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VIEWS: Good for the goose, good for the gander
by Terry Cosgrove

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It was one of those newspaper headlines you read and say to yourself, "Who are they kidding?" I'm referring to the recent International Herald Tribune article entitled "Gay-marriage opponents want to be anonymous." The article discusses how the Mormons, Knights of Columbus and other right-wingers want to protect their "right to privacy" so they are suing the state of California to keep their financial contributions to the recent anti-equal marriage Proposition 8 out of the public view. Secret Santa is one thing, but a secret political contribution is quite another.

Because this latest stroke of hypocrisy on the far right is so stunning, I'll leave the debate surrounding the lawsuit to greater minds. Their legal action contends that the bigots who contributed to the pro-Prop 8 campaign have suffered " … threats of physical violence, vandalism of personal property, harassing phone calls, harassing emails, blacklisting and boycotts."

Why does all of this sound so familiar? Perhaps because for more than 30 years, the anti-abortion activists on the right—many associated with the Catholic Knights of Columbus and Mormons ( both conveniently oppose measures to prevent abortion and HIV ) —have been invading the right to privacy of millions of American women seeking medical care with physical violence, vandalism of personal property, harassing phone calls, e-mails, blacklisting, boycotts, etc. In other words, the law should protect anti-abortion and anti-gay activists from threats, boycotts and violence but these same people should be allowed to participate freely in threats, boycotts and violence against women seeking birth control and abortion. You can't even make this stuff up.

For those who haven't read the right-wing playbooks on denying American women their "right to privacy" in medical care, here's some highlights to consider while the anti-abortion/anti-LGBT activists are arguing for same in the California courts. For decades, they have:

—Verbally harassed and physically assaulted women entering medical facilities for a range of reproductive health care;

—Attempted to obtain and make public the private medical records of women who have sought abortions;

—Obtained personal information from auto license plates at medical facilities and used that information to inform employers and family members that a woman has sought an abortion;

—Video-recorded women entering medical facilities where abortions are performed and passed that video info to others;

—Launched national boycotts against corporations, foundations and others which make financial contributions to Planned Parenthood and other providers of women's health care;

—Harassed, threatened, kidnapped and otherwise injured—and, in some cases, murdered—doctors and other medical workers who provide abortion services;

—Launched boycotts and pickets of homes and schools of family members of contractors, architects, masons, plumbers, and others who build medical facilities where family planning and abortion is an option;

—Encouraged pharmacists to impose their personal beliefs on patients by refusing to fill prescriptions written by doctors for birth control and emergency contraception; and,

—Hosted Web sites posting the photos/video of doctors, healthcare workers and women with the intent of intimidation and encouragement of violence against those providing or seeking reproductive health care.

It would be quite insightful if a judge on the case or attorneys opposing the pro-Proposition 8 legal maneuver would ask the anti-abortion/anti-LGBT Mormon, Catholic and evangelical folks some questions I would like answered which would include the following.

How is a boycott of corporations and individuals who give money to Planned Parenthood any different than a boycott of corporations and individuals who give money to the pro-Prop 8 campaign?

How is sending an e-mail to someone who publicly gave money to the pro-Prop 8 campaign different than sending an e-mail to the boss of a woman telling that boss that the woman recently visited a medical facility where abortions are performed?

How is picketing a doctor's home and her/his children's school with a sign saying "murderer" accompanied by the doctor's photo any different than picketing a pro-Prop 8 person with a sign that says "bigot" on it?

Finally, if it's good for the goose, isn't it good for the gander?

Terry Cosgrove is the President & CEO of Personal PAC, a bipartisan political action committee dedicated to electing pro-choice candidates to state and local office across Illinois.

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