It is impossible to drive down Providence Road these days and not notice the "40 Days for Life" campaign protesting Planned Parenthood. It is even more impossible to ignore if you visit the health clinic and have to walk past them while they holler from the sidewalk and stand by your car pushing pamphlets when you try to leave.
“Judge not, that ye be not judged,” Matthew 7:1. Since they have thrown that out the window, I feel justified in explaining what their message comes off as to others, and perhaps throw in a little of my own judgment (just to be fair). The campaign claims to work towards ending abortion through fasting and prayer.
My first problem is the assumptions made of us, the clients. They assume we are all there for an abortion and that we do not have a relationship with God. I strongly dislike feeling a raised level of anxiety getting out of my car to go to my gynecological appointment.
I would likely still feel very judged if they silently stared at me and prayed, but it feels very unchristian-like to imply that God is ashamed of me for going to Planned Parenthood. It is ridiculous that I feel the need to explain myself to other people for doing something not only legal but responsible.
My second problem is their campaign to end abortion in general. I respect their beliefs and rights to make choices about their own bodies and lives — all I ask is for that respect to be mutual.
Let’s pretend that Planned Parenthood in Missouri doesn’t overwhelmingly provide services like cancer screening and prevention (15.8%), STI testing and treatment (45.1%), contraceptive methods (16.3%), pregnancy tests (9.2%), emergency contraception (7.9%) and other services (2.8%) more than abortion procedures (2.9%), since they clearly cannot look past the abortion aspect.
I would be very interested to see their plan for these children that they “save” — what is the follow up? How many of these protestors are loving foster or adoptive parents? It is almost painfully ironic to drive by and see them day after day, logging their hours for “God’s work” when they are across the street from Big Brothers, Big Sisters, where they could really make a difference in the lives of children who weren’t aborted years ago but really could use their help, love and mentorship now. The message I get is that once born, these children are no longer their problem.
In my humble opinion, it is an abuse of their inherent white, middle-upper class privilege, to show up daily and pass judgment on me under the thin veil of religious righteousness. It is their privilege that makes them feel entitled to and allows them the time in happy retirement (or enough wealth not to work) to make me feel bad about trying to take care of my body and life the way I choose.
Dina van der Zalm is an MU student.