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Times Square Journal: If ‘My Body Is My Own,’ Why Not Sell It?


By Edmund B. Miller | July-August 1988
Edmund B. Miller is a graduate student in English at Mar­quette University, and assistant Editor of Renascence, pub­lished by Marquette.

Ed. Note: For a week in early May in New York, Operation Rescue conducted the largest prolife sit-ins ever, resulting in over 1,600 arrests — including 11 Protestant ministers, one Catholic bishop, 15 Catholic priests (including a married, ex-Episcopal priest), four nuns, and two Jewish rabbis. The events, intended to rescue preborn babies from abortuaries, were largely ignored by the major news media. Below we present the journal of one of the protestors.

I’ve passed a week in the Times Square area of New York City. My comrades and I have spent many hours sitting on sidewalks, hours being trans­ported in police buses, and hours making our way through the processing system at police stations. Nevertheless, we’ve had the chance to stroll through the Times Square area and examine the heart of this great American city. All, I’m sure, have ac­knowledged to themselves the appropriateness of having focused our rescue efforts on New York. Never have I seen any place in such need of a fun­damental recommitment to all that the prolife community stands for — family, community, re­sponsible action, and comprehensive reverence for human life from the first to the last minute.

During our first rescue a counter-demonstra­tion by NOW members assembled opposite us. Their demonstration, in spirit with the NOW brand of feminism, sought to deconstruct rather than build. Its strategy, simply, was to abuse us and di­minish our presence; no tactic was too low or dis­tasteful. When Bishop Vaughan or Rabbi Levin spoke, or when we read Psalms or sang, NOW coun­tered with whistles, sirens, and an oh-so-clever little chant: “Shut the f— up, Shut the f— up.” After a couple of hours had passed, and we were still in front of the abortionist’s door, they distributed condoms among themselves and waved them, their banner of defiance. It was a well-chosen banner, I later concluded, a device that insists on isolation and self-indulgence during a moment which should be the perfection of union and self-giving.

Many of the participants in Operation Rescue have been lodged in the Times Square Hotel at 43rd Street and Eighth Avenue. The Times Square area is one of the great failures in American civilization. Pornography and prostitution are pervasive. The number of homeless is overwhelming. Wherever I turn, it seems, someone is thrusting a paper cup to­ward me, or asking if I can “spare a little change.” A lot of the begging, I suppose, is caused by drug and alcohol dependencies. Yet a lot of it is honest hunger.

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