The Dad and the Abortion Protesters August 5, 2010

The Dad and the Abortion Protesters

Last month, Aaron Gouveia took his wife (MJ) to a clinic to have a surgical abortion. There were personal reasons for that decision, but that didn’t matter to the protesters outside the clinic.

Aaron and MJ made their way inside, but not completely unscathed.

… when I looked at MJ she was in tears.

Those self-righteous assholes had gotten to her. Without knowing one solitary thing about her or why we were there, they inserted themselves directly into our nightmare and made it that much worse. So now my wife, who was already nervous as hell prior to surgery, is near hysterics. Me not being allowed in there with her only made it that much more painful.

I was seething and glaring out the window at a woman holding a picture of Jesus across the street. Then MJ asked me what I was going to do for the next couple of hours. I looked at her, then looked out the window, then back at her. I asked permission with my eyes, never uttering a word. And as they called her name she nodded and gave me a kiss.

Aaron went outside to talk to the protesters.

Here’s what happened:

This is obviously a delicate issue and I imagine anyone who’s had to go through a similar situation empathizes with Aaron. I appreciate his attempt to talk to the protesters directly. I appreciate him letting them know what they’re unfairly doing to women that goes well beyond their disagreement about abortions.

But I think he played right into their hands. He called them names. He said that because of people like them, he’d seen pictures of aborted fetuses and that there were fewer abortion clinics — as if they’d be upset by that. It wasn’t exactly a calm, reasoned response.

Then again, if my wife was the one getting harassed by them, I probably wouldn’t be in a very diplomatic mood, either.

There’s far more to the video then just that — Aaron has more thoughts, too — but I wonder if there’s a better way to handle this type of situation. I’m certainly not taking the side of the protesters, but I wasn’t thrilled watching Aaron.

You’re not going to convince the other side to stop what they’re doing, but how could you talk to them in a more effective way? Especially over such a heated issue?

(Thanks to Rebecca for the link)

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  • Amy

    He didn’t straight out curse at them like I would which is good. He really didn’t even have to explain his situation so in depth, it shouldn’t matter what the reason, going to get the procedure is a personal decision.

    I really like that he pointed out that if they really wanted to make an impact they could use their time contructively helping others rather than wasting it harassing people. He could have emphasized more on how much more effective they could be by helping. Maybe that would make them think twice about wasting an afternoon standing in the street.

    I’ve been in this situation and it’s hard and I can’t imagine how much harder it would be with assholes like that around.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    I know from personal experience of several individuals that there is no talking to them. Many of them will not even listen, actively shut you down if you even try to discuss the subject. You cannot reason with people that know the unknowable.

  • Valhar2000

    You cannot convince that side to stop what they doing through reasoned discourse any more than you can convince the cold virus to leave you body, or the tick to disengage its mandibles from your dog.

  • Ed Hicks

    I woulda said worse. I think he did pretty well considering.

  • Josh

    I don’t know, I thought Aaron handled it fairly well being such a extremely sensitive and personal issue for him.

    I think it would be extremely difficult to react calmly if you had such an encounter under the circumstance that he was in at the time.

  • flawedprefect

    Actually, I gotta disagree with you here. I think this guy did what any human in his situation would do. I think he did a brave thing. Having been close to this situation myself, I know for a fact I would have done a lot worse had I been in his shoes. Those women had no idea who they were offending, they had no idea what situations some women are in to warrant an abortion. No reasoning with them, sure, but making them feel bad for being ignorant pussies is sometimes all one can do.

  • Matt

    Agreed. Trying to talk to them is like talking to a brick wall. They know what they know and they’ll never change. Everything you say has a dogma-inspired, rubber-stamped response, and the few thing they can’t respond to result in glares and cold shoulders.
    P.S. Feel that love of jesus radiating from them.

  • Donna Lafferty

    I drive past my local Planned Parenthood office frequently. Whenever I see protesters outside, I pull into the parking lot, walk past the protesters, go into the clinic and donate all the cash I have in my wallet. Sometimes it’s $10, sometimes it’s $200 or more.

    It’s good for my conscience, good for a group that does necessary work, and, if the protesters say anything to me on my way out, I just smile and thank them for reminding me to make a donation to Planned Parenthood.

  • Luke

    All things considered, I think he did quite well as far as keeping himself in check. Personally I probably would’ve said worse. Bravo for making a stand on that. But as far as talking to these people, it gets nowhere. They believe it’s better to openly harass people than to provide the information itself to be found when necessary.

  • Nick

    Yeah, I’m going to stop following this blog.

    But I think he played right into their hands. He called them names. He said that because of people like them, he’d seen pictures of aborted fetuses and that there were fewer abortion clinics — as if they’d be upset by that. It wasn’t exactly a calm, reasoned response.

