About fml221

Moving from middle aged to crone - loving and learning and growing every step of the way.

The Company You Keep – by Avocado

Probably the last thing the world needs is yet another dude’s opinion on reproductive rights and abortion access. Unfortunately, that’s all I have to offer as I watch powerful, mostly white men decide the fate of EMW Women’s Surgical Center, Kentucky’s last remaining abortion clinic.

I’ve been volunteering as an escort with Every Saturday Morning (ESM) since July 2016 and ithat short period of time has been a roller coaster.

Sure, there is some good. The volunteers with ESM are some of the kindest, most compassionate people I’ve ever met. As a man, I was unsure of how welcome I would feel or how well I would fit in with ESM. It is, after all, an organization centered around women’s rights and its membership is comprised mostly of women. I try to live my life by listening, trusting and respecting women, and for that, I was met with open arms. Every day on the sidewalk escorting clients past hateful anti-abortion activists makes me feel like I’m helping in some small way and there’s no one I’d rather do that with than the other ESM volunteers.

And then there’s everything else. The short amount of 2017 that has passed has been a violent, hateful slog. In January, protestor Angela Minter was selected by Bevin to be a part of the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees selection committee. This is the same Angela Minter that harasses women outside of EMW, has been filmed trespassing on clinic property and just a few weeks after this appointment, would be photographed pressing a sign into the face of a clinic escort.

Angela at entrance (3) 02182017

On January 21st, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump, a clinic escort was knocked to the ground by Aaron Sabie, a member of Psalm 82 Ministries (or Psalm 82 Reformation Media as they’ve recently rebranded). LMPD has not and will not press charges against Sabie.

P82 joined with Operation Save America (OSA), and OSA held their leadership conference in Louisville in February. Over 150 protestors clogged the sidewalks, harassing patients with graphic signs and loudspeakers. Speaking of graphic signs, OSA/P82 left the clinic and took those signs to a middle school and high school. Their protest outside Noe Middle and Manual High was disturbing enough that those schools sent an email to parents assuring them that their children were safe. After they finished their protest at these schools, they had a meeting with Governor Bevin. The governor offered encouragement to these extremists when he addressed them.
Governor Bevin Addressing Leadership Meeting OSA 020317

Joseph, Aaron, Mason meet Gov Bevin (2) 021417

Which brings us to today. Governor Bevin has described himself as “unapologetically Pro-life” and is attempting to make Kentucky the first state to have citizens without access to abortions. He has ordered EMW closed starting Monday, April 3rd, based on a licensing technicality. This license is good through the end of May 2017, yet the KY Cabinet of Health and Human Services suddenly finds a deficiency with the document.

Their goal is transparent. They wish to end access to safe, legal abortion in Kentucky. Governor Matt Bevin will happily tout that he’s the governor who removed a woman’s right to choose in Kentucky. Will he be there to gleefully accept credit the first time a Kentucky woman dies of sepsis from an unsafe, underground abortion? What about the first time a Kentucky woman suffers genital disfigurement while attempting to perform an abortion on herself because she can’t afford to travel out of state?

No. Governor Matt Bevin won’t be there for the poor, rural citizens of Kentucky that this will affect the most; nor will Minter, Sabie, Joseph Spurgeon, Rusty Thomas, or any of the other toxic company that Bevin keeps.

As a male ally and volunteer, I’m disgusted by the individuals listed above. I walk on that sidewalk every day with my only assumption being that each patient is making the decision that’s best for her.  At the base of all this for me, as a man, is that I can have all the empathy in the world for a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy, but I’ll never truly be able to understand what she’s going through. I listen to women, I trust what they’re saying, and I respect both their thoughts and their bodily autonomy. I wish there was a way I could magically explain that to the people above and I hope any potential ally will read and take that advice.

When I began writing this post, EMW and its supporters were anxiously awaiting to hear if a federal judge would grant a temporary restraining order against the state’s order of closure. Now, several hours later, EMW has its order granted and will remain open for the time being. This will continue to be a fight over the next several months, particularly at the end of May when the clinic’s license expires. And I’ll be there, side by side with some of the strongest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

IMG_2784

Bevin Threatens Last Clinic in KY – by MAP

The EMW Women’s Surgical clinic on 2nd and Market is the last abortion clinic in Kentucky and the threat of closure is imminent because of our Governor Matt Bevin. This is a threat to reproductive justice and abortion rights in our state, restricting access to abortions, creating more barriers for clients to face. Every person should be able to choose whether they are ready to parent a child. Attorneys at the ACLU have filed a federal lawsuit so the clinic can stay open. For more information please go to the links provided below.

