It’s Against My Religion ~ by KYBorn

My best friend and I used to say that jokingly in high school when we were being smart-alecks about not wanting to do something we were told to do. We laughed about it then. Probably louder than we should. It probably wasn’t funny to anybody but us. We thought it was hilarious and so absurd that a person could get out of doing a required task because of religious beliefs when it was part of the requirement, in this case, to pass the class.

Well, we aren’t laughing now; not at all. The reason we aren’t laughing is that people in the healthcare profession are actually getting out of doing their jobs because they claim abortion or certain kinds of birth control are against their religion. This is hurting patients who are pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy. It needs to stop.

Hey all you state and federal elected representatives who are holding hearings about everything on God’s green earth, I’ve got some ideas for you.

Conscience clauses  are supposedly designed to protect poor, discriminated against (mostly white male) conservative Christians from having to do their jobs. Our elected representatives have taken laws designed originally to keep somebody from not being hired as an OB/GYN just because they are Catholic and made them into laws that say this particular OB/GYN is not required to provide comprehensive care to women because he is Catholic. Basically, the OB/GYN becomes more important than the patient. This is wrong for so many reasons. Aside from the fact that a woman may end up with an OB/GYN who considers a 5 mm from rump to crown, with a single embryo and yolk sac present, with an approximate heart of a rate of 136 gets to decide that this non-thinking, non-feeling, barely visible, barely differentiated bit of cells automatically becomes an equal person to me. It takes the focus off the patient and puts it on the healthcare provider. Click here for an explanation of embryotic heart rates and appearance in the uterus on ultrasound.

Wrong!  Wrong!  Wrong!  Healthcare providers are there to take care of the patients, not practice their religion or personal set of beliefs. Healthcare professionals are certainly not there to impose their beliefs on their patients. They are there to provide the accepted standard of optimal care as decided by science, not by personal opinion.

No, I don’t think this concept of “there are now two patients” will ever work for me. See, you can’t give that embryo rights without taking away mine, and there is nothing in the Constitution or federal law (I won’t even talk about unconstitutional state laws right now) that allows for the removal of rights due to a medical condition other than mental conditions that have caused the patient’s cognitive ability to deteriorate to the point of being unable to make one’s own medical decisions. This is no different than if my neighbor decided that 10 feet of my yard belonged to him and began to erect a fence. When I take him to court, they don’t tell me that we have to share because he has occupied part of my land without consent for a time before I could have him legally removed. I show them my property records and that 10 feet becomes mine again and that fence comes down because that land belongs to me. That land belongs to me, even though he has erected a fence. Just like my body belongs to me regardless of what is in it.

If a nine year-old rape victim must carry an unwanted pregnancy in order to keep an embryo alive, then I say we start taking away everyone’s rights. *Think of the lives it would save. At the age of nine all people in the United States must submit to being on an organ donor registry. If they are a match, they must agree to have surgery that will PROBABLY be non-lethal to them, but will cause permanent body changes and possible life-long disability. Think of the lives that would be saved if people were forced to donate bone marrow, an extra kidney, an extra lung, part of their liver and all organs were up for grabs after clinical death. Better yet, let’s just start forcing all 12 year-old boys to freeze sperm and then it’s off for the mandatory snip. I promise the rate of abortion would go to almost nothing. Of course, all those teeny snowflake babies aren’t so precious that a male child or male adult’s rights to bodily autonomy will be infringed upon. THAT would be wrong. All of sudden, they would become pro-choice for all, except of course pregnant people, who are only considered fetus containers.

Just how far are we willing to take this?  Should a person be allowed to bleed out on the table in the ER because blood transfusions are against the attending physician”s religion?  Should people with mental illness, like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia who must take their medications daily to maintain a normal functioning life, be denied their medication because the pharmacist on duty has a moral objection to psychotropic drugs?  Should women be denied a legal over-the-counter drug because the pharmacist believes the non-science that it could cause an abortion?  Should a man be denied behind-the-counter allergy medication that contains ephedra because the pharmacist believes that the only people who buy these drugs use them to make meth and that is against his religion?  Are we ready to see people die of easily cured diseases like strep throat because the doctor believes the illness can just be prayed away?  Do we want people to be forced to undergo invasive surgery wide awake because the anesthesiologist believes you can just concentrate hard enough and the pain will go away since the use of sedating drugs are against her religion?

Let’s step out of the medical field for a moment and into everyday life. Should a liquor store be required to hire a clerk who refuses to sell alcohol because they are Baptist and it is against their religion?  Should you be able to be refused a ham sandwich at Subway because the only employee on duty practices a form of Judaism that requires him to stay kosher and he doesn’t want to touch pork?  Of course not. Can I invent my own religion that is against every single aspect of my job but continue to be employed?  Most people, including antis, would be put out by such day to day inconveniences, but when it comes to patient care they just plain don’t care when it comes to fetus carriers.

Our Congress is holding hearings over various issues now, with all the drama and flourish that comes with being carried on CNN. Both Congress and state legislatures have held hearings about reproductive issues from how Christians are being persecuted, to birth control, to whether people should have to do their jobs if they “feel” something is wrong but is not backed up by science, to fetuses that masturbate as a reason to pass more anti-choice laws.

