What’s New on the Sidewalk?

Not much is new, really – although there’s often a surprise or two on a Saturday. This week, we had Catholics on parade, and the Archbishop was there – so they had a police motorcade – and they brought the Knights of Columbus. Someone thought they were from the Renaissance Faire, but no.

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(Ten or twelve people walking down the street, the one in front carries a painting of a woman, probably representing Mary, behind her are three Knights, older men in tricorn hats with feathers, white or red capes, black suits.  At their sides, they are wearing swords.  Behind them is the Archbishop in black pants and shirt, with the touch of white clergy collar.  Behind them is a young man, casually dressed, and a few other people.  The front of a police car is visible on the far right.)

I am not trying to be snarky about the Knights but they do look a little medieval, right? And the swords might be a bit over the top. Yes, swords – see the silverish things hanging down beside them? Swords. Grown men. Broad daylight. In front of the abortion clinic.

The official mission statement for the Knights of Columbus says:

The Kentucky State Council is dedicated to growing the Order throughout the state of Kentucky to further the vision of our founder, Fr. Michael J. McGivney and the Evangelization of our Catholic Faith. The Order was founded on the principle of Charity, specifically to care for the widow and orphan of a Brother Knight. Later the principles of Unity and Fraternity, as well as Patriotism were added. The everyday actions of the State and local councils are a means for Knights to live the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. It is through the implementation of programs that exemplify these principles that the Kentucky State Council will continue to grow the Order. The State Council will lead by example and through both action and dialogue inspire its members into action.

They are not, as far as I can tell, joined by the Knights of Peter Claver which, according to Wikipedia:

“…the largest and oldest continually existent predominantly African-American Catholic fraternal organization was founded more than 100 years ago. It was formed to provide opportunities for Catholic Action to men of color to be actively involved in their faith by living the Gospel message. The Knights of Peter Claver membership now includes the entire family and offers opportunities to engage in a variety of church and community service projects and support various charitable appeals.”

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But the Knights are in fine fettle, standing across the street from the abortion clinic.  I hope those swords have a dull point, like epees, but I’m not close enough to tell.  Actually that is not my thumb in the pictures here either.

(Two images, each of a man standing at attention, holding a sword up over his right shoulder.  They are wearing black hats with huge white feathers, and black suits.  The one on the left appears to be elderly and is wearing glasses and a red cape, while the one on the right is wearing a white cape and has a white mustache.) 

In other news , the ongoing conflict between our regular Catholics and the AHA people (Abolish Human Abortion) flares up today.   The Catholics, who create the gauntlet of people lining the sidewalk, mostly just say the rosary.  AHA  folks bring their microphones and preach the whole time – loudly.  Makes it difficult for the Catholics to hear themselves pray – so today, we hear a sudden blast from a referee whistle, and a lot of yelling at the preacher.  But it is just a momentary disruption and no blows are exchanged.

As I’m crossing the street with a client, one of the AHA guys joins us.  He’s wearing a microphone and actually starts broadcasting at the client as we cross the street.  That’s a first for me, and I’m sure for her too.  Doesn’t seem like you would need amplification if you’re standing right next to someone.  I’m hoping he’s not going to make a habit of it – it just seems like a new level of rude.

But lots of things are the same.  They still hang their signs on the fire hydrant – I guess they think the police just meant they couldn’t do it that one day.  Dominic still yells, “Murder – Murder in the first degree!”  Donna still gives her little hand wave, motioning for the clients to come out of the clinic.

So much happening there, it’s such a circus, and seems like such a big deal.  And then I read Ky Born’s story about her abortion experience and I’m reminded that the walk up the sidewalk is a tiny part of the “getting an abortion” process.   All this chaos is one tiny part.  That’s a good perspective to hold on to.

The Good Abortion- Part I – by KyBorn

It is several years ago and I am living in my first apartment, a tiny starter place with three rooms and worn carpet .  I stare at the wallpaper – brown with white vines and blue roses – as I wait for the timer to go off.   The test is on my kitchen counter.

