Feeling Under Siege

I have been clinic escorting for just over two years now. I have seen the aggressiveness, in-your-face harassment and flat out verbal assault attempting, and many times succeeding, in reducing patients, companions and family into hysterics and tears. Other than quiet words of support and reassurance that I will see them safely through to the door as best and as quickly as I can, there is nothing that I can do.

Our clinic is now being heavily targeted by one of the most radical, aggressive and dangerous anti-abortion groups in the country. These are not quiet old ladies from local churches praying the rosary. They are a nationwide group of extreme fundamentalists, with leaders who are convicted felons. So far they have managed to stay under the radar of the Department of Justice and Southern Poverty Law as a hate group. It will only be a matter of time before they hit the headlines big and others stand up and take notice.

I refrain from posting any of their public videos as they are so graphic, violent and triggering that I don’t know if any of my non-escort friends could watch it without being very unsettled and frightened. Hell, they frighten me.

Do not think that this does not affect anyone in your life. 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the age of 45 from all races, classes, backgrounds and yes, religions.

It is unacceptable for this kind of domestic terrorism against our sisters, mothers, aunts, daughters, friends and ourselves.

Chloe Angyal in a memorial article for Dr. George Tiller, murdered by an anti-abortion extremist on May 31, 2009, describes the escalation of violence by anti-abortion protesters being experienced across the country. I recommend you read the whole article “The Subculture of Embattled Abortion Workers”, but here is a preview:

When Tiller was killed, in 2009, a rush of anti-abortion legislation was just beginning.  And violence against abortion providers, those few who remain, was and remains a daily reality no matter where they live. A continual threat, part of the buzzing background noise that is American violence.

Six years later nearly to the day, I’m still here in the U.S., and though no abortion provider has been murdered since 2009, harassment of these doctors continues. And not just the doctors; anti-choice extremists will target almost anyone who is associated with the provision of abortion: nurses, receptionists, the men and women who run clinic networks, clinic escorts, clinic security guards, landlords, and the neighbors and families of all those people.

Do you condone this behavior? By your apathy, silence and inaction you do.

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Interested in becoming a Louisville Clinic Escort? Please read the information in the “Trainings for Escorts” page. Our next training will be in mid-July. Send an email to everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com and we will send you more details about the next training.

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REMINDER: It’s not too late to make your pledge for Pledge-a-Picketer.  The campaign ends and we make the final count the day before Father’s Day, June 20. So far, we’re are at 179 protesters.  You can pledge here, with either a specific amount per person or by pledging a lump sum for the whole horde of protesters.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1cATk530BlUVRVofUMNaNHU1yo9FvN78ByX-_rHzWbtk/viewform

 

 

What’s The Point?~by KY Born

I don’t even escort.

We luckily don’t need them at the two clinics in the city I live in and the next closest clinics are over 3 hours away from me. We have antis, but they are pretty well contained by a fence and actually mostly just pray. At one of them where the CPC is in the building next door, they run up and down the fence screaming crap like, “This might be your last chance to be a mother.”  They write down license plates and film, but I don’t think they post on the Internet. I’m probably on some anti film being played in church as an example of a demon-possessed “abortion-minded mother,” when all I was doing was taking a friend to the clinic.

One of the men commented, in addition to the motherhood comment, that if I could afford that car I could afford a baby. I was already pissed off because they shoved their “information” under my windshield wiper since I had to slow down because they were in the drive entrance. Since everybody was still waiting in line outside, I went over to the fence to let the dude know that I hoped I never got pregnant again (I wasn’t the one pregnant) because I didn’t want to have to come back to get an abortion and listen to him yapping again. Oh, and I used a lot of profanity. Manly man jumped back from the fence as if I was going to be able to walk ten feet, scale a six-foot fence in three seconds and somehow do him bodily harm. So much for manly men and doing anything to save babies.

I don’t know how people do it week after week, day after day. I don’t know how they deal with being called nasty names in the name of religion. I don’t know how they stand to walk past the signs all the time without laughing. I don’t know how they deal with seeing patients reacting with terror at people who claim to be helping them. I admire them, but I don’t know how they do it.

Sometimes I think “I couldn’t do that every day,” and then I think of the patients. I think of the patients I used to work with at a very difficult job that most people can’t handle. Their stories haunt me. I know the stories told to escorts haunt them. I think about the patients, not abortion patients but patients with horrible stories and medical issues, and how I dealt with that. That makes me think I can escort but I’m glad our two clinics don’t need them for now.

Of course, we may not have any clinics in the next year. This is the negative me talking. This is the part of me that says, “What’s the point?”

I wonder if we are all just tilting at windmills. Are we fighting an imaginary battle that is already lost and we just don’t know it? Has the fate of reproductive rights in this country already been decided by a bunch of old white men, a few loud women who never worried about paying the light bill, women who made bad medical decisions for themselves, and people who drag their many small children and brainwashed teens to stand outside clinics?

It feels that way, and then I remember that we are not tilting at windmills at all. We are fighting a real battle that is still going on. It shouldn’t be, but it is. The right of a woman to privacy when making medical decisions was decided before I was born. For years, I took it for granted. I remember the occasional talk of those “rescues” before the FACE Act. They seemed like something off-kilter that only happened in far-away places. Places I thought I would never go. Places I thought I would never need.

