In Case You Thought…

In case you thought that things had changed, here on the sidewalk in front of the abortion clinic in Louisville, Ky, I want to assure you, it is still the same.  Mostly the same protesters. New ones come and go, but Donna and Nurse Betty, Mary, and Ponytail Guy, to name a few, are always with us.   They stand by the door, saying the same things they always say.

Angela shows up late, and sometimes we have a preacher screaming at us all, sometimes we don’t,   Catholics on Parade still make an appearance every second Saturday, even when the construction in the area gets in the way.

The chasers are still there.  Andrew and his crew don their neon green vests and circle up for a quick prep talk and prayer.   The circle dissolves as they fly off in pairs, like wasps, busy, busy, buzzing around to harras and intimidate the women coming to the doctor.

Rain or shine, there they are.  Umbrellas up long after the rain has stopped.

Same ole, same ole.   Oh, wait,  no, this is new.

Not the old guys socializing on the prayer line, but the sign the woman is holding with the fetus skeleton.  Here’s a close up:

Somebody said it looks like a logo for a Death metal band, right?   But even new signage isn’t really new.

AHA – not American Humanist Association, not American Heart Association, not American Home-brewers Association, but the Abolish Human Abortion folks are relatively new.  Some of our old protesters have joined up with them, and that’s unfortunate, because they’re a new kind of mean.  Unlike the “pro-life” folks, they don’t even pretend to care about the people who need abortions.  They don’t think anyone should have an abortion, ever, under any circumstances, no not rape or incest or to save the mother’s life, thank you very much.

The AHA folks are quick to condemn the pro-life group as not asking for enough, being willing to compromise.  So that can be fun interesting to watch.

And – this is exciting – the world of escorting has changed.  Back in 2009, when I wrote my first post for this blog, I felt relatively isolated.  As if we were the only clinic going through this.  We weren’t, of course, and I kind of knew that, but I felt like we were fighting a lone battle to get people to realize what was going on in front of our clinic.

That’s not the case anymore.  More clinics have escorts, and escorts are connecting with each other to provide support, and we’re talking about it.   Just today, I found this wonderful article, which is a response to a letter purportedly written by someone who used to work in an abortion clinic, and I watched this short documentary about the protesters outside the clinic in Allentown, Pa.

http://youtu.be/pC-NiTJ3YAU

I think of escorting as the front lines of the battle for reproductive rights.  Like a morality play it stands.  Each side believing they represent the virtues, while “the other side” is the vices.

To be continued….

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Three Aspects of Escorting – Part I

Escorting is such a simple activity – walking up the sidewalk with someone on their way to the doctor.  So simple, and so complex.  I’ve been contemplating this a lot lately.

I identify three aspects:

I.  Logistics of Escorting

II.  Escorting as Social Justice

III.  The Psychology of Escorting

The logistics of escorting are played out on the sidewalk.  At the clinic in Louisville, there is no private parking lot, so clients and their companions approach from several directions.  Protesters spread out trying to make sure they have a good position to confront the client  with  fetal porn or yell at them.  Chasers station themselves at various points so they can latch on and begin their litany of cajoling, pleading and commanding as the client walks to the door.

Where there are protesters, there are escorts.  On Saturday, we stand in front of the door, on the corner at First Street, on the corner of Second, in front of the $4.00 lot, down by the AWC lot… Escorts are everywhere.

Escort_326p1

But where do we need to be?  Where can we be most effective?  The $6.00 lot is $15 today, let’s not send anyone there, the parking meters are covered, no parking on the street, where should we be?

Those logistical questions arise every week, and every week we feel our way through to the best answers we can find.

These days, I often stand by the $4 lot.  From there, I can see the 2nd Street corner, and if those escorts all end up walking with people, I’ll cross the street to be a presence on that corner.  If someone parks halfway down the block, I can get to that car easily.  That’s so simple it’s almost not Logisitics, right?

Sometimes, I stand by the drop-off zone.  Mostly, I just stay in that space, although from there I can see different parts of the block and move away to walk with someone if it looks like that would be helpful.  And that’s not exactly higher order planning.  None of the individual spots are – no matter where we stand, we pay attention to what’s going on around us, and go where there’s a need.

