There is a danger when we spend a lot of time on the sidewalk in front of the clinic to view the dynamics of antis and escorts as “normal”. We will talk about a day not being a “bad day” if there are no flare ups of confrontations or violence. We have to keep reminding ourselves that this is anything but normal for the clients and their companions. It is their first time at the clinic. It is their first time experiencing the words and actions of the antis.
This was brought home to me again by a pedestrian the other day. They were walking by on a Saturday and stopped on the corner across the street from the clinic to talk to escorts.
This pedestrian was waiting for a bus and wanted to ask us questions. The first was, “Does this go on every day?” I replied, “It goes on every day Tuesday through Saturday when the clinic is open.”
He shook his head and said he walks by the clinic a couple of times a week to wait for the bus. “At first, I didn’t realize what was happening. I am from Seattle and this just doesn’t happen there. Well, almost never. Protesters came out one day and had fetuses in jars on display. I have been pro-choice since I saw that happening. No one who would do that is thinking about the women. They are just trying to shame them.”
We stood watching the protesters and escorts across the street. We talked a little about the graphic pictures, anti tactics to shame clients and abortion in general. When his bus arrived, he thanked us for being there.
I left thinking about the client in Seattle who went to a doctor’s appointment and was visually assaulted by signs, jars and the harmful words of the antis.
There is nothing normal about anti tactics in front of an abortion clinic.