Let’s hold a hearing on why a man elected to the House of Representatives, the “pro-life” honorable Dr. Scott DesJarlais from the state of Tennessee, is never or rarely mentioned on any of the “pro-life” blogs after agreeing to his own wife having two abortions and then audio taping a phone conversation himself of him trying to coerce a woman, a patient he was having a sexual relationship with, into an abortion. He was also writing prescriptions for controlled substances for her knowing she was a drug addict. He admits it is him on the tape telling her to hurry up, or that if it was “too late” they would go to Atlanta. That would be because there isn’t a clinic in the state of Tennessee that performs abortions past 16 weeks. You know, the state that allegedly needs to amend the constitution because abortion is just crazy unregulated, even though there were four anti-choice bills passed last year.

One of the laws they want to pass would outlaw women from coming from out of state for abortions. Well hello, geniuses. The two biggest cities in Tennessee are Memphis and Nashville. Memphis sits right on the Mississippi river and borders several states. Nashville is less than 40 minutes from the Kentucky state line. Of course people from other states are going to go to the closest place that provides a service. Are they going to ban all people seeking health care who reside in other states from going to the closest metropolitan areas for any sort of health care not available for their home community?  It is doubtful. The truth is, abortion clinics are regulated just like every other healthcare facility in Tennessee.

Off topic, but why do these people never refuse to lie due to religious and/or moral objections?

Back to the original topic at hand, the uber-conservative legislature in Tennessee is just unable to pass TRAP laws because of a state Supreme Court ruling over 10 years ago. By the way, if you are wondering what the penalty imposed on the abortion-coercing Congressman doctor was by the state medical board so concerned about the unborn, it was a $500 fine and he won re-election in his his primary, while nary a pro-lifer said a word. I read about it on the Tennessean newspaper’s website. I’m so glad (insert sarcastic tone here) that clinics in Tennessee are required to display a sign stating it is against the law to coerce a person into having an abortion. They apparently need to be displayed in the office of congressmen as well. Of course, there is not a companion law for coercing a person into continuing a pregnancy. CPCs would cease to exist. All the staff would be arrested and the CPCs out of business if there were laws against coercion to carry a pregnancy to term.

I’ve got another hearing they can have. I do believe a Congressional hearing is what launched She Who Shall Not Be Named (who is now begging for donations on her website, by the way) into the national spotlight as a pro-life icon. She told a heart-wrenching story of holding a fetus born early of induced labor due to a pregnancy gone wrong. She testified she held it for 45 minutes until it passed away. There were other stories along with this one told that were never proven true, and were unsubstantiated by the Illinois Health Department. It couldn’t be she was lying, could it?  Let’s just say she’s not. A big question they need to ask, and didn’t during these hearings that I know of, is who was taking care of her other patients as she had her heart-wrenching, life-changing moment in the linen closet. You know, the woman who had just gone through an early induced birth of a wanted child that had no hope of survival, and probably several other mothers who had given birth that day along with their infants. Did she even bother to dump these patients on other nurses giving them an unsafe patient load or did she just disappear for 45 minutes, abandoning her patients as she is so wont to accuse OB/GYNs of doing? I don’t know if she still has a nursing license, but if she does she should have lost it for the possible harm done to patients she abandoned to hold this induced-labor abortion of a doomed fetus. Personally, I don’t believe the story but if it is true, she is a negligent nurse and if it is false, she is guilty of perjury.

Am I here to rag on religion?  Not at all. All I am asking is that people take responsibility for themselves and not take jobs that they are unable to perform due to personal objections. Religion is not a disability, it is a choice. It is a choice that needs to be left at the door when we healthcare professionals enter the door. I’m not talking about not having chaplains, not praying with a patient who asks, or forbidding any sort of reference to religion in the workplace. I’m talking about people who don’t want to dispense all current medications that need to stop being pharmacists. I’m talking about OB/GYNs or Nurse Midwives who don’t want to provide comprehensive care, including hormonal birth control, IUDs and yes, even abortions.

If all these people have consciences that are so bothered by the state of affairs at their workplace, they need to do the right thing and quit their jobs. Their personal opinions that go against established science shouldn’t matter one bit. The reason healthcare providers are there is to provide care to the patient. Everything should be centered on the patient, and the patient is not the doctor, nurse, zygote, embryo or fetus. The patient is the walking, talking, breathing pregnant person. If she chooses to make the embryo or fetus the focus of care, then that is and should be her choice. But if she says, as I would, I want the focus to be on me as the patient that should be honored as well, regardless of the feelings of the physician or other healthcare personnel.

As a pro-choice person, I am all about choices other than the right to have an abortion. I believe you have the right to choose not to be a doctor if you don’t want to provide women with comprehensive care, including abortion and birth control. I believe you have the choice to not be a pharmacist if you don’t wish to dispense valid written prescriptions or over-the-counter legal prescriptions. I believe you have the right to not be a nurse if you oppose what much of science says is true and you prefer to hide in the linen closet with a doomed fetus rather than take care of the living, breathing woman who just suffered through the induced birth of a pregnancy gone wrong.

I gave this little rant the title It’s Against My Religion because I still think it’s funny. Not in a teenage girl, giggle-giggle, aren’t we clever way. I think it is funny in an absurd way that our legislatures pass laws allowing people not to do their jobs because of a choice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should go back to the days where people weren’t hired because they attended, or were suspected of attending or not attending a certain church. I am saying we need to go back to the days where people must perform their jobs, with or without accommodation regardless of their religious beliefs.

