Support

There’s been a lot to think about lately. It’s very overwhelming, as far as I’m concerned. So, I’m just looking a look at a small part of the picture today, instead of going into all of my feelings about recent events – it would take a very, very long time for me to write about the big picture right now.

-Frances

Thinking about some of the stuff that goes at the clinic, it seems impossible to see where the protesters are coming from. Today, as a family walked away from the clinic after walking in with a client, a protester told a 5 year old that her mom was a murderer. Is this supportive, empowering, helpful, necessary, appropriate, and does it contain a shred of decency? No. Is that rude, insensitive, and incredibly small-minded? I think so. I also see it as inexcusable and unforgivable. For an adult to act that way is simply ridiculous. It seems like such an immature, below the belt low-blow sort of choice to make, something that any sane person would feel totally ashamed for having said. But to the protesters, that’s just another Saturday. This is just one example of how the protesters fail to provide support, or even be decent human beings.

I’ve been thinking a lot about support, and particularly how that ties in with escorting. I know that this is such a huge subject to talk and think about, and everyone has their own view of support and specific examples of amazing support and totally crappy non-supportive actions. But in the smaller context of escorting, support plays such a huge role.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking: escorts provide support, period. This support, as far as I’m concerned, comes from a non-judgmental place, where there are no winners or losers, no doubt that a person is very capable of making the right decision for their circumstances, and so forth. This is not true of whatever “support” the protesters may claim to be giving clients.

Escorts are there to support clients and their partners, friends, and family members when they arrive at the clinic (or even before, if they need help figuring out the parking situation), as they walk in to the clinic, and if they walk out of the clinic for whatever reason. When escorts obtain consent to walk with people to or from the clinic, they remain supportive through body language, by providing a barrier from protestors, by making small talk (when and if it seems appropriate), and so forth. Protesters are there to provide… well, certainly not support, so I guess harassment?

A lot of the protesters do offer “help,” but here’s a little secret: the support that they offer (a pack of diapers and a free ultrasound) is very limited, if it can even be considered real help. It comes with strings attached and plenty of guilt. While they don’t offer a car seat to the clients walking in to the clinic with an infant in an ill-fitting and unsafe carrier, they are quick to offer their opinions (“You’ll regret this for the rest of your life if you walk through those doors!”) and say that they can help or support the client. But isn’t support really about being there regardless of the choice(s) made?

8 thoughts on “Support

  1. Pingback: Every saturday | Teamsellers

  2. Pingback: On anti-abortionists and their tactics

  3. I do clinic escorts on an emergency call basis since the protesters don’t show up on a regular basis in my town. When they do, the most common trait of all of them, is they are just mere bullies. Bullies who are so self-righteous and convinced of their beliefs they feel the need to force them upon others at all costs. The ends justify the means to these types of people – and we know where that type of thinking leads. Another strange occurrence in my experience is that many of the protesters I’ve encountered belong to some very fringe christian groups. When not protesting clinics many write quite a bit about how the “gubment” and secular public is persecuting them for their religious beliefs. Yet they then turn around and devote large amounts of time persecuting others for their beliefs and choices. The irony never fails to amaze me and wonder what type of mental space they can inhabit where that double standard doesn’t enter into their equation.

    • Yes, we have had several prior clients of the clinic return to escort. That being said, I have more often heard former clients say they would not return to escort because the protester’s aggressiveness is triggering, that is to say they find it too upsetting to remain calm and collected in the face of such hostility. Regardless of the intentions or assertions of calmness and peacefulness, the protesters are perceived by the clients as aggressive and hateful. It is painful and difficult to face one’s oppressors, and the clinic is no exception. For a client to return to the clinic as an escort they must not only be willing to be outed by the protesters as someone who has had an abortion, they must be willing to deal with the stigma thrown at them. It takes great courage and passion. Which we see every week as women and their families do what is best for them. More often than clients returning to escort, we have had a great number of friends and family members of clients return, specifically to support others through the experience of walking through the protesters, one they know can be more traumatic than the abortion itself.

    • Escorts support all clients to be empowered by knowing that whatever they decide is right for them is okay. We always ask if they want an escort. we ask if they are ready to walk, giving them as much time to gather themselves as they need. we let them lead the way, setting the pace, choosing the route. these allowances are not always easy to make when there are protesters aggressively shoving plastic fetuses and gruesome pictures in peoples faces; standing in car doors so the client cannot exit the car or close the door. these disturbances happen all the time. we have to balance being sensitive and assertive. in situations where the client (or their people) are distraught we take extra care. once they indicate that they are ready to go inside the clinic we do what we must to get them there. inside the sign-in lobby we offer them counseling contacts for exhale (1888-4-exhale), WENCH, and KRCRC. we do not believe the sidewalk outside the clinic is a good place for counseling, from either side of the fence. we do however support people in finding help when they need it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s