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This is reprinted with permission of Charlotte Taft, Executive Director of the Abortion Care Network.

The Audacity of Goodness

By Charlotte Taft

December 8, 2009 - 7:00am

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."

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"

"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"


"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 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?

Originally posted to Hot Flash Report on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:44 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You know, it's really sad... (11+ / 0-)

    ...that the followers of Christ are so busy judging people that they forgot about that whole "Judge not..." thing.

    Nice diary, Ann, thanks.

    "IGNORE ME!" -The Galactic Grand Inquisitor

    by Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:02:49 AM PST

  •  What a great and important diary, annrose. (13+ / 0-)

    The sad truth is that this destructive and hateful anti-choice movement has managed for decades to control the conversation about reproductive freedom, to the point where even otherwise progressive people have come to think of a fetus as an "unborn child" to be protected from a woman's choice.  The point that sorely needs to be made is that a fetus can only be conferred rights by wresting them completely away from a woman.

  •  Abortion protesters are so vile, nasty (14+ / 0-)

    and mean spirited. They aren't fooling anybody with their "concern" for unborn babies.

    I'm not only a feminist, I'm an egalitarian. Abortion rights put women on equal footing with men in all sorts of ways. THAT'S what they're afraid of.

    I've seen those men that rant about womens' menstruation and the bible. They believe we're unnatural and cursed and they have the right to talk to us women like that.

    •  Even the Bible has nothing to say about (13+ / 0-)

      abortion.  This is entirely a misogynistic movement using religion and/or morality as an excuse.

      •  Not to mention, (10+ / 0-)

        women have had methods of abortion and purposeful miscarriage since the beginning of time and they will never stop. Alcohol poisoning, falling down the stairs on purpose, coat hangers etc..

        I was born the year Roe v Wade passed. Older women have shared with me so many horrifying stories about back alley clinics, botched abortions and death resulting from attempting home-remedy abortion the last 30+ years, I have never been anything but grateful for Roe v Wade.

        I wont allow them to take it away from me just because new fools have had 36 years NOT to hear these horrible stories and have no clue what a life (or death) is like for a women without this safe procedure.

    •  It's all about subjugation... (12+ / 0-)

      keeping women "in their place." Makes me ashamed to be a man sometimes.

      "Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." - Albert Schweitzer

      by Apost8 on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:15:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The movement in general is about that. (9+ / 0-)

        It's important to note, however, that many people on our own side of the aisle have bought into the "fetal rights" argument, and it's a mistake to assume that their reasons are overtly rooted in misogyny.  We need to approach it from a point of respect - they have come to this conclusion because they are seeing it from the perspective of the fetus deserving protection.  What we need to do is convince them that if one can only create rights and personhood for something by removing rights and diminishing the personhood of women, then it is inherently a wrongheaded effort.

        •  I think it is still misogyny. (8+ / 0-)

          They hate themselves; otherwise, how could they buy in to that hateful rhetoric?

          It's sad, but I believe it's true.

          It's not their fault however. They were carefully taught to hate their own bodies and to submit to whatever degradations were put upon them by their "betters."

          I know this, because that's what my own mother taught me, and I was born in the '50s. It was kind of a "women have no rights to be equal, so stop asking about it" kind of raising. My career choices (choices, ha!) were presented as teacher, nurse, or mother. All aspirations were discouraged. Menstrual blood was nasty and shameful.

          There are a whole bunch of women out there who have been taught that same way.

          Thankfully, I managed to rise above that crap and teach my own daughter -- and my son! -- differently.

          "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

          by Brooke In Seattle on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:51:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  True. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            annrose, milkbone, martydd, LeanneB

            My father used to make comments about dirty women and how they were far worse than dirty men because of "that thing down there". Vaginas are just inherently nasty things and God punishes us with the nasty blood. Fundamentalist teachings are misogynistic by nature.

            The few times I went to church I heard preachers comment on how people think nothing of drunk men on the street but a drunk woman is looked upon as much worse. For that, she is charged with accepting a double standard and limited in her life choices.

            Yep, as soon as they mention "the blood" I know what its about. My mother left my father because of shit like that. His misogyny, control, abuse, penchant for throwing away her birth control and knocking her up with over 7 kids in 10 years, ("The tree that doesn't bear fruit should be cut down!") and chauvinism ruined our family way back in the 80s. I'd like to see the divorce rate of some of those loons and the hidden stocks of birth control pills their wives have, if married.

        •  What about those who insist (6+ / 0-)

          that we can "compromise" with and "work with" these zealots? Who claim that there are "reasonable" antichoicers and that our shrill voices are keeping them from coming forward? That our "divisive absolutism" is hurting the progressive movement?

          Some of these people claim to be on our side. Some even post here on DKos.

          I say, if you think the so-called rights of a fetus--or a bundle of cells--or a "spirit of cooperation and compromise"--over the right of women to control their own bodies, choices, freedom and lives, YOU ARE NOT ON OUR SIDE.

          Full stop.

          If that makes me an unreasonable person in your eyes, tough shit. There is nothing "reasonable" about caving to fanatics.