Religion is not a disability. It is a choice. So to all those antis who are pushing for these silly laws, I say it is time to start lecturing people to take responsibility for their own decisions. Lord knows, you say it enough outside clinics. How about applying the same standards to yourself?  I may not have my religious beliefs fully figured out, as I have written about earlier, but I know that hypocrisy is one of the things that is against my religion, for all the good that does the people who have to walk into clinics through throngs of screaming protesters.

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*Please note I am being sarcastic here. Obviously, as a pro-choice person I am against any sort of forced medical procedure, even to save the life of a living, breathing person.

M Words ~ by KYBorn

“You are making that up.”

I remember the exact road that we were driving down when I first told my husband that some of the antis believed that women having abortions were really sacrificing babies to some sort of demon or god named Moloch. That was my husband’s response.

He didn’t believe me. He said that sounded like a character from the “Ghost Busters” movie. He said I was making it up. When I told him that Moloch was apparently a god mentioned in the Old Testament in the Bible and there was some verse about passing children through the fires of Moloch leading to a bad ending for all involved, he swore he had never heard of it. Just to be clear, my husband was a devout Christian for many years who at one point considered attending seminary, so he hasn’t been a godless heathen all his life. He still had never heard of Moloch. Clearly, the antis are scouring the most obscure verses of the Bible to argue against abortion. Of course the verses mentioning Moloch still don’t mention abortion, but that is how desperate they have become.

The things they say are so outrageous that a man pretty aware of the struggle for abortion access and politically active took 15 minutes to convince that antis could be that ignorant. This led to a rather lengthy, bizarre but humorous, conversation that included my husband making the suggestion that people stand among the antis wearing shirts that said “I’m With Moloch” and had an arrow pointing to the person standing next to them. Kind of like those ugly shirts people wore a long time ago that said “I’m With Stupid” and had an arrow pointing to the person next to them. Of course, escorts can’t do this because it wouldn’t be de-escalating and it probably would be a bad idea even for non-escorts to wear them, but still, imagine a bunch of people standing among the anti-gauntlet wearing this shirt.

 moloch t-shirt-3

 

Malarkey (I think I spelled that correctly) is a term rarely heard outside Kentucky. I know my mother used it a lot. For those not familiar with the term, it is a polite way of saying bullshit. Malarkey is exactly what the antis are peddling on the sidewalk and on social media. Earlier in the week, I had the not-so-pleasurable experience of engaging an anti who had invaded the #protectthezone on Twitter with the usual twaddle of these women being denied information that they want. When I responded that women did not want the information and in fact requested to be left alone many times while being followed by groups of men and women, I got a non-answer in the form of the question “Do you think women should be allowed to be sold dangerous products?”

Aside from being a non-response, he makes it sound like a medical procedure is the equivalent of lawn darts. I won’t bore you with the whole exchange, but I will warn you it was quite bizarre. I think I was actually tweeting with a couple of people because they gave responses to questions I never asked and responded to statements that I never made. Basically, they argued that abortion was a product because it was peddled and sold to women. I responded that pregnancy then must also be a product, as women are pressured to get pregnant and remain pregnant far more than they are urged to get an abortion. As an example, I didn’t even make it through my wedding reception without an elderly lady warning me to be careful of “foreign illness” because it would “hurt the baby” when I got pregnant on my honeymoon. Talk about a hard sell. That doesn’t even mention the pressure to marry and mate (actually these are unintentional M words) that starts often as soon as a woman has received her high school diploma.

More malarkey peddled during this tweet was the fact that, aside from not being a product rather than a medical procedure, was that abortion was unsafe. When I pointed out that according to the CDC, far more women died of childbirth than abortion, the response changed to something that had nothing to do with that fact. So if abortion is a product because it is peddled, then pregnancy must be a product as well because it is certainly sold by CPCs, antis and lots of people who have no business sticking their nose into the lives and uteruses of others.

The other M word I think of when I think of antis is “move on.”  Yes, I know that seems kind of odd but all of these people waving fetus porn, screaming lies and stalking women need to move on. Abortion is legal. Abortion is a pregnant person’s right. You don’t have to like it and I guess you can wave signs and lie to women all dang day if it makes you feel better. I think the fact that they refuse to move on shows that they don’t really care about “babies” or women, or really anything other than putting on a show or doing penance for their own abortion.

There are over 100,000 children in the United States waiting to be adopted. There are thousands of children being sent illegally across our border who have suffered lord knows what kind of trauma. They came because their parents felt that was the best thing they could do for their children. They are basically in large camps now. Where are the antis when it comes to these children?  Usually not giving a crap when they can’t get adopted because they are too old, or the wrong race for those in our country. I suspect a lot of the people waving those nasty signs at those poor traumatized children from other countries as they are being bussed to processing centers are probably also anti-abortion.

Which brings up the point that many anti-abortion folks are also anti-contraception. They claim there is no over-population problem. They claim the entire world could live in the state of Texas. So, apparently 9 billion people can cram themselves into Texas, but they can’t absorb a few thousand traumatized children. If the antis can’t find compassion for children waiting for adoption, or those separated from their families to cross the border illegally alone into a strange country, I don’t see how they can possibly have compassion for a zygote, embryo or fetus that has no feelings while ignoring the needs of living, breathing, feeling children. They are either putting on a show or horribly misguided. I tend to believe the first, but if it is the second I don’t really have any less contempt because they are still doing great harm.

