Threatening People Isn’t A Great Way To Win Them Over, Ya Know?

The antis on the sidewalk often approach escorts and clients with an attempt to intimidate by way of instilling fear. How? With clients and their companions there are threats of how “you’ll regret this because you’re killing your baby.” . To male companions of the clients, “ You’re not a real man! If you were a *real* man you would take her out of there.” , “you aren’t a real man if you let her do this, you’re a weasel.” The protestors trying oh so hard to instill fear of a loss of gender identity to men unless they physically stop the clients from entering the building. Its just strange that they would use such a tactless approach. I’ve come to feel that the protestors who use this are not there for the clients and to help them, but for personal gratification, otherwise they might become introspective about their methods.

Anyway. The escorts are threatened with jail, this morning two of us were verbally attacked by the same protestor. The protestor attempted to block physically block clients as they crossed the line on the sidewalk marking the area where the protestors couldn’t follow. The escorts did their best to stand in such a way which would keep the protestor from physically contacting or blocking the client at which point this protestor noted that the only way to draw attention to themselves was to feign some sort of physical altercation. The protestor backed up and started howling about how we almost knocked them over!” How dare you!”. The second altercation was quite similar, but instead of simply saying, “ how dare you”, she stood as close to the line as possible (as is her way) and said , “WE have FOUR cameras watching you. I’d hate to see you go to jail for doing this to me….” and on and on and on. My only response to this person has become, “Stop harassing me.”, this particular person is also well known to me for spouting her racism at me every time I’m present.

I’m just confused about what world the antis live in, they’re so amazingly narcissistic.

This morning though there were 14 clients, 10 Antis and 8 escorts. So at least there was a good number of escorts to watch out for each other and to witness the awful behavior of these people.

Edit/ P.S.

This protestor seeks some sort of hierarchy within the escorts, when they feel threatened this A* seeks out a specific escort ( I’ve witnessed this occurrence multiple times over my time of escorting) and tells the escort to control another one of us. There is no leadership here, no hierarchy and for that I am so grateful. Upon informing the A of this however, the A turned this into a weapon against the escort who is nothing if not kind and engaging with us, ” Well, you act like you’re in charge.” sarcastic and biting to be sure. I’m just amused at this pattern this A has when they don’t get a reaction out of the initial escort they’re threatening they approach this particular escort and badger them incessantly.

 

A*=Anti/ Protestor

Blog for Choice Day 2013

Every year this blog participates in NARAL’s Blog for Choice Day on the anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision. This year’s theme is “Tell your story about why you’re pro-choice.” This year is memorable because it is the 40th Anniversary of the decision. We are honored to participate again this year.

Since escorts in Louisville are a diverse group of individuals, we wanted to give voice to different viewpoints from everyone wanting to contribute. It has become an interesting collection of different stories.

bfcd-2013

FK

I am French but have lived in the Midwest for 6 years.  I had previously spent time in New York, and the culture shock of being in the U.S. was not really felt there.  Only when I came to Indiana and saw anti-abortion protesters marching on the town square, carrying gory, photo-shopped pictures of aborted fetuses, did I begin to realize the kind of environment in which I was living.

In 2007, while in my 1st year as a graduate student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, I became pregnant and made the choice to have an abortion.  Soon after making that personal decision, I was faced with Indiana laws.  It first hit me when I placed a call to Planned Parenthood and, rather than being scheduled and told how to prepare, I was asked if I wanted to speak to a minister and arrange for an ultrasound, and told that by law I had to wait a minimum of five weeks — long enough for the heart to start beating.  None of it made sense to me; I had already made my decision, after much soul-searching and personal anguish.  I didn’t need help with the decision, nor did I need time to think it over.  I needed medical assistance.

I had also seen the protesters in Bloomington.  Their aggressiveness and ravings were a very real deterrent, particularly since I was feeling so vulnerable.  I had made a very personal decision, and I felt they were trying to make me feel accountable to them for it, to run a gauntlet of shame and guilt just to get to the clinic door — unless you’re lucky enough to have wonderful escorts standing by to help, like the ones here in Louisville.  So, with my very limited finances and the help of friends, I arranged a trip to Chicago, where I was still shown an ultrasound photo but was at least helped without having to clear too many other obstacles.

It was still an ordeal: I opted for mifepristone, or “the pill,” but my uterus never emptied after the misoprostol.  By that time I had returned to Bloomington and began to experience increasing pain.  I needed to visit Chicago again, a task made nearly impossible by blatantly pro-life psychiatric staff in Bloomington who, fearing I was suicidal because of their own preconceptions, locked me in isolation, gave me yet another unnecessary ultrasound, and refused medical treatment, though they were fully aware of my condition and knew that I needed immediate treatment for infection.  Only after friends in Bloomington noticed my absence and threatened legal action was I able to escape the hospital and return to Chicago for a D&C, all the while having missed classes which resulted in my being put on academic probation.

