The local bluenose brigade on parade

A new Planned Parenthood clinic is opening in Woodbury, a Minneapolis St Paul suburb. It’s a small place without a doctor on staff (a PA or nurse practitioner will be available), and it’s primarily there to dispense contraceptives and information. No big deal, right? It’s a useful service to have available in a community.

So why are people trying to close it down?

Demonstrators from St. Croix Valley Life Care Center will be joined by ones from Pro-Life Action Ministries and other groups from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday and again Thursday, when the clinic opens, and will aim to shut the clinic down, Kiolbasa said.

Minnesota Sen. Brian LeClair, R-Woodbury, plans to attend the protest and wants to explore what can be done to close the business. “One hundred percent yes, I do not want it in Woodbury,” LeClair said.

This isn’t about abortion. This is about self-righteous, religion-obsessed control freaks trying to control other people’s sexuality and trying to reduce the availability of contraception. Planned Parenthood doesn’t force condoms on people, people aren’t dragged through its doors to have birth control pills poured down their throat—it makes an option available, nothing more.

And these people, including one of our state senators (one who has a bit of a reputation as a pretentious ass, by the way) want to shut it down.

Nice. It’s another reminder that this isn’t a serious argument about the ethics of abortion, it’s about bigots who are afraid of sex trying to force their reactionary strictures down everyone else’s throats.

(via Minnesota Politics)


  1. MAJeff says

    As a former Minneapolitan, I’d just like to say that Woodbury is a suburb of St. Paul.

  2. typekey pseudonym says

    PZ: Don’t let Garrison hear you say that (read you write that?). He makes a big distinction between MPLS and StP.

    I lived in a MPLS suburb for 4 years, and it seemed that I was in Woodbury most frequently for traveling basketball games. Apparently not enough teams on the west side of town, which was less true of (girl’s) soccer. Draw your own inferences about social differences based on differences in participation rates of the two areas in the two sports.

  3. James R says

    A counter-protest seems in order. You could rally any and all who want to see this clinic survive. The people could simply stop by to give a $1-10 donation and pick up a condom. It’s cheap and you could get many people involved in defending their rights.

  4. says

    That sucks.

    The PP nearest us doesn’t even do abortions — they’re not set up for it, just for dispensing contraception in various forms, and I don’t think it’s ever been picketed, at least not to my knowledge. Then again, it’s in Portsmouth, NH, which is a fairly young, liberal town.

    I still don’t get how Republicans are supposed to be about individual rights and freedoms… unless it’s something that concerns sexuality, in which case it’s “Roll over for Uncle Sam, it’s my turn!”

  5. Molly, NYC says

    I want to be fair. Just because LeClair, despite representing a district with (according to the article) a lot of single women, is (according to his web page) unmarried, doesn’t mean he’s a closet case. Just because he aligns himself with groups that have trouble dealing with sexuality in general doesn’t make him one either.

    However, judging by that photograph . . .

  6. BlueIndependent says

    If I was up there I’d help protest against the “pro-lifers”. This is ALL about what they think of you and how you “bump uglies” with another consenting adult.

    Never make the mistake that Reps are about individual rights. They’re about economic rights first and foremost, and while that all seems fairly interesting, they put tradition and rulebooks in front of everything they do, i.e. they are subservient to the past by nature. What does the past contain? A lot of people without rights and freedoms to do what they wanted with their physical person, because the Bible, or some other perceived social construct from a by-gone generation told the conservative leaders of society that’s how things were supposed to be done.

    This, by the way, happens in every conservative movement, be it Islamic, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, etc. Conservatives all react the same way, only the religion is different. I think the only thing that really distinguishes western conservatives from their eastern ilk, are the economic rights. And even those are suspect, as true laissez-faire capitalism, which they hold as the holy grail socially, is untenable, and would devolve into another form of dictatorship.

  7. Carlie says

    “Never make the mistake that Reps are about individual rights. They’re about economic rights first and foremost, ”

    You know, I’ve never made this connection before, but where’s the influence of the condom industry lobby in all this? One would think that Trojan would be pissed off that the Republicans keep trashing their product and trying to get people not to use it (condoms don’t prevent AIDS! Schools can’t pass them out! etc!), and doing some hard-money lobbying on Capitol Hill. Put it to the Reps in business interest terms, I bet next thing you know there would be legislation that prohibited anyone from speaking ill of condoms and condom-related accessories.

