Reproductive rights in the United States are once again under attack. At least, that's the language used by some seeking to revoke reproductive rights. Siege, battle, and operation. It's a supposed holy war except all I've heard are lies, manipulations and hate speech.
Murderer. Killer. Lost. Liberal. Those are the words I was called last Saturday. At least they gave me one compliment (liberal).
I bore witness this past Saturday to reproductive rights, after hearing from friends and colleagues of the tactics employed by anti-abortion groups in Charlotte, NC. I've been to clinics before as a defender and peace partner. I've heard a lot, seen a lot, and so I was expecting the usual. Before I posted a blog entry about the state of reproductive rights, I wanted to hear for myself what was happening.
What surprised me was how viciously some of the male protestors went after women who were going into the clinic. They would shout, "You're a murderer." Sometimes, I would hear "You don't deserve mercy. God's wrath is going to come--just wait."
The protestors would call these women out by what they were wearing or doing. They would shout words of violence across the 300 feet between the protestors and front door of the clinic. I find it hard to reconcile their behavior with the compassionate, merciful, loving religion I know to be Christianity. I find it impossible to understand their conflicting messages of respecting life and then offering words of hate to women and men who-last time I checked-constitute life.
A holy war that incites violence against women and families is hardly holy. Sure, there aren't weapons drawn or trenches dug, but make no mistake that the words shouted by these protestors to the women entering these clinics for a range of services-- many of which have nothing to do with an abortion-- constitute acts of verbal violence.
Oh and p.s. dear protestors many of the women and men entering the clinics are not even receiving abortion services. You just called a woman a murderer for getting STD testing or a routine exam. And you don't have to take my liberal word for it. For further information on how services and monies are allocated see NPR interview here.
But I digress. The more critical piece is this: the language of violence is being used against women across the country as a political tactic. Here is the truth: no protestor or pro-choice advocate could possibly know without asking why a woman may be entering the clinic. And no woman, regardless of her choice or service received, deserves a verbal assault for seeking care of her body. It may be legal to stand on the sidewalk and scream murderer, but it's far from moral.
I've been trying to find where in the Bible it says you should invade a person's body, pass judgement, verbally assault them and claim it all in the name of a God who I heard was mostly primarily a God of love. I just haven't found the passage. What I did find is the following from Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
We could use a modicum of humility, an ounce of justice and whole sea of mercy these days. We all deserve mercy of all kinds in this broken and beautiful world. We all deserve a little more humility than to pretend to know the judgement of a God. And as for justice, what is more just I ask than preserving the life of a woman and entrusting her to make decisions about the body she has been given?
Do we need mercy these days? For protecting our bodies, for making our women and families safe, for upholding the basic rights to privacy and health? No. For verbal assaults that pollute the air with hate and inflict pain? Yes, more than a whole sea could hold.