from a guest writer, and valuable new escort
When I started escorting in June of this year, this question was the first one I was asked. Other escorts wanted to know why I volunteered and they wanted to share their reasons. I truthfully answered: it had been something I wanted to do for several years, but just didn’t reach the courage level to come out. I’m not a confrontational person and didn’t know if I had the courage to face crowds of yelling people on a Saturday. A fellow escort was kind enough to give me the moral support to come and try it. The story I tell now is my experiences the second day escorting and follow it with the comment, “How could I not continue to come?”
There are several reasons I wanted to come out to support the women entering the clinic. I am old enough to remember the days before abortion was legal. Many of us demonstrated and spoke up for women’s rights in a time when opinions were very volatile. We quickly channeled desire for change from Civil Rights and Vietnam War demonstrations to equal rights for women, including the right to make personal decisions for their bodies and lifestyle. We have reached a changing time when opinions are as volatile as they were in the beginning of the struggles for women’s rights.
Over the years I have been lazy and have moved away from active participation in causes. Passions cooled with the day-to-day responsibilities of work and family obligations. Faithfully voting in every election, contributing cash to causes I believe in, but never going out in the front lines. My desire to help society as a whole was channeled into helping individuals. This began changing for me about nine years ago. Gradually I watched rights being taken away from everyone, women in particular, by legislation locally or nationally to appease the vocal religious beliefs of Christians. This especially applies to abortion issues and stem-cell research. While working in a corporate environment for the past 30 years, it became a career killer to admit you were not onboard with conservative ideas or approved charities. I became afraid of a backward movement in social time if people who felt like I did wouldn’t step up. This was the year I stepped up for what I believe: Trust Women.
When I first learned of the demonstrations in front of the clinic on a daily basis, I was dismayed to learn this private decision of a woman was cause for demonstrations and conflict. This is a medical decision and a personal decision for each woman. What compassionate person would want to put more obstacles in the way of a difficult choice? Actually since I have been escorting, I have found out a whole lot of people will use any means to humiliate and bully women and the men who come to the clinic with them. The volunteer escorts are usually outnumbered 5:1 by the anti-choice protesters during the week and 20 or more to one on Saturday mornings. An escort can only offer their support to the woman by being there. We can try to dull the chaos around the gauntlet walk to the clinic door, with the hope the client is not able to register all of the hate being yelled at them.
Why did I start escorting? I felt I needed to register my strong belief in pro-choice and help the women who made the choice for abortion. Why do I continue escorting? We are back to my second day escorting. That day we escorted a young girl who had to use her Junior High yearbook for identification and a woman carrying a young child as she cried. The protesters were yelling messages of sin and no forgiveness, heaping shame on the clients and the family members who came to the clinic with them. I went home that day and cried about the harm visited on those two while none of the protesters bothered to find out why they were there. How could I not continue to come? Since then I have walked in with women who all have their personal stories. Today we had one woman with a dead fetus and another was a rape victim. They needed to know other people understood their situation and respected their choice. We also had a young woman who changed her mind and left the clinic. We also let her know we respected her choice. This is why I continue to escort.
Other escorts lend me strength and perspective to the whole bizarre process. The first time a couple left the clinic and went to the Christian counseling center down the street, I was sad. However, another experienced escort helped me by saying, “We can only hope this is the right decision for them.” It is about the woman’s choice, not my opinion of what she should do. We go to help each woman, one at a time, in whatever way they need our help.
Talking to an escort who has been actively supporting women for over a decade, I expressed disappointment in myself for not coming earlier. Her reply helps me. “Everyone comes when it is their time.” Now is my time.