Forty 4 Forty: Making Lemonade for Choice

Lon Newman

Picketers holding anti-abortion signs in front of our clinic seek to confuse the public about our services. We don't provide abortions. But the picketers underscore the true meaning of "anti-choice."

As providers, we recognize that the “Forty Days for Life” protests in front of our clinic bring us a lot of attention that can be put to good use. The picketing has resulted in many expressions of community support for Family Planning Health Services (FPHS) as well as a much higher level of visibility for the health care services we provide.

On the other hand, the anti-abortion signs persistently misrepresent what FPHS actually does – confusing the public about whether FPHS provides abortion (we do not and we are prohibited by our grant contracts from even making referrals). FPHS provides contraceptive services, provides all-options information, and we are prochoice.  That seems to be enough to draw the sanctimonious “prayer bullies” to our street corner . . . and soon they’ll be on yours.

These protests take place on the street corners of our nation, not just in our Central Wisconsin community, and it is important that the public and other health care providers know that they are opposed to contraception as well as abortion – that’s why they are picketing in Wausau.

Understanding that there is a need to connect the local to the state and the state to the national, FPHS is proudly supporting the newly launched “Forty 4 Forty” joint fund raising campaign of the Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Pro-Choice Wisconsin. FPHS, because we are clearly not an abortion provider, can play an important role for all primary health care providers in revealing that the picketers are anti-contraception as well as anti-abortion.

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The Forty4Forty campaign begins this week. A sign to solicit pledges for Forty 4 Forty will go up on our Wausau building tomorrow morning.

Last week, when one of the protestors said to me; “If they’re intimidated, that’s their problem,” he told me all I need to know.

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