When Congress members and others opened the doors of town hall meetings to hear constituents' views on health care reform, they never dreamed of what was waiting for them on the doorstep. By now we're familiar with the images of red-faced elders shouting down meek Congressmen, or of gun-toting activists patrolling parking lots outside of the meetings. Those who see encroachments upon the rights of insurance companies as the end of the Republic are a mixed tea bag: Some are professional disruptors, others are folks
who suddenly find the skies filled with black helicopters whenever
Democrats are close to passing any kind of legislation. And then there are the
fringe and not-so-fringe members of the pro-life movement who
believe tax dollars will be used to fund abortions.
While most coastal Californians have viewed the more explosive town hall incidents on their TV sets, tomorrow Angelenos will have a chance to see HR 3200's enemies on display close up — in Chinatown's Corn Field Park, no less. Called “Let's Get It Done,” the main event is not a town hall meeting but a pro-reform rally being called a “Congressional sendoff.” So far L.A. Congresswomen Diane Watson and Jane Harman, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and City Council members Janice Hahn and Ed Reyes have signed on to attend the open-air event, which is sponsored by the Health Care for America Now coalition and Organizing for America, an Obama campaign offshoot. The politicians will make brief speeches and hear from the bill's backers and, if enough protesters show up, they'll catch some discouraging words from members of the pro-life Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust.
The Survivors are a relatively new addition to the protest landscape
but have aggressively made their views known at town hall meetings and
elsewhere in California. They are also relatively obscure — their Web
site is not currently functioning and, while they advertise themselves
as a Los Angeles group, all their contact information leads to
Riverside. Like animal rights militants, Christian anti-abortion
activists have discovered and appropriated the imagery and metaphors of
the Holocaust and Civil Rights movement. The Survivors group also
appear to have a highly developed persecution complex.
One of its members' blogs describes the group as “dedicated to educating and
activating high school and college age individuals. If you were born
after 1973, you are a Survivor. Over 45,000,000 of our generation have
been killed since the decriminalization of abortion by Roe v. Wade.”
The group's spokesman, Charles Cox, told the L.A. Weekly that individual members of his organization are not necessarily opposed to the whole reform package — only what he calls its mandate to make both the public and private options offer abortions.
“The bill also has provisions to fund reproductive health care facilties,” Cox says, “which is a code word for abortion and abortion clinics.” Cox will not say how many people he expects to protest at tomorrow's rally, and adds that he will be happy with being kept apart from it — as long as the protest area is “reasonable” and his members' voices can be heard by the public.
“The Left has done a lot to intimidate people who are opposed to this bill by having people who boo at town hall meetings removed,” Cox said, adding that he was roughed up at a recent meeting in Claremont.
funny thing is that federally funded abortions, like the death panels
that had so fired the persecution feelings of conservatives, aren't in
HR 3200. Nor could they be, since the so-called Hyde Amendment to
Medicare, as well as other laws, ban such funding except in cases
involving rape, incest or threats to a mother's life. What the bills current language does allow
is for participating private companies who currently cover abortions be
permitted to continue doing so. Cox disputes this interpretation and points to a FactCheck.org analysis for support. However, the site's piece on the subject seems more equivocal:
“The truth is that bills now before Congress don't require federal money
to be used for supporting abortion coverage. So the president is right
to that limited extent. But it's equally true that House and Senate
legislation would allow a new 'public' insurance plan to cover
abortions, despite language added to the House bill that technically
forbids using public funds to pay for them.”
Emily Dulcan, a spokeswoman for tomorrow's rally, says she's not specifically aware of the Survivor's intention to show up, but notes there is a section set aside for whoever wishes to protest the rally.
“If I were in their shoes I would want everyone to be covered so that pregnancy is not a financial burden,”
Anthony Wright, the executive director of Health Access California, one of the rally's sponsors, told the L.A. Weekly.
“Let's Get It Done,” Los Angeles State Historic Park at the Cornfield
1245 North Spring St., Chinatown; Thurs., Sept. 3, 6-8 p.m.