Bathtub Abortions ~ by KYBorn

Bathtub Abortions-by KY Born

I told Servalbear I was going to wait until I calmed down, but I’m not calming down so I’m writing this anyway. It is too close to the person who could have been me. It is too close to where I live part of the year. It is too close to a state being allowed to regulate a woman’s body. It is too close to the fact that women in “red” states have to cough up their own money for an abortion.

I don’t know why this woman got in the bathtub and used a coat hanger to try to end a pregnancy. I don’t care. She was not obligated to be a life support system for anybody. When the fetus was born alive, and thus became an infant, she clearly did no harm since the premature infant arrived at the hospital alive. Sure. The infant will have life-long problems. Most fetuses who become infants at 24 weeks born in hospitals don’t even survive.

Here is what I do know. I had the money and the knowledge to terminate a pregnancy legally and medically safe. Here is what I also know. If I had not had the money and knowledge of resources, I would have done anything to end that unwanted pregnancy.

I wouldn’t have waited so long to start the process. I would have tried medications first, even if they held the risk of death. I would have stopped eating and taken every herb known to man to induce an abortion.

If that didn’t work I would have been the woman in the bathtub. I would have killed myself before bearing that child. If that meant risking or even causing my own death at 20 or more weeks gestation, I would have done it.

So stop. Stop meddling in women’s medical decisions. Let us decide if we want to be mothers (and no, we are not mothers of dead babies if we choose abortion).  Get rid of the Hyde Amendment. Get rid of making abortion anything but what is: a medical procedure. Get rid of assholes who make gauntlets of people “praying for babies” and harassing people outside clinics.

Have your pro-life “clinics.”  Stay inside them and let people come to you instead of trying to lie to lure them to you. If you have to lie to get people in your joint, you don’t have much to say anyway.

Regardless, if all you “pro-lifers” don’t want any more incidents like this then follow my advice. You can pray for those aborted “babies” at home or in your church. You don’t need to make a public display of it for everyone else to hear it.

Bottom line is this woman hurt herself, her own body, but nobody cares about that. They care about a fetus that became a premature infant. What’s next? Shall we charge women who give birth early with involuntary manslaughter?  Why not?  Her uterus expelled a fetus before it was ready?

Ick. I just can’t say any more than make it easier for a woman who wants to end a pregnancy earlier possible.

Most of all, this should never have been a legal issue. It was a medical issue. Period. Shame on the doctors and hospital who even alerted law enforcement to this event. Shame on this community who elected Scott Des Jarlais, a man who was hunky dory with his own wife’s two abortions, and pressured one of his mistresses to abort on while recording the conversation on tape. (He taped the conversation himself, whether she was pregnant, aborted or gave birth is none of anybody’s business but hers).

Mostly, shame on the state of Tennessee. You and the assholes you voted into office caused this, not the poor, desperate woman in the bathtub you have shoved in jail. You and your version of high moral standards you impose on all of us are the cause of this and you bear the shame, and any criminal responsibility. So lock the legislature and governor in jail.

Let this woman go. She did no harm to anyone but herself.

Shame on you all. Everyone who holds up a gross sign. Everyone who blocks clinic entrances. Everyone who follows women for blocks. Everyone who films women entering clinics. Everyone who forces their literature on them. Everyone who misleads them into “crisis pregnancy centers.”  Everyone who votes for people who think a woman has no right to decline to be life support for another not yet human being.

Shame on you all.

You belong in that cell, not her.

Gift Bags

We have a wide variety of protesters yelling at patients and companions entering the clinic. Every morning the clinic is open they line up to pray, yell, preach, or shove pamphlets into cars and the hands of people who just want to get to their appointment. If you’ve read any of our articles on this blog, you know them. You’ve seen them in action on our videos. You’ve heard their voices when we record them.

Saturday mornings are particularly chaotic. We will normally have 70-100 protesters harassing and bullying. As the holiday season gets closer, we will have more protesters showing up to heap condemnation on people. We’re already hearing, “This time next year you could have presents under the tree for this baby.” We are already seeing more chaos this past Saturday.They seem to be trying to out-perform each other in many ways. Who can yell the loudest? Who can block an escort? Who can delay the patient long enough to shove pamphlets in their hands? Who can make the one comment that will make the patient or their companion react with tears or anger? They push and shove each other, milling around the entrance, carrying their fetal porn signs as blocking weapons. Each one appears to want to make a “score” for Christmas.

