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!

 

You’re ugly.

“You’re ugly” I hear this whispered to me as I guide clients through the protesters.
What? That’s weird, is all I think then I go on back to where I was standing.
She walks up to me and a little bit louder this time she says, “you’re ugly.” Well that is a strange thing to say but all right. I don’t say anything.
You see, I’m not out here to be pretty, or cute. I’m out here to guide clients into the clinic, to help terrified people not feel so alone, I’m here to normalize abortion.
“Who is that on your necklace ?” Repeated several times , “well whoever she is, she’s pretty ugly. Are you related? I feel sorry for you but I can tell.”
Well, the woman on my necklace is Frida Kahlo, who funnily enough revolted against modern ideas of beauty by donning a rebozo ( a traditional Mexican article of clothing), and incorporating her facial hair ( oh my so unbecoming!) in her self portraits.
All of the clients are inside. The escorts are gathered together to just have a final chat about the morning….
“There’s a rip in your dress…”she leans in” your dress is ripping. You know, there’s a way to fix that and it isn’t a needle and thread….it isn’t a needle and thread!”
I’m fat. Good job. You have eyes. Also, good eye for spotting the quarter inch hole along the side seam of my skirt. Well, let me start off by saying I bought the skirt because it was 75% off because it had a hole in it combine that with laziness and general nonchalance over small things like that and you have….something that doesn’t really matter.
The whole situation was just so banal and rude.
I am ugly to her and I’m sure quite a few others on this planet populated by 7.2 billion people, that’s quite all right. What isn’t all right is bullying.
Telling men they aren’t “real men unless you drag her out of there right now”. Telling women they’re selfish and they don’t know how to handle their own bodies.
Bullying is ugly.

We Are All Emily Letts~by KYBorn

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

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

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

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

Women need abortion.

Women behave responsibly and need an abortion.

Women behave irresponsibly and need abortion.

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

A woman just loses her job and needs an abortion.

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

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

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

A rape victim needs an abortion.

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

A woman taking teratogens needs an abortion.

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

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

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

 

A black glove

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

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

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

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

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

-Anarchist Bee

Racism and Antis

I remember when I first started escorting a little more than a year ago I was pretty shocked by the protestors, how they verbally assaulted clients made me terribly upset, and over time I’ve been able to ignore their lies. However, one thing that hits me and churns my stomach to this day is racism from the antis. “Honey,” they say  as if they are speaking to some poor, innocent, stupid, girl, “You are assisting with the holocaust of your race. Don’t you know what you’re doing to your people? Why are you here, honey? Why are you doing this? You don’t need to do this.” The HOLOCAUST of my race? There are so many problems with that statement alone! Comparing abortion to the holocaust is disrespectful to those who suffered. Furthermore, so many of the anti’s remarks are based on assumptions, they see a young woman and an older woman they assume its a “girl and her mother” or a young woman and a young man, they ASSUME he is the father. Its just ridiculous, but this assumption that they know my “race” (a meaningless term for me) is highly offensive, due to the color of my skin and my hair they feel as if somehow I’m being tricked as an African American to be on the sidewalk! That I don’t know what these terrible people are doing to MY people, its frustrating. Finally I told the greatest offender, “You know, you’re racist. You don’t know me, you don’t my “race”.”

Her response? “Well you don’t look Chinese to me. I’m not racist, look this is my adopted family.” *she pulls out a picture kept in her papers of a dark skinned family* I laughed so hard. THIS was a really great example of, “I’m not racist I have black friends.” I thought to myself. WELL, the anti next to this woman said exactly that. I laughed at their ignorance. Anyway, now both of them come up to me and stage whisper like high school girls, “She’s the one who said we’re racist, like she even knows what that means!”

The problem to me with assuming anything about “race” is that you are categorizing people, and THAT is problematic. They assume your racial background and treat you accordingly, HOW IS THAT NOT RACIST?

-Anarchist Bee

Polarities

When Servalbear and I decided to go on hiatus, I was a bit concerned that I’d get used to not posting and have trouble starting back.  Sure enough, inertia sets in and the days fly by and then it starts to seem like I should come back with a great post and that gets harder to think of and more time goes by… and finally, I just had to sit down and write something.

So here I am.  Breaking the ice.

We’ve been talking about doing some new things with the blog – adding some new voices more regularly, hearing from some old-timers, adding some different types of features, and exploring new aspects of supporting access to reproductive health.  I’m excited about the possibilities, but a lot of that is still in the planning stages – in the meantime, I’m back.

I’ve been thinking about polarities ~ I often do in conjunction with being on the sidewalk, but I was at a workshop this week, and it gave me new food for thought.  We were talking about trauma, and healing from trauma.  The presenter was saying that when people – or systems – resort to polarities, it’s a sign that the person – or the system – is overwhelmed by trauma.

