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.

What To Do When They Come To You~by KYBorn

Some months ago, I had the pleasure of having an article from ESM picked up by She Who Shall Not Be Named and the other one who likes to run around investigating child sexual abuse at abortion clinics, but never Catholic Churches. Against better advice, I slipped on over to both sites to read exactly what they thought of me and my opinions. It doesn’t matter what they said. Most of it has dissolved into a blur of useless stupidity that floats through my mind once in awhile.

One thing that was said, and I will admit imagining her making this comment in a snotty, high-pitched superior voice, was that when the great fall out comes and a woman finds herself pregnant or a man or woman regret an abortion they KNOW they won’t come to us pro-aborts. They will of course throw themselves on the mercy of those blessed saints at CPCs who will guide them through a healing process, even though they don’t have any legit counseling credentials. Now, not that you need these to run a peer support group. If these people were up front about this being peer counseling the same way AA is then I wouldn’t criticize them. OK, I wouldn’t criticize them as much.

But, back to the topic at hand. Most antis seem to think that the second a friend confides in an unwanted pregnancy we tie her up and drag her off to the nearest abortion clinic when we all know this simply isn’t true. I have had many people, close friends and not close friends, come to me with “crisis” pregnancies (many of which were carried to term with exactly no help from the local CPC even when asked),.I wanted to share a few of the things I have learned from this process, as well as what I have learned for those who deal with regret after an abortion

When talking about an unexpected pregnancy, these are things I learned:

  • Find out if this is a wanted pregnancy right away. Some women know they want an abortion the second that test shows two lines. Ask her directly. Reassure her that you care and want to help regardless. Tell her you are not there to judge but you are there to help as little or much as she wants.
  • Let her take the lead. It is her body, her pregnancy and her life. Maybe she needs some time to think before she talks anymore. If she reaches out to you for a hug or wants to cry on your shoulder, let her.
  • If she tells you right off the bat she doesn’t want to be pregnant, start helping her look for resources. Realize, especially in a rural area, this may be more difficult than a quick walk down the street. Start looking for a clinic right then. Familiarize yourself with restrictions because they vary from state to state. Talk about how she is going to meet other obligations while she is away and not feeling well a few days.
  • Encourage her to read about the procedure from a legitimate medical site so she knows what to expect. There are several sites on the Internet that give accurate, nonjudgmental information about pregnancy and/or abortion. Three sites are: Web Md with separate sections about pregnancy and abortion facts; Planned Parenthood that also has separate sections on pregnancy and abortion facts; and Backline that lists resources for more information and provides all options, anonymous counseling over the phone. Sources from most educational institutions should be accurate. Avoid any websites that link to a CPC, describe what “the baby is doing” at any one gestation period, or mention health risks that have been proven untrue, such as the link between abortion and breast cancer. If the clinic has a website or escorts have a site, encourage her to read it.
  • Make the appointment as soon as possible

It is quite possible that she does not want to be pregnant, but is not comfortable with abortion. Tell her this is OK as well. In fact, she may be sad about the pregnancy but has already decided to carry to term. If this is the case:

  • Congratulate her. Offer to help in any way you possibly can. We all have our limits. Don’t make false promises.
  • Start looking for resources right now. If she doesn’t have health insurance, tell her she needs to get down to her local Medicaid/Passport office the next day. In some places there is a lengthy wait to see an OB/GYN and you want her to have a healthy pregnancy.
  • Encourage her but be realistic. You don’t have to do this all at once. You have nine months, but it is best to start the planning early. After medical care, other things to think about are adequate housing, adequate transportation (sorry, car seat ain’t going in the back of that Mustang).
  • Talk to her about realistic support services. If she is going to depend on her mother to watch the baby while she works, she needs to ask her mother and clear this up right now instead of the day after the baby is born. If she is going to need money from her parents/family/church, she needs to let them know now, not 2 weeks before the hatchling emerges. That is unfair to the people in her life.
  • Make her aware that not everyone can do everything she may need. Know your own limits. Tell her she must accept the limits of everyone else without anger or entitlement. Offer to do what you can and be upfront about what you can’t. For example, I am not a person who would be comfortable or competent babysitting. It’s OK for me to be this way and it is OK for me to tell her upfront.
  • Throw her a kick-ass baby shower, as much a finances allow. Do encouraging things during the pregnancy, especially if the sperm donor is not around. Be happy to feel when the baby kicks even if it grosses you out. Send her cards or e-mails that are encouraging. Celebrate just as you would a wanted, planned and expected pregnancy because she may not be getting much support from family, friends or church. They may view her as an evil, single whore who shamed everyone she knows (shockingly, some of these will be the same people who protest abortion outside clinics or “counsel” on the sidewalk).
  • Reassure her when she feels down. This is a hard thing she is facing. If you haven’t been through it, don’t make pointless statements like “I understand,” because you don’t.
  • Most important, LISTEN when she talks. This is the problem with CPCs. They don’t listen. They are on a mission to save the fetus. Period. Make sure you always let her know she is most important, even late in the pregnancy.
  • If she changes her mind and decides to terminate, support that as well
  • Don’t take her to a CPC. They don’t care about the woman in spite of what they spew. The sole goal of a CPC is to get that baby born. Once they realize she isn’t having an abortion, most help will vanish.