That was back when they were called protesters and liked it. That was back before the Internet gave them a free platform to spew their hate, so that it seems like there are only a handful of pro-choice people who huddle in little groups while the country is filled with anti-choice people. Of course after FACE, which they do still violate, they call themselves “counselors” and “abolitionists,” even though they are mostly doing the same old thing. Stalking, fear, guilt, shame, stigma, violation of privacy, lies and outright threats, both physical and more subtle, like threatening to tell somebody’s boss or mother, still abound.

There seem to be so many of them even though there aren’t. It’s like standing outside the closed door of the toddler room at a daycare on a bad day. You are sure there are 1000 small people in there all crying, screaming and trying to make the most noise to get the attention of one harried person. Then you open the door and find that there are only four or five of them. I think antis are those toddlers, just seeing who can scream the loudest and get the most attention. Sometimes they even fight over who has the best toys.

This is quite funny to read about or see, but it is unlikely funny to the patient who has to wade through the sea of fetus porn and baby murder signs. It doesn’t matter to the patient who has to walk through the gauntlet of people who recite their prayers the loudest for the patients walking by before they get back to the regular gossip. It doesn’t matter to the patients who lose all privacy as nosy people film them, take pictures of their license plates or car, or even tell their stories using real names without permission. To top it off, they post all of this on the Internet for the world to see. Right to privacy, my ass.

It is violated every day, just like entirely too many women and men are physically violated only to be dismissed as either making it up because of bitter break-ups or profit, or blamed for dressing the wrong way, having the wrong sexual orientation, going the wrong place or drinking the wrong thing. If you are lucky, and you are the right kind of victim you may be believed, but even if you get pregnant against your will it is a beautiful “gift from God,” so you can just suck it up while your body is violated daily for the next nine months.

That is part of the point. My rights, your rights and everybody’s rights are being violated by people who want to legislate who we marry, if we marry, when we have sex, if we have sex, if we use birth control, what kind of birth control we use, what kind of sex is legal, how we plan our families, what is a family and how we handle the results of trauma.

I could go on, but that is the point.

We must fight back. We must be louder. Not when the patients are around of course. They don’t need extra chaos. I know some of you reading are exhausted, and you are thinking “but I already help by escorting, what else you want me to do, bossy woman?” If you are just plain burnt out, or over-extended, or doing all you can, I am not talking to you.

I am talking to anybody who has the time and energy, or who can gather up what is left of it, to fight these battles that are seemingly endless.

I am asking you to raise your voices. I’m not in any way saying we should become the screaming toddlers the antis are, but I am saying it is time that everybody who is pro-choice or pro-access raise their voices in other ways, calmly but still louder than the few screaming toddlers in the room who need to be hushed by the teachers.

I don’t think antis need to be hushed by censorship as that would be a violation of their constitutional rights. OK, I admit I fantasize about laws that hush them completely, but I know that this isn’t legal. In fact, that would make me a lot like the antis to want to control their speech.

What I do think is that pro-choice and pro-access people need to let their voices be heard. This can happen in many ways. Write, call or email your elected officials about reproductive rights, even if you think it won’t help. Vote, even when it seems pointless. Protest bad laws, if you are so inclined. Organize groups that support reproductive rights. Write on blogs. Complain to social media outlets that are used to stalk and violate the privacy of patients by individuals and groups. Talk about your own experiences as escorts or patients. Encourage patients who are interested to pursue legal action against those who have violated their rights and have the information they need on hand.

Now I can already see you thinking I’m a hypocrite because I am telling you all to raise your voices while I type behind an alias. I do this for several reasons and I’ll flat out say that some of them are practical, like not wanting it to impact my career prospects. Most of it is the strong emotional need for my own privacy and to protect the privacy of my family and friends. While I don’t think anti harassment would bother me beyond tolerance, I refuse to let my family and friends be drug into my fights, as we all know antis are more than willing to do this.

So maybe I am hypocrite, but I am doing my best. It is why I write for this blog. It is why I finally told my rape and abortion story by putting it on virtual paper and posting here. When I write, I hope people who read not just my stories about reproductive issues, but everybody else who puts it out there understand they aren’t alone. I know finding this blog made me know I wasn’t alone in knowing we had major problems with reproductive rights in this country, so when I was asked to write here it was one of the ways of raising my voice.

So when I think that there is no point in continuing this fight, I remember that scared young woman who went alone for her abortion. That was me. I remember the families who have had their privacy violated in order to bury their family members while vocal antis gleefully crowed about their death, or mourn the death of a fetus incompatible with life, but not the life lost months before. I remember the woman who was followed to her hotel and had to face protesters who had posters with her name on it. I remember the antis who scream and lie both virtually and in real life at patients who think, feel, love, cry, hurt and who have hopes, dreams and problems that aren’t solved by a pack of diapers and supplies that are only given to those who attend Bible classes, plus empty promises of housing or money. I remember the people I will never know or see who go through hell to access legal health care. I remember the people who can’t scrape together the money or take time off work so they, at their own peril, try to terminate the pregnancy by themselves even though it risks their lives and health. I remember the young faces of the supposedly pro-life generation forced on the sidewalk by parents and schools with their signs and realize that some day a portion of them will need access to the very health care they hold signs up against.

