(Content note: antichoice violence and intimidation tactics)
A “pro-life” group in NZ has decided to post an article at their website screaming blue (baby-)murder about the latest smear campaign against Planned Parenthood in the United States.
And wouldn’t you know it, there I am! Standing on the right with some friends from ALRANZ and the thoroughly inspirational Cecile Richards. It was taken at a Family Planning conference in 2014, where according to Prolife NZ, Ms Richards
[was] flown [in] … to train up New Zealand abortion activists on rolling out their US style abortion strategy to New Zealand
… or, if you’re not a religious extremist who hates women, “gave a keynote speech at a conference.”
The actual “accusations” against Planned Parenthood this time are the usual laughable slurs, presented in a heavily-edited, one might almost say dishonestly-presented video. Trying to make a connection to New Zealand Family Planning just because they got the head of PP to talk to their conference one time is the same (poor) calibre of argument.
But here’s the irony. As Prolife NZ try to smear ALRANZ and Family Planning over their “close ties” to the USA prochoice movement, they’re importing the dishonest, abusive tactics of the USA antichoice movement wholesale. From the absolute beat-up of a story which has zero credibility and even less relevance to the state of abortion in New Zealand, right down to the intimidation tactics: posting pictures of people without their consent and deliberately naming them in order to direct hostility at them.
If you think that’s an overreaction, consider this comment left on Prolife NZ’s Facebook – under a photo of me and my friends.
That’s right. Go to a conference to hear a woman talk, get people on Facebook wishing violent dismemberment on you.
This kind of thing is usually met with defensive cries of “oh but we don’t support violence” (though they’ve left the comment up.) It’s nonsense. When Dr George Tiller was murdered in 2009, prominent antichoicers even tried to deny that his assassin, Scott Roeder, was part of their movement – despite a 20-year history of antichoice activism.
But there is simply no other plausible explanation for Prolife NZ’s post than intimidation. There is no significant connection between Planned Parenthood’s services and ALRANZ. There is no need to reproduce a year-old photo, and no need to name three of the women in it, except to make them targets for hatred (and hopefully not worse).
The New Zealand antichoice movement has form for this; a few years back there was even a wiki maintained of prochoice activists, with photos and records of events they’d attended.
It’s bullying. It’s intimidation. And it perfectly illustrates the real goal of the “pro-life” movement: to keep women in their place.
Here’s what I have to say to that.