I wait, knowing I’m pregnant.   I can tell myself my period is late because of the stress of the rape and stalking; that I was never regular anyway.  But a few mornings puking when I see my co-workers eating breakfast and I know I need one of those dollar store pregnancy kits.  Will it be good news?  Or send my life spiraling off into chaos?

And the answer is –  two lines.  Two lines that will change – possibly ruin – my life.

I sit up all night crying and hyperventilating in panic.  I want to be done with thinking about the rape, not have a reminder in my uterus growing bigger by the day.  There are only two options when it comes to pregnancy – abortion or giving birth.   A person cannot “adopt” an unwanted embryo out of my uterus.  For me, abortion is the only option.

In the small town where I grew up, people don’t talk about “those sorts of things.”  There are girls in high school who are quietly spirited out of town for a few days; they return with strict instructions to pretend nothing happened. There are rumors, but nobody speaks out about having an abortion.

I live in a larger city now, and have known women who had abortions, but I hadn’t asked where they went. My OB/GYN has refused to discuss long-acting contraceptives with me because she’s sure I will want children, but I think she’s still my best choice.  Surely she can refer me to a doctor who provides abortion care.

Wrong.  I call at 8:00 AM.  The receptionist, her high-pitched voice entirely too cheerful for that time of morning, asks how she can help.  I don’t want to waste time explaining  why I want an abortion – I don’t feel like I owe people explanations.  I tell her I need a referral for abortion.  I can hear her breathing on the other end of the phone.   You would have thought I told her I wanted to build a rocket so I could go to the moon to fight the purple scorpions who had come from Uranus.   After a long pause, in a decidedly less cheerful voice, she says, “WE don’t do that here, and we don’t refer patients for THAT.”

I just hang up.

I need to find one of those Planned Parenthood places I’ve heard about.  We don’t have one in my city, but luckily, in the age of the internet, I can find contact information for the one in Big City,  in another state over 70 miles away.

I call.  Another too cheerful receptionist asks how she can help.  Again, I skip the long story and tell her I want an abortion.

This time, there is no ominous silence.  She chatters along, asking questions,  explaining that I will have to talk to the scheduler to make an appointment.  She asks me if I’m sure I’m pregnant.  I want to say, “No, not at all. I just get abortions for shit and giggles every so often,” and throw the phone.  But she’s just doing her job and being a jerk is not going to help me get an abortion.

She transfers me to the scheduler, who asks questions and explains the process.  I need proof of blood type, or they can check before the procedure, so they can administer Rho-Gam if mine is negative. They’ll check my iron level that day too. I’ll watch a film and talk to a counsellor.   Insurance does not cover abortion, she explains, and tells me the cost. Luckily, I have that amount without having to skip rent.  At least the stress of scraping together money isn’t heaped on me as it is so many other women.

And I have my appointment.

We Win Again

Only 100 protesters turned up on Saturday before Mother’s Day.  You know the deal – Pledge-a-Picketer, the more anti’s show up, the more money we make from the fundraiser.  It was always a win-win proposition – if lots of protesters show up, good for us, if not so many show up, good for us – and the clients. Here’s the history.

2009 – between 275 and 325 protesters.  (This was the year that inspired the fund-raiser.)

2010 – 255 protesters, 89 escorts

2011 – Closed for Derby Day

2012 – 151 protesters, 40 escorts

2013 – 315 protesters, ? escorts {can’t find the count for this year, sorry.}

2014 – 103 protesters, 60 escorts  {Donna tells the escorts that the numbers are low because they know about the fund-raiser we do so they stay away.  YAY – that’s a win for us too!}

And now ~~ this year ~~ drumroll please ~~ i

100 protesters, 35 escorts

Yep, that’s it.  I know, it’s a little ho-hum.  Here’s what it looked like:

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It was a lovely sea of orange up by the front door.

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Here’s what it sounded like.

Chad, standing on his step stool, preaches to the men:

“Turn back to God and become the man that God intended you to be!   Don’t stand up th~~ Take off your orange vests, men, and pick up your Bible {thumping on the Bible} and read it!  And heed it!  That was God’s intention for you!  That was God’s intent!  He said for us to rule this world – subdue the planet – to control it!!”

