Father Bud Kaicher (second from left): "The unborn have intrinsic worth." Julie Pinney: "She would never even attempt to understand our reasons for being on the opposite side of the street."
Editor's note: The following story is composed of a free-lance submission by Julie Pinney, a 28-year-old resident of Del Mar, and the transcript of a statement made by Father Bud Kaicher as he was sentenced to 45 days in jail as a result of his actions at local abortion clinics. (Kaicher’s statement appears in italics.)
Monday, July 3, 1989. It has been a long time since I lost sleep over politics, a very long time, indeed. The last time was probably when, as a very young child, I first became aware of what a nuclear war would do to my mother. I was a weird kid, though.
But on the third of July, I woke up thinking, today, nine old people I’ve never met are going to tell me what I can do with my own uterus. Well, not my uterus specifically ... I don’t have that much of a persecution complex ... but my uterus indirectly. Me, and my sister, and my cousin Maria, and my aunt Pam, and all of my female friends. You get to know a lot of women in 28 years. Pretty much without exception, each has a sex life, each has a uterus of her own; but on July 3, 1989, it became the Collective Uterus of the Women of the United States of America, and it was no longer owned and operated by the women in question. The Supreme Court is seeing to that.
These nine people are presuming upon parts of my body my mother hasn't seen since I was potty trained, and it’s pissing me off; and it was pissing me off that morning as I drove to work and wondered what the answer would be.
At the time, I worked at a law library. I was surrounded by the law for 7.5 hours a day. Monday through Friday — laws about everything from condo-sharing to urinating in public. It’s kind of comforting to walk the halls and see the law right there, rising in tiers on either side of you, arranged in coded rows. The law is an abstract concept for most people, but most people don’t have to reshelve it when it gels untidy. I believe in the law; I really do. I don’t particularly believe in lawyers, but the ones I worked with didn’t soil their hands with the grimy practice of everyday law; they spent their lives locked up in a building full of books. It made them loftier, somehow.
I accosted one of them in the hall that morning. She knew me, and she knew my politics, and she was sure to be sympathetic.
"Well?” I said. She bit her lip. I could see it on her face: We have seen the Decision, and. ..
“The news,” she said, finally, “is not good. They upheld the Missouri statute. They voted to give it back to the states.”
I tried not to be surprised, but I guess somewhere deep down inside, I truly believed the system could not possibly get away with legally screwing half the population out of controlling their own bodies. There was a whirring noise in my brain, and my Fists began to clench, and right there in front of the astonished librarian. I turned from an occasionally strident humanist into a goddess-worshipping fanatic. I did it without even raising my voice.
October 31. 1989 Vigil, All Saints
To: Judge Larrie R. Brainard
Statement From: Rev. Edward “Bud” Kaicher
Regarding : Violation of Probation
Case Number C8809H
Your honor, I have decided to present my case without the benefit of legal counsel so as to be in solidarity with my unborn sisters and brothers who are senselessly condemned to death, by the thousands daily, without the privilege of counsel or any form of advocacy.
“I suppose they know this means war." I told her. She nodded.
“Just don’t get arrested," she said. “It wouldn't look too good for the law school.”
Later that day, as I was dazedly reshelving the law and wondering where it had taken such a turn, a woman brushed past me and thrust something into my hands.
“Come if you can,’’ she murmured, and vanished into the stacks.
For a moment, I felt like I was being tapped for the French resistance — a feeling that intensified when I looked down at the paper she’d given me. “Pro-Choice Rally!’’ it blared, and I stared after her, wondering how she had managed to pick me out of the crowd ... and then I looked down at my Birkenstocks and knew. Damn. Betrayed by my sandals.
Your honor, my case is rather simple, and I will present it with an unswerving fidelity to the truth.
Although I have not seen the evidence which has caused the Court to call me to this hearing, the simple truth is that I have violated the terms of my probation.
I have done so, your honor, because I hold the rational conviction that all human beings are of equal intrinsic worth and possess inalienable human rights. I firmly believe that I have a moral obligation to protect and defend those members of society who are vulnerable and dependent on others and who are unable to defend themselves from attacks against their inalienable right to life.
Unfortunately for my politics, I had a class that night. My education has already been interrupted too frequently by my social conscience, not to mention my social life, so I opted to go to class and send a delegation to the rally. My sister, Tracey, and our friends, Ben, Joel, and Pat, took themselves downtown to the county courthouse with instructions to bring back information.