When it works well ~ when we have enough people where we need them and we’re all watching out for each other ~ then it flows really well and it feels almost magic.  When the timing’s right, and people move in and out of position, and clients are able to walk to the clinic relatively unhindered, it’s like a dance.

Often, someone at the front door coordinates a lot of that.  Serving as a central point for information, the escorts stationed at more distant points can let that person know when they need help.  She, or he, can see a lot of the area and identify some needs, ask people to move to fill empty spaces.  Servalbear does that a lot, and does it well.  She’s a skilled tactician and helps keep the gears in sync, makes sure they’re oiled.

Lately, another escort has started doing logistics at the front door.  She’s learning that there are lots of things to learn about doing it well –  maybe she’ll do a blog post on that sometime!

Logistics are the most direct aspect of escorting, and they impact the client most directly.   The Points of Unity guide the logistics ~ we focus on being client-centered, on not escalating, and so on.  But in that moment, we make decisions based on our own best judgment.  That’s all we can do.  We may critique it later, explore how we could have done it differently, look at other ways to approach it, but in that moment, we respond as best we can.

This is the smallest unit of escorting – one escort, on the sidewalk, in the moment.

IMG_0224

D. P. Serke, a student at one of Kentucky’s Universities, recently wrote a paper about escorts as a “folk group.”  She says:

…{Clinic Escorts’} folklore is evident in countless blogs, message boards, and on the sidewalk. The pro­choice clinic escorts at EMW are a folk group. A folk group is described by Alan Dundes as , “any group of people whatsoever who share at least one common factor…” (Dundes, 1965). This is a broad definition, but is further defined by Dundes when he says that folk groups have common traditions. The clinic escorts share a common cause, a ritual structure for their performance on the sidewalk, including rules and specific language.

This is why we were able to write our own version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.  As other groups of clinic escorts connect, we share common cause and language with them too, particularly related to logistics.  Other clinics face different challenges and escorts deal with them in different ways, but we have so much in common.  

So our lone escort on the sidewalk connects with other escorts at her own clinic and that group connects with escorts at other clinics.   Set us down in any city with other escorts and we can trade stories about how we do things, and discover that many of our strategies are similar – and that our protesters are very much alike! 

Logistics are the simplest form of connection between escorts.  Individual escorts, and escorts as a group, are also connected to social justice, or reproductive justice in some ways., which I’ll talk about in my next post.

The Twelve Days of Christmas – on the Sidewalk

A few of the escorts came up with our very own version of a Christmas carol, really just for fun.   Hope you enjoy our rendition of

The Twelve Days of Christmas – on the Sidewalk:

The lyrics go like this:

On the first day of Christmas, the antis gave to me
~ a prenatal ultrasound freeeeee

On the second day of Christmas, the antis gave to me
~~ 2 Adoptive Parents and a prenatal ultrasound freeee

It goes on, of course, and eventually, you end up with this:

