Friday, March 30, 2012

The Best News, Maybe Ever, in the Conflict over Abortion Rights – Todd Stave, A Victim Fights Back

And in a Rare Act of Journalism, Washington Post Exposes Reprehensible Tactics of Abortion Rights Opponents

The battle over abortion rights which includes protesting is one sided.  Those who are opposed to abortion rights mount huge disruptive protests against those who provide abortion services, and sometimes they destroy the property and the lives of men and women who are exercising a legal right to perform abortions. Those who support those rights do very little demonstrating.  They certainly do not target anti-abortion rights individuals.

Ricky Carioti/THE WASHINGTON POST - Todd Stave
at his home in Rockville, Md. Stave founded a group,
 Voice for Choice to turn the tables on the anti-abortion protesters
 harassing his family. The group now has about
three thousand volunteers.

Now the Washington Post has a story of how one man is fighting back, not to deny protesters the right of free speech, which he defends, but to fight back at their harassment and vicious tactics that are aimed at disrupting and maybe destroying people’s lives.  First of all the individual, Todd Stave,  who is the target is not conducting abortions himself, he is merely the property owner leasing the building.

Stave is the landlord of a medical clinic in Germantown that offers abortions. Reproductive Health Services Clinic became a big focus of anti-abortion protesters when it was leased to LeRoy Carhart, one of the few doctors in the nation who acknowledges performing late-term abortions.

Also, he is not attempting to stop protests at abortion clinics, in fact he even defends the rights of protestors to do so.

There are always protesters outside the office park property quietly praying or holding a vigil, with signs, rosaries, statues of Mary and bloody, gory posters of mangled fetuses.

“Totally appropriate. It’s their right. They are protected by the First Amendment. And outside the clinic is probably the most appropriate place for them to express their views,” he told me this week.

But the protestors were not willing to stop at just exercising their right.  They mounted a full scale disruption of the private life of  this individual. 

But his harassers crossed the line last fall, when a big group showed up at his daughter’s middle school on the first day of classes and again at back-to-school night. They had signs with his name and contact information as well as those awful images of the fetuses.

“What parent wants to have that conversation with an 11-year-old on the first day of school?” he fumed.
There should be no mistake about what is going on here.  These groups have moved beyond peaceful and lawful protest to acts of terrorism.  Terrorism can be defined at coercing individuals to behave in a way that they otherwise would not behave through acts that create intimidation and fear.  These so-called protesters are not exercising their right to free speech, they are trying to terrorize their targets and the fact that they do what they do completely eliminates any legitimacy or morality to their position.  That the courts allow such activity is testament that the courts themselves do not understand those who exploit free speech to engage in terrorist activity.

But this gentleman has struck back with the help of thousands of friends, some of whom he didn’t even know he had.

 Friends asked him how they could help. He began to take the names and phone numbers down of anyone who contacted him with an unwanted call. And he gave those lists to his friends and asked them to call these folks back.

“In a very calm, very respectful voice, they said that the Stave family thanks you for your prayers,” he said. “They cannot terminate the lease, and they do not want to. They support women’s rights.”

This started with a dozen or so friends, then grew. Soon, there were more than a thousand volunteers dialing.

If they could find the information, Stave’s callers would even ask the family how their children were doing, and mention their names and the name of their school. “And then we’d tell them that we bless their home on such and such street,” giving them their address.

In some cases, the family of a protester who called Stave’s home could get up to 5,000 calls in return.

Of course, this merely resulted in these reprehensible people engaging in even more reprehensible acts because that what’s reprehensible people do.

While he was out in California, his neighborhood was canvassed with fliers depicting Stave in a Nazi uniform, with graphic photos of Holocaust victims and mangled fetuses. And it had all of his contact information as well as phone numbers and addresses for other family members.

“It wasn’t random. They knew I’d be gone and they wanted my daughters and neighbors to find them,” he said.

On Monday, a protester showed up outside of his brother-in-law’s Rockville dental office, protesting abortion where molars were being extracted.

“How was your trip to San Francisco?” the protester asked Stave, when he arrived at the dental office to confront him.

Seriously? Confronting patients getting cavities filled with horrifying posters of a ripped up fetus is a reasonable protest tactic?

And these folks don’t seem to care if children are around for the show. One year, the March for Life protesters leaving the Mall poured into the playground of my child’s pre-K school, slapping stickers on their jackets and putting fliers into the hands of 4-year-olds . The police were called to get them out.

So yes, this will continue.  But hopefully the publicity of the WP story along with the revulsion even rational opponents of abortion rights should feel at these tactics may mean that some of this will end.  In the meantime, anyone who doubts the age of heroes is over would be mistaken.  Mr. Stave is surely one, one man with the courage to confront and fight evil.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to The DPE! Until I read this article I had almost lost the will to live in this country. Thank Poseidon that a man like this, and his supporters, are still around and willing to fight, what really is domestic terrorism!