Parking and Protesters

I know Servalbear has talked about parking before,  I don’t need to tell the stories over again..  For example, you probably already know that one of the staff at AWC (the anti-clinic) parks her car at one of the meters in front of EMW (the abortion clinic) for an hour every morning during the week when clients are arriving for appointments.

We think she does it because it keeps a client  from having that more convenient parking space.  But that doesn’t even seem believable, does it?  I mean, really?  Is this a big gun in the war against abortion – having to walk a few more feet to your appointment?  I don’t think so.  So I was trying to figure out if that helps them lure people into the AWC lot so they can lie to them more, but I don’t see how it would help enough to make it worthwhile.  And I can’t really know why she does it.

But last week, a client had parked in a no parking area.  They had to walk a block back to the car to move it to the three dollar lot.  One of the protesters chased them the whole way, trying to get them to move to the AWC lot.  The client already knew where the EMW clinic really was, so I don’t know what the point of all that was.

But there are so many things I don’t understand.  This is just one of a long list.  I don’t mean the big stuff ~ I don’t expect to understand the meaning of life, or any of that ~ but lots of little stuff baffles me.

For example, Donna has a new ~ a new thing she does.  I started to say a new “game,” but I suppose it’s not a game to her, I don’t know.  It started last week sometime.

When Servalbear gets in her car to leave, Donna gets in front of her and holds up one of her big anti-abortion signs.  Just stands there holding the sign, with an air of fierce bravado.  She does it every day now, and if Servalbear’s not there, she does it to a different escort.

She did it Saturday, and I tried to get a picture of it, only the angle I really needed to be at put the sun right behind her and in my eyes and that didn’t work.  When I moved, she did too, but here’s what I got:

IMG_2281She had been facing the car behind her, but when she realized I was doing pictures, she turned to face me.  When I look at the picture now,  I think, what’s the point?  What purpose does this serve for her ~ to hold the sign up so Servalbear, or other escorts, have to look at it as we drive away?  Does she think this will have some significant impact on our thinking?

I don’t know.

I can understand her being against abortion much more easily than I can understand why she does things like this.  On the other hand, why am I writing about it at 9:45 on a Friday night?  Why do I put my energy into taking pictures of it, writing about it, trying to figure it out?

I don’t know.

Over and over I see signs of an ever-widening chasm between groups of people in our country.  Today, the courts ruled that the contraceptive Plan B can be sold over-the-counter.  Plan B is a safe, effective, emergency contraceptive, so this is good news, on this side of the chasm.

I posted the news article on Facebook and said, jokingly, “But wait, if I think it’s against my religion, can I refuse to sell it??”

Within seconds, someone had commented with an article that said Missouri has a bill that says pharmacies don’t have to carry Plan B.  Yeah, they can refuse to sell it, and i guess that was the good news on the other side of the chasm.

Sometimes, it seems like the whole world is dividing into “protester” and “escort” camps.  It’s very strange.  And it worries me.

You know, when I first started escorting, i had this idea that I would develop some kind of positive connection with the protesters.  Don’t laugh, I really did think that.  I don’t think there’s any other bit of my life where I don’t feel some warm, personal connection with the people around me.  So of course I thought some of that would develop between the protesters and me too.

That really hasn’t happened.

I know that the world is not really “us” and “them,” or at least I know it’s not helpful to think that way.  Carl Jung, the psychologist, said:

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
― C.G. Jung

and he said:

“The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadow onto others.”
― C.G. Jung

I believe those things, but I don’t understand how they work on the sidewalk.  So I keep thinking about it, and wondering.  I’d like to tell you that my next blog post will explain my conclusions, but I’m pretty sure I have a better chance of winning the lottery than I do of figuring this one out anytime soon.

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REMINDER: If you are interested in escorting, don’t forget the training on Saturday, April 13th at 9A.  Training is not required, but it’s helpful. Please see our Trainings for Escorts page or email us for additional information

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REMINDER: Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year.  It also is the date  where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts.  You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up that morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.

Use this form to make your pledge:

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17 thoughts on “Parking and Protesters

  1. I think in the case of abortion, our main issue is that we aren’t even talking about the same issue.

    The anti-choice position is about morality and ethics.

    Pro-choice is about medical care and it’s availability.

    It’s not that we’re standing on the opposites sides of the Grand Canyon, it’s more like we’re on Earth and they are on Mars.

  2. Hi, KyBorn ~ Just wanted to say that you make a good point in your response – passion about our beliefs and commitment to what we do is certainly something we have in common with the protesters.

  3. It’s not an issue of two opposing groups protesting each other’s position, I wish it were. What we actually see is one group helping patients achieve access to their legal and necessary health appointments, and another group trying to block access with all legal, and sometimes not-so-legal means. In some cities you also find a third group- those who protest the protestors. In Louisville, the protestors are un-abated, as the escorts are tasked with non-engagement. Consider this a call-out to all those that believe our legal right to protest includes protesting the protesters. That is not the focus of the escorts.