When I am asked by people we are escorting, “Are they going to be here when we leave?” I always tell them, “Most of them leave right after the escorts do. There may be one or two here when you leave, but just walk past them.” We know there is the possibility of antis being present when they leave, especially during the 40 Days for Life campaigns, but there isn’t the great numbers of people we see in the mornings.

Every Saturday afternoon there are at least two antis handing out gift bags to departing patients. They are present on other days, but Saturdays you can always count on them to be present. They watch the doors of the clinic from the property line and rush to give their gift bags. It’s always extended with the comment, “We know you have had a hard day. We just wanted to give you this gift.”

This Saturday I was giving a ride to a patient when the surgery was finished. We walked out and the two present-bearing antis ran to us. One of them blocked my car door so the patient couldn’t get in until they took the bag. They asked them, “Is there a snack in there?” Since they said “Yes” they took the bag. As we got into the car, the other anti ran up to another patient leaving and forced the bag into their hands. Running up to strangers, pushing, blocking and forcing gift bags on them. It’s what the holiday season is all about, isn’t it?

When we got into my car, I asked the patient if I could remove the anti-abortion literature from the bag before they looked into it. I said, “You don’t really need to read these do you?” They replied, “No, I’m just hungry.” Pamphlet and book were removed and I handed the bag back to them. The bag contained an airplane-sized bag of pretzels, a full bottle of Olay body wash and a nylon mesh body wash scrubber. No doubt the body wash and scrubber were to symbolize washing the sin away? The pretzels were consumed and the other things taken home.

I think this bothered me so much because as the patient went into the clinic in the morning, they displayed so much confidence and shared with me before we left the clinic how relieved they were to have this over. For them to have to endure one more round of harassment going home just made me mad.

What were the pamphlet and book?

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Two Ways to Live – the choice we all face, Pocket Edition. This is a 16-page pamphlet that says a lot of things, but it summarizes the two ways to live are “Our Way” rejecting God or “God’s new way” by submitting to Jesus.

The Holy Bible New Testament- This is self-explanatory except for the handwritten inscription inside the cover.

“We know that today has been difficult. There may come a time when you experience sorrow, regret and guilt over what took place today and at that time, you may wonder if there is a safe place you could turn to for help and support, A Woman’s Choice Resource Center is that place where you can find hope and healing. Please give them a call at (phone number edited out). They would love to listen to your story and speak with you further. Remember you are valuable and loved! “

First of all, they didn’t listen to their story as they entered the clinic. They just shouted the same things they shout at everyone else. Why would they want to listen after the abortion unless it is to further heap shame on them?

Second, there are some really great organizations listed on our Reproductive Services page who do listen and counsel. They are trained counselors instead of staff and volunteers wanting to push a religious agenda like at A Woman’s Choice.

For any future patients at EMW, please be aware the pretzels are good, the body wash is handy, but just pitch the literature.

 

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.

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*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.

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(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.”

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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.

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:

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(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…

Feeling Under Siege

I have been clinic escorting for just over two years now. I have seen the aggressiveness, in-your-face harassment and flat out verbal assault attempting, and many times succeeding, in reducing patients, companions and family into hysterics and tears. Other than quiet words of support and reassurance that I will see them safely through to the door as best and as quickly as I can, there is nothing that I can do.

Our clinic is now being heavily targeted by one of the most radical, aggressive and dangerous anti-abortion groups in the country. These are not quiet old ladies from local churches praying the rosary. They are a nationwide group of extreme fundamentalists, with leaders who are convicted felons. So far they have managed to stay under the radar of the Department of Justice and Southern Poverty Law as a hate group. It will only be a matter of time before they hit the headlines big and others stand up and take notice.

I refrain from posting any of their public videos as they are so graphic, violent and triggering that I don’t know if any of my non-escort friends could watch it without being very unsettled and frightened. Hell, they frighten me.

