Thursday, October 16, 2014

Get ready now for Roe events: Tombstone signs

With the upcoming anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, life advocates are planning marches, vigils, and rallies across the country. I first saw these tombstone signs in a picture of an Operation Rescue rally in Wichita back in the 1980s. They're a powerful reminder that women are still sometimes paying the ultimate price for the belief that they and their unborn children are mortal enemies.

Imagine the visual of a sea of these marching past a group of the uninformed, or a contingent of abortion-rights counter-protestors. They'd also make a spectacular stationary display in the form of a cemetery that visitors can wander through, reading the signs and learning about the women for whom abortion was the last choice they ever made.

The signs are easy to make, and now the foam board, that used to cost more than $3 a sheet at office supply stores, is available for $1 a sheet at Dollar Tree. I made a set of 40 for March for Life in DC. Raising funds is a cinch, since you just ask people if possible to donate $1 for their own plus sponsor additional signs for $1 each. A teen or church group could easily churn out a set in a day.

Start by printing out the names, ages, dates of death, and so forth. I have them prepared in reverse chronological order starting here, with 2000 - Present. There are links at the top and bottom of each web page for more clusters by time span.

 I find that twice the width of a landscape-oriented letter-sized page is about the width of the sign. I also believe you get a nicer result if you vary the fonts among the signs.

When it's time to cut the signs, you'll need something large and rounded to guide you in cutting the tops. As you can see, I used a Christmas tree stand. A trash can lid, saucer sled, or tray will do as well. Use a razor knife. I would just score the foamboard sometimes. Other times I'd stack the foam board, use a bit more force, and just slice them through. Both ways work fine -- just be careful that you don't damage your floor.

If you don't cut through the whole way on the first stroke, use the razor knife to cut through the rest of the way to get a nice rounded top. Scissors don't work well; they tend to mash the board and not give you a nice clean cut.

Cut the words for the front from the page where you've printed them. I've found that the double width of a landscape-oriented letter-sized sheet is just the right width. I can't see any real advantage in using legal sized paper, because it's not wide enough for the sign if you use a single sheet, and it's two wide if you go twice the width. Ledger sized paper would probably work well.

Spray adhesive works best. It allows you to reposition the words if you need to. The adhesive is inexpensive and available in the craft department of Wal-Mart, though if you prefer you can also get it at craft stores. Just be careful when you spray -- it tends to land on other things around the signs you're working on. Put old newspapers down if you don't want a thin sticky layer of glue on the floor.

With the spray adhesive, you have plenty of time to place the words on the sign. You can move them if you need to. I find that the razor knife works well for lifting the edges for repositioning. Just be warned -- your hands will get pretty gunky with a mix of glue and printer ink.

Print out each woman's story and put it on the back. You can also add copies of relevant documents that I link to, such as medical board disciplinary documents or news clippings. I put pictures on the front when I can get them, with additional pictures on the back when a woman's story has more than one photograph with it. This enables people to become familiar with the stories of the women, both to educate themselves and to answer questions.

Make sure you print out a copy of the list so that you can verify that you got all the signs back at the end of the event. By checking them off, you can spot any missing signs and easily replace them.

You can find a list in reverse chronological order beginning here. Just copy, paste, format, and print. I have included photos when I could find them. Experiment a bit with the photos and your printer to find an optimal size.

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