Texas Sex and Gender News Roundup, Actually, Just One Round

So, here’s the magic secret to my Texas sex and gender news roundups: Google alerts. I have a million of them. More than one includes “abortion” as a keyword, which means I get an awful lot of “news” from sites like LifeNews, which are anti-choice echo chambers for people who think the sky is green and grass is blue. I almost never read them, let alone link to them, because in these cases, knowing who you’re up against doesn’t help anything. I know this because, as I’ve written before, I used to be an anti-choice Republican, and fact is, anti-choicers rarely cop to their real reasons for being anti-choice (slut-shame, general woman-hating of those not presently barefoot in a kitchen) and refuse to participate in the place the rest of us know as The Real World.

Anyway, just for gits and shiggles today, I clicked on this: “Obama Administration Accused of Targeting Peaceful Pro-Life Advocate.” And it’s one of those things where you are like, REALLY GUYS, did you just write that? Because they did:

“A recent Associated Press story focused on how, under the Obama administration, the Justice Department has aggressively stepped up prosecutions of people under the federal FACE law. After a sting of abortion violence decades ago, Congress passed and pro-abortion President Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances to make it so those few people who take the law into their own hands are prosecuted. While the Bush administration only used the law to charge one person, the Obama administration has already targeted six people via FACE.”

You read that right! The Obama administration is enforcing the law! They are actually prosecuting people who “take the law into their own hands” and break the law! This must be stopped–much like abortion, which is legal, must be stopped. To sum up this anti-choice thinking: breaking the law is awesome, and not breaking the law by getting a totally legal medical procedure makes you terrible. (FYI: the AP story they’re talking about is this one, concerning a woman who wrote a letter to a Wichita abortion provider telling the doctor that people were watching her, her family and might also blow up her car if they felt like it. Peaceful as all get-out, right?)

It’s true that FACE law was passed by Clinton after number of clinic protests, bombings and a shooting in which the now-dead Dr. George Tiller was injured. That time was christened the “Summer of Mercy” by anti-choice groups. FACE law, which is civil rather than criminal and carries the consequence of fines rather than prison time, basically says you can’t fuck with people trying to get in to or work at an abortion clinic. It’s also true that anti-choice violence is a real and ongoing problem, not something that happened only “decades ago,” which LifeNews fails to mention because it is actually a little bit inconvenient to remind people that “pro-life” people commit terrible acts of violence.

The brilliant thing would be if LifeNews would just come out and say, “We think FACE law is a pile of doo-doo because we think our religious beliefs make us qualified to dole out justice and punishment in this country, amen.” But they don’t say that. Just like they don’t say being anti-choice is about pure and simple misogyny, as that makes them sound like judgmental assbags, which I don’t totally feel is a coincidence. Instead, they write long articles about how wrong it is that breaking the law gets the attention of the government.

Anyway, let’s read on:

“The charges weren’t always cases of significant violence and included one man who engaged in time-honored protest by blocking the door of a Texas abortion clinic with his body so people could not enter the facility. A Florida woman used her car to prevent another vehicle from entering the parking lot of an abortion business in her community.”

“Significant violence” isn’t a prerequisite in FACE law. Preventing access to clinics is. So, it sounds like these people broke the law–one in a car, which to me is no small detail–and got prosecuted for it. So. It’s not not against the law just because Dubya’s Department of Justice didn’t bother enforcing it. More:

“At the same time, the Obama administration has not used the law to target any abortion activists who engage in actions that are violent towards pro-life people. James Pouillon was peacefully protesting outside a Michigan high school to teach students about the reality of abortion when he was gunned down by Harlan Drake, a pro-choice person who didn’t like his graphic sign and shot and killed him. The FACE law never entered the equation.”

This is maybe my favorite paragraph, because it ends with “The FACE law never entered into the equation,” because why would FACE law enter into the equation when this man was not blocking worker and client access to abortion clinics but instead murdering someone who was in no way trying to get into an abortion clinic? Harlan Drake’s victim was protesting outside a school, not a clinic. LifeNews makes it out like Harlan Drake skipped away from the scene with an Obama-certified high five and a pair of specially engraved pilot’s wings. In fact, the dude is serving life without parole. I suspect if the Obama administration brought a civil case they would be sure to lose against a person already serving life in prison without parole, that would tickle LifeNews pink.

Pro-life groups are gearing up for another “Summer of Mercy” this year–the last one, in 1993, saw Dr. George Tiller shot in both arms. This time, they’re specifically targeting another doctor, LeRoy Carhart. But, you know, it’s all nice and peaceful. Except organizers seem to be pretty pumped about the possibility of this “Summer of Mercy” being even more change-y than the last one, when someone shot a doctor twice.

“Summer” sponsor Operation Rescue’s president, Troy Newman, has been quoted as saying, “It is our hope and prayer that ‘The Summer of Mercy 2.0′ will bring even greater change and transformation to our nation.” All of which seems a little strange to me, because if I were a pro-life movement, and I didn’t want people to think I was violent, I probably would at least change the name of my anti-choice prayer party to something that wasn’t expressly affiliated with someone being shot twice. I also wouldn’t say I hope my anti-choice prayer party was even more transformative than the last one, because getting shot is one of those things that is probably pretty transformative. I’m just saying.

I would quote the rest of the article, but this is getting long already and I can just sum it up for you: the Obama administration continues to prosecute people who block clinic entrances, and LifeNews and some lawyers are sad about it.

About andrea grimes

Andrea is a journalist living in Austin, TX. She has a master's degree in anthropology and did her thesis work on gender and stand-up comedy. Seriously. Also, she has a bunch of cats. Three of them. Is three a bunch? Discuss.
This entry was posted in abortion, activism, feminism, health care, legal issues, media, news, politics, reproductive health, workplace. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Texas Sex and Gender News Roundup, Actually, Just One Round

  1. Jonathan says:

    Not to quibble, but the sky actually is green. The light from our main sequence, g-type star combined with our oxy-nitrogen atmosphere causes the sky to be green. Because of the way our eyes process light it appears blue to us, but the wavelength is most definitely in the green spectrum. It has to do with our poor perception of red light due to our mammalian heritage. More specifically, it has to do with our red opsin being a recently evolved trait that was the by-product of a gene-duplication event in the gene that codes for the green opsin. Because of this, our “red” opsin is actually more of a “yellow-orange” opsin.

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