12 Chasers Chasing
11 Prayers Praying
10 Liars a Lying
9 Catholics Parading
8 Cameras Flashing
7 Preachers Screaming
6 Pamphlets Waving
~~~ 5 Rosarieeeees ~~~
4 Lot Lizards
3 Fetus Dolls
2 Adoptive Parents
and a prenatal ultrasound freeee

Most of the things on our list have been mentioned in our blog – many of them repeatedly.  So unless you’re new to the world of escorting, you already know that:

Our antis are always pleading with the clients to come next door for an ulrtasound, adding in pleading tones – it’s freeee.  It is also not accepted by the clinic, and people have said that they’re not always accurate.

The antis promise the clients that there are “people waiting to adopt your baby.”

And some antis carry little plastic fetuses (fetusi??)

“Lot lizards” is what we call the antis who hang out in the parking lot behind the CPC, waiting for clients to park there, in hopes of luring them into their “clinic.”

The rest of it really is self-explanatory, except, maybe, for Catholics Parading.  Every second Saturday of the month, there’s a special mass at a church and afterwards, some of them walk down to the clinic.   Hence the term “Catholics on Parade.”

Happy Holidays!

 

All Kinds of Great Stuff

It’s an auction!

Ok, it’s really a silent auction, online, of course.  It’s a fundraiser for KRCRC – Kentucky’s state affiliate of the national Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, an interfaith alliance of mainstream religious organizations dedicated to ensuring access to reproductive health care and achieving reproductive justice.

As an escort, I’m happy to support their goals, and I particularly appreciate KRCRC for lots of reasons. They help fund the breakfasts we offer at our trainings.  They help fund our vests.  Some of them come out to escort.

More importantly, KRCRC reminds me that lots of religious people support access to abortion.  KRCRC provides training for pastoral counselors who offer full options counseling to people with unintended pregnancy.  And they’re working hard to keep reproductive health care available.

So check out the auction – here.

Bid on some amazing items –

"Crow After Roe" Autographed Book by Robin Marty and Jessica Mason Pieklo

“Crow After Roe” Autographed Book by Robin Marty and Jessica Mason Pieklo

 One hour flight for two  in a Cessna

Cessna_s85


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Chocolate Lovers Basket

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Sterling Silver Tree of Life Pendant

Or even a $100 MC giftcard OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Check it out – bid on something you want.  Support reproductive rights.

AND

As if that weren’t enough great stuff for anyone, let me just add this – Kevin Gibson, from Insider Louisville, brings us a series of three articles about the EMW clinic, featuring protesters and escorts that we all know.  Here’s Part I, Part II, and Part III.  Enjoy.

Shame on the Sidewalk

“You chose to lay down with a man… you chose to open your legs… killing this baby won’t solve your problems…”

“Honey, your relationship will never be the same.  Your life will never be the same.  You’ll always regret this.”

“You’ll always be a mother.  You’ll just be the mother of a dead baby.”

“Be a man!!  Bring her out of there!  Don’t let her kill your baby!”

Shame.  Antis are all about shaming the people who come to the clinic.  In fact, they enjoy it so much that when there aren’t any clients walking up the sidewalk, they look for new outlets.

Yesterday, Donna, standing under her big umbrella, and Nurse Betty, under a more modest one, were whispering and pointing at me ever-so-obviously. Then, “You need to get a bigger raincoat!” they informed me. They had to say it again before I got it – they were calling me fat!

Fortunately, I am no longer actually in middle school, so it only stung for a second before I was amused.

They said it a couple more times, but I guess I didn’t give them the reaction they wanted, because later, Nurse Betty commented, just loudly enough for me to hear “And she counsels people? She doesn’t even take care of herself.”

I just shook my head.  It was easy enough to shrug off their pettiness.

When I shared the story  with some other escorts, I got some great responses.   One of them said:

I always think in my mind, “I may be fat, but you’re ugly. I can always lose weight, but there’s no hope for you!” Then, I smile.

That ugliness can be inner or outer. They were just mean ugly to you.

Another escort commented:

Another example of good christian behavior.

While someone suggested:

Bring a bunch of doughnuts and chew them with your mouth open as you stare at them.

I loved the suggestion that I refer them to the Bible – Matthew Chapter 23, verse 27. Of course, I had to google it. It says:

27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity

 

And then someone said this:

I’ll just bet she was a nasty little tattletale whinger on the playground, too, at St. Mary’s Keep Your Legs Crossed School Of The Blessed Insults.

which cracked me up.

All the affirmation and support is fun and feels good, but it’s not why I started talking about this. I was trying to figure out if I could do a blogpost about it without sounding like I was just looking for sympathy or support. Because really ~~

Nurse Betty and Donna sniping at me is not the problem. It’s actually helpful, because it shines a light on who they are.  They’re mean people.

