Thursday, January 2, 2014
"Abortion Hurts Women" Now Hate Speech
Ah, the holiday season along Market Street. Snowflakes hanging from lamp posts. Store windows filled with red and green. Banners reading, “Abortion hurts women.”
Yes, for the second time in two years, the city’s main thoroughfare has become a hotbed of "anger" and finger-pointing over abortion-related banners.
In January 2012, a local pro-choice group called the Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women sponsored banners with slogans including “U.S. Out of My Uterus.” An antiabortion group called Life Legal Defense Foundation demanded the city take them down, saying they shouldn’t have been issued permits because they weren’t advertising a particular event. The Department of Public Works said they were legit read the link if you want the whole story and left them up, though vandals removed some.
Now, it appears the shoe is on the other foot. Or the banner on the other lamp post? A group called Walk for Life West Coast, which is organizing its 10th annual antiabortion march in San Francisco on January 25, has placed 50 banners along Market Street reading “Abortion hurts women.” They will be flying for about a month.
The Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women wrote a letter to Mayor Ed Lee this week saying the banners contain “a false and hateful statement” and demanded they be removed.
Ellen Shaffer, director of the Silver Ribbon Campaign, said she considers the banners hate speech against women and that such baseless slogans contributed to an increased denial of reproductive health care for women and girls. She said Market Street now is lined with “Snowflakes — snowflakes and lies. It’s really a shock.”
A call to Walk for Life West Coast was not returned.
Rachel Gordon, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works, which issued the permits for the banners, said the department ensures proposed signs don’t include profanity or nudity, but the content of the message is not otherwise considered.
Francis Tsang, a spokesman for Lee, said the mayor’s office won’t be getting involved in the banner brouhaha.
“Mayor Lee is a staunch, longtime defender of a woman’s right to choose and disagrees strongly with the message of the banners, but the mayor’s disapproval obviously doesn’t and shouldn’t trump the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Tsang said.