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Pregnant Lady APB: follow-up

November 23rd, 2011 • Contributed by Andy Kopsa

Last week I shared an email “ABP” issued by radical Wisconsin anti-choice group Vigil for Life.  To quickly recap, VFL “sidewalk counseled” a woman seeking services at a Madison Planned Parenthood.  However, when the woman left, the VFL volunteers (or as they say “prayer warriors”) neglected to get her name.

So, Laura and Steve Karlen who run VFL, issued the following description of the young woman with direction to call if she were spotted:

Have you seen the pregnant mom? The young pregnant woman, probably in her 20?s, had a darker complexion with dyed red hair and tattoos on her neck and right shoulder. She also had some facial piercings. The woman looked obviously pregnant. We pray that she will never decide to come back to Planned Parenthood. Please let us know immediately if you have seen a woman with this description.

Lisa Subek of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin had the opportunity to share this email with Madison Police Chief, Nobel Wray.  Subek said in an email, “According to [Wray], it is legal to send such an email but could be considered harassment if the individual who is the subject of the email told the so-called “sidewalk counselors” she didn’t want further contact from them. She could have filed a complaint regarding the email.”

So, does this mean one must opt out of harassment by radical anti-choice zealots?  That we must be clear with those “sidewalk counselors” that scream at us as we enter a woman’s health clinic that we don’t want them to stalk us?

Subek said Wray did understand the concern of such an email, but continued, “I’m not surprised by this answer, but it certainly makes me think about our legal definition of harassment and how we do not do enough to prevent it or to protect victims.”

Wisconsin code defines harassment in the following way:

Striking, shoving, kicking or otherwise subjecting another person to physical contact; engaging in an act that would constitute abuse under s. 48.02 (1), sexual assault under s. 940.225, or stalking under s. 940.32; or attempting or threatening to do the same. (b) Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts which harass or intimidate another person and which serve no legitimate purpose.

Vigil for Life certainly has the ‘no legitimate purpose’ part nailed.

According to Wisconsin state filings, VFL was incorporated in 2009.  They are currently delinquent filing a state required annual report.  VFL’s website, the Karlens’ began “coordinating” Vigil for Life after the 2009 40 Days for Life campaign.

Vigil for Life protests in front of Madison clinics Monday through Friday.   They are also affiliated with Pro Life Wisconsin and boast such followers as Ralph Lang, the man who was planning an attack on Planned Parenthood to, “lay out abortionists because they are killing babies.”  Lang attended several of VFL’s “vigils.”

Pro Life Wisconsin is currently pushing a personhood amendment in the state.   Green Bay State Representative, Andre Jacque introduced Joint Resolution 77 on November 16.

This is on the heels of Mississippi’s failed personhood amendment and is among scores of new personhood legislation being introduced throughout the country.  In order for any amendment to be added to the ballot, it must pass two consecutive sessions of congress.  So, even if the personhood amendment passed the legislature in 2012, it must then pass in 2013 to make the ballot for the following statewide Wisconsin election in 2014.

Emails to Vigil for Life and a call to Mrs. Karlen weren’t returned.

I also directly contacted the Madison PD – the district which from what I could tell is near the Planned Parenthood and Vigil For Life CPC.  Here is the email response I got:

Andy – I am unfamiliar with the email to which you are referring. Please send it to me at this address, and we will take a look.

Cameron S. McLay, Captain of Police

North Police District Commander

City of Madison Police Department

(608)245-3652

 

Comments Off • Posted in: Abortion, Action

Radical Anti-Choice Group Puts Out “All Points Bulletin” to “Track” Pregnant Woman

November 23rd, 2011 • Contributed by Andy Kopsa

“Have you seen the pregnant mom? The young pregnant woman, probably in her 20?s, had a darker complexion with dyed red hair and tattoos on her neck and right shoulder. She also had some facial piercings. The woman looked obviously pregnant….please let us know immediately if you have seen a woman with this description.”

After reading this plea you may grow worried – what could have happened to this woman?  Certainly this must be a call for help from the pregnant woman’s family, desperate to locate her.  You can’t be blamed for thinking that – but you would be dead wrong.

This is an All Points Bulletin – an APB! – issued by radical Wisconsin anti-choice group Vigil for Life to track down a pregnant woman seeking services at Planned Parenthood.  Yes, you read that correctly.

The young woman came to Madison but by the time she arrived Planned Parenthood was closed.  Unfortunately, Vigil for Life is setting up a crisis pregnancy center right across the street from the Planned Parenthood Clinic and was there to feed this young woman anti-choice propaganda.  However, the young woman slipped away before the Vigil For Life volunteers got her name.

If you are unfamiliar with Vigil for Life, these are the hardcore protesters outside Planned Parenthood clinics with their “sidewalk counselors” accosting women as they enter.  Remember Ralph Lang, the man arrested in Madison who was planning an attack on Planned Parenthood to, “lay out abortionists because they are killing babies?”  Mr. Lang is associated with Vigil for Life and has attended several of its “vigils.”

Vigil for Life happily trumpets its new crisis pregnancy center on their blog:

Right across the street from Planned Parenthood in Madison, good things are happening! The City of Madison has approved building permits to bring the Women’s Care Center, a successful crisis pregnancy center model, to Madison!

Pulled right from the anti-choice play book – set up shop next to an actual medical clinic to make yourself appear like an actual medical clinic and you get to harass women going into Planned Parenthood to boot.

