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06 August 2008

Dirty Tricks

By Diana Hsieh

5280, Denver's upscale magazine, has an excellent article on the new strategies and tactics of the anti-abortion movement in their August issue. The first part focuses on Amendment 48, the proposed constitutional amendment that would grant fertilized eggs all the legal rights of persons. That ballot measure represents an abandonment of attempts at incremental restrictions on abortion, like waiting periods and parental notification, in favor of sweeping change.

The second part of the article details the protests of Denver's Planned Parenthood by anti-abortionists. Shockingly, while Planned Parenthood's new Stapleton offices were under construction, anti-abortion activists protested at the homes of the executives of the Weitz Corporation, the lead contractor for the construction.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, in particular, has had practice [in dealing with protesters]. Colorado Right to Life and other religious groups regularly pray, chant, and picket as close to Planned Parenthood clinics as the law will allow (100 feet, according to Colorado statute). But during the recent construction of its brand-new health center and administrative headquarters in the Stapleton neighborhood of Denver, Planned Parenthood became the target of some of the most vehement and visible protests in Colorado to date.

A group called the Collaborators Project, led by 25-year-old Will Duffy of Lakewood, set up camp almost daily outside the chain-link-fenced construction site. But even that activity wasn't considered out of the ordinary. It was the group's extension of its consternation to those actually building the facility that seemed to write a new chapter in the pro-life playbook.

Duffy declared it his personal mission to make a "national example" of the Weitz Corporation, which was the lead contractor for the $6.3 million Stapleton center. His Collaborators Project spent weekends and holidays, including Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday, and the Fourth of July, on the sidewalks and streets outside the homes of Weitz's corporate executives. Collaborators Project volunteers toted bullhorns, video cameras, and graphic signs. A "truth truck" (borrowed from a national anti-abortion group) plastered with pictures of aborted fetuses and the words "Weitz Co. takes blood money to build abortion mills" patrolled the executives' suburban neighborhoods. Duffy publicized the names, phone numbers and addresses of company officials via Web postings and YouTube videos.
Wow. What a nightmare. Happily, the company stood its ground:
Both [Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains] and Weitz hired extra security to keep workers safe during the construction process. APPRMnd Weitz steadfastly refused to back out of the project, despite threats of satellite protests of its offices and even its other clients around the country.

"I have nothing but praise for Weitz," [Leslie Durgin, senior vice president for community development for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains] says. "The targeted attempts at contractors and their neighbors' homes to force them off the job failed totally."
The whole article is worth reading. It certainly does seem that abortion might become a huge issue at the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.

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