Do not think that this does not affect anyone in your life. 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the age of 45 from all races, classes, backgrounds and yes, religions.

It is unacceptable for this kind of domestic terrorism against our sisters, mothers, aunts, daughters, friends and ourselves.

Chloe Angyal in a memorial article for Dr. George Tiller, murdered by an anti-abortion extremist on May 31, 2009, describes the escalation of violence by anti-abortion protesters being experienced across the country. I recommend you read the whole article “The Subculture of Embattled Abortion Workers”, but here is a preview:

When Tiller was killed, in 2009, a rush of anti-abortion legislation was just beginning.  And violence against abortion providers, those few who remain, was and remains a daily reality no matter where they live. A continual threat, part of the buzzing background noise that is American violence.

Six years later nearly to the day, I’m still here in the U.S., and though no abortion provider has been murdered since 2009, harassment of these doctors continues. And not just the doctors; anti-choice extremists will target almost anyone who is associated with the provision of abortion: nurses, receptionists, the men and women who run clinic networks, clinic escorts, clinic security guards, landlords, and the neighbors and families of all those people.

Do you condone this behavior? By your apathy, silence and inaction you do.

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Interested in becoming a Louisville Clinic Escort? Please read the information in the “Trainings for Escorts” page. Our next training will be in mid-July. Send an email to everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com and we will send you more details about the next training.

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REMINDER: It’s not too late to make your pledge for Pledge-a-Picketer.  The campaign ends and we make the final count the day before Father’s Day, June 20. So far, we’re are at 179 protesters.  You can pledge here, with either a specific amount per person or by pledging a lump sum for the whole horde of protesters.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1cATk530BlUVRVofUMNaNHU1yo9FvN78ByX-_rHzWbtk/viewform

 

 

Like a Morality Play

There’s a property line on the sidewalk in front of EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Traditionally, the protesters don’t cross it.  But lately, the antis have enjoyed mocking this boundary.  They get as close to the line as possible, put their toes across it, and one morning…

IMG_0083 …the anti in the snazzy camoflauge wear maneuvered himself in-between the two escorts right on the line.   With his sign. IMG_0084 Yes, his arm is over the property line.  Yes, he’s almost touching the escort, with his arm, with his sign, and with his body.  And yes, he’s smirking.   He thinks he’s “won” something here.  Well, and he likes the attention of having his picture taken.  Yes, I’m sorry I gave him that pleasure.

But the picture illustrates my point.  Like a morality play, the action in front of the clinic often seems like an allegorical acting-out of the theoretical battle between “good” and “evil.”  A symbolic representation of the conflict between belief systems, it’s played out in dramatic postures, with repetitive scripts, and proscribed roles.

Protesters are convinced they’re the good guys.  They care about the pre-born, “the most helpless and vulnerable among us.”    Protesters want to stop women from having abortions, for their own good, because they really care about them.  They know that escorts don’t care, that we’re evil people who want to kill babies.  And hurt puppies.

Escorts know that we’re the good guys.  We love babies and puppies, and we care about the already-born.   Escorts want all options family planning and a full range of reproductive health care.  Escorts believe in equality and self-determination, while protesters are evil people who want to oppress, shame, and subjugate women.

Right?

Well, no.  No, of course that’s not completely fact-based.  But when I’m on the sidewalk, it’s easy to see it that way.   I fiercely oppose some of the values and beliefs that the protesters represent.   They push us toward a world without birth control or access to abortion, a culture where a women’s worth is inextricably tied to giving birth, and where an embryo is worth more than an already-born woman’s life.   I believe those ideas are dangerous and damaging to us all.

But on the corner of 2nd and Market at 7 a.m., the antis are there mostly for symbolic reasons.   Think about this.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than 99% of women who have experienced sexual intercourse have used at least one form of birth control.  Some of those people are on the sidewalk protesting.   The data indicates that one in three women has an abortion in her lifetime – and some of those women are on the sidewalk, holding signs, yelling, chasing, and shaming others.

