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.

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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)

Subtle, but not very….

Emotions can run high on the sidewalk, even though it may not always be outwardly visible.  If anything, escorts do our best to keep things “normal”.  “Normal”, at least in my estimation, is walking to the doctor’s office with as little drama or personal space violation as possible.  You  know, like walking down any other sidewalk on any other street would be. That is the goal.  Minimal nonsense and maximum expediency to the door for the client.

Enter the anti’s.  Their goal is disruption.  Their tools are harassment, shame, and outrageous statements, but their main goal is to stop the client from walking into the abortion clinic. The shame and nonsense that comes out of their mouths is their most obvious weapon. “Don’t kill your baby. That baby will look just like you.  Young man, we are called to protect women, stand up for her.”  The litany goes on and on. Their most subtle, and in my opinion the most insidious thing that anti’s do is they themselves get “emotional”.  Their voices rise and their voices break and they beg and cry and implore.  They also put their bodies in front of the clients and the escorts to impede walking down the sidewalk. “But this is a BAAAAAYYYBBEEEEEEE” is a favorite of the anti that we call “The Cryer”.  She often trails behind the clients and wails at their backs. As soon as the client is in the clinic, however, she and others are back on the sidewalk chatting with their fellow protesters.  It is so ridiculous for them to be so dialed in and emotional one second, then completely composed the next.  It seems fake and a pantomime of someone who actually cares.  Not only faking the emotion, but then throwing it into a strangers face.

Another “tactic” that the preaching protesters like to use is while crying and wailing for the unborn, they assign innocence or guilt to a fetus that deserves neither.  They plead constantly for the “innocent baby that you are going to kill” and in the next breath “God will judge you guilty of murder”.  They talk about the “innocence of the baby in the womb” then “At our birth we are bound for hell.” The double talk that goes on with the sidewalk preachers is constant and ridiculous.  Save the baby so it will be bound for hell unless it does what we say.  Yeah. Subtle, but not very.

Back on the Sidewalk Again

I’d been gone for three Saturdays in a row, so I was (almost) glad to be back on the sidewalk.  I had missed my escort friends, and the satisfying sense of doing some good work.

I had not missed this:

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It’s hard to see (it was dark) but you may notice that the uterus holding that fetus is apparently free-floating.  I didn’t know they could do that, I thought they had to be inside a woman, but perhaps I was wrong?  After all, we are just hosts for the fetus, right?

Host:  2.  An animal or plant on or in which a parasite or commensal organism lives.

Commensal organism:  1.  A symbiotic relationship between two organisms of different species in which one derives some benefit while the other is unaffected.

Parasite:  1. an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.

Sigh… it really creeps me out.

Then I look across the street and see this:

IMG_3303Yes, that’s the Kentucky Bible College, coming on down to share their gospel music (almost on key today) and their fetal-porn signs.  Here they are, at the end of the morning:

IMG_3306And here:

IMG_3305Fetal porn at its best/worst.  They are facing the window of the clinic waiting room, right by the property line.  See how their feet line up behind that one row?  The guy whose feet are just a tad in front of the others felt compelled a couple of times to hold his sign over the line – petty bullish*t.

The blogger we know as Eeyore comments that:

The bible schoolers seem to have decided that if a companion has their arm around a client or helps them to the clinic door it is coercion and the client is being forced to get the abortion. One kept saying “If you’re so alright with what you’re doing why won’t you look at my poster, why are you hiding?” I found that to be rather arrogant, like every eye on the sidewalk should focus on him or it’s a sign of their guilt. No, maybe people just don’t care about you or what you have to say.

The “why are you hiding” guy is REALLY loud.  In fact, the Bible-schoolers dominate the sidewalk by the door, leaving our regulars, like Donna, relatively quiet.  Well, with some exceptions.  For example, Ron (the one who read my mother’s obit to me) is always active. Eeyore says:

Ron gave me and couple of other escorts “a stern talking to about how we’re so negative all the time, why don’t we try to be positive and uplifting.” He had to pause a moment to tell a woman she was a murderer and going to hell.

Then there were some new green-vested-chasers (sounds like a bird, doesn’t it?) but they were quieter than the old hands and not quite as obnoxious.  Some protesters had questions -

“How much do you get paid to do this? How much is your soul worth?”

