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CHS Pics | Clinic Defense stands up for choice on E Madison

IMG_7425A small but persistent group of anti-abortion protesters is a regular feature in front of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest headquarters on E Madison near 20th Ave. Saturday morning, the protesters at the women’s health service facility were outnumbered by a group that has dedicated itself to countering anti-abortion efforts. The Seattle Clinic Defense group says it rallies “to counter the anti-choice protesters who bully, intimidate, and harass clinic patients and staff.” On Saturday, CHS found the defense members holding signs and doing their best not to get blown away by the morning’s wild winds. You can learn more about the group and upcoming defenses at

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12 thoughts on “CHS Pics | Clinic Defense stands up for choice on E Madison” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. I’ve been among the anti-abortion group. Here’s one thing to think about:

    Contrary to the way these groups tend to get portrayed, they do not harras or shame any of the women entering or leaving the clinic. Their goal is to remind the women that when it comes to abortion, they really do have a choice, and to connect them with services that would either help them raise their own children or would help with adoptions.

    Women going to PP already know that they have the choice to abort. They tend not to know about the world of resoruces available to them should they choose not to.

    The pro-life group outside the clinict ins’t a political group. They aren’t there to change any laws or take away any rights (although I know they do political advocacy in other capacties). But when they are there, they are looking to give women resources and options they probably do not know about. Only a short-sighted ideologue could oppose that mission.

    • What makes you think a woman going to Planned Parenthood for an abortion isn’t aware of the resources available to them? Just because they are making a choice you might not like doesn’t mean that they haven’t already surveyed the other options available and decided that the one they’re making is the one that’s best for them and their situation.

      Also, does this group also picket hospitals? Any hospital in Washington State that isn’t directly affiliated with a religious institution, and offers maternity services, is going to offer abortion and contraception as well. Why not stand out and “inform” people on their way to get their flu shots and x-rays, the same way they stand out to “inform” people who are probably on their way to get a PAP smear or their IUD fitted?

      I think if this group were sincerely motivated to help women explore their pregnancy options, rather than shaming them, they’d stop conscripting Mary of Guadalape to their cause and tying plastic fetuses to their hats, and start advocating for things that would actually make a difference, like expanding access to affordable childcare, medical care for expectant mothers, and a living wage.

      • “…and start advocating for things that would actually make a difference, like expanding access to affordable childcare, medical care for expectant mothers, and a living wage.”

        Which, incidentally, are things that many pro-choicers want anyway!

      • Look, I get it that you can’t stand a lot of the things that pro-life group stands for. But that isn’t a reason to bash the things that they do that you could probably support. If you think it’s about shaming, you could talk to them yourself. If you wanted (and if you are a woman), you could pretend you’re on your way into the clinic. Stop and talk to them and see what they say. See if you find the person you expect to find.

        How do I know the women going on haven’t already explored other options? Well, it’s possible that they have, and in that case no one tries to stop them. But often it isn’t the case, and sometimes they appreciate the help.

        Yes, the plastic fetus cap is more than a bit weird. But so is the scarf dancer, and all the other colorful characters around here. I don’t mind weird- that’s why I live on the hill. Sometimes the people on the fringes have things to tell the rest of us “normal” people.

        Look, this isn’t about the ethics of abortion, or even about abortion access (this group clearly does not block anyone’s access). It’s about helping women who decide they’d rather not have an abortion and connecting them with groups ready to help.

        Why doesn’t this group do other things, like advocate for higher minimum wages etc? They might indepdently, or with other groups- but this particular group isn’t a political organization. It’s not reasonable to condem what they do because they aren’t also doing something else.

        I’ll make one concession: the pro-life movement has changed, and largely in response to criticism. People asked a fair question – why was the movement (especially in the early days after Roe) focusing so narrowly on the child and not working harder to help new mothers? The “modern” pro-life movement is much more concerned with helping single moms with low incomes, and other families that struggle with the challanges that unexpected children can present.

        Maybe their efforts don’t do as much as the political changes you envision (although we could debate that), but you can’t say that they are harming anybody. (Again, what they do politically is different, and I assume you couldn’t support that. But why not find common ground if there is some?)

      • District, I think you are moving the bar a bit. This isn’t about personality: I didn’t indicate that this group was physically harassing anyone (what a low bar to cross!), and I’m sure they’re as statistically likely as the rest of the population to be nice people in person. I’m a little surprised that you’ve so thoroughly assumed otherwise, to be honest.

        But, people are complicated. You can be well-intentioned and still be destructive, or shaming. And those signs? Except for the one that actually has a phone number on it, the rest of them are directly guilt-tripping.

        If intended to successfully inform people, those signs would say: “Can’t afford childcare? We have support!” Or “Need prenatal care? Ask here!” Then, those women you say might not know their options would have a clear indication of what kind of help they could get from this group– assuming they offer anything of the sort.

        However,Planned Parenthood already makes available resources on prenatal care and adoption, so it’s pretty superfluous.

        You appear to have misinterpreted my referral to the plastic fetus– that kind of fetishism is eccentric, sure, but the attitude it indicates is very much “We care more about you carrying your pregnancy to term than we do about you!” instead of “Hey, here are some options you might not know about. Let us help!” By their approach, this group is failing at the very thing you claim the anti-abortion movement in general is moving away from.

      • I worked at Planned Parenthood, and as you say, the women who came to us definitely knew of their options. In fact, Planned Parenthood pregnancy counseling lays all the options out for patients (parenthood, adoption, and abortion) and doesn’t privilege one option over the other. They trust women to make their own informed choices, rather than trying to scare or disgust them into making a choice that might not be right for them.

        Thanks for your smart comments!

      • Inness, that’s what I was going to say, as well. I wonder if people like district have ever even been to Planned Parenthood for an appointment, because I have, and they absolutely inform women about all their options and do not in any way “push” abortion on women. So if that truly is district’s only concern, he or she can rest assured that the women who go there are receiving the appropriate information they need to make informed decisions and don’t need the “assistance” of these sign holders.

      • Thank you for all that you do. PP is a wonderful organization providing necessary services. It is a shame to see people with nothing better to do out there harassing women.

  2. I worked for that Planned Parenthood clinic for a year, and the anti-choice protesters were often there on procedure days. I was always SO happy to see Clinic Defense people protesting the protesters! They made my day, and I heard a lot of patients expressing appreciation for them.

    I never saw the anti-choice protesters actually harass anyone (though I definitely heard about it when my coworkers or patients saw), but their very PRESENCE was harassment, in my opinion. They were there to make Planned Parenthood patients and employees feel fearful and shamed (they did not succeed – we were proud of our work and we took good care of our patients); as such, they created an unsafe atmosphere for us. THANK YOU SEATTLE CLINIC DEFENSE!

  3. The protesters’ religious propaganda pictured in these photos do not appear to offer any real resources; they are explicitly designed to shame/instill guilt. The “connect them with services” argument is bogus.

    And yes, I agree with Inness, these protesters do create a hostile environment to both patients and providers in that they promote Christian guilt AND they normalize this type of behavior and embolden extremists.

    Sure, some will argue: well their exercising their right to free-speech, etc. But a woman’s right to manage her own body should not be up for debate.