And what information. There was to be a demonstration on Saturday. Operation Rescue was supposed to hit Womancare, the Feminist Women’s Health Center downtown. We were to present ourselves at 5:45 in the morning and await instructions. Did I think we should go? Does the Pope hate condoms?
Ah, Operation Rescue. Breathes there a soul so apolitical that they haven’t heard of Randall Terry and his band of terrorists? They blockade clinics by lying down in front of the doors and refusing to get up for potential patients. They show gruesome pictures of maimed fetuses to terrified pregnant 13-year-olds. If they get as far as the lobby, they answer the clinic phones.
Of course, they don’t care how the women they terrorize got pregnant; they don’t bother with finding out if it was rape, or incest, or that popular combination of the two. They don’t tell anyone that the pictures they use are taken from second-trimester abortions, most of which were performed to save the life of the woman involved. They certainly don’t offer to pay hospital bills, costs of therapy, or the staggering financial burden of bringing up a child by a single parent. They see only one reality, and it is a twisted one. They are so oblivious to real life that most of the clinics they hit aren’t primarily abortion clinics —just private clinics that happen to perform abortions. The demons from Operation Rescue have been known to abuse women coming in for prenatal care for planned pregnancies.
Randall Terry quite fancies himself a man of God. I pray daily that the Goddess will reincarnate him as a welfare mother with a drug habit and an abusive boyfriend who likes anal sex and donkey films.
The legalized attack on the most innocent and defenseless members of our society — the unborn — is a violence, not only against these little ones, but against our society as a whole. The fundamental relationship between parent and child had been placed in jeopardy by the “ungodly” law that permits abortion.
Saturday, July 8. 1989. We got to Womancare at 7:30 in the morning. There were four of us: me, Tracey, Pat, and Frannie. Frannie is Ben’s sister; Ben didn’t come. He was afraid he’d hit someone. Ben believes in direct action, but he respects us for wanting to give civil disobedience a try before we wade in and start kicking ass. Joel said he had to work on his car, but I think he was afraid he’d end up on the news and have to explain it to his parents. So the four of us cranked up our commitment levels and drove downtown.
As we drove down Sixth Avenue, we were greeted by a puzzling sight. In front of the big Sixth Avenue Medical Building, home of Womancare Clinic, were rows of people in orange vests. It looked like a CalTrans convention. Across the street, people were sitting with signs that said “Keep Abortion Legal " We were confused.
“Which side is ours?” whispered Tracey, as we looked for a parking place.
“Obviously, the people with the signs are the place to start.” I said. She nodded.
We presented ourselves at a table behind the sign-carriers.
“Well.” said Tracey, brightly, "here we are!”
I could see the woman behind the table thinking. “Imagine my relief! Now we can start the protest!” But she had a lot of practice dealing with fledgling civil disobedients. Pat and I, before we met, participated in the anti-apartheid demonstrations at UCSD several years before; he had experience with the antinuclear movement, and I’d put in my time at the rape-crisis center in my hometown, but Tracey and Frannie were new to all this.
When the most fundamental of human rights, the right to life, is denied the unborn — without due process and without consideration of their intrinsic worth as human persons — it is an act of charity to rescue them from their plight.
We signed in and wrote our names and addresses on countless petitions and postcards for various members of Congress, and then the woman looked around for a place to put our enthusiasm to work.
“We need two people across the street,” she said, producing two orange plastic vests, “and the other two can make signs.”
Tracey and Frannie opted for the orange vests and, after donning them, trotted importantly across the street to take their places with the blockade. Apparently, everyone there was on our side. “Operation Rescue” had not yet arrived.
Pat and I knelt among the sticks and cardboard on the ground, fished out two extra-large marking pens, and set to work. I drew a big coat hanger in black and wrote “This is Not a Choice” underneath. Pat went for audience participation. “Honk for Freedom of Choice,” he wrote, in big block letters. We admired each other’s handiwork, stapled our signs to pieces of lathing, and stationed ourselves at the curb among the other protesters.
The people in the orange vests were supposed to provide a passage to the clinic when “Operation Rescue” arrived. Some of them had “Escort” written across the back of their vests; these people had been trained in the physical and legal aspects of escorting patients past the blockade of anti-abortion forces. We weren’t escort-trained, and we looked enviously at those who were. They looked terribly important, stalking single-mindedly up the street in search of patients to assist.
