LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Planned Parenthood protests show harsh behavior

Friday, November 1, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

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.

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Joanne Schrader November 8, 2013 | 12:51 a.m.

I fail to see how praying on a sidewalk, offering information and assistance outside of Planned Parenthood is a display of harsh behavior. I am sorry that Ms. van der Zalm feels judged. However, a simple conversation with one of us, perusal of the 40 Days for Life website, or attendance at one of our rallies would tell her that is not the case. Since that did not happen, I hope to address her assertions here and clear up misconceptions.

First, 40 Days for Life is a prayer vigil, fast, and campaign for community outreach. It is not a protest. We lift Planned Parenthood clients and staff up through prayer and ask God to bring about an end to abortion. Isn't ending abortion a good thing? Shouldn't we all look forward to the day that no woman needs or wants an abortion? Isn't abortion a sign that society failed to meet their needs?

Our “hollering from the sidewalk” is friendly chit chat as we try to make contact and be heard over the traffic. A number of clients respond by smiling or waving back to us. I doubt they would do that if we were harsh or judgmental.

The Biblical exhortation about judging found in Matthew 7: 1 – 5 does not mean people get a free pass to do whatever they want because we are all sinners. It says that we will be treated the same way we treat others. Furthermore, it means that we cannot judge a person's soul. Only God gets to do that. We can, however, separate what a person does from his or her being, which means condemn the sin but love the sinner.

Having prayed weekly outside of Planned Parenthood for nine 40 Days for Life campaigns, we do not assume all clients are there for an abortion. We are well aware of the other services provided. Nor, would we begin to know about anyone's relationship with God. We embrace the fact that God loves each one of us, invites us to follow Him, and redeems us when we sincerely repent our faults.

Whoever said God is ashamed of you for seeking a gynecological exam? We have no problem with women getting gynecological exams, screenings, and health care. Our problem lies with the business model of this abortion giant. Personally, I find it perplexing that women trust their bodies to an organization that practices human sacrifice.

(Report Comment)
Joanne Schrader November 8, 2013 | 12:52 a.m.

Let's look at statistics gleaned from Planned Parenthood's national annual reports. To arrive at the 3% abortion figure, Planned Parenthood counts each mundane medical service separately even when completed for the same client. Handing out one condom is not equivalent to one abortion; though they count it as one service each. Since all services do not have the same dollar value, a better measure looks at clinic revenue. At an average of $520 per abortion, Planned Parenthood derived $173,661,280 from the 333,964 abortions performed in 2011 representing 56.9% of its non-governmental income. This figure represents an all time high after continually rising for decades. Meanwhile, cancer screenings dropped 29% over two years (2009 to 2011). Its contraceptive services decreased by 15% from 2007 to 2011. And, despite claims to the contrary, they do not perform mammograms. If benign reproductive health care was truly their primary concern, shouldn't we see growth in those numbers especially since they collect ever greater federal tax dollars? And, if their comprehensive prevention and sex education methods actually worked, wouldn't we see a decline in the number of abortions performed?

Ms. van der Zalm asks for mutual respect regarding the right to make choices about her body and life. We ask that the child in the womb be given that same consideration, for it is the child's body that is hacked apart and/or poisoned during an abortion. Moreover, we would certainly respect her choice between parenting and adoption.

(Report Comment)
Joanne Schrader November 8, 2013 | 12:54 a.m.

Despite what abortion supporters purport, our concern for children does not end with their birth. I personally work with at-risk youth (a career spanning 20 years), help disadvantaged families, been a loving foster parent, spend $30 a month sponsoring a child overseas, plus contribute charitably to numerous other child welfare groups. I know I am not alone in this. We do follow up with moms and dads to the extent that they want us. To make a difference in a child's life, I can think of none greater than the one between life and death.

Show me what Planned Parenthood does to help women who choose life for their babies. Where is their free counseling, maternity homes, prenatal care, baby showers, child care, financial assistance, etc. for their clients? I can point to thousands of pro-life organizations that gladly and freely provide these things while relying solely on our donations to do so. Yet, an overwhelming 92% of Planned Parenthood's pregnancy services end in abortion.

I do not know where Ms. van der Zalm gets the idea that 40 Days for Life participants are all white, middle-upper class retired or independently wealthy folks. Many of us work full time jobs and take time out from our precious days off for this cause, so I find her remark rather insulting. Perhaps, she would like to meet the more diverse members of our group. Some of whom are post-abortive or have experienced it within their family and wish to reach out to other women in a crisis situation. What about the predominately older white well-off women who appear at Planned Parenthood events? Is that an inherit abuse of their privilege?

To conclude, thank you Ms. van der Zalm for validating the impact of our presence. Again, I invite you and every Planned Parenthood client to a civil conversation to get to know us and our cause better without prejudice or stereotypes.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 8, 2013 | 6:50 a.m.

I've expressed my views on the subject of abortion earlier this week, attached to a different article. What I have to say here has to do strictly with prayer.

When the day comes - if it ever comes - when citizens of this country are not allowed the right to engage in open prayer then this country is FINISHED! And I'm not limiting my remark to Christian prayer - I mean any and ALL prayer.

If anyone finds the practice of open prayer distastful, they certainly have the right to express their opinion.

(Report Comment)

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