Want to know how you can help?

Come rally with us Sunday, 2:00 p.m in front of the Clinic!

Rally for EMW

Donate to the Kentucky Health Justice Network Bowl-a-thon

Kentucky Health Justice Network bowlathon donations

Articles with more information

Courier Journal 

ACLU

Herald Leader

CNN

Insider Louisville

 

Some Thoughts on A Day Without a Woman, and Those Showing Up Every Day – by Penny

If you aren’t living under a rock, you’ve heard about A Day Without a Woman, a day of action scheduled for March 8th (International Women’s Day) put together by the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington. According to the WMW’s FAQ page,* the purpose of this action is “to highlight the economic power and significance that women have in the US and global economies, while calling attention to the economic injustices women and gender nonconforming people continue to face.”   To participate, women around the country are called upon to take the day off from paid and unpaid labor, avoid participating in commerce or buy only from local women and minority-owned businesses, and wear red, “a color signifying of revolutionary love and sacrifice,”* as a display of solidarity. Male allies are called to participate as well by speaking up for family leave and equal pay in the office, “leaning in” to childcare and other domestic responsibilities, examining their expectations of the women in their lives – and so perhaps expecting more of themselves – and of course, wearing red.*

While I’ve seen a lot of very positive press regarding Wednesday’s strike, I would be remiss if I didn’t address valid criticisms of this action. You see, I am a privileged woman in that I recently chose to take a few months off from work outside the home. I’m in a stable relationship with a supportive and loving partner who can assume my domestic responsibilities for the day. I know that I can take the day off from caring for my child and that he will still get help with his homework and a balanced dinner.

It wasn’t always this way. The memory of my three year old offering to protect me after watching me get slapped around one too many times is a wound too easily reopened. The time the electricity got turned off for a few days so I could fix my car and keep my job comes to mind. There are other examples, of course, but my history does not negate today’s privilege at all. The thing is, sacrificing a day’s pay for a protest is simply impossible for millions of women, even if we can do so without perhaps losing our jobs altogether. For so many women, eschewing childcare responsibilities for an entire day is a fantasy – hell, for many of us, it would be a luxury to get an uninterrupted shower.

And so I have felt very uneasy about A Day Without a Woman. While I wholeheartedly support its intentions, I am deeply concerned that it excludes those who persist through the greatest amount of injustice. This burden falls disproportionately on women of color, immigrants, refugees, disabled women, and LGBTQIA+ identifying people. As a white woman facing comparatively little oppression, does this make it wrong to participate?

When I asked the women in my life if they would be participating, I was humbled by how clear things became. While I do know some women who are participating on March 8th, and I support them wholeheartedly, again and again I heard from women who are still choosing to work that day. And it has little or nothing to do with all my handwringing and should-we shouldn’t-we. The reason?  Because these women are doing the exhausting, difficult, and so very rewarding work of promoting justice every single day. These are the women who are fighting for abortion access for Kentuckians, who have just one clinic left in the state and a mounting pile of legislation to create economic and geographic barriers. These are the women who fight to offer accurate sexual education, STD testing, cancer screenings, and affordable contraception to anyone who walks in their doors, under constant threat of losing vital funds.

These are the women who are working with local immigrants and refugees in the face of a regime based on fear and hatred of anyone with an unfamiliar accent. These are the women who stand up and speak out against systemic racism and the trivialization of Black lives even though it would be safer to keep their heads down. These are the women fighting for inclusion and accessibility for disabled people in a society that constantly overlooks them. These are the women who are tireless in their advocacy for the rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ persons. These are the teachers who love their students so hard it hurts, the social workers who go above and beyond to improve their clients’ lives, the medical support staff who soothe scared children at three in the morning at an inpatient care facility. These are the women who recruit the volunteers, who answer the phones, the ones who organize.

