Saturday, October 2, 2010

40 Days, and freedom of speech

Many thanks to a reader who sent this one in:

PORTLAND, Oregon, September 30, 2010 ( - The Obama administration has teamed up with leading pro-abortion lobbyist groups to host a training seminar aimed at combating pro-life "violence" against the abortion industry, which is defined to include even free-speech activities such as pro-life picketing, boycotting, and signage.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice sponsored an August 29 seminar in the FBI's Portland headquarters. The names of Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation (NAF), and the Feminist Majority Foundation appear prominently on the front page of a document prepared for the event which compiled statistics, a list of pro-life websites, and case summaries, among other data. The 84-page document was handed out by FBI and DOJ officials to participants, according to a source in attendance.

Although one portion of the document - on page 67 - lists "pro-life counseling centers" as among providers of "reproductive health services," the document is generally organized as a guide to the "organized assault on women's health care" by "anti-abortion extremists" since Roe v. Wade, and targets such activities as pro-life picketing and boycotting.

On page 67, a section entitled "US Department of Justice FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act) presentation" includes "large graphic signs etc. not covered" among actions that constitute "intimidation," and on page 15 specifically references the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform's Genocide Awareness Project among a list of recent pro-life "violence." [...]

One portion of the document lists the websites of several peaceful pro-life groups and leaders, such as David Bereit of 40 Days for Life, Judie Brown of the American Life League (ALL), Concerned Women for America, Human Life International, National Right to Life, Priests for Life, Rock for Life, Students for Life, and The Pill Kills, the ALL project noted by authors as an "anti birth control site."

According to the appended agenda, speakers included both FBI and DOJ officials as well as representatives from NAF and Planned Parenthood. The Alliance Defense Fund notes that Julie Abbate of USDOJ, one of the speakers at the meeting, also filed a federal lawsuit in August 2010 against a pro-life advocate solely for leafleting while once allegedly crossing a driveway.

Neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice have returned calls and emails placed by as of press time.

The rest is here.

Some of us may, at times, find ourselves disagreeing with a particular approach taken by various pro-life groups; there is nothing wrong with that, and, indeed, it's a prudent thing to do to ensure that one's message of respect for life is loving and inviting. But even groups whose approaches I personally find distasteful have the constitutionally-protected right to freedom of speech. It is not intimidation or harassment to speak out against abortion.

What is intimidating is having government officials investigate peaceful protesting as if it is itself inherently dangerous. But when abortion is legal, maintaining the fiction that it is simply a removal of some sort of parasitic growth instead of the direct and intentional killing of an innocent human being in her mother's womb becomes a sort of mandate, and stifling pro-life speech becomes an openly pursued aim of our government's corrupted officials.


gradchica said...

Why can't we shake the perception that all pro-life protesters are violent extremists? Even when there are clearly violent acts on the other side, people just assume that the pro-choicers need to protect themselves from those violent pro-lifers. The abortionist aimed a gun at some of the peaceful protesters outside the local abortion clinic this morning--thankfully he was arrested, but it's still more of the "you vile hateful anti-abortion zealots deserve it".

Anonymous said...

Reading through the FBI document seems an indictment against the violence of an unorganized campaign against proponents of availability of clinics for procurement of abortion services. Which is too bad, when the argument needs to be made that actively killing a late-term fetus or late-stage developed almost born baby, is heinous, and that the armamentarium against such actions is elevated sense of ethical behavior, swift justice and societally accepted strict mores against violence to women (rape) and unwanted sexual encounters, and education about contraception.

priest's wife said...

Wow- Obama REALLY needs prayer- this is so evil

Siarlys Jenkins said...

gradchica, I would have to say that among the groups listed on this program there is a mix of paranoia and entitlement, both of which are definitely misplaced. (It is also a prudent thing for people who are pro choice to disagree with a particular approach taken by those facilitating one of the available choices). The fact that abortion is legal means that women and doctors will not go to prison for it. That says nothing about whether it is a good choice to make. There is plenty of room in the public square for people to advocate that a woman "choose life."

Ideally, I would like to see tripartite buildings established where a woman could first talk to counsellors who are genuinely neutral on whether she chooses to abort or not, but dedicated to providing her a wide range of information. Then, she can go back out into a common hallway or lounge, turn one way to talk to counsellors from Planned Parenthood, turn another way to talk to counsellors from Birthright, or walk right out the door and go home.

No services would be provided on site. That would be a little too tense. Either Birthright or Planned Parenthood can provide the address of a clinic which conforms to their respective principles, that is, if the woman chooses to seek their counselling.

I have heard that people with strong views on either side of this debate would strenuously oppose letting the "other side" anywhere near their own facility. But, if we are talking about making a truly informed, truly free decision, that would be the way to go.