Sidekick Training, by Lou

On my first Saturday on the sidewalk I had prepared myself for the barrage of hate that would be spewed my way. I practiced steeling myself against the antis’ words. I had long since lost the religion of my childhood, which made it easier to ignore their religious hatred. I was determined to not allow it to get to me in such a way that I would lose it on the sidewalk. I knew that arguing with these people would be a waste of my time and effort.

I was paired with a fellow escort to shadow for the morning and we stood side by side holding the property line. She told me what the antis might do or say and that my goal was to hold the property line so that they could not cross it and prevent clients from getting to the door. As everyone began taking their places, like a show was about to begin, one of the AHA guys came over and stood in between myself and the escort I was shadowing. He was holding one of his giant signs and had a smug look on his face as if he had just beat me at a game of poker. My first thought was, “Oh crap! I need to stand next to her because I don’t know what I’m doing!” Then I felt that just standing next to this guy meant that I was somehow validating what he was doing. It felt gross. I wished he would just move and take his hate somewhere else.

I turned to my right and peered down the sidewalk. Catholics praying with their rosaries, more enthusiastic Catholics holding up signs, two frail looking ladies with looks of worry on their faces as if they had lost a beloved pet. And then I looked across the sidewalk at what was directly in front of me. Signs 3-feet high with bloody fetuses and tiny body parts; one sign said something to the effect of what Hitler did was legal; one sign denouncing atheism was particularly strange because I wasn’t sure what atheism had to do with all of this. Then again, I’m not sure what Hitler has to do with all of this either.

When the guy from AHA turned on his speaker and started preaching to whoever was listening, the environment became like that of a circus, or actually kind of like walking up and down the rows of vendors at the fair where people desperately hawk their wares. I imagine him selling one of those contraptions that cuts your vegetables into noodles.

I spent much of the morning wondering how I would know who was a client and who was a pedestrian or a protester joining their group. When the first client was escorted through the neon orange wall of escorts and on to the door of the clinic, I knew right away that there would be no mistaking who was a client and who was not. They all had the same look of panic drawn across their faces. Most of them had companions alongside of them shielding them from the freak show. One of them could not handle the protesters and had to go for a walk with an escort before the clinic opened. Several of them had earbuds in to drown out the hideous noise. Most of them were rushed through, kind of like celebrities only instead of camera flashes, there were flashes of “Murder!” “Don’t kill your baby!” “Murder in the first degree!” “Let me adopt your baby!” I’ll never forget the first woman who walked through with her head held high as if this shit didn’t bother her at all.

So I had steeled myself against the hate that I would hear and see and most of it just flew on by my head without a thought. What I didn’t expect was how I would feel when I saw the women running through the gauntlet. The looks on their faces. The panic when they finally reached the door only to discover that the clinic hadn’t opened yet. They were shielded by companions and hunched over, even the ones who held their heads high with earbuds in their ears pulled on the door with desperation. The AHA guys would swarm the door whenever someone couldn’t get in. The big bald one used his loudspeaker even though he was 3 feet away from his target. He blared some garbage about God and Jesus, dead babies and “change your mind.” The door finally opens, the women rush inside, and the antis go back to their places on the sidewalk.

I know the antis like to think of themselves as heroes, somehow saving babies. I think most of us know who the real heroes are. The real heroes are the women who brave that mess just to take care of their very own bodies. The real heroes are the doctors on the other side of that door. And we escorts, we are the badass sidekicks.

Theater of the Absurd: 9-19-15

I don’t usually escort on weekdays.  When I do, it seems quiet and calm compared to Saturdays.   I have time to chat, and time for random observations.  For example, you may have seen this on billboards:

IMG_5173It’s a baby -maybe a 6 month old – smiling, and the text reads:



The sign is leaning against the fire hydrant, one of the handy devices the city has placed on the sidewalk in front of the clinic to showcase the antis signs.  (The sign on the other side of the hydrant says, “THE KILLING PLACE,” a helpful marker for people having trouble finding the clinic.)

But the “I could smile” sign confuses me.  Because I’m pretty sure that after babies are born, they don’t really smile.  I mean, they make that little Mona Lisa smile sometimes and we say, “Oh!  Look!  She’s smiling!”  And then somebody else says, “No, I think that’s gas.  They say that’s just gas – I don’t think they can smile yet.”

When a baby gets to be about 4 months old, they start smiling like they really mean it, and we’re all thrilled and say, “Oh, look!  Look at that smile!!  Oh!!” and no one disagrees, and our hearts all melt a little bit.

So I don’t understand this pre-born smiling thing.  Is it that little Mona Lisa smile?  Because that one really doesn’t mean anything.  Or is it the big “I’m so happy to see you” smile?  If that’s the one, then I want to know what happens to it once they’re actually born.  Why do they not smile again for months?  Do they miss the womb?  Feel disappointed about their life?   Very strange.

Interestingly, the sign was made by a company based here in Louisville – a non-profit started by people at a local church.  Now I’m wondering if the billboards are sold nationally, or if other cities have their own sign makers.  And are all the billboards the same? Surely we’re not the only place to have billboards proclaiming:



7 months BEFORE I was born I had FINGERPRINTS!

The billboards are real bright, like the picture I posted, mostly blue and yellow, with splashes of red.  Do youall have the same ones where you live?  And do they come from the same company?

These are the kinds of things I ponder on a weekday morning at the clinic.  Here’s the other thing that caught my eye.

IMG_5174Yep, it’s one of the AHA fetal porn signs with a DIY handle on the back.  I’ve been watching the AHA guys handle the signs as if they were shields and wondering how they did it so handily.  Now we know – a yardstick and a little packing tape is all you need to make an effective “enarmes,”.  If they attach some leather straps, they can sling it over a shoulder as they come and go.  That would be downright swashbuckling.

Finally, I bring you this video from a Saturday. A couple of clients and their companions arrived early and were treated to Story Time by Dominic. I guess it’s better than listening to him yell, “Murder!  Murder in the first degree!!”  So this kinder, gentler Dominic starts off saying that he’s Japanese American.

