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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Losing My Religion – by KyBorn

I knew this was going to happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Censorship, Privacy and Why Antis Need to Just Shut Up~by KY Born

There are undoubtedly times in all of our lives where we have just been so wrong, after talking long and loud about a position, where the only thing we can do upon realizing the error of our ways is to stop talking. I have been in this position more than once and am always embarrassed once I realize I have basically made a huge horse’s behind of myself. Perhaps the only thing more humiliating than realizing that it was time to shut up would be everyone else realizing that it was time for me to shut up, but myself being too blind or stupid to notice it myself. Ever.

Due to travel delays and bad weather, I have had ample time to surf the internet. Sure enough, reading about antis never fails to provide a mixture of amusement and rage. Of course, Google was abuzz with wounded antis last week because Google chose to remove ads from CPCs that lie about services they provide. As an aside, I noticed many antis lying that Google was taking away all their ads, cries of censorship, freedom of speech being yanked and Nazis abounded along with discussions over whether or not Jesus would continue to Google or if he would switch to Bing. Instead of being embarrassed that these Christian Centers have lied so much a search engine is having to take action, they just continue to rattle on about the injustice of it all. Antis, it is time to shut-up.

I get particularly upset at these CPCs because I know for a fact they do lie, having sat in the lobby while a friend who fled an abusive relationship that very morning swallowed her pride and went to ask them for help with supplies for her infant. She worked very hard, but when her spouse mostly emptied one account and she had to come up with deposits for shelter and utilities, there was not much left over. In fact, I think there was about $2 left. She was referred to the CPC by her small church who helped to fund them. She left her old vehicle with its half tank of gas and everything she now owned back at her new apartment and off we went in my car across town to the CPC who told her that of course, they could help. They just needed her to come in to confirm some details and fill out some paperwork. Here is what she got:

  1. Told her friend (me) was not allowed to go back with her through the screening process for the sake of “privacy” even though she told them she wanted me there
  2. A recommendation that she return home to her abusive spouse.
  3. Admonishments to repent of her “sin”. She isn’t sure what sin they were referring to but at this point she didn’t want to encourage further chatter.
  4. Pressure to take a “free pregnancy test” even though she had no reason to suspect she was pregnant. I’m not sure where they got this idea but she had explained to them both over the phone and in person that she was seeking help for her infant and was not worried about pregnancy.

They didn’t offer a dang thing, not so much as a pack of diapers. Some of her pro-choice friends went out and bought her baby supplies and furniture to get her through. We were happy to do this and she would have greatly appreciated the CPC just saying over the phone that they couldn’t help her right now.

Looking back, I suppose the “counselor” was too busy going down her check list and declaring my non-pregnant friend abortion vulnerable that she didn’t have time to listen. I don’t know what this particular CPC did as it was over 60 miles away from the nearest abortion clinic, aside from trying to lure women in for their “free” pregnancy test and lecture. I do know they harassed my friend for two weeks on her cell number and work number to come in for the pregnancy test that she didn’t need or want. Despite their claim to “love them both,” they spent more time loving her imaginary embryo and not caring a bit about a real live woman and a real live born infant. This is another reason it is time for antis to just shut up.

Later in the week I made the mistake of clicking through a well-known anti site that claimed to have an article about women being freed from sex addiction (I’m paraphrasing here). The article itself was fairly routine and spouted the usual far-right approaches to any undesirable behavior. Whatever, it’s their site.

Where things just got utterly disgusting were the comments where one of them somehow jacked the conversation to be about Ariel Castro and the three victims who were kidnapped and held for 10 years. She claims to have some sort of connection by marriage to somebody who somehow knows one of the three victims. She then proceeds to post this supposedly insider information about all three of these women, even though they seem to have kept a fairly low profile since they were freed. This poster may just be a nutty liar or she may be an asshole who is violating a victim’s privacy to get attention. Most pro-choicers recognize that antis don’t understand the concept of privacy. Now if these women want to share this information, that is up to them. They deserve all the support possible. What they don’t deserve is some random internet person pimping out their story for attention. Gross.

