40 Days Spreads to the UK

Today’s guest post comes from Philippa Willitts is a British freelance writer, who also blogs for The F-Word, Where’s the Benefit? and her own personal blog. She can be found procrastinating on twitter both personally (@incurablehippie) and professionally (@philippawrites), and she enjoys good food, good friends, and nature.

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It is often said that what happens in America will eventually come over here to the UK. Even those things that we think would never catch on in our rather different culture can make a surprising appearance a year or two after we’ve been shocked about it happening in the States. And while there has always been anti-abortion activism here, some of the anti-choice tactics in the US are unfortunately occurring in Britain more and more frequently.

British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) is the UK’s largest abortion provider. While terminations are available for free on the National Health Service (NHS), there is sometimes a waiting list that is long enough to make women look for private alternatives. A campaign called 40 Days for Life has taken up residence outside one of BPAS’s clinics in London and is holding what they describe as ‘prayer vigils.’

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Abby Johnson’s Story Doesn’t Hold Water

Remember when we told you about the Planned Parenthood clinic director in Texas who quit her job to join the 40 Days for Life wingnuts? Well, Abby Johnson is back in the news – this time because her story of experiencing a radical change of heart just isn’t holding up to scrutiny. According to Texas Monthly, portions of Abby Johnson’s story may have been fabricated to cover up the real reason for her departure from Planned Parenthood – slipping job performance.

The rollout of Abby Johnson as a culture-war celebrity got off to a rocky start. In early November, the online magazine Salon reported that on September 27, the day after Johnson says she witnessed the ultrasound-guided abortion and had her epiphany, she appeared as a guest on the Bryan public radio program Fair and Feminist to discuss her work at the clinic. In the hour-long interview, Johnson gives an enthusiastic defense of the clinic and ridicules the 40 Days for Life protest. She doesn’t sound like someone who’d had a life-changing experience the previous day or who had soured on her employer’s mission . . .

Johnson’s departure from Planned Parenthood turned out to be a more complex story than it first appeared. At a court hearing for an injunction sought by Planned Parenthood to prevent Johnson from divulging confidential information to her new allies, two of Johnson’s former co-workers testified that she told them in the days before she resigned that she was afraid she was about to be fired. At one time, Johnson, who was named the regional Planned Parenthood affiliate’s employee of the year in 2008, seemed to have a promising future with the organization. By mid-2009, however, her relationship with her employer had begun to deteriorate. Salon reported that on October 2, Johnson was summoned to Houston to meet with her supervisors to discuss problems with her job performance. She was placed on what Planned Parenthood calls a “performance improvement plan.” It was just three days later, on Monday, that Johnson made her tearful appearance at the Coalition for Life. The following day she faxed Planned Parenthood a resignation letter, which mentioned nothing about a crisis of conscience . . . [Read more...]

Planned Parenthood Clinic Director Quits, Citing Change of Heart

flip-flopsI’m a little conflicted about a story that I read on Faux News, and in Reuters. The story is about a woman named Abby Johnson, who recently quit her job as a Planned Parenthood clinic director in Bryan, Texas. According to the story on Fox:

‘When I was working at Planned Parenthood I was extremely pro-choice,” Johnson told FoxNews.com. But after seeing the internal workings of the procedure for the first time on an ultrasound monitor, “I would say there was a definite conversion in my heart … a spiritual conversion.”

Faux News goes onto say that Johnson was becoming disheartened by the big cash cow of the “abortion industry.” It’s all a part of a media blitz coordinated by 40 Days for Life, the anti-choice zealots who have been harassing clinic workers and patients for the past month and a half. Here’s what Reuters has to say, based on a press release from the wingnuts. [Read more...]

Facebook Group to Organize 40 Days For Choice

prochoiceYesterday we posted about the 40 Days for Life anti-abortion protests that will be occurring throughout the rest of September and into October. Lots of people responded on Twitter by posting links for clinics that are looking for volunteers to serve as clinic escorts. One group is taking it a step further by centralizing all of that information on Facebook. The group is calling themselves “40 Days for Choice.” I love it!

Please click over to find a clinic near you that needs clinic escorts. If you’re a volunteer coordinator, please share your info on our site and over on the Facebook group. Let’s show the wing nuts what a little feminist social networking can do!