    So, people who believe that they are the arbiters of DIVINE WILL (and wizards capable of summoning up DIVINE MAGICS) are going to respond to reason? Do you really believe that?

    It probably took all of this man’s strength not to preform a 135th trimester abortion. I’m sure your atheist Spock/Gandhi impression is *SUPER EFFECTIVE*, but these are people, dangerous people, who are willing to use violence, harassment, and terrorism to achieve their goals. Words and civil discussion will not sway them. Let the man have some catharsis via the public shaming of these two hags and don’t preach what I seriously doubt you’d be able to practice if placed in the same situation.

  • I think he was right on. There’s really no rational argument with this sort of blind, uncomprehending opposition. Sometimes the best thing you can try to do is shame someone into reflecting on just how ridiculous they’re being.

  • Bill

    he was a lot more reasonable than I would have been – in fact I think I would have burst into tears if I was in situation.

  • gski

    In heated situations if I can keep my cool I try to avoid making statements which can be wrong or argued against. Instead I ask aggressive questions in an attempt to make them think and or to trip them. Is it moral for your god to deform a fetus? Do you approve of god killing my wife if she doesn’t have an abortion? If you can’t answer my questions then how well do you know your god? Etc… Rhetorical and underhanded, perhaps not at all effective but there it is.

  • That poor, poor man and his wife. My wife and I have had a similar issue while trying to conceive. His frustration and anger with their piety and self righteousness tears at my heart.

    People like those women are why I don’t own a gun…

  • Hitch

    That’s what’s wrong with deranged beliefs. They use a claim to empathy to be cruel and heartless.

    Nothing is more infuriating than wielding things that should be good to do harm.

    Good for him to let them know. It probably doesn’t help but it is better than not saying anything.

  • Tricster

    I can understand his reaction. These are people who have made someone he cares about dearly cry, on a day that is difficult for both of them. Like they needed more pain in their lives?

    In my opinion, people like that can’t really be communicated with. They haven’t thought about their position, and anyone from the other side who even suggests that they should think only makes them defensive. I don’t know who then could convince them to actually think more about all the consequences.

  • First of all thanks for posting about the situation and starting a discussion. That’s my main goal.

    Second, I hear what you’re saying. Believe me, even now when I watch the video I cringe because I think of things I should’ve said and wish I had kept my wits about me a little more.

    But my goal was not to change their minds. I know they’re never going to change. All I wanted to do was confront them and shine a light on their stupidity. For instance, the part where she threatens to call the cops on me. That right there, more than anything, shows their hypocrisy. I’m standing on the same patch of public ground they are but they want to arrest me for shouting at them, while they do the same things to vulnerable women.

    All too often they go unchallenged and I think they gain confidence because of that. But if people calmly confront and challenge them, I truly believe that will have an effect. Not a huge one and certainly not enough to stop them from being out there, but anything is better than nothing.

    So I’m curious, what’s your suggestion in this type of situation?

  • Donna Lafferty – Awesome. I don’t have a PP near my house, but if I ever drive by one, esp. with protesters, I’m doing just that.

  • Wendy

    He did a damn good job. Now at the end I think he was just frustrated and that spurred the “lowest common denominator” (fsm I hope I spelled that right or hemant is gonna KILL me).

    I’ve been lucky and have not had to face that decision like he and his wife, but he handled it well I thnk

  • ACN

    I have family members who go out and do abortion clinic protests and the absurd self-righteousness has always made me angry, but I had clenched fists while watching this and had to pause and walk away for a bit. I feel so sorry for this poor man and his wife :(. While you may be right that there were more rational ways to approach the people outside, none of these people come to abortion clinics to have reasoned discussions. In their mind, they are trying to save the lives and souls, when they are in the field like this I don’t think there is anything you could say that would be helpful.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I think he was too easy on them. These protesters are accosting women who are enduring one of the most stressful events that can happen to a person, and manage to make them feel even worse, all while claiming they are acting out of “love”. Their arrogance is unbelievable. Let’em have it!

  • While I doubt it had much impact on the twunts standing there, I think he did a damn admirable and brave thing by confronting them and introducing the concept of required medical abortions. Good on him for standing up for his wife.

  • I think he did the absolutely right thing. These people do not deserve to be “engaged in dialog” but yelled at and harassed as they are harassing people on the street.We need more people like him.

  • Aric

    I’m with you all here, but for the sake of understanding, it may help to remember that these protesters truly believe that every father, mother, doctor, and nurse involved in an abortion is committing murder. The same as killing a human who is out walking around. What would you do if you believed that?