Today, I stand in solidarity with women and men in our community and nation who will no longer stand by and allow this holocaust to continue. When this court or any other court says it is trespassing to block the entrance to a death mill, therefore, giving preference to those who kill the unborn, I will continue to give preferential option to rescuing the unborn from certain death.
Tracey and Frannie sat down on the curb and began to talk. After an hour, Pat and I got tired of standing and waving our signs, even though “Honk for Freedom of Choice” was getting a gratifying response from passing motorists; we, too, sat down on the curb. We all waved to each other. We waved to drivers who honked; waved and screamed and threw our fists into the air.
After a while, the coordinator from Womancare came over and asked us to please get rid of “Honk for Freedom of Choice.” The neighbors next to the clinic were complaining, she said. Politics played no part in it. They were trying to get their children to nap, and the honking and screaming were pissing them off. We complied. Pat found a sign that said, “It’s About Saving Women’s Lives” and sat back down.
Protesting can be either very exciting or very boring. For a couple of hours, we sat with our signs, and they sat in their vests. Everybody milled around. We wanted something to happen, but according to all reports, the excitement was up in Poway. Randall Terry’s merry pranksters had broken into a clinic up there and taken over the phones, holding the doctor, his staff, and one patient prisoner for several hours.
In truth, I feel compelled to advise this court that I can not in conscience promise to obey any law or probation which allows the killing to continue or tries to stop me from the moral obligation to rescue those “unjustly condemned.”
We stood up to hear the latest intelligence from Poway, and a man with a mean face strode past us.
“Kill any babies today?” he spat.
“Not personally, no,” said Pat, confused.
“Bet you’d love to, though, wouldn’t you?” snarled the man as he stomped away.
We watched him recede. “Kind of makes you wish abortion was legal when his mother was pregnant, doesn’t it?” I said, to no one in particular. Pat looked pained. We sat back down with our signs.
Tracey and Frannie came over to our side of the street and complained that nothing was happening over there. They found signs and stood next to us, conspicuous in their orange vests. We listened to snatches of conversation.
”... 200 of them in Poway, and I hear they kicked down the door...."
”... not really any threat to California, but the Governor...” ”... red Nissan Sentra going around the block again — do you think it’s them?”
”... that guy over there taking pictures...”
We looked over at the guy with the camera. He busied himself with the flash attachment until we looked away, but when I looked back, he was pointing the camera right at our little group. I nudged Frannie. “Smile,” I murmured.
She looked up, saw the guy, and grinned hugely, holding up her sign. ”I Am Not an Incubator,” it said. The guy grimaced and walked away. Somebody behind us laughed.
Furthermore, I will pay no fine nor can I cooperate with the court in any way that pits me against my unborn sisters and brothers or those who faithfully rescue them.
This camera thing was to become increasingly popular as the day wore on. We saw them all over the place, guys with cameras. Some of them had complicated Japanese jobs with telephoto lenses, and some of them had little Instamatics, but all of them were instantly assumed to be Spies For The Other Side. They might just have been curious tourists ... but if that was true, why did their mouths twist with disgust when we saw them and waved? Because, of course, that’s exactly what we did: waved, and smiled, and held up our signs, and pointed to each other, and gave each other “rabbit ears.” as though it was our Uncle Howard behind the camera.
In my saner moments, I have a mental image of one of these guys in a dreary apartment, the wafts plastered with posters of Randall Terry and blowups of our smiling faces; sharpening a knife and muttering to himself as he pores over a map of my condo development and draws a dead fetus on my house.
About 10 a.m., a battered little white Toyota began circling the block. It was driven by a fat, bearded man with a determined face, and the back seat was piled high with signs. It circled two or three times, then it disappeared around the corner. The clinic coordinator was on our side of the street when this happened, and someone asked her if it was the advance guard of Operation Rescue. She laughed. “No,” she said, “just our regular protesters."
Should the court decide to incarcerate me, I will freely accept this as an opportunity to suffer with my unborn sisters and brothers who are daily sentenced — unjustly — to a permanent and irreversible removal of their human rights.
