What choice do they have?

When my first husband was in graduate school and I had my first post-college job, we didn’t have much money. For my annual checkups and affordable, reliable birth control, I relied on the local Planned Parenthood for several years. It’s been a long time since I was a patient of theirs, but I continue to respect their work, which is why I really hate to see the flare-up over their new clinic in Aurora, Illinois. (Technically, this is last week’s news, but I’m just getting around to blogging about it.)

Our Bodies Our Blog comments:

Let’s look at who’s really being left without a choice. The application for a medical facility was filed under Gemini Office Development LLC so Planned Parenthood — and contractors hired to build the facility — could avoid daily protests by anti-abortion activists.

Today in court, Planned Parenthood attorney Christopher Wilson said the clinic just wanted equal treatment: “We ask that we be treated like any other medical facility, an eye-care clinic, a foot-care clinic, a dermatology clinic, and be allowed to open for business.”

The clinic will provide a full array of medical services, including breast exams and pap tests, to women in a rapidly growing part of the state that is currently underserved.

“Unfortunately today’s ruling means that, yet again, we will have to reschedule appointments for our patients,” said Planned Parenthood president and CEO, Steve Trombley, in a statement. “Our main concern is that every day our health center is not open, more women go without pap tests, birth control supplies and breast exams. These are critical services that this community has been lacking and that we will provide.”

Exactly. Protesters fixate on Planned Parenthood as an “abortion clinic.” Yes, that is one of their services. It is (still) legal for them to provide this medical procedure, but my take on that is that abortion is one possible response to unplanned parenthood. Granted, I was never pregnant during my years as a patient there, but I don’t have any reason to think that they would advocate that particular option over others – I don’t think that’s what being “pro-choice” is about.

Broadsheet’s report on the story includes this:

The still-shuttered clinic has been the target of large-scale protests and intense attacks, legal and otherwise, since earlier this summer when its presence came to light. The organization had submitted permit applications as Gemini Development LLC, a Planned Parenthood subsidiary. This is a standard (though not universal) practice as a means of, ahem, preventing protest — just as other less controversial businesses do (perfectly legally) when, say, a new Burger King doesn’t want to tip off the McDonald’s on the same block. But now, long after everything was out in the open and approved, the city is trying to determine whether Planned Parenthood came in under “false pretenses.”

“Did we hope to avoid disruptive and potentially violent protests that might delay the opening of a facility greatly needed in DuPage and Kane counties? You bet we did,” CEO Trombley wrote in a letter to Aurora’s mayor and aldermen earlier this month. “It should be obvious by now why we chose that course.”

According to CEO Trombley, by the way, abortions will make up about 10 percent of the services provided at the Aurora clinic. (Most of the others will help! Prevent! Abortion! Sheesh.) (My emphasis, their words, including the “sheesh!”)

BlogHer’s round-up of news and blog posts on the Aurora clinic controversy includes a link to an intriguing commentary on “Average Jane’s” blog called titled “God Is Pro-Choice.” It makes me really uncomfortable when anyone claims to know what God thinks about anything. (I know, if you’re a Bible literalist, it’s supposed to be all there in God’s own words. I don’t happen to be a Bible literalist.) But having said that, in the broad sense in which she presents this argument, I find it hard to disagree:

That’s right – I’ll say it again – GOD IS PRO CHOICE. And how can I believe this? Get two post its – label one YES and the other NO. Then think about a decision you have to make. If God didn’t want us to have a choice – the only post-it that would be out – when you’re looking at any decision would be just the YES or just the NO. No choice. You are only given the option God wants you to have.We have free-will We are GRANTED free-will.. And you, Mr./Mrs. Protester, can’t have it both ways. You can’t believe and profess that God has granted man free-will and be anything other than pro-choice.Either God granted man free-will or not. You can’t have it both ways. Either God grants free-will and allows there to be a choice, or not.

And her characterization of some abortion protesters is along the lines of my reasons for not being a churchgoer these days:

These people really do practice what is a huge turnoff to me: ala carte Christianity. They pick and choose which portions of The Bible they use to condemn and judge others. In one breath, they chose to become Christians – to follow God, to surrender their lives. But the very next breath condemns choices that others make – using that same free will.

Why not set aside your signs and your t-shirts and stop your chanting and get involved with the women who have one of the 1.2 million abortions each year? Why? Because you won’t get news coverage for that. You don’t get cool matching t-shirts that say “Choose relationships.” You don’t get to make signs, carry them around and be seen. You don’t get to end your day getting high fives from 20 other people who stood next to you.

No, instead you’d have to make a difference in someone’s life, one on one. You’d have to set aside your warped and tunneled view of what and who belongs next to you on Sunday morning – or who you choose to spend time with instead of your ladies circle or church softball team. You’d actually have to do something measurable for a real-life-person.

Amen, sister. But thanks to free will and choice, they have as much right to stage their protests at Planned Parenthood as the women who turn to these clinics for health care do to defy them.

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