At Ease With Themselves ~ by SharkSandwich

Do you ever come across someone and almost immediately you’re able to ascertain what kind of person they might be? In the case of vile people, the person in question wears such a thin, affected veil that it’s simply not possible to ignore the wolf’s fangs jutting out from underneath the ill-fitting sheep’s wool.

On Saturday, my second day volunteering as an escort, I had the occasion to get acquainted with such an individual. And by “acquainted,” I mean to say I was berated with raving projections of racism and sexism from an older male anti that were completely devoid of irony. Irony, after all, would denote some semblance of humanity and humor, and the man who verbally dug into me may have misplaced the remaining specks of his humanity quite some time ago.

It’s really a surreal experience to stand silently and withstand someone’s verbal abuse. To respond would be to validate it, and I don’t necessarily want to dignify this man with my attention. Simultaneously, though, it’s really goddamn difficult to simply absorb that abuse with complete grace. You practically need SEAL-level Psy Ops defense training to absorb the abuse without so much as flinching (or incredulously smirking, as it were). I am not so flawless in my disposition.

I had typed out a somewhat detailed account of my misguided interactions with “Gone” (as in, that’s where his marbles are), but I’ve already dignified his piggish remarks too much in my own thoughts, so I’m not going to publicize them here. Omitted, though, are Gone’s sexist and racist slobberings, Gone giving me his most spirited Yosemite Sam impression (minus the 50-gallon hat), his fetish for imagining the escorts as puppy-murderers and his smug fixation with calling me a “weasel” – whatever the fuck that means.

Although my interaction with Gone was brief, thankfully a fellow escort gently redirected me, suggesting that I maybe should refrain from responding to Gone because it just encouraged him. My fellow escort was right. Interacting with Gone was like dealing with a tantrum-happy 8-year-old, so I silenced myself for good. Of course, rabbits and pigeons inside of a Skinner box would probably have reached the extinction point of an unreinforced behavior sooner than Gone did, but whatever. Eventually, he left me alone so he could go harass other people.

Later, Gone sought me out again after I had moved to another location, where he resumed his verbal derision. More name-calling, more overtly cartoonish outbursts. It’s as if you could see that he wanted to actually use cuss words at us and shout really disgusting, profane things in our faces. However, him using such language could also run a risk of possibly being perceived by his fellow antis as a gutter-dwelling sinner like us escorts, and he wouldn’t dare do that. Appearances, as I’m quickly learning about antis, always trumps integrity.

Observing Gone – and in disturbingly close proximity – I was reminded of how racists will kind of just clam up whenever they really want to express their prejudices to people in public, but also are terrified of being alienated for being an unforgivable bigot. Instead of taking that risk, they keep the racism to themselves, and most people around them erroneously assume these closeted racists are actually decent people. The racist’s desperate need for social connection at least keeps the racist behavior at bay (for the most part).

(Hell, the way Gone expertly furrows his brow when he’s trying to provoke us with his dumb insults, I got the impression he’d feel right at home among a mob of white racists assaulting civil rights activists 60 years ago. He either rehearses that delivery in the bathroom mirror every morning, or he’s just been this hateful for a long time. Either way, that kind of hate is a well-polished hatred.)

After our escort work wrapped up that morning, I continued to think about Gone and the other antis I witnessed harassing people outside the clinic. Unsurprisingly, the men are almost always the loudest, as is the wont of men. But more than being loud and trying to infringe upon the space of women, it also became apparent to me that they likely enjoy yelling mean-spirited insults at women because this sidewalk is probably one of the few places these antis are guaranteed to not receive any swift retaliation for their misogyny. Because we escorts (ideally) refuse to interact with them, the escorts – along with the patients we escort – thereby become very available outlets for these anti men (and women, too) to openly unleash their misogyny without fear of punishment.

It’s one thing to call a cashier at Target a genocidal whore when you’re vulnerable to immediate public judgment – nobody’s going to put up with that bilious slander, you know? But here at the clinic sidewalk, it’s as if the antis know they’re mostly invulnerable to retaliation, and therefore have no hesitation saying these terrible things that they genuinely do believe.

In fact, I have a hard time believing they actually care about fetuses, children, or even abortion’s alleged health risks to women (despite their transparent doom-sayings to women as they walk into the clinic). I doubt they really even care about divine judgment. Of the few that may actually be protesting for truly religious reasons, they’re only here to save their own asses from the threat of damnation.

These people – and specifically, these men – are only interested in themselves and their shared hatred of women. They may arrive at that destination via different avenues, but the final conclusion is uniform. The antis even appear to delight in being able to no longer conceal their hatred of women. That they can openly use that hate to taunt the escorts outside of the clinic without repercussions must feel like a bonus Christmas morning to them.

For the antis, the sidewalk outside of the clinic becomes a space where they no longer need to bother with the sheep’s disguise so as to pass and be accepted by the public. They know the two consequences keeping their hateful inclinations at bay in the general world – being ostracized from society, physical harm from the immediately offended – have been temporarily removed, so what have they got to lose?

