The Good Abortion – Part II – by KyBorn

I’m lucky to have two days off for the dreaded trip to the Big City. I have never driven there and the thought of eight lanes of cars whizzing by as I desperately look at my directions and pray to find the right exits worries me.  During my first trip, I cry.  I begin to think the universe is telling me to ask for help, but that would mean talking about the rape. My mind shuts that idea down fast. A tiny part of me believes if I could get rid of everything that reminds me of the rape and never talk about it, then it would be like it never happened.

Leaving many pissed off drivers in my wake, I  finally make it to PP.  To my relief, it is clean and bright, not the dingy, rotting, mold-covered place the antis say it is. A pleasant but efficient phlebotomist takes me back to the lab and draws my blood with minimal pain. When I turn white and start seeing stars, she gets me some orange juice and helps me lay down on a table until I feel better. I should have warned her I do that a lot.

Big City PP is not offering RU-486 so my only choice is a surgical abortion. I had hoped to get the medication abortion, but would have had to drive 5 or 6 hours further.  And I have to wait four weeks to have the surgical procedure.  I get horrible morning sickness that stays all day. My co-workers are convinced I’m bulimic. I swear I feel my jeans getting tighter around my waist every time I put them on, even though I’m losing weight from not being able to eat.   Each day, I wake up, puke, remember that I’m pregnant with a rape baby and feel an irrational panic that I am never going to get the abortion and will be forced to give birth.   It is the longest four weeks of my life.

Finally, the day for the procedure comes. I am ready three hours early, so I get on the road, steeling myself for more traffic trauma.  It’s a good thing I do, because there’s a giant multi car pile-up on the interstate (no, it doesn’t have anything to do with my lack of city driving skills).

I’m still the first one to sign in for the abortion clinic.  I sit in the downstairs lobby, reading, rather than roam around a strange city and possibly miss my appointment.  I lose myself in the adventures of Alex Delaware, the psychologist who helps a police detective solve serial killings. When I drag my head out of the book, I notice that many more people are in the lobby.  Five minutes later, we go to the upstairs lobby, which is also clean and bright; no blood on the floor, no women bleeding out or staff berating women.

I have already filled out my forms and I’m not feeling chatty.  I want to stay lost in my fantasy world.  The  woman across from me, well barely a woman, she’s maybe 18, looks like she’s been crying, and like she might let loose again. I hope she won’t talk to me (a selfish thought which I’ll later regret).  But I hear her in surround sound as she tells the man with her that there is no way they can afford to have a baby. He disagrees and says he doesn’t understand why she gets to decide. She half-heartedly says she can’t believe he would try to tell her what to do, then throws her hands up and buries her face in a tissue.

I finally get called back and turn over my pile of papers to the nurse, who reviews my medical history. I  find out my blood type and that, yippee, I get to pay $50 and get an extra shot. The nurse takes me to another room with a comfortable chair and small TV with a built in DVD player. She says the movie will explain how the procedure is done and what to expect.

I want to tell her I have already read, both on the internet and in books, how abortions are performed.  I have seen the photoshopped and mislabeled images of the antis, who would have me believe my gestating embryo is currently knitting “mommy” a sweater in utero, but I’ve also read good information from legitimate sites and medical texts. Still, when you have been bombarded with tales of abortion clinics being blood-spattered abattoirs it is hard to completely get the idea out of your mind – although,I would have taken my chances with an abortion in the abattoir rather than giving birth.

Back in the lobby, the lady sitting next to me is chatty.  She and her husband, who is outside smoking, just can’t afford another child. They have three already and are barely making ends meet, she can’t afford to take time off work, she is too old to start over, her other children are in school… I just nod, too wrapped up in my own problems to offer support, or even tell her she doesn’t owe anybody an explanation.

It’s a relief when they call me back to check my iron.   I am afraid it’s going to be low, but I am just over the limit.  The nurse walks me to the ultrasound room.

The ultrasound tech is super cheerful. I just want to hop on the table and get it done. She explains that she is going to try to get the images she needs doing an abdominal ultrasound but she may have to do a transvaginal since I am early in the pregnancy. She puts some sort of cold gel on my abdomen and uses a small, hand-held device to try to get an image. She slides, presses then looks at the screen and frowns. After a few tries, she says she is sorry but she has to do the transvaginal.

