|Small Victories Ministries|
|"Femi-nazi deathscort" or Riverfront Times reporter? You decide.|Be sure to read this week's RFT cover story, "She's Not There," about how activists on both sides of the abortion debate are paying more attention to men affected by abortion.
On Saturday, August 14, I woke up very early, got dressed and got into my car. I stopped to get a coffee, and, soon enough, was in Granite City, Illinois, outside the Hope Clinic for Women, a blocky concrete structure with purple signage and an overflow of protestors. They just happen to perform abortions at the Hope Clinic.
I pulled up to the curb behind an SUV with several pro-life bumper stickers -- "Declare the womb a federally protected wetland!" -- and left my car running, windows cracked, so I could hear what the dozens of people scattered along the clinic's periphery were shouting. I sat behind the wheel with my sunglasses on and a reporter's notebook in my hands, taking notes against my steering wheel.
Little did I know, I wasn't the only one taking notes.
On Wednesday, thanks to an interesting note from a reader and a little googling, I discovered a picture of myself on that day, along with this account, on a local pro-life website:
Satan never sleeps. A femi-nazi deathscort pulled up to our heels, and noticeably she was parked in the illegal zone. She was harassing a few of the pro-lifers and taking notes and license plates. Officer Maue arrived and we told him the situation. He walked over to her to inquire her business. A few minutes into it, she pulled over across the street and sat in the emergency room parking lot continuing to write and look over at our presence. We asked him why she didn't receive a parking ticket as she was in clear violation of the parking code in the City of Slaughter. In front of several witnesses he replied, "I issue tickets at my discretion." He got into his squad car and drove off. She then drove around the mill a few times, eventually leaving.
Of course, I had seen the men taking pictures of my car, capturing my Oregon license plate and my bumper stickers (my sorority and my alma mater, Boston University). I wondered where the photos would turn up, but had decided beforehand to not get out of my car or talk to anyone on scene -- I was already interviewing plenty of pro-lifers in a less tense setting. That morning, I wanted only to watch and listen, get a good idea of what these protestors did without interfering, let alone harassing.
My photo, captioned "Wash U deathscort and police," was subsequently posted on the website of Small Victories Ministry, an anti-abortion group that pickets Hope Clinic almost daily. The site's organizers post weekly "Street Reports" detailing their protest activities, complete with dozens of photos of women entering the clinic, many of them visibly pregnant.
Their photos also show pink-faced protestors standing with their signs and numerous photographs of Small Victories' leader, Angela Michael, wearing scrubs and hugging mothers of "saved" babies.
I'd seen this woman. She's in my notes as "woman in pink scrubs with perky blonde updo and black sunglasses, rhinestone flip flops. she's dressed like an OB-GYN but has no ID or hospital affiliation visible."
She's the one who stood talking to the police officer, one hand propped on her hip and the other flailing toward my car while she spoke. A minute later, a tap on my window, which I rolled down further. I'd have to move my car, he said. I was parked illegally.
"I didn't see a yellow curb when I pulled up. Is this a yellow curb?"
His only answer: "These people are giving me trouble. You can park across the street in the emergency lot."
So I did. I parked in the emergency lot and watched from across the street, now too far away to hear. I watched Angela Michael in her pink scrubs, trying to convince women to come into a small Winnebago-looking trailer, where inside she apparently has an ultrasound machine. Small Victories offers free ultrasounds; they lay a pregnant woman down on a sheet-draped couch, tell would-be parents the age of the fetus, point out body parts and tell the parents that their child is on screen, "auditioning for their life." Michael is not a registered nurse.
The exterior of the trailer has a massive black sign affixed to it. In all-caps, it reads, "RYAN GOSKIE, DEBBIE AND BOB'S SON, KILLS BABIES AT HOPE CLINIC, PRAY FOR HIM."
A watchdog group
also keeps a frequently updated website detailing the divide between Small Victories and other pro-life groups, as well as financial discrepancies and lawsuits involving Michael. She's been around for a long time too: The Riverfront Times
published a feature
about Michael in 2001, and she was up to many of the same tricks then as she is now, nearly a decade later.
Seeing my picture on Michael's site, being labeled as a "femi-nazi," is a little intrusive, a little spooky, but I have nothing to complain about compared to other women there that day. The website shows picture after picture of them walking into the clinic, some of them visibly pregnant - and none of them appearing too happy about being photographed.
|Small Victories Ministries|
|Angela Michael speaks to protestors outside Hope Clinic. Notice the Project Rachel sign in the lower left corner. |