When word came down the night of January 21 that House GOP leaders were reneging on their promise to hold a vote on the 20-week abortion ban the next day – the haunting 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision – [WARNING: vulgarity alert], I was pissed off to the height of pisstivity. Sorry, that’s the most accurate way I can describe it.
How could GOP leaders have been so careless, cavalier, and apathetic as to let this lowest hanging fruit of a pro-life bill get away from them? How could they have been so cajoneless as to abandon the 20-week ban at the first sign of trouble? And just how low was their respect for the pro-life movement that they would dare to insult us on such a colossal scale?
And then to go silent about the ban for two full months following that debacle?
I’m boiling over again even as I type.
This is the backdrop for my decision to help organize a protest at Speaker Boehner’s office on March 25. As CNS News reported:
Stanek, a nurse who formerly worked at Christ Hospital in Chicago, became involved in the pro-life movement 16 years ago after she held a live baby who had survived an abortion and was left to die afterwards.
“I’ve been in this movement for 16 years, from the moment I held this little aborted baby, and I’ve never felt convicted to be arrested,” Stanek explained during the protest on Wednesday.
“I’ve always felt my voice was well-heard, speaking and writing,” she said. “But when this bill failed to be brought forward on Jan. 22, I was just so frustrated and disgusted with our Republican House leadership, that they would abandon these babies over political maneuvering.”
“I decided right then and there that I was willing to be arrested on behalf of this little baby that I held, and others like him,” she said.
So, on March 25, alongside several other pro-lifers, I marched to Speaker Boehner’s Longworth Building office to protest the hold-up…
Three of us gave speeches. Here’s mine…
Then, eight of us – six women and two men – sat in front of the locked door to Boehner’s office (it’s not as if he wanted anyone coming in anyway) and proceeded to get arrested. We were charged with, “Crowding, Obstructing, or Incommoding.” There were over twice as many Capitol police as protesters…
At this point I don’t want to appear to dramatize the details of our arrest, because our experience truly was nothing compared to what other pro-lifers endure for the cause. But I know people are interested in details, so here goes.
When we were loaded into the paddy wagon I realized my plastic cuffs were so loose I could take them off! … a nice little blessing from God to ease my slight discomfort and to scratch some itches all the way around. I never let an officer know until it came time to cut them off, at which point I said don’t bother, and at which point the officer planning to do the cutting rolled her eyes.
We were taken to the Capitol Police processing center, about five minutes’ drive from the Capitol. Guards itemized our belongings and did a (noninvasive!) body search. I was glad I’d gotten a pre-prison pedicure, since they even had me remove my socks and shoes!
We were then taken to an interview room, two in each, and handcuffed to the wall (only one hand). We sat there a couple hours.
We were ultimately given three options: to pay a $50 fine and be released with no conviction but with an arrest record, to post bond and come back for a jury trial, or to pay nothing and go to jail to await a court hearing. We all chose the first option.
There were two holding cells. The guys – Pat Mahoney and Troy Newman – ended up in one, and I ended up in the other, alone, while my female friends remained handcuffed to the wall. How this happened is I said I had to go to the bathroom, so a guard took me to the remaining cell, where there was a toilet, and then forgot about me, I think.
This, too, was a nice little gift from God – to have a little alone time with Him and to briefly ponder life in a jail cell.
In all, I spent a little over five hours in the processing center – four hours in processing and one hour in a jail cell.
One last thing – police confiscated our t-shirts as “evidence”! We are supposed to eventually get them back, but I’m not holding my breath. I should also mention Capitol police were courteous and even kind.
The dust hasn’t settled yet, but I feel good that our original goal was met. This was to refocus attention from political maneuvering back to the babies, and to rekindle traction to pass the 20-week ban in the House. By several accounts our protest has indeed sparked movement.
That said, we aren’t going away. Stay tuned for more information on that in the following days.
Here were some news accounts of our protest…
Christian Post: “Exclusive interview: Jill Stanek explains her protest and arrest at Speaker Boehner’s office”
Cincinnati Enquirer: “Anti-abortion protesters target Boehner”
CNS News: “Pro-lifers arrested for praying outside Boehner’s office”
EWTN: News Nightly video report
LifeSiteNews: “Pro-life leaders arrested as they protest ‘betrayal’ on 20-week abortion ban outside Speaker Boehner’s office”
Live Action News: “Pro-life leaders arrested at #FreeTheBan sit-in held at Speaker Boehner’s office”
Patheos: “Speaker John Boehner’s office orders arrest of pro-life demonstrators”
Right Wing News: “Pro-life protesters arrested outside Speaker John Boehner’s office over 20-week abortion ban bill”
Roll Call: “Eight arrested in anti-abortion ‘pray-in’ outside Boehner’s office”
Townhall: “Protesters arrested while praying outside of Speaker Boehner’s office”
Washington Times: “Praying pro-lifers arrested outside of John Boehner’s office”
World Magazine: “Pro-lifers arrested outside John Boehner’s office”
WorldNetDaily: “Boehner gets judgment day in own office”; “Boehner office meltdown: Protesters hauled to jail”; video of the arrests