What to say when she regrets an abortion:

  • Tell her you are sorry she is hurting. Listen to her. Let her take the lead in how much she wants to share, how much physical comfort she needs and how much she needs to cry. Let her know that this is about her.
  • Encourage her to speak to a licensed psychologist and a psychiatrist because this may not be about abortion at all. It may be about a medical condition that needs to be treated with medication. It may partially be about the abortion, but there may be many other issues that need to be dealt with by a professional. If she simply MUST go to one of those healing religious retreats that never seem to heal, then encourage her to get checked out for other conditions before it’s off to the guilt classes.
  • If she wants to go back and talk about how she could have had the baby, remind her that it is easy to forget just how hard her situation was when the decision was made. Ask her to talk or think about how she would have handled all the issues that would have come with going to term.
  • Listen! Listen! Listen! and remind her that she is not a bad person for taking care of her own health care needs. Remind her that even if she really, honestly regrets the abortion that very few of us get through our lives without regretting major life decisions. It’s part of the human condition.
  • Let her talk as much as she needs to and as much as you have time to listen. Also remind her that many people don’t regret the abortion, but regret the events that led up to the abortion (like going home with that dude from the bar that night and failing to use a condom).

No, no I have not forgotten about men.

I know there are men who regret that their pregnant partner had an abortion or that they participated in it. Yes, I have actually had these conversations with male friends, although I admit my knowledge is less than dealing with women. Mostly my advice is the same here.

  • Tell him you are sorry he is hurting. Listen to him. Let him take the lead in how much he wants to share.
  • Remind them of the things that were going on in their life at the time that would have made having a baby an unwise idea.
  • Tell them that there is no such thing as a “they” who are pregnant, only a she. While he may have been stuck with child support, he doesn’t do anything when it comes to gestating and birth. This means that the ultimate decision belongs to the person who has to do the actual work.
  • Listen to them as much as they need. Again, encourage them to see a licensed psychologist and a psychiatrist. It may not be the abortion they are mourning. They may have other medical issues that need to be addressed with medication, or they may have other issues along with the abortion regret that need to be dealt with by a professional, not some other dude working out his own guilt by leading a group where more guilt can be heaped on the man.
  • Encourage them in the future to discuss this issue with their potential partner ahead of time. Is it awkward?  Yup. It was for me and I was a silly 19 year-old college student who had to initiate this conversation with a grown man years older than me. Both the man and woman should be honest. If abortion is not acceptable to a man then he needs to say so up front and not have sex with this woman. Same thing for the woman. On the other hand, if the conversation goes like mine did, which basically consisted of me telling him there was no way I would jeopardize my future with a baby when I probably didn’t want kids at all, then you also don’t have sex. If one party can’t accept the other’s choice, it’s time to go home and masturbate because there is either an abortion or a baby when a pregnancy occurs. There is no compromise.
  • Remind the man to use birth control-EVERY SINGLE TIME-until he is at a point where he and a woman have agreed it is time to have a baby. This will help him avoid the situation in the future. It is perfectly fine to be sympathetic and honest at the same time.
  • Remind him that regardless of what is said, promised or agreed, it is always her choice. Always. If he can’t accept this fact then he needs to not have sex.

I make no claims of having any sort of professional credentials. My advice is nothing but my free advice, which means it is probably worth what most free things are. Nothing. I’m sure the antis will froth and moan because my answer to every unplanned pregnancy is not to rush them to a CPC. I’m sorry. I think those places prey on women. I think they barrage them with guilt and religion when what they really need is somebody to listen and help them reflect.

The (almost) last thing I will say is, and this is just a personal thing for me, I never answer the question “what would you do if it was you” with what I would do. I am not them. I will never be them. I will never live their lives. I will never have their problems. It doesn’t matter one rat’s ass what I would do for the above reasons. Helping somebody work out a solution is a great thing, but trying to tell them what to do, or what you would do, or what your great aunt’s cousin’s dog did is not helpful.

The only person that any of us should be concerned about when they come to us with an unwanted pregnancy or abortion regret is that person. They are the only ones who have to live their lives, and no, I don’t think religion-based guilt trips are the answer to any of the above problems.

Pearl-clutch away antis. You aren’t the only people with answers to unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. You aren’t the only people who are sought out for advice. In fact, I think most of the time you don’t have any answers besides just have the baby and feel guilt for the rest of your life if you have an abortion.

 

To All The Escorts ~ Guest Post

This message is for all the wonderful escorts that made my walk into EMW so much easier for me and my companion.

