The Bizarre Politics of Radical Anti-Abortion Activists
On Thursday, Lauren Handy, a 28-year-old anti-abortion activist currently under federal indictment for blocking an abortion clinic two years ago, was found in possession of five fetuses in her Washington home after her residence was raided by DC police. the macabre development, which comes amid a national Republican-led assault on abortion access, offers a stark glimpse into the depths of anti-abortion extremism. As news reports reveal, Handy’s affiliations — while ostensibly left-leaning — appear to be associated with more traditional right-wing anti-abortion organizations.
A self-proclaimed “leftist,” Handy served as Director of Activism at Progressive uprising against abortion (PAAU), a group of “self-proclaimed grassroots activists dismantling the abortion industrial complex and standing in solidarity with unborn victims killed by abortion violence.” Handy also reportedly founded Mercy Missions, an anti-abortion group that uses “non-prison solutions in the fight for our collective liberation which is the freedom to thrive in safe and sustainable communities, from conception to natural death.”
Interestingly, these groups seem to use the language of the left, employing a variety of progressive buzzwords – like “non-prison”, “industrial complex” and “collective liberation” – which are not usually used in rhetoric. anti-abortion. And yet, for ostensibly religious reasons, these groups categorically oppose the practice of abortion, a practice that has proven reduce poverty, reduce crime, and to improve the socio-economic status of women.
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While this bizarre spin on the anti-abortion organization may seem somewhat novel, anti-abortion activists have long tried to dress their cause in the verbiage and rhetoric of feminism, co-opting the notion of “women’s liberation” to adapt to their political agenda. .
In 2010, for example, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin Recount a group of anti-abortion activists they represented for an “emerging, conservative, feminist identity.” And in the 2016 presidential election, when Jezebel’s Kyle Cheung Notedcontestant Carly Fiorina has repeatedly marketed herself as a feminist in her sensationalist crusade against Planned Parenthood.
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But “for all, the anti-abortion movement is trying to sell its commitment to women’s well-being,” as Sarah Jones of The Intelligencer explains. wrote last year, “his beliefs, when reduced to their most basic elements, are undeniably misogynistic”.
In Handy’s case, anti-abortion activists say the fetal remains found in her home are part of a “direct action” effort against apparent human rights abuses. Like PAAU wrote in a press release, “the gestational age of the fetuses along with their apparent injuries potentially show violations of the partial abortion law as well as the live-born infant protection law, which are federal crimes.” Even by her own account, Handy said at one point that she was inspired to “release the bodies of aborted babies from medical waste companies and give them a proper burial”.
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While shocking, this isn’t the first time Handy’s displays have gone beyond paleness.
In 2017, Rewire News reportedthe activist led a crowd of anti-abortion protesters, called the ‘Red Rose Rescuers’, to an abortion clinic in Alexandria, Va., where they ‘tried to hand roses to patients in the waiting room , while clinic staff led patients into another room, trying to avoid protesters.”
“The activists prayed out loud, begging the women to cancel their dates and refused to leave,” the outlet added. “When the police arrived to arrest them for trespassing, they became limp, forcing officers to carry them in wheelchairs or on stretchers.”
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This tactic, in which protesters physically block doors to prevent staff from operating, dates back to the 1980s, when stealing fetal material was a much more common practice. At the time, anti-abortionists were known to scare the idea of fetal remains being thrown into dumpsters, Robin Marty, communications director for the West Alabama Women’s Center, wrote on Twitter.
“We need to pay a lot of attention to how anti-abortion actions and litigation/advocacy can be used against people seeking long-term abortions,” Marty wrote. “Because abortion opponents ALWAYS play the long game, and that’s probably part of it.