We were put in internment camps, just because of our race.  It didn’t matter if our parents were born here, or that I was born here.  My parents and grandparents were put in internment camps just because of their race.  And again – the Supreme Court said, “It’s ok.”

Donna (comes up behind him):    Honey, you are already a mom.

D:  Think about that, Brother.  Think about that Supreme Court that has made just more tragic mistakes.  This is just another mistake.

Yep, darn Supreme Court, if they hadn’t made abortion legal, no one would have one.

You might have thought I was going to write about Planned Parenthood and the continuing efforts to defund them, or how these ludicrous efforts are inciting more push back from people who might not have paid attention otherwise, or how some states are passing more restrictive laws while other states are having their restrictive laws overturned, or any of the other substantive challenges facing us.  But no.  The sidewalk is a form of the Theater of the Absurd, so:

“There is no action or plot. Very little happens because nothing meaningful can happen.”

The action on the sidewalk doesn’t meet all the criteria for Theater of the Absurd, all the time, but it comes close.  More about that another time…

Changes on the Sidewalk

Remember Nurse Betty?  Yes, Nurse Betty, the protester.  And Donna, the little red-headed lady who shows up 5 days a week to harass the clients at the clinic?  You know that they have been some of the most persistent and bothersome protesters.  Well, along with Ron and Ponytail Guy and Andrew and Angela, and some of the other regulars.

But Donna, with her refrain of “You’ll always regret this, your life will never be the same.” was super annoying.  Doing her little “come here” hand gesture, as if this invitation would be irresistible to clients waiting to check in for their procedure.   “Did you know they take you in the basement?” she would say.  “If this place caught on fire, you wouldn’t be able to get out!”  Because fire safety is your primary concern when you need an abortion.  Donna.  Annoying, but laughable.

And Nurse Betty, with her laminated page of graphic fetus images.  She would thrust it at people – escorts, clients, whoever – exclaiming, “Look at this!!  Look at this!!  Do you know what you’re doing?  Do you see what you support?”

She still has that page, Nurse Betty does.  She was clutching it today, ready in case she had the opportunity to thrust it at someone.  But you know what?  That laminated 8 x 10 sheet of graphic fetus images just doesn’t have a lot of shock value anymore.  Because this:


doesn’t carry much weight next to this:


Or this:


31 x 48 inches – 2 1/2 feet by 4 feet – that’s the size of the posters.  Over four times as big as Nurse Betty’s little piece of paper.  It almost makes me feel sorry for her.

And let’s talk about sound.  Once upon a time, we could hear the Catholics saying the rosary.  We’d hear Donna’s comments, maybe Andrew, exhorting the clients and escorts, talking about his own pre-born child. Then Angela might show up, and we’d think she was loud.   Yep, Angela seemed real loud, yelling and preaching at the door.

This video is ridiculously long, but kind of great because you can see and hear Joseph, one of the AHA (Abolish Human Abortion) guys, talking directly to an escort (not using his amplifier, although sometimes he does use it even when he’s that close to someone)  He’s saying things like this:

You have to put your faith in Jesus Christ, he is lord and savior He’s your king. one day you will bow down before him … will you do that willingly?  we’ve been praying for you…  I pray for you by name – your name is escaping me right now – but i pray for you by name… There was a time in my life when I laughed and mocked… every knee will bow… I want you to have grace, i really do… At one time we considered black people not persons… The same court that held that black people were not persons are holding that babies are not persons…   Why not repent while you have time… The bible says today is the day of salvation. Repent. Turn to Jesus”

In the background you can just barely hear Angela yelling at the window.  She’s saying things like this:

Don’t go in that abortion mill.  Don’t do it.  Come out right now You think that abortionist is going to solve your problem, you don’t want to have a baby, but you already have a baby. Right now, you’re a mother right now you’re a father right now you are already a mother.  You’ll just be the mother of a dead baby.  Come out!”

You can hear the Catholics saying the rosary and at the end, another preacher chimes in.  And you can hear them all.

Or here – here’s Donna and her plastic fetus dolls (from 2013):

Innocent, defenseless, unsuspecting child. Abortion is the ultimate act of terror. Look at these little babies – seven to ten weeks Put that up on your website. Might change the hearts of some of these folks.

But now listen to this:

“Turn back to God and become the man that God intended you to be! Don’t stand up th~~ Take off your orange vests, men, and pick up your Bible {thumping on the Bible} and read it! And heed it! That was God’s intention for you! That was God’s intent! He said for us to rule this world – subdue the planet – to control it!!”

Or go back and listen to the video I posted in “Don’t Be a Mocker.”  The sound level has increased exponentially.   The Catholics can barely hear themselves praying anymore.  The AHA preachers with their loudspeakers drown out other voices, and they only grudgingly let the other street preachers like Angela take a turn.

Nurse Betty and her little paper, the chasers with their pamphlets and brochures, are ineffectual now.  Even Donna’s little fetus dolls seem pale and – well, almost boring.

Then a few weeks ago, this happened.  It’s Joseph again.

J:  “You can be sure they’ll have a home that loves them.   Please.  Please let me adopt your child. Please. (comes off stool toward the clinic)  Allow me to adopt your child please. (He crosses the property line, escorts begin to say, “You’re trespassing. You’re trespassing)  Just allow me to adopt your child.  Allow me to adopt your child please.  (You’re trespassing.)  You don’t have to call the police.   She needs to allow me to adopt her child. Please allow me to adopt your child Please allow me to adopt your child
I was asking.
Clinic staff:  I’m calling the police.
J:  I’m not blocking anybody, not breaking any laws
Clinic Staff:  You are trespassing this is our property.
J:  You need to stop killing children. (steps off property) You need to stop killing children. Allow me to adopt your child please.

Dominic yells:  “You had an option ma’am. That’s what it is, Murder in the first degree.”

