Still Not Changing Minds

“Changing Minds – or Not” was published by fml last month. I thought about it a lot this week.

Thursday it stormed in Louisville and it was raining all day. At times the rain was very heavy. After most of the clients and companions were in the clinic, a car pulled up beside the drop-off zone and the driver got out.

They approached the protesters grouped there under their umbrellas and started yelling at them. “You need to stop what you are doing. You need to leave these women alone. My friend doesn’t need to hear you. The decision was hard enough without having to listen to you.” One of the antis responded, “She will have to answer to God for what she is doing. You need to help her. Let us talk to her. Bring her next door to A Woman’s Choice.”

At this point, I was able to identify myself as an escort and asked the driver if they needed to park. “I don’t know where I want to park. I will figure it out.”

I backed away as the driver was telling the antis, “She doesn’t need to talk to you. She has made her decision and it is between her and God now. It isn’t a decision you have any part in making. Leave her alone and go home.”

As I was walking away, the antis grouped around this driver who felt so strong a need to say something to the protesters that they were willing to stand in pouring rain while blocking traffic. The exchange continued for a few minutes before the driver got back in their car and drove away. The driver was able to say what they needed to say.

Then Friday escorts were treated to a personal sermon by one of the antis. After most of the clients and companions had entered the clinic without listening to him, this anti’s attention turned to us. “You either have to obey or disobey. There is only obedience or disobedience. You will be on your knees either in prayer or your knees will be struck and you won’t be able to stand. I tell you this because I love you. You need to obey God.”

My first thought was, “Wow, how very compassionate.” The escort standing beside me said, “Does he think he is saying anything we haven’t heard a thousand times?” I laughed and agreed we have heard it so many times. His parting comment was, “I love you. Have a Happy Christmas.” Really?

Both days, no one’s opinion was changed. No one said, ‘Oh, I see your point. You must be right and I am wrong.’ We are still at an impasse.


REMINDER: Share your story.

January 22, 2013 is the 40th Anniversary of Roe v Wade.  Forty years of legal, safe abortions.  This invitation comes from our allies at Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:

“KRCRC (is making plans for a January 20 event in Louisville, “The Roe Monologues,” to mark those 40 years (four decades, two generations!) since the Roe v Wade ruling, and we need your help.

We’re looking for your story. But also for your mother’s, your daughter’s, your sister’s, aunt’s, girlfriend’s, roommate’s, friend’s story. Fairly brief; 2 to 5 minutes, and starting with the year. (e.g. “It was 1983, and I was trying to finish up my nursing degree, when I found out I was pregnant.” “In 2008, my wife and I had been trying for several years to have a baby. Now she had finally gotten pregnant, but when we got the results of the amnio, …” “1957. I was living in Missouri, and abortion was illegal. When my roommate learned she was pregnant, …” etc)

On Jan. 20 at our event, we will love it if you will present it yourself. But if it’s bad timing, bad location, or you’d just rather not get up to present it yourself, we will be happy to have someone read it for you. Also, you can use your own name or a made-up name, your choice.

We need these stories! – and people need to hear them. Will you help us? Will you spread the word that we’re looking for these stories?

Please email if you think you’d like to participate, either in person or by providing a story for someone else to read.”

By stepping out and talking about our experience we reduce the stigma and shame that surrounds abortion.  By sharing our stories, we support each other and continue building a world where reproductive justice is a reality.

4 thoughts on “Still Not Changing Minds

  1. Let’s just face it – changing people minds are not gonna happen on the front lines between clinic escort and side walk counselor. We change people’s minds by openly conversing about this topic with our local barista at the coffeehouse, in the kitchen/bathroom with our girlfriends, at work around the water or with family at gatherings.

    People who are there on abortions days have already drawn their own line in the sand and doggedly are gonna stick to it, but the bystanders who see this struggle from the outside – their minds may be changed. The jogger passing by, the shopper walking down the street and the cars passing – their minds may be changed.

    Stay true to the cause, you guys are warriors protecting women, toe the line and be careful yet fierce – you never know who’s passing-by – who’s mind you’ll change by your sheer presence on the side walk.

    Also of note –

    • Oubli,

      We have no expectation really of changing anyone’s mind on the sidewalk, that’s why we try for non-engagement at all times. Useless arguments with the antis doesn’t help the clients and gains us nothing. I read the Abortion Gang article and laughed. We are cautious like Sophia about talking about it in other situations because of being unsure of the reactions (violent or reasonable), but I agree we should have more conversations all of the time; at every opportunity. We do have conversations almost daily with pedestrians passing the clinic wanting to know what is going on. Most of the time, their minds are changed just by observing the dynamics. They voice the opinion the antis should not be there, just like the companion who stopped and yelled at them this week. We are always grateful for the support we receive from those who pass by and become supporters of choice. I wrote not long ago about a pro-life pedestrian who told us she supports our efforts and believes the antis are wrong to come out. That is a good feeling. We will stay true to the cause. It’s too important to be there to create space for the clients.

      Please think about sending your story into KRCRC for the public reading on January 20th. They will find a volunteer to read. Your stories are very powerful and could help someone who hears them.

      Thank you,

      • You’re both absolutely right. I frequently engage antis online in public forums knowing that THEIR minds won’t be changed…but other people observing the conversation do. There are many people who are not pro or anti, who just have loose ideas about abortion and such. They are the ones we can reach.

        As I’ve said many times before, anti-choice isn’t about reproduction issues. For them it’s simply a moral/religious issue. When we show people that working towards free health care without compromising their personal feelings on the matter is possible, THAT is when real change happens.

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