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.

Laughter And Self Assessment

Yesterday on the sidewalk I was given a stern talking to by one of the protesters. I hadn’t said anything to her, I was standing in my usual spot by the entrance. She enjoys singling me out and telling me all about how ‘our race’ must be ‘preserved’ which is a disturbing thing to say on so many levels. I do not believe in the preservation of my ‘race’. Cultures are important, cultural history and racial history is all very important to me, but you can’t use the same rhetoric that horrible bigots use and endear me to your cause…

The thing about this woman is that she will wax poetic about racial issues and genocide and the ‘holocaust’ for our race for quite some time, its boring, its strange, its difficult not to laugh in her face.

Anyway this protestor finally leaves me alone and a few minutes later two other escorts and I are talking and something is said by this protestor off to our left which just strikes all of us as such an intensely ridiculous thing to say. As an escort I deeply believe in deescalation and normalization. In general I believe in deescalation. When I commented to the other escorts around me in a quiet voice about what this protestor said I didn’t think about deescalation, I certainly didn’t believe the protestor could hear me, I wasn’t trying to goad anybody. Maybe she heard me, maybe she didn’t, this person in particular any time she hears me laugh assumes it has to do with her and will weave her thoughts about escorts “mocking” her into her spiel being shouted at the glass doors, this is the first time it really did have anything to do with her. I laugh often and easily, I’m very expressive, almost effusive and its problematic when people are so self centered. So I’m dealing with guilt. Then the question of should I even feel guilty? How can I change? should I change? I don’t even think I can, does that mean I shouldn’t be an escort since some of the ridiculous things people say just catches me so off guard that I physically can not stop myself from some sort of facial expression?

As I mentioned earlier I laugh often and easily, in the slow periods during which I’m standing next to someone a funny story is generally brought up by one of us, I think thats humor is a pretty natural part of human interaction. And as I’ve said, its not meant to antagonize anybody, but it does.

And the Results Are…

Yes, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the results are in – the head count for Pledge-a-Picketer!   Drum roll, please…

Protesters – 103.  

Escorts – 60.

Yes, you read that right.  There were *only* 103 protesters at the clinic on Saturday.  And 60 escorts.  Not even a 2:1 ratio.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it was all fun and games.  We had a relatively new protester preaching at the front door.   She didn’t like it when she realized one of the escorts was videotaping her.  (Thanks to wenches for the video.)

*transcript at the end of post

I have some other video of her, and it made me sad, listening to the things she said to the clients.  She was so sincere about sharing her experience – apparently, she changed her mind about having an abortion, and has been glad of that.   Because of that, she assures the clients that having this baby won’t ruin their life, they’ll still reach their goals.  How does she know?  Because she did. She tells them:

I know your life will turn around because my life turned around. When me and my husband made the decision to keep our child, it was the best decision we ever made in our life. Keep your child today. And to this day, I am still married to the same man. And to this day, we get to experience the love of our child that we did not kill, that we almost killed. Don’t kill your child today. Hear a mother talking to you – don’t kill your child today. It still affects me today – that I almost killed my child. Don’t kill your child today. But I get to kiss my child, I get to hug my child…

It seems so naive to me, the belief that because that worked out for her, it will be the same for everyone.  As if everyone has exactly the same issues she had, the same resources, the same choices.  It seems naive and cruel, cruel in the same way as Andrew telling everyone how excited he was about his unborn baby.   As if the antis can’t quite comprehend that their personal experience is not normative.

Anyhow.

The fundraiser was a great success. We received 30 pledges.  We received pledges from 3 countries (US, Canada, Australia). We received pledges from 8 states in the US (KY, IN, OH, VA, CA, MD, TX, AR)   And despite the poor turnout of protesters, we raised $1,043 so far, but the final total will be more than that as some late pledges come in.  Those funds will be split between escorts and Ky Support Network, an abortion fund acting as a program under Ky Health Justice Network.

We were surprised how (comparatively) few protesters came out.  But we figured a lot of the protesters chose to stay home because of the rain.  {Ok, we may have made some snarky comments about that among ourselves, but I’m not personally judging anybody’s commitment to “saving babies” based on their willingness to stand in the pouring down rain – or lack thereof .}

However, one of the protesters explained it differently to one of the escorts, when he commented on the low turnout.  She said:

“Yes, we planned it that way, so you won’t get as much money,”

to which the escort joyously replied,

“YES! Our plan is working!”

The protester looked a bit crestfallen.  As you can imagine.

But that’s been the point all along – the ultimate win-win for us – and the clients.  If the protesters show up in huge numbers, we make more money for vests and trainings and direct funding for abortion access.  If they don’t show up – well, it’s a victory for the clients who don’t have a to walk a 300 person gauntlet, and yay for us.