As a result, the sidewalk has become for them a place where they are comfortable being their true selves: not Christians, not conservatives, not voters, and not crusaders.

They’re just really, really mean people who care only about themselves.

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PSA for EMW Clients

If you see this sign, do not park in this lot

IMG_0001

It is the anti-parking lot.  

And it’s time for Pledge-a-Picketer!

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You know how it works, right? You pledge so much for each protester who shows up, we count the protesters, and the more of them there are, the more money we raise for escorts {vests, training costs, and other miscellany} and abortion access.

Make your pledge here.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1xbxdKkjOSsfRnLlCBo86dIVqBHtyntmA-GKLW9QT_I4/viewform

 

That Morning ~ by RMM

Since I’ve been really little, conversations concerning pro-life and pro-choice have been big topics. My mom has always been pro-choice and would always share her opinion, but more importantly, she always told me that the choice was mine. That she would tell me many things throughout my childhood, but in no way did I have to follow in her footsteps.

Volunteering at the clinic all started because a girl at my school had put up a status on Facebook talking about this coming weekend being a big weekend because it was Easter Sunday, and that the more volunteers they had, the more smoothly the process would go for women trying to make it to the clinic. I had never volunteered before, heck I never even knew where the clinic was at.  (Even though I passed it almost every day to go to my bus stop after school). So, I convinced my mom (and more importantly myself) to wake up on a summer morning at 5 am and catch a cab down to the clinic.

This experience was a while ago, but I can say I will never forget how it went. I remember getting down there and everyone was so nice. My friend had told me all you had to do was look for the people in the orange vests and they were the people to talk to. It all started with me and my mom explaining that we had never done this before, but that I had for a long time been interested in helping out (also the idea of breakfast after was a plus too.)

A woman gave us two of her vests and told us to take our place at the side of the clinic. I remember it wasn’t even 6 am and protesters already started lining up. Some that I remember the most was an older gentlemen that had a cross statue. Now the funny thing to me was that the base for holding the cross was larger than the actual cross. I also remember a woman that had a flag of the Virgin Mary hanging from a frame she had made from PVC pipe. And of course, the most prominent person I remember was a woman that stood right at the front against the volunteers preaching from her Bible; so loud that the women already inside the doors could hear her.

Now don’t take what I’m saying as a bashing of Christians, Catholics, any religion for that matter. I’ve always been a strong supporter of respecting all religions, even if I don’t personally believe them. But I would say I definitely wasn’t prepared for the amount of protesters. While mentally I can’t understand how another woman will tell another woman that she doesn’t have the right over her own body, that’s my opinion. I would also say that the experience was a definite eye opener for me. I can’t even imagine the stress and fear that the women coming to that clinic feel. Being yelled at by people that they are killing their baby or sinning in the eyes of God. For all of you know, the women walking through those doors could be Catholic or Christian themselves. And it kills them to be doing something that their religion tells them is wrong and will send them to hell.

I’m glad that I came, and I really hope that I can do it again, although over the school year the weekend is my time to sleep, not wake up at 5 am. But you will be seeing me again, and I hope the next time I’ll learn something new.

Bad People

We talk once in awhile about how the antis will bring their children out as props. This morning we had a family group of grandparents and two grandchildren under the age of four.

It was one of the cooler mornings we have had this fall, with the temperature around 42 degrees. Of course, it is usually colder on the sidewalk in front of the clinic because of the taller buildings, proximity to the riverfront and all of that concrete.

The grandparents parked halfway down the block and walked the children to the clinic doors wrapped in blankets. One of them was carrying a babydoll wrapped in the blanket with them.

As they passed the clinic entrance the grandfather pointed out the escorts to the older child and said, “These are all bad people.” The child’s eyes got large as they watched us when walking past.

They continued on towards AWC where the other antis greeted them and talked to the children. They are the good people, evidently.

A short time later, the grandfather walked back holding the older child’s hand and stood facing me from about one foot away; trying to stare me down for Jesus I guess because he didn’t say a word to me.  After a minute, the child looked up and saw me. She said, “Uh oh. She’s bad,” while pulling away from her grandfather. He led her away; point made.

They lingered a little while longer until the children got tired and started sitting on the planter box of the clinic.

My heart went out to the child who was frightened by the “bad people.”

Just another day of observing the teaching of intolerance and hatred on the sidewalk.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. That’s one week from today! Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {10/21/13}

We frequently see clients and companions respond to the words spoken by the antis. Sometimes they respond with politeness to the questions the antis ask them. Sometimes they respond with their own biblical quotes to counter what the anti is saying. Sometimes they respond with well-thought out responses for the questions the antis bring up. Sometimes they respond with emotional pleas to just listen to them. Sometimes they respond with anger. Sometimes they respond with tears. Sometimes they respond with sarcasm. Frequently, it is a combination of several of these approaches.

