Feeling Under Siege

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

What’s The Point?~by KY Born

I don’t even escort.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could go on, but that is the point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is the point.

Three Aspects of Escorting – Part I

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

I identify three aspects:

I.  Logistics of Escorting

II.  Escorting as Social Justice

III.  The Psychology of Escorting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Kinds of Great Stuff

It’s an auction!

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

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

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

So check out the auction – here.

Bid on some amazing items –

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

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

 One hour flight for two  in a Cessna

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Chocolate Lovers Basket

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 Sterling Silver Tree of Life Pendant

Or even a $100 MC giftcard OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

AND

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

Liar, Liar Pants (and Skirts) on Fire~by KYBorn

So, I was all fired up to write about medical professionals who refuse to do their jobs because Jesus. Then I was all fired up to write about domestic violence and how abusers often use reproductive coercion to keep their victims in their lives.

Then something funny happened. I decided to ride my bicycle to the bank when it started to rain. Luckily, I had a poncho in my backpack. Why is this funny?  The last time I put this poncho on I got lectured about being worried about my own comfort while babies were being murdered (by a woman standing under an umbrella under an awning). Anyway, for some reason this made me laugh.

Don’t get me wrong, those of us in reproductive justice have little to laugh about these days but as I was downing my lunch I thought of all the idiotic things I have heard and read and thought maybe, just maybe, some of us could get a laugh out of it. By the way, the reason I have titled this post the way I have is because so much of what antis say is either untrue or contradictory to what they or others of their ilk say.

