Anti-abortion protest in the 80s

It was never about “pro-life”

By now, everyone has given their hot take about the leaked Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v Wade. Instead, I want to make a confession.

If you went to Cal State Northridge in the 80s, you might remember a large glass case in Sierra Tower. Campus organizations can promote their groups by putting a display in the case. The campus anti-abortion group displayed gruesome pictures they claim were aborted fetuses. Their goal was to shock people into opposing abortions. Since it was across from the vending machines and was the first things students saw after getting their coffee and Hostess Twinkies, it definitely had an effect.

One day, their display received some, well, additional decorations. A garland of wire hangers draped across the display and posters attacking the hypocrisy of the “pro-life” movement and Moral Majority were taped on the glass. (The group’s display was locked inside the case and left untouched.) The additional decorations were quickly taken down, but the organization removed their display soon after. A pro-choice organization put their display up next.

Who were the culprits who decorated the display? The same ones who put up flyers at a Joan Rivers comedy show around the same time: my friends and me.

My anger towards the anti-abortion movement came from my revulsion of the Religious Right with their hypocrisy and anti-Semitism. For them, the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth. After 40 years, the births of two children, a miscarriage, and the unplanned birth of my granddaughter, I’m more convinced than ever: Women must have autonomy over their bodies and healthcare decisions. Here’s how I know.

First, came the blessings of having our children. My wife and I could decide how many children to have and when. We didn’t have children when we were unprepared to raise them, and we didn’t have more than we could support.

Between the births of our children, my wife had a miscarriage. The child had Turner syndrome and died in utero. It was a baby we planned for and started picking out names, and we were heartbroken to lose her. For my wife’s safety, we decided to have a D & C to remove the dead fetus. That was when I experienced the ugliness of the anti-abortion crowd. A couple in my Toastmasters club were evangelical Christians. (The same ones who said it’s a shame I’m going to hell for being Jewish.) When I told them what happened, they gave me uncomfortable looks and asked pointed questions. They weren’t happy we got a D & C even though it was clear we weren’t having an abortion.

Oddly enough, it’s the unplanned birth of my granddaughter that reaffirmed my support for a woman’s right to choose. I’m happy my granddaughter was born and our families can raise her. I recognize that not all parents are in this situation.

I also recognize that many of the “pro-life” crowd who would applaud our decision to raise our granddaughter would do nothing to help her. They would vote against programs that offer free pre-natal care and food assistance so mothers can have a safe and successful childbirth. They attack public education. They oppose programs to provide therapy and equipment to special needs children like her. If she turns out to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community, they would seek to strip away her rights. (They probably hate her anyway for being Jewish and Hispanic.) When children like her are put up for adoption, the Justice Amy Coney Barrett crowd wouldn’t give her a second look. They would leave those children to spend their entire childhood in foster homes and get dumped on the street when they turn 18.

The anti-abortion movement was never “pro-life.” They only got interested in the abortion issue in the 1970s when they had to stop supporting segregation. They aren’t truly opposed to abortion on moral grounds, since several politicians have forced women to have them to cover up affairs. They use the issue to rile up their base and oppress women and people of color. The ominous legal openings in Justice Alito’s opinion confirm this. Overturning legal precedent can lead to the upending of decades of civil rights. Marriage equality. Interracial marriage. Birth control. And if Trump cultists take control of Congress in November, it can be the end of our democracy.

After becoming a father and grandfather, my disgust with the anti-abortion movement hasn’t faded—and my desire to see Roe v Wade upheld has increased. I don’t recommend “decorating” an anti-abortion display today. (Between increased surveillance, heightened political sensitivities, and more punitive school administrators, such an act can get you in serious trouble.) It’s important to make your voices heard, and vote for candidates who will defend our rights. If you’re truly concerned about children, you need to fight to defend our freedom and civil rights. Without them, our country won’t be a fit place for a child to be born.

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