40 Days of Intolerance

September 22, 2010, marked the start of “40 Days for Life,” an international anti-abortion campaign designed to harass women and end access to abortion.  The self-proclaimed “community-based campaign that draws attention to the evil of abortion” has taken place six times since 2007 and involves participants from all 50 states, Canada, Northern Ireland, Denmark, England and Australia.

This manifestation of the campaign may end on Halloween, but that’s not what makes it scary.  The campaign has three components: “Prayer and fasting,” “Constant vigil,” and “Community outreach.”  “Constant vigil” is another phrase for intimidation tactics, with participants protesting outside abortion clinics, or “place[s] where children are aborted,” 24/7 for over a month.  The movement follows biblical tradition in its choice of 40 days—an attempt to justify hate through religion.

This movement is not entirely toothless either, despite its claims of peaceful dissent.  Its website has a “Record of Results,” chronicling five clinics closing, 35 clinic employees quitting, and over 2,000 pregnancies continued as a result of the campaigns.

Women should and do have the right to decide at any point not to choose abortion. However, women should not be harassed and intimated into carrying a pregnancy to term. Women should not be shamed or stigmatized for choosing safe and legal abortion.

Scaring employees and bankrupting clinics (the goal of the “40 Days” campaign) are not such harmless activities, particularly when Virginia’s state government is gearing up to do the same.  In Virginia, 86% of counties have no abortion provider. Now Attorney General Cuccinelli, Delegate Bob Marshall, Manassas City Council Member Mark Aveni (see page 121 of the document), Governor McDonnell and other anti-choice zealots are gearing up to end the practice of doctors brave enough to offer the procedure, returning Virginia to the backward era of illegal, dangerous, back-alley abortions that kill more women than they help.

“40 Days” is simply opening a new front in an ongoing war.  If the anti-choice movement wins, it will be through fear, not persuasion, and it will hurt women and health care providers alike.  Virginia is already losing doctors due to low Medicaid/Medicare reimbursement rates and a lack of debt relief for med school graduates.  If the state sticks its nose further into the medical community it will be even more difficult to get doctors to stay in the state, let alone move here.  Our country has been fighting for decades to increase access to health care. Now Cuccinelli and “40 Days” want to take away Virginians’ access to safe, legal, life-saving abortions.  This cannot happen.

Good news, however. “40 Days for Life” is not the only religious organization talking about abortion.  Faith Aloud describes itself: “As people of religious faith and conviction, Faith Aloud supports reproductive justice for every person. Because we have faith in women, we support ALL pregnancy options.”  They too have a forty-day campaign, with a very different goal. “40 Days for Prayer to Keep Abortion Safe and Legal” seeks to lessen the stigma surrounding abortion by celebrating the strength of those who provide and undergo abortions.  Visit their website to learn more.

We can’t let Faith Aloud do this admirable work alone.  During “40 Days for Life,” it is especially important for abortion providers to remember that you support them, too.  Send a letter, make a call, remind them that they are not alone, or join a “protest” to show your support for access to abortion services.  These providers risk their lives every day to ensure that women have access to the safe abortions they are entitled to under Roe v. Wade and the U. S. Constitution.  “40 Days for Life” wants to make providers’ lives even harder—don’t let them.

[Thanks to our intern Brett for her work on this post.]

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Jim Jordan says:

    Thank you for this post. I did not know abut “40 Days” and its campaign of harassment. I like the writing. Entertaining, articulate and full of spirit and conviction.

  2. Elizabeth Howard says:

    Ahem. Abortion as a lifesaver? What about the babies?

    Back street abortions did, tragically, result in the deaths of some women.

    Legal abortions result in the death of every single baby — and also some women.

    The peaceful protest against abortion is anything but scary.

    Abortion kills babies and hurts women. Saying anything else is a big fat lie.

    1. Dom Reed says:

      This is in response to Elizabeth Howard.
      You probably won’t read this, but here is my 2 cents

      “Ahem. Abortion as a lifesaver? What about the babies?”

      What babies? I mean if abortion killed actual babies I’d be against abortion as well. Abortion can be a life saver. The young woman can go on to follow her dreams and live her own life. The mother with kids who can’t afford any more children will have her life saved by this procedure. I’m not talking about life as in life and death. I’m talking about life as in the life you already have living now.

      “Back street abortions did, tragically, result in the deaths of some women.”

      I’m glad that we see eye to eye about that

      “Legal abortions result in the death of every single baby — and also some women.”

      The same could be said about pregnancy. In fact, pregnancy is MORE harmful than abortion.

      “The peaceful protest against abortion is anything but scary.”

      Tell that to the woman seeking abortion services and being harrased and screamed at by these “peaceful protesters”

      “Abortion kills babies and hurts women. Saying anything else is a big fat lie.”

      Again, what babies are killed during abortion? Besides, I love hearing anti’s say that line. Abortion is a woman’s choice. You don’t have to make that choice, but you don’t speak for me and you don’t make the decision for me. If I want to obtain abortion services, I will.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s