  • MiykaelPoly

    I remember seeing an article about abortion protesters, and how they have had abortions of their own, and later had been back protesting at people having abortions.

    “The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion”

  • You just can’t talk to anti-choice people. People who are on the fence are easier to talk to in a rational way, but anti-choicers are only interested in one thing: harassing women. And the worst part is women doing it to each other, very sad.

    He handled it very well, I think. He is brave for even going out there with them–they can be violent at times, and are always scary.

  • LeAnne

    You know, I’ve had the same thing happen to me when going to Planned Parenthood for birth control. It makes you feel like absolute shit when you can’t even obtain birth control without being harassed. Most of the time I just drive by without saying anything, but on occasion I throw a “Fuck You” out at them.

    I don’t really care if I’m just ‘feeding’ the protester. I deserve not to be bullied and harassed just because I’m picking up birth control. Most of the time I hold my tongue, but you can only do that so many times before you have to unleash the beast. 😀

  • Hitch

    Aric, Nazis truly believed that jews were inferior, what would you do if you believed that?

    Aztecs truly believed if they did not rip out the beating hearts of humans the sun god would get angry, what would you do if you believed that?

    This kind of argument is silly. Yes we have to take perspective, but that doesn’t mean we should sympathize with positions that lead to cruelty.

    The answer has been given many times and is given in the video: We know many ways to lower abortion rates. Working on those is proven to be much more effective than picketing and along the way offending people who have no choice.

    People agree that a world without unnecessary abortions is best, just ask women who had abortions. No-one gets one for fun.

    But rather than rally behind what works, they rally behind what doesn’t.

  • Kudos to him. There is no better way to talk with people who are so deranged. He had every right to make himself feel better. Maybe it wasn’t the most diplomatic way and maybe he could have chosen a different approach, but I would have just gone out and tasered the bitch. So I think his response was mature and justified.

    Maybe I am not as mature as I should be. But people don’t get to hurt people I love, especially when they are already going through such a difficult experience, without hearing what’s on my mind.

    I hope one day someone in the religious community, who is respected by these twatwaffles, comes out at tells them what they are doing isn’t Christ like.

  • Rick

    I thought he was pretty calm considering the situation. He wasn’t out there to debate. He was out there to vent his frustration and defend his wife. He handled it a lot better than I would have …

    I wonder how those women felt inside when they went home that day. Did they feel guilt, remorse, or regret? My guess is that they didn’t feel anything but an air of moral superiority. My disgust for these women and the mind controlling cult that moulded their character cannot be put into words.

  • LabRat

    Kudos to Aaron for confronting the protesters. I thought he was remarkably composed, considering the circumstances. Much more composed than my husband or I would have been if we were in his shoes.

    I don’t think there is any way to communicate effectively in this scenario. You can’t reason someone out of a position they haven’t reasoned themselves into. Sometimes venting a little of the hurt they cause back to them is all a person can do.

  • My first thought was why are the protestors allowed to harrass people. It is one thing to stand there with a sign (no matter how vile) and another thing entirely to yell and abuse others. The protestors have a right to their opinions even if they are loathsome. They do not have a right to obstruct other free citizens from going about their private business.

    There should be a protest outside of their church to see how they like it. They should be made to feel shame putting people through additional emotional trauma. They should know how it feels to be stigmatised and blamed for making a difficult decision. All peacefully of course.

    Urgh, those protestors make me sick and angry.

  • Jonas

    Kudos for him — Not for changing anyone’s mind necessarily. — But for holding his own as he did. Sure these cases are emotional, and yes his example is a primary one of why Abortion is needed. So here’s what’s good about it:

    1. It was just words, no physical contact. — No Violence.

    2. No Arrests. If the protesters can be there, so can he.

    3. In short he needed to let off steam, and did it without violence.

    Think about what the protester said. — her abortion should have been done in a hospital.

    — Well apparently not. this clinic, or whatever it was is was likely cheaper than the hospital, and easier. The abortion protester did at one point admit medically necessary abortions are needed.
    — You just can’t make those kind invisible.

    But like I said this won’t change anyone’s mind. What will. — Sponsored debates maybe. — I’ve seen a few at the college level, several years ago.

  • Andrew

    Legal question, folks: Is it considered assault or harassment to spray silly string at abortion protesters?

    That second woman was really an asshole. You make somebody’s wife-with-a-stillborn-baby cry, you shut up and you listen to what he has to say, regardless of politics.