One morning we had a client who responded with all of these approaches. The client had been to the clinic earlier in the week and heard all of the things the antis normally say. D particularly gave them a hard time. This time they had thought about their responses and were ready and eager to confront the antis, especially D.

The client and their companions arrived about 30 minutes before the doors of the clinic opened. They went immediately to the door because the client wanted to talk to D. The next 30 minutes in front of the clinic were confrontational, chaotic, sad and upsetting. Some of the words and actions of the client were purposely shocking even to escorts. After all, she had a couple of days to think about what they had said to her before. The client’s words and actions served the purpose of causing all but one anti to back away from her and leave her alone. D retreated early, but was still talking about it to other antis 3 days afterwards.

Two things stand out in my mind from the morning.

One was the client’s response to, “Have you considered adoption?” The reply was, “What? Do you want me to spend the rest of my life asking every child I pass on the street, “Are you my baby? Are you?” I don’t think so.”

The other thing that stands out was the waves of hurt and anger in equal parts coming from the client. She was vocal about being angry and hurt for being judged and shamed by the antis without knowing her or her story.

An escort spoke to her after she went into the clinic to make sure she was okay. She was pleased she was able to speak up for herself, but was still upset the antis even thought they had a right to question her and her decision, let alone film her as she waited by the door. The escort explained the policy of public sidewalks and filming, but it still isn’t right to invade her privacy so completely.

I’ll be thinking about this client for a long time.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

Good Cop vs Bad Cop ~ by Eeyore

Recently I was standing by the door at the clinic when Tim arrived. He cupped his hands to his face, as he is wont to do, and stood for a few moments before starting his spiel (sometimes he’ll stand like that for over a minute – I’ve timed him – with his hands at his face not speaking, I guess waiting for divine inspiration. It’s creepy, like he just turns off for a bit). It went pretty much along these lines . . .

“Mothers, we aren’t here to judge you, we are here to help you. We can help with your bills, we have a beautiful maternity home that you can stay in for three years for free. And men who are in there, you are sitting next to a murderer. You are with a woman who is going to murder her baby.”

Did you notice that subtle shift in message? Yeah, me too. Part of me wanted to walk up and tell him that just because he addressed the last bit to men doesn’t mean women’s ears stopped working. Or maybe he thinks saying men switches everything to a masculine frequency that women can’t hear. Sorry Tim, that’s not how ears work. The woman you wanted to trust in this offer of loving, non-judgmental kindness just heard you call her a murderer in literally the next sentence. See, right there, that’s you judging her. So now she knows you’re a liar and rarely do people look to liars for counsel.

It’s not an uncommon experience on the sidewalk. If a client approaches from a distance and a protestor gloms on, they will often start with the “we are here to help, we just want to love you, god loves you” rhetoric. About half way to the clinic the talk turns to a pleading whimper saying “don’t murder your baby, you know it’s wrong, mommy don’t kill me”. As the client turns the corner to enter the clinic the anti’s frustration breaks and the damnation and shaming spews forth “don’t do this, god will punish you in the fires of hell, don’t make this baby pay for your mistakes”.

The thing is, you can’t play both sides by yourself. That’s why in TV shows where they’re doing the good cop/bad cop routine there’s always TWO cops. Working alone would make a person look insincere at best. The person being questioned by good/bad cop won’t trust him, the audience won’t trust him. All of his words and deeds have become suspect.

I’ve often been amazed that the anti’s don’t see something so obvious and focus on one message at a time.Why not just stick with playing the good cop routine? It would probably have better results. I think that in their minds, though, they’re never playing bad cop. Love and punishment, help and judgment, sex and shame all go hand in hand. To them it’s all the same message.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

We Care About You

This past Saturday morning it was raining really hard early in the morning. I find myself hoping most of the antis will stay away because of the weather, but of course they never do. When I arrived at the clinic there were already a couple dozen of them standing with their umbrellas. Most of the regular antis were there and they were joined by groups of people. We ended up with about twice as many protesters as we normally see on Saturdays. The positive part of this is the rain stopped and the umbrellas came down before the first clients arrived.

This is the view from the clinic entrance.

Saturday 092113 Right

Across the street, a group of about 10-15 Catholics gathered to pray. We assume they were Catholics because they were carrying rosaries and a priest in cassock was part of the group

There was a group from Kentucky Mountain Bible College who came out to display new fetal porn posters and sing. When they first arrived, they lined up on both sides of the sidewalk at the clinic property line to display their posters. Then they moved to the corner of First and Market in front of AWC (the CPC), to sing and pray. They were joined by a prayer leader and alternated between praying and singing. You can see the leader in this video. He is the one in the white jacket. There was a lot of traffic noise so you cannot hear the song, but this time they were singing a version of “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

One escort’s observation about the group’s activities was they could now say they had seen the definition of  “preaching to the choir.”

