Sidewalk Snippet – Never Assume

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Today was a slightly chaotic morning with new church members coming out to scream and preach at escorts and clients alike.

Many of us this morning were working multiple stations on the sidewalk making sure it went as smoothly as possible for clients and companions with appointments.

One of our wonderful escorts had to leave and go to work. As he walked down the sidewalk taking off his vest he encountered a client that asked to be walked in.

He immediately agreed and was accompanied by two additional escorts that were wearing vests for the walk down the sidewalk.

Not two minutes had passed since he had been wearing an orange vest escorting in front of the antis when his group of four approached the property line.

Five of our most persistent daily protesters then swarmed the 3 approaching escorts and client. Pleading with the now vest-less male escort not to kill his baby, take responsibility be a man, and if you love her you won’t let her do this.

The client entered the clinic and the three escorts turned back thinking about the assumptions and judgment the antis make every day on people they know nothing about.

Katie’s story

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The following post is a guest contribution. If you would like to share your story or have a suggestion for a post, email everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com.

Three years ago, on August 23, I had an abortion. Weeks earlier my husband and I were telling our family and close friends we were expecting. We asked those exciting questions, like, “Will the baby be a girl or a boy?” “What year would the baby graduate high school?” “Who would they grow up to be?” All of these questions would remain unanswered.

Our first ultrasound revealed that the baby was measuring ten days behind what I knew it should be. A week later my worst fears were confirmed as the doctor explained that I was having what they call a “missed” or “silent” miscarriage. There was no heartbeat, but my body had yet to recognize the failed pregnancy. I had options: wait it out, take medication, or get a D & C.

Since that day, I have had two more unwanted abortions. In the doctor’s office we use the sugar-coated term “miscarriage”, but all of my paperwork says the same thing: I had a “Missed Abortion.”

Earlier this year we found out we were expecting again. I was so excited, but I also tried my best to control my fears. I didn’t know it was possible for this situation to get worse. The first 12 weeks of my pregnancy were beautiful. I was sick, tired, hormonal and all of the things you’re supposed to be when carrying a healthy baby. I went to my 12-week scan confident, but when the doctor walked in – it was yet again bad news. The baby looked very abnormal – further testing would reveal hydrops fetalis.

That diagnosis at this stage meant a most certain fate: unsuitable for life. The baby’s heart would stop sometime in the coming weeks and there was nothing we could do. I had almost no time to make a decision because the state legislature was in the process of passing a restrictive abortion ban. Even though this was a wanted pregnancy with medical complications, it affected me as well. It’s when I realized that what the legislature didn’t understand is that their decisions affect everyone – and every situation.
Do you know what it is like to carry a very wanted baby and be told its heart is going to stop at any given moment? Do you know what it is like to carry the guilt and emotions this brings? Do you know what it is like to carry on about your life as if nothing is wrong, to cry on your way home from work every day and wake up in the middle of the night sobbing? I know.

I chose to continue the pregnancy because it was what felt right to me, but other women should not be forced to live in that agony if they don’t feel they can handle it. Looking back, I hardly know how I did. Ending a wanted or unwanted pregnancy is not an easy choice to make, but it is a right that every woman should have.

Six weeks after that fateful ultrasound, my baby’s heart stopped, despite my hope for a miracle. Now I had another decision to make: deliver the baby or have a D&E. I wouldn’t judge another person for making either choice. Delivering my baby in the hospital was the worst day of my life and sometimes I wonder if it would have been easier to have been put under anesthesia and forgone the trauma. This was my third failed pregnancy – they never got any easier. Each time I left the hospital without a baby.

Each time, my paperwork said the same thing: Missed Abortion. They were all planned pregnancies. I had no choice in what happened each time, but I did have a choice on the closure to them all. For that, I am thankful and committed to making sure all women have the same choices I did.

This issue, with all its complexities, all its gut-wrenching decisions, all its heartbreak, is not black and white. It is our right – the right to have a choice, to have some control over ourselves and our bodies in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.