  • “Having an abortion will make you infertile” This makes me laugh on so many fronts because it is ignorant to assume that all women want to have children at all. The main thing that makes me laugh though, is that at the same time they are screaming this threat, they are also moaning about women using abortion for birth control. I have yet to figure out how a woman can become infertile and have 10 gazillion abortions in the same lifetime.
  • “You spread your legs for a man and now you are going to spread your legs for a strange man to have an abortion.”  This is funny for a variety of reasons. The biggest one being that, in case the antis have never studied biology, unless a woman has a C-section, she must “spread her legs” to give birth and often for the on-call OB/GYN. Apparently, there is something “holy” about the spreading of legs if a baby comes out full term and breathing. If not, you are an “unholy slut” who will burn in hell.
  • “Not all pro-life people are religious.”  Yep. Believe it or not, I know that. I don’t have the faintest idea why you would ally yourselves with people who think you are going to burn in hell, but that is none of my business. Trust me, if abortion were abolished, those who don’t believe in God would be next in line for those who must either convert or be eliminated from polite society.
  • “Culture of Life” First of all, why do you need to capitalize those words?  Second of all, when in all of history has this mysterious culture of life existed?  Was it during the Hundred Years War in Europe where tons of people were killed just for the right to worship as they pleased?  Was it during the Salem witch trials where people were burned at the stake in painful deaths because…well, just for any reason they decided a person was consorting with the devil. Was it during World War I or World War II?  Was it during the Holocaust when millions of people died simply for practicing a different religion, or had the poor luck to be born one or two generations after people who were Jewish?  Was it back when numerous Popes were in bed with corrupt and brutal governments, as well as various women who bore their children that were then considered “bastards?” The truth is, a lot of humans suck. They kill people for no reason. Sometimes we have to kill people to preserve our own life or freedom, or people who want to take lives for no reason.
  • Blah, blah, blah followed by “ripping from limb to limb.”  Read the facts. Most abortions occur before embryos have limbs. If we were as progressive as much of Western Europe and had a health care system that paid for abortions people would have them much earlier.
  • “God decides when we live and die.”  Bullshit. If antis really believed that they wouldn’t take antibiotics for strep throat. They wouldn’t have surgery to clear clogged arteries or to repair broken hips.
  • “I have seen people die in surgery every day!”  Well duh. Of course people die in surgery every day. A person who has been shot in the chest (not that this is funny) or a 95 year-old man (not that this is funny either) are far more likely to die during surgery than a healthy woman undergoing an abortion. If you are a medical professional who sees people die during outpatient procedures on a daily basis, who are otherwise healthy, then you need to be either filing a report against those who caused it or get out of the medical profession if you caused it.
  • “This clinic is unregulated.”  Hey there antis, in case you didn’t notice, most of your “crisis pregnancy centers” or whatever name they go by are the ones who are unregulated. In fact, every time a state tries to regulate a place that claims to provide medical advice dispensed by people who know nothing about anything medical, ultrasounds given from the back of vans or by people who aren’t licensed and are so unprofessional they type garbage like “Hi Mommy” on a procedure designed to determine the health of the pregnancy, you have one of your idiotic law groups file suit. By the way, if these CPCs are so honest, why don’t they have honest names, or post honest signs, or otherwise make it clear to ALL women that this is not an all choices health clinic? It is a place to scare women and pressure them to continue pregnancy, and often a place to try to convert them to their brand of Christianity. That is fine if that is what they want to do. I just don’t want my tax dollars to pay for it or for women to wander in and take hours for them to figure it out. The truth is, most abortion clinics are far more regulated than most outpatient surgery or sedation dentistry clinics. You want women to know the truth?  Start telling it.
  • “We just want to give information to women. Those evil deathscorts keep them from finding out the truth.”  Again, bullshit. Escorts only walk with those who consent, unlike anti-choice folks who follow for blocks, surround women, slow down the crossing of the street, block clinic driveways (those lucky enough to have them) and when all else fails yell through clinic windows. I hate to tell them, but if women wanted their “information” they would ask the escorts to leave (you know, the people who leave when asked) and take their anti-abortion “information.”  When a woman screams “Go away! Go away! Please go away, I don’t want to talk to you. Go away,” and then moves onto profanities, it should be clear to antis they don’t want to hear their version of the truth. In any other circumstance, we call this stalking, harassment or violation of public nuisance laws. In front of a clinic that performs abortions, this has unfortunately come to be called normal.
  • “Pro-aborts” want to take away our freedom of speech. No, no we don’t. In fact, most of us are the biggest advocates for freedom of speech. What we do ask is that you follow the same laws as everyone else. Wow!  What a concept.
  • “Our pictures are not photo shopped.”  Um, yeah. I guess if you aren’t religious lying may not go against your personal code, so I will give you a pass. If you are religious, you might want to read the passage about “shedding innocent blood” because before the Bible addresses that, God also states he also hates a lying tongue. Not sure how you work that out, but that is your problem not mine. In addition, I seriously doubt that any physician who performs abortions bothers to place the products of conception next to various forms of currency. Dimes seem to be the most popular, but I have seen them next to dollar bills in pictures online. Also, for future reference for any antis reading, blood is not that bright red when it has not had oxygen for a while. Lack of oxygen would be the case if all of this “blood” had sat for hours before you raided the clinic. It would appear to be more clotted, and have a dark red-purplish color. By the way, who are these labs letting you raid their biological waste?  I certainly don’t want them running any of my lab tests. Creepy.
  • Also creepy are the people who stand outside these clinics day after day. One of the prominent so-called pro-life organizations has a high ranking official who was convicted of plotting to blow up an abortion clinic in San Diego. Luckily, law enforcement intervened before the plot was carried out. Did it ever occur to her that while she was transporting explosives through a city they could have gone off and hurt people who have nothing to do with abortion?  Another has members who stand outside high schools and middle schools with their disgusting signs; engaging students on their way in. Some of these upright antis were “converted” during lengthy prison sentences. In fact, one of them was convicted of trying to blow up a church, but was caught in the act by a church elder. Yep, those are the people who should be telling youngsters how to behave.
  • “Pro-choicers portray us as violent.” This particular gem came from a recent post on She Who Shall Not Be Named’s site because a Planned Parenthood worker called the police over what turned out to be an empty box. First of all, there has been far more violence from anti-choicers than pro-access/pro-choicers. They cite over and over again a man who was shot because another man not associated with any pro-choice group shot him. Never mind that his own son stated in the media that this man tried to provoke violence against himself so he could get pro-choicers arrested. He still didn’t deserve to be shot. What the antis NEVER, EVER say is that on the same day the man who shot the anti also shot the owner of a gravel truck company. Anti-choice and anti-gravel?  Whatever. I think you get my point. Aside from that, since 9/11, many workplaces and certainly airports encourage people to report unattended packages. That is what this particular employee did. Probably nobody would have noticed if She Who Shall Not Be Named hadn’t criticized her for following a policy many companies have and erring on the safe side.
  • “The gauntlet is a myth.”  I got this garbage from a Twitter exchange. The gauntlet has been documented on this blog and in many other photographs. If you are going to lie, at least don’t do it when there is unaltered photographic evidence. Enough said.
  • “I regret my abortion.”  This is often displayed on a sign. I used to feel pity for these women, imaging the pain they must be in. Now if a woman regrets her own abortion and needs to talk about it, I am happy to listen and provide whatever emotional support she needs. Antis always say those who regret abortion will come to them but honestly, why would anybody go to a judgmental person who says you must repent, be saved, name your embryo and offer up some baby gear to atone for your sin? If you will always regret your abortion, when you don’t go to them you just don’t worry about burning in hell. I would much rather go to a person who thinks abortion or birth are both valid options. In addition, I now just see people holding these signs as people who made poor medical decisions for themselves and are now trying to persuade the government to pass laws that restrict the very medical procedure they took advantage of. I don’t want people who can’t make good medical decisions for themselves making them for me.
  • Blah, blah, blah sex. Sex is evil. Nobody should have sex unless they want a baby, but by the way, those who believe this have super-hot sex lives. First of all, I didn’t really want to know about their sex lives, nor is mine any of their business. They claim our society is sexualizing teens and specifically girls and women, which of course leads to abortion (not sure how that works). What is funny about this, is one day I saw some teens protesting abortion holding poster boards that said “Honk if you are pro-life!”  Now, only the girls wearing tank tops and shorts were jumping up and down with breasts clearly bouncing up and down. Remarkably, all the teen boys were holding signs without bouncing. Why is this funny?  Because I had to drive by a Hooters on my way home and the Hooters’ girls were doing the same thing, minus the anti-choice propaganda. Just saying, if your “pro-life generation” is using the same tactics as Hooters’ girls you might want to re-think that.