Even though the Screaming Preacher was there, he left all of the preaching and yelling at the windows to A. A is a regular and is known for his attempts to connect with clients and companions in his approach of ‘I was just like you. I understand you. I care for you.’ This is A.

Andrew

In this video, he is talking to clients and companions waiting by the entrance for the doors to open.

Transcript:

valuable. Because you are infinitely valuable. That’s why we’re here because we, we don’t know you, but we care about you. We care about you. I would love to prove that to you. If, if you would just give me five minutes of your time, I would love to prove to you how much we care about you. Ma’am, you can stand up for life today.

In all of the times I have seen A preaching, I have never seen a client or companion give him those five minutes. Sometimes they will engage with him to correct biblical statements, but not walk away to just talk to him.

A increased his volume after the clients entered the clinic, but his message is always the same. Escorts have heard him so many times, we can recite the story he shares on the sidewalk. ‘I wasted my life until I was 23. Then I read the Bible. My friends said they would find out about Jesus later. One died in a car wreck. He didn’t have time to find out. You never know what is going to happen. You need to find out about Jesus today.’

One of the interesting things about A recently is how he speaks about his wife’s pregnancy. When he first started saying, “My baby is 19 weeks old,” we thought he was talking about a born baby. No, he was talking about his wife’s pregnancy. This morning he let us know his baby was 26 weeks old, adding that the baby recently became legally safe from abortion doctors. An escort observed, “I wonder if he thinks that abortion doctors do drive-by abortions and will randomly attempt an abortion if his wife gets too close to a clinic?”

My question is if he cares for the clients and companions so much, why does he speak words meant to shame and harass them for their decision? I know that is a rhetorical question and won’t be answered, but it doesn’t matter if you scream your words or softly speak them. You are still there to interfere with a legal, medical decision by any way you can.

When Counseling Doesn’t Work, Try Screaming

We write a lot about the “sidewalk counselors” who try to coerce women into the CPC next door to the abortion clinic. They push and shove their way to stand next to a client, reciting their scripts to convince a woman to  “Just take a minute and come next door to find out if you have a viable pregnancy.” “Have you thought about adoption?  Let us tell you about all of your choices instead of abortion.” “Have you gone to a real doctor to get a second opinion?”  “I’ll adopt your baby.” “You can still change your mind. Walk out of that place.” And the ever present, “Don’t kill your baby!”

Many of the antis follow the clients to the property line at the door of the clinic and then remain there shouting at the door and window their messages of harassment. Some of the antis just come to shout and preach at the entrance. Their messages are always filled with condemnation, accusations and attempts to shame clients and companions.

“Those of you who are born-again Christians, you need to come out of there right now,” is heard almost every day from one of them.

Sometimes the shouting is just so mean-spirited it catches all of our attentions. There is a man who comes several days during the week and every Saturday to shame. His messages are always full of judgment and are delivered at full volume. In fact, he shouts so much we have nicknamed him Screaming Preacher.

Screaming Preacher

His messages are always so hate-filled and judgmental, even other antis have moved away from him. One Saturday when the Catholics lined up on the opposite side of the street to pray, he turned his attention to them by shouting, “You don’t need idols to worship God. You are all idolaters and are sinners.” That resulted in a shouting match on the sidewalk between antis as to who of them were following the one “true’ religion.

This Saturday a client and companion arrived before the doors opened. They stood facing the clinic doors, but immediately got the attention of Screaming Preacher. As he started shouting at them, the companion put his arm around the client and escorts tried to shield the message as much as possible. We kept moving right in front of Screaming Preacher. When he didn’t have a direct line of sight to the client and companion, he would move over a little bit. Since that was further away from the entrance it helped, but it didn’t block his words.

This is a video of part of his speech to them. It shows only his feet because I was so close to him I would have had only a shot of his chin if I tried to get his face. This was while we were moving him down the property line.

Transcript:

or out of your stubbornness of your heart, continue doing what you know is wrong. You know it’s wrong. You know this is a baby. You know it is. That woman is pregnant with a child and you’re the cause of that. But today, the call for you to be a man to that child and a protector to that child is there before you. But will you do it, or would you let that child fall into a hole and walk on? ‘Not my problem.’ I tell you if you don’t turn today, that child will be in a worse place than a little hole. They will be cut to pieces and dumped into a dumpster; burned as medical waste. All because you wouldn’t turn the very

These are not words meant to convert. They are words meant to shock, hurt, and shame. “That woman” is how he refers to all women. The thing about the Screaming Preacher that disturbs me is how he preaches only his view of sin and no message of salvation. “You are all going to hell.” His god is a very unforgiving one.

Once in awhile an escort will try to distract him with conversation. He welcomes these attempts to talk to him with a speech about how we are evil and are going to answer for the murders we help commit. This Saturday one escort tried. When the escort moved away to the corner of the block, he continued to scream and point at them. It ended up with him screaming so loud and long that his voice started to break up with the strain.

I personally don’t find him amusing, or even interesting. To me he is just a scary fanatic.