Donna and Nurse Betty are not calling me out on being fat because I’m fat.  They’re calling me out on being fat because they’re mean.  That’s just who they are.  They want me to feel bad.  They want me to feel ashamed of my body and of myself.

And Donna and Nurse Betty aren’t on the sidewalk “counseling” women because they care about women or babies.  They’re on the sidewalk because they’re mean.   The abortion clinic is their best opportunity for socially sanctioned bullying.   They want people to feel ashamed.

I want you to recognize them for the bullies that they are.  That’s why I’m writing this post.   So if you’re ever on the sidewalk – whether you’re a client, a companion, or an escort – you can see through their facade.  You can see their petty meanness.

I was able to shrug them off.  I’d love for everyone to be able to do that too.

 

On McCullen ~ By Huxley

The Supreme Court just handed down its decision in McCullen v. Coakely. It’s not pretty, but it could be worse. For now the concept of the buffer zone survives, although the 35 foot buffer zone adopted by the state of Massachusetts has been struck down. It’s not a total loss, and it is at least encouraging that the unanimous opinion speaks favorably of various other approaches states can take to address congestion and violence in front of abortion clinics.

Of course, it’s less than encouraging how little the court seems to hear states when they say “these things don’t work, though.” And that’s if you’ve got a state that gives a damn in the first place. That’s not what I want to talk about, though. I’m too angry. I’m angry that the opinion is unquestioningly and simperingly sympathetic to the protestors.

You can read the entirety of the opinion if you wish; I can’t recommend that
you do. For now, go ahead and skip ahead to page 19 of the opinion.*   Beneath the “A” is where the court addresses the real meat of the matter: has the buffer zone placed a burden on the free speech activities of these sweet little grandmotherly types?

Yes, indeed it has! And the examples cited in the opinion all come from the protesters themselves. Who would know better, and report more accurately? “The burdens on petitioners’ speech have clearly taken their toll. Although McCullen claims that she has persuaded about 8o women not to terminate their pregnancies since the 2007 amendment… she also says that she reaches “far fewer people” than she did before the amendment.” So, the amendment has resulted in far fewer women being “reached,” has it? And “reached” by what definition? We know that the antis sometimes scare clients off, sometimes cause them to reschedule, sometimes even get them into the CPC – hell, maybe they actually have convinced some clients not to get the procedure. But I’m not sure that’s “reaching” people as a strictly factual matter, you know? And I’m also not sure self-reporting from the antis is all that great.

The court is, though. They cite another anti: “She estimated having about 100 successful interactions over the years before the 2007 amendment, but not a single one since.” Again, I think most escorts know that antis have a pretty wonky sense of “success,” and I’m still pretty skeptical of… well, of anything that comes out of an anti’s mouth, quite frankly. But hey, here’s another anti quoted in the court’s opinion: “…[O]nly one woman out of 100 will make the effort to walk across [the street] to speak with [her].” So we’re clear: the court says the buffer zone has placed a substantial burden on protesters, because they are having a “lower success” rate. We’re all clear on that? OK!

The court goes on to describe the difficulty of placing literature “near their hands,” an issue on which McCullen is quoted earlier in the opinion: “For example, in uncontradicted testimony, McCullen explained that she often cannot distinguish patients from passerby outside the Boston clinic.” The buffer zone, you see, reduces the length that a client must walk while subject to these interactions, dramatically lessening that precious window of time in which antis must decide whether a given woman walking down the street is headed to the book store, the taco stand, or the abortion clinic.

In the days to come, there will be plenty of in-depth, intelligent legal analysis, which I look forward to reading. But clients trying to get in the abortion clinic do not have the luxury of considering only the legal complexities at play. Clients trying to access abortion are doing so in a world where, overwhelmingly, men believes themselves to be utterly entitled to the time, personal space, and bodies of women as a class. And within that cultural milieu, seeing the same thing spelled out by the court, this unanimous opinion that the First Amendment rights of the antis are violated when they don’t get to know precisely what a woman walking down the street is up to, when they are obliged to “raise their voices,” when good gawd, maybe women do not want to walk across the street to talk to them… well, that’s not a message that really needed repeating, now was it?

This decision handed down today does not exist in a legal vacuum; the law of the land is not supportive of women’s bodily autonomy in general. And it does not exist in a social vacuum: the message of this vulgar opinion is one women are used to hearing every damn day: you belong not to yourself, but to others. When you walk down the sidewalk on Market between 1st and 2nd while female, the antis swarm you. They assume you are there for an abortion. They do not take no for an answer from passerby any more than they do from clients. They will shove literature in clients’ faces no matter how many times they are told no.

