Less than a mile from New Hampshire’s State House in Concord is the Feminist Health Center on Main Street, an abortion facility from way back. It was founded 39 years ago, just a year after Roe v. Wade. The homey little building is easy to miss on a normal day, with only a modest sign to distinguish it from nearby residences.
Last Saturday wasn’t a normal day. Hundreds of pro-life activists, including myself, marched peacefully from the State House to St. John’s church for New Hampshire’s annual March for Life, passing the FHC and its chanting supporters along the way. The FHC’s tiny front lawn was scattered with little signs bearing assorted messages. In the midst of them was a much larger sign, professionally made and carefully installed, with three words: “Civility. Compassion. Love.”
Put aside for the moment the fact that the dozen or so people chanting at us were carrying things like a handmade drawing of a fried egg (or was it poached?) with the legend “This is not a chicken.” The clumsy slogan and kiddie art on poster board at least looked like an authentic un-staged production. But that big sign? That one came from the pros.
“Civility. Compassion. Love.” Warm words for such a cold setting. Tried-and-tested, slick, polished focus-group words. Striking and thought-provoking words. There was no sign for “Choice” on the lawn. “Choice” has apparently worn out its welcome, as one poll after another has driven home the point that choice means something very different to the average American than it does to the average abortion-facility worker. Roe needs new slogans.
Of course it needs them, since the plain language of the decision is insufficient to support the industry that has grown up around it.
Under Roe, according to the Supreme Court, parental notification for minors’ abortions is allowed, as long as there’s a judicial bypass. No parent can stop an abortion under these laws. Decisions based on Roe have affirmed that there may be limits on government funding of abortion. Courts have upheld laws against partial-birth abortion, since nothing in Roe or the decisions flowing from it require that we tolerate a procedure to pull a fetus partway out of its mother before the abortionist gets to the main event. Roe allows for the collection of abortion statistics and other oversight to ensure that abortion providers aren’t harming women. Roe allows informed-consent measures such as notifying the pregnant women of the developmental stage of the fetus.
I have heard a representative of FHC testify against each and every one of these measures in New Hampshire, saying they limit access to abortion. She celebrates Roe nonetheless, trusting that a future Supreme Court will roll back all oversight.
In my state, there’s no requirement that abortions be done by a physician or a nurse practitioner. No licensing or training requirements exist. There is no informed consent requirement. There is no need to report to the state how many abortions are done, never mind if a woman is injured or killed as a result. No one in New Hampshire who touts “safe” abortion can point to objective data confirming the alleged “safety” for the woman undergoing the procedure, whether the abortion is surgical or chemical. And still FHC’s supporters are concerned that New Hampshire now does too much to suppress Roe.
That’s not compassion. It sure isn’t love. I would even go so far as to say it isn’t civil. It’s outrageous.
And the aborted children? It’s unclear if last weekend’s fried-egg poster outside FHC is reflective of the pre-abortion counseling offered to FHC clients. I see no compassion for the children who are denied their very birth, and I see no civility in any policy that pits women against their children.
The new tagline on display at FHC means that three more words might go the way of “choice,” being misused and distorted. It’s left to pro-life activists to make sure no one can forget what civility, compassion, and love really mean.