Lovely, right?  And this:

Chad says:

No thieves, no covetous, no drunkards, no revilers, no extortionists shall inherit the kingdom of God.  {Leans over and points at me}   Fear God, repent of your sins, and put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  {unintelligible} eternal life.

I am not sure which of those types of sinners I am – I mean, possibly all of them, but I don’t know which one he’s accusing me of being.  Baby killer is my usual gig ~ in their view ~ although, for the record I have not actually killed any babies, either pre-born or post.  So I’m a little baffled, but that’s ok.  I don’t want to have a conversation with him about it or anything.

Because we’re doing a Spring Pledge-a-Picketer this year, we still have one more day to go before we tally up on fundraising.  The Saturday before Father’s Day is another special occasion, famous for the parade that comes in from a nearby church.  Lots of singing and excitement – i would kind of like if they would just do it somewhere else.  Here’s what it was like last year:

It’s a gospel song, and mostly says, “Shout for victory, Shout for the Lord.”

So it’s not too late to make your pledge for Pledge-a-Picketer.   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

Antis Say the Darndest Things~ by fml

Most of you already know that protesters on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic say the same things over and over. And over. You probably already know that to call their words “counseling” stretches the imagination beyond breaking point.

If you follow this blog, you may remember Escort Bingo – if not, you can refresh your memory here. You may even have a personal favorite in the repetitive lines that the protesters use. I have a bunch of favorites, but here are a few:

“Just take 5 minutes to get a free ultrasound. What’s the harm in that?”

“We only want to help.”

“God is watching you.”

“Why don’t you go to a real doctor?”

“They don’t care about you. They only care about your money.”

“Come next door where we care about you.”

So the other day, a couple of escorts started a little game. One of them pledged a quarter for every time Anti XYZ says a particular line. Another escort pledged a dime for every time Anti ABC says one of their favorite lines. Then – who knows where these ideas come from?- some escort says, “We should make this a fundraiser!”

So now it is. It’s our pre-Easter, just-for-fun, antis-say-the-darndest-things fundraiser. We’re not expecting to make a lot of money – the Bowl-a-Thon is coming soon, and then we’ll be working on Pledge-a-Picketer. We’re not trying to wear anyone out with excessive fundraising. This is just for fun.

We want the antis to know we are doing this fundraiser, but we don’t want them to know which antis and which phrases we are tracking. If they don’t know, the only way they can keep us from raising funds is they all have to stop saying anything. It’s a total win-win scenario for us.

We already have escorts lined up to track the things they say. If you want to play – to pledge a certain amount for every time XYZ says that thing they say, or ABC says their rudest admonition, email us for details. You can find us at everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com

We’ll let you know the tally and winning phrase after Easter.

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.

The Twelve Days of Christmas – on the Sidewalk

A few of the escorts came up with our very own version of a Christmas carol, really just for fun.   Hope you enjoy our rendition of

The Twelve Days of Christmas – on the Sidewalk:

The lyrics go like this:

On the first day of Christmas, the antis gave to me
~ a prenatal ultrasound freeeeee

On the second day of Christmas, the antis gave to me
~~ 2 Adoptive Parents and a prenatal ultrasound freeee

It goes on, of course, and eventually, you end up with this:

