Monday, December 18, 2017

What Happens At 443 Congress Street?



A small demonstration was going on when my ten-year-old grandson and I were walking together on a Congress Street sidewalk last summer. I’d forgotten that the Planned Parenthood clinic had moved there from Forest Avenue a while ago. It was a Friday morning and that’s when they do abortions. One group of about eight people was holding pro-life signs and smaller group of older women had signs saying: “I stand with Planned Parenthood” and "PLANNED PARENTHOOD PROVIDES VITAL HEALTH CARE." Two more people in pink vests stood one on each side of the entrance to 443 Congress Street. A Portland cop leaned against a mailbox watching everything.


The older women didn’t try to engage my grandson but some of the younger pro-life demonstrators talked to him. As we walked on past he asked me what abortion was. I thought for a minute and said, “When some women get pregnant, they’re very happy and look forward to when the baby is born. Other women aren’t happy to be pregnant, so they come here to have the baby removed before it can be born.”

“They do?” he said.

“Yes.”


He looked troubled, but at that moment we came upon a pickup truck parked next to the curb with multicolored splotches of paint all over it that looked like it had been applied by Jackson Pollack. It also had matchbox cars and skulls glued to the top edges of the truck bed and my grandson was fascinated. He walked all around it looking carefully at its many details. I told him I knew the truck’s owner, an artist named Zoo Cain. There were no more questions about abortion and we proceeded further up Congress Street toward the Maine Historical Society, our original destination.

They go on everywhere
The pro-life demonstrations were happening on the sidewalk at 443 Congress Street before our encounter that day and have continued afterward. Andrew March, pastor of a Lewiston, Maine church, has organized some of them and literally made a federal case out of them. Portland police confronted March telling him he may not raise his voice so it disturbs women coming there for abortions. Writers at the leftist magazine Slate call it, “religious invective.” Well, “invective is defined as “insulting, abusive, or highly critical language.” Was the Reverend March using insulting, abusive, or highly critical language? Or, was he simply telling the truth?


Portland Police were trying to enforce an order from Maine’s pro-abortion Attorney General and Democrat candidate for governor Janet Mills. She claimed that Maine Civil Rights law could restrain the volume of Reverend March’s voice. March asked the police how loud a voice he could use to get his points across, but they wouldn’t say.


March claimed there were much louder noises coming from climate-change marchers and others who had just gone by, so the real issue was what he was saying and not how loudly he was saying it. March sued in federal district court in Portland, Maine on First Amendment grounds and won. In May, 2016 U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen ruled that Maine’s Civil Rights statute violated March’s 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech. Then Attorney General Mills appealed to the First US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston which overturned Judge Torrensen’s ruling last August. According to Slate Magazine, Mills won by claiming that pro-life demonstrators were “so loud that [they] could be heard within the examination and counseling rooms of the building . . . [that it] jeopardize[d] the health of persons receiving health services within the building . . . [and that it] raised stress levels, respiratory rates, and blood pressure” of the women about to have abortions.





When my grandson asked me what abortion was, I could have used the Maine Attorney General’s and Planned Parenthood’s language. I could have told him that abortion is “women’s health care.” Would that have been truthful? I could have described what we had just witnessed as “women trying to get ‘medical care’ while people on the sidewalk were shouting ‘insulting, abusive, and critical language’ at them.” Would that have been truthful?


Instead, I used simple English to describe as truthfully as I could what happens at 443 Congress Street in Portland, Maine every Friday morning. My ten-year-old grandson deserved that. So would anyone else who may happen to pass by there and wonder what’s going on.

9 comments:

Uber_Fritz said...

Tom

An explanation for benefit of your grandson should be made in plain English so it is not politicized. Once any issue is politicized, my BS meter is pegged! It is rather like the 11 volume setting in “Spinal Tap!”

Anonymous said...

Will we ever get past this religious divide over abortion?

I find it interesting that the religious Right is the group most likely to advocate for less education about sex and less availability of birth control contraceptives. Aren't those exactly the things that are needed to prevent unwanted pregnancies?