The week prior to my appointment I had overloaded myself with information regarding the procedure I was going to have. By the night before my appointment, I was pretty well de-sensitized to what I was going to go through and so I randomly Googled EMW for which Google auto-completed “EMW reviews” I found an article from Life News*.

After reading that article and remembering Gibb’s Rule #3 “Don’t believe what you’re told–double check,” I went back to my search results and found this WHAS 11 article.

The funny thing is that Life News literally shot themselves in the foot….halfway through the article they named you guys! Every Saturday Morning was right there in caps and it gave me a proverbial lifeline. I had no idea up until about 11pm that I was to encounter protesters, although I had a suspicion that it was a possibility. But once LifeNews name-dropped you guys I immediately Googled you….and then I found the blog.

For over 2 hours I read posts. I read all the way back to the previous August that corresponded to my date with destiny the next day. I read about Ron and Donna and TM and Nurse Betty. and I read about all the escorts most of whom I only know by posting name: ServalBear and fml221 and lisajane13 and anarchist bee. I mentally prepared myself for what I would face in the morning through your blog. I finally fell into a restless sleep and 4 short hours later we were on the road to Louisville.

I–think–I recognized my escort the moment our car turned the corner onto 2nd St. I have no idea what his name is but if he is the same man that Cheryl described in her comment in this post, then the tall older salt-and-pepper haired man who walked me to the doors was an anchor for me. As we walked we discussed the blog and my general good mood, and how people like me must be a real relief for him and other escorts to walk with as we are firm in our decision and recognize the antis for what they are and what they are trying to do. He and I had a good laugh as I called out antis by name asking who was who. He pointed out some of the more outspoken ones and we talked about how ridiculous they all were. My companion walked ahead of us keeping the attention of 2-3 antis so they couldn’t bother us. I only had one younger gentleman and an older lady approach me and try to sway my decision, but I continued conversing with my escort and paid them no mind. We were so deep in discussion that I didn’t even get a chance to give anyone my patented Stink-Eye. You guys are right, the rain does help in keeping the numbers of antis down.

Anyway, I digress, the main reason for this letter is to thank you guys….thank you for existing, thank you to my escort for allowing me to walk with pride instead of shame. I’d also like you all to know that I’m doing well; mentally, emotionally, and physically. I slept really well the night after my appointment and woke up in the morning with minimal soreness after having what some would consider major surgery. When I woke up it was to the discovery that I had regained a lot of energy and strength.

Keep up all the good work!!

 

——————————————————————————–*Our general policy is to omit links to anti-abortion websites. We have made an exception and included the link to Life News for readers to experience the contrast in the information the author found on their Google search.

Losing My Religion – by KyBorn

I knew this was going to happen.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to try to pound you with REM lyrics. In fact, I’m not even a fan. I may get more hateful reactions to that comment than the whole rest of the article. While I don’t hate them, I don’t think they are they bestest, most awesomest, most creative band EVAH!!! Eleventy111!

I’ve flirted around the edges of this discussion in my head and with trusted friends. I know this isn’t a place for anti-choice religious arguments or proselytizing of any kind. It makes sense, which is nice because for a long time there have been so many things that don’t make sense to me. See, when I come to Every Saturday Morning to write an article or comment, there are rules that must be followed. They are clearly spelled out and easy to follow.

There was a time where religion gave me those same guidelines; or maybe not. I was raised in a fairly religious, conservative household. Yep, I had the perfect, traditional family, except maybe my mom worked and women in my family were not doormats. The problem is, the same religion that I saw and still see provide a safe haven for people and encourage many people to contribute to their community has now reached a place I can’t abide.

I have long known that the overwhelming opinion of people who attend my particular branch of Christianity consider themselves “pro-life.”  I could abide this, because to be quite frank, many of them are what I consider “pro-life.”  They participated in Meals on Wheels, offered GED tutoring courses that had nothing to do with stopping an abortion, ran a food pantry and had other charitable programs that had nothing to do with the contents of a woman’s uterus. There were no ranting damnation sermons against abortion during services and if anybody was out protesting or waving fetus porn they weren’t proud of it.

Certainly, I have questioned and disagreed with some of the finer points, or even bigger points, that came along with the beliefs I was raised with. I was the weird middle-school aged brat who read both the Courier-Journal and Newsweek in their entirety at my grandparents’ house after Sunday lunch. I have been pro-choice since Newsweek or some other publication kindly explained to my delicate mind what abortion was, including illustrations. Maybe I was a heartless Jezebel even then. I didn’t understand why people cared so much about things that felt no pain or fear over those who could. You know, like women.

In spite my religious background, I will confess to having always had a bit of what my mother would call a potty mouth. I’m sure it has come out in my writing most of the time. I can fling foul language about with the best of them. My mother would be horrified. We weren’t allowed to say shut-up, dang, crap, fart or frickin’ in the house I grew up in. No, I’m not using those as euphemisms for any of the really bad words. We really weren’t supposed to say those words. Despite that, I found it extremely relaxing to, in the privacy of my room, let many of those really bad words fly after a bad day at school.