      •  Don't you be ashamed because of those (8+ / 0-)

        masochists. This does not change my feelings for individual men in the least. Although, it is quite painfully apparent that the loudest, foulest-mouthed abortion protesters are men, no man should hang their head because of those new fools.

        Just make sure you point out to them in conversation should you ever meet one of those punks that the last thing a sexy, progressive, hot-blooded woman wants, is a red-faced crazy chauvinist. He can keep banging hookers on birth control in the alley for all we care. :-D

  •  Zealots oblivious to medically necessary abortion (13+ / 0-)

    FYI to ass-hats camped outside women's reproductive services clinics: some of the women getting abortions are married; the fetus was fertilized by their husband; and there are medical conditions which necessitate terminating the pregnancy like carrying a dead fetus.

    •  There was a diarist here on Kos (9+ / 0-)

      that wrote about an abortion she had to have 17 years ago or it would have killed her. It was not exactly a tubal pregnancy but it was in a more delicate place than that. The ultrasound nurse mentioned something about "God will work it out" as they were discussing her options. The nurse (NURSE--FOURS YEARS OF RN EDUCATION) was actually suggesting to her that she should risk her life and trust in God.

      It still upsets her after 17 years.

      Those people are sick. They think back to The Apple and decide our lot in life as women is TO DIE to bring life into this world because of something written in Genesis. And when did human beings become an endangered species?

      I dont want to hurt and die. I have had two babies and the factory is closed. The C-section with the first one was bad enough, the second one was the one that shut it down. I felt 45 minutes of torturous labor pain before I got the drugs and then I easily gave birth in 7 hours while still numb. I'm STILL not doing it again, and I had a cakewalk compared to other women with their 36 hour labor pains. I'd rather shoot myself.

      Walking upright and human babies big heads will not allow me to believe a bullshit Genesis story that says I'm SUPPOSED to be in that much pain. I know the pains of evolution. There's enough women having babies. My mother had 11. Human beings are going nowhere.

      Sorry about the long rant. Pro lifers get under my skin.

  •  It never ceases to amaze me (12+ / 0-)

    that these hate filled people pass themselves off as "pro-life" and only concerned about the children.  "Oh, the children ... the innocent children!"  

    It's obvious that they don't give a flying fuck about women.

    My dogs think I'm smart and pretty.

    by martydd on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:23:44 AM PST

  •  The truth is that they are protesting against (5+ / 0-)

    themselves and their girlfriends, sisters, aunts, mothers, grandmothers, brothers, uncles, fathers, and boyfriends.  

    And they know it.  There are no ‘others’.

    I wish this was part of the rebuttal.


    I have never known anyone who has had an abortion that was an atheist.   They are members of the protestor’s flocks that are against this from a religious point of view.

    Asante and peace

    The lion does not turn around when a small dog barks.

    by mawazo on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:39:07 AM PST

    •  I do (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annrose, mawazo

      I have never known anyone who has had an abortion that was an atheist.

      In fact, if you went to any atheist blog, I'm sure you'd find women who have had abortions, just as you'd find any other kind of person. There are even some atheists (Nat Hentoff being the best known) who are anti-abortion.

      Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

      by milkbone on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 10:31:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I will do my best to be clear as I see (0+ / 0-)

        I have used the wrong nomenclature (atheist).  

        Honestly, I kick myself because I should try harder to refrain from commenting and just stick to reading as proper English is not my first language.  ;^)

        I, mawazo, have never personally been aware of anyone (from my youth when abortions were being obtained by my peers) who was not religious or a member of church.

        I agree that you'd find any other kind of person that has had abortions which was part of what I was trying to articulate and reflect back to the protestors.

        Part of the title of this post, Loose women burn in Hell, reminded me that, often (I realize I am generalizing) protestors of abortion are practicing members of their religion of choice and they are not only protesting against another citizen/sister: chances are they could also be protesting (calling a whore etc.) against another religious person who is a member of their particular religion as well.

        Which just seems extra mean to me, I would like them to be called out on this ‘othering’ that they do and face the reality that if 1 in 3 women have an abortion then one could be right next to them keeping it a secret.


        The lion does not turn around when a small dog barks.

        by mawazo on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 12:25:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why is it "extra mean" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          milkbone, mawazo

          to protest against someone of your own religion?

          The fundamental problem with you approach is that another citizen's religion is irrelevant, just as another human being's religion is irrelevant.

          Citizens should all be treated equally, regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack of them.

          Human beings should all be treated equally, regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack of them).

          End of story.

          Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

          by RandomActsOfReason on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 01:17:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RandomActsOfReason, mawazo

      I have never known anyone who has had an abortion that was an atheist.

      I don't understand what you're trying to assert here. Is this intended as a corollary of "There are no atheists in foxholes"?

      Or is it just a matter-of-fact corollary of "I don't know very many atheists"? (Or "the atheists I know have never mentioned having abortions"?)

      If the former, that's a very ugly sentiment.

  •  As a start toward getting abortion covered in (4+ / 0-)

    the health care reform bill, may I suggest the Sarah Palin Compromise amendment?

    As Palin recently revealed, she herself had a D&C some years ago (for which she does not have the least regret). The doctor's office originally wrote this up as an abortion, but someone whited this out and re-typed miscarriage in the space -- a correction which Palin fully supports and defends.  

