By Dean Obeidallah
January 22, 2014
(The Daily Beast) Be a man-stop your woman from killing your baby!”
“Mommy, don’t kill me!”
“You are going to be the father of a dead baby!”
These were just some of the comments being screamed Saturday by protesters standing outside an abortion clinic I visited. These statements, and others like them, were being directed at women and their male companions as they approached the clinic— often by people holding signs that read, “Babies are murdered here” or “Danger! Baby killing zone.”
Was this clinic in Texas, Mississippi, or another Red State with a long history of opposing a women’s right to choose? Nope, it was in the blue state of New Jersey and in the very blue city of Englewood, a municipality that President Obama carried in 2012 with over 70 percent of the vote and where local Republicans didn’t even field a candidate to oppose the reelection of the Democratic mayor (PDF).
So why did I visit an abortion clinic for the first time in my life? Because I was confused as to what is the real face of the people gathered outside of abortion clinics.
Last week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told us that these people are not anti-abortion “protesters.” Instead, he glowingly described them as, “counselors” who wanted “to comfort these [pregnant] women” by speaking to them, “quietly and in a friendly manner.”
Scalia offered these remarks during oral arguments in a case challenging the legality of a Massachusetts law that imposes a 35-foot buffer zone around clinics which anti-abortion protesters are prohibited from invading. The Justice implied that a buffer zone was not needed because the people outside these clinics were not angry protesters, but rather a collection of kindly “sidewalk counselors.”
But something wasn’t adding up. Katie Klabusich, who has volunteered for years escorting pregnant women into clinics, told me a far different story. She spoke of numerous incidents where anti-abortion protesters would scream in the face of pregnant women in the hopes of shaming and bullying them to not enter the clinic.
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