What Is a Picture Worth?

I was taking pictures again last week. It wasn’t a “big” week, nothing special about it.   But I’m tired of my own words ~ I’ve been blogging about being an escort and the walk up the sidewalk for a long time now.  I’m tired of talking about it, I want to show you.  I want you to take the walk with us.

This is a video of the gauntlet – it’s not a great video, but better than nothing. The person in the green vest is a protester.  They are walking up the way you would come if you were coming to the clinic.   One day soon, I’ll videotape it from that perspective, but today we have this:

(My videos tend to be shaky – I apologize for that.  Well, and they’re not great videos.)

So you can hear them saying the rosary, and in the background, you can hear one of the preachers.  I think it’s actually Andrew, who’s not officially “a preacher” for our purposes because he doesn’t take a turn on the step stool that serves as their soapbox.  But he preaches for sure – to the escorts as much as the clients, I think.

If you were coming up through the gauntlet, you’d start way down at the end of the block and come all the way up, and then the clinic is on your left.  As you walk up, you’d be facing this:


Right before you get to these folks, you would turn left.

Now, in the video, on the left as you get close to the clinic doors, you see this group of men, lined up on the curb.  Here they are, and Mary on the end with the big green bag over her arm, the orange vests of escorts standing in the street:


If you decided to avoid the gauntlet by getting dropped off at the door, right there is the only space where there isn’t a car parked.   It’s not the official Saturday “drop off” spot, because there was a car in the drop-off space last week, but if the car hadn’t been there, they would have filled that area too.

As you get out of your car, they look like this:


But the escorts are to the side of them.   We hold some space there so we can move to let you come through that gap, or we’ll ask them to step aside so you can get through.

As you come through the gap, the signs greet you:

IMG_1973Of course none of this is actually impassible.  They aren’t locking arms so you have to fight your way through.  They’re just trying to intimidate and shame you.

Fortunately, just because they’re selling that crap does not mean you have to buy it.  They don’t know you, or your situation.  You can walk around them, you can ignore them, you can tell them to get out of your way.

Personally, I want a buffer zone – both a fixed one and a floating one.  I want the protesters to have to stay 100 feet away from the clinic, and 10 feet away from a client.

I don’t think that’s asking too much.

10 thoughts on “What Is a Picture Worth?

  1. LULUBELLE I also don’t like the fact that a 12 year old cannot get her ears pierced or a tattoo without her parents permission, but can go in to what amounts to surgery and sedation without parental, or at least state knowledge….. some many questions…. its such a tough issue.

    Pregnancy emancipates you medically, if as a minor you can decide without waiting periods and parental permission to stay pregnant and have a baby then the flip side of that coin would be as a medical emancipated minor you would have the right to decide for yourself that you need to termination said pregnancy without parental permission or enduring a waiting period.

    Anything less than that is hypocrisy and miscarriage of justice.

    Ps – For anyone in Texas, please join us . . . .

    “Reproductive Justice: Expanding Our Social Justice Calling”
    February 2nd, 2013 10:00am – 4:00pm
    Unitarian Universalist Church in association with Planned Parenthood

    Rallying in Austin on March 7th with Planned Parenthood

  2. I had to exercise my right yesterday. It was the hardest week of my life. I still on the fence about the whole thing and the laws and whatnot, but the choice was right for us. I am 31 years old. I weighed the options. I researched. I did not go into this ill informed. But, it was this week, just one day after the Anti-Reproductive Rights people had there march in D.C. I’m glad we live in a country where they have that sort of opportunity to voice their opinion en mass. Good for them. But they really made themselves look like freaks at the South Jersey Women’s Center http://www.sjwc.net/ yesterday. Luckily I am the type of woman that adversity turns into rebellion. They started screaming, “WE WOULD LIKE TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT YOUR CHOICES!” From the minute I got out of the car. That being said, I feel sorry for the poor girls were going to get a pap smear or a pill refill. I shrugged off the escorts. Sorry ladies, I need this! My fiance’, embarrassed and emotionally wrecked from the week, was trying to hurry me along, dude with a bull horn was like, “ARE YOU HERE TO GET AN ABORTION?” I yelled back, “I AM HERE TO EXERCISE MY RIGHT TO CHOOSE!” I was quickly hurried along by the armed guard, missing what ever the freak said about murder, the mournful wails….. looking back I wished I had yelled something like, “NO I AM HERE TO GET THIS HORRIBLE PURPLE OOZE AND BURNING ITCH TAKEN CARE OF! IT IS CONTAGIOUS AND AIRBOURNE!” No one in the doctors office seemed fazed, they are used to it. Dude on the bullhorn DID NOT STOP and the drone was more annoying then anything else. Same guy talking FOREVER and EVER. Long winded. Ugh. I wanted my man to go sit at the curb and blast 2 Live Crew or something obnoxious. They weren’t there when my procedure was over. Guess they couldn’t take the freezing temps. I am glad they live in a country where they can do that sort of thing. They obeyed all laws to the letter. They are friggin annoying, but it’s there right as americans to protest. I still would have let the water hose run all night on the side walk, letting it freeze into a sheet of ice, making sure that all the private walk ways and sidewalks were well salted and brined though! LOL. I am glad I have this right. I never thought I’d have to use it. Now it is my job as a parent to make sure my daughter never finds herself in the position. I wish people from The Anti-Choice side would realize that this IS NOT a flippant decision. It is not easy. It is cried over, looked at from every angle, prayed about, and cried over some more. By both parties involved. I am an adult. No one but my partner and I had anything to do with the choice. There is no pressure from the doctors office. They take great care to not pressure, or even give the appearance of pressure for legal reasons. I just wish they knew. I think many of them may not be totally convinced, but a little bit more compassionate, and empathic. I am using this opportunity as a turning point in my life. This was not to be done in vain. I had reasons why I did what I did, but not I must change those circumstances. My fiance’ is having a consult with a urologist for a vasectomy next week. We have may plans to move forward. I will not let this situation define me or my life or my year.