J:  You are a murderer you need to repent and turn to Christ. (Escort:  “go away”) You need to repent of your sins. (Escort:  Go away) You need to repent. i’m just trying to talk to some someone and offer to adopt their child.   You can get mad all you want sir, but you are a murderer, you’re a hateful , you’re a hateful murderer   You don’t care about these people. You do not care about these people.

Another protester (to the escort):  And you’re a coward.  Because if you were a man, you’d be standing up for these babies.

Escort: (scoffing)  If I were a man like you?

Protester.  “No not a man like me.   A man like Jesus.”
J:  i was offering to adopt her child  (To the escort) don’t be a coward, sir, speak up, stand up for your convictions
Escort:  I am!
J: Well then tell me, what’s wrong with trying to adopt someone’s child? (Unintelligible)  In this building they will murder children,”

This week, Joseph slammed his sign into an escort standing on the property line at the clinic.  He apparently thought she was standing where his sign should have been.  The sign is almost as tall as she is, and he shoved it into her.

Even one of the Catholic protesters thought that was out of line.  She told him his rudeness “was putting a bad face on pro-life.”   His response?  He turned away from the woman confronting him, and said to an escort, “I can do whatever I want to.”

Let me be clear.  Joseph, the AHA guy does not care about the escort he slammed his sign into.  In his mind, his mission trumps her right to stand on the sidewalk.  He thinks a woman he doesn’t even know should change her entire life, carry a pregnancy to term, and give him – a stranger, literally someone off the street – her baby.   Because he wants her to.

In the same way, the anti-abortion people no longer care if a woman’s health is at risk. They are not worried about women’s well-being, or even their survival.  The fall-out from the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood have exponentially increased the damage the anti-abortion groups are doing.  Women’s access to any reproductive health services is at risk, especially women who are living below the poverty level.

“Pro-lifers” have been chipping away at abortion rights until they are almost gone.  Now these new groups plan to swoop in and impose their radical religious agenda on everyone.  They do not want women to be able to use birth control, practice family planning, or exercise bodily autonomy.  I don’t know how far they’ll get before people wake up and  stop them.

In the meantime, we just keep escorting.  Supporting women seeking a common medical procedure.  Trusting women to know what’s best for themselves and their families.  Holding space for clients and their companions on the sidewalk.

Don’t Be a Mocker

I’m going to try to write this post without “being a mocker.”  Seriously.  That’s not what this post is about.  Sometimes on the sidewalk things get so convoluted and upside down, that I do laugh, but it’s not funny.

Today, we had a jogger who stopped to angrily confront the “preacher,” who was loudly maligning President Obama.  The jogger began with:  “Obama is a lifelong Christian, a lifelong American.  You can accuse him of being a Muslim, of being born in another country, because he’s black… ” and ended by yelling, “Racist!  Racist!”  before he jogs on.

The preacher’s response?  “The Bible says that we all are born of one blood – all races of man come from one blood – that’s what I believe! And that negates the fact that I could be a racist.”

In the distance, you can hear the jogger yell, “Bullshit!!”

Funny/ not funny.  Today on video, I have the preacher and the jogger, I have the preacher’s rants about abortion destroying the black race, how deathscorts are liars, and much more.  But here’s my favorite.   I call it “Artistic Rendition of Antis.”

I didn’t realize I was taking it.  So the video jumps around, upside down, sideways, right side up.  That’s actually how it feels at the clinic after you’ve stood there for 15 – 20 – 30 minutes, imagine an hour or more, listening to the preacher blasting his message.  When he pauses – and I love this – you can hear the Catholics reciting the rosary, or singing Ave Maria.  AND you can hear the music that one of the escorts plays – it reminds me of calliope music, which adds to the surreal, circus feel.

Make no mistake about it, it is a circus on the sidewalk.

Here’s a transcript.  Understand that he’s talking directly to the escorts.  We are the intended audience – there are no clients around, no clients in the clinic, just us escorts, stoically standing around.

{You’re smiling} young lady, but it’s true. And mockers will NOT inherit God’s kingdom, they will be cast into hell. So do not be a mocker.  That’s not something you want to be. There’ll be no mocking on the judgement seat of Christ. There’ll be no mocking on judgement day. And the only hope that you have is Jesus Christ and to submit to him.

In fact, you’re stealing human life. And you stand on this idea of liberty and freedom But the declaration of independence, the cornerstone of freedom in this country, said that we are all created by a creator with certain inalienable rights. Our rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The first one is life. The first one is life and you stand here today in opposition to that So the whole idea of liberty crashes on what you’re doing.  In fact you are tyrants. you are tyrants that choose to suppress choice, that choose to suppress freedom. And you need to repent of that

No (unintelligible) the kingdom of heaven.

The 7th commandment says thou shall not commit adultery. Jesus took it so far that if you’re thinking about having sex with someone who’s not your wife or husband, Jesus calls that lust of the heart – in thinking about it. But see, we don’t have to go, we don’t have to go that deep into God’s word in America. Naw, we don’t have to do that. Because adultery is celebrated on a scale never before experienced in the history of the world. To the point where, we make provision for women if they get pregnant because they want to sleep around and be whores -just murder your child. Just murder your child. We’ve got clinics all over, business all over the United States, just go on a Saturday morning, on a Tuesday morning, and we’ll take care of your problem, we’ll take care of your adulterous problem. The baby that was born, that was conceived out of wedlock, We’ll take care of it – we’ll just kill it for you.
See that’s what adultery has done to our nation, has done to many nations. We are desensitized to our sin

But America celebrates sexual immorality to the point where, if you don’t celebrate it, it is not even a matter of tolerance anymore, but if you don’t celebrate it, you are called hateful and a bigot and intolerant and mean and unloving.
But that’s because we have turned what is good into bad and what is bad into good, and the Bible says woe unto them who call evil good and good evil.