So, here I am. Still trying to figure out how to fit religion in with my foul-mouthed, pro-choice, feminist and liberal beliefs. Some of them are easy to integrate. Being kind to others and doing unto them as you would have done unto you? Check. It makes total sense that if we all acted like this the world would be a better place. This isn’t to say that I don’t fail at it, probably daily, but the aspiration to be like this all the time makes sense to me. Some of them are not as easy. Not doing what established religious tradition says we should do and never questioning? Oh yeah, I’m all about that too.

What bothers me is that the same religious text I use as one of my reasons for fighting for reproductive rights is the same text people use to wave fetus porn, say awful things, lie and in general terrorize anybody who disagrees with them. I suppose I could write pages about my opinion that a lot of people are on the sidewalk because it is the cool thing to do among their Wednesday night Ladies’ Group or because the preacher talked about loving your unborn neighbor from the pulpit on Sunday so it is the cause of the week. For many people, it isn’t about religion, or God, or life. It is about running with the cool crowd. These are the people who pray a lot louder and more intently when a possible client walks by. It is more seventh-grade clique thinking than religion.

So where do I fit in all this? I don’t know, and that is the problem. I have rationalized and excused many beliefs in the particular church I belong to. I have never been one to say my church or my religion was the only way to live or the only way to be happy. I thought as long as people were behaving like I imagined Jesus did, overall, that I could find happiness and satisfaction in this church, even if I disagreed with a lot of what other people believed. My thought toward any religion or religious institution has always been that none are perfect, just like nobody is perfect. I know I am far from it.

My tipping point came when at the end of a service they announced that they were holding a fundraiser for a local (to me) crisis pregnancy center. I know my face turned several shades of red from anger and confusion. The person with me told me later she thought my head would explode.

I went home full of righteous anger and a quest to research this particular place. Finding out they were deceptive and liars would make the break easy and simple. But alas, like most of life it wasn’t so easy or simple.

I don’t know anybody who volunteers there and I don’t know of any negative stories from this particular CPC. They are many miles from the nearest abortion clinic and their name clearly tells you that they are a Christian organization and not a health care clinic. They clearly state that they don’t refer for abortions. Hell, their site even calls a fetus a fetus and gives correct information about Plan B, even though they are obviously anti-abortion.

I don’t think that they are any way deceptive about what they do and what their mission is. They don’t offer ultrasounds performed by non-medical volunteers who type “Hi Mommy” on the screen or stalk women if they think they are going to get an abortion. They do say they refer for counseling after abortion, but it is to a licensed, albeit Christian therapist, who has a degree that is not from some 6-week course in “pastoral counseling” or a weekend where people learned how to further guilt women in some sort of “post-abortion” counseling group.

So even though this particular CPC is probably one of the “better” ones, this isn’t good enough for me. They still use the lure of free pregnancy tests to bombard women with their personal beliefs in God and abortion. They don’t ultimately care about helping the woman figure out what is best for her, even if that is having an abortion. The ultimate goal, the reason for existence, is to talk the women out of having an abortion, to take away one of her choices. So while the initial anger faded, the feeling of knowing I can’t in any way, shape or form belong to a group that supports in any way the limiting of choices for peoples’ reproductive health remained firmly. Is it a big thing? No. Are my feelings petty? Possibly, but I also realize that it doesn’t always take a one single, giant event to cause a person to change their beliefs.

What does this have to do with anything? Probably nothing for most people. For me, it makes me wonder about the person I could have become. What if instead of being that person who read everything she could get her hands on and questioned everything, I had become one of those people screeching at women on the sidewalk?

Nobody who knows me will dispute the fact that I am a passionate person. Maybe too passionate. I flung a shoe across my room screaming obscenities after watching a YouTube video of one of those Abolish Human Abortion “counselors” peering over a fence and trying to get video of a funeral home removing the remains of what was likely a much-wanted fetus from a clinic.

Once I decide a topic is important, I can become downright obsessive to the point of being annoying about it. So I guess I wonder how far away I am from those people who feel that religion is calling them to wave fetus porn, yell at clinic doors, straight up lie to women and in all other ways be huge assholes. Sorry, I can’t think of another word to describe these people. When I know I am right and it matters, I often feel the need to convince others. Ask anybody who knows me well. Even if I am not right I am persistent enough to get people to just agree I am right just so I will shut-up. (Sorry Mom, I said a naughty word again.)

I don’t question if I am right about being pro-choice/pro-access. I know, KNOW I am right that women should not be forced to carry unwanted or unhealthy pregnancies. I’ve heard all the arguments and yes, unlike antis I have actually considered that I am wrong. I just know I am not. There is no singular moment in my life when I became pro-choice. I have actually been pro-choice since before I had a term for it.