I know if you are reading this you are tired. Probably tired of listening to me ramble on. Probably tired of being told to do more than you already are. Tired of this fight that shouldn’t be happening in the Land of the Free in 2015. Maybe you are even feeling that this fight is pointless. Maybe you feel it a little or maybe you feel it a lot. Maybe you are like me, and have to turn off the TV, put down a magazine or click off an article or post because you are overwhelmed by the steady stream of anti-choice messages, anti-choice spew not backed by science and plain out flat lies told by antis about weeping women overwhelmed by guilt, infertility, breast cancer and trauma of a pregnancy termination that occurred in a blood-soaked room after she was forced to abort by those evil, money-hungry doctors.

I know I am. I also know that if I give up the fight, I can’t complain because I stood by and let my Constitutional rights to a private medical procedure be stripped away by people who are basically trying to be voyeurs into the lives and bedrooms of strangers. I know the more of us who refuse to stand for this kind of violation, who speak out on a lot of fronts, both now and in the future, will have a great impact on the direction reproductive rights take in this country.

When I started this rant I wasn’t sure where it was going to go. I know I wanted to express how those who are silent need to speak up and encourage and thank those who do far more than me. I wanted to find a reason for myself to continue to be involved in this fight when there are so many things that are more fun to do. I found it here, and am feeling a bit renewed in my urge to do more, to speak louder and over the small band of loud antis, whose volume make them seem much more numerous than they are really.

We are losing our rights to a small, loud minority and it has to stop.

That is the point.

Rape, Abortion and “Frozen” -by KY Born (TW for Rape, Stalking, Violence)

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS DESCRIPTIONS OF RAPE, STALKING AND VIOLENCE. PLEASE DON’T READ THIS IF IT WILL BE UPSETTING FOR YOU.

First, let me just say this right up front: I am madly in love with the movie “Frozen”, especially the song “Let It Go.”  What does this have to do with abortion, you may ask? Anybody who has read any of my posts knows that I tend to meander and take a long time to get to the point. This is going to be one of those times. If you have something better to do, or just think I’m overreacting, then I would suggest you move on. If not, well here it is. The whole story. The rape, the abortion and the reason I am letting go to tell it on this blog.

Before antis or anybody else goes, “What?’, and says “OMG! YOU AREN’T PRO-CHOICE BECAUSE YOU ONLY ADVOCATE FOR ABORTION IN CASES OF RAPE!!”, please chill out and read the rest. I am telling my story only. Everyone else’s story is their own and I don’t care why those women in the lobby with me, or women in lobbies in clinics all over the country are there. It is none of my business.

Back to “Frozen” now. I always adored Elsa. I loved how she felt like she had this secret she had to keep, this image she had to portray and the joy she felt at not having to do this anymore. This is what I’m feeling now, so when I listen to “Let It Go” I’m certainly not referring to the power to freeze stuff, but I am referring to the ability to stop trying to be the person people expect me to be and hiding something that was not my fault like some shameful secret. You see, Elsa did not ask to be born with her powers any more than I asked to be raped and become pregnant.

So while this movie has nothing to do with rape or abortion, the idea of having to keep secrets, be perfect and be ashamed of things not your fault you can’t cope with rings long and loud with me.

I won’t bore you with the entire song, just most of it. While I have posted a trigger warning at the beginning, I will say again that if you are a rape victim who is triggered you may want to skip this post because I am letting it all go.

So when I listen to this song, I hear Elsa sing “the wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.”  She isn’t talking about what I was thinking years ago right after it happened and my “legitimate rape” got me knocked up, but she has the same feelings and thoughts. Do I tell? Do I ask for help? Do I report this rape? How will this change the way people think of me because I had a few consensual sexual encounters with this man? Will my father kill him? So I do what good girls do, I keep it all inside. Our justice system, while improving, is not particularly kind to rape victims. Everyone has a right to a good defense. I just wasn’t in a position to have my entire private life shoved out in a public trial, so I didn’t report.

Elsa sings “don’t let them in, don’t let them see, be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel.” I know exactly what this animated character is feeling. I wore a turtleneck to work to cover up the bruises on my neck. I never told anybody about the nights I sat in the Wal-Mart parking lot weeping for an hour. I was afraid to get out of my car because my rapist was still stalking me. I lived in the same apartment for three more years because I refused to be defeated. Smart? Probably not, but I am a stubborn creature and in spite of the stalking it was my way of fighting back.

After what seemed like 100 years of night terrors, they finally stopped. I got therapy. It helped, to some degree to let part of it go. So it is true that “it’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small and the fear that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.”  I’m not afraid to go out by myself at night. I’m not afraid to be home alone at night. I’m not afraid to go to Kroger at 3 AM because I have insomnia and know it will be empty. I let the fear go. I don’t have to fake it anymore. The fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all. OK. Mostly they don’t.

Now let’s skip ahead. I have so much more I could say about rape and stalking, but that is for another time. Even though only one can’t get pregnant by “legitimate rape” because our women’s bodies shut the whole thing down, I did. I don’t have regular periods, but I knew it within two weeks because I puked morning, noon and night. Every single time I puked I relived the rape.

I knew what I was going to do immediately. Abortion. Even though I had family support and it is likely my rapist/stalker would have married me and would have wanted the child, my decision was made. I told no one. The nearest clinic was over an hour away in another state. I immediately called Planned Parenthood and scheduled an abortion that couldn’t be done for 4 more weeks because this particular clinic did not offer medication abortion yet. I didn’t even know my blood type so I had to make an extra trip. Luckily, I was a workaholic with a huge pile of PTO time.