So let me be clear.  They believe that escorts are surpressing choice.  They believe that women who come to the clinic have been brow-beaten and bullied into coming there.  They believe that some of them are whores and some of them are victims, or maybe they’re all both whore and victims, I’m not sure.  And I want to shake my head and laugh.

But it’s not funny.  These are people who believe that a woman’s life is less valuable than that of her unborn child.  They absolutely believe that women are supposed to submit to men and accept their role as child-bearers and helpmates.  They believe that feminism is inherently evil.

Not funny.  They  push anti-abortion legislation, and abstinence only sex education, and think their religious beliefs should take priority over your rights.  And yes, they support Kim Davis.

And yes, they've added this to the array of signs they tie to the fire hydrant.

And yes, they’ve added this to the array of signs they tie to the fire hydrant.

I think it’s important for us to understand where they stand – and be clear about where we stand.

  • Note – I don’t think this post is about Christianity.  If you hate Christianity, that’s fine, if you feel the need to remind us that not all Christians are like this, I understand and agree.  But this post is about bullies and how they view the world.

Sex, Lies and Videotape ~ by KyBorn

Well, I admit it.

I behaved badly earlier in the week.

I should be better. I expect better from myself. I expect better from the pro-choice community. However, in that moment, when Holly O’Donnell, the Joan of Arc of fetuses, saw her life* laid out bare and in a probably irrelevant and skewed way, I laughed.

It wasn’t funny. Holly O’Donnell isn’t the biggest problem in this war waged against Planned Parenthood and abortion in general. Does laughing at who is likely a minor player and disposable pawn in the minds and money behind the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) make a difference?  Not really, she will probably be used, abused and tossed aside like a piece of garbage soon enough.

Still, none of this is right. No matter who does what, it isn’t OK for human beings to treat each other this way even if the woman in question works for an organization waging war based on highly-edited videos. Sure, they say they are releasing “whole videos” and they are only “editing” the same way a news organization does. Of course, this doesn’t explain why they need to edit a two-hour video that they still release on YouTube in its entirety. Surely, the media is capable of editing these works of genius down to the time they need to fit their specific needs.

Aside from the bizarre editing, it doesn’t even begin to explain why CMP is inserting footage completely unrelated to the interviews they were filming undercover. The most recent video has the inserted images of a fetus born prematurely to a woman in the hospital. The fetus was not able to survive at 19 weeks. It had nothing to do with abortion or Planned Parenthood. It did have to do with a woman’s tragic loss of a wanted child. Who knows if they even had permission to use this clip?  They chose to turn this tragic family moment into filler footage as Holly O’Donnell rambles on about alleged medical atrocities she conveniently doesn’t have on video.

CMP is closely allied with and funded by several groups who claim to be Christian. Christian label or not, they do seem to have quite a bit of trouble following the directions of their own holy book which admonishes people to tell the truth. The easiest of untruths to spot of course, is that they lied about the purpose of CMP and then further lied when CMP filed papers of incorporation for a false company known as BioMax so they could get access to Planned Parenthood staff and people attending a National Abortion Federation convention they would have otherwise been banned from. Then there is the fact that they probably broke the law in California with fake IDs as well as their one-party recording of people in a state that requires the consent of two parties. To heap onto their problems with tape, they also signed a non-disclosure agreement where they agreed not to audio or video record at the National Abortion Federation convention because people worry about their safety. That’s right, abortion providers and those who choose to work in that field of medicine have to worry about being murdered, shot, assaulted, harassed and stalked along with their family members, so it is natural that a convention for abortion providers would want to make it a safe place for providers to gather to learn and exchange knowledge.

However, the most subtle lies are the ones they tell with their videos. They weren’t just edited for brevity, but they were edited for content so that the CMP staff pretending to be BioMax could tape themselves asking one question and show the unwitting victim answering another question. Not only do respectable news organizations not edit clips to change the entire message, they don’t insert their “clips” full of images that have nothing to do with the story at hand.

An example would be if I decided to conduct an interview with Person A about the Holocaust and Person A has no idea they will be appearing on video. Using the rather slimy methods of CMP the interview would go something like this:

Me: What do you think about the Holocaust?

Person A: I think it was horrible

We go on to chatter for another hour about various topics and at this point I change my questioning.

Me: What do you think about pictures of kittens?

Person A: I think that they are adorable.

If I was editing the CMP way, I would show myself asking the question about the  Holocaust, insert some footage of the Holocaust that had nothing to do with anything I had gathered myself, and I would do so without comment followed up by Person A’s response, “I think they are adorable.”  For an extra touch, I would freeze those words in quotes up on the screen over images of Holocaust victims and then use a voice over to remind the audience that Person A thinks the Holocaust is adorable and finish with some ominous music as we faded out over the bloody body of a recent murder victim.

In this case, every word spoken by Person A was truly spoken by Person A. The lying comes in the editing process and if I, in fact, choose to edit in the hypothetical way described above I become a liar with my pants perpetually on fire without even opening my mouth.

Now, back to Holly O’Donnell. I don’t have any questions about her sexual practices. They have nothing to do with her being neck deep in a lying plot to undermine Planned Parenthood. There are some questions I would like her to answer, questions that she never gets around to while she is bashing Stem Express and Planned Parenthood. Since I would never run into Holly O’Donnell, I’ll just ask them here.

How much did CMP pay her for those videos?

Why would an avid pro-lifer take a job that required her to harvest fetal tissue from a facility that performed abortions?

She tells us at least once that she is a “Certified Phlebotomy Tech” but proceeds to fiddle around, bare-handed with needles in a dangerous and unsanitary way as she is reciting a tale of woe for the camera. Does she know correct sanitary procedures?

Did she not take any sort of anatomy class where she would have learned that “tapping” any sort of heart be it fetal, infant, adult or child does not cause a heart that has ceased to beat to magically come back to life?

In reference to the last question, I am wondering why she didn’t have this miraculous, never before reported event, on video and certainly why didn’t she have the alleged crime that followed on video?