And now they have a unanimous ruling from the highest court in the land that does not merely strike down buffer zones, but does so in language that glowingly affirms every last ugly bit of entitlement and lack of respect for consent that I have seen out on the sidewalk. Nice.

 

* (I’m using the PDF of the slip opinion available on the court’s website.)

Why I Support Federal Buffer Zones (and Why Antis Should Support Them As Well) ~ by KyBorn

By the time this is published, this may very well be a moot point. As I am writing this, most reproductive justice advocates and anti-abortion activists have their eyes eagerly focused on a Supreme Court decision regarding buffer zones around reproductive health centers that provide abortion. Right now, those that exist are mostly local along with a few statewide buffer zones or bubbles. I think we can and should do better. I’m going to stay positive and presume the Supreme Court will see through the paper-thin veil that has been thrown in front of gory signs, roving bands of stalking, yelling fanatics and screaming, screaming everywhere. In spite of Scalia’s simpering and having the poster child being a “plump grandmother” who only wants to lovingly “counsel” these poor wayward girls, most images of antis outside a clinic are anything but.

So, hopefully the time has come to push our federal government to do something about the threats, harassment and stalking that happen every day outside doctors’ offices in America. We need a federal law standard for several reasons:

  1. Access to medical care should not be based on geographic area. We are, after all, citizens of the United States of America and should be guaranteed the same safety and rights throughout our country, regardless of which state we live in. We all know that most of the South is not exactly progressive or pro-active when it comes to protecting a woman’s right to make her decisions regarding pregnancy. A national standard is key.
  2. Antis don’t like to play by the rules. We have rules, both formal and informal, written and unwritten, about how we are expected to behave in society. While it varies over time and in different cultures, these expectations generally keep us from getting all Lord of the Flies when we have to be together in a small space. When I was out eating alone a month or so ago, I had the pleasure of being approached 6 or 7 times by the same gentleman (Hi Floyd) who tried to insist on buying me a drink, sitting at my table, getting my phone number even after I politely said no, I’m married, I’m trying to work and please go away. Finally, after time number 7, when he stood by my table lecturing me about how disappointed he was that I didn’t let him buy my drink, I lost my temper and told him to go away with many 4-letter words in the same sentence. Antis are the Floyds of the sidewalk. The only difference is nobody would disapprove of me getting angry when a man kept trying to insert himself in my space after being told “no” politely. If I was a woman on the sidewalk trying to get to the clinic, not only would Floyd’s behavior have been celebrated and encouraged, but it would also be filmed. Then, some extremist from Abolish Human Abortion would put it up on YouTube labeled Pro-Abort Violence and clinic harassers the world over could cluck their tongue about how persecuted they are. A buffer or bubble zone would give women space and hopefully the opportunity to lose some of the stalkers who have surrounded her and refuse to take no for an answer. We need a very specific, nationwide law that is enforced the same way in all fifty states.
  3. It’s not safe for anybody right now. What makes me think of this is the time I took my friend to clinic that fortunately had a fenced in lot. As I went to pull into the lot, two antis continued to walk aimlessly back and forth across the parking lot entrance, forcing three or four cars to slam on breaks as traffic backed up in a fairly busy street. They were supposedly just “crossing” in front on their way to the other side of the sidewalk but they took about 5 minutes to cross. What they were doing was causing traffic to stop so their preteen children could run in front of cars and shove packets of literature under the windshield wipers of the car, thus blocking the driver’s view. A five foot buffer around driveways would stop this completely while still allowing protesters to do their thing. If anybody actually wants the literature, they are free to park and go get it without forcing people to drive with part of the windshield blocked. In some locations, small children are left to play near busy roads or used as props to be thrust in the faces of unwilling women. Antis can continue to guilt, shame, yell, scream, wave their fetus porn and in general be huge jerks from 50 feet away. If women want to talk to them, (and why would they), the women can talk to them. The fetus porn will not be right in anybody’s face and the children will hopefully not be drug out as props when they can’t be shoved directly under the noses of women trying to visit their OB/GYN.