This story, of course, has nothing to do with sex addiction and it also has nothing to do with abortion. Pro-choicers are very much against any sort of forced reproduction or termination. Pro-choicers can clearly see a difference between a safe, legal procedure performed with the consent of the patient and women imprisoned, raped, forced to birth a child or forced to miscarry due to physical abuse. Antis can’t seem to grasp the difference between these two and aren’t interested in learning. This is why antis need to shut up.

The last thing I noticed about antis this week is their need to turn Floyd Mayweather into a hero. Really?  Anti-choicers are rallying around a man convicted of domestic violence several times over and arrested more times than that, with several different women involved. I keep wondering why there seems to be no legal penalty for stealing this woman’s medical records, if they are in fact hers. I don’t even know if this woman was actually pregnant, because it is none of my business. The shame and outrage shouldn’t be about whether or not a woman had an abortion, it should be about the fact that her PRIVATE medical records were taken against her will and published online by an ex-fiance who can’t seem to get over her. Even if they were “his babies,” those were her medical records and none of his business. Celebrating the abusive actions of a known abuser is not exactly showing how much you care about real, existing women.

So please antis, take a hint, and just shut up.

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

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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

 

A Random Act of Kindness

On gray, rainy mornings things tend to go askew. We spend our walks up the sidewalk being careful not to get poked with an antis’ umbrellas, dodging puddles, watching for clients and knowing that it is usually going to be a bit longer out in the weather. Accidents, traffic delays and poor visibility add extra time to the clients drive to downtown.

Inevitably, one or two of the clients will be running late. Extra pressure to find a close parking space and check in for their appointment time adds to the stress of the morning. Toss in a dozen or so protesters with Bibles, prayer beads, pamphlets  and multiple graphic signs to navigate around and things can really crank up the pressure for most clients.

This morning a late-arriving solo client hurriedly pulled into the parking lot of the crisis pregnancy center next door to EMW. She took the nearest open space, got out and fairly dashed down the sidewalk into the EMW without as much as acknowledging escorts or protesters alike.

We always advise parking at one of the paid lots or meters in the area. The privately-owned parking lot behind the CPC does not cost any money, but it is most certainly not free. Escorts are not allowed on their private property to let the clients know this is not the abortion clinic. We feel helpless as we watch clients who upon realizing their error try to leave. The people from the center come out to greet them and manage to loiter in the way; prohibiting access for  them to move their car and leave, while “counseling” them, sometimes to the point of tears. One of the more vocal women has even stood in the way of a client shutting her car door unless they slammed her with the door in the process.

AWC Parking Lot

AWC Parking Lot

In her rush to get parked and into the clinic, this client parked a little too close to the cars along the front of their building. A person from AWC approached the escorts and stated that the car was blocking a staffer’s car and the client had to come out to move it right then. We all felt that this was a two-fold issue. Of course the car might be in the way if the other driver had to leave immediately, but with a tiny bit of maneuvering once the car next to it left they would be able to get out with ease. We thought the other reason was they did not get an opportunity to “counsel” her with their views on what is the right choice for her.

Were we thinking too deep into their ulterior motives maybe?

I went into the clinic waiting room and quietly explained the situation to the client. She looked up with a clipboard full of papers and a pained look on her face and said “I’m already late. I just don’t think I can go back out there and listen to them say those things to me again. Can you please move it if I give you the keys?”  “I will try,” I told her. “They can be very hostile and uncompromising with escorts.”

A quick decision was made to take off my vest and not represent the escorts. I would go as an average person on request of the owner to move their vehicle. Keys in hand, I walked down the sidewalk to the parking lot. At their property line I was met by several staffers from the CPC. I explained the client asked me to please move her car as she was busy filling out paperwork and already running late. A reasonable person would have understood the situation. After all, the goal was to move the car out of the way ASAP. Right?

“No, absolutely not, that would not be a good idea. She must move it,”  I was told. Were they afraid I was going to go on a bumper car style spree and damage other vehicles on the way out of the parking lot? Perhaps key a few doors for the fun of it on the way past?  Were they concerned about the liability of letting someone other than the owner drive the car?

No, of course not. They did not want me to move it because they wanted another chance to talk to the client. They can talk to me all they please. I don’t engage. I don’t care what they have to say. It has no impact on my life or who I am as a person. Their opinions of me matter not one bit.

As I walked back up the sidewalk I talked with the other escorts about how to best prepare her for moving the car with the least amount  of conversation and stress for her. At the same time I was thinking in the back of my mind, what sadistic pleasure do these people get out of harassing people with their tactics?