These are the women lighting up the dark corners, without applause and without opinion pieces in all the major news outlets. These are the women who Get Shit Done, and we can’t afford a day without them, because the amount that needs doing only seems to grow with each passing day.

In order for us to have reproductive justice** – in order for all women to have true self-determination in how, when, with whom, or if they decide to raise children – we cannot ignore how multiple layers of oppression intersect.  Isn’t the lack of a living wage then a barrier? Living under the threat of deportation? Living in a food desert? Systemic criminalization of Black bodies? Inability to access necessary medical care? Does constant sexuality-based discrimination impede on your right to become a parent? Or your right to raise children in an environment where they are safe and healthy? What about the near-daily litany of trans people being brutally murdered?

What I have learned – am still learning – from these women is this: while the huge protests, marches, and actions are important, it is those who integrate justice into their daily lives who are making the greatest impact. I do not believe that these ideas are mutually exclusive in the slightest. In fact, the giant events, with their intoxicating feelings of solidarity and empowerment, can help get you through the times when it feels like a losing battle. But you still need to show up for the fight.

After attending the Women’s March on Washington this past January, I made a pact with myself to “make it mean something.” Otherwise all the time, expense, and effort to move my body to Washington felt like a gross display of my privilege, like one of the worst kinds of tourism. I’ve made good on that pact to the best of my ability, and always strive to do more. There are so many amazing local organizations in the Louisville area, and I would be willing to bet there is something to suit any skills, time, or comfort level you may bring to the table. In the past month, I’ve done everything from clinic escorting, to phone banking, to spreadsheet/database maintenance, to canvassing, to delivering furniture for refugees, to baking muffins, to fundraising – among other things. So yes, by all means, participate in the nationwide and international actions, and I’ll be wearing red as well. But on Thursday morning, we take that energy and use it locally. Below are some links to get you started – do some research, send some emails! This is not the easy work, and it’s not the glamorous work, but it is absolutely the most meaningful work there is.

* Women’s March, Frequently Asked Questions

**Trust Black Women, Understanding Reproductive Justice

New Roots

Ky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

ACLU of Ky

Ky Health Justice Network

Black Lives Matter  (Louisville)

Showing Up for Racial Justice   (Ky chapter)

Also visit our How to Get Involved page

 

 

 

Sidewalk Observations, by Skeptical Seeker

I went out to the EMW Women’s Clinic this morning to help escort. It’s not my first time on the sidewalk, but it has been a while — about 8 or 9 years.

Here are a few observations that I made this morning:

It didn’t seem as chaotic to me as it used to. Maybe it’s because I have prior experience, or maybe it’s the training I attended before returning to the line. Maybe it was a strong and organized showing of escorts today. At any rate, this time I had a much better idea of our goals and knew what I needed to do. So I picked a spot at the property line in front of the door and held that space.

Second, I never used headphones before but I found that they are great for staying entertained and for blocking out anti-chatter and rosary repetitions. Also hearing the soapbox preachers set to a dance beat can be fun at times.

I didn’t feel as stressed out on the sidewalk today as I have while escorting in the past. I think a large part of that is that I am now more secure in my convictions. Since the last time I escorted I have been pregnant twice — the first time ending in miscarriage (discovered at the 8 week ultrasound) and medical termination at home. Though that sad experience I discovered first-hand the vital importance of support and empowerment and a good doctor who informed me of all my options and encouraged me to choose the one that was best for me. Happily my second pregnancy resulted in a beautiful, wanted, and loved little girl. In spite of the very different outcomes of these two pregnancies I felt the same vital importance in both cases of empowerment and support though-out pregnancy and birth and new parenthood.

So some things on the sidewalk have never changed, but stand out to me much more starkly now. On the sidewalk you see the sharp difference between those who lecture and shame and assume and try to control, and those who support and make space and empower. I know what side I will be on.

 

We Don’t Want Your ‘Sorry’ – We Want You to Stop Hurting People {by Huxley}

Volunteer clinic escorts get hit by antis at the clinic pretty regularly. It’s usually petty little garbage, not worth even attempting to do anything about. Heck, it might even be an accident that the same anti stepped on your foot repeatedly, or whacked you with their sign repeatedly, or knocked into you repeatedly because they “just didn’t see you there”! As a general rule, it’s best to stick to our goal of striving for de-escalation and non-engagement when this happens.

elbow

“I accidentally walked into the door, officer.”