The problem comes when I try to figure out where I fit into religion. I know there are numerous denominations of Christianity that support a woman’s right to abortion. I am checking them out. Maybe I am “spiritual, not religious.”  In spite of the bad language and criticism of “Christians” I throw around here, the truth is religion has played a strong role in my life. I have been involved in a lot of volunteer work and found a great deal of satisfaction in my religion.

I was never an unquestioning fundy Christian who thought the Earth was 6000 years old and Noah totally hung out with some dinosaurs on the ark. Just the idea of pterodactyls crapping all over the Ark is enough to gross me into being an agnostic. I always thought religion should be a personal, private thing rather than something that one used as an excuse to make hateful laws or to not do a job. I wasn’t however, willing to write off the idea of this groovy guy named Jesus who stood up to the religious establishment as well as came to save souls. And I’m pretty sure mine needs something besides more shoes to fling.

My other problem will come when I start to address this with more devout believers in my life. I know what is coming. It is the same thing that would come from an anti who read this. They are going to ask me why I am mad at God, and then speculate that something really horrible recently happened to me. I am sure many antis would speculate, and secretly take pleasure, from the idea that some traumatic event had come into my life.

Sooooo many religious people think this is a chance to convert you or bring you back into the fold. This is another reason I have begun to question religion. The Jesus of the Bible took no pleasure in other people’s pain. He tried to make it better. At the same time, he never forced anybody to believe, tried to change laws or chased people down to give them his message. He just put it out there and anybody who wanted to believe did. He certainly never talked about abortion and those people who are quoting verses from the New Testament to justify being jerks are taking them totally out of context.

They can rattle on about the little children coming to Jesus all they want. It was always pretty damn clear to me that Jesus was talking about thinking, feeling, and autonomous humans. Otherwise, the Bible would be talking about a bunch of pregnant women standing around getting their bellies touched and fetuses spouting Godly wisdom from within the uterus. I’m sorry, I just can’t say “womb.”  Antis have used it so much the word makes me vomit in my mouth, even though it was probably a better fit.

So what is my point? I guess I don’t have one. I know there is room for many people with many different beliefs under the reproductive rights movement. I wish there was that much room in my particular religion for people like me. There doesn’t seem to be, and so now I have to find some other spiritual home, which isn’t easy. For all those well-meaning or not-so-well-meaning folks out there who think I am just mad at God, I can assure you I am not.

I am mad at people who have used God as an excuse to terrorize women, break the law and try to force everybody else to practice their brand of religion. You have ruined the concept for me, and who knows how many other people. You have certainly wasted time waving signs and terrorizing vulnerable people when you could have been out actually helping people. You have probably ignored numerous women who have quietly gone about the business of terminating a pregnancy they would have preferred to carry to term because you were busy hounding women who wanted nothing more than to be rid of an unwanted pregnancy regardless of all the promises made.

I keep thinking that surely there is a place that I can tolerate and that can tolerate me that will give me the same spiritual satisfaction I used to find in my particular religion. Goodness knows how many women who walk into clinics every day are struggling to deal with the same feelings, probably far more magnified than I am. The ones I really feel sorry for are those herded into “post-abortion counseling,” more accurately described as the world’s biggest guilt trip, trying to find peace with a decision they made. And before any antis are geared up to saying I am admitting that PASS or whatever you have named it this year is real, I am not.

No, no, no I am not!  I do think that some people struggle for years to make peace with their decision to terminate a pregnancy, and maybe some never find it. However, I think there are moments in all of our lives that we struggle to make peace with, and maybe never find it. I think that is the part of the lure of religion, the idea that there is something that can instantly make every hurt and regret all better even though there isn’t an instant cure.

So maybe my issue isn’t so much with my religion, but with the people who lie about what my religion really says. I’m pretty sure there is no verse that say “thou shalt go forth waving graphic, photo-shopped signs and luring women into thy building where thou may lie to them about fetal development in order to scareth them out of terminating a pregnancy.”  Maybe I am worshiping the false god of abortion. Maybe I am possessed by demons. Maybe I have been yearning to worship Moloch all these years. Maybe there is a tyrannical god hovering above who takes pleasure in smiting wayward women with pregnancy as punishment. Maybe the fires of hell are licking at my heels. Maybe the souls of millions of fetuses are hanging out in heaven full of anger ready to tell me off (although that doesn’t sound like heaven for the fetus, does it?)  Maybe, but I doubt it.

Just like maybe I am losing my religion, but I tend to think it is more that my religion lost me a long time ago and I am just now noticing.

 

Do You Know That Woman? ~ by KYBorn

So, the Supreme Court has just ruled that antis have a right to engage in activities that would otherwise be harassment. I’m not thrilled, but life goes on.There are so many things I wonder these days. I wonder how the Supreme Court can’t tell the difference between harassment or stalking and free speech. I wonder how our country can still remain so backward while most of the world wants to march forward. I wonder how people can’t see that the debate over abortion doesn’t happen on the sidewalk in front of a clinic. It happens in courts, governments, families and in the minds of women who choose abortion.

