There’s a different definition of harassment out there, according to one National Organization for Women (NOW) vigil attendee, but you won’t find it in the dictionary: praying.
On Tuesday evening, MRCTV’s Shelby Vest and I visited a National Organization for Women (NOW) vigil at the Supreme Court in remembrance of the Roe v. Wade decision forty years ago. NOW, the self-proclaimed “largest organization of feminist activists” in the United States, attracted an eyeball estimate of fifty participants to chant, “Abortion on demand and without apology!”
Upon arrival, several participants identified themselves as "media," and asked for the name of our media outlet, as well as for our abortion ideology, while recording our answers and discreetly snapping photos of us. When I responded MRCTV, they researched our organization on their cell phones before instructing the crowd to avoid us – “the anti’s.”
I later captured the attention of one woman, holding a sign demanding, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries,” and asked her to define the “anti” label placed upon us. She replied, “I hear you hassle women going into clinics. You personally. You’ve been pointed out to me from someone in this crowd that you’re actually here trying to start trouble.” As my brain raced to comprehend her, I answered, “I’ve prayed, but I’ve never hassled anyone.” I questioned whether she considered praying as “hassling.” She replied, “Well, apparently the way you do it, it is.”
A couple months ago, I prayed at a Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C, with members of my church. We recited prayers aloud, but never spoke to nor obstructed the path of women entering the clinic. Sure enough, I eventually recognized one of the participants at the NOW vigil from our prayer session. She was a DC Planned Parenthood “pro-choice clinic escort,” a person responsible for “protecting” women clientele from protesters when walking through the organization’s doors.
The vigil participants’ certainly have the right to decline an interview. But attendees posing as media to gain our trust, preventing others from speaking with us, and spreading rumors about me personally is cowardly. And so, as I continue to stand witness outside Planned Parenthood, I’ll add one more cause to my prayer list: these women.
At first glance, NOW’s mission statement inspires the advancement of women. “Since its founding in 1966,” the website reads, “NOW's goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women.” All women. Including my colleague and me. The account concludes the organization will “promote equality and justice in our society.”
Yet, if this is what “equality and justice” looks like, I, as a woman, want no part of it.
Not “now.” Not ever.