Sidewalk Snippet ~ {7/8/13}

There were only a few escorts this morning. Sometimes we aren’t able to reach clients as soon as we would like.

This client already had pulled into the parking lot behind the CPC when we met on the sidewalk. I let them know about the orange vest, the clinic wasn’t opened yet and they were parked in an anti-abortion lot. We discussed moving their car and directions to the $3 lot.

As they started to their car to move it T, one of the AWC staff, intercepted them and started talking to them. “You can park in our lot for free. We won’t tow you. Why don’t you come in to have a free ultrasound while you are waiting.” I quietly said, “That’s an anti-abortion clinic and she is a protester.” The client said, “Thank you,” and continued moving to the car. I let them know I would go across to the parking lot and guide them to it. Then I waited.

After about 5 minutes, the client pulled into the $3 lot. When I approached the car, they were shaking and started crying. “That was so horrible. She wouldn’t let me close my door. She blocked me from leaving the lot. She just kept talking and talking and saying horrible things.” We talked for awhile and I reassured the client to not take the things said personally because we hear the same things said to every client every day. “They don’t know you and your circumstances. They are just saying the things they have memorized to upset clients.”

When the client was a little calmer, I let them know I would come get them when the doors of the clinic opened. As we walked to the clinic, T’s parting yelled words to the client were, “Don’t believe the lies she is telling you. All of the escorts lie. They are not pro-choice. They are pro-death.”

Even though I know we will not change the antis’ minds on the sidewalk, I wish they would reflect upon the effect their words have on clients. I fail to see the compassion and practice of ‘We just want to help.’ The words always change once the client crosses the property line of the clinic. No matter how quiet the words on the sidewalk and in their parking lot, words are always shouted at the property line.

The last impression clients have of these antis is of anger and hate; not too conducive to fostering trust.

6 thoughts on “Sidewalk Snippet ~ {7/8/13}

  1. I dont know about the practicalities of this, I know not everyone has a smartphone, but I wonder if when clients made appointments the clinic staff could advise them to have their phone or other device out and recording after they turn the car engine off, before they open the car door. If this particular client had filmed her harassment thats a criminal charge right there. But I know, clients shouldn’t have to do that.

    • Linda,

      I understand the motivation behind your suggestion, but it is not practical. As you mention, not everyone has a smart phone or filming capability available. Clients have a list of things the clinic tells them about, including there will be protesters and there will be clinic escorts. Sometimes they forget some of the instructions, so keeping it simple is usually the best. EMW staff is concerned about the medical protocols and that has to take precedence in the things they tell clients. This extreme case doesn’t happen often enough to warrant alarming every client to have filming available in case they are seriously harassed. The problem is the AWC “free” parking lot. (Nothing is ever really free. Parking there comes with the price of conversation.) We try to divert clients from going there, but are not always successful. When they are in the AWC parking lot, it is difficult to assist them from beyond the property line. Many clients and companions do film the antis; some have even come back out of the clinic to film the preachers. Like you, we try to think of ways we could do things better. Keep the suggestions coming, but this one is not destined to be implemented. As you said, we all know the clients shouldn’t have to protect themselves from harassment on the way to a medical appointment.

      Thank you,

      • Yeah, that was me fantasizing, :-p I hadn’t considered that it might alarm some clients to hear that (I’ve such a “bring it on” personality myself) Its too bad the only “free” parking lot is at the fake clinic. Ugh. Thank you for the excellent work that you do.

  2. “Don’t believe the lies she is telling you. All of the escorts lie.”

    Ironically, even if you did have some agenda to push, you would have no more purchase on their decisions to walk into the clinic than the Anti-Choicers do. Something they will never understand.

    • Longtail,

      It is ironic. They don’t understand a lot of things, but that is one big one. The decision has already been made by the time the client makes their appointment. It is also interesting this is one of the most common things we hear. I always think of mirrors and reflected images; what we say they do.

      Thanks as always,


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