When we train escorts, we stress the importance of listening to what the clients say. Some clients want to talk about their decision and they will tell us personal information. We focus on what they are saying to us. This is important to the client and is part of making space for them.
Many clients cannot share their stories with others in their life. The stigmatization of abortion makes it harder to have an abortion conversation within some families or friends, but our orange vests let them know they already have someone pro-access to discuss their abortion. Many times it is easier to talk to a stranger about why you decided to have an abortion.
Listening and respecting their stories is allowing the clients to express their power to make the decisions that are right for them. We should respond with words that respect the personal nature of what we are hearing. We wait for the client to direct the conversation. They may want to continue sharing other parts of their story, or they may want to move on to lighter subjects.
This point really hit home with me the other day. The companion pulled to the drop off zone and the client went into the clinic. We gave the companion directions for parking and I walked over to the $3 parking lot to help them navigate the parking and payment. As we were slipping money into the payment box, the companion was telling me the health reasons that made it necessary for the client to have an abortion. They were stressing they were there for the client and supported them in their decision.
We crossed the street and approached the clinic. E started walking beside the companion. At first he was saying, “You don’t have to do this today. You don’t have to kill your baby.” The companion let him know they weren’t the patient, but explained the same health reasons making an abortion needed for the client. E immediately said, “You need to talk to her and convince her not to kill her baby.” She then explained to E that the client was making the right decision and she knew it because she had to make the same decision herself. She explained she lost a pregnancy at 5 months because of a health issue. “I laid in the hospital for three days with a dead baby inside me. I don’t want her to go through that.” Without pausing E responded with, “At least that was better than killing a baby.” The companion and I just looked at each other and continued on our walk. I was speechless for a moment considering this touch of cruelty in his words, but we started talking about other things within a few feet.
Antis do not have the same respect for really listening to what the client is saying. They are on a one-message agenda and all facts that refute their world view are rejected. The companion’s experience did not fit into E’s script, so it was discarded as not being relevant.
My hope is that I will always listen and really hear the messages from clients and companions.