    • Hi, Lulabelle,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to describe your experience and express your beliefs about the protesters where you live. I am impressed at your commitment to recognizing their right to protest. That’s not always easy to do, particularly when you’re on the receiving end of it.

      But it sounds like you were able to reject their message and push back against what they were saying. That’s helpful. Only you can know what you need in your life. It sounds like you made a difficult decision, and are going to do everything possible to make this experience add meaning and value to your life. I really applaud that.

      I wanted to add – and you may already know this, but also for others who don’t – you can call 1-866-4- EXHALE for post abortion counseling. Their website is https://exhaleprovoice.org. Backline at 1-888-493-0092 is another resource for support.

      Thank you again for taking the time to write us. It’s by sharing these stories that we create a network of support for each other and reduce the shame and stigma.

      • I am glad to share with someone. I can’t do it with anyone in my own life, for many reasons. I am still ambivalent towards the whole thing. I am an an adult. I am 31, my partner is 40, between us there are 6 children, the oldest being 21, the youngest is 2. We did not want a termination. I have yet to find someone who actually gleefully goes into this. No one likes it. In a perfect world there would be no need. I have questions still. I don’t like the fact there is no waiting period. I forgot to mention we had been on wednesday, but I was too ambivalent at the time to do it, so they sent me home to really think about it (a point the freaks miss, any whiff of indecision they send you home for a day or two). I went home, agonized some more, then came back resolved. I also don’t like the fact that a 12 year old cannot get her ears pierced or a tattoo without her parents permission, but can go in to what amounts to surgery and sedation without parental, or at least state knowledge….. some many questions…. its such a tough issue. These protestors, not councellors (I have a therapist, a licensed therapist, and she doesn’t hawk her wares on a curb), need to wake up and realize they do no real good helping these women. They just scare them away from themselves. Perhaps a woman following her choice wanted to go to her priest or pastor following the procedure for comfort, they are scaring them away. My “gauntlet” was not a gauntlet at all because of the set up of the office. I did not have to walk on public land at all. They didn’t come within fifteen feet of me. There was a guard with a list at the door. They were annoying, but not to the point where I would have been tempted to take a swing. If confronted with a pushy, loud, touchy freak, I would have went into defensive mode (IDK what my man would have done if they touched his car, that would have been interesting). This line of prevention does nothing to help women. After all these years you think they would realize it does nothing to help their cause. The only way they can win is through the voting booth or the courthouse. Oh well… I am rambling. I went in search of other women who were sort of on the fence while at the same time, had a termination. I found this article, which was sort of sad and funny at the same time, I thought you might be interested in it, if you haven’t seen it already. http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html already

      • Hi, Lulubelle,

        Thanks for pointing me to the article – I’d heard people mention it before, but had never actually read it. It is both sad and funny.

        I’m glad you’re able to express your feelings here, and it makes me sad to think that you can’t talk about it to anyone in your life. Statistics show us that one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, so there are women you know who have also been through this, and they’re maybe as afraid to talk about it as you are. I think this is one of the most damaging things that the “right-to-life” group has done to women – to promote such stigma and shame that we don’t talk about our experiences.

        I’m glad that the doctor’s office recognized your amvbivalence the first day and insisted that you finish thinking it through. I want to challenge you a little bit on the idea that this means we need to mandate a waiting period for everyone. Although some states already have that, for some women this isn’t necessary, they have already made a clear decision and a forced waiting period may make them have to travel a long distance twice, or could even push them later into pregnancies and limit their options.

        Also, in many states, minors can’t get abortions without parental consent or the approval of a court. I certainly understand your feelings there – although there are times that the requirement for approval can create a dangerous situation for a 16 or 17 year old. I would certainly hope that any minor seeking abortion would have a trusted adult in their life to help them make the right decision.

        Thanks again for sharing your thoughts here. You’ve reminded me how very much I’d like to be able to offer women here a non-judgemental post-abortion counseling experience, just to help sort through the feelings. I’ll be thinking of you often, and hoping you’re able to talk about your feelings with someone at some point, even if it’s a phone call to Backline or Exhale. Maybe I just want that for you because I’m a therapist, and I think there’s magic in saying the words to someone who can really hear you, and of course I encourage you to do what your think you need. But whatever you feel like you need, take care of yourself, ok?

  3. fml, servalbear and the lot of you:

    I have been a longtime lurker. I read, I digest, I sympathize.

    When I had my elective abortion in 1997, it was done inside of a hospital, behind a locked door. There were no protesters; I walked into the hospital unmolested, I walked out unmolested. My procedure was (and IS) legal, and was a decision made by myself, my SO at the time and my doctor. No other person in that environment knew why I was there.

    THAT is how this legal medical procedure should be handled. Like any other, not with the patient having to “walk the gauntlet” of persecution.

    Bubble Laws, Buffer Zones at the MINIMUM must be enacted, and the ability for a woman to chose the course her ship will travel has to be assured as well. I am frustrated at the backwards thinking displayed by this country of “self-determination”, and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the job you do.

    Thank you.

    • Hi, K. Elizabeth,

      Thank you for stepping out of lurker status to share your experience! It’s nice to meet you.

      You are so right – that is the way any medical procedure should be done. It’s unfortunate that the push back against Roe v Wade has been so extreme that your experience is the exception rather than the rule. Maybe over the next few years we can begin to regain that last ground.

      Thanks again for the support!

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