  • At some point, it has to become a liability for them to protest, or they will not stop.
    Human nature cannot and will not change.
    The cost of protesting has to be so high as to make it any arguments in favor of it untenable. One thing is for sure, you aren’t going to change their minds by talking reason into them.
    Some do’s and don’ts…
    *Pick one or two of them and make them your “hobby”.
    *Get their names. City halls keep tax records and names. Names can be had any number of ways.
    *Videotape them.
    *Photograph them.
    *Follow them home and write down their addresses.
    *Write down vehicle descriptions and plate numbers.
    *File nuisance lawsuits against them.
    *Publish true stories about them online, accompanied by their photos and other pertinent information, of course. Be sure to consult an attorney before doing so.
    The cops cannot stop you from doing any of the above.
    Most important – make sure the targets know you are doing this.
    *Never threaten them. This includes getting in their face and yelling. Stay out of their physical space unless they attack you.
    *Never photograph or name their children
    *Never touch them or their property
    *Never slander or libel them

    On average, we are smarter than they are. We just lack the leadership and sometimes, it seems, the righteous anger. It takes a cold rage and a strong will to beat these scum.

  • @hoverfrog: There is a 35-foot buffer zone. But the parking was much closer to them and they line both sides of the street so while they can’t get to you physically, they’re pretty close.

  • Andrew

    The Godless Monster does raise an interesting point. It might be smart to even start a few websites that are dedicated solely to publishing information on these people online. I’m sure with the help of google hits, photoshop contests, etc., we could make this a nice nasty way of getting them to stop. Or at least we could make them very unattractive to potential employers.

    Separate pages for each person would make them VERY searchable in google. The goal being to get them to be the first online hit for that name. Pictures, personal information, etc. Whatever’s legally publishable.

    Certainly a nasty thing to do, but then again, so is harassing people who are going in for surgery. Who wants to make the website?

  • A

    I couldn’t have done what he did. I would have spit red hot lava at them. I have no idea how he managed to keep his cool.

    Anti-choicers are sick, horrible people and they deserve all of the hatred they dish out.

  • noname®

    I can’t fathom how harassing someone for trying to enter a clinic or hospital can be legal. It’s outright sinister and dangerous.
    Wouldn’t cops react to that, really?

  • Bob

    “It is a mistake to believe there are two, equally valid and reasonable sides to every argument.”
    — Edward R. Murrow

  • Aric said:

    I’m with you all here, but for the sake of understanding, it may help to remember that these protesters truly believe that every father, mother, doctor, and nurse involved in an abortion is committing murder. The same as killing a human who is out walking around. What would you do if you believed that?

    If I really believed that, I’d ask for the same punishment to be given for abortion that is given for murder. But you don’t see a lot of anti-choice people pushing for the death penalty for abortion, which leads me to believe that they know, deep down, that there’s a meaningful difference.

  • Ben

    I hardly think that it was a rash response. I am incredibly impressed with how calm and collected this guy was, and I was impressed with what he had to say. Those protestors are damn lucky that wasn’t my wife.

    I don’t think that there is anything that could be said to change the protestors’ hearts and minds, so whatever makes him feel better is well worth the confrontation. We don’t need perfect confrontations, we need lots of people confronting these protestors, and little by little, making more of these assholes think twice before deciding to spend their day abusing pregnant women.

  • Enrys

    Don’t abort the stillborn!

  • medussa

    I used to serve them hot coffee from my thermos, ostensibly to start a conversation with them. But then they’d take the cup and find little plastic babies floating in the steaming coffee. Strangely, they didn’t like me.
    Not at all effective as a communication device, but VERY satisfying.

  • pmsrhino

    I can only imagine how angry I would be in such a situation. I honestly think more people should confront these assholes and let them know the reality of the women who go into these clinics for abortions. I think they need to know the stories. The sad part is most people do not confront them. The protesters are left living in their closed bubble, only hearing the horror stories their pastors or others talk about in church or learning the lies told to them by other extreme anti-choicers. They need to be taught the reality of many women’s situations. Told the truth. They especially need to hear the truth from the women who have/have had abortions and from the woman’s loving partner or friend or family who support them through the decision. I do believe that this will be the only way to get through to these people.

    I wish more people did what this father did. The only way to make sure they hear you is to engage one on one with these people. He may have not changed their minds there, but if more people went up to them and told them their stories or let them know the reality of their decision then maybe, slowly, they would begin to question the bullshit black and white ideology they had been force fed for dog knows how long.

  • Orson

    I want to congratulate Mr. Gouveia on his restraint in an unimaginable situation. If it had been me in his shoes there would have been a hell of a lot more swearing, and I don’t want to consider what else.

    I think, in such a situation, there will never be the hope of changing people’s minds or even really challenging their beliefs. If they’ve gone so far as to go down to their local clinic and protest, then you know that they’re concretely set in their ideology and superstitions. I’d consider them a lost cause. I wouldn’t waste my time with them if my only aim was to change their minds.

