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.}

A Random Act of Kindness

On gray, rainy mornings things tend to go askew. We spend our walks up the sidewalk being careful not to get poked with an antis’ umbrellas, dodging puddles, watching for clients and knowing that it is usually going to be a bit longer out in the weather. Accidents, traffic delays and poor visibility add extra time to the clients drive to downtown.

Inevitably, one or two of the clients will be running late. Extra pressure to find a close parking space and check in for their appointment time adds to the stress of the morning. Toss in a dozen or so protesters with Bibles, prayer beads, pamphlets  and multiple graphic signs to navigate around and things can really crank up the pressure for most clients.

This morning a late-arriving solo client hurriedly pulled into the parking lot of the crisis pregnancy center next door to EMW. She took the nearest open space, got out and fairly dashed down the sidewalk into the EMW without as much as acknowledging escorts or protesters alike.

We always advise parking at one of the paid lots or meters in the area. The privately-owned parking lot behind the CPC does not cost any money, but it is most certainly not free. Escorts are not allowed on their private property to let the clients know this is not the abortion clinic. We feel helpless as we watch clients who upon realizing their error try to leave. The people from the center come out to greet them and manage to loiter in the way; prohibiting access for  them to move their car and leave, while “counseling” them, sometimes to the point of tears. One of the more vocal women has even stood in the way of a client shutting her car door unless they slammed her with the door in the process.

AWC Parking Lot

AWC Parking Lot

In her rush to get parked and into the clinic, this client parked a little too close to the cars along the front of their building. A person from AWC approached the escorts and stated that the car was blocking a staffer’s car and the client had to come out to move it right then. We all felt that this was a two-fold issue. Of course the car might be in the way if the other driver had to leave immediately, but with a tiny bit of maneuvering once the car next to it left they would be able to get out with ease. We thought the other reason was they did not get an opportunity to “counsel” her with their views on what is the right choice for her.

Were we thinking too deep into their ulterior motives maybe?

I went into the clinic waiting room and quietly explained the situation to the client. She looked up with a clipboard full of papers and a pained look on her face and said “I’m already late. I just don’t think I can go back out there and listen to them say those things to me again. Can you please move it if I give you the keys?”  “I will try,” I told her. “They can be very hostile and uncompromising with escorts.”

A quick decision was made to take off my vest and not represent the escorts. I would go as an average person on request of the owner to move their vehicle. Keys in hand, I walked down the sidewalk to the parking lot. At their property line I was met by several staffers from the CPC. I explained the client asked me to please move her car as she was busy filling out paperwork and already running late. A reasonable person would have understood the situation. After all, the goal was to move the car out of the way ASAP. Right?

“No, absolutely not, that would not be a good idea. She must move it,”  I was told. Were they afraid I was going to go on a bumper car style spree and damage other vehicles on the way out of the parking lot? Perhaps key a few doors for the fun of it on the way past?  Were they concerned about the liability of letting someone other than the owner drive the car?

No, of course not. They did not want me to move it because they wanted another chance to talk to the client. They can talk to me all they please. I don’t engage. I don’t care what they have to say. It has no impact on my life or who I am as a person. Their opinions of me matter not one bit.

As I walked back up the sidewalk I talked with the other escorts about how to best prepare her for moving the car with the least amount  of conversation and stress for her. At the same time I was thinking in the back of my mind, what sadistic pleasure do these people get out of harassing people with their tactics?

I went back into the waiting room and explained to her that they would not permit me to move the car for her. They asked that she be the one that moved it. With that, a tall man seated behind us stood up and said that he had overheard the entire conversation and he would move the car for us. He explained the CPC staffers would have nothing to say to him. With that statement, I think I heard the whole waiting room exhale in relief.

She quickly agreed and we gave him the keys. I walked back with him to show him which car it was and where to best park it for her. As we turned the corner, the staffers turned with anticipation only to be surprised as this gentleman purposefully walked over to the car, got in, started it up and left. I could barely suppress a smile as I thought of this man, who did not know either one of us, stepping in with one small gesture that spoke volumes of his compassion for others in times of need.

Thank you sir, whoever you are. Your simple act of moving a stranger’s car meant more than many of us could convey that morning.

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:

scinewscycle

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 ~~

Consider Adoption?