First Time Escorting ~ by Wolfers

Today was the first time at the clinic; truthfully the first time being on the battlefront of a sidewalk battle that has its own palpable lines. There are two bunches; in which one is easily identified by the wearing of orange vests with ‘clinic escort’ printed on it and the other having something in their hand, either a bible, rosary beads or signs that one can easily determine being about anti-abortion.

That’s what people would see. Easily for one to interpret from the obvious clues, relying on their own worldview, putting the label of ‘bad’ or ‘good’ on either group.

I see more.

Due to not being able to hear, I rely furthermore on the other senses, especially vision. I’m aware of the surroundings, the shadows and lights upon the environment;  the subtle movements of muscle; the posing of body signals; and  the nuances of facial and body expression that are overlooked for the sake of tone and context of verbal language.

Before today, I knew I had an advantage of not being able to hear what antis repeatedly say to clients or escorts, with using the weapon of verbal abuse, and that would benefit me greatly during the time.

I was wrong. I had more assets than I thought.

What I mean by that is I noticed how each of the groups presented themselves in their own borders; how one group was mechanic and cold, stuck in its own echo, while the other group looked at each other as human beings, with warmth and fortitude.

Let me describe how I observed that in many instances today.

I was standing at the boundary of the clinic, in which antis are not allowed to go across, so they are everywhere  within the peripheral range, mostly. They appear unapproachable, having a robotic, blank expression on their faces- eventually reminding me of the movie, “I, Robot”, the scene at a warehouse where you see a row of robots, still, silent and waiting for activation. They, like the robots in the movie, come alive, when clients are spotted in a distance, on a route that leads them to the clinic. That is when I noticed the desperation.

Desperate to be heard. Desperate to turn the client away from their decision, their human right to choose for themselves. One can observe the frenzy in the hurried pace of the antis, the anxious tension in the body, and the fierce menace in their faces. Even when the clients got safely away into the clinic, some antis stood in front of me and other escorts, invading into personal space. Desperation in their faces, staring at the closed clinic doors, and then the faces were then wiped blank before turning around to look upon their own members, assuming a semi-cheerful mask, with hints of coldness. Quite distorting when one watches.

The unheard shouting, the echoing statements, familiar to escorts, yet nothing to me. I can see their mouths babbling, but I understood nothing they were saying. Some targeted the escort next to me, all because they noticed she was able to hear. I watched the anti Donna talking to the escort, while avoiding eye contact with me. Pretending that I wasn’t existing just because they determined I couldn’t hear them. Their body messages so revealing, not worth their time, no sense in practicing browbeating antics on me. So from this perception, I drew that they are pretty much bullies living in righteous illusion, throwing their strength around, in a sense of giving themselves a futile sense of purpose. Take away the purpose of protesting, who are they then? Hence, their desperation exists.

On the other side, on the escorts’ side, there’s warmth. Amiable chatter, even when I don’t understand what was said, I can still pick up the sincerity in the face muscles, the affection between escorts. To empower us all, they got someone who can sign, ensuring that we all were able to talk. Welcoming friendship, unconditional. Reassuring and nonjudgmental in the relaxation of the body. The subtle nuance of genuineness in their movements. I noticed some escorts expressed concern yet giving space when clients seek shelter, pretty much like mother hens. Protective postures, sheltering the clients in an intense pace, pretty much a shot of flame through a cold tunnel, its unwelcome aura and reproaching echoes.

Being deaf, hence having a different language, different in human experience, the escorts distinguished me as a human being, a person of my own. Despite the limited communication, smiles were given to link humanity. Efforts to communicate through signing, paper and texting were their effort to say to the world, You’re here. I see you. The very same unspoken message they say to each client seeking a safe path to the clinic.

And that’s the difference between the antis and escorts from a deaf volunteer- and I can tell you safely, that’s what clients also pick up on when they are at their most vulnerable. That’s what we look for, to be recognized for who we are, during our most vulnerable moments, to be reminded we’re human beings with a right to our own choices.

Stranded in the Street ~ by Skeletor

A very nice car pulled into the pay lot and I approached, wondering if it was, in fact, a family of antis new and late to the protesting party that morning. It wasn’t the car, it was something intangible about the people in the car that made me suspect they might be new protesters. Nonetheless, I walked up to the driver’s side and asked my standard opening questions, “Are you here for the abortion clinic?” and also, “Would you like an escort to walk with you?” The people in the car answered yes to both, and I quickly ran through the information about parking; that they could or could not speak to, or accept materials from, the antis. I could see the antis swarming toward the car.

I don’t use that word lightly. They were swarming.

As soon as the client and companion exited their car, antis were mobbing them –again, I do not use that word lightly, they were mobbed – berating the couple for their choice while alternately pleading with them to do the “loving thing,” to “come next door for a free ultrasound, they will charge you for an ultrasound.”