    This is not to say that confronting them is useless. Take personal pleasure in winning the argument. And by winning, I mean watching them either dodge facts, or spout Christian bullshit. Take pleasure in venting at lesser people. If the protester’s mythology can create such obviously self-satisfying arrogance and self-righteousness, then there is absolutely no shame, nothing immoral in feeling (no, KNOWING) that you are superior to them because you have a deeper, better and scientific understanding of the ontology and epistemology of reality.

    My view is this:
    On the hardest of days…
    If you argue with them to try to change their minds, you’re doing something for them.
    If you argue with them to vent your frustration and reaffirm your convictions and their superiority, then you’re doing something for yourself, you’re representing your wife well, and if you change a mind along the way, well then so much the better.
    It may seem selfish, but who but your wife and yourself should you be thinking about on such a day?

  • TychaBrahe

    If I really believed that, I’d ask for the same punishment to be given for abortion that is given for murder. But you don’t see a lot of anti-choice people pushing for the death penalty for abortion, which leads me to believe that they know, deep down, that there’s a meaningful difference.

    Abortion is a capital crime in Utah, punishable by death for the doctor who “commits” one. Only Roe v. Wade and the fact that federal law supersedes state law keeps doctors from facing a lethal injection.

  • Some jurisdictions have ordinances regarding what does and does not constitute harassment when people are entering or exiting medical facilities. The question is, When does the right to peaceful protest encroach upon the privacy rights of those patients? If the Bush administration could institute “free speech zones” at W’s campaign events (which were always located far away from the actual event), then why can’t we pass a law to protect the dignity of these patients? I would support a law that says, You may protest—of course you can—but you may not accost, holler at, or otherwise or approach patients who are there for medical care. I mean, shit, we have similar ordinances regarding that terrible scourge of humanity that is panhandling! So why can’t we have such ordinances regarding this kind of harassment? In NYC, you can be arrested—arrested!—for panhandling on the subway, but these people get to verbally abuse others with impunity? That makes no sense.

  • Gordon

    It is likely that nothing will ever work with these despicable people. I might try reading the bible to them over and over again where god orders the slaughter of men, women and children.

  • TychaBrahe: I did not know that. Wow.

  • blueridgelady

    He handled it extremely well, in my opinion. Those people are absolutely disgusting. I think it’s a little funny how they didn’t want to be on camera OR have the man out there at all when they were the ones harassing people about something that has absolutely nothing to do with them.

    If they really cared about having fewer abortions, they’d donate to planned parenthood themselves. Planned parenthood prevents abortions by providing health services and contraception.

    These people make me so mad I can’t even speak. They have no compassion and seem to forget that WOMEN ARE PEOPLE.

  • @MikeTheInfidel

    If I really believed that, I’d ask for the same punishment to be given for abortion that is given for murder. But you don’t see a lot of anti-choice people pushing for the death penalty for abortion, which leads me to believe that they know, deep down, that there’s a meaningful difference.

    Agreed. One often hears them say that they are showing more mercy than was shown to the fetus, but I think at some level they recognize that the majority of people will respond negatively to their hurting real people in order to “protect” a more abstract idea of a person. Evolutionary psychology supports this by showing stronger grief responses when a loss if more “concrete”.

    Given the strong religious devotion and “love” shown by so many of the protesters to an abstract idea (god) is it any surprise that their instincts toward other people would also be out of alignment causing them to “love” the abstract idea of a person (the fetus) more than the actual people they are yelling at?

    With rationale built on unquestioned absolute beliefs, and ethic of judgment and punishment and natural instincts subverted by this line of thought, one can comprehend how some of the extreme protesters end up seeing murdering a doctor as a good thing-we are fortunate as a society that more protesters haven’t “seen things this clearly”.

  • Alice

    I think being confronted with someone who needed an abortion for health reasons was good for them. They aren’t taught to think about people like his wife. They can’t see him as a baby killer, that must have stuck with them.

  • Rich Wilson

    The line that struck me was “Love thy brother”

    I guess you should love your ‘brother’ but not your ‘sister’? Where was the love and understanding for your wife?

    I frequently make my point to people I know won’t change. Given the circumstances, you handled yourself very well.

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    I don’t think anything Aaron said was over-the-top. Being confronted by the righteous anger of an actual person was a healthy dose of reality for these women.
    Perhaps a campaign of pro-choice counter-protests (like those who confront the Westboro Baptist Church) randomly popping up to mingle with them might shake their assured, self-righteous confidence.

  • ManaCostly

    Too bad violence does not solve anything, my hands are itching.