A friend of mine who has adopted two children posted this on Facebook recently:

It is amazing what complete strangers will ask/infer/question/etc. I always answer for my kids ears (never for the stranger), but I sometimes have fun with replies when they are out of earshot.

Some of my favorites:
- Does he speak English? Me, puzzled look, “ummm…he’s a baby”
- Do they know they were adopted? Me, puzzled look, “ummmm???” (note a theme?)
- Does he look like his father? Me: “More like the FedEx Man” (FedEx delivered the adoption paperwork…and kiddo was out of earshot). She gave me a nasty look, but maybe she has since stopped questioning strangers about their family makeup? You’re welcome. LOL
- Random woman: Are they really brothers?

- Me: “They sure are!”

- Random woman: No, really…are they REALLY brothers?

- Me: “Yep!”

- Random woman: I mean, are they from the same family?

- Me: “Yes, we just live one street over.”

Since she was not going to stop, I finally said something about how my kids’ stories are theirs to tell and I like to honor their privacy.

And two of my favorites…
-How much did he COST?
- Why didn’t his mother want him?
(I have to channel Gandhi, King, Dorothy Day and more when I get these).

I read it, and laughed, of course.  Good grief, the things people say!  I admired the way my friend protects her children from as much of the ridiculousness as she can.

But it made me think about that one couple that used to come to the clinic.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know the one I mean.  The couple that used to bring their babies to the clinic.  They were chasers, and they’d strap the babies on – one for each of them – facing forward, so the people heading for the clinic couldn’t miss seeing them.

Cute babies, both of them, with big brown eyes that always looked a bit worried.  I guess the babies were four or five months old when they started bringing them and I bet they were over a year old when they quit coming.

You can see the video here if you want to.  But essentially the man would say.

“My son was abandoned on the side of the road the day after he was born, by his mother, to die.  And what youall are going in here to do is the same thing, you’re bringing a child to die.  And there’s families that would be willing to adopt this child

And the woman would say:

I know you might be having a hard time right now, but there’s options, you wouldn’t have to raise this child, there would be a family that would love the child.  I love my adopted child no less than I love my own…

They said those same things over and over, and I cringed every time the Dad talked about his son being abandoned by his mother to die.  Maybe it was true – or maybe the mother died giving birth – or maybe some agency made it up to garner sympathy.  I cringed because he was saying it in front of the child, and I would imagine those words, repeated over and over, seeping into that child’s heart.

I cringed every time the mother said she loved her adopted child no less than *her own.*  I’m sure she did, but watching her daughter listen to her, and knowing this mother thought in terms of her biological children being *her own,* made me sad.

I’m so glad they don’t come anymore – it’s been years now.  I hope they realized that it was harmful for their children, and I hope those children are growing up healthy and happy.  But you can see how my friend’s post on Facebook made me think of them, her concern was such a vivid contrast to the parents using their babies like props at the clinic.

If you listen to the protesters, you might think that lots of people change their minds and choose adoption.  Actually, the percentage of unintended pregnancies that end with adoption is one percent.  Not one percent of people who consider abortion, not one percent of people who make an appointment at the clinic.  One percent of all unintended pregnancies end in adoption.*

Seems unlikely that any of our antis who offer to “adopt your child myself” are going to get any takers, doesn’t it?

I’m not against adoption, you know.  It’s not so much like the old days, when I was in high school, and pregnant girls dropped out and “went away.”  That was fairly awful.  These days, I think there is less stigma and shame, and the prevalence of open adoptions or partially open adoptions make it a bit different proposition.  But most of the people coming to the clinic have already considered their options and made a decision.  Tormenting them at the last minute is just not helpful.

Someone accused me recently of showing “utter hatred…for anyone who stands in opposition to your opinion.”   I had to think about that – I had to check myself.  Are they right? Do I hate the protesters?

And I realized – no.  I don’t hate them.

Not Donna, not Nurse Betty, or Ron.  Not Screaming Preacher or the guy that always walks backwards in front of clients.  Not Andrew – whose wife has had the baby, which is understandably exciting for them.   (And I’d be real happy for them, if he’d quit telling the clients that they can be as happy with their baby as he and his wife are with theirs if they just walk out now.)   But I don’t hate him, or the anti-evolution preacher, or the one that used to be gay.  I don’t hate any of them.

I hate that they’re at the clinic.

