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.

 

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.

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

When Calling Doesn’t Help

The client and companion pulled to the curb right at 7a and the client jumped out of the car immediately. We explained the clinic doors didn’t open until 7:30a. They replied they knew, but wanted to wait by the door because they wanted to be the first into the clinic.

We then explained the orange vests and protesters, and that the protesters would talk to them while they waited, but wouldn’t cross the property line. The client replied, “Oh, I know all about them. I went into their so-called clinic last week by mistake. It was horrible and I missed my appointment. I want to be sure I get in first this time.”  

We explained the $3 parking lot to the companion and let them know we would be there to help them there after we walked the client to the door.

D was right there before we took two steps towards the entrance, telling the client to “just take two minutes to come to A Woman’s Choice. They aren’t open anyway. What harm will it do?” The client replied, “Get away from me. I have already been there and know all about that place. I don’t want you to talk to me.” Of course, D didn’t listen. She continued to talk to the client while they were standing by the door.

Two escorts stayed at the entrance with the client while I went across to the lot to help the companion with the payment box. The companion decided to wait a little while in the warm car before standing by the door.

When I came back to the door, the client was shaking, upset and yelling at D to leave them alone. After I heard her say to D three times, each successively louder, to “Leave me alone,” I told D, “She has asked you to leave her alone three times. Now you are harassing her.” The expected, “I’m not harassing her. I just want her to know her options,” was the response. Then she continued to talk to the client and the client again told her to leave her alone.

I turned to the client and said, “You can call Police Dispatch and report her for harassing you if you want. I’m not sure what they will do, but you can call.” The client indicated they would like to call and I gave them the phone number.

While the client was waiting for the police, the companion also came to the door to wait with the client. I met them halfway down the sidewalk and said, “I’m glad you are here,” while catching them up with what had happened.The client and companion were together by the door while they waited for police response..

Two squad cars came within minutes. D reached the responding officer first and gave her version. When the officer talked to the client they were told D could say anything she wanted to them because of “free speech.”Sigh. Sometimes it works to call the police and sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on who responds and their views on abortion.

After the officer left, D turned to me and said, “You are just a busybody.” However, D and the other protesters did leave them alone after the conversation with the officer, but this particular client had two unpleasant trips to the clinic. I worry that I contributed to the second unpleasant trip by suggesting they call the police.

Actually, police presence had the antis subdued until the majority of the clients went into the door. After they went in, an anti who regularly prays by the curb noticed it was quiet, picked up the fetal porn poster, and stood at the entrance shouting, “Do you know about Jesus? If you haven’t heard about Jesus you need to.” D actually waved her away after a few minutes.

Politics and your view on abortion should not determine how you interpret harassment. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean others cannot be offended by your speech or they cannot ask you to stop talking to them.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {5/6/13}

Spring in the Ohio Valley means a lot of rainfall. As I have said before, this always has good and bad associated with it as far as escorting is concerned.

We had no problems getting clients and companions to the clinic entrance. There were fewer antis out, but most stayed grouped under the overhang. While our walks were wet, we had only a couple of antis walking the sidewalk with their umbrellas. The clients were able to walk without a lot of interference.

However, when we reached the entrance we had to navigate around antis with their umbrellas up blocking the entrance. When I said, “You are blocking the entrance,” to one anti who works for AWC the reply was, “No, I am not.”

Three antis were standing with their umbrellas up across the entrance. The companion had to push a little to get through and bumped the anti’s umbrella. I pointed out she blocked the last client only to be told, “He got in.”

Yes they did, but it is still blocking when huge umbrellas are added to the people.

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REMINDER: Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year.  It also is the date  where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts.  You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up that morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.

Use this form to make your pledge:

 


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Sidewalk Snippet ~ {2/11/13}

We had almost as many escorts as there were antis on the sidewalk, but M was there and she is always a problem. Most of the clients were escorted to the clinic door without issue.

The last client and companion pulled to the curb close to 8a. We went down to talk to them, but M was racing to beat us to them. As they got out of their car, M started talking and telling them, “Come to A Woman’s Choice and find out about all of your options.” The companion replied, “We know them. We have made our decision. Move away from us.”

Of course, M didn’t move away. She started to press up against the client holding a plastic fetus in her palm for the client to look at. The companion said, “I asked you to give us some space. Since you won’t do it, I will do it for you with my body.” The companion blocked M and kept her behind the client as we continued to walk to the clinic door.

I am always surprised at the total lack of awareness of personal space and the meaning of “Move away” M always exhibits.

You would think my capacity for being surprised would have run out by now.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {2/4/13}

It was extremely cold. There were a lot of antis out; blocking the sidewalk and entrance to the clinic; preaching at the clinic windows.

A client and companion arrived on foot early. As they crossed the street, M moved in and started talking to them; pushing them to try to hand them literature and show them a plastic fetus toy. They just walked directly to the entrance.

When we explained the doors would not open for another 30 minutes, they decided to walk back to their car. M trailed them all the way back, talking non-stop.

The doors opened and shortly after they came back. M was ready for them and tried to prevent them from entering the clinic without success.

