Tuesday, September 20, 2005


From the Southeastern Pennsylvania Division of Planned Parenthood:

Every time protesters gather outside of our Locust Street health center, our patients face verbal attacks from them. They see graphic signs meant to confuse and intimidate. They are sometimes blocked from entering the building and occasionally they are videotaped. They are offered anti-choice propaganda and free rides to the closest "crisis pregnancy center."

Staff and volunteers are also seen as targets. We are all called murderers, are lectured to about committing sins, and are told we will pay the "ultimate price" for our actions.

You can stand with others in the community against these
acts of intimidation and harassment

Here's how it works: You decide on the amount you would like to pledge for each protester (minimum 10 cents). When protesters show up on our sidewalks, Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania will count and record their number each day from October 1 through November 30, 2005. We will place a sign outside the health center that tracks pledges and makes protesters fully aware that their actions are benefiting PPSP. At the end of the two-month campaign, we will send you an update on protest activities and a pledge reminder.
Initially, I thought it was a brilliant idea, but what worries me is the assumption that enaction of this plan will make protesters disappear. I was in Buffalo when Dr. Slepian was murdered. I remember swerving my car at the corner of Sweet Home and North French in order to avoid protesters, stepping into traffic with their giant posters of aborted fetuses. These people are much like my beloved friends, the bears. They are not rational, and will not consider something like this a lesson learned. Instead, they might temporarily stop protesting, and perhaps fire a shot through the window.

More interesting discussion at the Freakonomics Blog. I liked this comment:

Nobody seems to be looking at this from both sides. I have no problem with abortion clinics. However, if I did, the first thing I would do when having learnt that people had pledged money in this way would be to try and boost the numbers of protestors. Why? Because although PP would benefit by getting more money in, the donors would be feeling it in more in their wallet.

If I were a protestor, I would gather all local protestors to one centre for a couple of months and really drain the patience and wallets of all that clinic's supporters - then cycle on to the next.

After all, this isn't about who has the most money - it's about who can damage their opponents most.
I can see from the Freakonomics discussion that this has been done before. If it truly does spread to other PP divisions, I'd say it's only a matter of time before we read another story like Slepian's in the news.


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