Now I’ve taken that statement out of context, and so it may not make as much sense to you as it did to me at the time.  But I thought about our culture and how polarized we are in so many ways – whether it’s race or abortion or poverty or ~ so many things.  And it made me think about a funny story from the sidewalk that happened a few weeks ago.  See what you think about this.

I was down at the corner of First and Market, it was early, and there were a couple of cars with clients already there.  I’d talked to one of them them, someone else had talked to another, and I was moving back towards the corner.   One of the chaser/protesters was ranting about how they were going to regret this, that they’d never be ok again, that it would be so harmful to them… and on and on…

Then suddenly, he says to me “That’s right, you’re a therapist, aren’t you?  That’s right, you are!!  You’re some kind of psychiatrist or something.  So I guess the more of these women that go in there and get harmed, that’s just more business for you, isn’t it?  The more they hurt, the better for you.   Is that what you’re doing down here, just getting more business for yourself?”

I was so taken aback, I had to laugh ~ I had never considered the possibility that being an escort could be a form of ambulance chasing, right?

Of course, I didn’t say anything back ~ what could I possibly say to that?  Well, except, no, I’m not a psychiatrist, I would like to set that straight, but I just laughed and shook my head, no, I’m not actually down there drumming up business.

I am still trying to wrap my head around the idea that he might really think that’s really what I’m trying to do.

Good grief.

I don’t think I can connect all the dots in my head here, but ~ I think we are a traumatized culture.  We are confronted with perceived threat after perceived threat, over and over and over, until our ability to absorb and process them is overwhelmed.

I think the protesters are emotionally threatening to clients with their “in your face” chasing and yelling. I guess the protesters feel threatened by their own belief that little innocent babies are being slaughtered.  They think people are traumatized by abortion, and I think the idea of not being able to access needed healthcare is a bit traumatic.  (Not to imply that perceived threats and trauma are the same thing.)

But the polarities exist to protect us from having to think in shades of gray.  If I am an evil woman ~ if I can be demonized as someone who wants to see women hurt because all I care about is money ~ then that protester is justified in his own actions. And…

…yeah, I don’t know where this goes, except I always have this sense, this feeling, that then they burn some witches.

My commitment ~ my stance ~ is that we need to push back against the things the protesters do.  We need to expose the things they do, because otherwise people can’t know what’s going on.

And I will try not to demonize them.  I will step up and speak out and not be afraid to expose the things they say and do, but I’ll work against what they’re doing, not who they are.

Yeah, it’s a fine line.  I invite you to try to walk it with me.

Road Rally a Success!

A great time was had by all at the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights on Saturday, November 2nd. On a beautiful fall day, we had a fantastic turnout and an awesome slate of speakers who fired up the crowd in advance of the 2014 legislative session. Truly, we could not have asked for better weather on a November weekend.
Capitol
Many thanks to all our speakers for their thoughtful words.
Road Rally Speakers
Dawn Cooley, minister at First Unitarian Church in Louisville, spoke about the intersection of faith and reproductive rights, emphasizing that the right-wing evangelicals do not possess the morality of reproductive issues.
DerekAndFrede
Derek Selznick (left), from the ACLU of Kentucky really heated up the crowd as he spoke to his experience lobbying for family-positive legislation in the Capitol, the building on which steps we rallied. F (right) spoke movingly about her abortion experience that was rife with hurdles and complications, problems arising primarily from anti-woman legislation.
ClinicEscortatRally
Michelle Kinsey Bruns joined us, who tweets as @ClinicEscort, driving from Washington, D.C. to be a part of the action. Her words about moving from compassion were a beautiful cap on the day.
Mel
We are thankful to have had media coverage from the Lexington ABC affiliate, WTVQ, and from Kentucky Public Radio, whose story can be followed on the Louisville public radio station or WKYU. It is important that our message reach both legislators and like-minded citizens.
Merch
Specifically, in Kentucky, there is an immediate concern of which to keep abreast. A longtime reproductive rights activist, Kathy Stein, has been appointed to the judiciary. Her vacant seat will be filled in a special election on December 10th. Many of our District 13/Fayette County (Lexington) allies were busy knocking on doors on Saturday, in the run-up to that special election. We are following that race closely, as Stein’s vote was often an important one in blocking anti-family, anti-woman legislation in our State Senate.
PreacherAndHerPulpit

What’s Next

Rally attendees were encouraged to return to their homes and speak out about being supporters of reproductive rights. You can join in the next steps, too!

1. Invite two or three friends for coffee or lunch and chat about an article on reproductive rights. RHRealityCheck.org is a great place to find something to talk about, as is ReproductiveRights.org or ACLU.org/reproductive-freedom.

2. From these two or three friends and you, begin an activist club, where you meet regularly to discuss articles, learn about legislation, and keep up-to-date on what’s happening in court dockets.

