Cutting the "40 days" short
THE ANTI-WOMAN "40 Days for Life" campaign began September 26, but in Grand Rapids, Mich., the reactionary campaign didn't go unopposed.
Across the country, religious conservatives and other opponents of a woman's right to control her reproductive health began their campaign of harassment outside clinics that provide abortion services. But in Grand Rapids, a handful of abortion rights supporters held a counterprotest outside the Heritage Clinic for Women, one of the providers targeted by the anti-choice bigots. As counterprotesters held signs such as "Honk for women's rights" and "I asked God, and she's pro-choice," a large majority of cars that drove by honked their support.
Organized by the Heritage Clinic's own Sara Waalkes, individuals came with their signs, big voices and strong convictions to support the rights of women to determine what happens to their own bodies. "To stand in judgment outside of a clinic where women are going through a possibly very emotional day is shameful and frankly intolerant of women's choices," said Waalkes. "I think we should trust women to know what's best for themselves."
Since its beginning in 2007, "40 days" campaign has targeted women in more than 440 cities. This year, from September 26 to November 4, anti-choicers will disrespect women in more than 300 locations, including 49 states, Washington D.C., seven Canadian provinces, Australia, England, Spain and Uganda, according to the initiative's website.
These anti-choicers claim their efforts have "saved" 5,928 lives and compelled 69 "abortion workers" to walk away from the "abortion industry." The most insulting claim perhaps is that the campaign has saved hundreds of men and women from the "tragic effects of abortion, including a lifetime of regrets."
College student Elise Varenhorst supported the counterprotest. Holding a sign that read, "If you can't trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?" Varenhorst stated why pro-women individuals come out to show their opposition to the so-called pro-life movement:
I'm here today because I believe in women's rights. As a woman, I don't want that choice taken away from me. I believe I can do what I want with my body, and I don't want to be that person or that woman that wakes up one day to find that all my rights have been taken away from me. I won't allow the government to take those rights.
While it's disturbing that this campaign will run through November 4, this is an opportunity to show women everywhere that we defend their right to choose. As the many honks in support demonstrate, so do a lot of people in Grand Rapids.