I have so many questions I want to ask antis who “counsel” outside clinics but could never do so without causing further chaos for the patient, who is my main concern. I do have many different questions though, after both escorting and taking friends for appointments.

The main one I always wanted to ask is where I got the title for this post.

Do you know that woman? I doubt it. If you knew her you wouldn’t have to stand on a certain street to discern her reproductive choices. She would have told you what they were if she wanted you to know.

Do you know she is both a rape victim and a survivor of childhood molestation? Of course not, to you she is nothing but a fetus container. The fact that she still screams every night from night terrors doesn’t matter to you anyway. Do you know the person who raped her was an intimate partner that she would have trusted with her life until a week ago? Of course you don’t. You are on a mission to save the embryo. It doesn’t matter what she says.

Did you know her name is Jeanna? Did you know she was 8 when her mama committed suicide?

I know her. That’s why I am at the clinic with her.

Did you know she has already been to your CPC before? She was the one who left crying and humiliated because she asked for help with a baby bed. What she got was a lecture and a few coupons.

Did you know I had to buy her child that baby bed because she had no money or help? She has just gotten on her feet after that one. How do you propose she pay for the embryo she carries now?

It must be nice to wrap yourself in that blanket of righteousness when you spend a few hours at your local CPC, while totally denying the real facts and the real, live, living, feeling, breathing women who come to you and you have no real answers.

I guess “just have the baby” and some stuff about Jesus is supposed to make problems about rent, bills that are 2 months late, a car that just had the engine blow and not having a paid maternity leave make it all better.

Did you know she wept on the phone for an hour when that second line showed up? Remarkably, it did not take an hour and a guilt trip to get her results at home. They were no less accurate.

Do you know about her medical history? No, and it is unlikely you care. She is not allowed to get care for herself now that she is a sacred fetus container. She should empty all concerns about making a life, living her dreams or even paying the rent next month in the category of “unimportant things that were never meant to happen.”

Do you know that by having six or more men surround her screaming about her decision makes her flashback to the rape? In case number one, she told a man no and he used her body in a way she didn’t want that got her pregnant. To go see a doctor, she has told a group of men who encircled her and wanted to stop her ability to walk into a clinic to go away. They won’t go away either. They are using her in a way that makes them feel superior by supposedly saving babies.

Do you know that surrounding this fragile woman, calling her a murderer and invading her space called up horrible memories she would rather forget? Of course not, you are all about saving “babies” and the woman is to be used as a vehicle towards this goal; willing or not.

Did you know that the car you used your preteen children to block wasn’t hers? It was mine. When you screamed at her that if she could afford a car like that she could afford another baby, it showed so much ignorance. Her only, unattractive old car won’t even start now.

Did you know that we drove around the block at least 3 times because you compassionate “sidewalk counselors” scared her beyond belief? She doesn’t want to talk to you before you even approach her. She didn’t want your counsel or literature.

Do you know that the decision was already made before she came to the clinic? I know, because I was there on the long, long night she looked up every possible option including abortion regret, adoption regret and motherhood regret on my internet because she couldn’t afford her own.

Do you know she ran faster than ever that day to get away from you compassionate and loving sidewalk counselors? Probably not. There was a ring of them following her and the rest were on to the next big thing.

Do you know we talked about this right on into the morning before we walked in the clinic? I am not even a terribly close friend, but she came to me because I wouldn’t judge or pressure her to do anything. I’m sure you see me here, with the dark circles under my eyes, praying I don’t flop to the pavement having a seizure from lack of sleep. You seem more concerned about my non-existent embryo and the type of car I drive than me.

Did you know when you were yelling at me, the woman you are yelling at to take responsibility and get 5 gazillion jobs to support a baby isn’t even pregnant? Nope. I wish you would have remembered that just because a woman goes into a doctor’s office doesn’t mean she is pregnant.

Do you know she wept in my arms for over 2 hours last night? She was mostly over the decision to terminate the pregnancy. She was more concerned that she wouldn’t be able to withstand the protestors.

Did you know all the “literature” that you mailed to my house did no damage or changed no minds? I doubt it. You clearly got it illegally from writing down my license plate. I’m not messing with filing charges because my husband knew and supported where I was, so the “dead baby” via US mail could be explained. How did you know that the license plates didn’t belong to a woman abused, whose husband would have killed her if she had a baby or an abortion, who just needed a little time to get out? You didn’t. You just didn’t care.

Do you wonder why people felt threatened enough to want a small zone around their clinic where nobody could stalk, harass or threaten them? Put away your photo-shopped images and actually talk to women if that is what you want.

Go away when she tells you that she doesn’t want to talk to you.