The Day the Circus Came to Town ~ by Penny

Escorting is always a high-tension job, even on a relatively normal Saturday.  Saturdays always bring out the highest numbers of protesters, and the larger their numbers, the greater their escalations.  This past weekend came with new and frustrating challenges – the whole circus came to town.  

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Operation Save America rode into Louisville this past week in a cargo van emblazoned with headstones and some favorite graphic “dead baby” imagery, with a few lies about breast cancer sprinkled in for variety.  While the clinic was only targeted on Friday and Saturday, the protesters did their best to cause as much disruption as possible during their stay. 

An hour before the clinic opened on Saturday, they set up two large speakers (each on a six foot tripod) along the edge of the property line just outside the waiting room.  Cords were left dangling between these without a care in the world for the trip and fall hazard this creates in a very highly-trafficked area – because nothing says pro-life like harming people.  

As soon as the setup was finished, escorts holding the property line were treated to some Christian-soft-rock at a volume which could be clearly heard around the entire block.

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And again, an entire hour before the clinic even opened its doors:
16559425_2351336238425900_1400690639_nAfter the warm-up tape ran its course, OSA members went on to take turns haranguing escorts and clients about our sinning and iniquity as per usual.  

The rhetoric itself is not what made Saturday special.  When a national, well-funded group like OSA comes to town, our regular cohort of sidewalk “counselors,” sign-wavers, and other motley shamers gets all stirred up.  More of them come.  Many of these unfamiliar faces are not familiar with the property line, the FACE Act, or, it seems, common decency.  Their heightened sense of importance and urgency, combined with the extra crowding and assaulting volume from the speakers, made it a very nervous morning. There were places where the sidewalk was nearly entirely obstructed, either by too many bodies or so that OSA could make room for the props they brought along for extra “poignancy.”

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This is the corner of 2nd and Market – this is what clients had to walk through before even being able to see the clinic’s doors.


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And for reference, here is the view around that same corner.  See the speakers taking up half the sidewalk?  Can you imagine the courage clients and companions have to summon to get through this mess?  Can you think of any other medical practice where this intimidation is tolerated?

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Yes, the picture above is of a tiny white coffin, complete with plastic fetus dolls along the top in a row, on a tray table pushed out into the path of clients on their way in.  

One begins to wonder, looking at their van, their sound system, their tiny caskets – how many women could this money have really helped, if they cared as much as they claim to?  How many meals could this have made for a food-insecure pregnant person, how many nice outfits to go on interviews, how many hours of childcare for the babies already in this world?  If this weren’t actually about controlling the minds and bodies of women, how much of that lobbying power could they throw behind paid medical leave for all new parents?  Looking at the fancy equipment, and the van that’s certainly much newer than any vehicle I’ve ever owned, I have to wonder:  what do they believe their GoPros, amplifiers, custom paint jobs, and bags of tiny plastic fetuses are accomplishing?  

 

 

Control Issues ~ by Ferret

I am something of a control freak, and the offspring of a line of control freaks. We used to joke that if one were to look up “Control Freak” in the dictionary, one would find a picture of my grandfather.

In my battles with depression over the years, I realized that being a control freak was contributing to my depressive state. I worked hard at becoming less of one in part to lessen the effect on my mien, with mixed results.

At one point in my life, I was invited to attend a twelve-step group based on Alcoholics Anonymous, called Emotions Anonymous. Either through that group or through my sessions with the counselor who introduced me to it, I learned the idea that while I couldn’t (by their definition) control my emotions, I could control how I expressed those emotions and which of those emotions I focus on at any given time.

I also learned that if I release control of others to those others, I am more able to do what I need to do to control how I present myself.

That led to an interesting revelation~one that I’m sure many have reached: I’m not responsible for any other person’s emotional state. Because I am not responsible for that person’s emotional state, I get to retain responsibility for my own emotional state and whether/how I express it.

This expands to all sorts of realms. Because I wish autonomy for myself, I cannot assume control over others’ autonomies. I have to accept that they will act in what they think is their own interests.

