The power of names: 12th & Delaware review
Charlotte Taft of the Abortion Care Network discusses the importance of language and naming things in respect to the fake clinics, or "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" featured in the HBO Movie "12th and Delaware"
The person who names something has tremendous power to create an interpretation. Our culture is rife with examples---one that we know all too well is 'Partial Birth Abortion'.
It is not always easy to come up with a term for something that comes from your perspective and sets the tone for the entire conversation about it. But sometimes I think pro-choice people, and liberals in general, forget that what we call things can make such a difference.
For example, what did we do with the egregious and diabolically clever term 'Partial Birth Abortion'? Sometimes we used its initials--PBA--which simply meant that over and over we had to explain that PBA stood for so-called Partial Birth Abortion. And what about 'Crisis Pregnancy Center'? That is a term that describes something that many women would logically think they need. We generally have called them CPCs. Even NARAL in its 'watch' packets refer to them this way. (Remember that means that once again we get to explain over and over that this stands for Crisis Pregnancy Centers). I wish we would call them Fake Clinics. I'm not saying I have made up the perfect name--but think about what that evokes. The name is from our perspective--carries meaning--is memorable--and invites questions that permit us to explain from our experience.
This recognition has inspired me to think about many terms that we use and wonder why we have not defined them ourselves. Why would we continue to talk about protesters instead of bullies, screamers, intimidators, or harassers? Why do we refer to anti-abortionists instead of women haters, or some creative term? We need a contest! For more images of these kinds of bullying outside clinics go to Enough/Basta or our YouTube channel.
We had a 12th and Delaware viewing party with 10 guests, all women over forty. There was an administrator of a local community medical center, a clinician from another rural health center, an artist, a writer, and several businesswomen. Only one had ever heard of the existence of fake clinics before my invitation, and that one was a counselor at clinic many years ago! Before our delicious dinner of lasagna and salad we talked some about the statistics--that the first fake clinic was started by Pearson in Hawaii in 1967, when the abortion laws had been liberalized there. People don't even know about that because Hawaii had a residency requirement so that women from other states couldn't pour in for medical services the way they did in New York. Our guests were amazed to learn that 50 million women had had legal abortions. When we told them there were 4,000 fake clinics and 800 real abortion clinics; they wanted to know how many abortion clinics there used to be, and that's a number I didn't know.
After dinner we crowded around the TV (we forgot to have a 42" flat screen!). Fortunately we had DVR so we could pause it for more information and go back to hear what was said, etc. The first question we all had was why the "fakes" would allow themselves to be filmed like that. I can remember in the early days in Dallas reporters went into our local fake clinic with hidden cameras to reveal the deception. We decided that the scary answer is that they feel self-righteously justified in doing whatever they do for a cause.
Talk about situational ethics! When I learned that father Tom was the arbiter of whether something was right or wrong I have to say that didn't increase my level of trust. There were many boos and sighs, such as when the scary guy figured out where the doctor was parking. Obviously this was not an easy film to watch, I'm glad we were in a supportive group. It's possible that some people turned the channel when they realized what the film was about.
It's my understanding that the filmmakers originally planned to make the film only about the fakes, and the decision to try to interview the clinic across the road came later. I think Candace Dye's down to earth compassion came through very clearly and was a stark contrast to the score keeping, 'got one' of the fakes. Listening to the 15 year old at seven months pregnant saying that there was nothing she could do because abortion had seemed too frightening made my blood boil. Candace and Arnold have been through Hell with Father Tom and the fakes. (Sounds like a singing group). Once again I applaud their courage in being part of this film and their dedication to helping women.
I wish there had been a way for the film to let people know what they can do to expose the fakes. But that's our job.--Hey--that could be the title of the project Expose the Fakes!