instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, November 14, 2003

Subcontracting grass roots

I'd seen mention of a concrete suppliers' boycott of the construction of an Austin, Texas, Planned Parenthood abortion clinic -- sorry, of a building
which would include a medical facility that will provide abortions. It would also provide myriad other medical treatments for women and men, including gynecological services, HIV testing, vasectomies and cancer screening.
I'd seen a follow-up mention that Planned Parenthood would be acting as its own general contractor. ("Yes, the building on the corner, with the crushed baby skulls for walls. You can't miss it.")

But not until today had I come across the following email from supporters of Planned Parenthood:
You may have heard about the national campain begun by anti-choice activist Chris Danze to stop the construction of Austin's new Planned Parenthood facility. In the last few weeks, Mr. Danze mobilized anti-choice extremists around the nation to harrass and bully the contractor on the Planned Parenthood site into pulling out of the project.

Among other tactics, these radical pro-lifers left more than 1200 threatening messages on the contractor's home phone and several hundred on his work line; callers were instructed to leave a message saying, "You're going to burn in hell. We will pray for you."

For more on Danze's harrassment project, see [here].

Those of us who believe in a woman's right to affordable reproductive health care, birth control, and all the other invaluable services provided by Planned Parenthoods across the nation cannot let this minority of extremists shut the project down. I propose that we begin our own massive grassroots campaign.

As luck would have it, Chris and Sheri Danze's home phone number is a listed number.... We need to blitz their phone line with as many calls as possible as soon as possible to let them know that Austin and the larger pro-choice community supports Planned Parenthood and will not stand for this kind of intimidation.

My calls will refrain from Danze's breed of small-minded harrassment and be as respectful and firm as possible. If you're having difficulty deciding what to say, feel free to use some version of the following:

"Chris Danze, Austin and America will not be intimidated by you and your small minority of extremists. You cannot and will not stop Planned Parenthood from providing affordable access to healthcare for poor women in Texas. It's time to stop your intimidation tactics and unlawful harrassment campaign."

Thank you for your support and help!

Misty McLaughlin
Austin, Texas

Incidentally, Planned Parenthood will continue contruction of its new facility as its own contractor. Danze was quoted in today's paper as saying that he and others will continue their harrassment campaign. "We will fight this from tomorrow until three years from now, if that's what it takes," he said. "I'm getting letters every day, our email list is growing daily, and we're getting national recognition in the news. We have tremendous momentum and will fight this every stick of the way."
There's a lot that can be said about this email. The first is, of course, that if Misty McLaughlin is the brightest ally Planned Parenthood has, Planned Parenthood is doomed.

What, exactly, will flooding the home phone number of a local concrete contractor accomplish? Will Chris Danze say, "You know, we had tremendous momentum, but now that a lot of people have called my house, I expect everybody on my side to stop calling Austin subcontractors about this, and I'm going to start supplying concrete to Planned Parenthood today"?

See, that's the problem with "radicals" like Danze. They aren't in it for the money, or for future business, or for the convenience of having a listed phone number. That gives Misty and friends exactly no leverage, unless they stoop to "small-minded harrassment."

Which brings us to the matter of factual innacuracies in this email, like the difference between a contractor and a subcontractor, or the difference between the subcontractor whose work phone got all the calls and the subcontractor whose home phone did, or the difference between threatening messages and non-threatening messages, or the difference between what is lawful and what is unlawful. There's also the potentially slanderous implication that Danze told people to threaten the contractor (well, subcontractors, but we know what she meant) with burning in hell.

But facts are for blogweenies.

Another interesting thing about the email is its characterizations of Danze & Co.: "anti-choice activist... anti-choice extremists... radical pro-lifers... small minority of extremists." It's kind of odd, I think, that they can at the same time be such a "small minority" of extremist anti-choice activist radical pro-lifers, and yet require Planned Parenthood supporters to "begin [their] own massive grassroots campaign" to adequately respond. Couldn't they make do with a small minority of extremist pro-choice activist radical pro-deathers? Do pro-lifers have more hit points or something?

As an aside: Imagine someone using the term "radical pro-lifer" as a term of opprobrium.

Well, not so much as an aside; it leads to my final point. This email gives insight into how radical pro-choicers see their radical pro-choices. Not just as standing up to a tiny number of spittle-flecked lunatics like Chris Danze, but as believers "in a woman's right to affordable reproductive health care, birth control, and all the other invaluable services provided by Planned Parenthoods across the nation," which are "providing affordable access to healthcare for poor women."

My guess is there's not much point in trying to show Misty McLaughlin et al. why abortion is not health care, reproductive or otherwise, although it probably wouldn't hurt to say, "Abortion isn't health care," everytime someone says it is. (I'd bet a lot of people have never really thought about it.)

I suspect, though, that what most people -- possibly even Misty McLaughlin -- really want is not abortion clinics -- sorry, I mean buildings which include a medical facility that provides abortions -- but "affordable access to healthcare for poor women."

So while those of us who want an end to abortion do need to emphasize the distinction, in fact the opposition, between abortion and reproductive health care, at the same time we need to be, and be seen as, working for affordable access to health care.