My final M word, and yes I promise to wrap this up soon, is “me.”  By now, I’m sure you know I am rather wordy. Yes, me: A person the antis could care less about. As a non-pregnant woman I am not relevant other than my potential to breed. The fact that I have chosen not to have children is the business of no one but me. At the end of the day, even my husband doesn’t get to tell me whether or not to become a mother.

If my husband doesn’t get a vote in my uterus, then I am pretty dang sure that a bunch of people on the sidewalk waving fetus porn and calling me a whore aren’t going to get a vote. If, despite precautions, I do find myself pregnant, I will get an abortion because I don’t want to be a mother. That’s right. I will do what is best for me. Something too many women are told from the time they are little girls is not OK. We are taught to compromise, think of others, to always make sure everybody else is happy. And this is fine in some cases. It makes the world a better place when we think of others before ourselves.

In the case of carrying or terminating a pregnancy this isn’t true. Every woman should have the strength and support to stand up and say “I am the one pregnant and the only one who matters is me.”  Not the fetus. Not the father. Not her parents. Not the father’s parents. Not well-meaning friends. Not busy bodies at CPCs. Not people who wave gross signs.None of them matter.

And maybe one day, all women will be able to stand up and say in the case of an unwanted or unhealthy pregnancy, the only person who matters is me, and other people will actually listen.

 

Losing My Religion – by KyBorn

I knew this was going to happen.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to try to pound you with REM lyrics. In fact, I’m not even a fan. I may get more hateful reactions to that comment than the whole rest of the article. While I don’t hate them, I don’t think they are they bestest, most awesomest, most creative band EVAH!!! Eleventy111!

I’ve flirted around the edges of this discussion in my head and with trusted friends. I know this isn’t a place for anti-choice religious arguments or proselytizing of any kind. It makes sense, which is nice because for a long time there have been so many things that don’t make sense to me. See, when I come to Every Saturday Morning to write an article or comment, there are rules that must be followed. They are clearly spelled out and easy to follow.

There was a time where religion gave me those same guidelines; or maybe not. I was raised in a fairly religious, conservative household. Yep, I had the perfect, traditional family, except maybe my mom worked and women in my family were not doormats. The problem is, the same religion that I saw and still see provide a safe haven for people and encourage many people to contribute to their community has now reached a place I can’t abide.

I have long known that the overwhelming opinion of people who attend my particular branch of Christianity consider themselves “pro-life.”  I could abide this, because to be quite frank, many of them are what I consider “pro-life.”  They participated in Meals on Wheels, offered GED tutoring courses that had nothing to do with stopping an abortion, ran a food pantry and had other charitable programs that had nothing to do with the contents of a woman’s uterus. There were no ranting damnation sermons against abortion during services and if anybody was out protesting or waving fetus porn they weren’t proud of it.

Certainly, I have questioned and disagreed with some of the finer points, or even bigger points, that came along with the beliefs I was raised with. I was the weird middle-school aged brat who read both the Courier-Journal and Newsweek in their entirety at my grandparents’ house after Sunday lunch. I have been pro-choice since Newsweek or some other publication kindly explained to my delicate mind what abortion was, including illustrations. Maybe I was a heartless Jezebel even then. I didn’t understand why people cared so much about things that felt no pain or fear over those who could. You know, like women.

In spite my religious background, I will confess to having always had a bit of what my mother would call a potty mouth. I’m sure it has come out in my writing most of the time. I can fling foul language about with the best of them. My mother would be horrified. We weren’t allowed to say shut-up, dang, crap, fart or frickin’ in the house I grew up in. No, I’m not using those as euphemisms for any of the really bad words. We really weren’t supposed to say those words. Despite that, I found it extremely relaxing to, in the privacy of my room, let many of those really bad words fly after a bad day at school.

So, here I am. Still trying to figure out how to fit religion in with my foul-mouthed, pro-choice, feminist and liberal beliefs. Some of them are easy to integrate. Being kind to others and doing unto them as you would have done unto you? Check. It makes total sense that if we all acted like this the world would be a better place. This isn’t to say that I don’t fail at it, probably daily, but the aspiration to be like this all the time makes sense to me. Some of them are not as easy. Not doing what established religious tradition says we should do and never questioning? Oh yeah, I’m all about that too.

What bothers me is that the same religious text I use as one of my reasons for fighting for reproductive rights is the same text people use to wave fetus porn, say awful things, lie and in general terrorize anybody who disagrees with them. I suppose I could write pages about my opinion that a lot of people are on the sidewalk because it is the cool thing to do among their Wednesday night Ladies’ Group or because the preacher talked about loving your unborn neighbor from the pulpit on Sunday so it is the cause of the week. For many people, it isn’t about religion, or God, or life. It is about running with the cool crowd. These are the people who pray a lot louder and more intently when a possible client walks by. It is more seventh-grade clique thinking than religion.

So where do I fit in all this? I don’t know, and that is the problem. I have rationalized and excused many beliefs in the particular church I belong to. I have never been one to say my church or my religion was the only way to live or the only way to be happy. I thought as long as people were behaving like I imagined Jesus did, overall, that I could find happiness and satisfaction in this church, even if I disagreed with a lot of what other people believed. My thought toward any religion or religious institution has always been that none are perfect, just like nobody is perfect. I know I am far from it.

My tipping point came when at the end of a service they announced that they were holding a fundraiser for a local (to me) crisis pregnancy center. I know my face turned several shades of red from anger and confusion. The person with me told me later she thought my head would explode.

