This blog is not de-escalating. I know that. I don’t think it helps normalize or de-stigmatize abortion either.
Sometimes, I feel bad about that.
Recently, I posted pictures showing protesters with the “dead baby” signage, all crowded around in front of the clinic. I was pleased with the piece. I thought it conveyed the intensity of the scene pretty well. That was what I wanted.
I want people to know how awful-horrible-terrible it is out there. I want everyone to know how extreme the antis are, how they try to intimidate, shame, and harass clients on their way to the clinic. I want people to be so outraged that even reasonable people in churches discourage their members from spending time creating shame. So outraged that they rally to help pass legislation creating a buffer zone.
But the night before I posted the pictures, we’d gotten an email from someone who was a bit freaked out about the idea of having to walk through the protesters to get to their doctor’s appointment. That happens pretty regularly.
That’s when I feel a little bit bad about the blog. I want to say to the client, “Oh, yeah, the blog tells people how awful the situation outside the clinic is, but you don’t have to worry too much about it. It’s not that big a deal.”
And in a way, that’s true too.
The things that happen outside the clinic are fairly horrible, awful, bad. And really ~~~~
~~~~ Here is where I get stuck. Right here. This is the article I keep trying to write, and I keep getting stuck right about here.
i want to talk to each client and each companion, not as a group, but individually. And I don’t want to sound like I’m telling anyone what to feel or not to feel on the walk to the clinic doors.
I want to say:
Whatever you feel is exactly the right thing to feel. The clinic feels scary and intimidating to some people. But the facts of the matter are that no one gets physically hurt on the way to our clinic. No clients get beaten up, shot, kidnapped, or injured.
Protesters may crowd around you, but they don’t usually touch you. They want to stop you, but they’re not here to physically harm you.
The walk to the clinic is, as Kescort used to say often, a lot like going through a haunted house. Protesters pop up and say things, and it can feel scary, but they don’t actually do anything to you.
And the things they say – good grief. They don’t know you. They don’t know why you’re there, and they don’t care. They have their own agenda, their own routines, and they’re gonna run through them no matter what. Whatever you say, they have a pre-set response about why you’re wrong – like a tape recorder. They can’t really even hear you.
I see clients wide-eyed and terrified, and I want to say, “Don’t – don’t let them scare you like that. No, it’s not pleasant, yes, it would be better if they weren’t here. But they’re just bullies. When they distress people, upset them ~ they’re glad. If you start crying, they’re gonna swarm like sharks. They see that as weakness, see it as an opportunity to talk you out of your decision.”
I want to say, “If you don’t want an abortion, if this isn’t the right decision for you, then don’t do it, of course. I’m here to support your right to decide, not to tell you what to do. But it is your decision, and it is not about them.”
They really only have as much power as you give them. You don’t have to give them any.
That’s what I want to say.
~~~~~ And now ~~ having said all that to the clients and companions ~~~~
I have to turn the message back on myself.
I have to figure out if I can give the protesters less power, if – and how – I can let them bother me less. I’ll let you know what I figure out.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.