12 Chasers Chasing
11 Prayers Praying
10 Liars a Lying
9 Catholics Parading
8 Cameras Flashing
7 Preachers Screaming
6 Pamphlets Waving
~~~ 5 Rosarieeeees ~~~
4 Lot Lizards
3 Fetus Dolls
2 Adoptive Parents
and a prenatal ultrasound freeee

Most of the things on our list have been mentioned in our blog – many of them repeatedly.  So unless you’re new to the world of escorting, you already know that:

Our antis are always pleading with the clients to come next door for an ulrtasound, adding in pleading tones – it’s freeee.  It is also not accepted by the clinic, and people have said that they’re not always accurate.

The antis promise the clients that there are “people waiting to adopt your baby.”

And some antis carry little plastic fetuses (fetusi??)

“Lot lizards” is what we call the antis who hang out in the parking lot behind the CPC, waiting for clients to park there, in hopes of luring them into their “clinic.”

The rest of it really is self-explanatory, except, maybe, for Catholics Parading.  Every second Saturday of the month, there’s a special mass at a church and afterwards, some of them walk down to the clinic.   Hence the term “Catholics on Parade.”

Happy Holidays!

 

Shame on the Sidewalk

“You chose to lay down with a man… you chose to open your legs… killing this baby won’t solve your problems…”

“Honey, your relationship will never be the same.  Your life will never be the same.  You’ll always regret this.”

“You’ll always be a mother.  You’ll just be the mother of a dead baby.”

“Be a man!!  Bring her out of there!  Don’t let her kill your baby!”

Shame.  Antis are all about shaming the people who come to the clinic.  In fact, they enjoy it so much that when there aren’t any clients walking up the sidewalk, they look for new outlets.

Yesterday, Donna, standing under her big umbrella, and Nurse Betty, under a more modest one, were whispering and pointing at me ever-so-obviously. Then, “You need to get a bigger raincoat!” they informed me. They had to say it again before I got it – they were calling me fat!

Fortunately, I am no longer actually in middle school, so it only stung for a second before I was amused.

They said it a couple more times, but I guess I didn’t give them the reaction they wanted, because later, Nurse Betty commented, just loudly enough for me to hear “And she counsels people? She doesn’t even take care of herself.”

I just shook my head.  It was easy enough to shrug off their pettiness.

When I shared the story  with some other escorts, I got some great responses.   One of them said:

I always think in my mind, “I may be fat, but you’re ugly. I can always lose weight, but there’s no hope for you!” Then, I smile.

That ugliness can be inner or outer. They were just mean ugly to you.

Another escort commented:

Another example of good christian behavior.

While someone suggested:

Bring a bunch of doughnuts and chew them with your mouth open as you stare at them.

I loved the suggestion that I refer them to the Bible – Matthew Chapter 23, verse 27. Of course, I had to google it. It says:

27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity

 

And then someone said this:

I’ll just bet she was a nasty little tattletale whinger on the playground, too, at St. Mary’s Keep Your Legs Crossed School Of The Blessed Insults.

which cracked me up.

All the affirmation and support is fun and feels good, but it’s not why I started talking about this. I was trying to figure out if I could do a blogpost about it without sounding like I was just looking for sympathy or support. Because really ~~

Nurse Betty and Donna sniping at me is not the problem. It’s actually helpful, because it shines a light on who they are.  They’re mean people.

Donna and Nurse Betty are not calling me out on being fat because I’m fat.  They’re calling me out on being fat because they’re mean.  That’s just who they are.  They want me to feel bad.  They want me to feel ashamed of my body and of myself.

And Donna and Nurse Betty aren’t on the sidewalk “counseling” women because they care about women or babies.  They’re on the sidewalk because they’re mean.   The abortion clinic is their best opportunity for socially sanctioned bullying.   They want people to feel ashamed.

I want you to recognize them for the bullies that they are.  That’s why I’m writing this post.   So if you’re ever on the sidewalk – whether you’re a client, a companion, or an escort – you can see through their facade.  You can see their petty meanness.

I was able to shrug them off.  I’d love for everyone to be able to do that too.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C-Words ~ by KYBorn

No, not that C-word. I couldn’t resist a chance to say, “Made You Look,” which seemed to be the height of wit when we were all in kindergarten. Yes, I do have a point. Stay with me. I promise I’ll get there.

Last week, when a couple of the escorts asked me to write an article for Every Saturday Morning, I was flattered. Since then, I have had the pleasure of joining a few of them on the sidewalk in Louisville for the morning. I appreciate that they took the time to show me what they, clients and companions experience five days a week. I am still processing some of my first escorting experience but I do plan to write about it at some point. The first time I wrote about antis not understanding what the word “censorship” means. Actually being on the sidewalk really drove home the point that there are a lot of other C-words antis don’t understand the meaning of.

I’m going to skip over the obvious ones. By now, everyone knows that “choice” is the F-dash-dash-dash word, the Queen Mother of all dirty words (to steal a line from the movie “A Christmas Story”) to anti-choice protesters. “Contraception” seems on the way to becoming almost as bad. At best, it is considered a gateway drug to abortion and at worst, it is considered exactly the same as having an abortion.