  • Yeah, he played into their hands so deeply that he shamed them into leaving. That’s an exceptionally clever and subtle plan those anti-women protesters had there. Kudos to you for spotting it. :eyeroll:

    The guy did better than most people would have managed. I’d probably still be in jail right now if that were my wife.

  • muggle

    On the contrary, I’m glad he called them out on their bad behavior. I’m glad he didn’t just hang his head and take it when his wife was in tears over it. I’m glad he stood up for her, himself and the painful decision they made. I’m glad if he made either of them feel like the horse’s ass they are for two seconds.

    And I’m kind of glad he caught them off guard and caused them to make a couple of slips. What the hell was that you should have gone to a hospital then jazz? (No, he didn’t need to explain to them why he didn’t but it actually shamed that line even more that he did.) Oh, so it’s all right if you have an abortion if you go to a big anomyous hospital?

    Yeah, they consider it murder. Yeah, right. What a fucking crock!

    I’m glad he let emotion get the better of him that day even while I’m sad about he and his wife having to go through such an emotional experience and spoke up to them and spoke up emotionally. Why should pro-choice be emotionless in the face of all that excess emotion on the part of the anti-choice (calling themselves pro-life is a freaking lie) people?

  • JB Tait

    What to say?

    Announce that the fetus is a witch, then quote them
    Exodus 22:18 (King James Version)
    and make them look it up.

  • Loki

    The most vindictive, and possibly true, thing you could say is that their protests are not stopping anything.

    My favorite response is to give the middle finger and a smug smile, without discourse. It allows me to express my hatred for these bigots without engaging in their stupid semantics and terrible arguments. By not engaging them in verbal argument, but still provoking them with the finger I’ve seen a good amount of protesters get very frustrated and try to engage me.

    Oh how I relish not doing so.

  • Caba

    Yeah, I think he did the right thing. With much more control than I personally would have show these horrible people. I think it’s ok to show your passion when it comes to things that are so vehemently wrong.

    You said yourself “You’re not going to convince the other side to stop what they’re doing” and I agree. But sometimes it feels good to just call people on their BS, even if they are going to continue their BS. I imagine that a good and diplomatic conversation would have fallen on deaf ears anyway. And honestly, these cretins don’t deserve to be treated fairly and diplomatically. I was watching the video waiting for him to go ape shit crazy on them.

  • Joffan

    The protestors are working from a playbook of upsetting rhetoric. It seems that, in opposing them and supporting the women who attend the clinic, it’s necessary to understand their playbook and create a countering set of upset.

    – “Why are you vicitmizing sick women?”
    – “How many more unwanted children does the world need?”
    – “Why do you prefer ignorance to knowledge?”
    – “Why is your opinion worth so much more than anyone else’s that you have to stand here and harrass them?”

    Probably these are not very good…. but some better approaches could perhaps be found. Understanding why they do this would be key to undermining the intangible benefits they feel.

  • Sarah

    There should be an ad campaign of women talking about their experiences with abortion: what made them decide, how difficult the decision was, and how it felt to be screamed at for the decisions they made. That way, pro-choice gets a higher and more human profile, and maybe those who protest will feel less comfortable with what they do, and those who pass these protests will feel less comfortable walking by.

  • stephanie

    I disagree. I think this was not only well done, particularly for such a stressful time, but may eventually lead to some good.

    Those protestors have been indoctrinated. They have been told over and over that everyone involved in the process of abortion is a murderer and a monster. Bringing a human face and human emotion so eloquently probably gave the woman on the left a lot to think about that night. People don’t change long held beliefs with a logical argument to their consistency of thought- that is easy to rationalize away so it won’t harm their biases.

    But putting a very human face on a demonized group? That can cause some serious internal turmoil. Compartmentalization doesn’t always work for that. Watch the body language of the woman on the left, I think she was showing some signs of that. With any luck, you might not see her out there next protest day.

  • stephanie

    Sarah, that was actually done in (West) Germany in the 1970’s:

  • Chris

    Diplomacy is nice but sometimes people just need to be told to go fuck themselves. If they are out their randomly yelling at people then I have to say, cynically, that their position isn’t going to change regardless.

  • @Daddy Files:

    Kudos. I thought it was brilliant. Fuck those ladies; who cares if they change their mind? But shaming them on video and putting it up on YouTube is going to have a big effect on any fence-sitters out there who happen to watch.

    And Hemant, he didn’t “call them names”. The worst he did was call them “lowest common denominators”, which, intellectually, is absolutely true.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    I think Aaron gave them the response they deserved. Good on him.

  • Siamang

    Actually, I would have done the opposite. I wouldn’t have videotaped it , and I WOULD have cussed them out.

    Which would have been useless. Wouldn’t have changed the minds of those brick walls there.

    But putting it on video on youtube will change minds of people who watch it.