Once I had made the trip to the clinic for blood typing, there was another hurdle. I needed someone to drive me after the procedure even though I was only having local anesthesia. I realized I could pay a homeless man to sign for me as my driver, because of my decision to tell no one who knew me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always been pro-choice, but when you are a sheltered girl from small-town Kentucky who moves to a slightly bigger town to go to college and then stays there, but has to go to the Big City get “that thing” done, it is still scary.

I still blamed myself for opening the door the night he banged on it for 15 minutes thinking I didn’t want to disturb my neighbors. I had to be a good girl. I had to not disturb anybody with my personal problems. I opened the door hoping he would be quiet. Oh, he got quiet and so did I. It is hard to scream when a man twice your size has his hand around your throat. I blamed myself for years. I have finally stopped. I finally let it go.

The end of my story comes with the abortion. I’ll spare you the details of knowing I was pregnant. Why I took the test? I’m still not sure. My periods are and have always been irregular unless I was on hormonal birth control, which gave me pregnancy symptoms. Keep in mind before you decide against any form of hormonal birth control, I am a rare special snowflake when it comes to medication side effects. Mostly, women go about their daily lives with no problems. Sigh. Envy.

Anyway, I being the good girl who kept her two consensual sexual partners a secret, as well as her rape, also kept her fear of being pregnant a secret. However, you can bet your ass the day my erratic period SHOULD usually but didn’t appear I ran down to the store and got a pregnancy test. That faint pink line that changed my life. I went to get more tests. All faint pink lines. That and puking hit reality home. There was nothing to do but make that appointment. The decision was actually made before I ever took the test.

So here I am, letting it go.

I’ll tell you there were about 12 of us in the waiting room. One woman was teary. A few were stoic. A few leaned on the man with them. Why were they there? None of my business. To tell the truth, I wasn’t feeling very chatty. I kept my nose in a book, eagerly awaiting my name to be called for a procedure I had heard was awful, terrible and painful with no anesthesia. I felt alone, but somehow my aloneness gave me power. I knew when this was over I could “walk away and slam the door.”

Me, being me, had made sure to be the first to check in and the first up at bat. I’m not sure how I managed to walk down that hall, undress or get in the stirrups. I suppose we all do what we have to do. One of the things I had to do for myself, not because the law mandated it, was see the ultrasound. Don’t listen to what the antis tell you. The clinic WILL let you see your ultrasound if you ask. Seeing my own little sea monkey in there actually gave me peace of mind.

I won’t say the procedure was something I would do for shits and giggles. I will say it was over in about five minutes and I received excellent care with no complications at all. I don’t know where my homeless faux driver went, but after a few minutes in recovery I went to my car to begin the drive home. Think what you want of me, but halfway home I realized I was hungry. I pulled off the exit midway home and ate four cheeseburgers and a large order of fries from the McDonald’s drive-through on the way home.

No puking. It was my first step to letting go.

I’ll be honest, I still have trouble reading these antis who say giving birth to a rape baby “heals” the woman. Maybe it does for some women. It wouldn’t have for me. Honestly, those four weeks waiting were horrid not because I knew I was on abortion countdown, but because I knew the spawn of that man was inside me. If any lurking antis have a comment about “death penalty for crimes of the father”, all I can say is shove it. There was no baby. There was a woman who desperately needed an abortion. There was a woman who had night terrors. There was a woman who held elderly patients’ hands as they died and worked with abused children long after this happened.

If that abortion hadn’t happened, that woman would not be here. If I had to walk through an awful gauntlet it would have broken me into pieces. I would not be the woman who has helped more people than CPCs, abortion protesters and blowhards like Jill Stanek, Lila Rose and the whole of AHA.

I have helped more people than they ever will. I don’t care what they think of me or if I pop up on their Google alerts. They are profiting from abortion as well and they are the hypocrites and the Pharisees Jesus preached about. They pray and preach loudly, but make money off the same industry they condemn. If it should cease to exist, so would their livelihood. Hypocrites, every one. Praying loudly on street corners or the modern version, the internet, so everyone can see how pious and merciful they are. Yup, we “pro-aborts” read the Bible as well and I still consider myself a Christian. A Jesus Christian. Not the blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus anti so-called Christian protesters worship, but the dude who said to “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” I doubt Jill Stanek, Lila Rose or the vast network of “groups not a group” AHA who seem to be making big money off of their opposition to abortion are what Christianity is about.

So here I am. Letting it go. If you are a rape victim, I’m sorry if I triggered you. If you are not a rape victim, don’t take this as a sign that I think abortion is only acceptable in those cases.

You know when abortion is acceptable? When the woman gestating the pregnancy decides she doesn’t want to be pregnant. Period. End of story. This is just my story and every woman who goes down that sidewalk has another story that is none of my business.

I once read an anti-post that said a woman claimed she didn’t think about the rape but remembered the abortion every day. She needs therapy. I can tell you the year, day, hour and minute I was raped. I couldn’t tell you the day I had an abortion. I didn’t need a widdle-bitty baby to cuddle and heal me. I needed an abortion.

So here I am. Letting it go.

I had an abortion. I didn’t check the “rape/incest” box because I didn’t want it to flag any need for further discussion of the issue. I made an appointment for an abortion and I was going to get one.

I don’t regret it nor do the hundreds of lives I have made better. That could never have happened if I had been broken into pieces by “peaceful sidewalk counseling.”