It’s always a relief – another Mother’s Day under our belts.  Thanks to the new escorts and occasional escorts who came out for Mother’s Day, thanks to the folks who pledged money, and thanks to everyone who supports the right to a full range of reproductive health services.

*Transcript  of the video:

You wanna take a picture of me? You videotaping? What are you doing? What are you doing? God bless you. God loves you. God loves you and I pray that you never come on this sidewalk again. Because he does not want you to do this. You don’t realize that you’re leading the mothers off to kill their babies to the slaughter. They’re actually taking them down into the basement and they’re actually sucking the baby out of the womb. Out of the womb and throwing the baby in the garbage. The baby is a human being. (turns away.) Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.

 

Have you pledged yet?

As you may know, we are in the final days of our Pledge-A-Picketer drive, and we are hopeful that you, kind reader, are feeling generous and willing to make a pledge to benefit groups working on the frontlines everyday to improve access to abortion in Kentucky.

Please find a summary of how the fundraiser works below.  You can donate by filling out the form linked in the text if you want to pledge per protester this coming Saturday, or you can donate a flat amount with an easy click here:

 

Pledge-A-Picketer details:

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You pledge so much for each protester who shows up on the day before Mother’s Day (historically one of our largest protest days), we count the protesters, and the more of them there are, the more money we raise for escorts {vests, training costs, and other miscellany} and abortion access.

Make your pledge here. Donate.

Antis Say the Darndest Things

I was reminded of a joke recently that goes something like this:

Q: What do you call that fleshy thing that surrounds a fetus?
A: A woman.

Get it, cause you start thinking uterus, womb, etc. and I think sometimes that’s where the antis stop. They forget all about that other thing surrounding the fetus, but until science takes a few steps forward, you can’t have a womb without a woman.

Why was I thinking of this, you ask? The other day on the sidewalk a protestor and escort standing beside me were having a conversation. The protestor was saying he had four questions that would change the escort’s mind about abortion. Question #1: Do you think it’s ok to remove an elderly person from life support? Because if you don’t think it’s morally alright to do that then you can’t abort the fetus because, and I quote, “it’s the exact same thing, they’re both on life support, it’s exactly the same!”

The most charitable thought I can possibly give is that he doesn’t have a good grasp on the English language and confused exactly with not even f*#^ing close to. But then I thought of that joke and realized that he just didn’t see any difference between a life-support MACHINE and a female BODY. So for anyone else out there who might think his was a slam-dunk question, let me help you out with the subtle differences that make the situations so different as to not be in the same hemisphere.

Image

Really I believe I could have stopped at the photos. I think most people would look at those and go “Yeah that’s not the same thing at all,” but we’re not dealing with most people here. We’re dealing with people who focus solely on the fetus; the woman, if she enters into it at all, is just the means to an end. They have to throw in a few “we understand, we’re not judging you”s for the sake of appearance but in the end it’s statements like the one above that lay bare the true point of their mission.

I have no idea what questions #2 through 4 were because I had to walk away. I figure the protestor was so far off the mark with the first question (and that’s what he was leading with) the only thing that was going to change was my blood pressure number.

For the protestor, if you’re reading, you didn’t change my mind on abortion, but you had a huge affect on my view of your intelligence, compassion and understanding of the English language.

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REMINDER: It’s time for Pledge-A-Picketer!

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

Make your pledge here. Donate.

A Numbers Game

The escorts and clients hear lies coming from the anti’s all the time. The breast cancer link that doesn’t exist, the “fact” that 20% of all women who have abortions attempt suicide, the curious item about how the equipment the clinic uses is 27 times more powerful than your home vacuum cleaner (although the anti recently upped that to 29 times, I guess people weren’t being properly scared at the lower number). The list goes on and on. These are all attempts to scare and unnerve the clients but are easily dispelled with a little Google-fu. Lately though there have been a couple of examples of the antis lying to their own flock.

In a recent article by Matt Damico in the Southern Seminary Magazine he said “There are a number of Catholics and other individuals who also do sidewalk counseling – although the number of escorts usually outnumbers the pro-life volunteers . . .” (emphasis mine). I admit I was shocked to learn this, because I’ve been doing this for a while now and I could only remember a handful of times that the escorts weren’t outnumbered. Were my eyes deceiving me? I’ve been able to count for a long time now and am usually pretty adept at it, but why would this christian, who is so adamant that we follow God’s laws, bear false witness about what’s happening on the sidewalk.

