July 23, 2009
Protesters: 7, 3 praying, 4 chasing
Throughout the last ten years we have focused our escorting efforts solely on Saturday mornings. Recently however we have seen a dramatic up tick in both the number and aggressivness of anti-choicers showing up during the week. Neither the clinic nor the escorts have felt the need to assist clients Tuesday through Saturday until now.
For the last threeish weeks we have been sending 3 to 4 escorts down to the clinic in the mornings. I had not been able to make it down until this past week and I was not prepared for the difference in attitude it takes to escort other days than Saturday. Take away the group dynamics between escorts and protester, fewer clients and less general chaos, and the atmosphere during the week is PERSONAL. I was blown away at how much more intimate it felt to be out there with so little emotional cover. I was very quickly defensive and angry, and I struggled to keep my cool.
One of the anti-choices caused me more grief than the others. She was a female presenting, 30 something, who told clients that having an abortion would ‘irreparably damage’ them. She adamantly professed the nature of women to birth babies and used the love of her own two children to prove her argument. When I asked her if she had ever spoken with someone who was happy with their decision to have an abortion she told me that person did not exist and that she could not believe them any way, because she could not imagine not wanting her kids.
Within the anti-choice community privilege shines through as an indicator of worth. As a culture we do not trust teenagers with comprehensive sex-ed, we do not trust poor people with decisions regarding health care, we do not trust queer people to make decisions about their bodies, even to decide their own pronouns. For a white, college educated (she told me she has at least a Bachelors degree) cisgendered person to believe she has a monopoly on truth, is disingenuous at best. And at it’s worst perpetuates false ideas of normalcy and valid life experiences.
A great example of this occurred two weekends ago, I captured an interaction between a client walking into EMW and one of our protesters. Here is the transcript of the 30 second interaction.
Support person to the protesters: …we just got out of the hospital, you all need to mind your own.
Protester: You could go across the street and get a picture of your baby.
Client: Actually I miscarried last night, before I bleed to death, I need to have all of this taken care of.
Protester: The ER is where you need to go, not here.
Client: I’ve already been to the ER.
Protester: Why did they send you here if the baby is gone? I don’t think you are telling the truth; please don’t take the life of your baby.
The truth of the matter is, that if this woman went to UofL hospital she could not obtain an abortion except to save her life, because Kentucky has a law on the books baring a public facility from providing those procedures.
The truth of the matter is, that she could have been sent away from any hospital without a D&C because the physician or nurse or ER administrator might have objected.
The truth of the matter is that insurance in KY does not pay for an abortion unless to save the person’s life, even if she is miscarrying; even if the fetus is already gone our medical system still stigmatizes abortion procedures, regardless of the health status of the client.
Who do you want deciding what is right in your life? Some one who is not interested in listening because they can not even try to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?
Maybe these anti-choicers should step back and listen to the real experiences of people’s lives, not what they think other people experience. Maybe they should suspend judgment for just one hour and experience what other people must go through. Maybe we should all address our privilege and stop making assumptions about one another and invalidating other people’s lives.