By Jillian Gilchrest, Age 33
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said it best when she described Friday’s attack as “a crime against women receiving healthcare services at Planned Parenthood.” For far too long, anti-abortion activists have been allowed to intimidate, harass, and threaten innocent citizens, the overwhelming majority of who are women, all in the name of “life”. What about the lives of those who were killed on Friday? What about the lives of those seeking health care from a Planned Parenthood? It’s hard to discredit a group of people who claim to have God on their side. But, I’m over being polite and I call bullshit.
As a pro-choice feminist, my colleagues and I focus our efforts on improving access to medically accurate information and comprehensive reproductive health care. I don’t waste my time and energy targeting those who disagree with me. How crazy would it be if a group of people stood in front of the nearest church to say horribly mean things and wave disgusting signs at parishioner’s on their way into Sunday services. And yet, anti-abortion activists do just that at health clinics and pro-choice events, daily.
It’s also hard to discredit a liar. And, those claiming to be “pro-life” simply make shit up, like that abortions cause breast cancer or Planned Parenthood sells body parts. Even when presented with the facts, a liar keeps lying or in the case of an anti-abortion activist, uses God to shield their lies. Those who co-opted the term “pro-life” would have you believe that pro-choice feminists are angry, man hating, baby hating women when that simply is not the truth. I know a lot of pro-choice feminists, some religious, some men, many with families and children. We don’t lie. We don’t use intimidation to get what we want. And, we certainly don’t use violence.
As far as I’m concerned as of Friday, “pro-life” and “pro-freedom” are now equated with a gun wielding anti-abortion zealot who walked into a Planned Parenthood and killed three people. Apparently, the 2009 murder of Dr. Tiller wasn’t enough to call out the hypocrisy and the terror all in the name of “life.” There will be those who will argue that not all anti-abortion religious folks are like that, and I agree, but I say, then speak up and condemn these acts of domestic terrorism. For those who are upset about the lying, threatening and violence, say something and get involved. Enough is enough.
I send love and strength to all those impacted by Friday’s violence and to all those who have experienced violence, fear, and intimidation while attempting to access legal, reproductive healthcare in the United States of America.
Jillian Gilchrest served as the Executive Director of the Connecticut affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America from 2008-2011.
Young Women Rising encourages Connecticut women ages 18-35 to raise their voices about issues they care about. Each writer speaks for herself as an individual and Young Women Rising as a whole does not intend to endorse the views of any particular writer. If you’re interested in submitting a guest piece please contact us at Michelle.Noehren@cga.ct.gov.