One fairly new phrase that seems to be creeping into the mix is the line that all women have abortions for “comfort and convenience.”  Antis act as if there is a big box on patient registration forms or on surveys designed to collect health information labeled “comfort and convenience” that all women check. Women have abortions for a variety of reasons that they do not have to share with or justify to anyone. Antis have taken research on reasons women give for having abortions and lumped almost all of them under their new, re-labeled category of comfort and convenience.

As usual, they miss the mark completely. Not having health insurance and not being able to pay for the cost of labor and delivery is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Not being able to keep a roof over your own head, or the heads of existing dependents because you live month to month and can’t take what is going to be a minimum of 6 weeks off work without pay is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Not wanting to be forced to go through the painful process of labor and delivery when you don’t want to or aren’t ready to be a parent is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Going to the gynecologist for a medical procedure is not comfortable, although abortion is not the blood-soaked, pain-filled nightmare antis like to say it is. It is certainly not convenient to drive 4 hours for a simple, outpatient procedure and in some states it is becoming a weeks-long process with clinics closing and mandatory clinic visits for counseling followed by mandated waiting periods.

What got me to thinking about this was actually being on the sidewalk this week. It wasn’t raining when I arrived but it started coming down pretty hard part of the way through the morning. As I was taking off my vest to put on my poncho, one of the antis felt the need to lecture me about worrying about my own comfort while babies were being murdered. I have never been admonished for putting on rain gear, but I guess there is a first time for everything. Of course, this particular anti was standing under both an umbrella and the awning so she was clearly worried about her own comfort. It is easy to dismiss others need for comfort and convenience when it is not your own. I am pretty sure that the anti who sat in her car to talk on the phone for 10 minutes did so because it is inconvenient to replace your cell phone because it got wet. I am also pretty sure the protester in the expensive-looking suit who spent the entire morning standing under the awning of a business down the block  without ever stepping out did so because it would be quite uncomfortable to walk around in wet clothing at work for a couple of hours.

The other C-word antis don’t grasp is “compassion.”  Compassion is what I saw from the escorts. People do not get up early in the morning, week after week, to volunteer to walk with strangers to a medical appointment to try to limit harassment without it. Compassion is not shown by repeating the same lines, like a script in a movie, to every person who walks into a clinic. Compassion is not shown by demanding loudly that complete strangers share their reproductive decisions with you. Compassion is not shown by dismissing the many reasons people choose to have an abortion. Compassion is not shown by vague promises of resources that people don’t want and may not be delivered. Compassion is not shown when women who regret their own abortions come out under the guise of preventing other women from feeling the same thing, only to talk all about themselves and their guilt rather than listening.

Compassion is understanding that every person on that sidewalk has their own story. Compassion is understanding that those stories are deeply personal and do not have to be shared with strangers to justify walking into a doctor’s office. Compassion is understanding that shouting an arsenal of anti-choice talking points through a clinic door does not change the reason people are there. Compassion is understanding that people choose abortion for a variety of reasons that can’t always be solved with a free pregnancy test, a non-diagnostic ultrasound, some diapers and Bible classes. Compassion is understanding that women are people with feelings, dreams, lives and problems rather than simply potential fetus containers.

If you have hung with me this far, I will be brief in saying I have my own C-word for what is happening outside clinics and inside our legislative chambers to restrict people’s rights to make their own decisions about health care. It is crap.

And the Results Are…

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

Protesters – 103.  

Escorts – 60.

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

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

*transcript at the end of post

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

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

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

Anyhow.

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

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

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

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

to which the escort joyously replied,

“YES! Our plan is working!”

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

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

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

*Transcript  of the video:

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