I went back into the waiting room and explained to her that they would not permit me to move the car for her. They asked that she be the one that moved it. With that, a tall man seated behind us stood up and said that he had overheard the entire conversation and he would move the car for us. He explained the CPC staffers would have nothing to say to him. With that statement, I think I heard the whole waiting room exhale in relief.

She quickly agreed and we gave him the keys. I walked back with him to show him which car it was and where to best park it for her. As we turned the corner, the staffers turned with anticipation only to be surprised as this gentleman purposefully walked over to the car, got in, started it up and left. I could barely suppress a smile as I thought of this man, who did not know either one of us, stepping in with one small gesture that spoke volumes of his compassion for others in times of need.

Thank you sir, whoever you are. Your simple act of moving a stranger’s car meant more than many of us could convey that morning.

What is Harassment?

Escorting has allowed me to see the best and worst of human behavior, often at a dizzying rate.  Some mornings I am thankful for a long quiet drive home. It gives me time to process what I have seen and heard. This allows me to make better choices on how to interact with clients and make sure I am doing what is less stressful and most empowering for them.  Everyone is an individual and it is not a one size fits all approach.  It is always their choice on whether or not they choose to speak with us at all, escorts and antis alike.

One morning I was standing along the curb as a car pulled up. As I approached the car, I could see the client and her companion tense up. I stopped a few feet away and waved.  The window rolled down a few inches and a sharp voice asked “What?” I pointed to my vest and identified myself as a clinic escort and asked if they had an appointment today.  They nodded. I gave a very quick summary, approximately when the doors opened and what to expect from the antis on their way into the clinic. I asked if they would like me to walk with them.  They replied no, and they didn’t want to talk to anybody either.  I assured them if they changed their mind and wanted someone to quietly walk with them just wave for one of the escorts wearing the orange vests over and we would return.

As I turned to stand back at the curb, I nearly collided with one of the male antis rushing over to speak with them . While they were rolling up their window he was loudly stating “I am not a protester. I just want to talk with you about some options you have not considered.”

Not a protester? Alright I thought , this could be interesting. What is he planning on discussing, the pros and cons of metered parking along the street or the day rates of the lots and garages in the area? Yeah right; unlikely.

From my vantage point several spaces down I watched as he circled the car from driver to passenger, speaking at them through closed windows. He was repeating one of the many similar scripts they all have:  free housing, free education, free medical care, open adoptions, loving Christian families waiting for babies.  It kind of reminded me of the drive through Safari when I was a kid. Some of the animals like the giraffes and baboons were fun to watch as they approached your car to peer in on you. Others like the tigers and lions were scary and you were glad for the safety of your car; hoping they lost interest quickly and backed off. I wondered how these people saw the actions of this man.

When the clinic doors opened, I stepped back over to the car and informed the client that the building was now open. I again backed off about fifteen feet or so to give them the space they requested, but close enough to get in stride if they changed their minds. Not the case with “Mr. I Am Not A Protester.” He began to very closely follow them up the sidewalk. By now his words had become a blur to me as he kept at them. Part way up the sidewalk they were joined by a female protester with her pleadings of, “Don’t kill your baby.  You will always be a mother.”

Repeated requests from the client and her companion to the antis went ignored. The “Please leave us alone, Please go away,” turned into, “Get out of my face! Leave me alone!” I made eye contact with the client to see if she wanted me to step in and walk with her to try and give her some space. The look I got back was not of someone needing assistance. It was one of someone needing answers. She looked at me and loudly stated, “Do they EVER listen?” Sadly, I shook my head no.

They made their way down the sidewalk with the mini circus in tow. Only at the property line did they manage to finally get free of their persistent chasers.  A few more words preached at the now closed doors and the antis turned their attention to the next group headed in.

harassment (either harris-meant or huh-rass-meant) n. the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands. The purposes may vary, including racial and social prejudice, personal malice, an attempt to force someone to quit a job or grant sexual favors, apply illegal pressure to collect a bill, or merely gain sadistic pleasure from making someone fearful or anxious.

It seems like a pretty simple definition to me, but in this country it seems to be tolerated if it is in the name of religion and saving the unborn.

