Here I am, once again, 5:00 on Saturday morning, said I’d do the blog post, and don’t know what to write about. I escorted yesterday and the sense of being under siege on the sidewalk seems worse than ever.
I feel like the protesters have increased their level of intensity. Like they’re yelling louder, are more intent on converting escorts, or in convincing us we’re going straight to hell. Their shaming tactics haven’t improved, but they seem to be at new levels of enthusiasm for doing it.
Of course the political climate seems to encourage them. All the misinformation out there, and outright lies that support their stance Not only do we have Akin denying that women get pregnant from being raped, someone yesterday was saying that women don’t die in childbirth, and that the health of the mother isn’t a factor.
15.1 births out of 100,000 result in the death of the mother in the United States. That’s the death of a woman who carried the baby to term. It clearly doesn’t measure how many more might have died without the right to abortion.
We had newbies on the sidewalk yesterday – new protesters. That can be a bit intense too. They’re trying to take it all in, figure out what they’re supposed to do. They often try to talk with the escorts, as if they want to be friends, rather than as if they want to help us see the error of our ways.
The older protesters strut a bit as they show them the ropes. They seem more enthusiastic, more intent on modeling how to harass and shame.
But some of the protesters bring that intensity to the sidewalk every day. E, for example, is usually like that.
Yesterday, a companion came back out from the clinic ~ he’d forgotten his i.d. E chased him to his car and back, talking the whole time about why he should “be a man” and “bring her out” and so on.
As they got back to clinic, the companion turned to face E. E was standing on the property line, and the companion stepped up to within an inch or two of the line. Two men, well over 6 foot tall, squared off.
“Listen,” the companion says, “She was raped. She needs this abortion.”
E doesn’t hesitate for a second, “It’s still a baby!! D, the ittle red-haired woman, chimes in. It’s still a baby!!” It doesn’t matter what happened, it’s still a baby”. “Don’t kill that baby”. “Don’t let her kill that baby.”
For a second, I think the companion is going to punch E. i’m too far away to say anything, but I’m holding my breath. For a second, I think the companion thinks he’s going to punch E.
Instead, he shakes his head and turns back to the clinic.
I know these lines, these strategies, aren’t new, escorts from back in the day will tell me that the protesters have used the same tactics for ever. I think it feels worse to me because of the anti-choice politicians with their misinformation and lies.
In any case, occasionally, we get email from people who are concerned about the protesters. They want to know what will happen when they get to the clinic, if the protesters will touch them, if they’ll have to fight them, or what they’ll do.
I can tell them that usually the protesters won’t lay hands on you, and that they won’t have to fight their way down the sidewalk, thanks to the FACE act. I can tell them that the protesters want to make them feel bad about what they’re doing, and try to stop them from doing it.
I can say, the protesters don’t know you. They don’t know your situation. And it wouldn’t matter if they did. No matter what, they just say the same things over and over. Kind of like a tape recorder.
After all, the protesters are “selling shame.” They want people to be ashamed. But one in three women has an abortion. Some of the protesters have had abortions. Others of them will have an abortion in the future. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s the individual’s decision, and it’s none of their business.
I can tell people, if you have an appointment at the clinic, know that some people find it helpful to wear earbuds and listen to music, some wear a hoodie pulled up, some just walk by and refuse to listen or let it bother them. However you react is fine. You don’t need to talk to them, unless you just want to.
And if you have an appointment at the clinic, we’ll be there, in our orange vests. It may not be me that walks you up the sidewalk, but one of us will. We’re a reminder that not everyone believes what the protesters do. That we support your right to make your own healthcare decisions.
And as I go get dressed (in just a minute here – in layers, ’cause it’s cold and rainy today) I’ll remind myself that no matter what happens on the sidewalk today, that is one small part of our lives. I don’t have to carry their hatefulness with me all day.
I know that in the long run, progressives win. In the long run, it will work out.
In the meantime, I escort. I’ll try to find my own space of centered calmness, so I can share that with the people I see on the sidewalk today.