Look at that church. Isn’t it a pretty little church? It’s St. Mary’s Church in Grafton, Massachusetts. It’s freakin’ idyllic, no? It’s also deeply invested in anti-abortion actions. The congregation participated in 40 Days for Life, an action during Lent that 17,000 churches around the world took part in, with another 40 Days planned for September 24 to November 2.
The St. Mary’s churchgoers headed over to Worcester to protest at a Planned Parenthood and to “sidewalk counsel” women there. “[I]s it worth it to stand out in the wind and rain and cold to pray in front of Planned Parenthood?” the church’s website asks. And, for them, it was. They convinced one woman to not get an abortion. You can see the baby. It’s like a taste of something that will keep them addicted to protesting. A crack baby, if you will. No doubt the church will be supporting the baby and the mother until the baby is an adult. No doubt.
Come September, and maybe even before, the parishioners will be harassing every woman who goes to the Planned Parenthood, even those just going for pap smears and help getting pregnant. And they will no doubt be joined by the anti-abortion radicals, the fetus picture carriers, the screamers, the hysterics who shame women.
“Is it really necessary to be out on the sidewalk instead of praying at home?” St. Mary’s wants to know. Look up at that picture again. What do you see in front of St. Mary’s? That’s a nice, wide, very public sidewalk. The parking lot is across the street, so most of the people attending church services on, say, a nice summer Sunday will have to walk that sidewalk, a sidewalk just like the one outside Planned Parenthood in Worcester. A sidewalk like the one that Eleanor McCullen “gently” counsels women from outside a Planned Parenthood in Boston.
A not-gentle anti-abortion protester shot up a clinic in Brookline in 1994. In 2007, Massachusetts passed a law that created a 35-foot buffer zone around clinics in order to allow for a woman to be able to enter a Planned Parenthood without having people screaming and spitting in her face. And, yes, it prevented the gentle counselors from gently using their complete lack of medical or psychological expertise to advise women not to have abortions. So McCullen sued because Catholic Jesus wants her to save the babies and, quietly, shhh, shame women into changing their minds. And, today, the Supreme Court, in a fairly tepid opinion, overturned the law and said, “Sorry, but in order to protect the slut-whisperers, we have to allow the potentially violent crazies closer contact with you and the staff of the clinics. Use other laws to protect them, if you can.” (They can’t.)
Now, we can argue over whether or not the idea of “buffer zones” violates the First Amendment and if they are ever right, whether at clinics or conventions or the miles you have to stand away from the Supreme Court, but one thing we can perhaps agree on: If this is the motherfucking law of the land now, what’s good for the motherfuckin’ goose is good for the motherfuckin’ gander.
So let’s get out there, every goddamn Sunday, and head to the churches that send their lunatic Jesus-fellaters out to try to shut down Planned Parenthoods, and stand on their sidewalks, just like the one up there outside St. Mary’s in Grafton, and let’s make churchgoing a living fuckin’ hell for ’em. Let’s bodily block the access to the walkways that lead to the church. Let’s bring signs that have pictures of women who were killed by illegal abortions. Let’s go up to them and try to convince them to convert or go atheist, following them until we are on church property and have to stop. Let’s block the street by walking back and forth in the crosswalk. Let’s force the churchgoers to need escorts to even get inside.
Shit, let’s plaster the telephone poles with photos of the priests and church leaders, their addresses, their phone numbers. Let’s tell them as they pass, “We know where you live.” Let’s film everyone going into the church and post those on a website. Hey, it’s a public fuckin’ sidewalk, man. Let’s scream at them about how they’re terrible people, how they support raping children, how they have given money to help silence victims. Can’t you hear their silent screams? Can’t you? Fuck, yeah. Going to church is a choice, no? Let’s make sure they regret that fuckin’ choice, however legal it may be for them to make it. Then let’s see how quickly they’re begging for buffer zones.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on June 26, 2014, on The Rude Pundit, a website featuring commentary by Lee Papa. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Papa.
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