I’m pretty sure most antis stopped reading when I said that they should support a federal buffer zone as well. I wasn’t just poking them with my title, I actually have several reasons why they should support a federal buffer zone as well.

  1. Having a consistent standard nationwide benefits everybody. I know some of you antis are mobile. You shouldn’t have to learn new laws from clinic to clinic or state to state. If there is one, nationwide federal law, you can use time you would have spent researching buffer zone laws lying to women in CPCs.
  2. It would protect you from any violence aimed at clinic escorts or employees. There seems to be a theme running through the anti communities that many are concerned about having to take a bullet or some similar garbage for a clinic employee or escort when some wronged man who was not allowed to force his partner to give birth. or when some woman, so overcome with anger and grief because volunteers and medical professionals provided her with the health care she needed. will come back with guns blazing. Now, I think this is mostly garbage for a number of reasons. This has happened exactly never. When bullets fly outside an abortion clinic, they are coming from the gun of an anti-choicer. Also, these people haul their small children down to the front of these clinics where they claim deadly violence could erupt any second. I would call this child neglect or abuse. So please, if you really and truly believe a gun battle is about to begin, call CPS to remove the children of these parents who think that is an appropriate place for small children. But, if antis must persist with this silly myth then at least they should feel safer behind their buffer zones because it will be obvious who the evil “pro-aborts” are when all those people suffering abortion regret come to kill us.
  3. Antis might, just might, actually be able to counsel somebody rather than screaming, shouting and intimidating. I would think that antis would know by now that all their big, photoshopped fetus porn, even though it looks like B-grade horror movie fake blood is scary to most people, as is having to walk a gauntlet. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to want to stop and talk to you in the midst of the tunnel of terror you guys form in front of clinics. In fact, women are far more likely to run away from you into the clinic. Maybe if you had buffer zones, sat up tables and actually allowed women to come and talk to you there, they would feel like they had a little privacy and be a few feet away from screaming preachers waving fetus porn. On that note, you are probably also going to stop trying to herd women into your anti-choice clinics if you want to talk to them. They have made their own bed of deceit, lies, violations of privacy, stalking and broken promises that many women are naturally going to avoid them (and they should). If somebody is an anti-abortion protester who really is interested in talking to people on the sidewalk then they should want the chaos of fetus porn and trying to herd women off the sidewalk into a CPC far, far away.

Look, I get the argument that freedom of speech is a precious and protected right. I agree. We certainly don’t want to become a nation where people are afraid to voice unpopular opinions. I don’t think antis need to be confined to free speech zones like protesters were during the Bush II era. Well, I do think antis want us to become a nation where pro-choice people are silenced by law or by threats, but that’s another argument. That aside, we constantly balance the rights of freedom of speech against the right of everybody else to go about their life. I am not allowed to stand in the middle of the road and sing “My Old Kentucky Home” at top volume at 2 AM. I can’t write things that are clearly libelous or say things that are slanderous. I am not allowed to tell others about the private medical information of patients because it violates HIPAA. I can’t stand on the lawn of my friend’s cheating ex-husband and yell at him to stop screwing around and pay his child support.

Just as important as somebody else’s right to tell me I am a lying baby-murdering violent whore pro-abort bound for hell is, is my right to walk away from them and tell them to leave me alone. Freedom of speech also means that private citizens have reasonable freedom from unwanted speech, unwanted attention and unwanted physical contact on public streets. Usually, this is accomplished by walking on down the street from a stationary zealot screaming about the end of the world or women out whoring. However, when the zealots become mobile and follow you, or obstruct your right to move about as you please, we have a problem. When we start patting the Floyds of the world on the back instead of calling them out for being jerks, we have a problem. Actually, the Floyds of the world and their supporters have a problem and they are making more problems for all the rest of us.

None of what we are doing is working. FACE was a good law for stopping those stupid “rescue” people who chained themselves to clinics. They moved away from that nonsense to a more insidious plan of scaring women away. We in the pro-choice/pro-access camp do what we can by serving as escorts, writing our politicians, voting, giving money to abortion funds and taking friends or strangers to the clinic.

