Physical Force Chasers
M is a particularly aggressive chaser. She treats escorts as if they are invisible. She will do anything she can to get beside the client to yell at them. A constant pushing pressure against the escort is a tool she uses commonly. This causes everyone in the walking group to move. A constant stream of, “M, please stop shoving,” “M, please move,” is heard from the escorts when M is the chaser.
Men seem to especially like this role. There are two that come to protest several days a week. T and E will elbow escorts aside. They block the entrance and sidewalk every day. There are also several who show up every Saturday morning. There was one who took a flying leap several times into the escorts surrounding a client.
There are two things all of the physical force chasers have in common. One is their denial. They will deny they blocked, pushed or shoved when they are asked about it. Either the escorts are lying, misunderstood them or it was an accident. They will deny their actions when questioned by any police present.
The second thing they have in common is they are the first to say escorts pushed, shoved, tripped, blocked or hit them. They will report any perceived infraction to any police present.
“Don’t kill your baby,” “We just want to help,” “I will adopt your baby,” “Mommy, don’t kill me,” “Come next door,” “You are murdering your baby,” and similar phrases are screamed at the client from the sidewalk or by chasers following them.
I include in this category the crying women. It is always women who pretend to cry. Sometimes they are obviously pregnant. Sometimes they have babies in a stroller, front pouch or backpack carrier. When a client comes near, they will cover their faces and make sounds like they are crying. Then when the client passes by, they remove their hands and continue conversations with those around them. There are never any signs of tears.
These antis usually express concern for the client in a lower volume. They are especially active if a client is standing before the doors before the clinic opens. The client becomes a captive audience unless they have headphones and music.
D comes out every day. She addresses her comments to clients and their companions. “Everyone has the same appointment time here. The doctor doesn’t arrive until 10a. What is the harm in stepping next door to get a free ultrasound? You will not miss your appointment.”, “Men are raised to protect women and children. You have broad shoulders. Stand up for her. Bring her out of there.” “Be a man, not a wimp. Men regret abortion too.” “All this place wants is your money. They don’t care about you.” “These people in the orange vests aren’t helping you. They don’t care about you. They are just lying to you.” “One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Come next door and see if you have a viable pregnancy.” “What’s the difference between this place and a back alley? They are both the same. Your baby will be cut up and tossed away in the garbage.” “You can always change your mind. You can get up off the abortionist’s table and walk out.”
E comes out several times a week. He uses variations of D’s script, but the message is the same. His words convey clients have evidently not thought about this or didn’t think about it in the right way. His choice is the only right choice a woman can make. E specializes in trying to make younger clients cry and is frequently the target of companion anger. They will yell at him to stop talking to the client and to leave them alone. He rarely listens. A few times he has backed off with a, “I will pray for you.”
A is one of the group of Immanuel Church who come out as a ministry service. They all wear yellow vests printed with “Life Escort.” His words are less likely to inflame anger, but they are very personal. “Tell me why you are here. Maybe I don’t understand because I am a man. Please help me understand. Just talk to me. What harm could it do? I just want to help you.”
Men frequently wield cameras on the sidewalk. They use camcorders or their cell phone cameras to film clients entering the clinic. There is at least one silver-haired man filming clients walking into the clinic every Saturday. We have tried to block his camera. His actions alarm many clients. The police advise us that because it is a public sidewalk he doesn’t need permission to film anyone walking into the clinic.
These films are posted on public websites or broadcast every Wednesday on a local cable channel. Respect for women is not the aim of these videos. This is public shaming.
Signs and Props
All along the sidewalk are signs and posters. They are propped against trees, propped on parked cars, carried by antis or hung by a cord around an anti’s neck. These signs range from simply stating “Abortion is Murder” to large pictures of what is supposed to be aborted fetuses. These are graphic, bloody and are aptly named fetus porn.
As you get closer to the clinic door there are more signs. Spaced in among the signs are statues, baby dolls, an eight-foot cross carried by an anti, and a few times even a door covered in writing. The door was dangerous and I am glad it hasn’t been there in a while.
The client has to walk past, listen to and see all of this chaotic noise and movement. This is not a routine trip to the doctor any more.
A few clients are able to face this harassment with a shrug, laugh or silence. They want to walk without escort. They walk confidently past all the obstacles antis put in their way.
Many more clients need escorts to help overcome their nervousness in facing the unknown ahead on the sidewalk.
In closing, I want to quote a recent article from the Abortion Gang blog. This article was written by ProChoice Gal and she gets it exactly right.