Susan Wicklund: This Common Secret (2007)

The choice community has its share of triumphs in the war, but they hardly ever feel triumphant. Pledge-A-Picketer campaigns raise money through local citizens pledging money for each picketer who appears before a clinic. The money is set aside for indigent women. At the end of every month a newspaper ad thanks the picketers for raising so much money and helping needy women get abortions. It doesn't take long for the picketers to evaporate.

During the summer of 1991, in Appleton, Wisconsin, Operation Rescue waged a massive and lengthy sit-in at a clinic. They chained themselves together in front of the doors, chantin, "Mommy, don't kill me!" and pounding on the walls. Some protesters superglued their hands to the front doors. Court costs sapped the clinic budget to the point that staff could barely be paid. Local politicans took sides against abortion or remained silent.

Desperate, clinic owner Maggie Cage ran a full-page newspaper ad.

Where are you? Where are all the people we've helped over the years? We need you now. When you needed us we were there. We held your hand and supported you. We see you in restaurants and at the grocery store, at PTA meetings and softball games. You are the business people, the school officials, the politicians, the voters. We kept you safe. We held your secrets. But now we need help. Where are you?

The outpouring of support was overwhelming. Women wrote apologetic letters chastising themselves for being apathetic. They vowed to fight for the clinic. Financial donations revitalized the budget. The pro-choice community was revived.

The triumphs, reassuring as they are, have a bittersweet taste. Why should the fight be necessary in the first place? The time and resources squandered fighting the battle could be used to help women and provide more complete reproductive health care. And the bottom line? How many women, people who never appear in any statistical analysis, have been denied their fundamental, legal right to control their destinies because of legal restrictions or impossible circumstances imposed by the anti-choice onslaught?

Bildquelle: (2009)