3. Find out who your legislator is – on the state level and the national level. How are they voting on issues about reproductive rights? Make sure your voice is heard when they have bills to consider that affect reproductive rights.

4. Keep up-to-date on bills in congress. For Kentucky, specifically, you can see what bills have been prefiled or, once the legislature is in session, what bills have been filed, what’s being heard in committee, what is being voted on, who wrote the bills, who else is sponsoring them – in other words, more information than you ever thought you could learn in one spot. By clicking on different subject headings – Women, Public Health, Children, etc – you can keep yourself informed about what our representatives in Frankfort are doing. Better yet, sign up for BILL WATCH, a service that your tax dollars are subsidizing, so, you know, use it!

5. Get involved with a local group! Find a group near you that is working on reproductive rights. The ACLU of Kentucky has an email list that will send out email blasts about pending legislation, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is a great resource, too. There are many other groups, like the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Unitarian Univeralist Social Justice Network, and others. Many of them sponsored the rally, so be sure to check out the sponsors’ page on the website to find links to their websites.
Sara
Over the coming days and weeks, the rallly website will have a new tab for “What’s Next,” where this information, and more!, will be available. We will be posting resources to keep you informed, and ways you can link into local groups working for reproductive rights.

Let’s make 2014 the year that Kentucky families get the support they need – in comprehensive sex education, affordable and accessible contraception, access to abortion services, and family support programs – because Kentucky families deserve better!

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {5/27/13}

We watched the car pull into the monthly rental parking lot at 7a. The driver got out carrying a briefcase and purposefully started walking down the sidewalk across the street from the clinic. We continued watching as they crossed the street at the light and then approached the clinic. We joined them close to the clinic doors and guided them to the correct building.

D didn’t notice them until just before they crossed the property line. Her greeting was, “You don’t have to kill your baby today.”

When we were across the property line and close to the doors, I explained to them about when the clinic doors opened, the orange vests and protesters. Then we talked about where they were parked. The monthly rental lot will tow unauthorized cars, so we needed them to move their car to the $3 lot. I offered to walk back to the car and show them where to park and how to pay.

When we reached the car, we stood for a long time talking about what they could expect from the antis. “Will they touch me? Will they stop me? Don’t they have anything better to do? Don’t they have jobs? Why do they come out here to hurt women? ” Some of the questions answered with reassurances the antis would not stop them or touch them, but they would talk to them and try to hand them literature.

A look of apprehension crossed over their face, “Will they say worse things? That lady (meaning D) has already said horrible things to me.” I reassured them we would be there talking to minimize the words of the antis and we would get them in as quickly as possible.

We moved the car successfully to the $3 lot. I reminded them we would come get them when the doors opened and not to roll their windows down to anyone not wearing an orange vest. Before the car was turned off, another anti approached their car. The client handed me the money for parking and shut the car door while the anti was still talking. The client remained in their car while I fed the money for parking into the pay box.

Two escorts walked the client back to the clinic when the doors opened without much interference from the antis, just one anti trailing behind them who gave up after a short distance.

This never makes sense to me. How you can proclaim you “just want to help” and literally terrorize clients? We cannot stop the antis from saying words meant to hurt and shame, but when we have a client so obviously upset with their speech it is distressing to me. I find myself asking the same questions the client did.

Blog for Choice Day 2013

Every year this blog participates in NARAL’s Blog for Choice Day on the anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision. This year’s theme is “Tell your story about why you’re pro-choice.” This year is memorable because it is the 40th Anniversary of the decision. We are honored to participate again this year.

Since escorts in Louisville are a diverse group of individuals, we wanted to give voice to different viewpoints from everyone wanting to contribute. It has become an interesting collection of different stories.

bfcd-2013

FK

I am French but have lived in the Midwest for 6 years.  I had previously spent time in New York, and the culture shock of being in the U.S. was not really felt there.  Only when I came to Indiana and saw anti-abortion protesters marching on the town square, carrying gory, photo-shopped pictures of aborted fetuses, did I begin to realize the kind of environment in which I was living.

In 2007, while in my 1st year as a graduate student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, I became pregnant and made the choice to have an abortion.  Soon after making that personal decision, I was faced with Indiana laws.  It first hit me when I placed a call to Planned Parenthood and, rather than being scheduled and told how to prepare, I was asked if I wanted to speak to a minister and arrange for an ultrasound, and told that by law I had to wait a minimum of five weeks — long enough for the heart to start beating.  None of it made sense to me; I had already made my decision, after much soul-searching and personal anguish.  I didn’t need help with the decision, nor did I need time to think it over.  I needed medical assistance.

