What I Did On My Fall Break
Steven D. Martin printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Oct 31, 2006 at 05:07:45 PM EST

Last week I had the opportunity to take my family on a week-long journey through the heart of the very best of our country. It was a powerful exercise in experiencing the highs and lows of America, the good and the bad, and a few incredible ironies. We traveled to Pennsylvania, the land of the Amish (we stayed for three days on a farm only four miles from the October school shootings), of Independence Hall; of Rick Santorum, and of the most horrific display of obscenity I've ever witnessed: the Abortion Trucks of the Center for Bioethical Reform (caution: a video of an abortion being performed appears on the Center's home page).

Let me frame this for a moment: I caught a glimpse of one of the trucks in Lancaster a couple of days before, but none of my four kids saw them. (My oldest child is twelve, and my triplets are eight years old. You can clearly see that I don't practice, or approve of, abortion.) We were in Philadelphia and I had just come from the building that houses the Liberty Bell. I was already outraged. To get in to see the Liberty Bell we had to stand in line for twenty minutes, waiting to go through a security screening area more rigorous than that of Newark airport. Oops- bad example. I had to take my jacket and watch off - surrounded by Wackenhut employees - put all my personal belongings in a tray to go through an X-Ray machine, and then deal with my kids who were all intimidated by the experience. I walked through a fortified checkpoint to go see a symbol of... freedom.

When we left the Liberty Bell National Security Complex and breathed free air again, we walked down the street toward Ben Franklin's grave. I believe it was Franklin that uttered something about those willing to give up freedom for security and how they deserve neither freedom nor security. On the corner was the first ghastly sight- a young teenage girl standing in front of a plackard with an aborted fetus on it. "Good," I said to myself, "none of the kids noticed it." I was wrong. My oldest son saw it and looked away.

Then the trucks came rolling by. Two of them. They were in downtown Philly and rush-hour traffic, so needless to say, they didn't move quickly. My younger kids strained to see what those trucks had on them- strange, bright red shapes. We suddenly had to do a lot of explaining that we had not planned on doing for a few years.

The thing we had to explain was different than what the "Choice Truck" people wanted us to talk about. We didn't talk about the evils of abortion, how the doctor had advised us to "selectively reduce" our triplet pregnancy to insure the health of one or two of our children, and how we chose life, and how they should too. We talked instead about fanatics who do disgusting and morally reprehensible things, how some people choose the wrong venue to make statements. We talked about how sorry we were that they had seen these ghastly sights in a place that celebrates the best of America, a place supposedly safe for families. We were disgusted, yes: not by abortion, but by abortion protesters.

The abortion trucks are obscene. They should be prosecuted under obscenity laws. But more than that, they represent a fundamental failure of communication present in our society today. I do not like abortion any more than anyone else; but I realize it is too complex and loaded an issue to be legislated by men in expensive suits making speeches. I also recognize that the issue of life must also be cast beyond abortion and joined with capital punishment and with warmaking.

I have lived through the experience of seeing a friend end a pregnancy after five months due to a genetic defect that led to her having a baby with no brain, and then live through the experience a second time - two years to the day later. I have also seen her turned away from a support group for women with miscarriages because she "had an abortion." We all have such stories to tell.

There are a lot of places for this debate, just not on the streets of Lancaster, Philadelphia, or any other hometown. And, the abortion trucks are likely to have the opposite effect their sponsors would like to produce.

OK, I'll concede- the "abortion trucksters" feel that they can't raise awareness any other way, perhaps.  "This is war," they might say.  But surely there is a place where a civil discussion CAN take place.  Where is it?

by Steven D. Martin on Tue Oct 31, 2006 at 05:09:47 PM EST
that the fanatics who drive truth trucks are not. This is a subject that has been widely discussed in our society for a long time, and since long before Roe. vs Wade.

As you say, the subject of abortion, (which is not up for discussion and debate on this site, btw), is not best decided by men making speeches in expensive suits.

Abortion, history shows, has always been with us; and it has moral, legal and medical considerations. However, for a signficant part of society, any view but their own is inherently wrong, ungodly, and criminal.

If we read their materials, read their books, and listen to their speeches and sermons, we learn that the concern for them is not only abortion -- indeed, they are very often the determined enemies of freedom of conscience on many fronts:   And that is why we have this site, to learn about and to discuss them and figure out what we can do to protect all of our rights against the would-be tyrants.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Oct 31, 2006 at 05:34:42 PM EST

Many residents of Philly share your observations on the "security" arrangements.  
Quite a jarring contrast to the sites being "protected."
Sorry your family was exposed to the hatemonger visual displays while on vacation.

There are no levels of sin in God's eyes, correct?  So they might as well protest "little white lies" as a defense of beliefs?

by nofundy on Fri Nov 03, 2006 at 02:51:39 PM EST

The pictures of the fetus on the abortion trucks are not even accurate - They claim that is a 12 week fetus - well, a 12 week fetus is less than an inch long, doesn't look look human (more like a shrimp) and is grey in color so not only are the pictures obscene but they are misrepresentative and deliberately made to horrible - an appeal to the emotions (again).

The pro-lifers need a double sized helping of "Mind your own business".  What is right for them is not necessarily so for the other guy and they just can't seem to get it.

by Concerned on Fri Nov 03, 2006 at 06:12:26 PM EST

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