I think she expects me to throw a fit, but I’ve been reading about the process and  am actually ready for this. She leaves, I undress from the waist down and  lay back on the table. Over my shoulder, I see the transvaginal attachment, like a sex toy on steroids.

The ultrasound tech puts a condom-looking thing over it. tells me it may be uncomfortable but shouldn’t be painful. Still smiling as she inserts the attachment, she keeps reassuring me that this won’t take too long. She looks from my face, to the probe and to her screen. Finally, she tells me has the image she needs.

“Can I see it?” I ask.

She cocks her head sideways, as if I’ve asked something she’s never heard before. She says most women don’t want to see, but I can if I want to.  I do. I need to see it to make my final peace with this decision.  She turns the screen.  It looks like a jalapeño pepper; not at all like the antis’ pictures of 7 week embryos that they describe as “fully formed babies.”

The ultrasound tech steps out, and  I get dressed again.

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

 

 

Mission Statement

By unaimous vote, we have created a mission statement to focus our work as escorts and our organizational structure. This has been a process that has spanned nearly a year and a half as we have wrestled with how, exactly, we view our work as escorts. Along the way, we have refined our philosophy and better articulated what brings us together to do this work.

Mission statement of the Louisville Clinic Escorts:

Louisville Clinic Escort volunteers offer to accompany people seeking abortions to the door of EMW Women’s Surgical Center while practicing de-escalation and promoting normalization of abortion access.

Tailgating at the Abortion Clinic 

  Picture shows a pickup truck with a figure in a denim skirt, white socks and brownish tennis shoes sitting on the open gate.  Her face is obscured by the sign she holds, which towers over her – first a red stop sign with white lettering:  STOP ABORTION NOW, above that the white on a black background, the skeleton of a fetus, and on top a hand lettered sign with red letters:  JESUS DIED FOR YOU>  A water bottle is to one side of her.

In Case You Thought…

In case you thought that things had changed, here on the sidewalk in front of the abortion clinic in Louisville, Ky, I want to assure you, it is still the same.  Mostly the same protesters. New ones come and go, but Donna and Nurse Betty, Mary, and Ponytail Guy, to name a few, are always with us.   They stand by the door, saying the same things they always say.

Angela shows up late, and sometimes we have a preacher screaming at us all, sometimes we don’t,   Catholics on Parade still make an appearance every second Saturday, even when the construction in the area gets in the way.

The chasers are still there.  Andrew and his crew don their neon green vests and circle up for a quick prep talk and prayer.   The circle dissolves as they fly off in pairs, like wasps, busy, busy, buzzing around to harras and intimidate the women coming to the doctor.

Rain or shine, there they are.  Umbrellas up long after the rain has stopped.

Same ole, same ole.   Oh, wait,  no, this is new.

Not the old guys socializing on the prayer line, but the sign the woman is holding with the fetus skeleton.  Here’s a close up:

Somebody said it looks like a logo for a Death metal band, right?   But even new signage isn’t really new.

AHA – not American Humanist Association, not American Heart Association, not American Home-brewers Association, but the Abolish Human Abortion folks are relatively new.  Some of our old protesters have joined up with them, and that’s unfortunate, because they’re a new kind of mean.  Unlike the “pro-life” folks, they don’t even pretend to care about the people who need abortions.  They don’t think anyone should have an abortion, ever, under any circumstances, no not rape or incest or to save the mother’s life, thank you very much.

The AHA folks are quick to condemn the pro-life group as not asking for enough, being willing to compromise.  So that can be fun interesting to watch.

And – this is exciting – the world of escorting has changed.  Back in 2009, when I wrote my first post for this blog, I felt relatively isolated.  As if we were the only clinic going through this.  We weren’t, of course, and I kind of knew that, but I felt like we were fighting a lone battle to get people to realize what was going on in front of our clinic.

That’s not the case anymore.  More clinics have escorts, and escorts are connecting with each other to provide support, and we’re talking about it.   Just today, I found this wonderful article, which is a response to a letter purportedly written by someone who used to work in an abortion clinic, and I watched this short documentary about the protesters outside the clinic in Allentown, Pa.

http://youtu.be/pC-NiTJ3YAU

I think of escorting as the front lines of the battle for reproductive rights.  Like a morality play it stands.  Each side believing they represent the virtues, while “the other side” is the vices.