I had also seen the protesters in Bloomington.  Their aggressiveness and ravings were a very real deterrent, particularly since I was feeling so vulnerable.  I had made a very personal decision, and I felt they were trying to make me feel accountable to them for it, to run a gauntlet of shame and guilt just to get to the clinic door — unless you’re lucky enough to have wonderful escorts standing by to help, like the ones here in Louisville.  So, with my very limited finances and the help of friends, I arranged a trip to Chicago, where I was still shown an ultrasound photo but was at least helped without having to clear too many other obstacles.

It was still an ordeal: I opted for mifepristone, or “the pill,” but my uterus never emptied after the misoprostol.  By that time I had returned to Bloomington and began to experience increasing pain.  I needed to visit Chicago again, a task made nearly impossible by blatantly pro-life psychiatric staff in Bloomington who, fearing I was suicidal because of their own preconceptions, locked me in isolation, gave me yet another unnecessary ultrasound, and refused medical treatment, though they were fully aware of my condition and knew that I needed immediate treatment for infection.  Only after friends in Bloomington noticed my absence and threatened legal action was I able to escape the hospital and return to Chicago for a D&C, all the while having missed classes which resulted in my being put on academic probation.

Thinking about this experience still makes me shudder, no less so since in France abortions are now free, and even in 2007, they were cheap and readily available, with no protesters or legal obstacles to cause guilt, stigma, and difficulty.  I don’t mean to glorify my country, but I did take my freedom of choice for granted in France, and only after my ordeal in the U.S. did I realize how dearly I cherish it.  I think also about the gender biases inherent in the whole abortion discussion, and in society in general, about how we glorify the “self-made man,” never leaving room for the self-made woman.  How can there be such a thing when she is required to carry a child, but there is no requirement to support her when she does?

In the end, I feel I was lucky.  Many other women succumb to stigma and pressure from those around them, in spite of their own feelings and misgivings.  I had enough support, and I felt empowered enough, that I was able to take control of my life.  I still plan to have a family, albeit under different, better circumstances, after I have achieved the means and the stability to raise children with all the opportunities they need and deserve.  My life, and my children’s lives, would be much different, had I not had the freedom granted by Roe v. Wade.

Ampelio

Because I believe in democracy.

Kescort

“Pro-Choice”, to me, sounds like “Pro-Gravity.” Self-determination, especially in an arena as personal as parenting, simply IS. Laws can pass, obstacles erected, dogmas cast, social memes evoked. When, if, and how often someone becomes a mother has always, is now, and will forever be, that person’s choice.

I escort at the local clinic, contribute to our local A-Fund, hound my representatives to stop anti-access legislation because safe, unobstructed reproductive health care is healthy and humane. And the State and churches ought to be concentrating their efforts on bigger issues in which their influence may actually bring about some good.

And I am optimistic that this day is coming. Because unsupported beliefs in such things as “one-right-way” fall just as sure as unsupported objects fall to the centre of the Earth.

MMS

There was a confluence of factors that caused me to embrace Choice. Strong women in my family. Vatican II which threw open the doors and windows of the Roman Catholic Church to winds that buffeted the rigid patriarchal dogma and tradition. The righteous, confrontational actions of the Civil Rights heroines and heroes. The writings and speeches of the feminists in the late 60s and early 70s. My partner who supported the evolution of my belief in the absolute right of every woman to determine what happens to her body.

Servalbear

When I first thought about the subject for this year’s Blog for Choice, I started trying to remember when I knew terminating a pregnancy could be an option. It is a subject I have difficulty separating from when I first felt passionately about women’s rights. From my first awareness of the double standard applied to men and women in assessing blame for unwanted pregnancies (woman=slut/bad; man=boys will be boys/couldn’t help themselves) to today, I have constantly reacted with, “It’s not fair.” What is fair is access to reproductive choices for everyone. Only the one with the potential to be pregnant or carrying a pregnancy knows the right decision for them. We need to fight for access to whatever that decision might be..

PG

How could I not be pro-choice?  In 1945 my younger sister was born, and my mother nearly died.  Doctors told her she was not in good enough physical condition to ever have had babies.  But they refused to sterilize her.  What was she to do, a married woman with two young children, terrified she would get pregnant again?   Doctors had no solution for her.  So when abortion was legalized in 1973, I was so glad, and thought it was a whole new world for women and our reproductive issues.  It was good to know my two daughters would have control over their own bodies.   Little did I know that 40 years later we would be fighting to keep these rights for our health and our lives.  We somehow need to make the general public aware of the dangers of women losing their reproductive rights.

FML

I’ve written before here about my reasons – girls I knew in high school, women when I was a young mother.  Yesterday, at an abortion speak-out I heard twenty amazing stories of why women chose to abort a pregnancy.  Each of the stories by itself was a compelling argument for access to abortion.  Combined, it was almost overwhelming.  If I multiply that by all the women who have their own stories, their own compelling reasons,  then it’s clear.  Abortion IS a woman’s decision.  We must keep it legal and safe.