Thinking about this experience still makes me shudder, no less so since in France abortions are now free, and even in 2007, they were cheap and readily available, with no protesters or legal obstacles to cause guilt, stigma, and difficulty.  I don’t mean to glorify my country, but I did take my freedom of choice for granted in France, and only after my ordeal in the U.S. did I realize how dearly I cherish it.  I think also about the gender biases inherent in the whole abortion discussion, and in society in general, about how we glorify the “self-made man,” never leaving room for the self-made woman.  How can there be such a thing when she is required to carry a child, but there is no requirement to support her when she does?

In the end, I feel I was lucky.  Many other women succumb to stigma and pressure from those around them, in spite of their own feelings and misgivings.  I had enough support, and I felt empowered enough, that I was able to take control of my life.  I still plan to have a family, albeit under different, better circumstances, after I have achieved the means and the stability to raise children with all the opportunities they need and deserve.  My life, and my children’s lives, would be much different, had I not had the freedom granted by Roe v. Wade.

Ampelio

Because I believe in democracy.

Kescort

“Pro-Choice”, to me, sounds like “Pro-Gravity.” Self-determination, especially in an arena as personal as parenting, simply IS. Laws can pass, obstacles erected, dogmas cast, social memes evoked. When, if, and how often someone becomes a mother has always, is now, and will forever be, that person’s choice.

I escort at the local clinic, contribute to our local A-Fund, hound my representatives to stop anti-access legislation because safe, unobstructed reproductive health care is healthy and humane. And the State and churches ought to be concentrating their efforts on bigger issues in which their influence may actually bring about some good.

And I am optimistic that this day is coming. Because unsupported beliefs in such things as “one-right-way” fall just as sure as unsupported objects fall to the centre of the Earth.

MMS

There was a confluence of factors that caused me to embrace Choice. Strong women in my family. Vatican II which threw open the doors and windows of the Roman Catholic Church to winds that buffeted the rigid patriarchal dogma and tradition. The righteous, confrontational actions of the Civil Rights heroines and heroes. The writings and speeches of the feminists in the late 60s and early 70s. My partner who supported the evolution of my belief in the absolute right of every woman to determine what happens to her body.

Servalbear

When I first thought about the subject for this year’s Blog for Choice, I started trying to remember when I knew terminating a pregnancy could be an option. It is a subject I have difficulty separating from when I first felt passionately about women’s rights. From my first awareness of the double standard applied to men and women in assessing blame for unwanted pregnancies (woman=slut/bad; man=boys will be boys/couldn’t help themselves) to today, I have constantly reacted with, “It’s not fair.” What is fair is access to reproductive choices for everyone. Only the one with the potential to be pregnant or carrying a pregnancy knows the right decision for them. We need to fight for access to whatever that decision might be..

PG

How could I not be pro-choice?  In 1945 my younger sister was born, and my mother nearly died.  Doctors told her she was not in good enough physical condition to ever have had babies.  But they refused to sterilize her.  What was she to do, a married woman with two young children, terrified she would get pregnant again?   Doctors had no solution for her.  So when abortion was legalized in 1973, I was so glad, and thought it was a whole new world for women and our reproductive issues.  It was good to know my two daughters would have control over their own bodies.   Little did I know that 40 years later we would be fighting to keep these rights for our health and our lives.  We somehow need to make the general public aware of the dangers of women losing their reproductive rights.

FML

I’ve written before here about my reasons – girls I knew in high school, women when I was a young mother.  Yesterday, at an abortion speak-out I heard twenty amazing stories of why women chose to abort a pregnancy.  Each of the stories by itself was a compelling argument for access to abortion.  Combined, it was almost overwhelming.  If I multiply that by all the women who have their own stories, their own compelling reasons,  then it’s clear.  Abortion IS a woman’s decision.  We must keep it legal and safe.

Blogging for Reproductive Rights ~ Call to Action

Abortion carries a lot of stigma.

I think we like to think it couldn’t happen to us ~ we couldn’t be in a situation where we needed one.  That makes it easier to be judgmental about it.

In general, we can ignore the wide range of circumstances that create a need for an abortion, we can ignore the data which says one in three women will have an abortion, we can rest easy in the belief it won’t happen to us.

Of course, my impression of people’s opinions on abortion are warped by my weekly experiences with radical anti-choice people who want to talk about fallopian pregnancies still being a life.  When I talk to women in the mainstream of life, one on one, I often discover they are in favor of choice.

They’re not talking about it, not proclaiming it from the rooftops like I am these days, but they favor choice.  They like to say, “I wouldn’t have one myself, but I support other women’s right to choose.”  That makes sense.

And I understand there are layers of reasons for their reluctance to take a public stand.

But that’s why legislators are able to chip away at abortion rights.  The support for choice is not loud enough to shore up the politicians who are on the fence ~ we don’t help them choose to vote against laws that limit access.

I understand people’s reluctance to step out in support of access.   It worries me to watch us losing ground, but I get it.

BUT ~ birth control?

