A Response to Jennifer Fulwiler: Why “40 Days for Life” is Harmful

26 Sep

A woman named Jennifer Fulwiler recently wrote a piece called “What I Learned from Praying in Front of an Abortion Clinic.” This piece provides an interesting and  disturbing look into the anti-choice movement and their “40 days for life” protest. From being made to sign a contract to be “peaceful” (as peaceful as a group of anti-choicers could be, anyway), to how she claims that the anti-choice movement views women, it provides an eery look into the other side.

Like virtually every other anti-choice article ever written, this piece fails to honestly address the women involved in abortion. Fulwiler claims that the anti-choice movement, along with the sidewalk harassers, truly care about women. The truth is, the vast majority of the women who are walking into that clinic don’t want you there. Just put yourself in their position. Most of them are not particularly happy to be there (who likes surgery?) and just want to go through the experience with as few complications as possible. Many of them consider you, sidewalk “counselors,” a complication. Sidewalk harassers are strangers who, despite claiming not to judge, are there because they think these women are or are about to become murderers. Who the hell likes to be considered a murderer? Sidewalk harassers are there presenting themselves as hostile, unfriendly people, no matter how friendly or quiet they claim to be, and if they did respect women, they would respect the fact that the vast majority of them do not want creepy people standing outside of their doctor’s office “praying” for them. This is why so many women are grateful for clinic escorts. Furthermore, Fulwiler states later in the article that, by harassing women at their clinics, “mothers (are) saved from undergoing a procedure that would harm them both psychologically and physically”. Why, hello there, paternalism! Fulwiler’s internalized misogyny becomes painfully obvious here. Women do not need you, Jennifer Fulwiler, to decide that having an abortion would hurt them psychologically. You also don’t get to make up facts about the safety of the procedure; especially considering that an early abortion is safer than carrying a pregnancy to term.

Fulwiler states that “communities don’t want abortion facilities in their neighborhoods” because she got some positive responses from people driving by, and again completely neglects to look at it from the woman’s point of view. Someone who doesn’t want or need an abortion may not necessarily want an abortion provider in their area. It’s a tough fact to face, but people generally only see things from their point of view and fail to understand the need for abortion providers until they themselves need one. She forgets, however, that the women who are here in the first place obviously want, and need, an abortion provider in their area. A lot of these women are grateful to be able to access abortion in their area, rather than having to drive long distances just to obtain a simple medical procedure.

At first glance, Fulwiler may have seemed like the only level-headed anti-choice activist I ever encountered. It didn’t take long, however, to unearth the paternalism and misogyny in her writing. Fulwiler, you are free to continue your sidewalk harassing, but pro-choicers will continue to counter it. Pro-choicers, “40 days for life” is coming up on the 28th. If you can, please turn this into “40 days for women’s lives” and volunteer to become a clinic escort by calling your local clinic and asking if they need any volunteers. A list of the locations which are being targeted can be found here.


7 Responses to “A Response to Jennifer Fulwiler: Why “40 Days for Life” is Harmful”

  1. Alicia September 26, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Thank you for the list of targeted clinics. I was under the impression that the next 40 Days of Life was in Spring. I just joined a pro-choice feminist organization here, so if they aren’t already planning something to counter this ridiculous invasion, then I hope to bring some ideas learned here to their table in time.

  2. Pat September 26, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    Thank you for this response. I escort at a clinic that is always targeted for “40 Days.” Just the amount of extra people on the sidewalk praying is a complication, no matter how “peaceful.”

  3. Jameson September 27, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    40 Days For Lies tends to occur twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall.

    Funny how all these women-haters seem to have the time and money to organize harassment crusades like this, yet never seem to have any time or money to actually support the very women and/or children they claim to be “saving.”

  4. FML September 27, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    I escort at a clinic in Louisville, Ky, and am always amazed at the people who apparently think that shaming women is really helpful. Jameson is right, if they put that energy into helping the already-born they could really accomplish something. But it often seems they only care UNTIL we’re born.

  5. Jessica September 29, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    I admit – I didn’t read Jennifer’s article yet, but I’m wondering what the “positive responses” were to their protesting. If you’ve ever gathered in public to protest or raise awareness, I think you assume any hullabaloo is directed at you in agreement, unless the person literally says “EFF YOU”.

    On another note, one day at work while I was taking a break, a white-haired old man in slick car drove up to the protestors and shouted that they should be ashamed of themselves along with a string of profanities. We happen to be in an awkward place, so his driving by was intentional. It made my day.

  6. Jadehawk October 1, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    that’s a great writeup. completely wasted on Fulwiler though, her being a person who can’t even be honest about such small things like what sort of things are sold at Whole Foods. Lying in the service of the Culture War is A-OK with her.


  1. Pick An Anti (Part 2) « Everysaturdaymorning's Blog - October 26, 2011

    […] not want creepy people standing outside of their doctor’s office “praying” for them.”   http://abortiongang.org/2011/09/a-response-to-jennifer-fulwiler-why-40-days-for-life-is-harmful/ Respect for women is not displayed by screaming, pushing, lying, singing, waving signs or praying. […]

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