Anti-choice picketers weren’t very successful finding takers for their LGBTQ-mimicking rainbow-colored flyers on Broadway over the weekend. But their presence was disturbing enough.
“We’ve seen an uptick across the country since Trump’s election,” Michelle Farber, organizer and organizer for Seattle Clinic Defense tells CHS about the seemingly incongruous presence of anti-abortion protesters in the midst of Capitol Hill nightlife over the weekend.
There's a group of protesters (pocketed) stretching a couple of blocks on Broadway with "Abortion is a hate crime" signs. 1/?
— Dan Van Der Werf 🌟 (@Dannicus523) September 30, 2017
Seattle Clinic Defense is dedicated to countering anti-abortion efforts and, Farber says, is actively working to stand up against the latest “40 Days for Life” push and that group’s efforts to “harass and picket outside abortion clinics.” On Saturday, Seattle Clinic Defense says nearly 100 people showed up to help protect E Madison’s Planned Parenthood facility.
Thanks to our comrades who participated in the largest Seattle Clinic Defense sidewalk action in history! Safe abortion access for all ✊🏻🌹 pic.twitter.com/KhVMPRnDwa
— Seattle DSA🌹 (@SeattleDSA) September 30, 2017
The 40 Days group claimed Monday morning that its efforts across the country starting last week have been a success. “So far, our hard-working local campaign coordinators tell us they know of 26 babies whose moms decided at the last minute to reject abortion and choose life!” Shawn Carney, the group’s president, wrote in an update to supporters.
Planned Parenthood has not responded to CHS’s inquiry about recent anti-choice activities in the neighborhood. We also have sent a message to 40 Days for Life organizers.
While we do not know if the picketers seen around Capitol Hill this weekend are directly related to 40 Days for Life, Farber says efforts like the Christianity-focused anti-abortion campaign and messages from the Trump White House are inspiring abortion foes to be more aggressive with their protests.
“This is relatively new for what we’ve seen,” Farber said. “I think people are incredibly emboldened by the current political climate.”
Seattle women’s health and choice advocates, meanwhile, haven’t yet shined a light directly on the 40 Days organization out of concerns that attention might only fuel the effort and its social media and local campaign coordination. But advocates also aren’t standing idly by.
Over the weekend, Seattle-based collective #ShoutYourAbortion responded to the protesters with a message hacked onto the former Lusty Lady marquee.
“We’re in the midst of ’40 days for life,’ a campaign which inspires anti-choice goblins to simultaneously terrorize abortion clinics all over the country,” one organizer wrote in her social media update on the marquee action. “Today they descended on Seattle’s queer spaces and tried to scare people, because the kind of people who hate reproductive freedom also hate queer people for being free.”
I am blasting Rupert Holmes ESCAPE (The Pina Colada song) at the pro life protesters in Capitol Hill right now. Come with me and escape.
— Steve Libbey (@SteveLibbey) September 30, 2017
Seattle Clinic Defense’s Farber, meanwhile, says you should also speak up — but don’t think that pro-choice victory comes only from confronting “individual right wingers.”
“We think that there’s a lack of a grassroots abortion rights movement and people should get involved to help rebuild that,” she said.
You can learn more about her group at facebook.com/seattleclinicdefense.