Sometimes, though, safety makes it necessary to object to an anti’s behavior. Our clinic has a designated “drop zone” in front of it, a small area between two signs that, on Saturdays, is not supposed to be blocked. Because the clinic is located on a busy downtown thoroughfare, vehicles need to be able to pull into this space, allow passengers to exit, and pull back into traffic. When we have enough volunteers, we station ourselves along the sidewalk in this area. We’ve had more than a few instances of antis creating an actual traffic hazard when clients pull into this space.

 

caremw

Unfortunately, one of the persistent difficulties our antis suffer from is reading comprehension. You see, when we made the mistake of discussing the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE Act) with folks, they seemed to get the impression that the prohibition on people blocking the entrance (this would be them) actually means that volunteers with agents of the clinic (this would be us) cannot help clients get past them when they attempt to block access. So, according to the antis, what the FACE Act really does is protect their “right” to block patients accessing the clinic entrance! If you’ve heard their interpretation of Scripture, this probably doesn’t surprise you.

All of this is to give you some context for what happened this morning. The video is a little confusing if you’re not familiar with the entrance of our clinic. And if you’re not familiar with FACE, the woman anti yelling in it makes even less sense. Please note: the video is chaotic, does depict violence, and there is swearing.  (transcript at the end)

So. The woman, Kellie Sabie, tries to force her way through escorts so that she can jump in front of a patient attempting to walk in the door, and then starts yelling at escorts. Her husband, Aaron, assumes that she needs to be protected from the escorts and wades in. While he certainly knocks into a number of escorts, he actually grabs Pat – 67 years old, 5’2”, and all of 98 pounds – and throws her to the ground.

She’s badly bruised, and grateful for no fractures.

Officers from Louisville Metro Police Department have been stationed across the street on Saturdays for a while now, so an escort who had filmed the assault accompanied Pat to show them the video and explain what happened. Aaron wasn’t arrested, but Pat is pursuing charges. He asked officers if he could apologize to her and she, of course, said no thank you; shortly thereafter, Aaron returned to the front of clinic to resume “preaching” on his loudspeaker.

To be honest, I don’t think any of us particularly care whether Aaron or Kellie is remotely sorry for their actions today, or any day. All we want them to do is to quit breaking laws that are intended to prevent people from being harmed. We want them to not swarm cars as clients try to park or exit their vehicle; we want them to not physically block patients attempting to walk to the clinic entrance, using their huge 4’ x 2’signs as blockades; we want them to keep their assaults at least a little more subdued than what happened today.

As regular readers know, this has been escalating at our clinic for some time now, and it’s thanks primarily to the group Aaron and Kellie are with, “P82 Ministries.” They’ve recently begun working with Operation Save America, and P82’s leader, Joseph Spurgeon, has publicly called on fellow “real” Christians to join them in testing how much law breaking they can get away with in the name of preventing private citizens accessing medical care they happen to not like. They figure with the current and local political climate, no one’s going to really punish them.

So we’re about to find out if they’re right.

We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, volunteer clinic escorts in Louisville and across the country will continue to show up and hold space for clients, whatever that looks like at a given clinic and for a given client. We’ll hope we don’t get hurt too badly. We’ll continue explaining the FACE Act to folks when it’s necessary to do so, and redirect any potential volunteer escorts who think we’re counter-protesters. We’ll continue to have our Points of Unity as our goals. We’ll continue to point out that the behavior in which anti-choice clinic harassers engage would not be tolerated by law enforcement if it were engaged in by other groups of actual protesters. We’ll continue to point out that protest of elected officials for official government acts is in fact an entirely different thing from harassing and assaulting private citizens for their medical choices. As long as clients have to navigate a gauntlet of hateful, yelling bigots in order to access healthcare, we’ll be there in our neon vests to hold the line, and to walk with clients if they want us to.

