Thursday, October 19, 2006

Today's Lesson: "Making the Womb A Safer Place to Live"

This Tuesday, October 24th, an anti-choice protest coordinated by an extremely religious, virulently anti-choice organization called Stand True Ministries, will not go on as planned at an elementary school in Livingston, MI.

Two families with children at Hutchins Elementary School were to organize the silent protest at the school as part of the ministries' 3rd annual Day of Silent Solidarity. Stand True coordinated protests will occur at two area high schools. But news travelled fast and parents at the elementary school took quick action to shut down the planned event.

However, a quick glance at the ministries' web site boasts a list of hundreds of participating schools (I saw only one additional elementary school) around the country and into Europe.

The instructions for hosting a "Day of Silent Solidarity" are straightforward. Register your event, inform people, wear red duct tape over your mouth with the word "life" written on it but last (and not the very bit least according to them) is to pray.

All in all, I say why not? Go for it. Have your day of silent solidarity. It's your right of course. However, it is most certainly our right to inform folks about what Stand True Ministries advocates for.

In a nutshell, "Making the womb a safer place to live." Started by a young guy who thought he was going to be the next big Christian rock star (who's the first big one?!), he was called to create this "ministry" when, according to him, he was hanging around an abortion clinic waiting room stuffing pro-life literature into magazines.

Let me stop here for a moment. I have worked at an abortion clinic for six years. I'm not sure what clinic this guy is referring to but I'd say they need to ramp up their security. If his story is true (and I'm inclined to believe it's not), he was allowed to hang around in the waiting room of an abortion clinic with no one noticing, while stuffing "pro-life literature" into the magazines?!

The second part of his story:
I walked over to the window at the reception area and someone opened a door behind the window. I saw a young girl laying on the table with her head turned to me and tears flowing down her eyes. There was a man reaching down between her legs and I suddenly realized how real this was. I was witnessing a child being killed in front of my eyes and a young girl being emotionally damaged.

So, the procedure rooms are right behind the reception area and if you happen to be standing at the reception area at the wrong time, you just might witness an abortion being performed?

I know this absurd tale of the ministries' founder seems a bit beside the point. However, it points to an inherent, well, absurdist quality to these kinds of organizations. They are founded on bizarre lies and serve only to promote lies. Which leads to another one of their claims, or more accurately, tag lines:

"Making the womb a safer place to live."

If making women's wombs safer is his goal, I'd like to start with some facts:

  • Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures a woman can undergo. It is ten times safer than childbirth (the risk of death associated with childbirth is about ten times greater than that associated with legal abortion).
  • Less than 1% of women who undergo abortions experience a major complication as a result of either an aspiration (surgical) or medication (pills) abortion.
  • Abortion has no impact on one's future ability to get pregnant and carry that pregnancy to term.
There are most certainly risks associated with an abortion procedure (including incomplete abortions, perforation of the uterine wall and infection). But those risks are treatable and rare.

So, I guess the founder of Stand True Ministries, in his zest to make my and all of our wombs safer, will need to also ban sexual relations of any kind (even between married folks) that might lead to pregnancy. Pregnancy makes our wombs much more unsafe than abortion ever could. Pregnancy is a risky proposition for both baby and mother.

If you want to make our wombs a safer place to live, why not focus on ensuring health care access for all pregnant women in this country that want to be pregnant? And what about pregnancy in developing nations? The same pregnancy-related complications that affect women in developing countries (severe bleeding, obstructed or prolonged labor, infection or sepsis, pre-eclampsia) due in part to a severe lack of proper pre-natal medical care also threaten the babies lives. In fact, in less developed countries, of the estimated 8 million deaths each year that occur in utero or in the first week of life, the vast majority are associated wtih maternal health problems or poor obstetric care during childbirth.

So, please don't tell me that you care about making women's wombs safer. It's simply not why you're doing this.

Why are they doing "this"? Why are they rallying thousands of folks around the country to participate in their "Day of Silent Solidarity"? Their "Personhood Redefined" brochure gives me a clue. It starts out: "Three times in recent history personhood has been redefined and stripped away from a group of people. Their very rights as a human have been taken away by men who had no right to do so." Sound familiar? They are of course advocating for the rights of the fetus and do it with reference to three main "issues": The Dred Scott decision, The Holocaust and Roe vs. Wade.

In essence, Stand True Ministries believes that fetuses, Jews and African-Americans are legally one and the same.

The Stand True "Day of Silent Solidarity" protest that was planned at this elementary school in Michigan as well as at high schools, colleges, and universities around the country, are not about "standing true" at all. They are about screaming lies - even in their silence. The young people who are participating are being ministered to by an organization that preaches distortions from the pulpit in the name of truth and love.

Feminist Peace Network