I hate lots of the things they say and do.  But once they’re gone – if they quit coming down to torment the clients and companions – I won’t have any bad feelings about them at all.  Like the couple with the adopted children – I wish them well, and want only good things for them and their children.  Even  if I am one of those evil, baby-killing, Satan’s helper, Deathscorts…

~~ fml221 ~~

* Between 38-50% of all pregnancies are unintended.

P.S.  As my first commenter, Sara, points out, I have ignored the ethical issues with adoption that continues to exist, so I’m adding a link to this excellent article by RH Reality Check about the problem and some effort at solutions.  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2010/06/22/adoption-abortioncommon-ground-mistake/

Religion and Shame

On the Saturday before Christmas, it rained.  A torrential downpour that left me drenched –  escorts don’t use umbrellas here.  They take up too much space and become like weapons on the sidewalk.  Usually, my rain gear keeps me pretty dry ~ this particular Saturday, not so much.  But at least it wasn’t snow.

This is from a different week, but it still looks like this...

This is from a different week, but it still looks like this…

We had about 40 protesters,  I think the rain kept some away, because the Saturday before Christmas is often much busier.    Theme for the day was - “God is watching you!”  Maybe that was in the anti-handbook for the week.  Several of the pray-ers in the  gauntlet would yell it at the clients as we went by.  A couple of chasers, and some of the preachers, were using it.  “God is watching you!”

That baffles me.  The client either believes in a God who is “watching them” or not – if not, then it’s no threat, if they do, then they’ve already come to terms with it.  Pointing a finger and screaming, “God is watching you!” doesn’t seem very productive.

But then I remember it’s not actually about being helpful or productive.  Sigh.  After a while,  I couldn’t help thinking it was a bit like “You better watch out, you better not cry…  Santa Claus is coming to town.”   I know, that’s just wrong, but it went through my head.  Unfortunately, more than once.

I think my perception of Christians has become warped by the fundamentalists I see on the sidewalk.  I’m not an atheist.  I know that groups like Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Catholics for Choice are Christians who support access to reproductive health care.   Yet I find myself sneering at “the Christians.”

I laugh at the Protestant preacher on his soap box who chastises us for being baby-killers – and for believing in evolution.  I shake my head at the Catholics with their rosaries in hand, as they pause their prayers to yell  at the women walking through their gauntlet of shame.

I remind myself that these people don’t represent all Christians.  But I hear myself say things that sound radically anti-religion.  And I wonder if I’m offending Christian escorts, or people who read the blog.  I don’t know.  That’s not ever my intention.

But ~ good grief ~ when people show up and yell “God is watching you!” at women going to the doctor, it’s hard not to feel a bit contemptuous.  

That same day, some of us escorts were standing on the corner of First Street when a truck pulls up.  The light turns red, and one of the men in the truck rolls down the window. {For a breath holding moment we wait… – will he thank us? shoot us?}   He says, “Aren’t you ashamed of what you’re doing?”

Relieved, and a bit amused, I shake my head, no.  Another escort says, “No, we’re not.”

So of course the guy in the truck says, “Well you should be!  You should be ashamed of what you’re doing!  Out here murdering babies…”

The light changes and they drive on.  But it’s a good reminder – the antis are selling shame – finger pointing, self-righteous shame. It’s not about religion, it’s about control.  And shame.

Just because they’re promoting it doesn’t mean anyone has to buy it.   If I could, I would tell the clients – the ones who pull their hoods up and try to hide from the antis’ meanness – I would tell them ~

“Don’t ~  don’t let them do this to you.   They don’t know you, they don’t know anything about you – don’t let them sell you this load of guilt and shame.”

But I can’t do that – once the client is there at the clinic, all I can really do is walk with them. So I’ll say it here and hope we all spread the word.

One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime.  More people are speaking out about their experience.  Those of us who may not be the one in three need to speak out too.  We need to let people know that we support the right to the full range of reproductive healthcare and family planning.

~~ fml221 ~~

A black glove

When I was escorting about two weeks ago a black glove was found on the sidewalk, a group of clients had just entered the clinic and at first several escorts turned to each other holding the glove and asking if any of us had lost it. No? I went inside with it to ask this time if any of the clients were missing a black glove, I held it up. No.

When I got back outside I stood in front of the doors and asked once more. Ah, yes, the protestor who is so very rude to me was the owner of the glove, “Are you sure you don’t want to just go ahead and keep it?” she sneered.

