A few years after Howard Stephens started providing abortions, he became the target of local anti-abortion protesters. They picketed his home on weekends, distributed leaflets around his neighborhood calling him a murderer, followed his moves around town, and sent hate mail to his son. Perhaps most concerning, the protesters picketed Howard’s church twice.
There has been a broad and dramatic shift toward more abortion restrictions in the United States. This will almost certainly continue.
The case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby has received extraordinary attention as a site of struggle between faith and law. The Supreme Court’s decision that businesses may refuse on principle to provide contraception coverage has not been a shining hour for religious freedom. Many observers fear that the ruling will do less to protect that freedom than to expand the power of corporations. Hobby Lobby has overshadowed two other suits this term that offered more compelling instances of conscience in action.
I recall three times when the churches I served were picketed. The one that was by far the most traumatic had to do with abortion.