***********

Transcripts:

Escort Shoved to the Ground

Kelly Sabie: (yelling) Public sidewalk!! You and you!! (pointing)
Escort M: Back off Sabie, back off
(Aaron Sabie comes up from the back, approaching from the left)
AS: All y’all need to get back
Escort M: Back off, Sabie, Back off
KS: Really
AS: ALL y’all
Escort L: You’re going to shove women to the ground?
KS: I didn’t shove anybody
AS: Get out of my wife’s face! (camera shows escort being helped to her feet) Get out of my wife’s face like you going to do something
Escort M: You’re shoving women to the ground
AS: I stepped in here to protect my wife. Y’all got a problem?
KS: Because she (pointing) backed into me!
Escort L: I’ve got a problem
KS: She backed into me
AS: Y’all want to surround my wife like that
Escort L: I’ve got a problem with you shoving a woman to the ground
Escort H: (to other escort) Don’t speak to him, don’t speak to him
AS: You know what, I apologize for that, I apologize for that
Anti on Loudspeaker: This is what’s taking place this is what’s taking place
KS: She’s gonna tell me I can’t walk on a public sidewalk!!!
AS: I will apologize for doing that
Escort M: Keep losing your shit,
KS: walk on a public sidewalk
Escort M: keep losing your shit, go ahead, it makes you look super stable, go ahead, keep losing your shit

KS: Oh I am thank you
AS: Who did I knock down? Because I will apologize because I did not
Escort M: It’s too late, she’s already getting the police, it’s too late
KS: …that she wouldn’t let me walk around the sidewalk. You can’t block a person (slamming her sign against the ground for emphasis) that’s your rule remember? There’s Louisville ordinances that go against everything you guys are doing
(Laughter in the background – at the idea that there are ordinances against what we’re doing)
KS: (to an escort off camera) And I don’t need you telling me what to do
Escort M: Somebody de-escalate this bitch y’all don’t care to de-escalate your own people that are losing their shit?
Escort H: You know they don’t.
KS: You need to stop
Loudspeaker: Here’s where we stand. They do not want these children to live
Escort M: Right Sabie whatever

Aaron Preaching

Obey my commands.

And then my question for you this morning is, do you hear the words of Jesus when he said, “thou shall not murder?” Does that – do those words resonate in your heart? Or have you gone hard, have you given over to a debased mind this morning to believe things that aren’t true? Things like, “it’s OK to murder my child”. TheThe folks in the orange vests, the folks behind the counter, your loved ones that bring you in here this morning, they all lied to you making you think that everything is going to be OK, that it’s just a clump of cells, that it’s just a procedure, but those same…

 

Spotlight on Support: A Fund

With reproductive health services under attack, people want to help.  People want to step up to stop the flood of laws designed to keep us from being able to access abortion.  People want to offer support to people needing to terminate a pregnancy.  Every week, new people reach out to us for information about being an escort.  And we love having new faces joining us every week.

But escorting is only one small aspect of the support that people seeking abortion care need.  TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) and the distortion of informed consent requirements have created huge barriers that go beyond harassment on the sidewalk outside the clinic.  Lack of money is one of those barriers.

Did you know that in Kentucky, Medicaid only covers abortion in the case of rape, incest, and danger to the woman’s life?  And that even in those cases, the patient has to pay for the abortion ahead of time and try to get reimbursed later?  (Emphasis on “try,” since this is difficult, if not impossible, to do.)

Did you know that, by law, private insurance cannot cover abortion in Kentucky?  That’s right, even insurance companies that cover the cost of abortion in Illinois, for example, are barred from doing so in Kentucky.

Did you know that the cost of abortion care in Kentucky starts at around $700?  TRAP laws that require the clinic to meet unreasonable and unnecessary standards of care are part of the reason the cost is so high.  Most people in need of abortion care don’t have an extra $700 handy.  People deplete any savings they may have, borrow money, pawn belongings, don’t pay the rent, skip meals, and take all kinds of drastic steps to pay for an abortion.  And of course the need is time sensitive.  The longer it takes to get the money together, the higher the cost is likely to be.

Fortunately, there are a number of organizations that help with funding abortion care.  One of these is A Fund.  As their brochure explains, A Fund, Inc. is a nonprofit organization directed and staffed by volunteers who raise money to help Kentucky girls and women in need of funding for abortion.  They say:

The typical woman we serve is the sole support of two children and knows she cannot afford a third child.  She does not have a credit card.  How can she raise the $600-$750 cash (minimum) needed to terminate her pregnancy?