  • Camus Dude

    I think the man is a hero, and when I first saw this video a couple weeks ago, I applauded the man (in my head). I think everyone who goes to Planned Parenthood, for whatever reason, should say similar things to protesters. The more people stand up to idiot protesters and let them know that they’re nonsense isn’t striking fear into anyone (and is actually causing emotional suffering), the more chance there is that maybe one of those protesters mind’s might be changed. I think that is unlikely, but one never knows.

  • Tina

    I think what he did was great, and the name calling was quite tame, considering. I think if everyone that visited these clinics approached the protesters and gave them a piece of their minds, it would make it more stressful for the protesters and possibly not worth their while. As it is, most people hang their head while trying to ignore them, which just gives the impression they are ashamed. I say if they dish it, they need to be able to take it.

  • I thought Aaron did a great job. He didn’t abuse them or call them names. He just gave them a taste of righteous anger. They should know how their actions affect other people. Maybe it will give them something to think about.

  • Denice

    I drive by a Woman’s Clinic almost daily. I know when they are open. I see the same old couple there with their aborted fetus photos propped up on a baby stroller. They have an armful of Rosaries and aggressive responses to any car entering the parking lot. Some days they are alone, others they have a prayer circle of people around the door standing on the sidewalk in front. They think they are so wonderful! They are just wasting time. I wonder if they realize that in our inner city hood, life is difficult and many don’t have the luxury of another mouth to feed. Cold, calculated and merciless.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    “her abortion should have been done in a hospital.”

    If all the hospitals where a woman lives (which is often only one hospital) are controlled by religions, that is often not even an option, regardless of financial concerns.

  • Danika Jaye

    I think it would be good to have a peaceful counter protest to support the people heading into the clinic. Just some simple signs saying something “I support your right to do what is best for yourself and your health.”. This would be for the benefit of the people needing the service, not the protesters. People that support abortion rights should set an example of how to really care for their fellow human beings. They could maybe arm themselves with support materials- particularly for people having to attend the clinic alone. I’m not sure what these “support materials” would entail as I’m not sure what people need in this situation. Any ideas?

    Anyway, lead by example. Donate time and money to help people in the ways that count. Be there to care and not for self-righteous superiority.

  • Angie

    As someone who has encountered fundamentalist protesters at women’s health clinics and LGBT events, I am convinced that 99.9% of these zealots cannot be reasoned with. They will use the conversation as an opportunity to proselytize, manipulate, and/or spew hatred, not as an opportunity for dialog.

    Go about your business and ignore the protesters. Do NOT speak to them, or you will quickly find yourself in a frustrating situation.

  • Dan W

    I think Aaron handled that pretty well. He didn’t swear at them, or get violent. He just argued with justified anger. Unfortunately, I doubt they’ll really take the time to think about what he said, but maybe other people who see this on Youtube will re-examine how their views effect others.

  • Okay, this guy is my new hero.

  • Sean

    Going to have to disagree to Hemant here and voice my approval and admiration for @DaddyFiles. Considering the situation, he was remarkably collected and cordial to those two individuals.

    And while I doubt they were going to drop their signs and go home after a single confrontation, I think having people come up to them like he did and put something approaching a human face to the people their harassing is a perfectly viable approach.

  • Demonhype

    Yes, Aaron did an excellent job.

    And, Aaron? One of the very biggest things that hit me was what you mentioned–the threat to call the cops. Apparently it’s a-OK for them to stand on public property for their self-righteous crusade, but it’s not okay for anyone to argue, engage, or otherwise counter them on that selfsame public property.

    And I had the exact same sudden impression as to the depth of their hypocrisy. That is exactly what that type would love to enact in legislation too–they would love to make it illegal for anyone to contradict their hatred.

    Damn. You did a great job keeping your cool–I don’t know how you did–and those witches needed to have someone confront their ugliness. I don’t think I could–in fact, now I have to watch some cartoons to get out of my angry mood. >:(

    Best of luck to you and your wife. 🙂

  • tomath

    As someone not emotionally involved with specific persons affected by abortion protesters’ harrassment activities or threatening presence, I would still like to stir *some* thought in those protesters because it may be possible and because what I’d like them to consider may affect their voting behavior at some point. I’d like to ask them: “How many of you consider this issue to be a major reason why you vote for Republicans?”. If most of them raise their hands, then I’d say: “For those of you who do, why didn’t Republicans, when they were in power under Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II, enact legislation to over-turn Roe v. Wade?”. Then I’d propose an answer: either they wanted to keep the issue alive in order for Republicans to get elected and re-elected over and over, or not enough of them believe in your cause. Actually, I think they failed to do it for both reasons. So what would that say about Republicans? And, specifically, do Republicans really want to make abortions illegal? I believe you’re mistaken if you think they do”. If only a small portion of them raise their hands, I would probably want to ask them something else to get some of them thinking, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t be necessary.