    Obviously, then, a D&C in itself is not an abortion, at least in the eyes of some who otherwise oppose abortion, and there is no reason why D&Cs performed by clinics should not be fully covered under certain circumstances.  

    Therefore an amendment to the anti-abortion Stupak amendment, the Sarah Palin Compromise amendment, which would allow coverage of (and payment for) D&Cs in cases such as Palin's (where the fetus showed no sign of life, or was medically determined to have no chance of survival) should logically be supported by a number of legislators who otherwise oppose the funding of such operations.  

    Ah, logically.  There's the rub.  Even though such an amendment would be logically consistent with their claimed position, even Palin's admirers and supporters probably would find reasons to oppose such an amendment.

    Still, as a thought experiment I think it would be an interesting amendment to put forward.  It would not be adequate in the long term, and would cover only a small fraction of the medical care women are entitled to receive.  But this would cover women in the most dire circumstances, the women who most often seek late term abortions, and it would cover women who have incomplete abortions.  As something which pro-choice people and the Palinist wing of the anti-abortion people can find theoretical common ground on, it would make an interesting start in the right direction.

  •  Cripes... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annrose, OHdog, GenXangster

    lets cut down the forests in order to save the acorns.... and once you have the acorns?... well just throw them around on the ground, they're on their own.  They only care about the "child" until it's born and after that..not so much

    I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused

    by piratedan on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 09:15:20 AM PST

  •  I wonder what prolifers think about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annrose, Nova Land

    the babies that have been literally thrown away by teenagers and scared children. In some cases, the baby died. My mother knew a young girl back in the early 70s that she suspects drowned her own 2 year old. It haunts her because she knew that beautiful baby and she knew the girl (16 years old) very well and she was not ready to be a mother. Pregnant at 14 and her mom kicked her out. Just sad stuff.

    Who should be punished? The male who knocked them up? A child who had no capacity to really know right from wrong? Couldn't this have all been prevented from the beginning with sex education and widely available (and free--thank you Planned Parenthood) birth control and it would have changed the outcome for the better?

    No. She'd just better...not do it. So what does a guy have to do to get laid the first time (or anytime)? Pay hookers? Is Jesus ok with that?

  •  Why do ant-choice people allow abortion for (6+ / 0-)

    incest and rape?  

    Because, I suppose, the woman was an unwilling object of either act.

    In other words, getting pregnant was not her fault.

    Why then, is the fetus worth saving if the woman has sex willingly, and is NOT worth saving if forced?  

    How has that fetus suddenly become less valuable?  Is it still not a person to the anti-choice people?
    If it is  a person, then why is it OK to abort the fetus if the pregnancy was due to rape or incest?

    It is an issue of who controls a woman's body.  

    A woman who chooses abortion is in charge of her own body.  A woman who chooses to have the baby regardless of circumstances is in control of her own body.  

    Either way, it is her decision alone, not the state's and not anyone else's either.  The decision must be the woman's only, not anyone else's decision.  

    She must be the owner and director of her own body.

    To do otherwise is to say that the state owns a woman's body, or her husband owns her body, or her religion owns her body.

  •  And if these rabid anti-abortion people (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annrose, Nova Land, martydd, GenXangster

    invested the same or greater time, energy, and money into dealing with the needs of the already born, think of what could be accomplished. I do not see these same people gnashing their teeth over the fact that one in five children in America lack adequate nutrition, access to medical care, and other basic needs.

    The anti-abortion crowd do nothing to prevent the root causes of unwanted pregnancy. Many oppose contraception. Many do not recognize the financial burdens, health considerations, or emotional limitations that lead a woman to consider terminating a pregnancy. The myth created by the anti-abortion crowd to vilify women is that abortion is just another form of birth control when the women are wrestling with the issues of parenthood. The anti-abortion crowd also fail to acknowledge that there health considerations in carrying a child to term.

    The uninsured keep dying. Death to AHIP!

    by DWG on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 09:29:20 AM PST

  •  From a friend of mine... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nova Land

    Some thoughts on the Charlotte Taft article.
    I am so glad to learn about the love and warmth expressed in her clinic. Abortion care has come so far from the early 1970's. At that time, as a Nurse Practitioner, I would send college students off from GA to NY for abortions. It was so many women, so impersonal. Now women an safely make the decision near their home and receive the care they deserve.

    I have walked women into clinics past the shouting protestors - been spit upon and called horrible names. I wonder where all that hate comes from. After all, these are people were sent from Jesus....... I think all of them have some abnormal reason for being there. And why are men so against abortion? It isn't as though they are raising the child as a single parent. Where are all the adoptions of these babies who are brought into the world either unwanted or unable to be cared for? Perhaps we could get the names and addresses of those in the protest and present them with new born babies -- black, Hispanic, mixed. I don't see them adopting those babies.

    Maybe we should ship all the protestors to Afghanistan -- then they would have an enemy to fight.

    Abortion Clinics OnLine, the world's largest source for online abortion clinic information since 1995.

    by annrose on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 12:14:21 PM PST

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