Life is simple when everything is black and white or good and evil. That is a safe place we go to when we are children, or a place we stay as adults because we are too afraid to look at anything beyond our own safe little world.

So I will go ahead and answer my own question. The protestors don’t know her or me; whoever that her or me may be. They just know that they know best, even though they don’t know a dang thing about her. They also know that there is nothing easier to love than an embryo that will have no impact on their lives and will be out of their sphere of influence in less than 30 seconds.

Maybe, just maybe, people lining the sidewalks should leave the decision up to women, rather than CPCs, legislatures and random strangers. How can people who have never met a person think they can solve all the problems in their life in 7 seconds?

That is a question I can’t answer and neither can anti-choice protestors.

On McCullen ~ By Huxley

The Supreme Court just handed down its decision in McCullen v. Coakely. It’s not pretty, but it could be worse. For now the concept of the buffer zone survives, although the 35 foot buffer zone adopted by the state of Massachusetts has been struck down. It’s not a total loss, and it is at least encouraging that the unanimous opinion speaks favorably of various other approaches states can take to address congestion and violence in front of abortion clinics.

Of course, it’s less than encouraging how little the court seems to hear states when they say “these things don’t work, though.” And that’s if you’ve got a state that gives a damn in the first place. That’s not what I want to talk about, though. I’m too angry. I’m angry that the opinion is unquestioningly and simperingly sympathetic to the protestors.

You can read the entirety of the opinion if you wish; I can’t recommend that
you do. For now, go ahead and skip ahead to page 19 of the opinion.*   Beneath the “A” is where the court addresses the real meat of the matter: has the buffer zone placed a burden on the free speech activities of these sweet little grandmotherly types?

Yes, indeed it has! And the examples cited in the opinion all come from the protesters themselves. Who would know better, and report more accurately? “The burdens on petitioners’ speech have clearly taken their toll. Although McCullen claims that she has persuaded about 8o women not to terminate their pregnancies since the 2007 amendment… she also says that she reaches “far fewer people” than she did before the amendment.” So, the amendment has resulted in far fewer women being “reached,” has it? And “reached” by what definition? We know that the antis sometimes scare clients off, sometimes cause them to reschedule, sometimes even get them into the CPC – hell, maybe they actually have convinced some clients not to get the procedure. But I’m not sure that’s “reaching” people as a strictly factual matter, you know? And I’m also not sure self-reporting from the antis is all that great.

The court is, though. They cite another anti: “She estimated having about 100 successful interactions over the years before the 2007 amendment, but not a single one since.” Again, I think most escorts know that antis have a pretty wonky sense of “success,” and I’m still pretty skeptical of… well, of anything that comes out of an anti’s mouth, quite frankly. But hey, here’s another anti quoted in the court’s opinion: “…[O]nly one woman out of 100 will make the effort to walk across [the street] to speak with [her].” So we’re clear: the court says the buffer zone has placed a substantial burden on protesters, because they are having a “lower success” rate. We’re all clear on that? OK!

The court goes on to describe the difficulty of placing literature “near their hands,” an issue on which McCullen is quoted earlier in the opinion: “For example, in uncontradicted testimony, McCullen explained that she often cannot distinguish patients from passerby outside the Boston clinic.” The buffer zone, you see, reduces the length that a client must walk while subject to these interactions, dramatically lessening that precious window of time in which antis must decide whether a given woman walking down the street is headed to the book store, the taco stand, or the abortion clinic.

In the days to come, there will be plenty of in-depth, intelligent legal analysis, which I look forward to reading. But clients trying to get in the abortion clinic do not have the luxury of considering only the legal complexities at play. Clients trying to access abortion are doing so in a world where, overwhelmingly, men believes themselves to be utterly entitled to the time, personal space, and bodies of women as a class. And within that cultural milieu, seeing the same thing spelled out by the court, this unanimous opinion that the First Amendment rights of the antis are violated when they don’t get to know precisely what a woman walking down the street is up to, when they are obliged to “raise their voices,” when good gawd, maybe women do not want to walk across the street to talk to them… well, that’s not a message that really needed repeating, now was it?

This decision handed down today does not exist in a legal vacuum; the law of the land is not supportive of women’s bodily autonomy in general. And it does not exist in a social vacuum: the message of this vulgar opinion is one women are used to hearing every damn day: you belong not to yourself, but to others. When you walk down the sidewalk on Market between 1st and 2nd while female, the antis swarm you. They assume you are there for an abortion. They do not take no for an answer from passerby any more than they do from clients. They will shove literature in clients’ faces no matter how many times they are told no.

And now they have a unanimous ruling from the highest court in the land that does not merely strike down buffer zones, but does so in language that glowingly affirms every last ugly bit of entitlement and lack of respect for consent that I have seen out on the sidewalk. Nice.

 

* (I’m using the PDF of the slip opinion available on the court’s website.)

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.)