This brings me to my final point about videos. We in the pro-choice community know that antis use video as a weapon. They claim it is for self-defense but I’ll be doggone if I can find a way that a car license plate, a weeping woman running away from the anti or a doctor sprinting into work from 50 feet away and behind a fence as a threatening situation On the other hand, antis frequently make claims of evil deeds done to them by pro-choicers and escorts. The most recent tale of woe I read involved the companion of a patient dousing 6 quietly-praying women “from head to toe” with Comet**. Even though in later still pictures you see that nearly everyone has a body cam or is recording with a cell phone, we are told to believe not only did not a single person catch the travesty on video, they don’t even have a still picture of it. So as you can see, missing video is also a weapon.

So what is my point?  Even in this age of videos everywhere, most people with cameras on their phones available 24 hours a day, in all parts of everyone’s lives, we have to be careful and look more deeply at the images presented. In fact, it may be even easier to lie to people in this time where it is easy, cheap and fast to spread gross or false images around the world. In fact, rather than asking about what we see in the videos, we need to spend more time asking what we don’t see at times and question the need of irrelevant images at others.


*Article removed from publication. Editor’s Note: Our Reporting on CMP and Holly O’Donnell

**All links to anti-abortion websites have been omitted purposely. Please Google “protesters attacked with Comet”or message us separately if you would like a citation for sources.


What’s New on the Sidewalk?

Not much is new, really – although there’s often a surprise or two on a Saturday. This week, we had Catholics on parade, and the Archbishop was there – so they had a police motorcade – and they brought the Knights of Columbus. Someone thought they were from the Renaissance Faire, but no.


(Ten or twelve people walking down the street, the one in front carries a painting of a woman, probably representing Mary, behind her are three Knights, older men in tricorn hats with feathers, white or red capes, black suits.  At their sides, they are wearing swords.  Behind them is the Archbishop in black pants and shirt, with the touch of white clergy collar.  Behind them is a young man, casually dressed, and a few other people.  The front of a police car is visible on the far right.)

I am not trying to be snarky about the Knights but they do look a little medieval, right? And the swords might be a bit over the top. Yes, swords – see the silverish things hanging down beside them? Swords. Grown men. Broad daylight. In front of the abortion clinic.

The official mission statement for the Knights of Columbus says:

The Kentucky State Council is dedicated to growing the Order throughout the state of Kentucky to further the vision of our founder, Fr. Michael J. McGivney and the Evangelization of our Catholic Faith. The Order was founded on the principle of Charity, specifically to care for the widow and orphan of a Brother Knight. Later the principles of Unity and Fraternity, as well as Patriotism were added. The everyday actions of the State and local councils are a means for Knights to live the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. It is through the implementation of programs that exemplify these principles that the Kentucky State Council will continue to grow the Order. The State Council will lead by example and through both action and dialogue inspire its members into action.

They are not, as far as I can tell, joined by the Knights of Peter Claver which, according to Wikipedia:

“…the largest and oldest continually existent predominantly African-American Catholic fraternal organization was founded more than 100 years ago. It was formed to provide opportunities for Catholic Action to men of color to be actively involved in their faith by living the Gospel message. The Knights of Peter Claver membership now includes the entire family and offers opportunities to engage in a variety of church and community service projects and support various charitable appeals.”


But the Knights are in fine fettle, standing across the street from the abortion clinic.  I hope those swords have a dull point, like epees, but I’m not close enough to tell.  Actually that is not my thumb in the pictures here either.

(Two images, each of a man standing at attention, holding a sword up over his right shoulder.  They are wearing black hats with huge white feathers, and black suits.  The one on the left appears to be elderly and is wearing glasses and a red cape, while the one on the right is wearing a white cape and has a white mustache.) 

In other news , the ongoing conflict between our regular Catholics and the AHA people (Abolish Human Abortion) flares up today.   The Catholics, who create the gauntlet of people lining the sidewalk, mostly just say the rosary.  AHA  folks bring their microphones and preach the whole time – loudly.  Makes it difficult for the Catholics to hear themselves pray – so today, we hear a sudden blast from a referee whistle, and a lot of yelling at the preacher.  But it is just a momentary disruption and no blows are exchanged.

As I’m crossing the street with a client, one of the AHA guys joins us.  He’s wearing a microphone and actually starts broadcasting at the client as we cross the street.  That’s a first for me, and I’m sure for her too.  Doesn’t seem like you would need amplification if you’re standing right next to someone.  I’m hoping he’s not going to make a habit of it – it just seems like a new level of rude.

But lots of things are the same.  They still hang their signs on the fire hydrant – I guess they think the police just meant they couldn’t do it that one day.  Dominic still yells, “Murder – Murder in the first degree!”  Donna still gives her little hand wave, motioning for the clients to come out of the clinic.

So much happening there, it’s such a circus, and seems like such a big deal.  And then I read Ky Born’s story about her abortion experience and I’m reminded that the walk up the sidewalk is a tiny part of the “getting an abortion” process.   All this chaos is one tiny part.  That’s a good perspective to hold on to.

The Good Abortion – Part III – By KyBorn

{Part I is here; Part II is here…}

Back in the lobby,  the young man insisting his broke girlfriend have a baby they can’t feed is slouched and pouting in his chair; crossed arms, splayed leg and lower lip stuck out like a  toddler not getting dessert. I am ready to get lost in my murder mystery again when they call me back for counselling.

I don’t pay much attention. My goal is to correctly respond to this woman’s questions so I can finally get an abortion. I don’t want to get into the rape. I didn’t want to say anything that might hint I don’t want an abortion. I certainly don’t want to be sent home “to think about it.”

Then  back to the lobby for medications.  The nurse gives me 800 milligram Ibuprofen and asks me if I’m sure I don’t want the Valium most of the other women are taking.  I briefly wish I could have one of the mysterious happy pills, but even Valium isn’t worth spilling the beans to someone so I can have a companion.  With regret, I say no again.