I used to think this was the most amazingly pure hypocrisy I’d ever seen.  But maybe it’s just the difference between their “real life” and the virtues they’re touting ~ um, representing ~ on the sidewalk.  Do you see what I mean?  I’m not saying they don’t believe what they’re saying – I think they do, in theory.  But in real life ~ well, people need birth control and sometimes they need abortions.  That doesn’t have anything to do with showing up to protest at the clinic.

Ok, yes, that is hypocrisy.  By definition, it is.  But before I start to throw stones at them (figuratively) consider this.   Few of us live up to our own standards all the time.   I believe that climate change is a real problem and that we need to use our resources more wisely.  And I still drive my car everywhere and get my groceries in plastic bags.  I know, I know that’s bad, and yes, I do feel guilty.  But I could still go to some protest against a big corporate polluter and feel virtuous about it.

Trying to escort in a way that adheres to my values is hard too, and I don’t always do it as well as I want to.  When I started escorting, six years ago, I imagined I would be able to stay calm and centered all the time.  Wrong.  300 mornings of watching the protesters preach, scold, shame, harass and harangue the clients has challenged me in ways I didn’t expect.

Figuring out how to do what we do on the sidewalk, without being terrible hypocrites ourselves, is the most interesting part of escorting, for me,  The challenge is different for every escort, and different clinics approach it differently, and it’s all fascinating.  I’ll talk about that more in my next post.

In the meantime, I want to make a personal pledge:  I pledge to donate $5 to fund abortion access every time a protester reminds me that I publicly said on here that I “don’t always live up to my own standards.”   Another $5 if they mention my environmentally-unfriendly flaws.    That’s right – $5 every time they mention either one.   I’m creating win-wins every chance I get…

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The Saturdays before Easter, before Mother’s Day, and before Father’s Day are big days for protesters.  You can help raise funds for escorts and for abortion access by pledging a small amount per picketer, or by pledging a lump sum for the horde of antis who come out to harass and intimidate women seeking legal medical care on those days. We count the protesters each day, but on Pledge-a-Picketer days, it gives us great glee to know that each number ticked off means more money raised to support the very thing they are there to obstruct. We’ll be posting updates after each big day with the total number of antis, as well as any new sidewalk stories that emerge. This form will be included in our posts from now through Father’s Day, but don’t wait til the last minute, pledge now: Pledge-a-Picketer Pledge Form

This is the clinic the Saturday before Mother’s Day in 2009.

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What They Said…

Our newest fund raiser – Antis Say the Darnedest Things – ended Saturday.  Remember?  Some of us pledged money for every time a specific protester said a specific thing, only we couldn’t publish which ones we were tracking ’cause then they might quit saying that thing.  Well, here’s what they said.

Donna:

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(Picture shows Donna in a light blue coat, arms folded across her chest, disapproving look on her face, saying YOUR RELATIONSHIP WILL NEVER BE THE SAME}

And Dominic:

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{Dominic is in his camoflauge gear and holding his “Before I formed you in the womb….” sign. He says: MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE.}

Keep in mind that Donna is at the clinic every, single day.  Dominic is generally only there on Saturday.  So how many times did they say their thing?

Donna –  Your relationship will never be the same – 21 times

Dominic – Murder in the First Degree – 29 times

Amazing.

We are still tabulating results for the pledges, but I understand that Donna has raised $208 for us all by herself.  Funds will be used for a variety of needs – winter supplies like salt for the sidewalk or hand and foot warmers; breakfasts for escort trainings, help with parking expenses and other miscellaneous needs.  Often, we share the funds with one of our sister organizations who provide hands on support for abortion access.

I’ll let you know what the total is for Dominic when I know.  Thanks to him and Donna for helping us, albeit unintentionally, as we support people seeking access to abortion, .

In the meantime, the first results are in from our Springtime Pledge-a-Picketer fundraiser.  You know, once upon a time (um, last year) we just did this fundraiser for the Saturday before Mother’s Day.  We used to have hundreds of protesters show up – really, hundreds.  But the last few years, the turn-out for that Saturday has been kind of pitiful.  Last year, they had a huge turn-out for the Saturday before Easter, and sometimes they show up in droves for the Saturday before Father’s Day.