    • Hi, DD,

      Thanks for commenting! You make an excellent point – and I’m afraid it’s one that I sometimes forget. It’s not escorts vs protesters, we are there to support people trying to access medical care. So the whole us/them thing is a sidetrack. Yeah. That makes perfect sense.

      As for “protesting the protesters” – you know, I read somewhere recently that there were a couple of places that, when the protesters showed up at their clinic the first time, showed up in such counter-force that they didn’t come back. If we could make that happen… but I’m pretty sure we can’t. And anyone who shows up to “protest the protesters” is really just increasing the level of chaos and intimidation for the clients. Unfortunately.

      Thanks again, for reading and for commenting!

  4. I don’t believe the majority of people who say they are “pro-life” are anywhere as nutty as the protesters who gather. I don’t think a lot of them even realize the level of harassment that goes on or the lies that are told in CPCs. This doesn’t excuse them but I believe I would lose all confidence in humanity if I believed our nation was filled with the nutters who gather outside your clinic and others around the nation. I think most people are just in the category of “abortion is bad” and go no further. That said, it does not excuse anybody’s ignorance. People should be aware of what the movements they support are doing.

    • Hi, KYBorn,

      Oh, I totally agree, I don’t think most people who identify as pro-life are as extreme as our protesters. In fact, research suggests that many people who identify as pro-life just mean that they don’t think they’d ever have an abortion, they don’t think it should be illegal for other people to have one. In the same way, most people who are pro-access are not going to be coming to the clinic at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning to escort.

      I guess I think the protesters and the escorts represent opposite ends of the spectrum – or one set of the opposite ends. Someone who believes that no one should ever, under any circumstances, have an abortion would be one end of another spectrum, with people who think anyone should be able to have an abortion at any point in the pregnancy at the other. But Jung would argue that the people at each end have more in common than we recognize, and that some of our beliefs about “them” are also true of us. That’s the part I really wonder about.

      Thanks so much for commenting – food for thought for me!

      • I guess in some ways Jung is right. Even though on opposite ends of the spectrum both groups are just as passionate and certain that they are right. I’m sure none of you guys drag your butts out of bed in the wee hours of the morning because you are wishy-washy on the subject of whether or not women should have access to abortion. I would assume it takes some level of passion about opposing abortion for protesters to drag their butts out of bed, haul out all the signage, bullhorns and other props so they can harass women going to a medical clinic. On rare occasions, I think opposing sides can respect the passion of the other side while disagreeing with their ideas. Although I don’t think Jung could apply to me this way personally because I have nothing but contempt for people who harass others outside a medical clinic at a vulnerable time.

  5. I’ve always had the feeling that a good number of these protestors (but not all of course) do this because they really have nothing better to do (retirees perhaps) and/or they love doing things to get attention, and make themselves feel important. (“Hey! When I hold this sign and verbally harass people/scream and shout I get looked at! People notice me! I feel important! I enjoy telling people what to do since i’ve felt disempowered in my own life!”) lol I swear, its like how some small children will misbehave on purpose because negative attention is still attention in their minds. Its basically a legal way for these certain protestors to indulge their mental illness, is what i’m saying. :-p

    • Hi, Linda,

      You make a good point here ~ and of course I don’t help the situation any when I post Donna’s pictures over and over… sigh. I don’t think it’s a mental illness though. I think they want attention, and they seek that through socially sanctioned bullying. Yes, absolutely. Thanks for commenting!

  6. The whole world is certainly not divided into escort and protestor camps, most people really dont care.
    The issue here, like gun control or tax policy, or Sharia law, is that the very small minority that is passionate about these issues is also very, very loud. it creates the illusion that this is on everyone’s minds al the time, and that’s just not true.

    • Hi, Matt,

      Well, of course you’re right, I didn’t really mean that literally. But I totally agree that there is a small minority of people who are passionate about things like abortion, birth control, gun control, marriage equality and women’s rights ~ on both sides of the issues.

      It seems to me that the divide between the two sides is becoming greater, that we are more polarized. But you’re right, many, many people don’t give it much thought – until it touches them personally.

      Thanks for commenting, and for reminding me that most people are not worrying about this stuff at 9:45 on a Friday night – or 8 a.m. on Sunday morning either!!

      • I wonder how much it would cost to have a covered parking lot attached to one of these clinics. That would sort of remove the protestor’s ability to harass the patients. They can’t come on the clininc’s property, so they really only can harass people walking across the street and parking thier cars.
        Maybe raising money for that would be a good use of time and energy.

      • Senseimugs,

        It would be awesome to have a parking lot next to the clinic – unfortunately there’s no space for that at all…

  7. Have you ever heard of a book called “The Big Sort”? It’s a good book I read last year that deals with some of what you wrote about concerning the widening gulf between the two opposing groups. It’s not about abortion per-say but it’s ideas are easily appliable here.

    • Thanks, Cody, I haven’t heard of it, but I sure want to check out anything that will help me understand. Thanks again!

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