Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why Seeing Planned Parenthood's Booth Yesterday Made Me Feel Hopeful

The town we’re staying in this summer is my very favorite place in the entire world on the Fourth of July weekend.  It’s picturesque year round, but on the week of the Fourth the town bustles with activity.   There are fireworks and a kids’ day in the park with races and games, food stalls and vendors in the days leading up to the Fourth.  Then Independence Day arrives and the streets are crowded with people, a steady stream of red, white and blue, moving up and down Main Street, enjoying the pie at the ice cream social next to the meadow and waiting for the parade to begin. 

This year we arrived downtown about half an hour before the rest of the family and decided to walk around the various stalls in the meadow until everyone arrived and was ready to meet.  I walked past three stalls with beautiful aprons.  Minkie baby blankets and tulle tutu skirts are also quite popular at the moment.  And as always, there are plenty of choices for those looking for tie dyed outfits or wood carvings.  A girl had just begun to strum her guitar when we rounded the corner and I saw a booth that made my eyebrows jump:

A woman with grey hair was sitting at a nearly empty table with a sign that read “Planned Parenthood” in large letters. 

For a moment, as we continued to walk and I pointed out a pink puffy princess dress at a neighboring stall, I was confused.  I could remember with perfect clarity reading that the town’s Planned Parenthood had closed down.  After all, when that sort of thing happens, people rejoice and I remember feeling pretty joyful upon receiving that news (and after my time at PP, I felt especially thrilled). 

Then I realized that only the branch in our town had closed, and that the woman was likely from the main branch, which is around two hours away.

And that seemed odd to me.  It was the only stall there that wasn’t selling food or homemade goods.  And there didn’t seem to be anything on the table that she was handing out. 

As we walked around the loop, waiting for the phone call that would bring us over to the ice cream social, and keeping the girls moving so they wouldn’t get too impatient over the highly anticipated cherry pie, I had more time to think and observe. 

For most of the time, the aging woman sat alone.  On one occasion a small group of similarly grey haired folks stood in front of the table and spoke with her.  No one else approached the table.  Later, after pie and ice cream, when we walked through the meadow again with Nani, the situation was the same.

In a way, yesterday echoes my experience in Florida this past year.  Most of the workers we see outside Planned Parenthood are aging women, who seem horrified by the fact that there are quite a few young women these days who want to throw away the right to murder our children, which they worked so hard for.  If a person is going to make a crude gesture and hurl and insult my way while I’m praying, the vast majority of the time it will be a female retiree glaring with amazing malice. 

And there are always those polls, that show, with increasing certainty, that the majority of Americans really don’t think we should be allowed to murder the unborn. 

All of these signs point in a direction that makes me feel rather hopeful.  Increasingly clear technology has shown the world that a child is a child, even when nestled in the safety of his mother’s womb.  Some young people realize that they very well could have been murdered, as so many others were (and continue to be…).  You see, quite a few people in my generation don’t get warm and fuzzy feelings when they think of abortion.  Many more are willing to speak out against the atrocities that are being committed inside ordinary looking clinics across the country. 

When I compare the women I generally see supporting Planned Parenthood with the faces I see when we pray outside of Planned Parenthood, the contrast is apparent.  Those praying span every decade, from babes in the womb to toddlers with sippy cups, to teenagers who are truly shocked when a sixty year old woman honks at them and makes a crude gesture.  There are always plenty of graduate students, adults with and without families in tow and retirees.  And those praying generally span ethnic groups and income levels. 

Yet the angry faced women glaring as they rush out to hold umbrellas in front of every woman who pulls into the clinic are remarkably similar (and whenever I think of them I marvel at how they always let the women walk back out alone and unprotected, sitting in their chairs, umbrellas folded as another vulnerable looking woman trudges alone back to her car, the deed done, her money safely in Planned Parenthoods coffers, somehow not quite as important as she was an hour or two earlier…). 

You see, I truly believe that those glaring eyes and the empty table at yesterdays celebration, are simple indicators of a lie whose times has come, as the ugliness of the evil that is abortion is exposed by ultrasounds that let all of us know that a human life is always far more than a “clump of cells.”  These staunch defenders of murder must sense that the tide has turned against them, that the evil they have fought for has begun to unravel, and they are angry and confused as they shake their fists and talk about their “rights,” still not understanding that one doesn’t have the right to extend their own fist at the expense of someone else’s nose (or in this case, we don’t have the right to tear one another limb by limb).

Will abortion ever be illegal in our country?  I honestly don’t know.  I pray that it is.

But I do believe that the heyday that these women are clinging to is passing away, as the mask is pulled off to reveal the loss of life that has taken place over the past few decades. 

And that is why, yesterday, as we celebrated one of my favorite holidays, the sight of the abortion giants’ sign was not entirely unwelcome: for the giant wasn’t what it once was, and it seemed to teeter a bit as we walked away to spend the day with family and friends, forgotten by nearly every person as they turned their eyes to celebrate the good that still remains, alive and well in our country. 


  1. Cam, Planned Parenthood does much more than offer abortions. You may be opposed to contraception, but many women use it and are able to acquire it there. I doubt they'd approach a table on the Fourth of July to arrange an appointment.

  2. Hey LizR,

    I know quite a bit about Planned Parenthood since I used to work there.

    Abortion is there main source of funds. Yes, they do provide contraception also. But there are plenty of other clinics that also do, it's widely available for virtually nothing.

    The fact is clear however, that PP isn't thriving in this town and that it's supporters ARE aging (or maybe it's just that they murdered so many of there potential clients and supporters). That's why it went out of business here. And that's why people aren't clamoring to support it.

