Bad sad mad morning

Today was hard.

I’ve been on a semi-hiatus for a while, due to oversleeping, being out of town, and feeling the need for a bit of a break. But I managed to get my butt out of bed this morning, and I’m glad I did.

We had 6 escorts this morning, and not very many protesters, but the 10 or 15 that were there were pushy and horrible (what else is new though, right?).

Towards the end of the morning, a woman walked up, crying. Her support person was nearby, and Angela ran over. Angela evidently knows this woman, and also really loves targeting people of color. Angela was freaking out, trying to push through our circle of escorts, screaming that she knew the woman and that the woman wanted to talk to her. But the woman was crying so hard she could barely walk, let alone answer any questions about whether or not she actually did want to talk to Angela.

Then something kind of amazing happened. As we escorts were making really slow progress towards the door, an inch at a time, several people that were already inside of the clinic (and I’m not clear if they were with the woman coming in or not, but I believe at least one person was with another client) came outside. They held the woman’s arms and walked her up to the property line, pulling through Angela and Donna and all of the other really excited protesters. They created a space for her to make it up to the property, and really did what we try to do as escorts. It was so amazing to see that. Angela was still yelling, and Brady was losing it, but the client made it through the gauntlet, past the harassment of a supposed friend.

I’ve never cried at clinic, or ever even come close. That was one thing I was really concerned about when I first started going (and before I ever went that was a big concern, that I would just break down and be a mess), because sometimes I just get weepy. TV shows can make me cry, seeing other people cry can make me cry, and sometimes I just need a good cry to let go of some stored up shit. But nothing at the clinic has ever made me so sad. It’s also the first time I’ve seen some very even tempered escorts really get upset. It’s hard not to just want to get violent and angry and sad when a woman, so upset and crying so hard she can’t talk or walk, is being SCREAMED at by a “friend,” by someone who “cares,” not to mention strangers who can’t mind their own business.

This is a time that people really need support, and love, and a friend to tell them that they will be ok, that they are making the right choice because it’s what they are choosing for themselves based on their situation. Angela doesn’t know what’s going on with this woman, whether she had an unwanted pregnancy or had a very wanted but nonviable pregnancy. And screaming “I know you talked to ____ from our church last night, she told you I’d be here and she was right! Don’t do this, NO!” is not support. It’s not coming from a place of love, understanding, respect. Or even a place of basic common decency.

Days like today, I really hate how ugly religion can make some people. It’s hard not to be completely bitter towards religion, which is a shame because for so many people it manifests in a very beautiful way. But all I can see on mornings like this one is how hideous and hateful religion can be.

So for this morning at least, I’m going to re-focus my attention to the friends and partners and support people who go in with clients. They set aside their own beliefs and are there to support a friend. And sometimes that’s what it takes to be a good friend – shutting up about your shit and what you feel is best and standing beside someone when they need you. Thank you thank you thank you support people. You make me feel better about the universe.

6 thoughts on “Bad sad mad morning

  1. rored5, I am going to take you to task here. You, like so many other religious liberals, are quick to point out that not all religious people are as zealous and anti-choice as the folks that show up at the clinic. Yet you fail to make an active stand in your church community to support a woman’s right to choose, or at the very least, call out the crazies from your church that oppress, harass and impede women seeking abortion.

    Until you stand up in your church and say enough is enough, then you are enabling people to chase women into the White Castle bathroom and threaten clients with physical violence and eternal damnation.

  2. Hello, it was raining and cold on Tuesday morning. Donna needed her hands to clutch her black umbrella, so at least the gruesome CHOICE sign wasn’t around. However, she kept using her body and the umbrella to block the sidewalk. There were only two safety escorts present: a man who has escorted for 11 years and myself.

    A young black teenager came around the corner of 2nd and Market, alone, shivering in the cold, carrying her own umbrella. Donna, already blocking the clinic side of the sidewalk, angled in, walking beside the young woman, herding her toward the street side of the sidewalk, and ultimately cutting her off.

    Now I ask you to picture this: From the edge of the sidewalk, we have one large tree, surrounded by deep puddles of water on the sidewalk, edged by a young black woman holding her umbrella, who is pinned there by a short and soft-spoken white woman so determined to make herself heard that her own umbrella is layered up underneath the client’s umbrella, while her face is up in the young woman’s face.

