MOM BABY GOD: A Controversial Show Tackling Abortion Rights Comes to Glens Falls
Reproductive Rights and the Pro-life Movement at the Wood Theater
Madeline Burrows‘ MOM BABY GOD, Preview
Described as “a rare night at the theater that is both thought-provoking and smashingly entertaining”, artist and activist Madeline Burrows, will perform a unique, one-woman show, entitled MOM BABY GOD at the Wood Theater in Glens Falls on Saturday, October 11th at 7:30pm. Proceeds will help benefit the Glens Falls Planned Parenthood Center (GFPP).
MOM BABY GOD is a boisterous and scathing show that ventures into the world of “activism, adolescence and abstinence in the pro-life movement,” from the perspective of a teenage girl who ardently follows the Christian Conservative Lifestyle. According to Burrows, MOM BABY GOD is the result of several years of research on the anti-choice movement, especially its student-based factions. The 2013 Hampshire College graduate went undercover in the pro-life movement for a two-year stretch, which helped inspire the nucleus of her show.
Through her first person experiences, Burrows has sculpted an intricate series of monologues and characters, including ministers and abstinence-only sex educators that help to depict the obvious bias, contempt and the motivation of the Christian Conservative Lifestyle. Burrows’ primary character is one 15-year-old Jessica Beth Giffords, who is described as “an endearing and overly-caffeinated pro-life activist” who adores Justin Bieber and wants to become a superstar of the Christian Right. As the show progresses, Jessica experiences a plethora of issues and feelings (the pangs of young love, for example) that include a sexual awakening that eventually conflicts with her pro-life beliefs. The show’s intention is to expose the religious right as a repressive movement that openly discriminates against women, the LGBTQ community and basically anyone else with whom they don’t agree. While Burrows has taken the show across the country to positive reviews, MOM BABY GOD will most definitely have a powerful resonance in Glens Falls.
A Li’l Background…
Planned Parenthood serves over five million clients annually nationwide. While there are some who see the non-profit organization as performing nothing but abortions, it should be clarified that Planned Parenthood offers services that include contraceptives, screenings for breast, cervical and testicular cancer, pregnancy testing, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, sex education, treatment for menopause, vasectomies, tubal litigations and, yes, abortions (which constitutes only 3% of their services nationwide).
While the GFPP has seen its share of demonstrations since it opened roughly 45 years ago, it slowly came to a festering, pus-filled head in September of 2013. It was during this time that the pro-life Christian group Open Arms Pregnancy Center (OAPC) purchased the building next door in order to spread their unique brand of enthralling, religious zeal, while at the same time intimidating women who enter the GFPP, by deceptively attempting to talk them out of terminating their pregnancies. Hijinks have since then ensued over the past year, with several 40-day long pray-a-thons (aka 40 Days for Life) for the souls of the unborn (which, surprisingly enough have been successful in closing down close to 40 Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide). The OAPC, with its religious undertones, claims to offer services such as pregnancy testing, counseling, adoption information, post abortion counseling as well as abortion facts, with their caveat being: “Planned Parenthood is no longer the only option in our area!”
What is most striking about the OAPC are statements by its chapter’s director Susan Balfour, an area realtor, that appeared in the September 19, 2013 issue of The Chronicle. It was here that she offered such insightful and scientifically proven facts, in regards to a woman becoming pregnant after a rape: “The chances of a girl getting pregnant are so extremely rare, and that baby didn’t do anything wrong. There is no baby unless God puts that baby there.” (A 2004 survey published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health estimated that approximately 19,500 abortions are undertaken annually in the US to end pregnancies as a result of rape or incest).
Ms. Balfour also emphatically stressed that her group represents “mainstream American values”, (no Led Zeppelin albums or twerking, you kids!) and added that the adjacent land purchases would “surround Planned Parenthood with good stuff,’ and that the staff of Planned Parenthood “might as well go get new jobs right now.” That’s pretty tough talk, without fully explaining what the good stuff actually is? So, where is the good stuff of which they speak? I mean Glens Falls could really use a Polish restaurant…now, that would be good stuff! And what kind of new jobs are they suggesting these individuals go find once they put GFPP out of business? The Capital Region is really a hotbed of employment these days, so maybe they could elaborate a bit more?
Yet, out of the whole Open Arms kerfuffle Get Your Girl On (GYGO) was formed; this is a local group that supports Planned Parenthood and women’s rights while also providing escort for GFPP patients. With a membership of close to 300, the group has valiantly and peacefully counter-protested Open Arms with their own 40 Days of Appreciation and other activities in response to 40 Days of Prayer, and they have been instrumental in bringing MOM BABY GOD to the Wood Theater.
While MOM BABY GOD may in fact open some closed eyes as to how extreme the pro-life movement can actually be, it may in fact alert others as to the importance of individual choice and how important women’s rights are. All sarcasm aside, the pro-life movement at some point needs to wrap its lips hard around the concept that the United States is not a Christian nation; it is a secular one. There is no one true faith for all of us to fall on our knees and implicitly follow, and any decisions we make should be ours alone, without any needless interference. Isn’t the core of Christianity to love and respect one another? Maybe, someday it will be.
Tickets for MOM BABY GOD are $20 for general admission and $10 for students. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Mohawk Hudson Planned Parenthood’s Glens Falls Health Center, in order to provide financial support for women in need of reproductive health care and also to improve security and privacy for employees and patients of the GFPP…and there will be free cupcakes!
A counter-protest in support of Planned Parenthood and organized by GYGO, has been scheduled for October 11th, prior to the performance. Supporters can meet at the Civil War Monument at Glen and South Streets at 12pm and move on to Planned Parenthood at 135 Warren Street.
For more information, call 518-480-4878 or visit www.mombabygod.com
–Chad Henning is a Contributor to The Free George. Photo Courtesy of Jessica Neria.
The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.
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