  3. too bad there wasn't a table offering info about NFP with young women sitting at the table.

    Your reflections are beautiful.

  4. I find the women our age are also finding out that Women's Lib isn't everything it was cracked up to be either. They are tired of trying to have it all and really having all of nothing. It's so wonderful to see. Most people are so happy and supportive to hear that I stay home and take care of my family and that we homeschool.

  5. I agree completely with your take on the situation. I think of my own two daughters, 27 and 31, with (or working on) advanced degrees, who are totally pro-life and horrified by abortion. Most of their friends, similarly well educated and intelligent, feel the same way.

    Our older daughter had a grad course in public affairs taught by a compatriot of Sarah Weddington. This professor said to the class "I hope that Sarah is no longer alive when they overturn Roe v Wade." They definitely see the handwriting on the wall.


  6. Cam, that was an AWESOME post!

  7. It's tempting to generalize, but without hard data it's all anecdotal. I know several young college-educated women who are pro-choice and consider contraception a given that they wouldn't consider sacrificing. We need facts on this possible generational change of attitude.

  8. Maybe I don't need to point out the obvious, but "LizR" from Berkeley seems to be among the demographic of aging abortion supporters you've described. Let's be honest. The majority of vociferous abortion supporters are white, upper middle-class women in their 60s. Over the next ten to twenty years, their ranks will be rapidly depleted. Many modern young women are turning away from the horror of terminating unplanned pregnancies, as both open adoption and single motherhood become more commonplace. Honestly, I don't think the "movement" will have the steam to maintain the right to slaughter the unborn for much longer.

  9. I find myself thinking about how different things were in these older ladies' times. Many of them grew up without the social safety net that we have now. They probably had peers who suddenly were "sent away" for a year when they got "in trouble". Having babies out of wedlock was one of the most shameful things a woman could do, and living outside of society's mores meant a loss of any kind of protection. Likely they also knew of women who were rendered infertile or died from seeking back-alley abortions.

    We don't live in those times anymore--children are no longer judged negatively by their parents' marital status, contraception is legal, and we're making headway towards making sure that every child can get health care.

    I wish some of these elderly ladies (though where I live it's mostly college students and 20-40 somethings volunteering or working at the PP) would be cognizant of those changes. Or perhaps they fear that we as a society are going back to a time that they would prefer stayed in the past?

  10. Crusty woman of a certain age. Yep that was the woman manning the booth to a T.

  11. Here are a few more links to back up the anecdotal evidence. As someone who's eagerly looked forward to the polls as they've been released these past years, they must stand out to me:

    (I know this is a Christian site but it's siting Gall-up polls):

    Gallups current polls show 50% of Americans identifying as pro-life while, 41% identify as "pro-choice." In 1998 48% identified as "pro-choice" while only 43% identified as prolife. In 1996 56% identified as "pro-choice" while a measly 33% identified as pro-life. That seems pretty significant to me.

  12. I am a 25 year old college student who has always been pro-life. I was raised by my parents to be pro-life. That children are a Blessing from God. I also want to add that the the majority of my friends are college educated and pro-life.

  13. I started reading this blog, which I have found interesting and well-written, to try to understand people with other viewpoints in this very polarized country. I don't want to stereotype you, but I find I have now been stereotyped myself. So I bow out of this dialogue.

  14. Cam, lovely post--there's much veracity in what you say. Though there certainly are young women (my age) who theoretically are for women's "rights," it's rarely with the vigor of the older set that fought for them.

    LizR, ad hominem attacks are never pleasant, but please remember that the stereotypes attributed to you were done so by an anonymous person rather than any known person in the conversation; don't paint us all with that brush.

  15. well thought out piece, DERP! Planned parenthood is abortion factories for sure because they were put on earth for abortions and for no other reason because everyone knows planned parenthood are the inventors and sole providers of abortions in america. derrrrrrrrrrrp.
    someone should have aborted this blog

  16. Lovely blog. I wish people who are pro-choice would realize that if their mothers had aborted them they wouldn't be here to have an opinion on it. Children are a blessing from Yah. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
    Tamara Blessing

  17. Hi, I came here from Simple Catholic Living and loved this post. A couple of observations:

    1. It seems insensitive to me for PP to have a booth at a dominantly family/social holiday gathering with lots of little kids running about. What message is that sending the kids? Is a woman likely to walk up and ask in public how she can get rid of the baby she's carrying? The shunning of the booth speaks volumes. Abortion is still something that belongs under the cover of darkness in many people's minds.

    2. I'm 66 yrs. old. It's true that in my day getting pregnant out of wedlock was a shameful thing because in those days the general ethic was not to have sex before marriage. There were a few girls in my high school class who "had" to get married because of pregnancy. I know of no one who had a back alley abortion, although I didn't hang out with kids who were into sex in the back seat of cars, although I know it went on plenty.

    3. People in my day just didn't talk about sex that much. It was prior to the highly charged sexually oriented in-your-face gestures and dress we encounter on billboards, in videos, in magazines, and elsewhere today. The sexual revolution has destroyed a sensitivity to life. It's encouraging to know that many young people value their own integrity enough not to engage in sex outside of marriage and who will sacrifice to help unwed mothers out.

    I read a great blog post by Sister Helena Burns yesterday on "Magic Mike" that is complementary to this post. Perhaps you might enjoy it:

    I love the title of your blog. How about joining the Sunday Snippets crowd Carol at Simple Catholic Living and I participate in? I'm sure other bloggers would like to read yours.

  18. Wow... it's been a while since I have seen such unbridled stupidity that Anonymous has shown here. Most trolls are clever, but this one brings nothing to the table.



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