The volunteers at A Fund believe that no one should be denied access to abortion because of a lack of money.  Last year, they raised about $50,000 and helped more than 400 women.  Virtually every dollar they raise goes directly to help women seeking termination of a pregnancy.

As escorts, we offer immediate support to patients at EMW as they make the trip up the sidewalk to the clinic.  But we recognize that protesters are not the only barrier, and there are lots of other ways to support access.    We want to support the organizations that help reduce other barriers for people seeking to terminate a pregnancy.   So we’ll be spotlighting a couple of organizations that provide help directly to individual women in need, and making it easy to donate to them from our blog and our Facebook page.  A Fund is the first of these organizations.

img_2369

To learn more about A Fund, to volunteer, or to make a donation, you can visit their website, or their Facebook page.   Louisville Clinic Escorts are also starting a donation page here on the blog, and will provide a link on our Facebook page.

It is essential that we push back against the loss of rights that we are seeing now.   We invite you to consider supporting A Fund as one way to do so.

(If you want to volunteer to escort, please email us at everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com)

After the Election

“Pro-life” people have been chipping away at abortion access for years. They’ve already made access to this vital healthcare service an obstacle course.  The anti-abortion extremists aren’t satisfied with this approach – they want to stop all abortion now.  They want personhood amendments.  They want to charge women with murder for abortion.  This is not new.

But now?  After the election?  The antis think they’ve already won.

They haven’t.  I know they haven’t, partly because of the amazing surge of support we’ve gotten from you all.  Message after message:

I want to escort.  How can I help?  

When is the next training?  Can I be an escort?  

How do I become an escort?  

It’s been amazing.

So if you want to get involved, start here: How to Get Involved.  Escorting is not the only way to support access, so you may want to look at other options.  Then if you think escorting might be for you, go here:  Trainings for Escorts.   And if you still want to escort, then email us at everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com , and we’ll be glad to get you started on the process.

We’ve scheduled a special training to respond to all the requests – Saturday, December 3.  Email us for location and time.

images

If you would like, you can make a donation via PayPal. Just make a “payment” to our email address everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com. If you are not registered with PayPal, we are also registered with Pop Money https://www.popmoney.com You can just make a payment to our email address everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com and it will get to us.

Thank you again for all the support.  It is so very much appreciated.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs…

If you’re familiar with that song, just those few words are enough to get it stuck in your head.  Surrounded by signs at the clinic, it looped endlessly in my mind today.

Signs Signs
Everywhere there’s signs
Fu**ing up the scenery
Breaking my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign

This is where the Catholics keep their spare signs – attached to the fire hydrant.

img_1758

 As you can see, they had a few extra today.

img_1763

The woman we call the tailgater brings this one.  She sits behind it – yes, sometimes, on the tailgate of the truck.

img_1762

This sign has its own rope so you can be a human billboard.  It makes me laugh in a twisted humor way because it’s like letting people know where the clinic is.  fullsizeoutput_1320

This sign offers bloody fetal parts, but hardly recognizable ones.

fullsizeoutput_131e

Our doctor’s name is at the top of this sign.  The sign says he does this to children.

fullsizeoutput_1322

  “LEAVE THIS PLACE OF DEATH,” is one of the things the antis yell at clients.  This person stood right at the edge of the property line today.

img_0014

“Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess”somehow reminds me of the Puritans and the stocks and scold’s bridles and other instruments of torture.

fullsizeoutput_131a

I kind of like this one – well, not the fetal parts – but I like that they’re scolding other churches for being incrementalists.

fullsizeoutput_131c

Of course, they have to compare ABortion and escorts to Hitler and Nazis.  Strange to imagine someone saying, “Oooh, I know – let’s put little fetuses in each corner of this sign – won’t that be cool?”  But they are a nice decorative touch.

fullsizeoutput_1324

The rest of this verse reads:  “It will be ruined.”   “The kingdom which will not serve Christ will perish.  It will be ruined.”

img_0013

THE BODY INSIDE YOUR BODY IS NOT YOUR BODY.  This one creeped me out the first time I saw it, and still does.

img_0009

Lots of signs today.  Fetal porn, we call it.  Do you think they think these signs will get people to change their minds?  All it did for me today is get this stupid song stuck in my head… and it’s still there.