She went on to explain that these people had nothing to do with Operation Rescue. They came every Saturday morning at ten and picketed the building until the clinic closed. Womancare got an injunction against them to keep their numbers down; they weren’t permitted to have more than ten protestors in front of the building at one time. Other than that, she said, they were pretty harmless. They tried to leaflet the cars that went into the parking lot, but they never tried to detain anybody.
Presently, a few more cars pulled up, and several very cleanlooking people got out and began to gather around the fat man, who had piled his signs neatly beside a lamp post and was casting dark glances at the orange vests that swarmed around him.
Even after spending several years immersed in counterculture. I can still recognize religious people just from the way they look. These people were so clean you had to wonder why they were concerned about abortion; it was hard to imagine them doing anything as messy as having sex. The men wore polyester shorts and polo shirts, and the women wore polyester shorts and blouses and little terry-cloth sun visors; their legs looked strangely naked and vulnerable next to the tanned, unshaven legs of most of the women in the orange vests.
On the day of my ordination, the Bishop of San Diego instructed me with the following words:
"My son, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate. You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the Chief teacher. Share with all people the Word of God you have received with joy. Meditate on the Law of God, believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach.”
They formed a solemn little group and crossed the street to our side, where they knelt in a circle a few feet from us and joined hands.
They were like that for so long that most of the pro-choicers lost interest; it began to look like they would just pray all day long and leave the protesting to us. Pat went across the street to the deli for some sandwiches. Tracey gave me her orange vest and began to hunt for some blank cardboard to make her own sign. Frannie struck up an animated conversation with a woman who wore a button reading “Patriarchal Religions Are Evil.”
The next time I looked across the street, the anti abortion people had shouldered their signs and were marching around in a brave little circle. They were hopelessly outnumbered, but the ten of them walked gamely around and around, clutching heir signs and staring straight ahead. The fat man led off with a sign that said “Children Are a Heritage from the Lord.” It seemed to be the sentiment of choice; the rest of the signs ranged from coy (“Don't Let Womancare Deceive You") to shrill (“Baby Butcher Shop”). My personal favorite was “Ask Me What Womancare Won’t Tell You About Abortion.” Try as I might, all I could think about was that ubiquitous Herbalife bumper sticker that says “Lose Weight Now — Ask Me How.”
Pathetic though they were, the sight of them galvanized our ragged party into some semblance of order. One man picked up a sign that said simply “Pro-choice” and began to walk, with measured steps, up and down the sidewalk. The four of us looked at each other, hefted our signs, and fell in. Pretty soon there were about 25 of us strolling along in loose formation, waving our signs back at the grim group across the street, laughing and talking among ourselves.
They just walked in silence. They were clever, though; Every so often, one of them would drop out and instantly be replaced by someone else. There were probably 20 of them waiting and praying in the park, exchanging signs with the crew across the street. One woman walked with a baby on her back, but the baby began to scream and she had to quit after a few minutes.
“Your baby has the right idea,” someone from our side yelled at her as she fell out of line and began to struggle out of her backpack. She set her lips in a thin, straight line and hustled her howling baby away as though she were afraid someone would snatch him up and sacrifice him.
We walked and they walked. We chatted and they prayed. Despite the axing of our “Honk” sign, people were still honking. A few flipped us off as they honked, but the anti-abortion people couldn't see them, and they winced every time a horn blasted. The camera guys were still in evidence, and they gave away their affiliation by murmuring with the fat man when he dropped out to rest.
Your honor, I have meditated on the Law of God — I believe and teach the truth I have read — that all human life is sacred because it ultimately comes from God, and I try to practice a consistent respect for all human life. In the name of Christ, the Chief teacher, I want to share with you the Word of God.
The sun grew brighter, and the day grew hotter. The fat man was sweating, but the women on the anti-abortion side weren’t even damp; their makeup remained unsmeared. I was in awe. I was also becoming very sunburned, as were Tracey. Frannie, and Pat. Every so often, we would stop and smear ourselves with sunscreen. It was a popular activity: As time wore on, people began to cluster around tubes of SPF-15, rubbing it on each other. The anti-abortion people watched us with disgust, as though they were spying on a group therapy session.
It was Pat who finally decided to make some waves. He dropped out of the line and started making yet another placard; when he rejoined us, he was tentatively waving a new sign.
It said, “Jesus Was a Wanted Child."