So maybe this isn’t so funny, maybe it is. I just find it funny (as in haha funny that antis have so much contradictory information to yell at women who are just trying to go see a doctor). My own father, who leans toward the social conservative side, thinks men who stand outside “those doctors women go see for women problems” are perverts. I tend to agree.

Go away. No one needs your opinion outside the doctor’s office. If they want your opinion, they will ask. Most people don’t ask strangers for their opinions on serious medical decisions.

Women are not stupid. They do not need time to “reflect.”  They do not need non-medical professionals, or medical professionals who act unprofessional, to tell them what to do. It is unlikely that they woke up one morning and said “Ya know, I was totes gonna have a kid, but now I want a pedicure. The clinic is on the way. I’m gonna pop in for an abortion.”So maybe this isn’t funny. Maybe it is a little preachy. Maybe I am preaching to the choir, but the fact remains that antis can’t even get their own lines straight.

Why on earth would anybody take medical or life advice from them?

To All The Escorts ~ Guest Post

This message is for all the wonderful escorts that made my walk into EMW so much easier for me and my companion.

The week prior to my appointment I had overloaded myself with information regarding the procedure I was going to have. By the night before my appointment, I was pretty well de-sensitized to what I was going to go through and so I randomly Googled EMW for which Google auto-completed “EMW reviews” I found an article from Life News*.

After reading that article and remembering Gibb’s Rule #3 “Don’t believe what you’re told–double check,” I went back to my search results and found this WHAS 11 article.

The funny thing is that Life News literally shot themselves in the foot….halfway through the article they named you guys! Every Saturday Morning was right there in caps and it gave me a proverbial lifeline. I had no idea up until about 11pm that I was to encounter protesters, although I had a suspicion that it was a possibility. But once LifeNews name-dropped you guys I immediately Googled you….and then I found the blog.

For over 2 hours I read posts. I read all the way back to the previous August that corresponded to my date with destiny the next day. I read about Ron and Donna and TM and Nurse Betty. and I read about all the escorts most of whom I only know by posting name: ServalBear and fml221 and lisajane13 and anarchist bee. I mentally prepared myself for what I would face in the morning through your blog. I finally fell into a restless sleep and 4 short hours later we were on the road to Louisville.

I–think–I recognized my escort the moment our car turned the corner onto 2nd St. I have no idea what his name is but if he is the same man that Cheryl described in her comment in this post, then the tall older salt-and-pepper haired man who walked me to the doors was an anchor for me. As we walked we discussed the blog and my general good mood, and how people like me must be a real relief for him and other escorts to walk with as we are firm in our decision and recognize the antis for what they are and what they are trying to do. He and I had a good laugh as I called out antis by name asking who was who. He pointed out some of the more outspoken ones and we talked about how ridiculous they all were. My companion walked ahead of us keeping the attention of 2-3 antis so they couldn’t bother us. I only had one younger gentleman and an older lady approach me and try to sway my decision, but I continued conversing with my escort and paid them no mind. We were so deep in discussion that I didn’t even get a chance to give anyone my patented Stink-Eye. You guys are right, the rain does help in keeping the numbers of antis down.