I didn’t need a baby. I didn’t need a non-medical ultrasound. I didn’t need to report this to the police to validate my experience. I didn’t need others to tell me what to do.

What did I need?

To let it go.

There are a lot of women and girls with more and less traumatic experiences who need to let it go on their terms. If they come to you, don’t judge. It isn’t your journey.

But this? This grammatically incorrect post is me letting go. If you are a woman who is feeling guilt about rape and/or abortion I encourage you to join me in letting it go. It took me three months to write this post but for the first time in many years I feel free.

So should every rape victim and every person who has an abortion.

 

 

Three Aspects of Escorting – Part I

Escorting is such a simple activity – walking up the sidewalk with someone on their way to the doctor.  So simple, and so complex.  I’ve been contemplating this a lot lately.

I identify three aspects:

I.  Logistics of Escorting

II.  Escorting as Social Justice

III.  The Psychology of Escorting

The logistics of escorting are played out on the sidewalk.  At the clinic in Louisville, there is no private parking lot, so clients and their companions approach from several directions.  Protesters spread out trying to make sure they have a good position to confront the client  with  fetal porn or yell at them.  Chasers station themselves at various points so they can latch on and begin their litany of cajoling, pleading and commanding as the client walks to the door.

Where there are protesters, there are escorts.  On Saturday, we stand in front of the door, on the corner at First Street, on the corner of Second, in front of the $4.00 lot, down by the AWC lot… Escorts are everywhere.

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But where do we need to be?  Where can we be most effective?  The $6.00 lot is $15 today, let’s not send anyone there, the parking meters are covered, no parking on the street, where should we be?

Those logistical questions arise every week, and every week we feel our way through to the best answers we can find.

These days, I often stand by the $4 lot.  From there, I can see the 2nd Street corner, and if those escorts all end up walking with people, I’ll cross the street to be a presence on that corner.  If someone parks halfway down the block, I can get to that car easily.  That’s so simple it’s almost not Logisitics, right?

Sometimes, I stand by the drop-off zone.  Mostly, I just stay in that space, although from there I can see different parts of the block and move away to walk with someone if it looks like that would be helpful.  And that’s not exactly higher order planning.  None of the individual spots are – no matter where we stand, we pay attention to what’s going on around us, and go where there’s a need.

When it works well ~ when we have enough people where we need them and we’re all watching out for each other ~ then it flows really well and it feels almost magic.  When the timing’s right, and people move in and out of position, and clients are able to walk to the clinic relatively unhindered, it’s like a dance.

Often, someone at the front door coordinates a lot of that.  Serving as a central point for information, the escorts stationed at more distant points can let that person know when they need help.  She, or he, can see a lot of the area and identify some needs, ask people to move to fill empty spaces.  Servalbear does that a lot, and does it well.  She’s a skilled tactician and helps keep the gears in sync, makes sure they’re oiled.

Lately, another escort has started doing logistics at the front door.  She’s learning that there are lots of things to learn about doing it well –  maybe she’ll do a blog post on that sometime!

Logistics are the most direct aspect of escorting, and they impact the client most directly.   The Points of Unity guide the logistics ~ we focus on being client-centered, on not escalating, and so on.  But in that moment, we make decisions based on our own best judgment.  That’s all we can do.  We may critique it later, explore how we could have done it differently, look at other ways to approach it, but in that moment, we respond as best we can.

This is the smallest unit of escorting – one escort, on the sidewalk, in the moment.

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D. P. Serke, a student at one of Kentucky’s Universities, recently wrote a paper about escorts as a “folk group.”  She says:

…{Clinic Escorts’} folklore is evident in countless blogs, message boards, and on the sidewalk. The pro­choice clinic escorts at EMW are a folk group. A folk group is described by Alan Dundes as , “any group of people whatsoever who share at least one common factor…” (Dundes, 1965). This is a broad definition, but is further defined by Dundes when he says that folk groups have common traditions. The clinic escorts share a common cause, a ritual structure for their performance on the sidewalk, including rules and specific language.

This is why we were able to write our own version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.  As other groups of clinic escorts connect, we share common cause and language with them too, particularly related to logistics.  Other clinics face different challenges and escorts deal with them in different ways, but we have so much in common.  

So our lone escort on the sidewalk connects with other escorts at her own clinic and that group connects with escorts at other clinics.   Set us down in any city with other escorts and we can trade stories about how we do things, and discover that many of our strategies are similar – and that our protesters are very much alike! 

Logistics are the simplest form of connection between escorts.  Individual escorts, and escorts as a group, are also connected to social justice, or reproductive justice in some ways., which I’ll talk about in my next post.

It’s Against My Religion ~ by KYBorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

________________________________________

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

Liar, Liar Pants (and Skirts) on Fire~by KYBorn

So, I was all fired up to write about medical professionals who refuse to do their jobs because Jesus. Then I was all fired up to write about domestic violence and how abusers often use reproductive coercion to keep their victims in their lives.

Then something funny happened. I decided to ride my bicycle to the bank when it started to rain. Luckily, I had a poncho in my backpack. Why is this funny?  The last time I put this poncho on I got lectured about being worried about my own comfort while babies were being murdered (by a woman standing under an umbrella under an awning). Anyway, for some reason this made me laugh.