I didn’t even think birth control was actually controversial.

Yes, I know the Catholic hierarchy is against it, and always has been.  And I know, having been Catholic up until recently, that many, many, Catholic couples use birth control, and feel ok about it.

I know some Protestants ~ some Southern Baptists ~ have decided that being open to having children is a mandate from God, although they’re not insisting that you be receptive to pregnancy every time you have sex.  Yet.

But if you look around, there are not that many ten and twelve kid Catholic families anymore ~ or huge Protestant families for that matter~ like there were back before birth control was legal and accepted.  I’m pretty sure that’s not because we’re just that successful at Natural Family Planning.

So really, I thought for most of us, birth control was fully accepted.

But suddenly, anti-birth control Republicans are all over the place.

I’m not going to rehash the story here  – surely you’ve heard ~ Obama tried to mandate birth control coverage by all employers.  That outraged the Catholic hierarchy, and some Protestant leaders jumped on the outrage express.  You would have thought Obama was advocating for mandatory Satanic sexual rituals.

I thought there would be push-back.  I thought all of us women and our partners who have benefitted from birth control, who only have one or two kids, or just three or four kids instead of ten, would step out in support of his stance.

It didn’t happen.  Apparently, we’re not so worried about access to contraceptives for women who work for Catholic organizations, even if they’re not Catholic.

Maybe we thought it was safe to sit back and watch and wait.  See what happened.  Maybe we thought Obama had it covered, we didn’t have to do anything.

But with all the anti-choice leaders up in arms, Obama compromised.

The compromise wasn’t good enough for the anti-choice crowd, of course.  They’re still having fits.

And it made the liberals mad – how dare he compromise?  Suddenly there was all kinds of righteous indignation flying around from the left too ~ not so much against the anti-crowd, but against Obama for compromising.

And that kind of annoys me.  What do we expect?

Here’s the thing.  If we don’t speak out in support of leaders when they’re doing what we want, if we don’t encourage them loudly when they’re on the right track, they can’t hold that stance in the face of strong resistance.  It is up to us to speak up.

We are losing access to abortion.  If we aren’t careful, we will lose access to birth control too.

So when my friend, GF, who’s blogged on these pages a couple of times, invited me and Servalbear  to join this movement ~ Bloggers United for Human Rights, I was delighted.  Today ~ February 15 ~ we’re blogging for Reproductive Rights, and asking other bloggers to do the same.

Of course, Servalbear and I blog about choice all the time.  But today, I want to ask you to speak out.

Rise up in favor of all reproductive choices ~ having children, in vitro fertilization, birth control, choosing to be childless, and abortion.

If you don’t, our options will disappear.  Not just access to abortion, but access to birth control.  With personhood bills in the wings, we are headed toward creating a reality of the satiric Monty Python song “Every Sperm is Sacred.”

Is that really what we want???

What will you do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012?~ by KpF

Contemplating and discussing how to best support our local pro-access candidates, we quickly, with almost unheard of consensus, concluded we’d not do anything.
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We can’t. There are no pro-access candidates in Louisville, Ky.
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Now, we have many conscientious, progressive access-friendly state representatives and local council members. These folks worked for decades, boosted by stalwart supporters, to secure the basic protections to access. Their work continues against the constant barrage to women’s rights of self-determination. From the legislative onslaughts and innocuous religious propaganda, to the hospital merger eliminating indigent and low income care, to the worn down apathy of an electorate trying to survive the economy,  these folks shore up these erosions to keep abortion safe and legal.
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For Kentucky, Louisville looks progressive. Trendy farm-to-table restaurants, blown-glass art galleries, local yet fresh museums, revitalized downtown and locally roasted coffee houses. But at any moment even the skinny-jeaned barista in his ironic beard could ask us, “Please do not use the A-word or maybe go sit outside. You might offend other patrons.”
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To wave a banner proclaiming any candidate, council member or legislative rep pro-access would be the kiss of death. Not being adamantly anti-abortion will not get you elected in the rest of the state. We fly below the radar because we have to keep flying.
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Individually, we teach our kids tolerance and understanding. We wear our “Trust Women” and “Abortion is Not a Dirty Word” shirts and field the inevitable questions calmly, with focused intent to educate. We instigate the awkward conversations at Thanksgiving when Uncle Ignorant oppresses Aunt Submissive. We endure the uncomfortable silences at the Super Bowl party as we blanch in disgust at Tebow commercials, or this year’s bloody fetus ads. We collaborate to create real client-centric support.* We escort.
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When proclaiming a candidate pro-access and supporting that stance won’t do more harm than good, we’ll pin on the frisbee-sized button, canvas door-to-door registering voters and planting yard signs. But we do not live there. Not yet.
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Abortion Support in Kentucky is celebrating Roe vs Wade with their donation drive towards efforts to make abortion and reproductive healthcare more accessible in Kentucky. Please visit their website and contribute whatever you can.
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Day 1 – Roe vs Wade – The Marches – by fml and servalbear