Signs Signs
Everywhere there’s signs
Fu**ing up the scenery
Breaking my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign…

 

From the Sidewalk – October, 2016

I know, it’s been a while since I posted.  I guess I ran out of things to say about the chaos on the sidewalk.  And there have been so many new voices talking about their experience as clinic escorts.  I love hearing other perspectives.

But I don’t want you to forget that we’re still here.  And today -it was wild on the sidewalk.

Antis standing in the drop-off zone

img_1688

The police asked them to move out of the street, which was helpful, but that was the sweet spot of the morning.

Ky Mountain Bible College showed up. img_1691

Actually, clients came up behind this crew -if they were approaching from the corner on 2nd St.  People coming from 1st were greeted by these folks.

img_1690

 

If you were on the front line today, you got to hear some preaching:

All of us outside of Christ – all of us outside of Christ – are lame and crippled and weak and sick. But we build up ourselves – we have this self righteousness that says we can take care of ourselves, we can save ourselves. There is room at the table for those that are unable to save themselves, which includes all of us. None of us can save ourselves

(With apologies for the music – it helps drown out the noise of the megaphones inside the clinic.  At least it wasn’t polka music today.)

One escort got some special attention:

There is room at the table for all sinners, even you, Sir. Sir, we love you we do, I know you don’t believe that, you probably go home and laugh about this, but we care about you. We do. God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I don’t like being out here. I hate it. But we are coming out here to warn you

 End of the morning.  Some escorts talking amongst themselves and  – they laughed.  Spurgeon didn’t like that.  I walked up after he was already on a roll.

JS: WHERE IN THE WORLD – IS IT FUNNY – THAT 25 CHILDREN ARE GOING TO BE MURDERED RIGHT HERE?  YOU TELL ME – TELL ME WHAT WORLD THAT IS FUNNY IN!!!  

Escort: I don’t know who you think you are but you need to bring it down because you are incredibly – no – no-

JS: HEY!  YOU BE QUIET!  25 CHILDREN ARE GOING TO BE MURDERED IN HERE!!!  

Escort: …you talked enough during the day and I am going to say something

JS: 25 children are gonna be murdered in here and you led them…

Escort: I don’t know who you think you are but do not raise your voice at me like that at all (she continues to say “at all” several times as JS yells over her.)

Anti in the background: We totally raise our voice.

JS: I WILL RAISE – YOU’RE MORE CONCERNED THAT I RAISE MY VOICE THAN THE FACT THAT 25 CHILDREN ARE BEING MURDERED AND YOU LED THEM TO THEIR SLAUGHTER – YOU LED 25 CHILDREN TO THEIR SLAUGHTER!!!  

Escort: …we are grownups and grownups don’t have a discussion like this.

JS: GROWNUPS DON’T LEAD 25 CHILDREN TO THE SLAUGHTER!!  GROWNUPS DON’T KILL BABIES!!!  YOU’RE NOT A GROWN-UP!!!!  

And just in case we didn’t get the point:

Male Escort: Go home, Joseph

JS:  YOU HAVE MURDERED 25 CHILDREN!!  EVERY ONE OF YOU LED 25 CHILDREN TO THEIR DEATH.  THAT’S NOT FUNNY.  IT’S NEVER FUNNY.  I DON’T CARE WHAT YOUR OPINION ON THIS PLACE IS AND WHAT YOU THINK OF ME, IT IS NEVER FUNNY!!  

Female escort:  All right, I think we’re done, let’s not keep giving him the audience he wants… 

At the end of the day, I’m just glad that clients and their companions only experience a minute or two of the chaos on the sidewalk.  It’s like I always say, as we head for the door, “You don’t have to stop or talk to them, we can just keep going.”  And we do.

Dreams of a Safety Zone

We had a relatively new protester on the sidewalk this week.  I don’t know his name – someone called him Herman, and that works for me.  New protesters are sometimes a bit overly enthusiastic about their opportunity to save babies.  They don’t always understand the unwritten agreements between us and the antis.  Herman is a prime example of that.

