Protesters: about 40
Ohmygod it was cold this morning, 20 degrees with a wind chill of 16 and flurries throughout the morning. We have been a little short on escorts the last few weeks cause life happens. Good for us, the fundies have not been getting out too much either.
Mary was all worked up this morning. The first client I walked in was a young woman and her mother. Mary was pulling on one of the other escort’s arms and trying to grab the coat of the client waving around a flier with the images of ” dead babies” around. She [the client] clearly said to Mary “No thank you, please leave me alone”. Mary then tried to shove the escort so she could pass by along the fence.
At this point the escort and I were on either side of the client and her mother. I hear the escort yell at Mary to let go, and they ended up aginst the fence. I didn’t see what happened, and kept on with the client. As we walked down the sidewalk, I saw Mike, Mary’s Hubby, running past me videoing.
The client was a little freaked out as we began going down the gauntlet.
The protesters have begun this new tactic of stepping out of the prayer line towards the client and yell at her, all the way to the door. There have always been one or two to do this occasionally but not like this.
One woman at the end of the line would say “adoption” as we walked past. Others yell “don’t murder your baby”, or whatever, at some point it just becomes loud. And with all of the people stepping in the way, there was no way to keep walking without having to go around them.
Finally, we almost get to the private property line, and Donna, Angela and Straw Beard all attempting to hand the young woman and her mother lit while blocking their path . There are two escorts by the door. One stepped out onto the sidewalk and created space for the client to walk through. As the pair walked up the escort stepped aside so they could get through the protesters. The other escort opened the door for them and we all walked into the clinic anteroom. Both the client and her mother had tears in their eyes and were a little shaken. They both expressed their dismay at how loud and aggressive the protester were. I let them know that most if not all of the protesters would be gone when they were on their way home. And tried to give them a little encouragement.
Back out on the streets, a bunch of the fundies were yelling at the cops that the escort needed to be arrested (I find this always gets me what I want with cops). Eventually it all died down with no arrests, the cop told Mary to quit shoving people and back off.
At some point later in the morning, the cop said to the escort in question that if she would stay home the protesters would not act so aggessively.
Way to excuse the perpertrator of their bad behavior.
So this escort began having the same conversation that we always have with the cops regarding the clinic.
We train our escorts in conflict mediation, de-escelation tactics, providing emotional support and discourage interations that would engage the fundies.
This is not the culmination of our “Pro-Choice” activism. We work all over our region with lots of people to improve the definitions of access and empowerment in our community through reproductive and sexual justice.
My thoughts this week have been occupied with ideas of defining access in my region and what do I want access to mean? Undue Burden has been so watered down that we expect to have to fight to get in the door. The threshold of burden is so high that we take for granted that access is so much more.
Emotional intimidation is undue burden.
Harassment is undue burden.
Having to beg, borrow and roll pennies to afford the cost of an abortion is undue burden.
Verbal abuse and name calling is undue burden.
A Waiting Period is undue burden.
Having to drive 3 hours to a clinic is undue burden.
All of these things hurt all of us. And why can’t we recognize that Reproductive and Sexual autonomy are not privileges granted to those who can afford them? or to those who have the ability to jump through hoops, or push past protesters or what ever else gets in the way of medical care…