A Conversation with a DNC Anti-Abortion Protester

Jamelle Bouie

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA—Outside of the convention center, and around downtown Charlotte, are a handful of anti-abortion activists. It’s hard to miss them. They carry large signs plastered with graphic photos of dismembered fetuses and preach their message with loudspeakers:

“God is not pro-abortion.”

“The Lord will punish Obama for killing babies.”

As you can imagine, these activists have an acrimonious relationship with delegates and attendees at the DNC. On Monday, there was a shouting match between an activist and an attendee, with one yelling “God is holy” and the other yelling “God is love.” (For those who aren’t familiar with this line of argumentation, “God is holy” is shorthand for the idea that God demands justice as much as he shows love. For Christian fundamentalists, abortion and same-sex marriage are two things that require a demonstration of God’s “justice.”)

I spoke to one of the activists, a middle-aged man named Ante Pavkovic, while he was demonstrating outside of the main convention hall. He was nice enough to tell a little bit of his story and explain why he was here protesting.

Is this how these demonstrations usually go?

Pavkovic: We go in front of the abortion clinic with a sound system, we’ll play music—church music—and worship the Lord out there. I’ll say to every woman who gets out of their car—really quick, before they get out of the car—“Ma’am, we have doctors that will see you free of charge. We also have adoption agencies if you can’t keep the child. If you decide to keep the child, we’ll throw a baby shower and give you everything you need for the first two years of that child’s life.”

And above all, we have the Gospel. I try to get all of that out—you have about 30 seconds from when they get out of the car—and that’s what I say to all of them. I want them to know that they have their bases covered, and we can give them everything they need.

I grew up in the church, and I’ve always been taught that evangelism has a lot do with hospitality—living a particular life and letting people see for themselves. I’m not sure that I get these signs. It seems like you might reach more people with a gentler approach.

Here’s the problem with that. First of all, abortion isn’t gentle, like you can see. Second, they’re being told that abortion doesn’t kill little children. But "fetus" is a Latin word that means "little one"—they can dehumanize it by giving it a Latin name. And so most people don’t believe that abortion is killing babies. We have the sorry, thankless task of with one picture refuting this argument, whether or not abortion kills babies. We’re hoping for the right reaction, often we get the wrong reaction—people get mad at this, rather than the people who do this to little children.

I think a lot of pro-choice people would say that most abortions aren’t as late-term as the ones you portray. What would you say to that?

Here’s the thing. Most women don’t know they’re pregnant till after a month or two. Now, a heartbeat has been detected at 21 days after conception, and brain waves within the first month. Now most of the time people find out they are pregnant, it’s way further than 30 days, it’s two or three months later. Now, if there’s brain waves at prior to four weeks and heartbeats after four weeks, then what are we talking about? We’re killing children.

What if someone said, “We will limit abortion and even outlaw it, but in exchange, we have to have universal health care, universal pre-K, government-funded contraception?”

No, one has nothing to do with the other. This is a moral issue, period. This whole free health care stuff is socialism and communism. It doesn’t work, it’s not going to work, and the Founders would be vehemently opposed to this stuff.

And well, [contraception] encourages sin and fornication. Have sex when you get married, and start a family as God intended.