That one makes me laugh, since you couldn’t pay me to do this, I would only do it for free.  As for my soul – I’m earning points for heaven, showing compassion and care for the clients at the clinic, don’t ya think?  So whether I believe in God and heaven and hell or not, I’m not worried about it.

The question of the day, however, was “What if…?”

What if your mother had aborted you?

Do you have children?  What if you had aborted your children?

Hmmmm – thinking, thinking, thinking – oh!  I know the answer – me, me, call on me!

If my mother had aborted me, I wouldn’t be here to worry about it!  And the sun would still rise and set, the world would still be spinning on its axis, and that would be ok.

If I had aborted my children – um, they wouldn’t be my children.  My life would be different, the sun would still rise and set, the world would still be spinning on its axis, and that would be ok.

That just seems silly to me, you know?   Do they think I’m suddenly going to have a revelation and say, “OMG!  That could have been ME????  Or MY CHILDREN????  THAT would have been a tragedy- so NO one should EVER have an abortion, because (if everything were different,) it could have been ME or MY children?”

Good grief.

Backwards-walker likes to point out that if my mother had showed up on the sidewalk at the clinic, he would have argued with her to save me just as strenuously as he does everyone else.  That makes me smile.

Um, am I supposed to be grateful that he wouldn’t have wanted my mother to abort me?  Or impressed that he’s so “Christian” he would want even (evil, baby-killing) me to be born?  Oh, but wait – he wouldn’t have known it was “me,” so – nope, that doesn’t even make sense.

Oh, that’s right – it doesn’t have to make sense…

Yep, it was good to be back.  Most of the nonsense rolled off me today.  The antis were glad to see me back (not) but they did notice – I heard Ponytail Guy mutter something about “Satan’s Little Helper is back,” which is about as warm and fuzzy as you can expect a protester to get.

At the end of the day, I noticed this sign, also from AHA (Abolish Human Abortion)

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And I thought, yes.  So true.  I could have mentally added some sarcastic comments, but I’ll let you make up your own…

I thought I was going to blog about some other stuff today.  I could have talked about how it seems like things are heating up on the sidewalk.  I could have talked about the Right to Life convention that’s coming in June, or the 40 Days for Life thing that starts next week.   I could have promoted the National Bowl-a-Thon fund-raiser that’s coming up in April, and encouraged you to start a team or make a donation.  But really, I think just talking about my first day back was quite enough…

Clinic Escort Stories (FtBCon2)

Groups of clinic escorts are popping up all over the country.  The ESM group in Louisville has been here for a long time, other clinics are just now getting escorts.   We are beginning to work together – comparing notes, problem-solving, and supporting each other from New Jersey to Louisiana, Kentucky to California, and many places in between.

At this year’s FreeThoughtBlog virtual convention, a group of clinic escorts get together to talk about their experience on the sidewalk.  The Louisville escorts aren’t at the table in person, but Brianne Bilyeu (who has visited us before) uses the game one of our escorts created to structure part of the discussion.   If you haven’t read – or played - Sidewalk Bingo yet, I encourage you to check it out.

And enjoy the video:

{We’re working on a transcript of the video.   It’s a 50 minute video – we have 25 minutes done, and I’m hoping to do another five minutes tonight or in the morning.   If you want to contribute a little time as a transcriptionist, let me know and I’ll assign you a 5 minute segment (more or less, depending on your preference.}

Assumptions

I’ve been a clinic escort for almost a year now. In this time, I have heard a lot of assumptions being made on the sidewalk. Protesters frequently make assumptions about clients and companions based on their age (assuming that the youngest woman in a group is the one obtaining the abortion), ethnicity (assuming that a client doesn’t speak English because of their appearance), and clothing (one protester routinely shouts “God is watching!” to women who enter the clinic, but shouted “Allah is watching!” to a client who was wearing a head scarf). Protesters also make broad assumptions about the reasons behind a client’s behavior. If a woman is crying, they assume that she must be crying because she knows that abortion is wrong, or because the escorts are making her cry. I would argue that it’s more likely that she’s crying because the protesters are crowding up next to her as she walks down the sidewalk, saying cruel things to her, or holding up graphic signs. The reality, however, is that none of us except the client knows why the client is upset. It’s best to not make assumptions.

