I escorted Friday morning, and plan to be doing that as well as my usual Saturday stint, for a while anyhow. It is, as Servalbear often says, a very different experience from escorting on Saturday.
There are fewer pray-ers, chasers, and protesters, and no preacher, which is an improvement immediately. Less noise, less chaos and confusion.
Of course, that’s not necessarily helpful to the clients who come during the week ~ there are still protesters, and they don’t have a basis for comparison, right? “Hey, this is nothing, you should see it on Saturday,” is probably not a real helpful comment.
And it feels more personal on weekdays, at least from an escort point of view. We’re not posted all up and down the street, we’re just in front of the clinic and on the side by the fake clinic parking lot. Four of us Friday, which seems to work ok.
I get there at 7:00, and C is just escorting two women up to the door. They sit down on the little wall by the door, apparently quite comfortable. “The protesters are going to start talking to you,” C advises them.
The companion says, “They can talk all they want to. I’ve got a mouth, I can talk right back.”
I smile. Yep. Sounds like there’s no doubt about that.
Donna, standing on the property line, says, “You should come to our clinic, get a free ultrasound. You might be having a miscarriage ~”
~ and the client interrupts her. “Oh, no,” she says. “I’ve BEEN to your clinic. I’m not coming back.”
C says, “Yeah, you might want to tell her what happened to you,” gesturing to me, then explains, “She (the client) has already been down here once, and got trapped in the fake clinic.”
The client nods. “Sure did. And he,” tilting her head at C, “rescued me.”
Of course, I want to hear the story. She begins:
“Well, I came down here with my boyfriend earlier this week. We parked in their parking lot. They came over to us and said, “Why don’t you come get a free ultra-sound, just see how far along you are?”
And I thought, “Sure, why not? You know. It seemed like a good idea. He (C, the escort) was trying to talk to us too, but I didn’t pay any attention to him”
She pauses, I’m nodding, her friend is listening with the expectant air of one who knows what comes next.
The client says, “So they get me in there, they do the ultrasound, then I wanted to leave. And they trapped me. They wouldn’t let me go. They kept me there for an hour and a half.”
“No!” I am sincerely shocked. I’ve heard they do this, but I always have trouble believing it. It just seems so outrageous, I can’t quite wrap my mind around it.
“Yes!” she says. And of course, I do believe her, it’s not that I don’t believe her. I just have trouble believing this really happens.
She goes on, “They blocked the door. Four women with Bibles. And they kept talking at me, telling me why I couldn’t do this.”
I can picture it all too well. The women, sanctimonious and so convinced of the utter rightness of their own beliefs that they feel fully justified standing in front of the door so the client can’t leave.
“Finally,” she says, “He,” nodding at C, “saw I was in there and came toward the door. Then they got out of the way and let me go. But I already missed my appointment.”
“And that’s why she brought me with her today,” says the companion, concluding the story. “They’re not going to bother us today.”
I can only nod. I’m really stunned.
I don’t know why I have such a hard time believing this, or why I’m surprised that the antis would resort to these tactics. I can even accept that they do it in other places.
I just have trouble recognizing that the real people I see on the sidewalk every week ~ the women who work at the fake clinic ~ would do these things. I typically think of them as basically well-meaning, just overly opinionated. But this goes beyond preaching and lecturing. It seems so wrong to me, I don’t understand how they can justify it.
And I guess that’s how they feel about abortion, right? That it’s so wrong, they’re justified in doing anything to keep people from making their own decisions about what’s best for them. I guess they would say that the wrong they do by kidnapping someone for a little while is less wrong than abortion.
And I guess if they could do it outside the clinic without getting in trouble, they would do it there too. Really.
When I think about that, the gap between the way they see the world and the way I do, it feels hopeless. I’m sure it’s not hopeless, but it is a fundamental difference and it feels too wide to be bridged.
Later in the morning, Donna says, in her most sarcastic tone, “Yes, that’s right, we take people clothes too and don’t let them leave.”
R and I are standing by the door. “That’s right,” says R, “You do that.”
“Right,” says Donna, still aiming for sarcastic.
“Right,” says R, not sarcastic at all.
And somehow, that exchange sums it up for me, the whole conflicted mess.