Exactly at 8a M said to me, “There is a car in the monthly rental. You need to tell them to move their car. I wouldn’t want them to get towed.” I asked if she was sure they were a client and asked for a description of the car. She said she was sure and gave me the description. I went into the clinic and asked whose car it was. Of course, it was the client and companion that M had chased to and from their car.

I explained to the companion the monthly rental lot would tow their car and offered to show them where to move it. We moved the car and as we were walking back I let the companion know the protester who had been harassing them earlier had let us know about the parking.

We were approached by M again as we got close to the clinic. Both of us thanked her for letting us know about the parking. M just wanted to talk about bringing the client out of the clinic.

M was being helpful, but I have to wonder about the timing.  Why didn’t M tell them about the parking the previous two times she approached them? Was she hoping to delay the procedure by waiting until 8a?

I’m grateful she let the client and companion know, but I cannot help  being skeptical about the timing.

Where Do I Park?

The client and companion pulled into the drop-off zone to ask where to park. It was about 30 minutes before the doors of the clinic normally open. We discussed options and I gave them directions to the $3 parking lot. Before I moved away from the car, I warned them about the antis not wearing orange vests and that they may approach them to talk and give out literature.

They were starting to pull over to the lot when D approached their car. She was talking to them when I re-approached the car to let them know she was a protester. D turned to me and said, “You are so rude. You had your turn to talk to them. Now it is my turn. You say you are pro-choice. They need to know their choices.” Since I had said what I needed to let them know, I  backed off and let her talk.

Escorts watched as the car drove down the street and turned the corner, bypassing the public parking lot. I alerted another escort to the fact they might have been diverted to the AWC lot by D. This is a common tactic we see. They offer free parking in their lot, but it comes with a lot of talking about the “right choice.” It is usually easier to pay for parking than hear the words meant to shame and coerce clients into their clinic.

The other escort was able to stop them just before they parked in the AWC lot. The companion told the escort the woman (meaning D) said they would have to pay for an ultrasound at EMW, but they could get it from AWC free. When it was explained to them that they didn’t have to pay extra for the ultrasound at EMW*, the free ultrasound performed at AWC would not be accepted by EMW* and they would just have to have another one, and AWC was an anti-abortion clinic, they parked their car in the public lot as originally planned.

D arrived at the AWC parking lot just as the client and companion were pulling away. She approached the other escort and asked, “If you die tonight, do you know where you are going?”

The companion was really upset when I went over to help them with the payment box. We discussed what had happened to them. They were mad they were lied to by D. I explained we cannot control what the antis say, but agreed it was frustrating.

As I was leaving, I warned them about the antis approaching their car even in the parking lot and suggested they did not need to roll their windows down if they didn’t want to. I told them we would come get them when the clinic doors opened.  Sure enough, shortly after I left the lot four antis surrounded their car trying to get them to roll their windows down. The antis began sticking literature on their windshield without permission.

The companion called the police to report their harassment. Two squad cars arrived within minutes and spoke to the antis. The four antis moved to the corner of the lot and stayed away from the car after their conversation with the officers. We did not hear what was said, but we were able to escort the client and companion without further incident.

When I went into the lobby of the clinic a short while after they entered, the companion asked me why the protesters were allowed to go right up to clients. “There should be a distance they have to stay away. This isn’t right.” I agreed and explained there was no bubble/buffer zone in Louisville. The companion expressed their anger over the whole situation.

I have to agree, lying, shaming, judging and harassment from the antis just makes the day more difficult than it has to be for everyone.

*The ultrasound at EMW is included in the procedure fees. There is no association between EMW and AWC. A procedure done at AWC will not generate a discounted fee from EMW. It will just cause the client to have duplicate procedures.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {1/19/13}

The weekday morning was pretty intense. First, it was pouring down rain; steady and cold rain. Second, there were about 3 antis to every escort.

The antis were carrying umbrellas, huddling up by the clinic entrance and stretched across the sidewalk. Most of the morning was spent walking around their obstructions while trying to avoid being poked by an umbrella. That’s trickier than it sounds. All of the clients were able to enter the clinic with no incidents, even with antis blocking the sidewalk.

On mornings when there are more antis than escorts, the antis always decide to try to engage the escorts. .As one group of antis were leaving, one held up a copy of the DVD “180” in front of me. He asked, “Would you like a free DVD?” I replied, “Are you kidding?” “No, it’s free.” “No, thank you.” “You should watch it. It is free.” “This conversation is ended. I prefer not to talk with you.” “Oh, you don’t want to engage.” “No.” With that I turned my back.

There is one thing I did wrong. The first response should have been no response or, “I do not talk to antis.” I was just so surprised that he would offer that vile* video to an escort that for the past hour he had been blocking and telling clients I was just misleading them. My response just popped out.

The second thing that struck me was the repetition of “free.” Was I supposed to say, “Oh, it’s free. Okay. I love free things. I’ll watch anything if it’s free.” The disconnect on the part of some antis is a constant amazement to me.

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*I have watched the film and this is my personal review.