Another escort noticed a Facebook post on the Abolitionist Society of Louisville, KY on Feb 1 that said “S4U [Speak for the Unborn] sidewalk counselors outnumbered deathscorts this morning at the child sacrifice center (a very rare thing).” (emphasis mine). This person nicely loopholed their way to get the numbers the way he or she wanted by counting only a specific group of anti while counting all of the escorts. This, of course, is a meaningless distinction to the clients. I doubt they arrive and notice the specific differences between the protestor factions. Like “wow, thank goodness the catholics/abolitionists/whatever group wasn’t protesting today or that would have been tough. Luckily all these other people yelling at me are like fluffy bunnies.”

Maybe this was a case of observational bias on my part though. Maybe I see more antis than escorts because of how it feels personally. So I decided to check the claims of these righteous people. Luckily for me the escorts keep a count of the number of escorts and the number of protestors that show up each day, so the information was readily available. I jumped in and started inputting the numbers and was unsurprised to learn that the opposite of what is being promoted here is true. I have gone through each month in 2013 (charts provided*) and found that out of 261 days that the clinic was open the escorts outnumbered the antis a whopping 11 days. Even when you add in the days when there were even numbers or when I didn’t have data to input (N/A) the difference is 205 to 56 days. So the “usually” and “rare thing” is actually the exact opposite of what was being put forth to the people reading these posts.

 

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 I think the reason for the lies still comes down to the same thing though – fear. Just like they try to get the clients to fear the procedure, fear the doctor, fear the “consequences” of the abortion, these people are lying to their own to get them to fear the scary evil deathscorts and give an impression of an oppressed, outnumbered, intimidated “sidewalk counselor”. To rally the troops and have a revival meeting on the sidewalk. After all, as I heard one protestor say, it’s not harassment if you’re doing it for Jesus. If you can harass with impunity it’s not a huge leap to justifying lying for Jesus.


 

*Monthly Charts

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Common Ground

 

On Twitter, there was a discussion about finding “common ground” with anti’s. An anti, who bills himself as a person who “helps pro-lifers be more persuasive and less weird when they communicate with pro-choice people” started this discussion.  

Some of the questions he was asking went along the lines of, “Is it right for boyfriends and parents to pressure women to have abortions?” and, “What do you think about abortion if the unborn has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome?” and, “Would you prefer that there were fewer abortions?”

Of course my response was, anyone who wants an abortion should have safe and legal access to it, period. His response, “Well, its hard to have a conversation about abortion if you start by assuming it should always be available.”

What?

Mr. Pro-Life speaker, you want to have a conversation on limiting abortion access and ultimately ending abortion. I do not.  We have no common ground.  We don’t have to have common ground.  It is OK.

More to the point, here are some pretty big reasons why we will never have common ground.

1. You want to make abortion illegal.  I do not

2. You want to put stipulations on abortion.  I do not.

3. “Counseling” is not a pro-active thing.  If you were really interested in counseling, a client would seek you out and come to you with questions and wanting to talk about options besides abortion.  We all know that isn’t how it goes. You chase clients down the street and shove flyers at them.  You yell at companions and (when applicable) insult their “masculinity” by telling them to “man up” and “bring your woman out of there”.  That isn’t counseling.

4. You want to make “pro-life people less weird”.  That is impossible.  Even if you rounded up all the anti-choice protesters and made them sit through one of your presentations, there would STILL be protesters that don’t listen and do what they want. There would still be protesters that get in people’s faces, stalk, and get physically violent. The harassment and the intimidation would continue, unabated. Therefore, common ground is pointless.

5. Something that may actually help “counselors” do some actual “counseling” on the sidewalk is a buffer zone. A buffer zone may discourage harassing behavior, while still allowing clients TO APPROACH YOU instead of the other way around when they want to talk about options.  That would be real counseling.  I wonder how many “pro-life counselors” would be ok with that type of arrangement?

At the end of this twitter exchange, the pro-lifer said “I’m just saying that on the night that the #abortionchat topic was on common ground, I found a ton of CG with @LouClinicEscort , but he or she couldn’t find one iota of common ground with me :-/”

My response was this “Anti’s like to make themselves victims on the sidewalk, even as they are harassing. But no, you are the victim here”.  Of course, it was all about his feelings.  Even as people that he supports push and yell and scream and don’t listen to constant, “NO, GO AWAY, LEAVE ME ALONE”. Of course, its MY fault that we couldn’t find any “common ground”

I don’t have any common ground with pro-lifers, much like I don’t have any common ground with rapists.  Stop harassing clients. Stop the guilt and shame.  Leave people alone to go to the doctor.  Period. Just go away.

(BTW, if you want to see some of the things we discussed on Twitter, I tweet @LouClinicEscort.  The “pro-life speaker” in this exchange was @JoshBrahm.  Or you can check out the hashtag #abortionchat)