Don’t get me wrong, those of us in reproductive justice have little to laugh about these days but as I was downing my lunch I thought of all the idiotic things I have heard and read and thought maybe, just maybe, some of us could get a laugh out of it. By the way, the reason I have titled this post the way I have is because so much of what antis say is either untrue or contradictory to what they or others of their ilk say.

  • “Having an abortion will make you infertile” This makes me laugh on so many fronts because it is ignorant to assume that all women want to have children at all. The main thing that makes me laugh though, is that at the same time they are screaming this threat, they are also moaning about women using abortion for birth control. I have yet to figure out how a woman can become infertile and have 10 gazillion abortions in the same lifetime.
  • “You spread your legs for a man and now you are going to spread your legs for a strange man to have an abortion.”  This is funny for a variety of reasons. The biggest one being that, in case the antis have never studied biology, unless a woman has a C-section, she must “spread her legs” to give birth and often for the on-call OB/GYN. Apparently, there is something “holy” about the spreading of legs if a baby comes out full term and breathing. If not, you are an “unholy slut” who will burn in hell.
  • “Not all pro-life people are religious.”  Yep. Believe it or not, I know that. I don’t have the faintest idea why you would ally yourselves with people who think you are going to burn in hell, but that is none of my business. Trust me, if abortion were abolished, those who don’t believe in God would be next in line for those who must either convert or be eliminated from polite society.
  • “Culture of Life” First of all, why do you need to capitalize those words?  Second of all, when in all of history has this mysterious culture of life existed?  Was it during the Hundred Years War in Europe where tons of people were killed just for the right to worship as they pleased?  Was it during the Salem witch trials where people were burned at the stake in painful deaths because…well, just for any reason they decided a person was consorting with the devil. Was it during World War I or World War II?  Was it during the Holocaust when millions of people died simply for practicing a different religion, or had the poor luck to be born one or two generations after people who were Jewish?  Was it back when numerous Popes were in bed with corrupt and brutal governments, as well as various women who bore their children that were then considered “bastards?” The truth is, a lot of humans suck. They kill people for no reason. Sometimes we have to kill people to preserve our own life or freedom, or people who want to take lives for no reason.
  • Blah, blah, blah followed by “ripping from limb to limb.”  Read the facts. Most abortions occur before embryos have limbs. If we were as progressive as much of Western Europe and had a health care system that paid for abortions people would have them much earlier.
  • “God decides when we live and die.”  Bullshit. If antis really believed that they wouldn’t take antibiotics for strep throat. They wouldn’t have surgery to clear clogged arteries or to repair broken hips.
  • “I have seen people die in surgery every day!”  Well duh. Of course people die in surgery every day. A person who has been shot in the chest (not that this is funny) or a 95 year-old man (not that this is funny either) are far more likely to die during surgery than a healthy woman undergoing an abortion. If you are a medical professional who sees people die during outpatient procedures on a daily basis, who are otherwise healthy, then you need to be either filing a report against those who caused it or get out of the medical profession if you caused it.
  • “This clinic is unregulated.”  Hey there antis, in case you didn’t notice, most of your “crisis pregnancy centers” or whatever name they go by are the ones who are unregulated. In fact, every time a state tries to regulate a place that claims to provide medical advice dispensed by people who know nothing about anything medical, ultrasounds given from the back of vans or by people who aren’t licensed and are so unprofessional they type garbage like “Hi Mommy” on a procedure designed to determine the health of the pregnancy, you have one of your idiotic law groups file suit. By the way, if these CPCs are so honest, why don’t they have honest names, or post honest signs, or otherwise make it clear to ALL women that this is not an all choices health clinic? It is a place to scare women and pressure them to continue pregnancy, and often a place to try to convert them to their brand of Christianity. That is fine if that is what they want to do. I just don’t want my tax dollars to pay for it or for women to wander in and take hours for them to figure it out. The truth is, most abortion clinics are far more regulated than most outpatient surgery or sedation dentistry clinics. You want women to know the truth?  Start telling it.
  • “We just want to give information to women. Those evil deathscorts keep them from finding out the truth.”  Again, bullshit. Escorts only walk with those who consent, unlike anti-choice folks who follow for blocks, surround women, slow down the crossing of the street, block clinic driveways (those lucky enough to have them) and when all else fails yell through clinic windows. I hate to tell them, but if women wanted their “information” they would ask the escorts to leave (you know, the people who leave when asked) and take their anti-abortion “information.”  When a woman screams “Go away! Go away! Please go away, I don’t want to talk to you. Go away,” and then moves onto profanities, it should be clear to antis they don’t want to hear their version of the truth. In any other circumstance, we call this stalking, harassment or violation of public nuisance laws. In front of a clinic that performs abortions, this has unfortunately come to be called normal.
  • “Pro-aborts” want to take away our freedom of speech. No, no we don’t. In fact, most of us are the biggest advocates for freedom of speech. What we do ask is that you follow the same laws as everyone else. Wow!  What a concept.
  • “Our pictures are not photo shopped.”  Um, yeah. I guess if you aren’t religious lying may not go against your personal code, so I will give you a pass. If you are religious, you might want to read the passage about “shedding innocent blood” because before the Bible addresses that, God also states he also hates a lying tongue. Not sure how you work that out, but that is your problem not mine. In addition, I seriously doubt that any physician who performs abortions bothers to place the products of conception next to various forms of currency. Dimes seem to be the most popular, but I have seen them next to dollar bills in pictures online. Also, for future reference for any antis reading, blood is not that bright red when it has not had oxygen for a while. Lack of oxygen would be the case if all of this “blood” had sat for hours before you raided the clinic. It would appear to be more clotted, and have a dark red-purplish color. By the way, who are these labs letting you raid their biological waste?  I certainly don’t want them running any of my lab tests. Creepy.
  • Also creepy are the people who stand outside these clinics day after day. One of the prominent so-called pro-life organizations has a high ranking official who was convicted of plotting to blow up an abortion clinic in San Diego. Luckily, law enforcement intervened before the plot was carried out. Did it ever occur to her that while she was transporting explosives through a city they could have gone off and hurt people who have nothing to do with abortion?  Another has members who stand outside high schools and middle schools with their disgusting signs; engaging students on their way in. Some of these upright antis were “converted” during lengthy prison sentences. In fact, one of them was convicted of trying to blow up a church, but was caught in the act by a church elder. Yep, those are the people who should be telling youngsters how to behave.
  • “Pro-choicers portray us as violent.” This particular gem came from a recent post on She Who Shall Not Be Named’s site because a Planned Parenthood worker called the police over what turned out to be an empty box. First of all, there has been far more violence from anti-choicers than pro-access/pro-choicers. They cite over and over again a man who was shot because another man not associated with any pro-choice group shot him. Never mind that his own son stated in the media that this man tried to provoke violence against himself so he could get pro-choicers arrested. He still didn’t deserve to be shot. What the antis NEVER, EVER say is that on the same day the man who shot the anti also shot the owner of a gravel truck company. Anti-choice and anti-gravel?  Whatever. I think you get my point. Aside from that, since 9/11, many workplaces and certainly airports encourage people to report unattended packages. That is what this particular employee did. Probably nobody would have noticed if She Who Shall Not Be Named hadn’t criticized her for following a policy many companies have and erring on the safe side.
  • “The gauntlet is a myth.”  I got this garbage from a Twitter exchange. The gauntlet has been documented on this blog and in many other photographs. If you are going to lie, at least don’t do it when there is unaltered photographic evidence. Enough said.
  • “I regret my abortion.”  This is often displayed on a sign. I used to feel pity for these women, imaging the pain they must be in. Now if a woman regrets her own abortion and needs to talk about it, I am happy to listen and provide whatever emotional support she needs. Antis always say those who regret abortion will come to them but honestly, why would anybody go to a judgmental person who says you must repent, be saved, name your embryo and offer up some baby gear to atone for your sin? If you will always regret your abortion, when you don’t go to them you just don’t worry about burning in hell. I would much rather go to a person who thinks abortion or birth are both valid options. In addition, I now just see people holding these signs as people who made poor medical decisions for themselves and are now trying to persuade the government to pass laws that restrict the very medical procedure they took advantage of. I don’t want people who can’t make good medical decisions for themselves making them for me.
  • Blah, blah, blah sex. Sex is evil. Nobody should have sex unless they want a baby, but by the way, those who believe this have super-hot sex lives. First of all, I didn’t really want to know about their sex lives, nor is mine any of their business. They claim our society is sexualizing teens and specifically girls and women, which of course leads to abortion (not sure how that works). What is funny about this, is one day I saw some teens protesting abortion holding poster boards that said “Honk if you are pro-life!”  Now, only the girls wearing tank tops and shorts were jumping up and down with breasts clearly bouncing up and down. Remarkably, all the teen boys were holding signs without bouncing. Why is this funny?  Because I had to drive by a Hooters on my way home and the Hooters’ girls were doing the same thing, minus the anti-choice propaganda. Just saying, if your “pro-life generation” is using the same tactics as Hooters’ girls you might want to re-think that.