I went home full of righteous anger and a quest to research this particular place. Finding out they were deceptive and liars would make the break easy and simple. But alas, like most of life it wasn’t so easy or simple.

I don’t know anybody who volunteers there and I don’t know of any negative stories from this particular CPC. They are many miles from the nearest abortion clinic and their name clearly tells you that they are a Christian organization and not a health care clinic. They clearly state that they don’t refer for abortions. Hell, their site even calls a fetus a fetus and gives correct information about Plan B, even though they are obviously anti-abortion.

I don’t think that they are any way deceptive about what they do and what their mission is. They don’t offer ultrasounds performed by non-medical volunteers who type “Hi Mommy” on the screen or stalk women if they think they are going to get an abortion. They do say they refer for counseling after abortion, but it is to a licensed, albeit Christian therapist, who has a degree that is not from some 6-week course in “pastoral counseling” or a weekend where people learned how to further guilt women in some sort of “post-abortion” counseling group.

So even though this particular CPC is probably one of the “better” ones, this isn’t good enough for me. They still use the lure of free pregnancy tests to bombard women with their personal beliefs in God and abortion. They don’t ultimately care about helping the woman figure out what is best for her, even if that is having an abortion. The ultimate goal, the reason for existence, is to talk the women out of having an abortion, to take away one of her choices. So while the initial anger faded, the feeling of knowing I can’t in any way, shape or form belong to a group that supports in any way the limiting of choices for peoples’ reproductive health remained firmly. Is it a big thing? No. Are my feelings petty? Possibly, but I also realize that it doesn’t always take a one single, giant event to cause a person to change their beliefs.

What does this have to do with anything? Probably nothing for most people. For me, it makes me wonder about the person I could have become. What if instead of being that person who read everything she could get her hands on and questioned everything, I had become one of those people screeching at women on the sidewalk?

Nobody who knows me will dispute the fact that I am a passionate person. Maybe too passionate. I flung a shoe across my room screaming obscenities after watching a YouTube video of one of those Abolish Human Abortion “counselors” peering over a fence and trying to get video of a funeral home removing the remains of what was likely a much-wanted fetus from a clinic.

Once I decide a topic is important, I can become downright obsessive to the point of being annoying about it. So I guess I wonder how far away I am from those people who feel that religion is calling them to wave fetus porn, yell at clinic doors, straight up lie to women and in all other ways be huge assholes. Sorry, I can’t think of another word to describe these people. When I know I am right and it matters, I often feel the need to convince others. Ask anybody who knows me well. Even if I am not right I am persistent enough to get people to just agree I am right just so I will shut-up. (Sorry Mom, I said a naughty word again.)

I don’t question if I am right about being pro-choice/pro-access. I know, KNOW I am right that women should not be forced to carry unwanted or unhealthy pregnancies. I’ve heard all the arguments and yes, unlike antis I have actually considered that I am wrong. I just know I am not. There is no singular moment in my life when I became pro-choice. I have actually been pro-choice since before I had a term for it.

The problem comes when I try to figure out where I fit into religion. I know there are numerous denominations of Christianity that support a woman’s right to abortion. I am checking them out. Maybe I am “spiritual, not religious.”  In spite of the bad language and criticism of “Christians” I throw around here, the truth is religion has played a strong role in my life. I have been involved in a lot of volunteer work and found a great deal of satisfaction in my religion.

I was never an unquestioning fundy Christian who thought the Earth was 6000 years old and Noah totally hung out with some dinosaurs on the ark. Just the idea of pterodactyls crapping all over the Ark is enough to gross me into being an agnostic. I always thought religion should be a personal, private thing rather than something that one used as an excuse to make hateful laws or to not do a job. I wasn’t however, willing to write off the idea of this groovy guy named Jesus who stood up to the religious establishment as well as came to save souls. And I’m pretty sure mine needs something besides more shoes to fling.

My other problem will come when I start to address this with more devout believers in my life. I know what is coming. It is the same thing that would come from an anti who read this. They are going to ask me why I am mad at God, and then speculate that something really horrible recently happened to me. I am sure many antis would speculate, and secretly take pleasure, from the idea that some traumatic event had come into my life.

Sooooo many religious people think this is a chance to convert you or bring you back into the fold. This is another reason I have begun to question religion. The Jesus of the Bible took no pleasure in other people’s pain. He tried to make it better. At the same time, he never forced anybody to believe, tried to change laws or chased people down to give them his message. He just put it out there and anybody who wanted to believe did. He certainly never talked about abortion and those people who are quoting verses from the New Testament to justify being jerks are taking them totally out of context.

They can rattle on about the little children coming to Jesus all they want. It was always pretty damn clear to me that Jesus was talking about thinking, feeling, and autonomous humans. Otherwise, the Bible would be talking about a bunch of pregnant women standing around getting their bellies touched and fetuses spouting Godly wisdom from within the uterus. I’m sorry, I just can’t say “womb.”  Antis have used it so much the word makes me vomit in my mouth, even though it was probably a better fit.

So what is my point? I guess I don’t have one. I know there is room for many people with many different beliefs under the reproductive rights movement. I wish there was that much room in my particular religion for people like me. There doesn’t seem to be, and so now I have to find some other spiritual home, which isn’t easy. For all those well-meaning or not-so-well-meaning folks out there who think I am just mad at God, I can assure you I am not.