The antis have predicted the procedure room will be filthy, with dried blood on the walls and tables, with jars of dead fetuses placed haphazardly on various counter surfaces, with unsterile instruments laying on a bedside table.  They will tell you the doctor is mean, rough, covered in blood and won’t tell you his name. He might even rape you, or slap you if you scream out in pain too loudly, because oh yes, there will be pain.

The nurse calls me back to the actual procedure room.  The table is not crusted in blood.  It has stirrups that you put your thighs in and slide down to the end of the table, instead of stirrups for your ankles like at the OB/GYN.  I am barely situated when another assistant knocks and asks if it is OK if she comes in. She’s carrying surgical instruments that have clearly just come from the autoclave. I can tell because the tape on the outside has the diagonal black stripes.

As she is laying out the surgical instruments, there is another knock on the door asking if they can come in. I say yes, hoping they will start and finish soon.  I am dreading the pain.  I feel like I did a few years earlier when I had an infected wisdom tooth.  I wanted it out so bad because it hurt, but had to take antibiotics for 10 days. I spent the whole 10 days excited to have the tooth out, but nervous about the procedure. I feel exactly that same way on the table.

There is now a doctor and another nurse in the room. She gives me a stress ball to squeeze and offers to hold my hand. I take her offer and she wraps both her hands around mine. The doctor asks if I’m sure I want to do this and I quickly say yes. I am so ready for this to be over.

The doctor tells me what he’s going to do.  Having Lidocaine shot into your cervix is about as pleasant as having it shot into your gums.  The nurse says they will explain everything as they go, and I appreciate that, but still keep trying to raise my head to see what’s going on.

I get a glimpse of the cannula.  Why do antis have these morbid fantasies about a dull suction instrument- there’s no way it could perforate a uterus, intestines and rectum.

The nurse explains that the suction machine can be loud and I may start to feel cramping, especially near the end. I am to tell her if it gets unbearable. I feel no pain when the doctor inserts the cannula. As the suction machine began running, I start to feel slight cramping in my uterus like I have with my menstrual cycle. It gradually becomes worse until it feels like the worst cramps I have ever had. Just as I tell the nurse I don’t think I can stand it and nearly squeeze her hand off, she tells me it will be over in five seconds. And it is. I don’t feel anything when they remove the cannula. The nurse tells me I can lay there as long as I want, but when I feel like it I can go to the bathroom and get dressed.

I am expecting to be bleeding profusely, after reading one too many an anti-choice site.  That stuff crawls up in your brain without you even noticing.  Another thing they swear is that after an abortion you will see baby parts floating in canisters. So I wander over to the covered canisters and peek at my products of conception. I am amazed at how much blood and tissue of mine it took to support a microscopic thing that looks like a jalepeno pepper. There are no hands, feet, ribs, head or any other identifiable body parts floating in the canister.

Pregnant, I had felt like a character in a B-grade horror movies –  knocked unconscious, placed in a coffin – still awake as the evil-doer is shoveling dirt on top of my coffin – listening as each pile of dirt marks less time I have to live. I felt that way the entire four weeks waiting for surgery and now – just as I’m gasping my last breath – the movie hero finally shows up and yanks open the casket.

I feel nothing but relief.

In recovery, I feel a little guilty for not feeling guilty.  The young woman who had been fighting with her boyfriend has found a temporary bravado and is swearing she’s leaving his ass. They give me my RhoGAM shot and discharge me with antibiotics and home-care instructions, along with a date for a follow-up exam.

I smile as I walk out to my car. I am so relieved there no protesters.  I had read about how they mob your car as you enter the parking lot. I was afraid of being filmed and somebody I knew seeing the film. When I was dealing with the rape, someone screaming, waving signs, encircling me with their friend, and calling me a murderer and whore, might have broken me.

As it is, I leave smiling with relief. I smile for the next 40 miles.  In the middle of nowhere, I realize I’m hungry.  It had been so long since I had been hungry and suddenly I was.  I drive-through at a McDonald’s at a tiny town off the interstate. Four cheeseburgers, a large order of fries and a large soda. I sit in the parking lot, eating cheeseburgers as fast as possible, and the tears finally come.

They aren’t abortion regret tears. They are tears of relief at being able to close this chapter of my life.  Sitting in my car, alternating wiping my face and stuffing more food in it, I’m sure people think I’m crazy.  It is the first time I have eaten in four weeks that I don’t puke at least part of it up.

Planned Parenthood was the only non-judgmental place I found that would perform an abortion.  I know antis hate the idea that anyone can have a good abortion experience.  But having an abortion saved my life.  Without it I wouldn’t be the person I am now.  Planned Parenthood saved my life.

The Good Abortion – Part II – by KyBorn

I’m lucky to have two days off for the dreaded trip to the Big City. I have never driven there and the thought of eight lanes of cars whizzing by as I desperately look at my directions and pray to find the right exits worries me.  During my first trip, I cry.  I begin to think the universe is telling me to ask for help, but that would mean talking about the rape. My mind shuts that idea down fast. A tiny part of me believes if I could get rid of everything that reminds me of the rape and never talk about it, then it would be like it never happened.

Leaving many pissed off drivers in my wake, I  finally make it to PP.  To my relief, it is clean and bright, not the dingy, rotting, mold-covered place the antis say it is. A pleasant but efficient phlebotomist takes me back to the lab and draws my blood with minimal pain. When I turn white and start seeing stars, she gets me some orange juice and helps me lay down on a table until I feel better. I should have warned her I do that a lot.

Big City PP is not offering RU-486 so my only choice is a surgical abortion. I had hoped to get the medication abortion, but would have had to drive 5 or 6 hours further.  And I have to wait four weeks to have the surgical procedure.  I get horrible morning sickness that stays all day. My co-workers are convinced I’m bulimic. I swear I feel my jeans getting tighter around my waist every time I put them on, even though I’m losing weight from not being able to eat.   Each day, I wake up, puke, remember that I’m pregnant with a rape baby and feel an irrational panic that I am never going to get the abortion and will be forced to give birth.   It is the longest four weeks of my life.

