NANCY EDMONDS HANSON: After Thought — A Tale Of Two Protests

So, The Forum’s antiabortion columnist is shocked — shocked! — that WDAY broadcast a story on the Red River Women’s Clinic’s need for more volunteer escorts during the stepped-up protests of the nationwide “40 Days of Life.” She says, “(Their story) reads like an advertisement for our state’s only abortion clinic” and calls it a “stab in the heart.”

As a leader of the perennial protests herself, the writer attests that the clinic — which has faced protests each and every week since its inception in the 1980s — “has plenty of volunteers to handle client-escorting,” along with “regular training and the donning of new ‘pro-choice escort vests’ to make themselves more obvious.”

She contrasts the clinic’s volunteers with her own group, “sidewalk advocates who come to pray and offer life-giving alternatives and discourage distressed souls from a lifetime of regret.”

No problem there. All involved are exercising their right of free speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment. But, she says, there’s an issue after all: The defenders of women’s legally guaranteed right to make their own reproductive choices are — ready for this? — outshouting and outmarching her own group of marching shouters.

She writes, “Increasingly, these pro-choice ‘helpers’ have taken to blocking us physically and verbally from reaching the women with these safe, loving options.” At the same time, she assures readers that one and all within her mushrooming crowd are peaceful, prayerful, loving and above all local, despite very clearly being part of a well-funded and well-organized national campaign that dates back to 1973.

Hmm. How dastardly that their loud and ugly hectoring, grisly fetus placards and potentially threatening physical presence can be defied by unpaid civilian volunteers whom she feels have mercenary motives (since the state’s only facility that performs abortions is a for-profit business). Nasty, dirty capitalists! Their dupes — i.e., the hundreds of volunteers who disagree with her troops — clearly share their nefarious greedy motives.

That’s why the WDAY story that covered the clinic’s preparations for the annual all-out gathering of “sidewalk advocates” so bothers her. How dare they carry a story that, she concludes, favors the interests of the fully legal and fully licensed health-care facility, its patients and the very substantial portion of the American public who do not agree with the religious dictums followed by the columnist and her “prayer warriors”?

Let’s add some perspective here.

What if this crowd of “prayer warriors” engaged in spiritually inspired protest wasn’t disrupting pedestrians and traffic on a busy downtown street … but, instead, was gathered along a remote state highway west of the Missouri River?

What if their supporters, including many who travel hundreds of miles to join the protest, were not housed in nearby churches, members’ homes or motels … but in tents on the open prairie miles from public amenities?

What if, instead of interfering in women’s entirely legal and personal health-care decisions, endorsed a hundred times by the American courts … all those peaceful, spiritual, praying, singing women, children and men were inspired to sacrifice their time and energy to protect Creation’s life-giving waters from those pursuing the ultimate in mercenary, dollar-debased motives?

What if their number included some in traditional prairie garb, rather than the occasional habit?

And what if the “troops” they faced weren’t a loosely organized group of T-shirt-clad volunteer escorts whose sincerity and commitment mirrors their own? What if, instead, they stood before a militaristic force of uniformed, heavily armed and armored professionals in riot gear called up by their own government and paid by their own taxes to disrupt, malign and punish them for expressing their constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech?

Not just in the summer and fall of 2016. Every single week for almost 40 years.

Oh, that could never happen in North Dakota.


(I’m not linking to the column in question because I see no need to get her more clicks. You probably should take a look, though. I’d suggest picking up a used newspaper left behind in a booth at a coffee shop.)

4 thoughts on “NANCY EDMONDS HANSON: After Thought — A Tale Of Two Protests”

  • Larry Gauper October 2, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Thoughtful column again, Nancy, shedding light on this. I wasn’t aware the Forum had an “anti-abortion” columnist. Maybe I don’t read the paper thoroughly enough.. I am totally for the constitutional right of women to make their own choices with their own body and I’m also tired of the Roman church’s continued pushing of this unconstitutional issue and other political causes, including their love for Donald Trump. This, of course, is in defiance of their 5013c “religious organization” tax break. Good piece, however, the linkage to the pipeline protesters seems a little weak to me. Keep up your excellent advocacy for responsible journalism.

  • Grandma October 2, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    As someone who worked at Fargo Women’s Health in the 1980s I can assure you that the women coming to the Red River Clinic (like those who came to FWH) are well aware of their options and have made the decision they feel is best for them. They do not need “sidewalk counselors,” whose main objective is to harass, intimidate, and frighten. Unlike those fighting the oil pipeline, for whom their physical presence is important, the “prayer warriors” could do whatever it is they think they’re doing from their kitchen tables.

  • Big Tobacco October 2, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    Does anyone know where you can get free morning after pills? I’d like my gf to take them like morning daily vitamins. Thank you.

    1. Andy Rodrigues October 3, 2016 at 2:00 am

      I find myself oddly in agreement with you, for once…..


Leave a Reply