So we began to wonder if they were purposely staying away because we do the fund-raiser.  Seriously.  It seemed like the other days got bigger and Mother’s Day kept shrinking.  So this year we decided to combine them all.   That way, if rain or sleet or hail  – or the knowledge that abortion access is improved by their presence – keeps them away from one big day, we’ll catch them on another one.  So – drum roll please – on the Saturday before Easter there were  ~~ 79 protesters.

Yeah.  That’s it.  A weak turnout.  Maybe they’ll have a better showing on May 9th.  I won’t say I hope so – if they don’t show, of course that’s good for us too, and even better for the client.  What a terrific win-win.

Finally – I have to say this here so I don’t say it on the sidewalk.  This is really to Donna:

“Your relationship will never be the same???  What are you thinking?   Do you think their relationship will be the same if they go ahead and have this baby???   Cause I’m pretty sure that’s gonna be a HUGE frigging change!!  What are you thinking?”

Oh, that’s right, she’s not.

Ok, whew, I feel better now that I’ve said it.  Thanks.

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And it’s not too late to pledge for Pledge-a-Picketer.   You know how it works – you can pledge a certain amount per protester, or just pledge a set amount regardless.  Here’s the link to make a pledge.

Pledge-a-Picketer

Antis Say the Darndest Things~ by fml

Most of you already know that protesters on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic say the same things over and over. And over. You probably already know that to call their words “counseling” stretches the imagination beyond breaking point.

If you follow this blog, you may remember Escort Bingo – if not, you can refresh your memory here. You may even have a personal favorite in the repetitive lines that the protesters use. I have a bunch of favorites, but here are a few:

“Just take 5 minutes to get a free ultrasound. What’s the harm in that?”

“We only want to help.”

“God is watching you.”

“Why don’t you go to a real doctor?”

“They don’t care about you. They only care about your money.”

“Come next door where we care about you.”

So the other day, a couple of escorts started a little game. One of them pledged a quarter for every time Anti XYZ says a particular line. Another escort pledged a dime for every time Anti ABC says one of their favorite lines. Then – who knows where these ideas come from?- some escort says, “We should make this a fundraiser!”

So now it is. It’s our pre-Easter, just-for-fun, antis-say-the-darndest-things fundraiser. We’re not expecting to make a lot of money – the Bowl-a-Thon is coming soon, and then we’ll be working on Pledge-a-Picketer. We’re not trying to wear anyone out with excessive fundraising. This is just for fun.

We want the antis to know we are doing this fundraiser, but we don’t want them to know which antis and which phrases we are tracking. If they don’t know, the only way they can keep us from raising funds is they all have to stop saying anything. It’s a total win-win scenario for us.

We already have escorts lined up to track the things they say. If you want to play – to pledge a certain amount for every time XYZ says that thing they say, or ABC says their rudest admonition, email us for details. You can find us at everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com

We’ll let you know the tally and winning phrase after Easter.

What’s The Point?~by KY Born

I don’t even escort.

We luckily don’t need them at the two clinics in the city I live in and the next closest clinics are over 3 hours away from me. We have antis, but they are pretty well contained by a fence and actually mostly just pray. At one of them where the CPC is in the building next door, they run up and down the fence screaming crap like, “This might be your last chance to be a mother.”  They write down license plates and film, but I don’t think they post on the Internet. I’m probably on some anti film being played in church as an example of a demon-possessed “abortion-minded mother,” when all I was doing was taking a friend to the clinic.

One of the men commented, in addition to the motherhood comment, that if I could afford that car I could afford a baby. I was already pissed off because they shoved their “information” under my windshield wiper since I had to slow down because they were in the drive entrance. Since everybody was still waiting in line outside, I went over to the fence to let the dude know that I hoped I never got pregnant again (I wasn’t the one pregnant) because I didn’t want to have to come back to get an abortion and listen to him yapping again. Oh, and I used a lot of profanity. Manly man jumped back from the fence as if I was going to be able to walk ten feet, scale a six-foot fence in three seconds and somehow do him bodily harm. So much for manly men and doing anything to save babies.