The protesters’ assumptions range from infuriating (such as the ones I described above) to ridiculous (my favorite assumption is that the female clinic escorts are lesbians who have had abortions). One morning, I overheard one protester making some wild assumptions about probability. She rattled off the figure that one in four pregnancies end in a miscarriage[1]. And then she said that since there were four clients standing in the lobby (you can see where she’s going with this!)…that one of them must be miscarrying. A few fellow escorts and I had a good laugh about it later. How silly this protester was to extrapolate a finding (one in four pregnancies) to women (one in four women), and then to extrapolate even further to make a bold claim about a specific group of four women who were standing in the clinic!

But wait a minute. Isn’t it time we turned the mirror back on ourselves (pro-choice individuals) and examined our own claims to see if we might be making similar assumptions?

That’s right – I’m talking about the “1 in 3” slogan: “1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime!” If you’ve been involved in discussions about abortion, you’ve probably heard this figure. A quick Google search reveals an entire website devoted to this figure. I’ve heard fellow pro-choice individuals quote this figure or even use it to make generalizations about particular groups of women, such as suggesting that one-third of a given group of women will have an abortion.

I’ll be honest – things that fit nicely into a sound bite make me skeptical. So I did some investigating.

The “1 in 3” figure comes from a very legitimate, well-conducted study that was published in an peer-reviewed scientific journal. However, a close reading of the study reveals that there are very important caveats that are associated with this figure. This is true of any scientific study! I am not implying that the findings from this study are false or fraudulent in any manner. Rather, I am emphasizing the need to speak appropriately about the study’s findings, and not extrapolate too far.  Otherwise, you get this:

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http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1174

So, what does this study actually say? The researchers report that the data were collected by surveying women who were obtaining abortions during a particular time period. Because it’s impossible to survey every single woman who obtains an abortion, they (carefully, and appropriately) surveyed a large sample of women from clinics so that they could make inferences about a population (women in the United States). The researchers used estimates of first-abortion rates within specific age groups to estimate the lifetime incidence of abortion. To quote: “The cumulative first-abortion rate increases with age, and women aged 40 and older had a rate of 300.9 per 1,000 women. Put differently, an estimated 30.1% of women aged 15–44 in 2008 will have an abortion by age 45 if exposed to prevailing abortion rates throughout their reproductive lives.”  The researchers appropriately highlight the limitations for this finding: “Underreporting of abortions is common on nationally representative surveys of women. Our analysis assumes that women obtaining abortions were more likely to report previous terminations, but even in this clinical setting some patients may have failed to report them. This would mean that the estimate of the lifetime incidence of abortion is artificially high.” (Emphasis added by me, not the researchers).

Hm, that’s a lot to digest. It’s hard to imagine quoting the entire above passage when having a discussion about abortion prevalence. It’s a lot shorter to say “1 in 3 women will have an abortion.” And I understand – caveats and limitation aren’t sexy. It’s tempting to want a sound bite, something that surprises people and makes them sit up and pay attention. But misusing research findings, even unintentionally, does nothing to further our cause. It is misleading to assume that one-third of a given group of women (such as a group of female protesters standing on the sidewalk) will have an abortion, or that one-third of your friends will have an abortion. I am not implying that anyone who has used the “1 in 3” figure when discussing abortion has been intentionally trying to twist the facts or mislead people. What I am saying is that there are a lot of critical limitations to consider with research – things that don’t fit cleanly into sound bites or onto posters.

So what CAN we take away from this research? Rather than use the findings from this study to estimate how many of the women in our lives will have an abortion, perhaps it is more important (or more productive) to highlight the study’s finding that abortion is not limited to a specific group of women. These data reflect what escorts see on the sidewalk – women from all walks of life have abortions. Married women and unmarried women, women from various ethnic groups, women who are very young and women who are not so young, women of various socioeconomic statuses, women who already have children and women who do not have children. And women of various religious affiliations have abortions; the majority of women who had an abortion 2008 were religiously affiliated (yes, this even includes individuals who identified as Catholic and fundamentalist/born-again Protestant!). These findings resonate with an escort’s goal to not make assumptions about the cars who pull up to the curb at the clinic. Even if there is a pro-life sticker on the bumper, or a rosary hanging from the rear view mirror, the passengers in the car may still be seeking an abortion. Abortion is something that is chosen by a wide variety of women. Therefore, it’s certainly possible that someone in your life has had or will have an abortion, regardless of their life circumstances or demographic. You just can’t say (with certainty) that one-third of the women in your life have had or will have an abortion.