Anyway, I digress, the main reason for this letter is to thank you guys….thank you for existing, thank you to my escort for allowing me to walk with pride instead of shame. I’d also like you all to know that I’m doing well; mentally, emotionally, and physically. I slept really well the night after my appointment and woke up in the morning with minimal soreness after having what some would consider major surgery. When I woke up it was to the discovery that I had regained a lot of energy and strength.

Keep up all the good work!!

 

——————————————————————————–*Our general policy is to omit links to anti-abortion websites. We have made an exception and included the link to Life News for readers to experience the contrast in the information the author found on their Google search.

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!

 

Reflections

On Wednesday, while driving home after escorting, I was thinking about how smoothly things had gone on the sidewalk.  When I turned from a busy road to a side street, there were ambulances and police cars at an accident near the expressway on-ramp.  Cars were flowing the other way, part of the early morning, rush-hour traffic.

Then I saw a lady standing on the curb to my left.  She seemed to be a walker or jogger, waiting for the traffic to clear so she could cross the street.  I slowed, then stopped, to give her a chance to cross.  The traffic was still flowing the other way in the lane between us.  Waiting to cross, she was standing in the grass at the curb’s edge.  Then I noticed she was holding a brown plastic Kroger bag in each hand.  I thought she was out picking up dog poop from her neighborhood.  As a kind driver stopped in the other lane, the lady walked out onto the street.

Suddenly, she stopped and squatted down in the road.  Surprised, I looked over and saw a tiny, gold and brown Yorkshire Terrier, lying there, motionless.  With a sharp in breath, I stared at the miniature collar and the long leash, looping and curving across the pavement like blue, longhand penmanship.  The lady scooped up the silky, limp body with the Kroger bags, stood up, and smiled a thank you to the waiting drivers, walking back to the grassy curb.  The blue leash trailed strangely behind, upside down, the leash handle dancing along the ground.

Stunned and aware of the impatient drivers lined up behind me, I drove on.  A few blocks later, it dawned on me the dog might be injured, but still alive, needing a vet or an animal hospital.  Did she have a way to take it there?  As I u-turned the car and drove back, I felt sad and guilty for having driven off without asking if she needed assistance, or a ride, or comfort.  But I couldn’t find the lady with the little Yorkie.  I couldn’t even tell where they had been.  I turned back out onto the main road.  The ambulance and police were still at the accident on the other side of the road.

Tears in my eyes, I drove on.  To me, this was an opportunity for me to be at the right place at the right time, to be of service to another person, and I had only seen the top layer of what might be needed.  Yeah, I should have stopped and asked.  Yeah, consciousness is about staying aware and paying attention.  Yeah, death is part of life and life is part of death.

What, you might be wondering, does any of this have to do with escorting?   One of our regular antichoice protesters, Ron, is fond of shouting loudly at the clinic entrance, “Bring out the buckets of dead babies!!!  I wanna see the buckets of dead babies!  What do you DO with all those buckets of dead babies?!?? All you people care about are trees.  What do you do for fun after you leave here, deathscorts?  Huh?  Do you go kill puppies and kittens for fun?  Huh?  Is that what makes you happy?  Buckets of dead babies and buckets of dead puppies and dead kittens…”

While standing at the corner of 1st and Market Streets, sometimes – – just sometimes – – Fear tells me that any car, stopping for a red light or purring past us downtown, could be an anti-choice extremist.  Any one of us could be shot, just standing on the street, because we are wearing the orange vest of a pro-choice clinic escort.  To quiet Fear, I quietly whisper, “I fear none, for I love all.  The purpose of my life is to help, love and serve others.”

Quietly saying this to myself banishes Fear.  It soothes and steadies my spirit.  Again, I am just standing there, in the now, not doing anything, feeling calm and aware, just paying attention.

Why am I sharing this story here about a tiny brown Yorkshire terrier and a protester who says ugly things about “babies” and “dogs” and “kittens” and “deathscorts?”  Why does my mind even imagine someone showing up with a gun and shooting me or one of my beloved escort friends in cold blood?