And isn't it the Right that wants to cut social services that would help all those young, single-mothers actually raise a child they carried to term?

Let's recognize some hypocrisy here.

Anonymous said...

It seems that a post from Tom's previous column fits here, so I will repeat:

An Interesting abortion fact is that abortion rates drop much more drastically under Democrat leadership than Republican (due to making contraceptives easier to obtain instead of preaching unrealistic abstinence).


Also worth repeating is the earlier mention of how drastically anti-abortionist support for the Fetus dwindles once they enter the world. Babe in a poverty stricken home? Take away their parent's "entitlements", attack welfare. (But support the much more massive corporate welfare!). Children getting sexually assaulted? Well, if it isn't being done by some dark skinned cretin, but by a good ol' boy Republican Senate candidate, look the other way.



Charles Martel said...

The abortion debate will continue to rage on until some sense is brought to solve it. I'm Pro-Life, but a decent compromise was put forth by Carl Sagan in "The Dragons of Eden" pages 204-209, c1977, concerning the physiology of the brain. Basically, it's permissible to kill nonhuman primates and other mammals but not so for human beings. The limbic system and R-complex develop first and the neocortex develops during the end of the 1st trimester. The neocortex differentiates us from other creatures. His compromise would be to allow abortions only up to that point, not later.

Peter said...

So rare to hear anyone reaching out in the way of compromise on this issue, I applaud Mr. Martel (and Carl Sagan) for this. This is a tough, soul searching issue that needs to be actually discussed cooly. calmly, and rationally, and not by shouting down others in the streets.

Anonymous said...

“women trying to get ‘medical care’ while people on the sidewalk were shouting ‘insulting, abusive, and critical language’ at them.” Would that have been truthful?

Yes.

Anonymous said...

Each year, about one million infants die on the same day they’re born. This includes about 11,300 infants in the United States. That’s 30 infant deaths each and every day! If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is.

According to Save the Children, the U.S. has the highest first-day infant mortality rate of any country in the industrialized world. This is 50 percent more first-day deaths than all the other industrialized countries combined.

Mothers are dying too.

“The United States is one of just eight countries to see a rise in maternal mortality over the past decade, said researchers for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in a study published in The Lancet, a weekly medical journal. The others are Afghanistan, Greece, and several countries in Africa and Central America.”

“The researchers estimated that 18.5 mothers died for every 100,000 births in the U.S. in 2013, a total of almost 800 deaths. That is more than double the maternal mortality rate in Saudi Arabia and Canada, and more than triple the rate in the United Kingdom.”

As more states like Texas and North Carolina restrict access to abortion care, more women are dying in childbirth or pregnancy, and more infants are not surviving to their first birthday. Politicians may try to separate out abortion, or abortion and contraception, from the continuum of women’s reproductive health care, but when they do, women’s lives are needlessly cut short. Whatever you call that, you can’t call it “pro-life.”

There’s a reason why the American Public Health Association has, since 1967, recognized as a public health issue the importance of women’s access to safe abortion services in the United States. It’s important to remember, as the political debate continues to escalate, that when we talk about abortion we’re talking about health care.

Stopp Planned Parenthood of Connecticut said...

The fact of the matter is that Rev. March is being persecuted for taking a stand and speaking the truth that his voice bothers the women going into the butcher shop of horrors to kill her preborn baby in the womb. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England never met a surgical abortion it didn't like and will stop at nothing to silence Rev. March from doing Gods working the sidewalk. Where there is no opposition there is no resistance. Right on Rev. March and never give in by the grace and glory of God and for the lives of all His children born and preborn.

Stopp Planned Parenthood of Connecticut said...

The fact of the matter is that Rev. March is being persecuted for taking a stand and speaking the truth that his voice bothers the women going into the butcher shop of horrors to kill her preborn baby in the womb. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England never met a surgical abortion it didn't like and will stop at nothing to silence Rev. March from doing Gods work on the sidewalk. Where there is no opposition there is no resistance. Right on Rev. March and never give in by the grace and glory of God and for the lives of all His children born and preborn.