To be continued….

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It’s Against My Religion ~ by KYBorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re ugly.

“You’re ugly” I hear this whispered to me as I guide clients through the protesters.
What? That’s weird, is all I think then I go on back to where I was standing.
She walks up to me and a little bit louder this time she says, “you’re ugly.” Well that is a strange thing to say but all right. I don’t say anything.
You see, I’m not out here to be pretty, or cute. I’m out here to guide clients into the clinic, to help terrified people not feel so alone, I’m here to normalize abortion.
“Who is that on your necklace ?” Repeated several times , “well whoever she is, she’s pretty ugly. Are you related? I feel sorry for you but I can tell.”
Well, the woman on my necklace is Frida Kahlo, who funnily enough revolted against modern ideas of beauty by donning a rebozo ( a traditional Mexican article of clothing), and incorporating her facial hair ( oh my so unbecoming!) in her self portraits.
All of the clients are inside. The escorts are gathered together to just have a final chat about the morning….
“There’s a rip in your dress…”she leans in” your dress is ripping. You know, there’s a way to fix that and it isn’t a needle and thread….it isn’t a needle and thread!”
I’m fat. Good job. You have eyes. Also, good eye for spotting the quarter inch hole along the side seam of my skirt. Well, let me start off by saying I bought the skirt because it was 75% off because it had a hole in it combine that with laziness and general nonchalance over small things like that and you have….something that doesn’t really matter.
The whole situation was just so banal and rude.
I am ugly to her and I’m sure quite a few others on this planet populated by 7.2 billion people, that’s quite all right. What isn’t all right is bullying.
Telling men they aren’t “real men unless you drag her out of there right now”. Telling women they’re selfish and they don’t know how to handle their own bodies.
Bullying is ugly.

Sometimes They Tell The Truth

“Tell the abortionist you don’t want the abortion. They will stop” Protester D, yelling at that door outside the clinic today.

Sometimes, the protesters tell the truth. Yes, D is 100% correct. If a client goes into the abortion clinic and decides that they DO NOT want to have an abortion, the doctors will not force them to have one. The doctor’s won’t force them to do ANYTHING that the client doesn’t want to do. The clinic has counseling for clients, and part of that counseling is making sure that the clients wants to have an abortion. It is vital to establish that the clients want to do this from their own free will, rather than because someone is “forcing” them or coercing them to have the abortion. I thought after D said this, “Well, what doctor would do a procedure against someone’s will? What doctor with any ethics would force someone to go through a surgery?”

Then I thought of Ireland.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, a suicidal rape victim was denied an abortion, which caused her to go on a hunger strike. Then she was forced to have a Caesarean section to deliver a premature baby at 25 weeks (Here is The Guardian article).

I want to draw your attention to that last sentence. She was FORCED to have a Caesarean section by doctors, who bound by Irish law which states that abortion is illegal, had to put the life of the fetus over the wishes of the mother.

According to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (which is supposed to allow for an abortion if the mother’s “life is at risk”), a suicidal rape victim didn’t rise to the level of her life being at risk.

I wonder if they strapped her down? I wonder if she struggled? I wonder if she screamed?

I wonder what the doctor’s felt like? I wonder if they felt forced as well?

In Ireland there is no access and no choice in this regard, for either patient or doctor. Their hands are tied by the law of the state. We are lucky here. If a patient says “no”, the doctor won’t continue forward with the procedure.

My question is this: Does D want the state to force a suicidal rape victim to stay pregnant in the United States with little to no options? Does D want the state to force doctors to perform procedures on patients against their will and medical knowledge?

There are women in the California prison system that have been sterilized without their consent.

Does D want this concept applied to all aspects of healthcare?

I can’t answer that question for her, but I can for myself. Laws that tie the hands of doctors and strip autonomous decision making from patients are bad laws and should not be. Laws that prevent the best and least invasive medical care for patients are bad laws. Laws that force doctors to act against their medical knowledge and experience are bad laws.

Currently, we have access and options for reproductive healthcare, but that window is slowly being shut by TRAP laws around the country. Do we really want what Ireland has? I think not.

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.)