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The 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade – the decision on abortion rights by the United States Supreme Court –  is January 22.  This week, we will publish a series of articles on different issues surrounding the decision.
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 Back alley abortions and women trying to abort on their own had been a fact of life for a very long time.   Roe v Wade didn’t start the controversy about abortion, but it brought it into the realm of politics.
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  • Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the United States into pro-choice and pro-life camps, while activating grassroots movements on both sides.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade
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There will be many articles written today and this week concerning the decision. “On The Issues Magazine” has devoted its Winter 2012 issue to the subject of abortion. Read it here.
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There will be marches in support of the right to choose abortion. There will be counter-marches by anti-abortion groups. The first marches began shortly after the decision.
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1973

  • Abortion – Roe v. Wade linked control of reproductive rights to a woman’s constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy.  To social conservatives, this upset gender roles and traditional patriarchy, and was considered an attack on “the right of a husband to protect the life of the child he fathered in his wife’s womb.”  Read more here.

The annual marches in Washington, DC are considered a “Festival and Special Event” by About.com.  Listed between “Home and Remodeling Show” and “Bethesda Chevy Chase Restaurant Week,” the information about the rallies includes directions to the Supreme Court and the National Mall. Tourists can view the expected 250,000 or more demonstrators for both sides as part of their visit to Washington.

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Washington 30 Year Anniversary March

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We worry a little that listing this in a guide about Washington might trivialize the importance of the decision.   Might make the struggle to protect the right to abortion under all circumstances without stigmatization seem like a festival for fun. If it adds to the crowds lending their voice for the rights of women, it helps.  If it becomes a spectacle, an event for entertainment, it doesn’t help.

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This anniversary is historically the most important step forward for women’s bodily autonomy . There is so much work still to do.

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Reminiscence by fml:

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I’ve never participated in a march in support of abortion.  But I was 16 when Roe v Wade passed, and I can remember how exciting a time it was.

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The year before that, six of the young women in my junior year of high school had left school because they were pregnant.  Back then, the only legal choice was to have the baby.  You could get married, or you could put it up for adoption.  Very few people chose to raise the child alone.

I knew of six girls in my class who got pregnant that year.  There may have been others who managed to get a “back-alley” abortion, or whose parents had the means to take them out of state for a legal abortion.

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Some of the girls I knew got married, child brides at 15, some of them didn’t.   Most of them, I never saw again.  And of course, I don’t know what any of them would have chosen back in those days.

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But when Roe v Wade passed the next year, we knew it opened doors that had been nearly closed up until then.
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Reminiscence by servalbear:
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Roe vs Wade was decided when I was 23. Even though birth control pills were available in the early 1960s, there were state laws prohibiting the distribution until a Supreme Court ruling in 1965 stated that these laws violated the “right to marital privacy.” (Griswold vs Connecticut). That made it possible for married couples to obtain prescriptions for birth control pills without restrictions.

It wasn’t until 1972 that unmarried couples were included in this right. (Eisenstadt vs Baird) I was also 23 when that decision came down from the Supreme Court. Some states still have restrictive laws for the distribution of birth control to unmarried minors.

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In real-life terms, that means:  For all of my teenage years, the only birth control available for most single women was abstinence, rhythm method, douches or condoms.

Needless to say, these were not 100% effective. There were a lot of unplanned teenage pregnancies. The only options were drop out of school to raise the baby, put the baby up for adoption or go to a back alley abortionist.

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I joined NOW and marched in support of Roe vs Wade and the equal rights amendment for women. To witness firsthand the number of young lives derailed by unplanned pregnancies made me a lifelong advocate of bodily autonomy and a feminist.

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The decision in Roe vs Wade was a cause for celebration. We can never go back to the way it was before. Over 50% of the population in America are women. We need the right to make the reproductive choices best for our individual lives.

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Abortion Support in Kentucky is celebrating Roe vs Wade with their donation drive towards efforts to make abortion and reproductive healthcare more accessible in Kentucky. Please visit their website and contribute whatever you can.

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Versatile Bloggers Award

Thanks again to A Bookish Beemer for giving us the Versatile Bloggers Award!   She writes a delightful blog about politics, current events, culture, and feminism.  She often gives me food for thought.

As I mentioned last week, the award requires us to list 15 blogs we’d like to give the award to and reveal seven things about us.  I don’t actually read 15 blogs, so I came up with a few.  Then I put the call out to my fellow escorts to point us to some award-worthy blogs.  Here’s our list:

1.  The Abortioneers This blog is written by those employed in direct service to abortion care. Their writing brings to our attention aspects of patient care and current issues concerning reproductive justice.

2. Anti-Choice is Anti-Awesome  This blog is written by a reproductive justice activist in Canada. We learn about the abortion struggles across our border.

3.  Abortion Gang  This blog is written by activists for reproductive activities. They write about abortion and feminism.

