I spent two hours this morning providing a barrier between women going into an abortion clinic and those that would see the procedure outlawed. I have lived a pretty full and often bizarre life, dabbling in all manners of lifestyles and realities but what I saw today twisted my head far worse than any mushroom, pill, smoke or juice fast I have ever indulged.
I’m just home from a session at O’Shea’s trying to get my head around this (therapy is for people that can’t afford a good bartender). I need to write this, get it out there, get it out of my head. Please read no further if you expect me to be fair or even-tempered or civil about the anti-abortion thugs I saw today. Those people are VILE! And Jesus is going to be right pissed off at them when they get to his heaven.
These poor women drive up, emotional taxed at the decision they have made, forcing their every step to do what women are intrinsically, genetically wired NOT to do. Immediately they are set upon by eight to fifteen strangers, half wearing orange vests and looking like rugby players asking if they’d like an escort, the other half begging them not to kill their baby. Most accept the escorts. Those that don’t – two today, I think – were pretty much badasses that threatened to knock a bitch out if she didn’t get out of her face with all that Jesus mythology bullshit.
The escorts surround the patient and their supporter, two in the back, one on each side. The ones on the side hold extended hands in front of the client, forming a wedge, all four keeping a bodywidth buffer between the patient and the protesters trying to hand pamphlets and rosaries, saying shit like “your baby may cure cancer” and “you’ll burn in hell for all eternity for this”. One freak even holds up her less-than-six-month-old baby in front of the client and walks, BACKWARDS, down the broken sidewalk. It was cold out at 7 this morning and this baby is wearing nothing but a sleeper. That bitch should have her kid placed in protective services.
I took up station on the street in front of the clinic with one, sometimes another escort. When the entourage arrived, it was our job to extend an arm and make a hallway through the idiots. For as toxic and potentially volatile as that sounds, this was never the point of greatest tension. As I understand it, that usually came in the parking lot with one or two of the most zealot getting overly pushy and aggressive to get to the patient before the escorts. There was one moment when the crowd compressed just as the entourage was passing through and the asshole behind me shoved me and screamed not to push him. I said “I didn’t shove you, you gotta give us room to get through.” And that was it. He left shortly after that.
In another tense moment, a homeless looking man with a beat up crucifix, got up in my face, accused me of doing this to baby jesus – seriously, this simpleton said just that, “you are doing this to baby jesus”. I tried not to laugh, looked deep into his eyes, and said “mythology, Zeus, Juno, Mt Olympus, just like that ,you are living mythology”. He said I had a cold, hard heart and he’d pray for me. I told him to talk to himself in the dark about somebody else.
But these are the stray fifteen seconds of adrenaline pumping intensity. Most of the time is painfully boring. Standing, pacing, listening to badly cadenced Hail Mary’s, poorly pronounced Our Father’s and woefully out of tune Ave Maria’s. As if the crucifixes aren’t creepy enough, they have Kroger bags full of rosaries and a little wooden cradle full of sacred heart medallions – aren’t these things sanctified and supposedly objects of holy adoration? “Just chuck that Holy Grail in the dishwasher, hon, we’re off to violate the constitution and every law of common human decency in the name of our personal Jesus!” From the pictures they carried, a blued-eyed white man from the Middle East I think.
In the end, the protesters just drifted off. The sun came up into beautiful rose colored clouds. The clients’ friends came out to get their cars and take their loved ones home. The sheriff shook our hands and thanked us – odd that, I thought. Someone, Meg, took notes about the oddities of the morning and asked what I thought. I thought it was way less volatile than I imagined. We took off our vests and went home.
I hate the idea of doing this again. I’m haunted by the faces of those terrorized young women – one especially, held close by her man, trying his best not to cry for the hell his ladylove was enduring. Haunted, as in I’ve puked twice thinking about it all. Haunted. Forever, never ever the same, I feel. I fear.
But those faces make it impossible for me NOT to go back.