However, with these tactics becoming more public and the growing backlash against the oppressive regulations and laws passed in the last few years, I see it starting to change.  A recent arrest of a protester in Albuquerque,  the removal of the sidewalk blockers in Jackson, MS on December 4, and the protest-free space created by Portland, Maine’s city council give me hope.

I may be just one voice, but I have found others to speak with and we are being heard. From Wendy Davis and the women of Texas, the voters of Albuquerque, New Mexico and the many tireless volunteers who make sure every day women seeking access to abortion services do not have to face these sidewalk bullies alone.  We are 1 in 3. We have a voice. Don’t be afraid to speak up and use it. We can push back against the draconian laws that are forcing women back into the underground network of illegal and unsafe abortions.

Together we can make the difference.

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.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {10/28/13}

The doors weren’t open yet when escorts by the door were approached by a man coming from AWC. We hadn’t seen him on the sidewalk before, but he was very polite and said, “I work for AWC and I just wanted to know about you escorts. Why are you here?”

My response was, “I do not talk to protesters. If you want to find out about escorts ask D or read our blog at everysaturdaymorning.net. We explain why we are here there.” “But I am not protesting, I just want to understand.” I pointed out D and repeated my statement about the blog.

He did wander over and talk to D for a few minutes. Then he approached an escort further down the sidewalk who hadn’t heard the exchange between us. We watched a minute while he was talking to the escort, then I approached them.

“This gentleman works for AWC and is trying to find out why we are here. I have directed him to our blog.”

The escort responded, “I suspected as much, but he didn’t tell me he was with AWC.” The conversation between them after that was very short.

Misrepresenting himself to an escort isn’t the end of the world, but it is indicative of a particular mindset that the antis learn very fast to just lie to get what they want.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. That’s this Saturday! Are you coming with us?

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

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

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {10/7/13}

There has been an anti coming out for a couple of months now. She rarely says anything and stays beside D the whole time she is out. We started to call her Trainee because she seems to be learning from D how to harass clients and their companions. One day recently, she found her voice.

The sentences below were said and then there was a pause before another sentence was said. She is close to D’s messages, but seems to need just a little more training to perfectly mimic D. I’m sure with practice with talking at strangers, these statements will smooth out and she will sound like every other anti on the sidewalk.

“No one deserves to die without a say.”

“This is a very, very serious thing.”

“”This is a gruesome, gruesome thing.”

“They purposely won’t show you the ultrasound.”

“Go to YouTube and look up former abortion providers. Read their stories.”

“You can use Google to find out about women who regret their abortion. Read about it.”

“You have choice here. It’s not locked in stone. At least that’s what they say.”

Until she is fully trained, she provides a relief to us from listening to the same things said in the same way by every anti.

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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/

 

What We “Know”

We all “know” so much, don’t we?

I “know” that my son needs to eat his vegetables.

He “knows” that he ONLY likes broccoli, and will do just fine subsisting on mac’n’cheese and spaghettios.

When someone says, “Oh, I know she is going to regret that tattoo,” or “I just know that he needs to do X instead of Y,” that person is making assumptions about how someone else should live his life, based on her own worldview, her own preferences and prejudices. The speaker absolutely has the right to think that tattoos are foolhardy. She has a right to her opinion about any manner of things.

What the speaker does not have a right to do is to interfere with others based upon her own sweeping assumptions about how we all need to live our lives. The speaker has no right to impose restrictions about our decisions, based upon her own, individual worldview.

Many antis “know” the clients’ situations. They “know” how much the clients will regret this decision. It’s amazing how much they can “know” about people they don’t actually know.

A few weeks ago, the antis were calling out to a male companion entering the clinic to “be a man” and “stand up for your child.” What the antis didn’t know is that the male companion was the client’s brother. The antis make assumptions based upon what they “know,” and then expect the rest of us to fall into their neat and orderly little boxes.

I “know” that it is none of the antis business what the clients’ individual situation is. I also “know” that I know nothing more about these clients than do the antis. I just happen to not make the arrogant assumption that I “know” more than I do. That’s the distinction between the antis and the escorts.

Maybe it would behoove the antis to realize that, in fact, we all “know” very little about what is good for another person.

Except about the vegetables. Kiddo definitely needs to eat his vegetables.