Let me be clear. A Woman’s Choice, the crisis pregnancy center next door to the EMW clinic, will offer free ultrasounds under certain circumstances, but that ultrasound will not be accepted by any medical professional. You will have to pay for an ultrasound later, whether you continue the pregnancy or terminate it. Also, I am always puzzled as to why the protesters think paying for services rendered is one of the evils of the clinic. I expect to pay for medical services and I would hope that the doctor and his clinic are financially solvent; I consider that to be a good thing.

As the antis turned the screws on the couple, I fought the urge to correct the lies that they were hurling with abandon. It is the choice of the client to engage with the antis or not. I am not there to correct misinformation, much as I may want to do so. At one point in this melee, I realized that the antis had flanked me and turned the lot of us into a barricade, preventing the people in the car from moving forward. Stepping back so as not to be another body in the blockade, looking for a way to throw the couple a line, I finally raised my voice over the antis to ask if I could put the money in the box for them, hoping that would give them permission to push through the antis and to be on their way.

And then I saw the child.

The client and companion had with them, a young girl. Children are not allowed in the clinic, and I hesitated for a moment, wondering if I should address this with the couple before walking with them across the street. As ferocious as the antis were being, I decided it would be best to help this threesome get into the clinic and let them sort things out with the staff once inside; in a calm environment.

I positioned myself as best as I could between the antis and the young girl, talking about the bumpy sidewalk and puddles, joking with the other escort – anything to give the girl something to listen to other than the rhetoric from the antis.

As we crossed the street, the antis formed another barricade from the street to the sidewalk with their bodies and umbrellas. The companion was able to get through, and I chose to position myself between the antis gruesome poster and the girl. There were just two escorts on the curb, but they were able to provide an orange cordon through the antis to the clinic’s property line. Unfortunately, in the confusion, the client and the young girl darted away from the orange cordon, around a tree, and wound up completely blocked from the sidewalk and surrounded by antis. The poster bearer swiveled around so that the young girl got a face full of repulsive and untruthful gore shoved in her face.

As an aside, I would like to say that the antis’ “CHOICE” poster has the most riduculously false looking “fetus” soaked in more corn syrup blood than a Freddy Kreuger movie. It looks like a prop from a bad Area 51 movie. However, it is shocking when you first see it. And gross, even if it is fake. I don’t want my own child seeing that, much less someone else’s. And the antis CHOSE to shove this picture in the young girl’s face. That is their CHOICE, reprehensible though it may be.

So, with the woman and child surrounded, blocked from getting properly onto the sidewalk, much less onto the clinic property, the antis rained down a cacophonous chorus of rebukes and protestations on the two females. Repeated, stern statements of, “Excuse me,” were completely ignored as the antis chose to block the woman and child, closing in on them and trying to squeeze me out. It was claustrophobic in the middle of all of it; not a single thing the antis were saying could be made out over the others, except that these people clearly were unhappy with this endeavor. Finally, we were able to get the woman and child across the property line and rejoined with their companion.

Shaken at the most aggressive confrontation I had been a part of – and I can only imagine how the threesome felt – I asked another escort what I could have done differently. She shrugged, offering that sometimes, there is just nothing else we can do. I guess it’s true, sometimes the protesters’ behavior is so beyond the pale that there is no way to predict what they will do.

And perhaps, she added, it was the child who was the client. If there is one thing I learn time and again on the sidewalk, it is to not make assumptions. It never occurred to me that the young girl would have been the client, but it is absolutely possible that she may have been.

I have replayed that scene in my head many times, trying to figure out what I can do more efficiently or what to watch out for more keenly in the future to prevent that from happening to another client. In my reflections, I have become increasingly appalled that, with all their talk of loving children, the antis CHOSE to keep a grown woman and a young woman standing on the street so they could volley antagonisms – to achieve what, exactly?

The antis make such grand assumptions about the clients and their companions, but none of us knows anything about the people walking through those doors. And, more importantly, it’s none of our business.

Sidewalk Bingo ~ by Anonymous

One of our escorts developed this brilliant Bingo to be played while we are at the clinic. You can print out the pictures and play along wherever your clinic is, but with practice you can visualize the Bingo board in your mind and place your mental tokens while practicing your 1,000-yard stare. Have fun and don’t forget to yell “Bingo”! It will totally confuse the antis.

(We have written out the Bingo Legend cards at the end of the article for easier reading and hyperlinks.)

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Bingo Card

Bingo Worksheet 1 (650x841)

Bingo Worksheet 2

Bingo Worksheet 4

Bingo Worksheet 3

BINGO LEGEND

FREE SPACE – Any mention of god, because there will be; there will be.

Description: The use of god as a weapon is prevalent on the sidewalk. The protesters never seem to think that the people escorting or going to the clinic might worship a different god or no god at all. They can’t fathom that someone might worship the same god but interpret the writings in different ways, with different outcomes. No, their god is THE god and they know what angers him, they are right and you are wrong.

Example: “Blah, blah, blah GOD blah, blah blah.”