4.  Feministing  This blog covers a variety of subjects  concerning feminism. Their writing includes everything from book reviews to politics with an emphasis on how the subject impacts feminists.

5.  Femisisters  The femisisters field questions and post musings from their perspective of acknowledged and relinquished privilege with an urban edginess and intellect.

6. Wenches  This blog publishes educational articles on health and our bodies to empower people to live healthier lives.

7. Love Thy Neighbor  This blog is written by a woman trying to live compassionately in the world. It recounts her impressions traveling and reflections on purpose and the meaning of our place in the world.

8. Sunsara Taylor’s Blog  Sunsara writes about everything from abortion to war. Her articles are always thoughtful and sincere.

9. Tiger Beatdown  This blog includes a variety of authors and issues. They cover current issues concerning human rights in countries around the world.

10. Feminist Law Professors   This blog community focuses on the practice and application of law to feminist concerns.

11. Seminarians for Choice  Conversations about human sexuality, reproductive health, and faith-based approaches to both .

12.  The Friendly Atheist  An intelligent, kind take on life from an atheist who isn’t angry or loud or anti-Christian.

13. Alas, A Blog  An eclectic mix of articles of interest to the authors. They write about subjects including feminism, human rights, mythology and comics.

14. Radical Doula  Articles from a reproductive justice activist who is a birth activist too. These articles cover feminism, reproductive rights, home birthing doulas and abortion doulas.

15. Fannie’s Room  Articles about feminism and how it relates to everything from current events to entertainment.

It’s an amazing list ~ thanks to Servalbear and KpF for working on it!!

We’re also supposed to post seven random facts about ourselves.  Here we go:

1.  Escorts are intergenerational.  There are several families who have a mother and daughter or father and daughter who both escort.  And ~ I don’t know if I can explain this right, but I’m going to try.

The intergenerational pairs ~ typically they don’t come as a pair.  So it’s not so much “Oh, there’s Joe and Susie,” as that one day you discover that Joe and Susie, both of whom you know and like, are actually father and daughter.

2.  Two groups of escorts come monthly from opposite ends of the state to volunteer.  They drive as much as three hours ~ one way ~ to offer support.

3.  Escorts represent a fairly wide range of religious perspectives ~ Catholic, pagan,  Unitarian, Presbyterian, atheist, Baptist, Jewish, and undecided, to name a few.

4.  Escorts range in age from 18 to 74.  Our oldest escort was born in 1937.

5.  There isn’t an organization of escorts.  We are a group of autonomous individuals who come together to support access to abortion and reproductive health justice.   We share a commitment to following the Points of Unity.

6.  Our newest escort has only been coming for a month.  Our “oldest” escort has been coming out on Saturday mornings in Louisville for over 12 years.  We have at least one escort who also escorted in other cities before joining us here.  She’s been doing this for over 20 years.

7.  Personally, I’ve been escorting for over two years.  I’m one of the intergenerational pairs of escorts ~ and I can remember 12 years ago, my daughter and some other young people who had spent the night in my basement, heading out the door on Saturday mornings when it was still dark and cold to escort at the clinic.

I invite other escorts to share some information about themselves if they like ~ either in a comment or an article.

Thanks again to A Bookish Beemer for the award.  Be sure to check out her blog.

And now, all I have to do is figure out how to post the award on our sidebar…

Our New Look

Have you noticed our new look?  You probably have, and may have noticed for a while that we’ve had different authors posting ~ fml, {that’s me} Servalbear, and KpF in particular.

The original blogger, “Everysaturdaymorning,” is still around.  But she’s gotten busy in other exciting realms of reproductive health, with less time to spend on the blog.  We hope that she’ll post when she has the time and inclination.  In the meantime, she’s graciously allowed Servalbear and me to step in and play with the blog.

In addition to the new look, we moved stuff, edited and shifted links and content.  The pages {available at the top of the header}  now include “Reproductive Services,” with information on some resources and the links to them.

We deleted links that were dead.  We used drop-down boxes for some categories, such as archives.

We’ve been posting regularly ~ every Wednesday and Saturday for a while now.  We’ll also start doing some really brief posts in between ~ maybe a picture here and there.  A quote.  A quick story.

Servalbear told a sidewalk story the other day that I’m hoping she’ll post.   Just a few lines of classic sidewalk exchange, it made me laugh.   I hope some of our other escorts will take advantage of this space to share the things that amuse and appall them.  This is a space to share their experience and insights.

And ~ we want to hear your comments.  I have this mental image of the blog as a safe space for folks to chime in with their opinions from a pro-access perspective.

Did you notice I said “pro-access” rather than “pro-choice?”  That’s because of some of the discussion we’ve been having about the history and meaning of “choice” in this context.

Servalbear began talking about it here.  It’s some interesting stuff.

My next post may be a response to her post, since I don’t actually agree with everything she said.  I hope we can have some discussion, maybe rope some other escorts into the conversation, and encourage you to jump in, adding your opinion to the mix.