I don’t know how people do it week after week, day after day. I don’t know how they deal with being called nasty names in the name of religion. I don’t know how they stand to walk past the signs all the time without laughing. I don’t know how they deal with seeing patients reacting with terror at people who claim to be helping them. I admire them, but I don’t know how they do it.

Sometimes I think “I couldn’t do that every day,” and then I think of the patients. I think of the patients I used to work with at a very difficult job that most people can’t handle. Their stories haunt me. I know the stories told to escorts haunt them. I think about the patients, not abortion patients but patients with horrible stories and medical issues, and how I dealt with that. That makes me think I can escort but I’m glad our two clinics don’t need them for now.

Of course, we may not have any clinics in the next year. This is the negative me talking. This is the part of me that says, “What’s the point?”

I wonder if we are all just tilting at windmills. Are we fighting an imaginary battle that is already lost and we just don’t know it? Has the fate of reproductive rights in this country already been decided by a bunch of old white men, a few loud women who never worried about paying the light bill, women who made bad medical decisions for themselves, and people who drag their many small children and brainwashed teens to stand outside clinics?

It feels that way, and then I remember that we are not tilting at windmills at all. We are fighting a real battle that is still going on. It shouldn’t be, but it is. The right of a woman to privacy when making medical decisions was decided before I was born. For years, I took it for granted. I remember the occasional talk of those “rescues” before the FACE Act. They seemed like something off-kilter that only happened in far-away places. Places I thought I would never go. Places I thought I would never need.

That was back when they were called protesters and liked it. That was back before the Internet gave them a free platform to spew their hate, so that it seems like there are only a handful of pro-choice people who huddle in little groups while the country is filled with anti-choice people. Of course after FACE, which they do still violate, they call themselves “counselors” and “abolitionists,” even though they are mostly doing the same old thing. Stalking, fear, guilt, shame, stigma, violation of privacy, lies and outright threats, both physical and more subtle, like threatening to tell somebody’s boss or mother, still abound.

There seem to be so many of them even though there aren’t. It’s like standing outside the closed door of the toddler room at a daycare on a bad day. You are sure there are 1000 small people in there all crying, screaming and trying to make the most noise to get the attention of one harried person. Then you open the door and find that there are only four or five of them. I think antis are those toddlers, just seeing who can scream the loudest and get the most attention. Sometimes they even fight over who has the best toys.

This is quite funny to read about or see, but it is unlikely funny to the patient who has to wade through the sea of fetus porn and baby murder signs. It doesn’t matter to the patient who has to walk through the gauntlet of people who recite their prayers the loudest for the patients walking by before they get back to the regular gossip. It doesn’t matter to the patients who lose all privacy as nosy people film them, take pictures of their license plates or car, or even tell their stories using real names without permission. To top it off, they post all of this on the Internet for the world to see. Right to privacy, my ass.

It is violated every day, just like entirely too many women and men are physically violated only to be dismissed as either making it up because of bitter break-ups or profit, or blamed for dressing the wrong way, having the wrong sexual orientation, going the wrong place or drinking the wrong thing. If you are lucky, and you are the right kind of victim you may be believed, but even if you get pregnant against your will it is a beautiful “gift from God,” so you can just suck it up while your body is violated daily for the next nine months.

That is part of the point. My rights, your rights and everybody’s rights are being violated by people who want to legislate who we marry, if we marry, when we have sex, if we have sex, if we use birth control, what kind of birth control we use, what kind of sex is legal, how we plan our families, what is a family and how we handle the results of trauma.

I could go on, but that is the point.

We must fight back. We must be louder. Not when the patients are around of course. They don’t need extra chaos. I know some of you reading are exhausted, and you are thinking “but I already help by escorting, what else you want me to do, bossy woman?” If you are just plain burnt out, or over-extended, or doing all you can, I am not talking to you.

I am talking to anybody who has the time and energy, or who can gather up what is left of it, to fight these battles that are seemingly endless.

I am asking you to raise your voices. I’m not in any way saying we should become the screaming toddlers the antis are, but I am saying it is time that everybody who is pro-choice or pro-access raise their voices in other ways, calmly but still louder than the few screaming toddlers in the room who need to be hushed by the teachers.

