It’s seemed pretty calm at the clinic the last couple of weeks, which actually just means that I haven’t been in the middle of any real unpleasant situations, and I’ve been able to hold my frustration and anger to a minimum. But I haven’t heard any stories worse than the run-of-the-mill ugliness you find on the sidewalk.
Last week, I had a brief conversation with a man who had brought his three children down to protest outside the clinic. The kids, two boys and a girl, looked like they were between 9 and 13 or so, and were taking it all in. As I walked by, the father said, “Hey, excuse me. ” I paused and he said, “Can I – can I ask you a question? I just want to ask you a question.”
He already had this kind of pleading look on his face. Almost the same look that some basketball players get when the referee calls a foul on them – all big eyed hurt innocence. Normally, you know, I don’t talk to the protesters. At all.
But I stopped. Maybe I stopped because the little girl was watching me. So I stopped.
Of course he was suprised, but he was able to say, “I just want to ask you -” still in that pleading tone,”Do you get paid for this? Do they pay youall to do this?”
I burst out laughing – “Omigod, no,” I say. “Of course not. We’re all volunteers.”
“But,” he says, looking at me intently, still with those puppy-dog eyes, “But – don’t you realize they’re making a mint in there?! Making a mint!”
Thoroughly annoyed, I snapped, “Of course they are! It’s a doctor’s office! Doctors make a mint!” and I would have walked on, but he said something about “what they do in there…” and I said, “They’re providing health care in there, necessary health care,” and then I stalked off.
Later, he and the kids were leaving. In the parking lot, they stopped by K and me.
“I have to admire youall, ” he said, “You’re out here every week and you’re not even getting paid for it. I don’t agree with you, but it’s too bad we gotta be on opposite sides of the fence.”
“Yeah it is,” I said. “But we think it’s important to trust women,” and I smiled at his daugher.
I think K said some stuff to him after that – I think K thought this guy was sincere with his admiration. I think the guy was setting us up. Softening us up. Whatever you wanna call it.
I think the next times he sees me and K, he’ll start talking some more. And the next thing you know, he’ll be trying to tell us why we shouldn’t be on opposite sides. I don’t have time for that, and it’ll just tick me off more if I’ve bought into it first. But maybe I’m too cynical.
On the other hand – here’s some naivete. Apparently, we don’t have to worry about abortions to save the mother’s life anymore. C, one of the escorts told us:
“One of the male protesters told me yesterday that no abortions are ever necessary because doctors can take the fetus out , perform the necessary life saving operations and put the fetus back in . Really. He said that.”
Which might seem unbelievable – that someone would actually believe that. But they believe all kinds of things – and misundertand the things we believe.
One of the “preachers” was ranting about evolution and how stupid it is to believe that people came from monkeys. Of course, lots of people think that’s what evolution means, so that’s not too surprising. But he takes it a step further.
He goes on to say, in his loudest preaching voice, “That’s right! And they (I’m pretty sure “they’ is “us” – the escorts) – they believe that pigs came from goats and then I guess the pigs turn into cows, and the cows turn into horses…”
So I had to wonder outloud – why would horses be further up the chain than cows? And then – I know it’s not helpful for me to stand there laughing out loud at him, but really – how could I not? The pigs turn into cows? And the cows turn into horses???
But that’s just laughable and doesn’t do any real harm. I worry a lot more about another protester. She doesn’t think she needs to worry that she could ever have to have an abortion for medical reasons. We asked her, “Well, what would you do if you were pregnant and 3 or 4 doctors told you that you’d die if you tried to have the baby?” She paused a moment, and said:
“Well, if that’s what happened then it wouldn’t be an abortion and they’d do it in the hospital. I wouldn’t have to come down here to get it.””
Really. She said that.
I’ve got to appreciate the beauty of that logic. It’s been a while since I took a logic class, but I think it would look like this:
A: Abortion is bad.
B: Saving my life is good.
C: So if it saves my life, then it’s all good, and it must not even be an abortion.
Right. It makes perfect sense to me…
I only wish the world worked like that for all of us.