I am mad at people who have used God as an excuse to terrorize women, break the law and try to force everybody else to practice their brand of religion. You have ruined the concept for me, and who knows how many other people. You have certainly wasted time waving signs and terrorizing vulnerable people when you could have been out actually helping people. You have probably ignored numerous women who have quietly gone about the business of terminating a pregnancy they would have preferred to carry to term because you were busy hounding women who wanted nothing more than to be rid of an unwanted pregnancy regardless of all the promises made.

I keep thinking that surely there is a place that I can tolerate and that can tolerate me that will give me the same spiritual satisfaction I used to find in my particular religion. Goodness knows how many women who walk into clinics every day are struggling to deal with the same feelings, probably far more magnified than I am. The ones I really feel sorry for are those herded into “post-abortion counseling,” more accurately described as the world’s biggest guilt trip, trying to find peace with a decision they made. And before any antis are geared up to saying I am admitting that PASS or whatever you have named it this year is real, I am not.

No, no, no I am not!  I do think that some people struggle for years to make peace with their decision to terminate a pregnancy, and maybe some never find it. However, I think there are moments in all of our lives that we struggle to make peace with, and maybe never find it. I think that is the part of the lure of religion, the idea that there is something that can instantly make every hurt and regret all better even though there isn’t an instant cure.

So maybe my issue isn’t so much with my religion, but with the people who lie about what my religion really says. I’m pretty sure there is no verse that say “thou shalt go forth waving graphic, photo-shopped signs and luring women into thy building where thou may lie to them about fetal development in order to scareth them out of terminating a pregnancy.”  Maybe I am worshiping the false god of abortion. Maybe I am possessed by demons. Maybe I have been yearning to worship Moloch all these years. Maybe there is a tyrannical god hovering above who takes pleasure in smiting wayward women with pregnancy as punishment. Maybe the fires of hell are licking at my heels. Maybe the souls of millions of fetuses are hanging out in heaven full of anger ready to tell me off (although that doesn’t sound like heaven for the fetus, does it?)  Maybe, but I doubt it.

Just like maybe I am losing my religion, but I tend to think it is more that my religion lost me a long time ago and I am just now noticing.

 

The Bicyclist

On a recent breezy, balmy, Summer morning, I was at the corner of 2nd and Market, available to drivers who might ask for clinic and parking information. I walked quietly a little way down Market Street, passing the corner building, the CPC, disingenuously named, “A Woman’s Choice,” and often called the fake clinic. This CPC is right next door to the abortion clinic. Side by side, they share a thin dividing wall.

In a parallel way, the antis and the escorts exist on the sidewalks across the nation, side by side, divided only by a thin line of law and human decency.

Ed shouldered into me earlier that morning and cut in front of me, edging me back and away from the client. The client turned to Ed and said, “And NOW you’re getting in my personal space! Why don’t you just go away? I already told you, No!!  I don’t want your brochure. I don’t want to talk to you or hear what you have to say. Now, go away!”

No surprise that Ed didn’t go away or stop, until he stopped at the property line. His highly polished, brown dress shoes sparkled in the morning light.  When I told Ed to stop shoving me, to stop pushing me, he said, “You’re the one who’s doing the pushing.”  As always, the anti believes his self-martyrdom mythology and will not admit to constantly doing wrong shit.

As I stood on the sidewalk, I heard a deep British voice behind me say, “What you people are doing here is wonderful. Simply wonderful!  Marvelous! Thank you so much for doing this. And I really do mean that.”

Turning around, I saw a helmeted bicyclist. A young, handsome, bearded bicyclist with a luscious British accent. What’s not to smile about? So, I smiled.

“Sorry,” he said, “I didn’t mean to interrupt what you were doing.”

“That’s all right,” I replied. “Thank you for your kind words.”

“I cannot understand what those people are doing here,” he continued, nodding toward the cluster of antis who stood at the property line, a few feet from the door to the clinic.   Old women and men, saying and doing horrible things.  Words and actions which would land them in jail if they pulled that crap anywhere else in town.

“I mean,” he went on, shaking his head, “What those people are doing here is truly evil!! They are evil, evil people, terrorizing the people coming here to see the doctor. Complete strangers on a public city street. They are horrible. Can’t they see that? How could they not understand that?”

“I do not know,” I agreed. “We just do what we can, to get people through the mess.”

“Well, I’m going to ask them,” he declared, wheeling toward the entrance.

“May I ask you people a question? Just why are you here? What are you doing here? Don’t any of you people have a job? Yes, a J-O-B; that’s a job, where you go each day, and work for money. Why are you here, terrorizing people? You there! Don’t you have a job to go to?”

The short, older anti with bobbed black hair and glasses, held up her laminated abortion porn poster. The one she had been holding up, facing the glass entrance doors, hoping someone inside the lobby would look out, be stricken by conscience, and stumble out in a flood of shame and guilt, preferably in tears, begging the antis to help them rethink their choice.

The anti woman answered the bicyclist, “I worked for fifty years. I did have a job. Now, I’m retired.”

“Then why don’t you go home, and BE retired? Go home. Enjoy your retirement. No, really! Why don’t you just go on home and be a retired person? Why not do something else good with your life?” the bicyclist asked, truly amazed and curious.

“Don’t you people see that what you are doing here, terrorizing people, is evil? It is. It’s truly evil. Why don’t you just all go home and mind your own business? This is none of your business.  None of it.  Surely you can see that.”