The comments are moderated ~ it’s not an open forum for antis to argue in.  But we want your thoughts, want to maybe get to know you a little.  We need to know that we’re all here together.  So if you comment, we’ll respond.

It often seems that our society is pushing back hard against women being able to access a full range of health care.  With conservative, evangelical Christians and the Catholics banding together on this, we need to pull “our side” together too.  To use our presence to stand firm.

So leave your comments.  Email us.  If you have a blog, and you riff off of something we post, connect back to us, and we can link back to you, like Bookish Beemer does here.  If you have questions, or suggestions for topics, let us know.

Other things you should know about our new look ~ our address is actually different.  It’s now http://everysaturdaymorning.net.  If you put in the old address, it will automatically direct you here, but if you were getting new posts through the RSS feed, you may need to unsubscribe from the old site and re-do it here.

What else do I need to tell you?  Oh, I know ~ we’re going to branch out a little in terms of subject.

We’ll still  be bringing you primarily our stories and updates from the sidewalk. But we’ll also be doing some posts about related topics.  Like Servalbear’s last story about the CPC’s.  {Crisis Pregnancy Centers.}  It’s not exactly about escorting, but it sure touches what we do.

I think that’s it.  If you notice something else I should have mentioned, or have any questions ~ leave a comment!

If it sounds too good to be true….

The subject of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) comes up frequently when you are speaking of abortion rights. There are several complete definitions and examples of their practices available in Google searches. There are two examples below. I encourage you to go to the full articles and read about these clinics and their tactics.

  1. A crisis pregnancy center (CPC), sometimes called a pregnancy resource center (PRC), is a non-profit organization established to counsel pregnant women against having an abortion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_pregnancy_center
  2. Deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy can be very difficult. It may be made even more difficult by so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.” These are fake clinics run by people who are anti-abortion. They have a history of giving women wrong, biased information to scare them into not having abortions. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/pregnancy/standard-21507.htm

There are CPC centers in every state. The total number is estimated to be around 4,000 CPCs in the US. There are around 700 of these CPCs licensed for special medical services. Therefore about 18% of the existing CPCs are licensed to provide limited diagnostic medical services. http://www.naral.org/media/fact-sheets/abortion-cpcs.pdf

We have two CPCs, one next door and one within one block of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Both are called A Woman’s Choice (AWC) and they are operated under the same corporation. The corporation name is A Choice for Life, a corporation formed by Southeast Christian Church. AWC is a separate non-profit corporation affiliated with the church, but they share board members.

There are so many lies and half-truths we hear on the street from their counselors I wanted to clarify some things.

First, we are told by their sidewalk counselors the AWC location is a medical clinic just the same as the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Well, not exactly.

EMW is licensed by the State of Kentucky as an ambulatory gynecological surgery clinic. They have doctors, nurses and counselors present every day at the clinic.

AWC is licensed by the State of Kentucky as a Special Health Clinic. This is a medical clinic that allows for limited medical services. These services AWC is authorized to provide include counseling, pregnancy testing and performance of ultrasounds.

  • Section 2. Scope of Operations and Services. Special health clinics are institutions which provide limited health services, on an outpatient basis. These services include: family planning clinics, pulmonary care clinics, disability determination clinics, weight loss clinics, speech and hearing clinics, wellness centers, counseling centers, and any clinic which only provides diagnostic services.  http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/902/020/260.htm

AWC is required to have personnel including one physician and one nurse. The physician is required to be present for consultation once a week and be available within one hour by phone. There is no time specification for the licensed nurse to be available. They just need to be able to review medical records. The counselors are the full-time, ever-present personnel. They do not have to be licensed. Some are employees and some are volunteers. The counselors and employees of AWC do not confine themselves to the buildings and engage in sidewalk counseling daily.

The medical director for AWC is Dr. William R. Cutrer. In addition to being a licensed OB/GYN physician, he is an ordained minister and author of several books. “The Church Leader’s Handbook” is one of his that includes long passages on anti-abortion repeating a lot of the myths surrounding abortion. Dr. Cutrer stresses in his writing the first thing in counseling someone who has had an abortion is to have them acknowledge their sin.

  • A Woman’s Choice links the church to a national network of crisis pregnancy centers and post abortion groups that share marketing strategies, legal advice and literature emphasizing what they say are the harmful effects of abortion – including increased risk of breast cancer and a psychological condition called post abortion syndrome, which are considered scientifically unsupported by the National Cancer Institute and the American Psychological Association. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/16/national/16abortion.html?pagewanted=1&th&emc

The most common thing we hear on the sidewalk is, “Why don’t you come next door for a free ultrasound? It will only take a minute.” That’s a pretty good deal: free ultrasound. You can verify if you are pregnant and approximately how many weeks. Well, maybe not such a good deal.

