I began writing this blog for several reasons. I needed a place to process. I have been escorting since 1999 and have a lot of pent up emotion regarding the state of access to reproductive and sexual health care in this city. I wanted a place to discuss the merits of direct action and empowerment as tools for social engagement. And possibly the most important reason is to validate and understand the vast continuum of experiences people have surrounding our reproductive and sexual lives.
There is an interesting comment to Ken’s piece last week that was posted by the father of a regular protester. He has come down to the clinic once or twice to see for himself. He is a local businessman and attends south east christian church (a mega-church in the east end of expansive means, who partially fund the fake clinic across the street). His post is interesting in that it begins with his disagreement of the energy of the protesters:
“As my daughter and her future husband are ‘protesters’, I wanted to see first-hand the experience they were having each Saturday morning at the abortion clinic. What I observed differed from your account in almost all respects. The protesters were peaceful and respectful, as were some of the ‘escorts’.”
He goes on to opine that the difference between the escorts and protesters is our lack of jesus. This is the part of his comment that I will not post.
The escorts as a collective of autonomous people represent a wide continuum of religious and non-religious beliefs. While we are supported by the KY Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a non-denominational coalition of Christian, Jewish and Muslim partners, we also have Atheists and agnostics who all escort. The clients of the clinic represent an even broader range of belief systems.
This blog will not be a space where religious proselytizing of any sort will be posted.
Our culture is saturated with judo-christian images and influence. This space is for the analysis of Reproductive and Sexual Justice here in Louisville, Ky. Religion has no place in this conversation.
The following is the first have of the post, unedited until he starts getting into the jesus.
“As my daughter and her future husband are ‘protesters’, I wanted to see first-hand the experience they were having each Saturday morning at the abortion clinic. What I observed differed from your account in almost all respects. The protesters were peaceful and respectful, as were some of the ‘escorts’
Before you dismiss me as biased, I must tell you I have known one of the escorts for a number of years through business, and it was only by a chance meeting at a restuarant that I became aware of his involvement. That morning we conversed on the topic of abortion, each from our own perspectives, and we parted having no impact on the other. As I think about your account of that morning, and how differently it read from what I had experienced, the most obvious contradiction in our perspectives eminates from our world views. From your own account you have ‘lived a full life’, and I take that to mean your life experiences have left their mark, or consequences, on you. Interestingly, my world view was once similar to yours, and, believe it or not, every protester at one time shared your view of many of the things of this world. Your comments are laced with vulger adjectives describing the protesters, and yet you seem to have a heart for the horribly personal and traumatic experience the women having abortions are experiencing.
There is only one difference between you and me, and that is one of the heart.”
He goes on to talk about his “hard and cynical heart” and that you know who changed all of that
For three more paragraphs.
He concludes by offering to dialogue about all of these things with Ken.
I am now amending the commenting section to include a specific statement spelling out that religious speech is not appropriate in this forum. To be specific the comments need to be confined to analysis of Reproductive and Sexual Justice, Escorting philosophy and tactics or cultural milieu observations, as was originally stated in the commenting guidelines.
Here goes the analysis.
I want to explore the last sentence from his post, “and yet you seem to have a heart for the horribly personal and traumatic experience the women having abortions are experiencing”. This statement assumes all women will be traumatized by their decision to have an abortion. And that is just not the case. We see women every week who walk right on past those protesters with all the confidence in the world. 1 in 3 U.S. women will have an abortion in her life time, and the majority of those report feeling relief after. Some women are really sad, some are really happy, and many never regret their decision. Research also shows the women who are at the greatest risk for feeling unsure or guilty for their abortions are women who live in communities which stigmatize abortion.
We need to Quit stigmatizing our reproductive and sexual experiences. Then maybe more people could have honest and empowered lives.
In other words, religious inspired speech can be oppressive. There are few paradigms in history that have been more exploitative of subjugated populations than religious doctrine. The church is about conformity and privilege; earning rewards by social compliance. Some churches have done the work in addressing those privileges, and understanding their religious texts from a human rights perspective. But the commenter is in a place where his lack of understanding of what it might be like to be a female bodied person, or a poor person, or a person of color or a queer person colors his view. He is unwilling to explore why it could be intimidating, or why walking past crying women and people chasing you from your car could be interpreted as something other than peaceful. And unless he addresses his lack of scope, he is not likely to validate the broad continuum of experiences people have surrounding abortion.
Which is really what this whole blog is about anyway.