It is because we know with the increasingly radical, right-wing extremists, there have been bombs, murders, and hate campaigns which pretend to be “Christian.”  Abortion doctors have been murdered.  Abortion clinics have been vandalized, bombed, picketed.  Abortion doctors, staff, and clinic escorts have been publicly “outed” on WANTED posters and flyers.  Those flyers have been distributed online, given to the targeted person’s neighbors, and even their children’s schools.  When outing someone, the person’s name, address and other personal information is often included.  Escorts have been fired from their jobs within Catholic systems, after the antis called and wrote to the employers.  Protesters are pushing abortion porn into the hands of our children as they go into or out of their schools.  Anti-abortion laws are chipping away, bit by bit, shutting down clinics, making it incredibly more complicated, difficult and expensive than ever for a woman to get an abortion.

It’s not like you see picketers, or bombers, or vandals at other medical clinics.  When did you have to shove your way through a crowd of protesters to get your tooth filled or to get your annual physical?  I didn’t think so.

What part of this is American?  I ask you, how is this part of living in the “greatest nation on Earth?”  How is this still the Land of the Free?  This is not the America I was raised to know, love and take pride in.  Where is law enforcement?  Where is the local mayor?  Where are the rights of normal American citizens?  Where is the outraged citizenry needed to stand up to these thugs, these bullies, these domestic terrorists?

Yes, we need buffer zones.  Maybe not two miles away, as they have for the protesters at the national Presidential conventions, but even a safety zone extending 20 feet away from the door would be better than nothing.  The in-your-face harassment, intimidation, and interference (all violations of the FACE Act), and the illegal threatening and intimidation of the abortion clinic providers and their staff, both at the clinics and in their private lives, have been endured for too long.  These illegal activities by the “Forced Birthers” must be prosecuted and stopped.

It is worrying, perplexing, irritating, confusing, infuriating and wearying to see this in our society, in our culture, in our community, and on the sidewalk.  Never, ever, ever give up.  Trust Women.  Respect Choice.  (End of rant.)

We Are All Emily Letts~by KYBorn

Ah, I know. It was the last thing you wanted to read. Her name is associated with being a great martyr for the pro-choice/pro-access cause, or she is the demon-come-lately to anti-choicers, a creature of the night with no soul, the high priestess of child sacrifice. Heck, I can’t even print most of the threats this woman has received. Even the most “pro-lifey” of all the “pro-lifers” on Jill Stanek’s site can’t help but comment that due to the emotional issue of abortion, death threats are to only be expected. Not sure how you file that under “pro-life,” but we all know the minds of antis are capable of the great mental gymnastics needed to justify horrible behavior in the name of Jesus.

Now, don’t worry. I’m not here to harp on about antis this week. Nor am I here to lecture pro-choicers about how they should respond to Letts’ video. The fact that I appreciate the risk she took doesn’t really have anything to do with it. The fact that, as a horribly private person the idea of having a video made of me during hugely personal moments is something that I can’t imagine. The fact that I would be far too paranoid about disease to have unprotected sex with many partners (and I have had sex with many partners) does not mean she is stupid or a whore or wrong. It means she took I risk I was unwilling to. It means she had a different opinion.

‘Will she ever get to point?’, you ask. Yes. Yes, I usually get there, but today I am going to sooner rather than later. In spite of the many ways I would have handled Emily Letts’ situation differently, I am still Emily Letts. In fact, all women are Emily Letts. Some are older. Some are younger. Some are different races. Some are anti-choice.

I am Emily Letts even though I would never want to make any sort of medical decision public. I am a private person, and the loss of that privacy would be one of the worst things I can imagine. I freak out at the idea of diseases (and this is partly due to my occupation) so that part of my story would be different. Other than that, the same old movie plot is played out over and over and over.

Women need abortion.

Women behave responsibly and need an abortion.

Women behave irresponsibly and need abortion.

A married woman had an irresponsible fling outside of marriage and needs an abortion.

A woman just loses her job and needs an abortion.

A woman needs an abortion because she doesn’t want any children.

A woman already has 5 kids and can’t afford a 6th needs an abortion.

A woman finds out her fetus is so malformed he won’t live 5 minutes, if he is born at all, needs an abortion.

A rape victim needs an abortion.

A woman whose body is worn out from childbirth needs an abortion.

A woman taking teratogens needs an abortion.

Women who are a long past child-bearing years need abortions, because losing the right to have an abortion is the first step down the slippery slope to women’s ability to control their body, to control their medical treatment, to control their own finances, to work their own jobs and to remain autonomous individuals.

When we allow the government to take away even ONE aspect of our bodily autonomy, we are allowing them to get the idea that they have title to other aspects of our private lives and the choices we make as individuals.

So while we all might not make a video about our abortions, or even tell our own abortions stories, or even be old enough or young enough to have an abortion, it doesn’t change the facts that each and every one us is Emily Letts.