I was shocked, was I being rude? Had I inadvertently said something awful to her when offering her the glove? No. “Excuse me? What do you mean?”I said as she put on her gloves and straightened her shoulders, “Well, you know, you’re just gonna get in trouble. No good deed goes unpunished.” she said as she looked at me over her spectacles. First of all, what a terribly rude and cynical thing to say, lady, you’re looking way too much into me just giving you back what you dropped when you were harassing people and trying to hand them a tiny plastic fetus, okay?

Its important to take a breath and realize why I’m there. I’m not there to discuss politics, religion, or how to be a decent human being with protestors, I’m there for the clients. To delve so deep into the meaning of every footfall and side glance of an anti is counterproductive and unhealthy for me. That being said, if it seems to distract the antis from harassing clients even for a few minutes, then I will gladly take their negative comments.

It makes me sad though, that these people believe that evil permeates us to the point wherein common courtesy (aka returning your glove) is something unfathomable for us to do. Once again, calm down, and maybe take this basic situation as a lesson that we are not evil, and perhaps a reality check is necessary?

-Anarchist Bee

Selective deafness

After escorting now and then for the last three months, although less now in cold weather (arthritis would do that), there is an observation I would like to share with y ‘all.

You know I am deaf, right? That means, on the sidewalk, I could stand there at the property line, ensuring that clients are able to come in a safe zone, and not hear or understand what antis could tell me. You wouldn’t believe how much antis would try to get me to understand what they say, from spelling out certain words to showing me images. You can’t blame them for their efforts; they certainly reinforce their belief that I am ‘deaf and dumb’; not knowing what I am doing on the sidewalk.

But that’s not what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about selective deafness.

As quoted in Wikipedia and psychological research, Selective auditory attention, selective deafness or selective hearing is a type of selective attention and involves the auditory system of the nervous system. Selective hearing does not involve the sounds that are not heard. However, it is characterized the action in which people focus their attention on a specific source of a sound or spoken words. The sounds and noise in the surrounding environment is heard by the auditory system but certain parts of the auditory information are processed in the brain only. Most often, selective auditory attention is directed at things people would like to hear, or not hear.

In other words, people practice selective hearing when they choose certain spoken words, to reinforce their own beliefs. People in this case, are there to talk, but not to listen- they are there to tell you what they think, feel and judge, being selectively deaf, not listening to the other person speaking .

Let me use two examples:

A client came by with her husband; with a wanted pregnancy. However, the fetus was already dead (no heartbeat), and so they came to get an abortion. The antis flocked over them, yelling at them “Don’t kill your baby.” Never minding that the husband had shouted that the baby was already dead. Can you imagine the anguish of the couple, who wanted a baby, grieving the loss of the child already, being told they are murderers?

That’s selective deafness. Antis chose not to listen; they reinforce their own belief that what they do and judge is right, never mind God said “not to judge lest you be judged.”

Second, when antis shout out there is “free diapers, free resources, free help, don’t kill your baby”, at clients coming in; they are refusing to heed what clients say, Don’t’ bother me! Leave me alone.” They do not know, or do not want to know why the client is getting the procedure. It’s all black and white to them. Domestic violence? He’ll beat you up more if you kill your baby! Can’t afford another baby? Give it up for adoption! We’ll help you- free resources! Rape? Not baby’s fault; it’s your fault for letting it happen.

Selective deafness. Antis choose what they want to hear and see, determining themselves as saviors and heroes. If they save a child or two, never mind that the child may end up experiencing neglect, physical or sexual abuse later, or even being murdered as a child. Recently in the news, there have been findings that 41 children were killed in care of family or caregivers during 2008 in Kentucky. Almost 270 children were killed in the last ten years; not by accident, but from abuse, neglect and violence. Children are coming in and out of homes, evidence of wounds on their bodies, malnutrition and/or fear in their eyes. Where I work, I have seen children trembling, reluctantly letting go of my hand, as they return to homes that should be safe, but aren’t. The children protective services are a joke, especially for disabled children, but that’s for another post. And the antis call us murderers and abusers? They ought to look in the mirror.

Selective deafness is very dangerous in the ‘sake’ of helping, but causing destruction.

And they think me being deaf is worse? At least, I still hear from my heart and listen with open arms and mind.