So maybe this isn’t so funny, maybe it is. I just find it funny (as in haha funny that antis have so much contradictory information to yell at women who are just trying to go see a doctor). My own father, who leans toward the social conservative side, thinks men who stand outside “those doctors women go see for women problems” are perverts. I tend to agree.

Go away. No one needs your opinion outside the doctor’s office. If they want your opinion, they will ask. Most people don’t ask strangers for their opinions on serious medical decisions.

Women are not stupid. They do not need time to “reflect.”  They do not need non-medical professionals, or medical professionals who act unprofessional, to tell them what to do. It is unlikely that they woke up one morning and said “Ya know, I was totes gonna have a kid, but now I want a pedicure. The clinic is on the way. I’m gonna pop in for an abortion.”So maybe this isn’t funny. Maybe it is a little preachy. Maybe I am preaching to the choir, but the fact remains that antis can’t even get their own lines straight.

Why on earth would anybody take medical or life advice from them?

M Words ~ by KYBorn

“You are making that up.”

I remember the exact road that we were driving down when I first told my husband that some of the antis believed that women having abortions were really sacrificing babies to some sort of demon or god named Moloch. That was my husband’s response.

He didn’t believe me. He said that sounded like a character from the “Ghost Busters” movie. He said I was making it up. When I told him that Moloch was apparently a god mentioned in the Old Testament in the Bible and there was some verse about passing children through the fires of Moloch leading to a bad ending for all involved, he swore he had never heard of it. Just to be clear, my husband was a devout Christian for many years who at one point considered attending seminary, so he hasn’t been a godless heathen all his life. He still had never heard of Moloch. Clearly, the antis are scouring the most obscure verses of the Bible to argue against abortion. Of course the verses mentioning Moloch still don’t mention abortion, but that is how desperate they have become.

