Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rescue Rochester Refuses


One of the local anti-abortion groups is Rescue Rochester. Back in July, it staged protests in conjunction with Operation Save America.

Those protests involved the use of graphic pictures of aborted children.

One of the places they protested was at the Planned Parenthood in Greece New York - the same clinic at which Catholics have been praying every Saturday for years. I have been part of that Catholic group for a while. The RR/OSA group decided to stage their protest at the same time we normally gather to pray. I showed up the day of the protest, saw their aborted baby pictures, and left.

I find such signs violent and counterproductive. They might work when viewed by women who are considering abortion, but they are likely to harden hearts and minds with people who are not. Such images are particularly inappropriate at this Planned Parenthood site - directly across a busy street from a plaza and a food market. On Saturday mornings at the time of the protests many families with young children - people who have nothing to do with Planned Parenthood - drive by and see any signs on display. As a parent myself, I would have been upset if such images had been inflicted on my children.

I was out of town after that protest and missed the next Catholic prayer vigil. But when I returned the following week, I discovered the Rescue Rochester people were continuing their protests. (I later discovered that they have decided to be there every Saturday, and that their protest times will overlap ours.)

They had aborted baby pictures. I was offended by them, and did not want to be associated with such violence. I left.

The following week, the signs and pictures were fine, so I remained. But I determined that if they should have those offending signs I would go over and ask them to not show them.

That was the situation today.

I approached them and went to the person who appeared to be the leader of the group.  I explained who I was, and thanked them for joining us in our efforts. I then said that the aborted baby sign was distressing and wondered if they could put such signs away while we were there.

He refused.

I explained that I found such signs violent and not appropriate there. He defended them. I pointed out it would be different if this were at the main Planned Parenthood offices, but that here innocent people would see them.

One of the other men mentioned violent images on the evening news and asked if I'd ever written to them. I noted that while I had not seen the particular images he was referring to, I had indeed written on previous occasions. Then the leader cited his own 9-year old daughter's knowledgeable response to the image. I was horrified that he had let her see the image - I never would have let my daughters see such horror when they were 9, but I did not say that to him.

He then cited Ephesians 5:11 - Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose the ...." Okay - but do not pictures of living  babies, or words explaining what goes on in the clinics, or even the people standing praying expose what is going on? Violent images are not needed to expose. I also thought of Romans 14 - St. Paul's  advice not to put stumbling blocks in the way of fellow believers, as they were doing to me and some of my fellow Catholics who find the images distressing. But I did not want to get in a battle of Bible verses, so I asked if they would do it out of respect for my group. He again said no. He had also counseled the others to stop talking to me.

So much for being brothers and sisters in Christ.

I left and went to my parish's 24-hour chapel to pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet that I would have said with the group.

To be honest, there is another feeling at play in all this. Our group has been coming to the site for years. The Rescue Rochester folks are new on the scene, and they are imposing their style of protest, one not in keeping with ours. That seems to be a lack of respect for us and what we have been doing. Those tactics, the leader's response, indeed, his tone of voice and the look on his face, all made me feel as if I and my fellow peaceful protesters were being bullied. 

Now knowing that Rescue Rochester plans to be there every week at the time we are there I've decided it best not to go back. I will pray in the chapel instead, or outside Planned Parenthood at a different time. The 40 Days for Life campaign is beginning in September as well, and I'll take part in that.

Sadly, because of their insensitive tactics and their lack of respect for others who seek an end to  abortion, I have lost respect for Rescue Rochester.

I am pro-life, and that includes avoiding all unnecessary violence.

Pax et bonum

1 comment:

Barb, ofs said...

I'm with you. Any chance your group can find another time when they are not there? Your witness is needed more than those pictures are. It's counterproductive to show them, and it's pretty appalling that a group who is supposed to be on the same team as you would instruct it's members not to speak with you.
Violence begets violence, and I think that is true for those photos as well as for so many other forms of violence.