That did it. The fat man actually stopped walking and put down his sign to stare in religious disbelief. He gaped and he goggled, and then he stalked over to the group waiting on our side of the street. It was just like a cartoon: They huddled and murmured, and every so often, a head would pop up, and someone would glare disapprovingly at Pat before vanishing back into the group. Their backsides waggled with indignation.
“Now you’ve done it,” I told him. Two of the camera guys pointed their lenses at him and clicked away furiously. He smiled and posed with his sign, but he looked a little worried as he marched around.
“These people throw bombs, you know,” said Frannie as she marched past. Pat winced.
I turned my attention to the marchers across the street. They broke ranks momentarily when the fat man had his seizure over Pat's sign, but they rallied quickly, and the fat man had already been replaced. I looked at the new marcher with interest.
She was young, about 21 or 22, and very pretty, in a religious sort of way. She had big, blond hair, fluffed around her artfully made-up face, and she was wearing a denim miniskirt and a pink T-shirt that was just this side of too tight. If you had any background in West Coast white Protestant fundamentalism, you knew all the fellas in the Young Adults Bible Study Group had the hots for her.
She was carrying a sign that said “Equal Rights for Unborn Women.”
I watched her. and I thought, “Hon, if you got raped, and it made you pregnant, a judge of your own persuasion would say you asked for it because of your clothes.”
She just kept mincing along, and suddenly I got very tired. It was hot, and I was turning red, and the lathing was wearing blisters on my hands, and I was tired of being scowled at. I dropped out of line and sat on the grass. Pretty soon, Tracey came over and flopped down next to me. She lit a cigarette, and we watched the protest in silence.
While I recognize the constraints placed on you by the law’ and your position as a judge.I ask you, as one man to another, acknowledge the truth that the unborn have intrinsic worth as members of the human family, consider a higher authority, and decide justly on behalf of the unborn. Please your honor, give them a hearing today!
“There’s going to be escort training next Saturday morning,” she said. She looked older than she had at 7:30. She’s never been much of an activist; she even used to laugh at me for my feminist leanings. But that afternoon, I could see tired determination in her sunburned face. She’s seven years younger than I am; abortion has been legal since she’s been a sentient being. She felt about abortion the way I did about the Vietnam War, which I saw on the news from the time I was old enough to understand: It was just always there. I grew up thinking there was always a war. because what else would the newsmen talk about? Tracey grew up thinking abortion would always be legal, so why fuss?
“Look at her,” I said, and motioned toward the blonde. “Looks familiar, doesn’t she?”
Tracey nodded. We were both raised in the hellfire and brimstone tradition; in our veins flows the blood of the Lamb — or so our mother always thought.
Our maternal grandfather is a minister with the Assembly of God — the folks who brought you Swaggart, Bakker, and the Playboy Playmate of last March. We have good reason to be disillusioned with religious fanaticism, even though (or maybe because) we spent much of our youth at Young Adults Bible Study, not to mention church camp and winter retreat. That blonde was as well known to us as most of our own cousins. Given the size and fecundity of our family, she might have been one of our own cousins. It was almost distasteful to mock her and everything she stood for, and we both understood, implicitly, her reasons for being there.
Except... except she, and all those like her, would never even attempt to understand our reasons for being on the opposite side of the street, and we both knew it. Despair was not in her vocabulary, not yet, anyway; and she had no sympathy for a woman who would get herself pregnant out of wedlock, or out of money, or out of fear. Worse, her attitude would be exactly that; Raised in the greatest patriarchal tradition, she would believe that such women did indeed get themselves pregnant, presumably without help. The same people who tried to brainwash my sister and me into believing that our sex automatically excluded us from the company of the enlightened had actually succeeded with her. She was fighting for her right to remain blind and coddled, and we were fighting for our right to continue the battle, and we made as little sense to her as she did to us.
I ask the court to consider my case carefully — for it is my conviction that I, and others like me, far from being an undesirable element that is a threat to society — are acting to save our society from the suicidal destruction of its very soul.
We sat and watched her for a while, thinking silent thoughts of liberation, yearning for a time when all of our decisions would have been made for us, and that girl across the street would not have to be our enemy. Yearning, perhaps, for an absence of the perverse conscience that all three of us derived from the same source.
Then Tracey ground out her cigarette, and we went to register for escort training, and the blonde put down her sign and knelt to pray for our souls.
Blessed be God Forever!