The Audacity of Goodness

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The Audacity of Goodness

Charlotte Taft

When abortion provider Renee Chelian created a video called “Every Day, Good Women Choose Abortion” all she was thinking about was what would be good for her patients. In return, she is being violently attacked by anti-choice forces.

When abortion provider Renee Chelian created a video called “Every Day, Good Women Choose Abortion” for her Northland Family Planning Clinics, all she was thinking about was what would be good for her patients.

Chelian, a long time member of the Abortion Care Network,  is the Executive Director of three clinics in Detroit. She has spent the last 33 years offering the highest quality medical care, combined with compassionate attention to her patients’ emotional well-being.  On her website a letter to patients includes these words:

The discussion that centers on a woman’s right to an abortion is so much bigger than any debate OR any law. It’s about my heart, a woman’s heart, and both the right and responsibility of bringing a child into the world… women of all ages need to make these decisions with people who care for them, people they trust.

A sign in the clinic reads: “We do sacred work that honors women and the circle of life and death. When you come here bring only love.”

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973,  over 45 million women have had legal abortions in the United States. It is estimated that one in three women will have an abortion during her lifetime.

And for 36 years the anti-choice forces have waged a well-financed and nearly unopposed war of words to shame and demean women. They don’t even try to hide their hatred and disdain for us. Outside our clinics the ‘sidewalk counselors’  scream "The blood from your crotch will rise up against you, you whores" , “Satan will drink your baby’s blood and you will die”, and "Loose women burn in Hell."

We can see from the shame and silence of 45 million women that the propaganda has been effective.

So, for Chelian, it only made sense to remind women of their own basic goodness. Her video reflects the truth that abortion providers know:

"Every day,  good women choose abortion", and "To have an abortion is a normal experience."

It reminds us that goodness is:

Courage, honesty, wisdom, risking for what you believe is right for you, making choices that you believe are good for yourself. Goodness is not perfection, it is not obedience, and it is not martyrdom. 

If you have made the decision to have an abortion, and are having a hard time feeling good about yourself and remembering that you are a good person, let us remind you and help you see the goodness in yourself and your choice.

She put the video on her website. But she wanted to reach more women.

When Renee posted the video on Youtube the anti’s went ballistic.
The XM Satellite radio station WILCOW-XM has been playing the recordings over and over and telling their listeners to call and complain, which of course is jamming the clinic’s phone lines.

The antis have bombarded the clinic with vile, unprintable attacks over the phones directed at the staff.  Comments on Youtube included:

“If you are ripped to shreds…just like the unborn children you’ve murdered…it would be just” and “Bottom feeding serial killers of unborn children with no voice to protest their murder!” and  “This is a very shallow attempt at pandering to weak minded people who would rather kill their children when it is inconvenient so the clinic can make more money.”

LifeSite, an anti-abortion on-line newsletter, headed its article “Michigan Abortion Facility Advertizes Abortion as ‘Sacred Work’”. Of course their conclusion was that “The videos are just the latest attempts by Northland to make abortion seem as attractive as possible.”

The fear-based hatred has been overwhelming.  For now Chelian has taken the video off  YouTube, but the horrible calls continue.  She is seeking help from authorities. The video  is still on her website, and will also be shown to each patient in the clinic.

Abortion providers have known the kind of people who make these calls for years. The rest of the country has just been introduced to them as they stalk health care, vilify and threaten the President, spread their bile and display their hatred. It is very important not to abandon women and the men who care about them to the cruelty of the anti abortion forces.

Their arguments are based on their belief that women are stupid–that we don’t know that abortion is about life and death—and that we do not recognize that it is not just our right, but our responsibility to decide whether and when to bring new life into the world through our bodies. Theirs is a bankrupt movement of moral hypocrisy. They lost even the claim to their own name when they started shooting us.

Whether it is Rene Chelian’s "Goodness" videos, a banner that says, "When You Come Here Bring Only Love", a poster that reads, "We Honor Your Dreams", putting our patients’ words in hearts on the walls, making patient journals available in our waiting rooms, or our willingness to acknowledge that of course abortion is a complex emotional experience, the antis react by attacking us because there is nothing else they can think of.

But America needs to hear from us.  When the experience and voice of independent providers and the women we serve is truly part of the national conversation about abortion we will see a transformation.

In 1964 the poet Muriel Rukeyser wrote “If one woman told the truth about her life, the world would split open.” She may have been over-optimistic about the power of the voice of just one woman.

But how about 45 million?