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Another Wednesday Morning

August 4, 2010

This morning the protesters displayed a large American flag amidst their various signs. I think of the signs as “the usual:” Signs that make light of the difficult decisions our patients make. Signs that claim Planned Parenthood is part of the problem, not the solution. A sign that displays the name of one of our doctors, though to what end, I’m afraid to contemplate. Although using the flag isn’t new for them, it’s also not “the usual.” 

Initially, I am merely annoyed by the protesters’ use of the flag. It reminds me of the Tea Party and the conflation of conservatism with tradition, and with history. Just because you are conservative does not mean that you would have agreed with the Founding Fathers and Mothers, much less that they would condone your actions and beliefs. The ongoing misuse of Susan B. Anthony’s name by anti-choicers who want to call themselves “feminist” is one such lesson.  

But my annoyance soon becomes anger. At its core, this anger is about the very reason the anti-choice protesters have the flag out. They think they are patriotic, and we are not. They think the patriotic position is to believe abortion should be illegal no matter what the circumstances. They think it is unpatriotic to believe abortion is a private, medical decision best left to women and medical professionals. They think it is unpatriotic to believe all people deserve the freedom to decide whether, when, and how many children to have. This country was founded on the idea that government should not dictate people’s lives. What don’t they get about that?

There’s a deeper reason for my anger too – the very presence of the protesters, and their use of the flag, just furthers the us/them mentality that I struggle against. I don’t want to have to separate people into “us” and “them” categories. Doing that gets us no closer to abortion peace, and I do believe abortion peace is possible. It’s just hard to move toward it when I’m greeted once a week by people who think they’re better than me.

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