Space Coast Progressive Alliance

The Future of the American Experiment is in Your Hands
Monday, 08 August 2011 06:52


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Since Operation Rescue decided to declare “Summer of Mercy II” and target Dr. Leroy Carhart, supporters from around the country came together to thank of Dr. Carhart for his heroic stand to help women in crisis. Dr. Carhart is one of the few doctors who will perform a late-term abortion. Women who seek this procedure are usually in grave danger of dying if bringing a fetus to full term, or they have discovered that the fetus they are carrying will not be viable outside the womb. A late term abortion is less tragic than birthing a baby who will suffer and die imminently following the birth.

My friends and I flew to Maryland to help take a stand in this Celebration. Terry, Holly, and I are all members of Brevard NOW; located in a most conservative area in Florida. We had recently taken part in clinic defense at Orlando clinics when Operation Save America traveled to the area. So we were ready to continue our mission. We had been in contact over the last couple of months with members of the National Organization for Women at their national conference. There I represented the Destigmitazation of Abortion committee and presented a resolution that NOW be a big presence and support Dr. Carhart and his Summer of Trust march. It was exciting to meet different NOW chapter members from around the country.

We also were thrilled to have met Debra Sweet who is the Director of World Can’t Wait which in addition to fighting women’s rights is an anti-war organization. I had taken part in one of their marches several years ago in Washington, DC. So I was excited to have met Debra who became a fast friend. Brevard NOW brought her from New York to address our local chapter, where she inspired us all to continue the fight for women’s reproductive rights.

Another organization I’ve been lucky enough to get acquainted with is the Feminist Majority Foundation, especially Kim Gandy, former National NOW President who I spoke with a lot this past week.

This was such an action-packed few days: We gathered in front of the clinic on Wisteria Avenue. Everywhere I looked more and more people joined in. All sorts of great signs too. And so many men who were in support of women’s rights. Very exciting. We gathered around and listened to clinic workers and then Erin Matson, National NOW Action VP. She got us fired up, and the march began. The crowd was so large that I immediately lost Terry and Holly. No worries, we’d meet up later. So I walked ahead, lagged behind, and met different folks along the march. California, Wichita Kansas, Nebraska, New York, Chicago…the list goes on. Young adults, parents, older “grandparent-type” folks all proudly holding signs in support of Dr. Carhart, in memory of Dr. George Tiller, supporting the clinic, supporting abortion rights, supporting pro-faith, pro-family, pro-choice ideals. Very exciting. I was happily marching along holding my sign when I looked up and saw a group of policemen standing on a porch watching us closely with telephoto lenses and binoculars. I suddenly realized we were all sitting ducks as we marched along the main street. I hesitated for a second but got the spring back in my step when I passed a woman standing alongside the road with a sign that showed a wire coat hanger in a circle with a line through it. “Never Again” it said. Yes, I thought: Never Again! I continued with resolve.

Later that evening, we attended a performance of “Words of Choice” produced by playwright Cindy Cooper. Pro-Choice Theater? What could this possibly be, I wondered to myself as we entered the room. I didn’t get a chance to grab the Playbill, so I really had no idea what to expect. Well to my amazement, I was transfixed by the three actors who interpreted such pieces as “Letters to Justice Blackmun”, “Rev. Jimmy Fearall’s Hour of Destiny” (I continued to sing their little hymn, ‘If you want to get to Heaven you must [clap] Pay the Lord’ the rest of the weekend), and the moving “Matt’s Story” as actor Carl Jaynes told a man’s perspective as he helplessly accompanied a girlfriend as she had an abortion. Then, all of a sudden, actress Stacey Linnartz began “Siege”, and I immediately knew this was from Dr. Susan Wicklund’s book, This Common Secret, My Journey as an Abortion Doctor. I just finished reading this book, actually read it on the plane coming up to Baltimore. So fresh in my memory and so stirringly portrayed by Stacey, well, I had the shivers.

During the discussion that followed the performances, I found myself contributing the following:

“I come from the most conservative area in Florida. I am known in the community as a pro-choice person, and there are many of the “anti’s” who comment in blogs about me and some of my friends calling us “pro-aborts”. I always cringed when I read that and would counter that ‘no one wants abortion, but we need more education, access to birth control and free health care’. I always felt that was enough but after this weekend, I realize this: I AM a pro-abort!”

Well, to my amazement I impressed the entire crowd! It was more an out-loud admission to myself than anything else, but for the rest of the time I was in Germantown, people came up to me and told me how much they appreciated what I said.

So that got me to thinking, “why the Cringe factor”? Well, the answer is easy: my own abortion back in 1973. Thank goodness I lived close to New York City at the time. I knew when I got pregnant that my boyfriend of three years who I lived with would not stay with me. He insisted that I get the abortion. I struggled with this but realized I had little choice. There was no way I could afford to raise a child as a single mother. What kind of life would that be? I was grateful that I received very good counseling at the clinic, and was treated so well. Very little stigma, just my broken relationship with my boyfriend which made me so sad. But, it is the reason I came to Florida where I met my husband and eventually had a wonderful son, so incredibly dear to me. I have my wonderful friends from Brevard NOW who are the most amazing women ever. And it turns out, just about all of us have had an abortion. So why do we cringe?

The anti’s are so full of hatred and judgement. And after this weekend I refuse to let them effect me that way ever again. I have no regrets and no shame. I shall proudly continue to fight for women’s rights and a woman’s right to have a legal, safe abortion on demand. A legal medical procedure. No shouting, no threatening, no harassing. And above all, no violence to the clinic staff and the heroic doctors.

As I stood there with my signs this week, I reaffirmed the saying of Dr. Tiller, Dr. Carhart, and all abortion providers in our country: TRUST WOMEN!

Last modified on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 19:19
Vicki Impoco

Opinion Still Matters

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