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.

Father’s Day 2014

Today, we had 35 escorts (a nice sea of orange!) who escorted clients past 17 Catholic pray-ers, 7 sign-holders from Kentucky Mountain Bible College, 14 Immanuel yellow-vesters (aka Chasers) and, because it is the day before Father’s Day, 115 red-shirted Sisters for Life (SFL) people.  The SFL group arrived about 7:35 and included quite a number of children, from babies to teens.  About 35 Catholics on Parade arrived around 7:45 and stood by the convention center, looking confused by all the activity.

It looked like this, approaching from 2nd Street:

There is no transcript for the video – it’s just a long walk up an empty sidewalk.   To the left, across about 6 lanes, are the group of Catholics on Parade, and then you turn the corner into the crowd of folks, mostly in red shirts, by the door.

Here’s what it looks like coming from First Street:

Again, a long walk up the sidewalk, past some fetal porn, past a few chasers, who are uninterested in an escort doing video, but would be all over you if you were a client, then into the mess.

And here’s some video from when the SFL group first arrived.

In this video they are singing enthusiastically about shouting for God and the Victory.

I can absolutely not imagine walking through that mess to go to the doctor.

But it happens every year.  They get a parade permit and here they come.  This year, they called it a “Walk or Bike for Life”  and charged a fee to enter.   It is their 6th Annual.

In 2009, the first Father’s Day for the blog and the SFL,  (and before my time on the sidewalk) we were not expecting them.  300 protesters showed that year, and the escorts were up to the challenge.  Here are some pictures from that year.  In 2010, Dan shared his thoughts about escorting, and we have more pictures.  In 2011, we did our pledge-a-picketer event on the Saturday before Father’s Day, because the clinic had been closed Mother’s Day weekend.   In 2012, we just have a video of them singing in front of the clinic.  In 2013, we posted video, and I told a story about a little girl who’d gotten caught up in the mess.

And here we are.  2014.  Same story, different year.   Maybe we can work on a buffer zone?  I’d like for 2015 to be different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are All Emily Letts~by KYBorn

Ah, I know. It was the last thing you wanted to read. Her name is associated with being a great martyr for the pro-choice/pro-access cause, or she is the demon-come-lately to anti-choicers, a creature of the night with no soul, the high priestess of child sacrifice. Heck, I can’t even print most of the threats this woman has received. Even the most “pro-lifey” of all the “pro-lifers” on Jill Stanek’s site can’t help but comment that due to the emotional issue of abortion, death threats are to only be expected. Not sure how you file that under “pro-life,” but we all know the minds of antis are capable of the great mental gymnastics needed to justify horrible behavior in the name of Jesus.

Now, don’t worry. I’m not here to harp on about antis this week. Nor am I here to lecture pro-choicers about how they should respond to Letts’ video. The fact that I appreciate the risk she took doesn’t really have anything to do with it. The fact that, as a horribly private person the idea of having a video made of me during hugely personal moments is something that I can’t imagine. The fact that I would be far too paranoid about disease to have unprotected sex with many partners (and I have had sex with many partners) does not mean she is stupid or a whore or wrong. It means she took I risk I was unwilling to. It means she had a different opinion.

‘Will she ever get to point?’, you ask. Yes. Yes, I usually get there, but today I am going to sooner rather than later. In spite of the many ways I would have handled Emily Letts’ situation differently, I am still Emily Letts. In fact, all women are Emily Letts. Some are older. Some are younger. Some are different races. Some are anti-choice.

I am Emily Letts even though I would never want to make any sort of medical decision public. I am a private person, and the loss of that privacy would be one of the worst things I can imagine. I freak out at the idea of diseases (and this is partly due to my occupation) so that part of my story would be different. Other than that, the same old movie plot is played out over and over and over.

Women need abortion.

Women behave responsibly and need an abortion.

Women behave irresponsibly and need abortion.

A married woman had an irresponsible fling outside of marriage and needs an abortion.

A woman just loses her job and needs an abortion.

A woman needs an abortion because she doesn’t want any children.

A woman already has 5 kids and can’t afford a 6th needs an abortion.

A woman finds out her fetus is so malformed he won’t live 5 minutes, if he is born at all, needs an abortion.

A rape victim needs an abortion.

A woman whose body is worn out from childbirth needs an abortion.

A woman taking teratogens needs an abortion.

Women who are a long past child-bearing years need abortions, because losing the right to have an abortion is the first step down the slippery slope to women’s ability to control their body, to control their medical treatment, to control their own finances, to work their own jobs and to remain autonomous individuals.

When we allow the government to take away even ONE aspect of our bodily autonomy, we are allowing them to get the idea that they have title to other aspects of our private lives and the choices we make as individuals.

So while we all might not make a video about our abortions, or even tell our own abortions stories, or even be old enough or young enough to have an abortion, it doesn’t change the facts that each and every one us is Emily Letts.