I walked back to my post on the corner, smiling. We always enjoy the positive comments we hear from the morning people just passing by, on their way to work or to a morning appointment.

A long debate ensued between the Bicyclist Man and the antis. So engrossed were they in their argument, they meandered away from the clinic entrance, standing a few feet away, at the curb. In fact, the antis completely missed a heckling opportunity, as our escort C smoothly walked clients and companions past them and through the door.

What I hope to say here is this:  We must reclaim the moral ground.  We must call upon the support of our nation. We must realize and remember that the majority of people understand and support reproductive autonomy and freedom and choice. People who are informed do not want to backslide to back alley abortions, coat hangers, and women dying from botched illegal abortions.

Thank you, Mr. Bicyclist, for supporting choice.

Gentle Reader:  Thank you for lending us your listening, moral, spiritual, verbal, electoral, financial, intellectual and/or physical support.  You truly make a difference and we appreciate your support and encouragement!

 

At Ease With Themselves ~ by SharkSandwich

Do you ever come across someone and almost immediately you’re able to ascertain what kind of person they might be? In the case of vile people, the person in question wears such a thin, affected veil that it’s simply not possible to ignore the wolf’s fangs jutting out from underneath the ill-fitting sheep’s wool.

On Saturday, my second day volunteering as an escort, I had the occasion to get acquainted with such an individual. And by “acquainted,” I mean to say I was berated with raving projections of racism and sexism from an older male anti that were completely devoid of irony. Irony, after all, would denote some semblance of humanity and humor, and the man who verbally dug into me may have misplaced the remaining specks of his humanity quite some time ago.

It’s really a surreal experience to stand silently and withstand someone’s verbal abuse. To respond would be to validate it, and I don’t necessarily want to dignify this man with my attention. Simultaneously, though, it’s really goddamn difficult to simply absorb that abuse with complete grace. You practically need SEAL-level Psy Ops defense training to absorb the abuse without so much as flinching (or incredulously smirking, as it were). I am not so flawless in my disposition.

I had typed out a somewhat detailed account of my misguided interactions with “Gone” (as in, that’s where his marbles are), but I’ve already dignified his piggish remarks too much in my own thoughts, so I’m not going to publicize them here. Omitted, though, are Gone’s sexist and racist slobberings, Gone giving me his most spirited Yosemite Sam impression (minus the 50-gallon hat), his fetish for imagining the escorts as puppy-murderers and his smug fixation with calling me a “weasel” – whatever the fuck that means.

Although my interaction with Gone was brief, thankfully a fellow escort gently redirected me, suggesting that I maybe should refrain from responding to Gone because it just encouraged him. My fellow escort was right. Interacting with Gone was like dealing with a tantrum-happy 8-year-old, so I silenced myself for good. Of course, rabbits and pigeons inside of a Skinner box would probably have reached the extinction point of an unreinforced behavior sooner than Gone did, but whatever. Eventually, he left me alone so he could go harass other people.

Later, Gone sought me out again after I had moved to another location, where he resumed his verbal derision. More name-calling, more overtly cartoonish outbursts. It’s as if you could see that he wanted to actually use cuss words at us and shout really disgusting, profane things in our faces. However, him using such language could also run a risk of possibly being perceived by his fellow antis as a gutter-dwelling sinner like us escorts, and he wouldn’t dare do that. Appearances, as I’m quickly learning about antis, always trumps integrity.

Observing Gone – and in disturbingly close proximity – I was reminded of how racists will kind of just clam up whenever they really want to express their prejudices to people in public, but also are terrified of being alienated for being an unforgivable bigot. Instead of taking that risk, they keep the racism to themselves, and most people around them erroneously assume these closeted racists are actually decent people. The racist’s desperate need for social connection at least keeps the racist behavior at bay (for the most part).

(Hell, the way Gone expertly furrows his brow when he’s trying to provoke us with his dumb insults, I got the impression he’d feel right at home among a mob of white racists assaulting civil rights activists 60 years ago. He either rehearses that delivery in the bathroom mirror every morning, or he’s just been this hateful for a long time. Either way, that kind of hate is a well-polished hatred.)

After our escort work wrapped up that morning, I continued to think about Gone and the other antis I witnessed harassing people outside the clinic. Unsurprisingly, the men are almost always the loudest, as is the wont of men. But more than being loud and trying to infringe upon the space of women, it also became apparent to me that they likely enjoy yelling mean-spirited insults at women because this sidewalk is probably one of the few places these antis are guaranteed to not receive any swift retaliation for their misogyny. Because we escorts (ideally) refuse to interact with them, the escorts – along with the patients we escort – thereby become very available outlets for these anti men (and women, too) to openly unleash their misogyny without fear of punishment.

It’s one thing to call a cashier at Target a genocidal whore when you’re vulnerable to immediate public judgment – nobody’s going to put up with that bilious slander, you know? But here at the clinic sidewalk, it’s as if the antis know they’re mostly invulnerable to retaliation, and therefore have no hesitation saying these terrible things that they genuinely do believe.

In fact, I have a hard time believing they actually care about fetuses, children, or even abortion’s alleged health risks to women (despite their transparent doom-sayings to women as they walk into the clinic). I doubt they really even care about divine judgment. Of the few that may actually be protesting for truly religious reasons, they’re only here to save their own asses from the threat of damnation.

