Last week a good friend of mine, Rae Stabosz, was assaulted outside of the Planned Parenthood in Wilmington, Delaware. If you’re looking for the actual NBC10 news story you can find that here: Pro-Life Grandmother: I Was Attacked Outside Planned Parenthood. She was outside the Planned Parenthood as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign. I’ve been to a fundraiser in the past for the group, and I’ve also donated money towards their campaign, mainly because as a Libertarian and a Christian I recognize everyone’s basic right to life, and I find their mission to be a wonderful representation of how to responsibly get your views across in today’s free . Yes, it is my belief that there is a human being in there, and the current state of our laws infringe upon their human rights. I’ll perhaps discuss my stance on abortion in more detail in another post, as there are other issues I would like to address regarding this story.
You can find a slightly more biased (although pretty factually accurate) account of what happened on the Operation Rescue site: Praying Catholic Grandma Violently Attacked at Planned Parenthood While Filming Botched Abortion Incident. They include the video that Rae was shooting from start to finish.
The purpose of this blog post, and what I really want to talk about, is what is and is not acceptable today when attempting to represent your beliefs and viewpoint in the United States. I referred earlier to the free marketplace of ideas. No, that isn’t a link to a website known as “Marketplace of Ideas”, that is a link to a definition of what the marketplace of ideas is. The basic gist I’m getting at is that, in a country where we are free to exchange ideas and beliefs, eventually the bad ideas will be drowned out by the good.
The 40 Days for Life campaign conducts themselves in an exemplary manner in the marketplace of ideas, taking to the streets in a grassroots effort, not to point the finger or condemn those getting abortions, but instead to use prayer, fasting, and community outreach programs to try and show those getting abortions that they’re making the wrong decision to end the life of their child.
Now, it can be argued that Rae was overstepping her bounds by taking that video. She legally had every right to video tape that woman being loaded into an ambulance outside of Planned Parenthood. Did this step into the realm of invasion of privacy? Perhaps. In this digital age there have been growing concerns about privacy, and what should and should not be legal as gadgets become more sophisticated. (You can read a very interesting article about this here) The ethics of the video taping aside, Rae wasn’t doing anything illegal when she was videotaping the ambulance leaving. I know in my heart she is concerned for the safety of all the women that visit the clinic, and that the number of ambulances leaving the Wilmington clinic recently due to botched abortions has reason to alarm people on both sides of the abortion debate.
That aside, a friend of the woman being loaded into the ambulance, presumably upset by the video taping, assaulted Rae. No matter which side of an argument you are on in this country, no matter how someone expresses their ideas, (the Westboro Baptist Church and the KKK spring to my mind as I’m typing this) it is not O.K. to use violence to get them to stop. Using violence is against everything that the free marketplace of ideas stands for.
Now, I don’t think the woman did this in an attempt to silence Rae, or to infringe upon her rights. I think she did this because she was upset about what had happened to her friend, and in a moment of passion lashed out at Rae. What I am disgusted about is the response I’ve seen to the news story. I’m going to put some of the comments from the NBC10 website and Facebook page to illustrate my point:
“that’s what she gets. Mind your business lady!”
“The woman should have minded her own business. The patient and patient’s friend had the. People need to stop trying to push their views on others.”
“She should have been arrested for invading a patients privacy…. or she should be sued!!! I do not condone violence, but the reaction was understandable!”
“As I said I approve of violence to NO ONE! but this woman was way out of line and got what she deserved as far as im concerned. She stuck her nose in something that was none of her business! What would happened if her interference caused that patient to die or go into cardiac arrest from the stress? I guess thats ok right? Its bad enough if that girl had the services at a coat hanger clinic and they botched it up, and this woman made matters worse and expects sympathy?”
This is complicit approval, in my opinion, of using violence and intimidation to shut down the marketplace of ideas, and this my friends, is what I find most disgusting regarding this story. I think Rae and the 40 Days for Life campaign have beautifully demonstrated exactly how we should conduct ourselves in the marketplace of ideas today, and that those that defend her assailant and her motivations for assaulting Rae are a great example of exactly how we should not conduct ourselves. Rae was not pushing her views on others, she was going about presenting her views THE RIGHT WAY. The woman who assaulted her was attempting to infringe upon her rights. There is no excuse for this behavior in our society. Not today, not here, and not now.
I thank God today and everyday for allowing us to live in a country where we are free to put forth our viewpoints without fearing for our safety. I thank God that as a gay man I’m allowed to speak out on marriage equality, I thank God that as a Christian I can speak out on a child’s right to life, and I thank God as a Libertarian I am able to speak out on the right to bear arms. I also am thankful that those who oppose my views can express their opinions openly as well. Even the Westboro Baptist Church.
- Planned Parenthood’s Statement – A Perfect Example of Life in Up-side-down Land (jlue.wordpress.com)
- Delaware Planned Parenthood Clinic Closed After Whistleblowers Go Public About Conditions (breitbart.com)
- 5 things you should know about Planned Parenthood (liveactionnews.org)