Why I Support Federal Buffer Zones (and Why Antis Should Support Them As Well) ~ by KyBorn

By the time this is published, this may very well be a moot point. As I am writing this, most reproductive justice advocates and anti-abortion activists have their eyes eagerly focused on a Supreme Court decision regarding buffer zones around reproductive health centers that provide abortion. Right now, those that exist are mostly local along with a few statewide buffer zones or bubbles. I think we can and should do better. I’m going to stay positive and presume the Supreme Court will see through the paper-thin veil that has been thrown in front of gory signs, roving bands of stalking, yelling fanatics and screaming, screaming everywhere. In spite of Scalia’s simpering and having the poster child being a “plump grandmother” who only wants to lovingly “counsel” these poor wayward girls, most images of antis outside a clinic are anything but.

So, hopefully the time has come to push our federal government to do something about the threats, harassment and stalking that happen every day outside doctors’ offices in America. We need a federal law standard for several reasons:

  1. Access to medical care should not be based on geographic area. We are, after all, citizens of the United States of America and should be guaranteed the same safety and rights throughout our country, regardless of which state we live in. We all know that most of the South is not exactly progressive or pro-active when it comes to protecting a woman’s right to make her decisions regarding pregnancy. A national standard is key.
  2. Antis don’t like to play by the rules. We have rules, both formal and informal, written and unwritten, about how we are expected to behave in society. While it varies over time and in different cultures, these expectations generally keep us from getting all Lord of the Flies when we have to be together in a small space. When I was out eating alone a month or so ago, I had the pleasure of being approached 6 or 7 times by the same gentleman (Hi Floyd) who tried to insist on buying me a drink, sitting at my table, getting my phone number even after I politely said no, I’m married, I’m trying to work and please go away. Finally, after time number 7, when he stood by my table lecturing me about how disappointed he was that I didn’t let him buy my drink, I lost my temper and told him to go away with many 4-letter words in the same sentence. Antis are the Floyds of the sidewalk. The only difference is nobody would disapprove of me getting angry when a man kept trying to insert himself in my space after being told “no” politely. If I was a woman on the sidewalk trying to get to the clinic, not only would Floyd’s behavior have been celebrated and encouraged, but it would also be filmed. Then, some extremist from Abolish Human Abortion would put it up on YouTube labeled Pro-Abort Violence and clinic harassers the world over could cluck their tongue about how persecuted they are. A buffer or bubble zone would give women space and hopefully the opportunity to lose some of the stalkers who have surrounded her and refuse to take no for an answer. We need a very specific, nationwide law that is enforced the same way in all fifty states.
  3. It’s not safe for anybody right now. What makes me think of this is the time I took my friend to clinic that fortunately had a fenced in lot. As I went to pull into the lot, two antis continued to walk aimlessly back and forth across the parking lot entrance, forcing three or four cars to slam on breaks as traffic backed up in a fairly busy street. They were supposedly just “crossing” in front on their way to the other side of the sidewalk but they took about 5 minutes to cross. What they were doing was causing traffic to stop so their preteen children could run in front of cars and shove packets of literature under the windshield wipers of the car, thus blocking the driver’s view. A five foot buffer around driveways would stop this completely while still allowing protesters to do their thing. If anybody actually wants the literature, they are free to park and go get it without forcing people to drive with part of the windshield blocked. In some locations, small children are left to play near busy roads or used as props to be thrust in the faces of unwilling women. Antis can continue to guilt, shame, yell, scream, wave their fetus porn and in general be huge jerks from 50 feet away. If women want to talk to them, (and why would they), the women can talk to them. The fetus porn will not be right in anybody’s face and the children will hopefully not be drug out as props when they can’t be shoved directly under the noses of women trying to visit their OB/GYN.

I’m pretty sure most antis stopped reading when I said that they should support a federal buffer zone as well. I wasn’t just poking them with my title, I actually have several reasons why they should support a federal buffer zone as well.