  • Though the center has a medical doctor and nurse practitioner on staff, the main function of the free ultrasound sessions is persuasive, not diagnostic, said Dr. Bill Cutrer, the center’s medical director. “The primary purpose is to show them that it’s not a clump of tissues but a human being,” Dr. Cutrer said. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/16/national/16abortion.html?pagewanted=1&th&emc

Even the AWC website does not say free ultrasounds for everyone.

  • Is everyone who comes in guaranteed an ultrasound? 
  • No.  There are factors that determine eligibility for a free ultrasound.  Your counselor will ask you a series of questions to determine your eligibility. (web link omitted purposely)

The series of questions they ask is to determine how high at risk the client is for getting an abortion. The more the counselors consider you to be likely to get an abortion, the more likely you will be to get a free ultrasound. (see Dr. Cutrer’s comment above)

There are so many articles written on the deceptive practices of CPCs. We have seen all of the following used at AWC:

  1.  Not acknowledging they are not the abortion clinic while talking to a client. Many clients have been counseled for up to an hour before they realize they are not in the right clinic.
  2. Offering food and drink to a client when they first come in. This will not allow them to get an abortion the same day.
  3. Separating clients from their companions by taking them alone into a back exam room.
  4. Keeping client clothing from them until they are finished counseling, despite repeated requests to return them
  5. Keeping client ID and/or medical records
  6. Lying about having an ultrasound at their facility would reduce the EMW Clinic bill by $250. AWC and EMW have no connection and services performed by AWC are not accepted by EMW.

There are stories escorts can tell of clients running out of AWC when they find out where they are; companions calling the police to help them get a client outside AWC and into EMW; clients having to pull their ID from the counselor’s hands; clients having to come up with additional funds because of delays or lies; sobbing, traumatized clients finally arriving at the correct clinic.

Given the “free ultrasound” results, would you want to go to AWC for a free pregnancy test? EMW charges $5 for the test without all of the discussion of morality. I know that even $5 is hard to spare for a lot of people. Planned Parenthood can help with the same tests usually at no or low cost, also without religious lecturing. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-center/centerDetails.asp?f=3290&a=90590&v=details#!service=pregnancy-testing-options

Much of the help AWC offers work like their ultrasounds and are on a contingency basis.  If you go to them and want the baby, you will receive less help than the client who wants an abortion and wanders in by mistake. Married women also generally receive less tangible help and more counseling. The offers of maternity clothes and baby supplies are available by appointment and two mornings a week. If you are faced with an unwanted pregnancy some help is better than no help, but you cannot count on a lot of help. We have had clients of AWC report promises of material help as promises not being kept.

Adoption referrals they offer are suspect as well. Southeast Christian Church has an adoption referral service not affiliated directly with AWC, but I would think they would utilize this service. (web link omitted purposely)

There have been so many complaints about CPCs coercing clients into carrying their pregnancy to full term so they can give the baby for adoption to loving, Christian homes deemed better able to raise children. There is no evidence this practice goes on specifically at AWC, but it wouldn’t surprise me since it fits into the pattern of operation for most of the CPCs.

  • While there is growing awareness of how CPCs hinder abortion access, the centers have a broader agenda that is less well known: they seek not only to induce women to “choose life” but to choose adoption, either by offering adoption services themselves, as in Bethany’s case, or by referring women to Christian adoption agencies. Far more than other adoption agencies, conservative Christian agencies demonstrate a pattern and history of coercing women to relinquish their children. http://www.thenation.com/article/shotgun-adoption?page=0,0

When escorts hear sidewalk counselors from AWC say, “Just come inside for a minute. What harm could it do?” it is hard not to react. We know they will not be in there for a minute. We know they will be lied to about medical facts and misled on other issues all in the disguise of helping them.

When the sidewalk counselors lead a client into their building, it is hard to remain impartial to the action. We don’t know what persuaded the client to make the decision to enter AWC. We know the lies the antis tell and hope the client does too. We respect their decision and trust they are doing what is best for them and their families.

My contempt is directed towards the staff of AWC and the other antis who do not feel it is necessary to tell the truth about so many things. Their end goal of stopping abortion access is the only important agenda item for them.

My anger is directed to our state and national governments. We have over four times as many CPCs as there are abortion clinics in the US. (4,000 CPCs/682 abortion clinics) Government funding of the operations of these CPCs and the funding shift to abstinence-only sex education in schools has me feeling enraged about the betrayal of our health care and education to win the votes of religious fundamentalists.

  • Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are not new to the American cultural landscape. For over three decades, they have provided pregnancy options counseling from an antiabortion perspective. But CPCs are relatively new to the political scene. The last few years have seen a sudden groundswell in both federal and state legislation designed to support and promote them. To date, such efforts have largely focused on two goals: securing direct or indirect government subsidies for CPCs and raising their profile and stature in the public eye. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/05/2/gr050204.html

Really, why should we be proud of states that funnel money for license plates directly to the CPCs? http://www.kychoose-life.org/about_us.php

There is a tiny silver lining in my anger. The yellow Choose Life Kentucky license plates are helpful to escorts for identifying protesters parking in front of the EMW clinic. We only have to view the back license plate to know they are at the clinic to protest.