Finally, the day for the procedure comes. I am ready three hours early, so I get on the road, steeling myself for more traffic trauma.  It’s a good thing I do, because there’s a giant multi car pile-up on the interstate (no, it doesn’t have anything to do with my lack of city driving skills).

I’m still the first one to sign in for the abortion clinic.  I sit in the downstairs lobby, reading, rather than roam around a strange city and possibly miss my appointment.  I lose myself in the adventures of Alex Delaware, the psychologist who helps a police detective solve serial killings. When I drag my head out of the book, I notice that many more people are in the lobby.  Five minutes later, we go to the upstairs lobby, which is also clean and bright; no blood on the floor, no women bleeding out or staff berating women.

I have already filled out my forms and I’m not feeling chatty.  I want to stay lost in my fantasy world.  The  woman across from me, well barely a woman, she’s maybe 18, looks like she’s been crying, and like she might let loose again. I hope she won’t talk to me (a selfish thought which I’ll later regret).  But I hear her in surround sound as she tells the man with her that there is no way they can afford to have a baby. He disagrees and says he doesn’t understand why she gets to decide. She half-heartedly says she can’t believe he would try to tell her what to do, then throws her hands up and buries her face in a tissue.

I finally get called back and turn over my pile of papers to the nurse, who reviews my medical history. I  find out my blood type and that, yippee, I get to pay $50 and get an extra shot. The nurse takes me to another room with a comfortable chair and small TV with a built in DVD player. She says the movie will explain how the procedure is done and what to expect.

I want to tell her I have already read, both on the internet and in books, how abortions are performed.  I have seen the photoshopped and mislabeled images of the antis, who would have me believe my gestating embryo is currently knitting “mommy” a sweater in utero, but I’ve also read good information from legitimate sites and medical texts. Still, when you have been bombarded with tales of abortion clinics being blood-spattered abattoirs it is hard to completely get the idea out of your mind – although,I would have taken my chances with an abortion in the abattoir rather than giving birth.

Back in the lobby, the lady sitting next to me is chatty.  She and her husband, who is outside smoking, just can’t afford another child. They have three already and are barely making ends meet, she can’t afford to take time off work, she is too old to start over, her other children are in school… I just nod, too wrapped up in my own problems to offer support, or even tell her she doesn’t owe anybody an explanation.

It’s a relief when they call me back to check my iron.   I am afraid it’s going to be low, but I am just over the limit.  The nurse walks me to the ultrasound room.

The ultrasound tech is super cheerful. I just want to hop on the table and get it done. She explains that she is going to try to get the images she needs doing an abdominal ultrasound but she may have to do a transvaginal since I am early in the pregnancy. She puts some sort of cold gel on my abdomen and uses a small, hand-held device to try to get an image. She slides, presses then looks at the screen and frowns. After a few tries, she says she is sorry but she has to do the transvaginal.

I think she expects me to throw a fit, but I’ve been reading about the process and  am actually ready for this. She leaves, I undress from the waist down and  lay back on the table. Over my shoulder, I see the transvaginal attachment, like a sex toy on steroids.

The ultrasound tech puts a condom-looking thing over it. tells me it may be uncomfortable but shouldn’t be painful. Still smiling as she inserts the attachment, she keeps reassuring me that this won’t take too long. She looks from my face, to the probe and to her screen. Finally, she tells me has the image she needs.

“Can I see it?” I ask.

She cocks her head sideways, as if I’ve asked something she’s never heard before. She says most women don’t want to see, but I can if I want to.  I do. I need to see it to make my final peace with this decision.  She turns the screen.  It looks like a jalapeño pepper; not at all like the antis’ pictures of 7 week embryos that they describe as “fully formed babies.”

The ultrasound tech steps out, and  I get dressed again.

The Good Abortion- Part I – by KyBorn

It is several years ago and I am living in my first apartment, a tiny starter place with three rooms and worn carpet .  I stare at the wallpaper – brown with white vines and blue roses – as I wait for the timer to go off.   The test is on my kitchen counter.

I wait, knowing I’m pregnant.   I can tell myself my period is late because of the stress of the rape and stalking; that I was never regular anyway.  But a few mornings puking when I see my co-workers eating breakfast and I know I need one of those dollar store pregnancy kits.  Will it be good news?  Or send my life spiraling off into chaos?

And the answer is –  two lines.  Two lines that will change – possibly ruin – my life.

I sit up all night crying and hyperventilating in panic.  I want to be done with thinking about the rape, not have a reminder in my uterus growing bigger by the day.  There are only two options when it comes to pregnancy – abortion or giving birth.   A person cannot “adopt” an unwanted embryo out of my uterus.  For me, abortion is the only option.

In the small town where I grew up, people don’t talk about “those sorts of things.”  There are girls in high school who are quietly spirited out of town for a few days; they return with strict instructions to pretend nothing happened. There are rumors, but nobody speaks out about having an abortion.

I live in a larger city now, and have known women who had abortions, but I hadn’t asked where they went. My OB/GYN has refused to discuss long-acting contraceptives with me because she’s sure I will want children, but I think she’s still my best choice.  Surely she can refer me to a doctor who provides abortion care.

Wrong.  I call at 8:00 AM.  The receptionist, her high-pitched voice entirely too cheerful for that time of morning, asks how she can help.  I don’t want to waste time explaining  why I want an abortion – I don’t feel like I owe people explanations.  I tell her I need a referral for abortion.  I can hear her breathing on the other end of the phone.   You would have thought I told her I wanted to build a rocket so I could go to the moon to fight the purple scorpions who had come from Uranus.   After a long pause, in a decidedly less cheerful voice, she says, “WE don’t do that here, and we don’t refer patients for THAT.”

I just hang up.

I need to find one of those Planned Parenthood places I’ve heard about.  We don’t have one in my city, but luckily, in the age of the internet, I can find contact information for the one in Big City,  in another state over 70 miles away.