  1. Having a consistent standard nationwide benefits everybody. I know some of you antis are mobile. You shouldn’t have to learn new laws from clinic to clinic or state to state. If there is one, nationwide federal law, you can use time you would have spent researching buffer zone laws lying to women in CPCs.
  2. It would protect you from any violence aimed at clinic escorts or employees. There seems to be a theme running through the anti communities that many are concerned about having to take a bullet or some similar garbage for a clinic employee or escort when some wronged man who was not allowed to force his partner to give birth. or when some woman, so overcome with anger and grief because volunteers and medical professionals provided her with the health care she needed. will come back with guns blazing. Now, I think this is mostly garbage for a number of reasons. This has happened exactly never. When bullets fly outside an abortion clinic, they are coming from the gun of an anti-choicer. Also, these people haul their small children down to the front of these clinics where they claim deadly violence could erupt any second. I would call this child neglect or abuse. So please, if you really and truly believe a gun battle is about to begin, call CPS to remove the children of these parents who think that is an appropriate place for small children. But, if antis must persist with this silly myth then at least they should feel safer behind their buffer zones because it will be obvious who the evil “pro-aborts” are when all those people suffering abortion regret come to kill us.
  3. Antis might, just might, actually be able to counsel somebody rather than screaming, shouting and intimidating. I would think that antis would know by now that all their big, photoshopped fetus porn, even though it looks like B-grade horror movie fake blood is scary to most people, as is having to walk a gauntlet. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to want to stop and talk to you in the midst of the tunnel of terror you guys form in front of clinics. In fact, women are far more likely to run away from you into the clinic. Maybe if you had buffer zones, sat up tables and actually allowed women to come and talk to you there, they would feel like they had a little privacy and be a few feet away from screaming preachers waving fetus porn. On that note, you are probably also going to stop trying to herd women into your anti-choice clinics if you want to talk to them. They have made their own bed of deceit, lies, violations of privacy, stalking and broken promises that many women are naturally going to avoid them (and they should). If somebody is an anti-abortion protester who really is interested in talking to people on the sidewalk then they should want the chaos of fetus porn and trying to herd women off the sidewalk into a CPC far, far away.

Look, I get the argument that freedom of speech is a precious and protected right. I agree. We certainly don’t want to become a nation where people are afraid to voice unpopular opinions. I don’t think antis need to be confined to free speech zones like protesters were during the Bush II era. Well, I do think antis want us to become a nation where pro-choice people are silenced by law or by threats, but that’s another argument. That aside, we constantly balance the rights of freedom of speech against the right of everybody else to go about their life. I am not allowed to stand in the middle of the road and sing “My Old Kentucky Home” at top volume at 2 AM. I can’t write things that are clearly libelous or say things that are slanderous. I am not allowed to tell others about the private medical information of patients because it violates HIPAA. I can’t stand on the lawn of my friend’s cheating ex-husband and yell at him to stop screwing around and pay his child support.

Just as important as somebody else’s right to tell me I am a lying baby-murdering violent whore pro-abort bound for hell is, is my right to walk away from them and tell them to leave me alone. Freedom of speech also means that private citizens have reasonable freedom from unwanted speech, unwanted attention and unwanted physical contact on public streets. Usually, this is accomplished by walking on down the street from a stationary zealot screaming about the end of the world or women out whoring. However, when the zealots become mobile and follow you, or obstruct your right to move about as you please, we have a problem. When we start patting the Floyds of the world on the back instead of calling them out for being jerks, we have a problem. Actually, the Floyds of the world and their supporters have a problem and they are making more problems for all the rest of us.

None of what we are doing is working. FACE was a good law for stopping those stupid “rescue” people who chained themselves to clinics. They moved away from that nonsense to a more insidious plan of scaring women away. We in the pro-choice/pro-access camp do what we can by serving as escorts, writing our politicians, voting, giving money to abortion funds and taking friends or strangers to the clinic.

On the flipside of this, none of this garbage is working for the anti-choice crew either. Women are running away from them instead of to them. They have to lie and mislead women to even get them to darken the door of their Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Numbers of abortions are down but I don’t think anybody has shown a link between fetus porn, sidewalk bullies and unconstitutional legislation in lowering the number of abortions. I’m sure there a few good-hearted people out there who really do just want to talk to women they think are making a mistake and want to encourage them to choose another path, or people who want to kneel and pray quietly. These are the people who should be screaming, yes screaming, for buffer zones because they are the only thing to cut down the chaos, screaming, crying, stalking, pushing and harassing that currently goes on.

The Floyds of the world need to understand the word “no” and if they don’t, the law needs to make them understand the word “no.” And for the record, I don’t believe some random anti-choicer would so much as take a nap for me, much less a bullet.

Good grief. For the safety and sanity of us all, please give us a federal buffer zone.