Mississippi showdown

Antiabortion protesting in Mississippi gets wild.

Published July 18, 2006 8:40PM (EDT)

There are some unbelievable stories coming out of Jackson, Miss., this week, where antiabortion protesters are staging eight days of rallies outside the state's only abortion clinic.

According to a story in the Clarion-Ledger, the face-off between members of Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue) and pro-choice activists from a variety of organizations, including the National Organization for Women, has led to nine arrests, along with slashed tires and the strange "false report" that a fetus had been found in a bank. Protesters were cited for violating noise ordinances and blocking traffic.

Today, the Ledger has an update on Day 4 of protests, and reports that yesterday, some of the antiabortion protesters' bloody-fetus posters were confiscated. Apparently, police this morning also confiscated the antiabortion activists' loudspeaker. They continued their rally, however, with the use of a bullhorn.

Today, according to the Ledger, the clinic scheduled all its appointments to be done by 7:30 in the morning and had shut its doors by the time the more than 50 protesters arrived.

Worth checking out is the photo gallery on the Clarion-Ledger's site, which includes a picture of the Rev. Bill Shanks of the New Covenant Fellowship in Kenner, La., signing a "National Emancipation Proclamation for the Pre-born Child." In fact, much of the antiabortion protest seems to have appropriated the language of the civil rights movement, including "We Shall Overcome."

I don't know about you, but I find the equation of institutionalized racial discrimination (and slavery) to the termination of pregnancy far more sickening than any graphic images activists want to throw in my face. In evoking the language of the abolitionist and civil rights movements, protesters are rewriting some of the most fundamental chapters in American history in a particularly grotesque manner. The aim, after all, of the antiabortion movement is to rob women (and men) of some of the most fundamental rights they know: the rights to control their own bodies.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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