Really Listening

Listening to what is really said is important in many situations of life. When we are escorting in the morning it is a tool we use.
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Does the client want an escort? Listen to what the client says. Companions will frequently say, ‘No,’ but it is important to listen to what the client says. It often happens the companion will say, ‘We don’t need one,’ at the same time the client is saying, ‘Yes, please.’ The client’s wishes are always what we follow.
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Sometimes the clients want to tell you their story. They will talk to you all the way up the sidewalk. We will hear stories of the number of children they already have, a dead fetus, an ectopic pregnancy, an empty gestational sac, an abusive relationship, a rape, and much more. Listen to what they are telling you.
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It is their need to be heard when they are pouring out their stories.. We respect them and respond to what they are saying. If a client tells you something so private and you respond with, “It is cold today,” they know you aren’t listening to them when they need someone to just hear them.
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Some times the clients will not say a word during the walk. They will walk straight ahead. At times they will grasp the escort’s hand or hook their arm through the escort’s arm. They don’t need to tell their stories. They may just need your presence.
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Listen to body language too.
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Sometimes this is easy. We had a group of three approaching the clinic and when they saw us they started running as fast as they could to the clinic door. Whether these clients mistook us for antis or not, they obviously didn’t want anyone near them. This happens at least once a month.
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Sometimes the body language is not as easy to read.
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Is the client walking with their arms crossed, shoulders dropped and looking down? It probably means they are nervous or upset. Escorts approach them slowly and talk to them calmly.
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Is the client walking with their arms crossed and looking straight ahead, jaws clenched and shoulders stiff? It probably means they are angry. They might be angry with the antis, the escorts or something else. Always listen to what they say to you. Escorts honor their wishes when they tell us to leave them alone. If they want to talk about why they are angry, we listen to them.
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The client always sets the tempo for conversation during a walk. If they turn to the escort and seem interested in our conversation, we take the cue to keep talking. If they do not respond, turn away or tuck their heads into the companion’s shoulder, we take the cue to walk them quietly to the door.
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This is the client’s visit to the doctor. Only the client can tell us how they are feeling or what they are thinking. We try to never assume since we can only guess from the verbal and body language clues they give us.
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The art of listening with all our senses is an important part of escorting.
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Owning The Language

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Reading blog articles concerned with abortion, the subject of labeling or mislabeling comes up frequently. Isn’t it time we work to clarify what we call opposing viewpoints in the abortion access struggle? This isn’t a unique idea. It is one I have heard said repeatedly.
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Numerous times the comment has been made the protesters against abortion have much better marketing plans than the various groups supporting the right to abortion. The antis have a much better grasp of the emotional content words bring to a debate.
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What a stroke of genius to label their viewpoint pro-life. How could anyone oppose them without sounding like they are anti-life?
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Recently I attended a speech concerning reproductive justice. There were several good points brought up for discussion that I am still giving a great deal of thought. How do I personally feel about these ideas? Some I am able to embrace wholeheartedly and others I need to explore my feelings about the long-term benefits. Like all of us, I need to unlearn some of my viewpoints to embrace change.
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Among other subjects discussed, the topic of how important what we call things was brought forward. The idea was put forth that we need to change or take back some of the language we call things concerning reproductive issues.
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Antis have appropriated the words we should be using to describe our position. Our position is actually pro-life. We support the living person in their decisions about reproduction. The antis are only concerned with life pre-birth, even at the cost of the woman’s life. Their position is anti-woman and their attitude is often detrimental to poor families.
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The comment from this speech resonating the most with me was, “Choice implies consumerism.” The idea was put forth that the term “choice” comes from a place of privilege and implies every individual has a choice in their decision to terminate a pregnancy or carry the pregnancy to full term. This is very far from reality for so many.
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Many do not have access to abortion as a choice. They may not have the money. They may not have transportation. They may not be able to get time off from work without risking their job. They may have an abusive partner who will coerce them into carrying a pregnancy. They may have a combination of these factors or others that will not allow them to choose abortion.
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In the reverse, many cannot choose to carry a pregnancy to full term. The realities of poverty make this impossible for many. They may already have children and cannot afford another one without jeopardizing the welfare of their existing family. They may be struggling to support themselves and cannot afford to bring a child into their life at this time. They may be just starting a career and are not ready to be a parent. They may have a combination of these factors or others that will not allow them to choose to carry a pregnancy to full term.
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Physical health and mental health reasons may prevent someone from having a choice. They may have life-threatening health issues that prevent them from carrying a pregnancy to term. The fetus may be dead. They may have an ectopic pregnancy.  All of these reasons and more move abortion from the realm of choice to the realm of necessity.
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The proposal was made to substitute access for choice. Our position would be described as pro-access. ‘We believe every person should have access to the reproductive care they need.’ I like that statement. It covers everyone and doesn’t assume that everyone comes from the same life situations.
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