In our first picture, Herman is excited because he saw an escort talking to someone in a car.  He runs to the Abolish Human Abortion crew to let them know.

IMG_1098(Picture shows AHA members, with one sign, and Herman, a white man with gray hair and a short gray beard, wearing sunglasses, holding a Bible and another book.  They are looking down the sidewalk in the same direction -his arm is slightly raised as he has just pointed at the escort who was talking to the people in the car.)

In this picture, Herman enthusiastically leads the way down the sidewalk to show the big guys exactly which car it was.

(IMG_1099

(Excuse my thumb in the lower left corner…)

I head that way too, phone camera ready.   I hope if I’m doing video they won’t actually surround the car.  And they don’t – they stay on the sidewalk.

Here’s that video, with transcript:

Joseph Spurgeon preaching:  Murder.
What you’re about to do will be the killing of your child. The murder of your son or daughter. We come out here, we want to plead with you that there are better options. Other options.
Anything is better than killing your child.
We would like to offer you assistance. we would like to offer you to adopt your child. We also want to warn you that the word of God has said that to take the life of another human being is murder To take the life of your son or daughter is murder.
It is a crime against God, and against man. iI is a crime against your creator.
Herman: (up close to me) Do you know your creator? Do you know your creator? Do you know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Do you know the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
JS: it’s a crime
H: Praise God almighty, you murderers –
J: Because God has created you in the image of himself, he has created your child in his image
H: You’re murdering people  How can you do this? how can you do this and smile about it?  Do you know how great God Almighty is??   YOU one day you will bow to him.  I pray that it’s not too late praise God almighty Turn to God Turn to God (Bible over camera)

JS:  (preaching over H)  And so if you kill your child if you would kill your son or daughter, it is an attack upon him as well. we come to warn you, not that you would mock or laugh. but that we would warn you to flee from God’s wrath and to turn to him.

(H quits talking, puts his Bible over my camera phone.)

JS:  Look to Jesus Christ. You can find hope for your situation. You can find…

I don’t know why Herman’s so upset about me doing some video.  The AHA guys really don’t care, and they’ve been taking pictures and doing video themselves all day.

Then Donna comes up and has a few words to say about me to Herman.  Something about  “her dear mother in heaven” who is “praying for her,” which is fine, the day is not compete without Donna talking about my mama.  The doors open, the clients go inside, and the morning goes on.

Maybe 10 minutes later, I’m standing in front of the clinic door, clients coming, lots of yelling from AHA and from Angela, I take a step back to get out of the way and bump into Herman, who is apparently right behind me.

“You need to move,” I say, “it’s against the law to block clinic access. It’s against the FACE act.”

“I’m not blocking access,” he says, “They got in, didn’t they?”

I walk away from him.

A few minutes later, I’m in the drop-off zone, and he approaches me.  I have my phone in hand, (mostly because I dont have any pockets in the pants I’m wearing) and as he starts talking to me, I raise the phone and hit “record.”

Through an intense 22 seconds, Herman holds his hand up over my phone and moves forward toward me, while I back up.

Here’s the transcript:

H:  Don’t push me
Me:  You’re making me really nervous
H:  Don’t push me
M:  You need to get away from me
H:  Don’t push me
M:  You’re scaring me
H:  Don’t push me
M:  Get away from me.  You’re following me.
H:  Don’t push me, don’t push me
M:  You’re following me, and I’m not touching you, i’m not doing anything to you
H:  You were touching me
M:  Get away from me
H:  You were touching me
M:  You need to get away from me
H:  You were touching me
M:  You need to back up, you’re scaring the crap out of me

At the end, Joseph Spurgeon kind of pulls Herman away, talks with him.  And I appreciate that.  Although – it’s an upside down world when Spurgeon is the voice of reason…

But now you know why I’m dreaming of a safety zone at the clinic.  I’m not usually afraid.  And I don’t usually think of it as particularly high risk to be an escort.  But I was talking about the risk level at abortion clinics with a friend recently.  She agreed – it is low risk – “It’s a one,” she said, “Until it’s a nine.”  Or a ten.  This Saturday was a good reminder of how true that is.