 

C-Words ~ by KYBorn

No, not that C-word. I couldn’t resist a chance to say, “Made You Look,” which seemed to be the height of wit when we were all in kindergarten. Yes, I do have a point. Stay with me. I promise I’ll get there.

Last week, when a couple of the escorts asked me to write an article for Every Saturday Morning, I was flattered. Since then, I have had the pleasure of joining a few of them on the sidewalk in Louisville for the morning. I appreciate that they took the time to show me what they, clients and companions experience five days a week. I am still processing some of my first escorting experience but I do plan to write about it at some point. The first time I wrote about antis not understanding what the word “censorship” means. Actually being on the sidewalk really drove home the point that there are a lot of other C-words antis don’t understand the meaning of.

I’m going to skip over the obvious ones. By now, everyone knows that “choice” is the F-dash-dash-dash word, the Queen Mother of all dirty words (to steal a line from the movie “A Christmas Story”) to anti-choice protesters. “Contraception” seems on the way to becoming almost as bad. At best, it is considered a gateway drug to abortion and at worst, it is considered exactly the same as having an abortion.

One fairly new phrase that seems to be creeping into the mix is the line that all women have abortions for “comfort and convenience.”  Antis act as if there is a big box on patient registration forms or on surveys designed to collect health information labeled “comfort and convenience” that all women check. Women have abortions for a variety of reasons that they do not have to share with or justify to anyone. Antis have taken research on reasons women give for having abortions and lumped almost all of them under their new, re-labeled category of comfort and convenience.

As usual, they miss the mark completely. Not having health insurance and not being able to pay for the cost of labor and delivery is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Not being able to keep a roof over your own head, or the heads of existing dependents because you live month to month and can’t take what is going to be a minimum of 6 weeks off work without pay is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Not wanting to be forced to go through the painful process of labor and delivery when you don’t want to or aren’t ready to be a parent is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Going to the gynecologist for a medical procedure is not comfortable, although abortion is not the blood-soaked, pain-filled nightmare antis like to say it is. It is certainly not convenient to drive 4 hours for a simple, outpatient procedure and in some states it is becoming a weeks-long process with clinics closing and mandatory clinic visits for counseling followed by mandated waiting periods.

What got me to thinking about this was actually being on the sidewalk this week. It wasn’t raining when I arrived but it started coming down pretty hard part of the way through the morning. As I was taking off my vest to put on my poncho, one of the antis felt the need to lecture me about worrying about my own comfort while babies were being murdered. I have never been admonished for putting on rain gear, but I guess there is a first time for everything. Of course, this particular anti was standing under both an umbrella and the awning so she was clearly worried about her own comfort. It is easy to dismiss others need for comfort and convenience when it is not your own. I am pretty sure that the anti who sat in her car to talk on the phone for 10 minutes did so because it is inconvenient to replace your cell phone because it got wet. I am also pretty sure the protester in the expensive-looking suit who spent the entire morning standing under the awning of a business down the block  without ever stepping out did so because it would be quite uncomfortable to walk around in wet clothing at work for a couple of hours.

The other C-word antis don’t grasp is “compassion.”  Compassion is what I saw from the escorts. People do not get up early in the morning, week after week, to volunteer to walk with strangers to a medical appointment to try to limit harassment without it. Compassion is not shown by repeating the same lines, like a script in a movie, to every person who walks into a clinic. Compassion is not shown by demanding loudly that complete strangers share their reproductive decisions with you. Compassion is not shown by dismissing the many reasons people choose to have an abortion. Compassion is not shown by vague promises of resources that people don’t want and may not be delivered. Compassion is not shown when women who regret their own abortions come out under the guise of preventing other women from feeling the same thing, only to talk all about themselves and their guilt rather than listening.

Compassion is understanding that every person on that sidewalk has their own story. Compassion is understanding that those stories are deeply personal and do not have to be shared with strangers to justify walking into a doctor’s office. Compassion is understanding that shouting an arsenal of anti-choice talking points through a clinic door does not change the reason people are there. Compassion is understanding that people choose abortion for a variety of reasons that can’t always be solved with a free pregnancy test, a non-diagnostic ultrasound, some diapers and Bible classes. Compassion is understanding that women are people with feelings, dreams, lives and problems rather than simply potential fetus containers.

If you have hung with me this far, I will be brief in saying I have my own C-word for what is happening outside clinics and inside our legislative chambers to restrict people’s rights to make their own decisions about health care. It is crap.