  8. says

    The protest is pseudomorality at its best. Pseudomoralists have the notion that morality is all about what is right, and what is wrong. It is not. The central question in any moral debate is this: Who gets to make the decision?

    In this case, you’ve got a group of people who can get a lot of narcissistic gratification by running around claiming to be on the moral high ground, when what they are really doing is claiming that they have the right to make a critical decision for someone else. There is nothing moral about that. It is shameless self-indulgence. It is a lot like masturbation, except that it is legal to show it on prime-time TV, whereas the real thing is forbidden.

  9. Loren Petrich says

    I agree — why aren’t condom makers and birth-control-pill makers doing the sort of lobbying that other businesses do to get government favors?

    Also, the Republicans mostly care about the “economic rights” of those with a LOT of money to spend; they care about Chambers of Commerce much more than about labor unions.

  10. Keanus says

    Weekly I volunteer as an escort (some might call us counter-protesters) at the main, and only, Planned Parenthood clinic in our county (suburban Philadelphia) that offers abortions. PP also operates three other women’s clinics in the county that do not offer abortions. All offer pregnancy testing, PAP smears, testing for STDs, and the dispensing of birth control information, advice, and devices (we also offer STD testing for men and vasectomies). Most clients are women without the means to visit the private gynecologist whom protesters ignore. The only place we get protesters is at that main clinic, but they are there whenever the clinic provides pre-abortion counseling or performs abortions (that information is accessible over the phone and the protesters check regularly for it).

    Wherever they appear protesters must be countered with escorts or counter-protesters, otherwise they will succeed in their primary goal of intimidating and scaring the patients, especially those who are tentative about their decision to seek help, as many young women are. As a escort it’s also terribly important to not engage the protesters in shouting matches. With their pipeline to god, they cannot “lose,” at least in their eyes and they also usually shout much louder. Their facts are always wrong but a shouting match is no way to verify facts. Escorts or counter-protesters need to remember the welfare and comfort of the clients is paramount and they need to be reassured that they are welcome, their decision to seek counsel is theirs alone, and that no one has the right to intimidate or browbeat them into changing their mind. PP of Minnesota, or whoever the organizing PP group is, needs to meet the protesters with escorts immediately. Any of you who live in the St. Paul/Woodbury area should get your fanny down their immediately and offer to help. The usual protesters are nasty, rude, abrasive and very, very offensive. But met with even tempered, serene counter protesters, they’ll eventually lose interest and disappear as they did at our satellite clinics that don’t offer abortions. Good luck.

  11. Keanus says

    I should add a note in reference to condom makers and the like. Most PP clinics dispense their own private label condoms. This enables them to provide them at low cost without the extra margin needed for marketing a brand name. PP makes no money on them dispensing them pretty much at cost, so I could see why condom makers might not get all wrought up over protests, especially when public controversy over a clinic (provided the clinic owner is prepared to ride out the opening onslaught of protesters) provides more publicity than PP could ever buy through advertising.

  12. G. Tingey says

    In Britain, birth-control and contraception advice are FREE ( Paid for out of national taxes ) to ANYONE over the age of 16.

    No questions asked.

    Which country is more civilised?

    I believe very similar rules apply in most EU countries.
    This is why the Polish ultras are anti-EU, and Croatia won’t get in, until they change their laws …..

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    It should be noted that, with victory against legal abortion almost in sight thanks to Bush’s new Supreme Court appointees, significant portions of the anti-choice movement in the US are now beginning to campaign against legal contraception. I’m not kidding: see or this NY Times overview [sorry for the raw URL, but the reference-linking formulae I’ve tried don’t seem to work here – PZ, could you ask the Seed webmasters to put up a how-to page?]:>

    They have also intensified their crusade against “indecency” in the media, with new laws and FCC policies multiplying the fines against even the momentary, accidental broadcast of say, a nipple, or anything else they deem that children need to be protected from seeing.

  14. gravitybear says

    I remember reading a post on the blog of an evangelical that I came across one day ( about PP and condoms. Sorry I can’t find the post, it was some time ago. The gist was that the PP branded condoms had burst at a lower pressure than other brands, although still within industry standards. The blogger was hinting that PP was intentionally handing out inferior condoms so that they could get more abortion business later.
    Real tin-hat conspiracy stuff, that.

  15. impatientpatient says


    This article from an Edmonton, Alberta weekly is interesting because it compares and contrasts what information a pregnant woman will get if she goes looking at options. It is an “undercover” piece. The misinformation is appalling- even if one is against abortion, why you should have to lie is beyond me.