MONEY

Description: Mention of payment as proof that abortion is evil and the doctors are without compassion or ethics. Makes you wonder how upset they get about plastic surgeons.

Example: “Girls, they only care about your money, they don’t care about you.” “Did you know this clinic has made four million dollars?”

CHICKEN

Description: Use of the ever popular “are you chicken?” taunt. Most people grow out of this phase at the same time they outgrow recess and drinking juice boxes, which is probably why it’s so jarring when used by an adult.

Example: “Are you too afraid to look at me?” “Are you too afraid to look at [plastic fetus, abortion porn, etc.]?”

TRAP

Description: Protestors like to try to scare people entering the clinic. One popular way is to imply the building is a tinder box waiting to go up in flames, apparently with no fire suppression equipment or escape route. If they are that concerned about the clients well being maybe they should be urging their congressmen to reverse the TRAP laws that prevent the clinic from renovating or moving.

Example: “Did you know that they take you into the basement to perform the abortion? There are no windows or exits down there. If there is a fire there is no way out. You will die down there.”

CHOICE

Description: The protestors like to point out that the women can change their minds even after they’ve entered the clinic. They seem to believe no one has ever realized this. The escorts on the sidewalk just call that CHOICE and assume women will make the one that’s right for them.

Example: “The door didn’t lock behind you. You can leave at any time.” “Every one of you can walk right out that door.”

RACE

Description: The number of assumptions here are staggering: assuming the race of the female; assuming the race of the male; assuming either cares about racial purity; and assuming that a woman owes something (in this case the use of her uterus) to her race.

Example: “Don’t destroy your race today.” “You are participating in a holocaust of you race today.” “You obviously didn’t look up Margaret Sanger. S-A-N-G-E-R.”

HELL

Description: Talk goes from love to punishment & damnation quickly on the sidewalk. Protestors know exactly what incurs god’s wrath and will happily tell you what’s coming for you in the afterlife.

Example: “God will punish you for this.” “If you die tonight are you ready to face your creator knowing what you’ve done here today?”

PROTEST

Description: Protestors like to say they are “counselors” due to the negative connotations of the term protestor, but counselors usually spend most of their time listening, not condemning. And by the very definition of the word, yes, they are:

pro·test n.

1. A formal declaration of disapproval or objection issued by a concerned person, group, or organization.

2. An individual or collective gesture or display of disapproval.

Example: “I am not a protester.”

DEPRESSION

Description: Planting the FALSE seed that depression, regret and emotional/spiritual trauma is an absolute consequence and that any and all future issues are directly related to the abortion. From the American Psychological Association:

“The best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy.”

This review [Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion] identified several factors that are predictive of more negative psychological responses following first-trimester abortion among women in the United States. Those factors included:

•Perceptions of stigma, need for secrecy, and low or anticipated social support for the abortion decision;

•A prior history of mental health problems;

•Personality factors such as low self-esteem and use of avoidance and denial coping strategies; and

•Characteristics of the particular pregnancy, including the extent to which the woman wanted and felt committed to it.

Example: “This will change you. You will never get over this.” “80% of all women who have abortions think about suicide and 20% attempt it.” “You will ALWAYS regret this; all women regret this.”

MISOGYNY

Description: Misogynistic statements implying a male companion has dominion over a female client, her body and her choices. The people who say this truly believe men have the right and the obligation to drag women out of the clinic and force them to give birth, with no thought to her wants, her needs, or her mental/physical/financial health. After all, a woman’s only role in life is to be a “helpmeet” to a man and mother to many children. The men who get upset and aggressive on the sidewalk seem angry that women are doing things without their consultation and against their wishes.

Example: “Men are supposed to take care of women. Don’t let her do this.” “Be a hero today and take her out of this place. Don’t be a wimp””

SPECIAL

Description: Attempting to sow the seeds of discontent by pointing out the clients were all told to be there at 7:15 for a 7:30 appointment. They don’t seem to realize this isn’t like changing your mind about lunch cause you don’t want to stand in a long line at the burger place. If you leave that line you don’t have a burger. If you leave this one you have many months of pregnancy, then labor, then a baby that’s dependent on you.

Example: “Girls, you think you’re special with your 7:30 appointment. You all have 7:30 appointments. You’re not special.”

EDUCATION

Description: The complete disregard for the importance of education in a person’s life and it’s impact on future success. This seems most insulting coming from a bunch of educated, middle-aged, financially secure white people.

“The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.” — Benjamin Franklin

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” — Brigham Young

Example: “Your education isn’t important. This baby is.” “Your degree won’t mean anything to you if you kill your baby.”

NAZIS

Description: Because all arguments wind up at Nazis. Godwin’s law = you lose.

Example: “You’re walking in to a death camp today.” “You’re like Nazis walking people into the gas chambers.” (to the escorts)

BIBLE

Description: Another popular weapon on the sidewalk, the Bible is THE trump card in all arguments.

