when life begins”, and also because many embryos will spontaneously abort after attempted implantation (i.e., miscarriage — although I can’t get “pro-lifers” to acknowledge that miscarriage is even a thing)

  21. 21
    HaifischGeweint

    This is where “pro-life” becomes “logically inconsistent to the point of a punchline”. They don’t just believe it’s murder, but that it’s actually genocide. Yet they don’t want women put in prison or padded cells for abortion, or even on suspicion of abortion in the event of a miscarriage.

    Well what the fuck do they think will happen if abortion is criminalized?

    Secondly, one guy showed up with an iPad full of CCBR abortion porn, to a rally against Motion 312. He said all life is sacred, but then there came a point where it was clear that during one’s child-bearing years, one’s life is no longer sacred. I WONDER WHO GETS TO MAKE THAT DECISION.

  22. 22
    dianne

    The lack of interest in miscarriage really brings out in sharp relief how much the “pro-life” movement is about punishing women for having sex, not saving lives, not even embryonic lives.

  23. 23
    No Light

    Dianne – I find that one issue that throws “pro-life”‘s real priorities into sharp relief, is that of the rising number of easily preventable stillbirths.

    They can be arguing away about saving the “innocent babies” of women who do not want to be, or can not be pregnant, but as soon as I mention stillbirth? Nada.

    I ask them why they can’t put their energy, time, resources and money into trying to save the much wanted, fully-prepared for babies that die in utero, devastating those waiting for them.

    They just disappear. I ask them if they’ve considered getting involved with the Gates Foundation, helping women everywhere reduce their risk of stillbirth by improving their access to pre-natal health care, helping women to space pregnancies, and working toward eliminating the number one cause of preventable stillbirth – poverty.

    You guessed it, crickets.

    Nothing proves that “pro-life” is a lie, quite like refusing to even acknowledge the issue of preventable stillbirth.

    Anyone who cares more about the rights of blastocysts than the devastation caused by the loss of a baby who had a nursery decorated and waiting for her, and people excited to meet her? They’re not “pro” anything but controlling and hurting women.

  24. 24
    Pierce R. Butler

    I refer to these images as abortion porn.

    Considering that these pictures are of what the anti-choicers call “children”, that they are unclothed, and that they are intended to provoke intense emotional reactions, shouldn’t the people displaying them turn themselves in to the cops for distributing child porn?

  25. 25
    dianne

    I agree, no light. Interestingly, there’s a long discussion of this issue on Libby Anne’s blog and several “pro-life” advocates outright state that they have no interest in saving “babies” from miscarriage or actual term babies from stillbirth. In short, they’re not even hiding their intentions.

  26. 26
    HaifischGeweint

    Shame on the shamers!

  27. 27
    xmaseveeve

    I am shocked and saddened to hear that this is happening in Vancouver, and Canada. Thank you for bearing brilliantly eloquent witness, and please try to stay safe. They are bloody maniacs.

    In order to prevent bad laws being passed, we have to use precedent and the statutes we already have.

    I’m glad to say that I’ve not seen the posters or leaflets in question, but it has to be illegal to subject children to these images. It is surely also illegal to distribute literature such as this. People have to sue for emotional distress. Is this being done?

    I’m still trying to take it all in. Canada? The Spreading Bible Belt? Horrible and unbelievable. Thank you for sharing. Good luck.

  28. 28
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Oh but miscarriage and stillbirth are god’s will! And god’s will on that is pretty mysterious because I couldn’t figure out exactly what criteria god uses for when seeking medical treatment is his will and when it isn’t. If a miscarriage or stillbirth is god’s will then all prenatal care should be against his will and all healthy babies born via c-sections would be monsters god had doomed to die. But somehow it was also god’s will that modern medicine saved them, so my sophisticated theology is a bit at loss….

  29. 29
    HaifischGeweint

    It’s happening in Vancouver because this is the home of the only four abortion clinics in the entire province.

    What disgusts me more is the awarding of the Jubilee medals to two anti-abortion extremists who were BOTH put in prison for badgering and harassing women who tried to enter abortion clinics, causing them significant distress and even some to turn away at the door.

    It’s because of people like that, that we now have the bubble zone laws. And people like that are in prison because they explicitly violated them, repeatedly. And it’s because of people like that, that pro-choice activism is associated with being “pro-abortion”, because it was pro-choicers who were counter-picketing before the bubble zone laws by escorting women safely in and out of the clinic.

    Because they actually needed what essentially amounts to a fucking body guard, just to get in the goddamned door.

  30. 30
    A.Roddy

    I can’t get this vilification of pro-life. It is painting them with a broad brush. It is ironic that many pro-choice/abort would agree with cases such as Lacy Peterson being called a double homicide. Why is it double homicide if the fetus is not a person? You can’t have it both ways.
    ” I ask them why they can’t put their energy, time, resources and money into trying to save the much wanted, fully-prepared for babies that die in utero, devastating those waiting for them.”
    Why cant we all put time and energy into preventing unwanted pregnancies.

  31. 31
    HaifischGeweint

    They don’t believe in contraception, either.

  32. 32
    Crommunist

    I can’t get this vilification of pro-life

    Translation: I haven’t been paying attention (even to the post I’m commenting on), and I can’t be arsed to do research.

  1. 33
    Citizenship For Sperm! | HaifischGeweint

    [...] contest likes to compare abortion to the Holocaust — literally, I’ve written an entire blog entry about it, being auto-published this Wednesday. It’s also 15% of the current global [...]

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