On the flipside of this, none of this garbage is working for the anti-choice crew either. Women are running away from them instead of to them. They have to lie and mislead women to even get them to darken the door of their Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Numbers of abortions are down but I don’t think anybody has shown a link between fetus porn, sidewalk bullies and unconstitutional legislation in lowering the number of abortions. I’m sure there a few good-hearted people out there who really do just want to talk to women they think are making a mistake and want to encourage them to choose another path, or people who want to kneel and pray quietly. These are the people who should be screaming, yes screaming, for buffer zones because they are the only thing to cut down the chaos, screaming, crying, stalking, pushing and harassing that currently goes on.

The Floyds of the world need to understand the word “no” and if they don’t, the law needs to make them understand the word “no.” And for the record, I don’t believe some random anti-choicer would so much as take a nap for me, much less a bullet.

Good grief. For the safety and sanity of us all, please give us a federal buffer zone.

Father’s Day 2014

Today, we had 35 escorts (a nice sea of orange!) who escorted clients past 17 Catholic pray-ers, 7 sign-holders from Kentucky Mountain Bible College, 14 Immanuel yellow-vesters (aka Chasers) and, because it is the day before Father’s Day, 115 red-shirted Sisters for Life (SFL) people.  The SFL group arrived about 7:35 and included quite a number of children, from babies to teens.  About 35 Catholics on Parade arrived around 7:45 and stood by the convention center, looking confused by all the activity.

It looked like this, approaching from 2nd Street:

There is no transcript for the video – it’s just a long walk up an empty sidewalk.   To the left, across about 6 lanes, are the group of Catholics on Parade, and then you turn the corner into the crowd of folks, mostly in red shirts, by the door.

Here’s what it looks like coming from First Street:

Again, a long walk up the sidewalk, past some fetal porn, past a few chasers, who are uninterested in an escort doing video, but would be all over you if you were a client, then into the mess.

And here’s some video from when the SFL group first arrived.

In this video they are singing enthusiastically about shouting for God and the Victory.

I can absolutely not imagine walking through that mess to go to the doctor.

But it happens every year.  They get a parade permit and here they come.  This year, they called it a “Walk or Bike for Life”  and charged a fee to enter.   It is their 6th Annual.

In 2009, the first Father’s Day for the blog and the SFL,  (and before my time on the sidewalk) we were not expecting them.  300 protesters showed that year, and the escorts were up to the challenge.  Here are some pictures from that year.  In 2010, Dan shared his thoughts about escorting, and we have more pictures.  In 2011, we did our pledge-a-picketer event on the Saturday before Father’s Day, because the clinic had been closed Mother’s Day weekend.   In 2012, we just have a video of them singing in front of the clinic.  In 2013, we posted video, and I told a story about a little girl who’d gotten caught up in the mess.

And here we are.  2014.  Same story, different year.   Maybe we can work on a buffer zone?  I’d like for 2015 to be different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the Results Are…

Yes, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the results are in – the head count for Pledge-a-Picketer!   Drum roll, please…

Protesters – 103.  

Escorts – 60.

Yes, you read that right.  There were *only* 103 protesters at the clinic on Saturday.  And 60 escorts.  Not even a 2:1 ratio.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it was all fun and games.  We had a relatively new protester preaching at the front door.   She didn’t like it when she realized one of the escorts was videotaping her.  (Thanks to wenches for the video.)

*transcript at the end of post

I have some other video of her, and it made me sad, listening to the things she said to the clients.  She was so sincere about sharing her experience – apparently, she changed her mind about having an abortion, and has been glad of that.   Because of that, she assures the clients that having this baby won’t ruin their life, they’ll still reach their goals.  How does she know?  Because she did. She tells them:

I know your life will turn around because my life turned around. When me and my husband made the decision to keep our child, it was the best decision we ever made in our life. Keep your child today. And to this day, I am still married to the same man. And to this day, we get to experience the love of our child that we did not kill, that we almost killed. Don’t kill your child today. Hear a mother talking to you – don’t kill your child today. It still affects me today – that I almost killed my child. Don’t kill your child today. But I get to kiss my child, I get to hug my child…

It seems so naive to me, the belief that because that worked out for her, it will be the same for everyone.  As if everyone has exactly the same issues she had, the same resources, the same choices.  It seems naive and cruel, cruel in the same way as Andrew telling everyone how excited he was about his unborn baby.   As if the antis can’t quite comprehend that their personal experience is not normative.

Anyhow.