As I mentioned above, the APB came after three volunteers – or as they say “prayer warriors” – failed to get her name.  The Vigil for Life email blast details the encounter:

The women then crossed to the other side of the street to the future Women’s Care Center to read the sign by the gate.

One of the prayer warriors asked, “Do you ladies need help with anything?” One of them, a young woman said, “Yes, I’m looking for information about an abortion. The prayer warriors started to talk to the woman and her sister about abortion. By looking at her, it was obvious that the young woman was very pregnant and quite sad. The prayer warriors referred her to resources to help. When they mentioned the physical and psychological negative effects of abortion, the sister of this young woman responded, “Yeah, but isn’t the psychological trauma of having a baby and giving it away worse?”

One of the prayer warriors was able to speak to the women on the benefits of adoption versus the consequences of abortion. She shared that, even if you give your baby up for adoption, you can know that you gave some person out there the gift of life. At that point, the pregnant woman started to cry and walk away. As the pregnant woman walked back to the car she turned around and shouted, “I know. I have two children of my own already!”  The interaction seemed rushed, and the prayer warriors weren’t able to get the names of the women before they left.

And then, of course the APB:

Have you seen the pregnant mom? The young pregnant woman, probably in her 20?s, had a darker complexion with dyed red hair and tattoos on her neck and right shoulder. She also had some facial piercings. The woman looked obviously pregnant. We pray that she will never decide to come back to Planned Parenthood. Please let us know immediately if you have seen a woman with this description.

So now anti-choice radicals will be tracking down women by circulating physical descriptions of them?  How many more tools will they be able to use to terrorize women?  At what point does the protection of Vigil for Life’s rights begin to destroy the rights of others?  And when is someone going to step up and legislate against this kind of behavior on the part of anti-abortion zealots?  This move by Vigil for Life is beyond the pale and must not be allowed to pass without notice.

I spoke with Lisa Subeck, Executive Director of NARAL Pro Choice Wisconsin, about this. (We were speaking about another subject but this topic came up. she is the one who shared the email blast with me.) She is considering contacting the Madison police department about the email, rightfully concerned about the legality of it.  I say good on Lisa – this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated.  Will keep you posted.

 

Comments Off • Posted in: Abortion

Its all connected – Herman Cain, Personhood, women’s rights

November 8th, 2011 • Contributed by Andy Kopsa

Today Mississippi votes on, and if all indications are correct, may pass the so-called ‘personhood’ amendment today, declaring a fertilized egg is a person. Mississippi is just the latest canvas on which religious fanaticism is trumping science and a woman’s right to choose.  Where misinformation about human sexuality and reproduction are used as tools to marginalize women to the point of mere baby vessel whose rights are up to popular vote. I am watching my rights being dismantled by an institutionalized patriarchy buoyed by the religious right and political opportunists.  I don’t live in Mississippi but what happens in state legislatures grows like a cancer across the US – I am impacted, every woman is.

Personhood  (and all anti-choice efforts) emerge from politically entrenched religious zealots and political opportunists, quite often these operatives are men; men who generate a willing group of women followers to cast their efforts as somehow pro-woman.  Men like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, Chris Slattery of Expectant Mother Care, Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and of course, Les Riley, the man behind Prop 26 in Mississippi.

Religious zealots form a symbiotic relationship with politicians to pass draconian legislation sacrificing the rights of women.  The zealots get to walk away having successfully implemented a cog in their overall attempt to implement a Christian worldview system of governing on the US securely placing men in the headship roll and subjugating women.  The politicians in return get tons of fundraising cash and a committed group of one-issue voters that can propel them into office.

As Mississippi votes on a woman’s right to her own body, Herman Cain is promising to set the record straight regarding the numerous allegations of sexual harassment coming up from his past.  While the Cain campaign tweets about Gloria Allred in a condescending male voice, the right wing media blames the victim, and a liberal media is busy determining whether Cain remains electable or not, we are all missing the point.

Our public discourse, by and large, discuses women and issues impacting women as if women themselves are removed from the equation.  That we are somehow having a high-level think-off on the rationality of a bill that establishes the contents of a woman’s body as not her own, that the GOP front runner can run his hand up a woman’s leg and pull her head toward his crotch and make a killing in fundraising – and keep is position in the polls – as a result.  Instead of focusing on women taking a beating in this country, the discussion deteriorates into who said what, political polls and Howard Stern’s producer commanding audience at various press conferences.

Cain is, by some accounts, being accused by up to seven women of sexual harassment and now with the public statement of Sharon Bailek, Cain is being accused of possible sexual assault.  Instead of the Cain scandal being called what it is – a possible criminal situation and a case study in the abuse of male power – pundits busy themselves arguing whether or not, Cain will be able to weather this political storm. Can he make it through to Iowa?  As the anti-Romney are the Republicans willing to overlook Cain’s unfortunate sex business (my guess is yes)?

The media needs to seize this moment to connect the dots.  The Mississippi personhood amendment, the ultrasound bills, waiting period laws and the myriad others ravaging women’s rights across the country and Herman Cain’s sex scandal fall under a neat umbrella: men seeking to encroach on the rights of women for personal and/or political gain.  Whether it is Herman Cain’s apparent need to quench his sexual desires by making unwanted advances on subordinates or Les Riley’s need to create a Christian utopia starting with egg citizenship – we need to talk about them as connected.

 

Comments Off • Posted in: Policy