I don’t think antis need to be hushed by censorship as that would be a violation of their constitutional rights. OK, I admit I fantasize about laws that hush them completely, but I know that this isn’t legal. In fact, that would make me a lot like the antis to want to control their speech.

What I do think is that pro-choice and pro-access people need to let their voices be heard. This can happen in many ways. Write, call or email your elected officials about reproductive rights, even if you think it won’t help. Vote, even when it seems pointless. Protest bad laws, if you are so inclined. Organize groups that support reproductive rights. Write on blogs. Complain to social media outlets that are used to stalk and violate the privacy of patients by individuals and groups. Talk about your own experiences as escorts or patients. Encourage patients who are interested to pursue legal action against those who have violated their rights and have the information they need on hand.

Now I can already see you thinking I’m a hypocrite because I am telling you all to raise your voices while I type behind an alias. I do this for several reasons and I’ll flat out say that some of them are practical, like not wanting it to impact my career prospects. Most of it is the strong emotional need for my own privacy and to protect the privacy of my family and friends. While I don’t think anti harassment would bother me beyond tolerance, I refuse to let my family and friends be drug into my fights, as we all know antis are more than willing to do this.

So maybe I am hypocrite, but I am doing my best. It is why I write for this blog. It is why I finally told my rape and abortion story by putting it on virtual paper and posting here. When I write, I hope people who read not just my stories about reproductive issues, but everybody else who puts it out there understand they aren’t alone. I know finding this blog made me know I wasn’t alone in knowing we had major problems with reproductive rights in this country, so when I was asked to write here it was one of the ways of raising my voice.

So when I think that there is no point in continuing this fight, I remember that scared young woman who went alone for her abortion. That was me. I remember the families who have had their privacy violated in order to bury their family members while vocal antis gleefully crowed about their death, or mourn the death of a fetus incompatible with life, but not the life lost months before. I remember the woman who was followed to her hotel and had to face protesters who had posters with her name on it. I remember the antis who scream and lie both virtually and in real life at patients who think, feel, love, cry, hurt and who have hopes, dreams and problems that aren’t solved by a pack of diapers and supplies that are only given to those who attend Bible classes, plus empty promises of housing or money. I remember the people I will never know or see who go through hell to access legal health care. I remember the people who can’t scrape together the money or take time off work so they, at their own peril, try to terminate the pregnancy by themselves even though it risks their lives and health. I remember the young faces of the supposedly pro-life generation forced on the sidewalk by parents and schools with their signs and realize that some day a portion of them will need access to the very health care they hold signs up against.

I know if you are reading this you are tired. Probably tired of listening to me ramble on. Probably tired of being told to do more than you already are. Tired of this fight that shouldn’t be happening in the Land of the Free in 2015. Maybe you are even feeling that this fight is pointless. Maybe you feel it a little or maybe you feel it a lot. Maybe you are like me, and have to turn off the TV, put down a magazine or click off an article or post because you are overwhelmed by the steady stream of anti-choice messages, anti-choice spew not backed by science and plain out flat lies told by antis about weeping women overwhelmed by guilt, infertility, breast cancer and trauma of a pregnancy termination that occurred in a blood-soaked room after she was forced to abort by those evil, money-hungry doctors.

I know I am. I also know that if I give up the fight, I can’t complain because I stood by and let my Constitutional rights to a private medical procedure be stripped away by people who are basically trying to be voyeurs into the lives and bedrooms of strangers. I know the more of us who refuse to stand for this kind of violation, who speak out on a lot of fronts, both now and in the future, will have a great impact on the direction reproductive rights take in this country.

When I started this rant I wasn’t sure where it was going to go. I know I wanted to express how those who are silent need to speak up and encourage and thank those who do far more than me. I wanted to find a reason for myself to continue to be involved in this fight when there are so many things that are more fun to do. I found it here, and am feeling a bit renewed in my urge to do more, to speak louder and over the small band of loud antis, whose volume make them seem much more numerous than they are really.

We are losing our rights to a small, loud minority and it has to stop.

That is the point.