I call.  Another too cheerful receptionist asks how she can help.  Again, I skip the long story and tell her I want an abortion.

This time, there is no ominous silence.  She chatters along, asking questions,  explaining that I will have to talk to the scheduler to make an appointment.  She asks me if I’m sure I’m pregnant.  I want to say, “No, not at all. I just get abortions for shit and giggles every so often,” and throw the phone.  But she’s just doing her job and being a jerk is not going to help me get an abortion.

She transfers me to the scheduler, who asks questions and explains the process.  I need proof of blood type, or they can check before the procedure, so they can administer Rho-Gam if mine is negative. They’ll check my iron level that day too. I’ll watch a film and talk to a counsellor.   Insurance does not cover abortion, she explains, and tells me the cost. Luckily, I have that amount without having to skip rent.  At least the stress of scraping together money isn’t heaped on me as it is so many other women.

And I have my appointment.

Saturday before Father’s Day 2015

It rained.  Not the whole time, and not a downpour, but it rained steadily.  That cut back on the number of protesters – at least I guess it was the rain that kept some of the regulars at home.

But ~ to make up for that ~ the Sisters for Life came down earlier than usual this year.  Their numbers were down a bit too, but there are enough of  them to block the sidewalk effectively.

From across the street:


(Image is of a crowd of people facing away from the camera, toward the clinic, stretching three or four car lengths down the sidewalk. Many of them hold umbrellas. You can see a child’s wagon, with an umbrella just above it.  A couple of escorts in orange vests are visible.)

Clients have to make their way through this:

(Video pans on the sidewalk, shows a bunch of people standing as close together as their umbrellas allow.  If you remember Dominic {he wears camouflage clothing, holds a sign, and yells “Murder!  Murder in the First Degree!!”} you can see him from the back.  One woman’s voice can be heard preaching loudly, but I have trouble distinguishing the words.  My best shot at transcribing them: ” …dead.   We’re out here (something) for you… God…taking your heart…out here in the name of Jesus… Thank you, Lord, for you have already done according to your word…)

Or this:

{A few voices singing “How Great is Our God”)

Or even this:

(Female voice, VERY loud:  He gave you WILL, not a woman’s CHOICE but WILL ~ to make the right decision ~ That is to CHOOSE LIFE ~ for your PRE-BORN BABY! Choose life for your pre-born baby! There’s help for you!

It’s an ugly morning.  A few protesters use their umbrellas to “accidentally” poke or hit escorts standing on the property line.  Some clients and companions have to shove their way through the crowd as the protesters yell at them.

I’m walking with a client when one of the chasers steps on the back of her flip flop.  Yes.  The client is walking to her doctor’s appointment at the clinic.  A young woman in a green vest is chasing her, begging her not to ‘kill her baby.’  This chaser gets so close up behind the client that she steps on the client’s flip flop.  Fortunately, the client’s foot comes out of the flop, so she doesn’t end up face down on the ground.  But she has to hop a step or two in the rain back to retrieve her shoe, while the chaser continues to preach and lecture.

It’s ridiculous and outrageous.

We call the police to clear a path to the door.  We’ve called the police out more than once lately.  Two Saturdays in a row, two different white male preachers blasting their words at over 100 decibels, which violates the noise ordinance (and can cause damage to your hearing.)  There is privilege inherent in being able to call the police with an expectation of help (although we’re never quite sure what the response will be.)

Escorts calling the police when it’s a predominantly black church group  is uncomfortable.  It doesn’t make me feel like a good ally.  That’s a whole other aspect to consider, and it takes us a while to decide to call.

The police come just as we’re almost done – the clients are already in.  The officers don’t think they can do much of anything to help – First Amendment, they have a right to be here – and of course that’s true.*  They don’t realize they’ve already helped just by showing up.  Just their presence changes the behavior of the protesters.

An escort who had been standing on the property line with her back to the protesters describes it.   “…you could feel the difference in many small ways that added up to me being able to take a deep breath and wonder why things felt better. The sounds weren’t in my ear, I couldn’t feel body heat anymore, nothing had poked or jostled me for several minutes. I actually didn’t know that that was when the police had arrived until after. I could never even see them, actually. Even just from the sidelines, they changed total chaos into a five-foot gap between me and the protesters.”

I’m glad the police came; glad they are low key.

And I’m a bit disheartened by an officer who, when an escort expresses concern that the protesters might hurt someone, responds, “Emotions run high.  That is the chance you take by being out here.”

As if the sidewalk is a free-for-all zone for the protesters and the escorts.  Sigh. The sidewalk is a sidewalk, the path that clients and companions have to travel to get to their doctor’s office.  It’s not a battleground.  And this is not a battle between us and the protesters.  It’s about the client.

The protesters want to stop the clients from getting an abortion.  We want to support the client’s decision.    The protesters are a distraction from our reason for being there, and when we focus on them, we risk losing sight of the client.

It’s so hard to remember that.  And so important.

We have to deal with the protesters – that’s unavoidable.  We need effective ways to de-escalate the variety of situations they present.  Sometimes we ignore them.  Sometimes we call the police.  But if we let dealing with the antis become our main focus, the client loses, and so do we.

It’s a lot to process, a lot to think about.  And it’s not why I started this post.

I started this post because this Saturday – the day before Father’s Day – was the last of the Spring Pledge-a-Picketer days.  How many protesters were there this week?  That’s the big question.  And the answer is….

Drum-roll, please…. 108 antis

(and 75 umbrellas…)**

Easter was 79, and Mothers’ Day was 100, so that gives us a grand total of 287.

Thanks to all of you who pledged – we’ll have financial results in soon.  In the meantime, here’s what it was like walking from First Street to the clinic this week.

*Blocking the entrance and intimidating clients may be a FACE act* violation, which the local officers aren’t prepared to enforce.  They might even be unaware of the law.

**No, I didn’t count the umbrellas.  I just made that number up – it’s a “seems like” number.  Seems like there were 75 umbrellas…