These people – and specifically, these men – are only interested in themselves and their shared hatred of women. They may arrive at that destination via different avenues, but the final conclusion is uniform. The antis even appear to delight in being able to no longer conceal their hatred of women. That they can openly use that hate to taunt the escorts outside of the clinic without repercussions must feel like a bonus Christmas morning to them.

For the antis, the sidewalk outside of the clinic becomes a space where they no longer need to bother with the sheep’s disguise so as to pass and be accepted by the public. They know the two consequences keeping their hateful inclinations at bay in the general world – being ostracized from society, physical harm from the immediately offended – have been temporarily removed, so what have they got to lose?

As a result, the sidewalk has become for them a place where they are comfortable being their true selves: not Christians, not conservatives, not voters, and not crusaders.

They’re just really, really mean people who care only about themselves.

*********************************************

PSA for EMW Clients

If you see this sign, do not park in this lot

IMG_0001

It is the anti-parking lot.  

And it’s time for Pledge-a-Picketer!

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

Make your pledge here.

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

 

The Adoption Fetish

The fetishization of adoption amongst middle class and upper class conservative christian whites first became apparent to me when I was attending high school. My school was strongly tied to a Southern Baptist church so much so that the head pastor’s children attended my school and his wife taught our bible class (which consisted of watching Veggie Tales((rather juvenile for sophomores in high school, right?))). The pastor and his wife adopted a Chinese baby from an orphanage in which children were abused via ignorance of their basic humans. The child has been left by the road upon her birth and would have most likely lead a terrible life without the rescue of these rich white americans.Why do I know all of this? Because of course,  it isn’t enough to add a member to your family out of love, you have to drive home the financial sacrifice you have made to adopt a hopeless and helpless child coming from an impoverished situation, otherwise your contribution isn’t public….and that isn’t any fun, is it? Following this adoption by the head pastor and the story of salvation of a little Chinese girl there was a rash of trendy adoption of African and Asian children within the church’s upper echelon of wealthy partitioners.  All of the horror stories of these children’s backgrounds were made publicly known, and yet none of us knew anything about the little girls (all of the children adopted were female) themselves. It was creepy, the fad of adoption.

Adoption is wonderful, people shouldn’t be mistreated, its terrible that orphanages like this exist. I agree.  Adopting children then spreading the story of their backgrounds and constantly reminding them of their “otherness” and how wonderful of a savior you and your family are is ALSO awful. That is not an addition to the family, its the addition of an accessory with a neat story, and that saddens me.

So when protestors say there are Christian families who would love to adopt the patient’s child, this often comes to mind. I will say no, not everyone who adopts is like this, not all christians are like this, not all christians who adopt children are like this. But the fact that this even EXISTS is problematic.

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

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {9/30/13}

M decided to move her center of operations to a new area this morning. M has been hanging out on the corner of 1st and Market, but this day she decided to hang out behind the AWC parking lot. She was her usual aggressive self, but had a longer walk to harass clients and companions from this position.

Shoving a client as they crossed the property line, she ended up pushed up against me at the line. The plastic fetus doll she was holding was about two inches from my face; right under my nose. When the client was ignoring her after they crossed the property line, M turned her attention to me as I asked her to stop pushing on me.

“This is a baby. How can you help her murder her baby? See this? It’s a baby.” I replied, “No, it’s a plastic doll.” Of course, she got angry and told me it was a lifelike model of a 12 week baby. I replied, “No, it’s a plastic doll. Please get it out of my face.”

Another escort asked her about the Pope’s statement that there was too much emphasis on abortion in the Catholic Church, with the suggestion she should go home and think about what the Pope said. She got angrier and asked the escort for proof the Pope actually said to stop before she rushed off to harass another client.

Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves from saying something.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {7/22/13}

There were several clients waiting by the door before the clinic opened. Of course, they were the focus of the antis’ attention for the entire time they were there. They were preached to, pleaded with, insulted and harassed while they waited. Offers of help with housing; offers to adopt their babies; offers to teach them the love of Jesus Christ were rapidly said by a series of antis from the property line.

R was there and said something I had never heard before. When I asked some of the long-term escorts about it they all said, “Oh yeah. I have heard him say that.”

“They are going to throw your baby in the garbage. Then they are going to send it to be burned up with all of the other trash. If you are going to kill your baby, bring it back out to me so I can give it a decent funeral. I will make sure it has a respectful service.” He repeated it twice to make sure they all heard him.

This is a step beyond offering to pay for their attorney fees for adoption. It was so very creepy. How would this really be accomplished? R and all of the antis are gone by 830a. Should the client just call R? Why would they entrust this to someone who has just been screaming at them about how evil they are?

What the antis don’t realize is that some women do have respectful services and make a time to say goodbye. We have had readers who have been kind enough to share their stories with us and have read articles about others.

It is an idea only an anti would come up with to say in an effort to upset clients as they wait by the door.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {7/15/13} by Skeletor

Sometimes there is nothing to do but laugh at the doozies the antis come up with. Nevermind the faux science they like to quote, there are times when they really go off the rails with the things they shout at the clients.

D had one that stopped us in our tracks this week. Three escorts were standing at the front at the end of the morning, preparing to leave when she shouts, “Your babies will end up in the trash after they sell your babies’ brains for $1000!”

What?!

We’ve heard a lot about Gosnell lately; oh, boy, do the antis like to paint gory images of what happens in a clinic. But selling brains? Wow. Just, wow. Not sure where she came up with that one.

That’s a new one, to be sure, and a good example of the depths to which the antis will stoop.