    “Is she allowed to do that?” I ask my fellow safety escort. I’ve only been doing this for a couple of weeks.

    “She can say anything she wants on the sidewalk,” he replies.

    I step closer, on the inside track of this sidewalk cowgirl hogtier roper brand ’em and drag ’em to the fake woman’s choice clinic person. To Donna’s left, I am facing the young girl underneath the two umbrellas.

    Tears are rolling down her cheeks.

    “You don’t have to talk to her if you don’t want to. Do you have an appointment at the clinic?” I ask, although I already know in my gut that she does. She looks into my eyes, nods, wipes the salty pearls from her face, yet cannot move forward without wading through the puddle or somehow pushing past Donna.

    I spread my arms, angling my hands toward the sidewalk, my right hand just between the client and the anticlient, and say, “You can go this way if you want to.”

    The woman nods, turns to her right, walking past my arms. Donna calls out, loudly for her, “Sweetheart, she doesn’t care about you. She just wants to kill your baby.”

    Later, I warned Donna to not block the sidewalk. I even had to tell her that if, while walking behind me, she ever banged on my shoulders again with the prongs of her umbrella, I would break her umbrella in half. She said, “Sweetheart, I would not hesitate to prosecute you.”

    I only wish.

  3. As one of the people linking arms around the weeping grandmother and the tall young man walking with her, this is a morning still vivid in my memory. Angela was pushing with all her might, grabbing my arm, trying to break our safety chain, screaming at me, “Devil! You devil!! Let me talk to my friend!! She wants to hold my hand! Let my Sister come to me! She’s from my church! You devil!!” An excort behind the woman asked her, “Ma’am, do you want to hold hand with Angela?” The woman kept crying, shaking, shaking her head no (although whether in answer to the question or just due to the situation, I couldn’t say), saying, “Oh, Jesus…”

    If she had said she wanted to hold Angela’s hand, we all know that the escorts would have stopped immediately to allow that. She did not respond to the question. They went in, and Angela continued to scream at me that I was the devil, that I was the devil abortionist escort. She calmed down enough to switch over to scream-praying FOR the devil abortionist escorts.

    To follow up, people, the family stopped by in their car this morning in front of the clinic to tell Angela that they had changed their mind and left the clinic that day through a back door because they were too ashamed to face Angela.

    They may be back on Saturday, of course, but the haters were so thrilled that they “saved that baby,” and demanded of us to admit we were sad that she hadn’t had the abortion. We said we were happy that the woman was able to MAKE HER OWN CHOICE, and if that was her choice, we were happy for her.

    I believe it is the right to freedom of choice, to the civil liberty of reproductive freedom to keep or to terminate a pregnancy, that is really important.

    Let the circus continue. . .

  4. Good job keeping it together through that scene. It is amazing that we are able to maintain when the situation gets that charged and frenetic. It is then that supporting one another and centering not on the antis but the clients becomes the means to the end – de-escalating and calming the chaos.

    Escorts kick ass and take wallets!

  5. I am so sorry that you had to deal with this today. But, please remember that, although often people use their religion as an excuse to act the way you talked about above, not all religious people are like that.
    I’m religious, I’m a Christian, and I don’t go to church every week but I surely wouldn’t feel like I had to hide my Pro-Choice stance on the Sundays I do go. In fact, I believe that my pastor may very well support my decision to escort if I was able to do so.
    Good luck, and keep fighting for those women who need you. You’re appreciated so much.

    • I am absolutely conscious that these folks are NOT AT ALL a representative sample of Christians! (In fact, I wouldn’t really consider them Christians. Christianity should probably disown these guys, really.)
      We do have some religious escorts (even some groups from churches that show up on our crazy days), and they are a great reminder of how fantastic religion can be, and how religion can be so positive and motivate a lot of good in the world.
      It’s hard to keep that in mind sometimes when we see such an ugly thing being linked so very strongly with Christianity – when I’m seeing and hearing these folks calling themselves Christians and then being incredibly cruel and heartless towards strangers it makes me think “Ahh, Christianity can get so ugly!”
      But, when it comes down to it, all extremism gets ugly – religious, political, or whatever else. I am determined to not let these extremist jerks make me negatively stereotype religion!

      Thank you for your support!

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