The fundraiser was a great success. We received 30 pledges.  We received pledges from 3 countries (US, Canada, Australia). We received pledges from 8 states in the US (KY, IN, OH, VA, CA, MD, TX, AR)   And despite the poor turnout of protesters, we raised $1,043 so far, but the final total will be more than that as some late pledges come in.  Those funds will be split between escorts and Ky Support Network, an abortion fund acting as a program under Ky Health Justice Network.

We were surprised how (comparatively) few protesters came out.  But we figured a lot of the protesters chose to stay home because of the rain.  {Ok, we may have made some snarky comments about that among ourselves, but I’m not personally judging anybody’s commitment to “saving babies” based on their willingness to stand in the pouring down rain – or lack thereof .}

However, one of the protesters explained it differently to one of the escorts, when he commented on the low turnout.  She said:

“Yes, we planned it that way, so you won’t get as much money,”

to which the escort joyously replied,

“YES! Our plan is working!”

The protester looked a bit crestfallen.  As you can imagine.

But that’s been the point all along – the ultimate win-win for us – and the clients.  If the protesters show up in huge numbers, we make more money for vests and trainings and direct funding for abortion access.  If they don’t show up – well, it’s a victory for the clients who don’t have a to walk a 300 person gauntlet, and yay for us.

It’s always a relief – another Mother’s Day under our belts.  Thanks to the new escorts and occasional escorts who came out for Mother’s Day, thanks to the folks who pledged money, and thanks to everyone who supports the right to a full range of reproductive health services.

*Transcript  of the video:

You wanna take a picture of me? You videotaping? What are you doing? What are you doing? God bless you. God loves you. God loves you and I pray that you never come on this sidewalk again. Because he does not want you to do this. You don’t realize that you’re leading the mothers off to kill their babies to the slaughter. They’re actually taking them down into the basement and they’re actually sucking the baby out of the womb. Out of the womb and throwing the baby in the garbage. The baby is a human being. (turns away.) Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.

 

PSA – & Pledge Time!!

If you have an appointment at EMW, do NOT park in this lot.

IMG_0001If you have an appointment at EMW, do NOT park in this lot.

If you can’t see the picture, the sign says:

EMW PATIENTS

WILL NOT BE TOWED

IF YOU OBTAIN

A PARKING PERMIT

AT THE FRONT DESK

ENTER THROUGH

GLASS DOOR ON THE LEFT.

DON’T DO IT!!

The glass door is the entrance to the fake clinic, the “we-are-too-a-clinic” the “we care about you, all our services are free” clinic, the “let-us-do-a-free- ultrasound (that can’t be used for anything) while we preach at you” clinic.   That clinic.

Yes, it’s misleading.  Deceptive.  Manipulative.  But they deal in lies anyhow.  They will say, “Lies?  There’s no lies there.”  And that’s true.  It’s just deceptive. I don’t think it’s illegal.

Yes, I think they’re doing it in hopes of making people miss their doctor’s appointment.  They will say they’re not.  It doesn’t matter – t don’t think we can do anything about it.  But we’ve already had one person who saw “EMW PATIENTS” and went in thinking it was EMW.

So I’m telling you – the people who read here.  Feel free to spread the word.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 I usually like for posts to be up a few days before we post a new one, but this I wanted the parking lot warning to go up quickly.  But if you haven’t already read Eeyore’s terrific post about the antis lying by the numbers, please click here to read it now.  Go ahead,.  I’lll wait…

Because – since I’ve already started this post, I’ll do this too –

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR!!

Yes, Mother’s Day is coming – which means the Saturday before Mother’s Day is also almost here.  Time for our Fifth Annual Escort Fund-Raiser -

Pledge-a-Picketer.

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year. Antis come from near and far to shame, blame and humiliate clients going to their doctor appointments for an abortion.  Tons of protesters.  Hundreds of them.  Literally – over 300 one year.

So we take all those lemons and – yeah, I know, stupid cliche – but we do it – we make lemonade.  We started pledge-a-picketer so that the more of them that show up, the better it is for us.

You know how it works, right?   You pledge so much for each protester who shows up, we count the protesters, and the more of them there are, the more money we raise for escorts {vests, training costs, and other miscellany} and abortion access.

It is a lovely moment, when most of the protesters have arrived and we get to walk down the line counting. It baffles and annoys them, but it’s the one time that we can enjoy there being plenty of them.

Here’s the link to make your pledge:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1xbxdKkjOSsfRnLlCBo86dIVqBHtyntmA-GKLW9QT_I4/viewform

{I know, it’s supposed to be embedded – feel free to edit and fix it, or message me how to do it…}

Take home messages:

~~ Make sure you don’t miss Eeyore’s recent post.

~~ Don’t get tricked into parking in the antis parking lot.

~~ Make your donation for pledge-a-picketer now.

~~ And stay tuned for our next post.