Finally, I want to make one additional point. In my reading of the study, there is one finding that truly stands out to me, but that seems to have been overshadowed by the “1 in 3” estimate. Although overall abortion rates declined approximately 8% from 2000 to 2008, there was one subgroup of women for whom abortion rates increased (by approximately 17%): women living in poverty. Given the significant financial burdens associated with abortion, we should be alarmed by this finding. The researchers suggest that legislative action aimed at restricting access to contraception, including abortion, may have an especially detrimental impact on women in poverty. I agree.

Anti-choice individuals make more than enough assumptions when it comes to abortion. We don’t need to be making any more. I propose that we extend our “don’t make assumptions” sidewalk policy to our general conversations about abortion. We will be most effective when we speak clearly and appropriately about the research on abortion – no assumptions needed.


[1] I was curious about the “one in four” claim and dug a little further.  It seems that estimates of miscarriage rates vary a bit, and recent research suggests that it’s fairly nuanced.

Buffer Zone Laws

I’m sure you already know the Supreme Court is debating whether or not buffer zone laws are legal for abortion clinics, or if they violate the First Amendment.  I’m a bit disheartened and already tired of reading about it ~ tired of worrying about it.

I am afraid we’re going to lose this one.

Not that it makes any difference, here in Louisville.  We don’t have a buffer zone , and absolutely no expectation of getting one.  So my level of frustration and anger about the way this is going may be inordinately high.

It’s frustrating that the media acts like the protesters are just a few elderly women, gently “counseling” the clients as they pass by.  Maybe that’s what it’s like in Massachusetts.    In Louisville, we don’t just have a couple of “harmless old ladies.”  In Louisville, even our “old ladies” aren’t particularly harmless – they can be mean, nasty and physically aggressive.  The rest of our protesters are the poster children for “Reasons to have Buffer Zones.”

350-reasons-why

If the buffer zone law is overturned, think about how much louder, more verbally aggressive, and more obnoxious our protesters may become.  I know, that’s  hard to imagine, but it could happen.  And they’ll be cocky about it.  You know they will.

Sigh…

But that’s not what really gets me.  What really gets me is that IT’S NOT FAIR!  People SHOULD NOT have to put up with being harassed and being intimidated on the way to the doctor.  It’s WRONG!!  They should feel safe – and be safe!  The court is SUPPOSED to PROTECT people!!

{I think I mentally stomp my foot a couple of times while I’m thinking that, which is about as close to a tantrum as I get.  In real life, I might throw in the F-word too. Supposed to FRIGGING protect people!!}

Then this annoyingly reasonable voice in my head says, “Right, it’s not fair, life’s not fair, the fair comes in August, blah, blah, blah.”   That same voice says, “It would be nice if the court were able to protect people, and keep them from being harassed and intimidated, but that may not happen.  If it doesn’t – if they overturn the buffer zone laws, what can we do to push back?”

Sigh.  Ok, if I have to be reasonable… here’s what we do.

We keep working on the laws.  We keep fighting the injustices that are introduced in the legislature over and over.  We keep finding ways to support people who need abortions, financially, by helping with transportation and interpreters and childcare.  We keep speaking out to reduce stigma.

But on the sidewalk (where it’s going to be a delightful 19 degrees tomorrow morning) how do we stay focused, how do we continue to be ok, no matter what happens?  What do we offer the clients ~ the ones who pull their hoods up, the ones who cry, the ones who laugh, and the ones who yell at the protesters as we walk with them?

Sigh…

We do the same thing we’ve been doing; we offer the same thing we’ve been offering.  A calm, supportive presence.

It doesn’t matter what they do.  It doesn’t matter if there are buffer zones or not, it doesn’t matter if the protesters are meaner, uglier and nastier than they’ve ever been before.  All we have to do is be there.