Example: “It says in the Bible . . .” “In [book,chapter, verse] Jesus commanded us to . . . “

INNOCENT LIVES

Description: Touting god’s great sadness at the death of the innocent. Unless of course he’s doing the killing, he seems cool with that. Now that Noah’s ark has turned into a nursery decoration we forget it was floating over the corpses of millions of men, women and children. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart so he could show his might by killing all the first-born males in Egypt. In his anger he killed David and Bathsheba’s newborn son, but I guess it’s ok because he really liked their next son.

Example: “God hates the spilling of innocent blood”

CONSCIENCE

Description: Apparently if a client walks up looking nervous it’s not because she’s worried about having a medical procedure. It’s not due to stress because her pregnancy is putting her life at risk or because she may be recovering from rape. It’s definitely not because the client is scared of the protestors. It’s obviously the holy spirit whispering in her ear, if only she’d listen.

Example: “Listen to that voice inside you, it is telling you this is wrong.” “You’re crying because you don’t want to go in there and kill your baby.” “That’s god’s voice telling you this is wrong.”

SOAP BOX

Description: OK so it’s not a soap box, it’s a small step stool. Usually accompanied by loud men and occasionally loud men with microphones. Never women though, hmmmm.

Example: This one is visual, you’ll know it when you see it.

BABY KILLER

Description: The term “baby killer” is saved for the escorts; the clients and companions get a more manipulative appeal, but the idea is the same.

Example: “Please don’t kill your baby today.” “Mommy, don’t kill me.” “Why do you want her to kill her baby.” (said to an escort)

LIES

Description: Telling lies seems to come easy to the antis, but they also like to accuse escorts of lying or keeping the “truth” from clients/companions, even if all an escort is doing is walking quietly at client’s side. It doesn’t matter if the client/companion tells them to go away, it doesn’t matter if the escort is just giving directions to parking in the area. If the protestor doesn’t get to force his/her belief system on others they like to hurl this at the escorts.

Example: “Why don’t you want them to hear the truth?” “Don’t believe his lies.” (said when an escort informed someone of the cost of parking)

JESUS SAVES

Description: Apparently the human race sucked, so Jesus died for us. Because of that we’re supposed to do exactly what street preachers tell us Jesus wants us to do.

Example: “God sent his only son to die for us, even though we are not worthy of his mercy” “Jesus died for your sins and this is how you repay him?”

DOCTOR

Description: Protestors seem very concerned that clients have not met the OB/GYN who will be performing the abortion. Not sure if they feel the same way about an ER doctor, or a heart or brain surgeon. A lot fewer surgeries would be completed if everyone had to have a “getting to know you” dinner with the surgical staff beforehand.

Example: “Girls, you don’t even know the abortionist.” “Why don’t you go to a real doctor.

BREAST CANCER

Description: Spreading incorrect, out-dated data on the sidewalk is a biggie (see depression above). A popular one is about the link between breast cancer and abortion

From The American Cancer Society:

In February 2003, the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) held a workshop of more than 100 of the world’s leading experts who study pregnancy and breast cancer risk. The experts reviewed human and animal studies that looked at the link between pregnancy and breast cancer risk, including studies of induced and spontaneous abortions. Some of their findings were:

✴Breast cancer risk is increased for a short time after a full-term pregnancy (that is, a pregnancy that results in the birth of a living child).

✴Induced abortion is not linked to an increase in breast cancer risk.

✴Spontaneous abortion is not linked to an increase in breast cancer risk.

The level of scientific evidence for these findings was considered to be “well established” (the highest level).

Example: “Girls, your risk of breast cancer increases with an abortion.” “The younger you are the greater your risk of getting breast cancer if you go through with this abortion”

DEATHSCORT

Description: Escorts won’t get with the company line and call protestors counselors or “life escorts” so the next best thing is to call your enemy names.

Example: “Don’t listen to the deathscorts, they don’t care about you.” “The deathscorts won’t be here when you come out.”

FREE STUFF

Description: Protestors use the lure of free things to get clients into the CPC. They imply it will save them money and time, but the “few minutes” stretches into sixty, the counseling turns into preaching. They even have “hospital grade” pregnancy tests, a nicer stick to pee on one presumes?

Example: “Why don’t you come next door for a free ultrasound? It will only take a minute.” “If you change your mind we’ll refund the cost of your procedure.”

BAT-SHIT CRAZY

Description: Some things defy all categories.

Example: “Why do you want to kill my daughter.” (said to an escort while the protestor was shoving a two year old towards the escort)

“You were created in the image of god, not the image of. . . of . . .of a chicken”

“When I was pregnant . . .” (said by a male protestor)

“I just want to love on you.” (because ewwwwwwwww!!!!!!)

Various clients:

“The pregnancy is ectopic.”

“My daughter’s baby doesn’t have a brain.”

“The heart never formed.”

Protestor response:

“Are you sure? Have you seen a real doctor? Would you talk to a friend of mine, she had something like that and the baby’s fine.”