  • CarolAnn :)

    I look at it this way – DaddyFiles didn’t shoot them or set a bomb for them. That puts him light years above and ahead of the protestors.

  • If all the hospitals where a woman lives (which is often only one hospital) are controlled by religions, that is often not even an option, regardless of financial concerns.

    I don’t know a lot about this topic, but I was under the impression that abortion clinics are only needed because hospitals in general refuse to perform abortions, except in extreme medical emergencies. I’m not sure if that’s true of all hospitals or just religious ones, but I thought that they don’t perform them because they are afraid of threats and harassment. It’s always struck me as wrong that there has to be a special place set aside just for abortions. They should be available at regular hospitals and medical clinics. If nothing else, that would sure make it a lot harder to harass doctors and patients.

  • Sash

    Aaron and MJ, I am so sorry for your loss and that you had to deal with such cruel and sadist people on an already difficult day.

    Both my mother and I worked at Planned Parenthood for many years. Me as a sexuality educator in both the clinics and in community settings, my mother as a nurse in a clinic that provides abortion care. Protesters are routine at my mom’s clinic on surgical AB days. They are numerous and they scream and shout and even try to get in the way of people coming and going from the clinic. What they are doing is harassment at least, but I believe it is domestic terrorism.

    But how many women would really be willing to swear out a harassment or attempted assault complaint on the day they are having an abortion? Abortion may be legal and many people claim to be pro-choice, but when a woman discloses having had an abortion she is almost always asked “Why?” And all of us, whether we choose to believe this of ourselves or not, judge that woman’s reason for choosing abortion. We each have our own moral accounting system in which one woman’s abortion is justified and another’s is not. Women know this; it makes them vulnerable. The protesters know this, too.

    Aaron did what he thought was right. I support his choice to follow his conscience. I admire his composure under such difficult conditions. I would not recommend it for pro-choice allies of abortion providers.

    The people that feel the need to protest by trying to bully and shame women and men from exercising their human rights to reproductive autonomy are not interested in what anyone else has to say. They generally feel vindicated in their self-righteousness if they can get a patient to engage them in argument or get them to lose their temper.

    My thoughts on ways to help:
    Donate as much as you can afford to reproductive health clinics, esp ones that provide abortion care.
    If you have the temperment, consider becoming a clinic escort.
    Be politically active for pro-choice causes especially at the city, county, and state level. That’s where most of the roadblocks to abortion care are created.
    TALK ABOUT BEING PRO-WOMAN, PRO-FAMILY, PRO-CHOICE. At every opportunity. To everyone you can. Be calm. Be reasonable. Be prepared for counter arguments. Insist abortion opponents go on record with how much prison time a woman who has an abortion should serve if they say abortion should be illegal. DON’T let yourself get dragged into the justified vs. unjustified abortion conversation. If you are pro-choice, WHY a woman gets an abortion is her business, not yours, not mine, nor anyone else she doesn’t choose to involve.
    Finally, firmly and frequently talk about what these protests often are: a form of terrorism.
    The more people who call them what they really are, the more likely abortion providers and their clients will get the protection they need and deserve.

  • I liked his suggestion to the sign holders to help with others, raising their children. This is something that NONE of these abortion protestors have ever offered up to do. If they are pushing to have the birth vs. an abortion, maybe they should offer daycare and other services to help an unwanted child be raised.

    Of course, in this case, MJ had a serious health issue that would have caused the baby to be stillborn.

    This guy was pretty direct and to the point. And he also made another great point: none of these protestors have no clue why the woman is there. They just assume.


  • ernieball

    What about showing up with a “These guys are crazy”-sign and just hang with them for as long as they’re there. They couldn’t legally drive you off, could they?

  • Desirai

    Personally I don’t think he was aggressive enough! He was very brave to go up to them. and I laughed when he said “Of course I’ve seen dead babies! You’re all standing out out with them on your signs!”

  • Stan

    Abortion is at its heart a moral issue. If you believe that children from the moment of conception are human beings with rights than protesting in front of abortion clinics or praying in front of abortion clinics is a valid response to the immorality that has ended the lives of over 50 million innocent children in this country in the last 37 years. Abortion protesters may seem insensitive to the adults who are having the abortion, but in reality they are being extremely sensitive to the needs of the unborn child. No doubt, there are better ways than others to stand up for the human right to life of unborn children, but there are many cases of people who were simply praying in front of clinics being verbally and physically assaulted. This issue will not go away because at its heart it is about the most fundamental right of all, life.

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