All we have to do is hold space for the clients to be empowered as they walk to the clinic.  To work to de-escalate situations.  To stay calm, purposeful and focused.    Just like we try to do every week.

I’ll carry those words tomorrow like a mantra.  Hold space for the client to be empowered… De-escalate situations… Stay calm, purposeful and focused…  It won’t be easy, but I can do that.

support in a vortex

before the inception of this blog, we escorts were essentially existing in a vacuum.  we had minimal support from the clinic we volunteer outside of, and very little connection to those who escorted before us.  we had no idea what protesting looked like at clinics in other places, or how bad we really had it here.

since ESM’s birth (how old is this blog now?) we have had the privilege of meeting and working with access advocates from all over the US, and even abroad.  for us bible belters, it’s been very encouraging to no longer feel so isolated, and it’s impossible to quantify the value of the connections that have been made in these last… (fine, i’ll go check) …SIX years!  Our methods on and off of the sidewalk have changed immensely, and our numbers have grown shockingly.  lots has changed in the 14 years i’ve been escorting, and especially since this blog has been helping spread the word (go ‘head internet) but lots has stayed the same as well.

some things we can always count on:

  • oppressive legislation – take action!
  • uninformed assumptions from protesters
  • misleading promises of loving adoptions and paid expenses
  • sickening use of children as political tools
  • and (more to the point of this post) a post holiday break rush at clinics across the states

now, i apologize for not having awesome links for each of my bullets, but you’re a smart reader who has possibly seen these things first hand, or at least read about them here, or somewhere else, (plus i know you know how to use google).  yep, most of those are fairly well known things, EXCEPT maybe for the last one.  I can’t remember how long ago we put it together that there is a reason why we see an increase in client load starting in January, and lasting through March… it’s the same reason why there are more babies born in spring and summer months than other times of year.  starting in the late fall, folks get snuggly, and no matter how lively the football season is, there are other indoor (undercover) activities that folks tend to pass the time with… (ok, i know you get it, and as much as i may want to, i won’t fill a whole blog post with sexual innuendo.)

this year, i am learning more about how this pregnancy rush affects people, and that escorts and clinic staff are not the only ones feeling the squeeze from higher client numbers.  In the last year I became a volunteer for one of two organizations here in Kentucky that provide support for people seeking abortions and facing barriers to access.  this work has given me new insights to the hurdles people face before they even get to the sidewalk, including, but not limited to a lack of funds to cover the procedure, which is more expensive here than at most other clinics.

the group i volunteer with (which has chosen to not be mentioned here for security reasons – funny how stigma works, huh?) started to see an increase in calls for assistance right as 2014 arrived, and in just two weeks, the caseload has just about tripled from what we were seeing before the holidays (and these are mostly pregnancies that began in October… so we’re not even hearing from people who got pregnant over christmas break, or during the recent POLAR VORTEX yet).  so, as we’ve been scrambling to support people as they seek funding for their abortions, we’ve reached out to other groups doing similar work, as well as the clinic here, at which point we learned that not only does this rush happen every year, but it almost always depletes the funds available for this type of support.

this brings me to my point, which is that until abortion is not only legal, but is truly accessible and AFFORDABLE – on demand and without apology –  those of us with more privilege than other folks (and if you’re reading this on a computer that is not at a library, let’s assume you have more privilege than a number of folks in your community) have a responsibility to do what we can to support people facing barriers to access, until we can do away with the barriers.  i don’t mean to imply that donating to an abortion fund is the only way to offer support, but for many folks it as an easy way to make a difference.

if you’d like to donate to one of our local abortion funds, you can send a contribution via PayPal to everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com.  include a note about funding abortion, and i’ll be sure it gets where it needs to go.

to learn more about abortion funds, check out http://www.fundabortionnow.org/

A World Without Buffer Zones…

Aside

Just wanted to suggest you check out this blog post by Robin Marty in Think Progress.  Entitled “Abortion Is Still Legal — But Soon, The Supreme Court May Make It Much Harder To Get One,” the article describes our situation outside the EMW clinic as the example of just how bad it can get.   Worth reading.

~~ fml221 ~~