The things they say are so outrageous that a man pretty aware of the struggle for abortion access and politically active took 15 minutes to convince that antis could be that ignorant. This led to a rather lengthy, bizarre but humorous, conversation that included my husband making the suggestion that people stand among the antis wearing shirts that said “I’m With Moloch” and had an arrow pointing to the person standing next to them. Kind of like those ugly shirts people wore a long time ago that said “I’m With Stupid” and had an arrow pointing to the person next to them. Of course, escorts can’t do this because it wouldn’t be de-escalating and it probably would be a bad idea even for non-escorts to wear them, but still, imagine a bunch of people standing among the anti-gauntlet wearing this shirt.

 moloch t-shirt-3

 

Malarkey (I think I spelled that correctly) is a term rarely heard outside Kentucky. I know my mother used it a lot. For those not familiar with the term, it is a polite way of saying bullshit. Malarkey is exactly what the antis are peddling on the sidewalk and on social media. Earlier in the week, I had the not-so-pleasurable experience of engaging an anti who had invaded the #protectthezone on Twitter with the usual twaddle of these women being denied information that they want. When I responded that women did not want the information and in fact requested to be left alone many times while being followed by groups of men and women, I got a non-answer in the form of the question “Do you think women should be allowed to be sold dangerous products?”

Aside from being a non-response, he makes it sound like a medical procedure is the equivalent of lawn darts. I won’t bore you with the whole exchange, but I will warn you it was quite bizarre. I think I was actually tweeting with a couple of people because they gave responses to questions I never asked and responded to statements that I never made. Basically, they argued that abortion was a product because it was peddled and sold to women. I responded that pregnancy then must also be a product, as women are pressured to get pregnant and remain pregnant far more than they are urged to get an abortion. As an example, I didn’t even make it through my wedding reception without an elderly lady warning me to be careful of “foreign illness” because it would “hurt the baby” when I got pregnant on my honeymoon. Talk about a hard sell. That doesn’t even mention the pressure to marry and mate (actually these are unintentional M words) that starts often as soon as a woman has received her high school diploma.

More malarkey peddled during this tweet was the fact that, aside from not being a product rather than a medical procedure, was that abortion was unsafe. When I pointed out that according to the CDC, far more women died of childbirth than abortion, the response changed to something that had nothing to do with that fact. So if abortion is a product because it is peddled, then pregnancy must be a product as well because it is certainly sold by CPCs, antis and lots of people who have no business sticking their nose into the lives and uteruses of others.

The other M word I think of when I think of antis is “move on.”  Yes, I know that seems kind of odd but all of these people waving fetus porn, screaming lies and stalking women need to move on. Abortion is legal. Abortion is a pregnant person’s right. You don’t have to like it and I guess you can wave signs and lie to women all dang day if it makes you feel better. I think the fact that they refuse to move on shows that they don’t really care about “babies” or women, or really anything other than putting on a show or doing penance for their own abortion.

There are over 100,000 children in the United States waiting to be adopted. There are thousands of children being sent illegally across our border who have suffered lord knows what kind of trauma. They came because their parents felt that was the best thing they could do for their children. They are basically in large camps now. Where are the antis when it comes to these children?  Usually not giving a crap when they can’t get adopted because they are too old, or the wrong race for those in our country. I suspect a lot of the people waving those nasty signs at those poor traumatized children from other countries as they are being bussed to processing centers are probably also anti-abortion.

Which brings up the point that many anti-abortion folks are also anti-contraception. They claim there is no over-population problem. They claim the entire world could live in the state of Texas. So, apparently 9 billion people can cram themselves into Texas, but they can’t absorb a few thousand traumatized children. If the antis can’t find compassion for children waiting for adoption, or those separated from their families to cross the border illegally alone into a strange country, I don’t see how they can possibly have compassion for a zygote, embryo or fetus that has no feelings while ignoring the needs of living, breathing, feeling children. They are either putting on a show or horribly misguided. I tend to believe the first, but if it is the second I don’t really have any less contempt because they are still doing great harm.

My final M word, and yes I promise to wrap this up soon, is “me.”  By now, I’m sure you know I am rather wordy. Yes, me: A person the antis could care less about. As a non-pregnant woman I am not relevant other than my potential to breed. The fact that I have chosen not to have children is the business of no one but me. At the end of the day, even my husband doesn’t get to tell me whether or not to become a mother.

If my husband doesn’t get a vote in my uterus, then I am pretty dang sure that a bunch of people on the sidewalk waving fetus porn and calling me a whore aren’t going to get a vote. If, despite precautions, I do find myself pregnant, I will get an abortion because I don’t want to be a mother. That’s right. I will do what is best for me. Something too many women are told from the time they are little girls is not OK. We are taught to compromise, think of others, to always make sure everybody else is happy. And this is fine in some cases. It makes the world a better place when we think of others before ourselves.

In the case of carrying or terminating a pregnancy this isn’t true. Every woman should have the strength and support to stand up and say “I am the one pregnant and the only one who matters is me.”  Not the fetus. Not the father. Not her parents. Not the father’s parents. Not well-meaning friends. Not busy bodies at CPCs. Not people who wave gross signs.None of them matter.

And maybe one day, all women will be able to stand up and say in the case of an unwanted or unhealthy pregnancy, the only person who matters is me, and other people will actually listen.

 

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.