There are limits, of course, as the classic example of freedom to swing one’s arm illustrates: My freedom to swing my arm ends before impact with another person’s face. I don’t have the right to harm others, save for circumstances of self-defense, and even then the force I may use is somewhat limited. I cannot bring harm to you for endangering me once the danger has passed, for example.

The reason I mention all this at the moment has to do with the social discussion around abortion and related women’s rights.

Yeah, who am I, a white male, to talk about women’s rights?

Call me something of an ally.

And call me one who recognizes that, because I insist on autonomy for myself, I believe it is no business of mine whether a woman chooses to abort a fetus. Because it’s not my business, it’s also not the business of the government that allegedly represents me. It’s a decision for her to make, along with people she chooses to consult. Sidewalk “counselors” (religious bullies, for the most part) aren’t part of that circle. Congress Critters/Gynoticians* are not part of that circle.

Does that mean I favor abortion? Whether I favor abortion is immaterial. As I mentioned, I’m a guy and recognize that I have the privilege of not having to face that decision for myself. It means I recognize that her decision is hers to make. I have to assume that she will consider whatever options are valid in her situation.

And there may not be any viable options other than abortion. Sometimes the pregnancy is such that continuing it at all would put the mother at grave risk. In some cases, the fetus can never become viable. Since the percentage of times those happen is non-zero, and since I cannot know the exact situation (indeed, the exact situation is not my business), I cannot assume that any one woman’s situation doesn’t include elements of those factors. I’m not willing to put limits on abortion based on such factors either. It would be heartbreaking enough to have a wanted pregnancy result in such a situation without having to prove such to a gynotician* before earning a pass to have one’s abortion labeled “acceptable.”

* Per the Urban Dictionary: “A politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions.”

 

 

Anger at the Clinic ~ by Stella

Have you ever been angry? I mean really Mad? I mean Enraged!!! Suddenly. Immediately. Without warning. Something happens. Someone does something and – BOOM – steam is streaming out of your ears. It happens. But – it isn’t supposed to happen when you are an escort at the local abortion clinic.

But it does. It did. To me. The signs, the 4-foot tall signs with abortion porn should not have to be seen by anyone, much less little children. So when a gentleman holding the hand of a little girl walked out of the clinic, and one of the male “counselors” moved his sign so that the little girl would see it, I stood in front of the sign and blocked it from being seen by the child. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t review in my mind my goals for being there. I saw someone trying to abuse a child and acted. It made him angry. I didn’t care about his feelings. I cared about hers and the confusion it could cause her.

I cared about a little girl in the midst of screaming adults with ugly signs. I was not just angry, I was enraged. I didn’t say anything, I just moved in front of his sign each time he moved it until the little girl was out of sight.

I consider his behavior child abuse, emotional child abuse. And worse than that, is that parents bring their own little children down to the clinic to hold signs they are too young to read, to listen to threats of hell and worse, to see all those abortion-porn signs. And they are proud of themselves for doing so. They are exposing their kids to emotional abuse and they don’t see it as a problem.

Adult issues don’t belong in the world of children. What kind of people think such actions are okay? What kind of people think they are doing anything right for their kids?

They make me angry too. But not enraged. Mostly I just feel sick seeing so many little people with their parents making them hold signs, be out in the weather without proper clothing, stand for long periods of time without playing.

When anger goes past enraged, it becomes sadness, sadness that is deep and painful; and there is no way to change the behavior which causes it. Because those people think differently, behave differently, and cannot understand the consequences of their behavior.

So anger is not really uncommon to escorts at the clinic. We just usually handle it well. We don’t lash out, we don’t verbally respond, and we try hard not to laugh – or even giggle at some of the goofy things the “counselors” say. But sometimes, we lose it. And then, we have to depend on the other escorts to help us, to hear us, to hug us if necessary, and to remind us that no one is perfect and that it is all right to walk away and regain our composure.

So yes, I can lose it, but I can trust my fellow escorts to help me do what is best for the clients – which is why we are all there, day after day, each of us doing what we can to support choice for women as they make decisions about their own lives.

Shouting Fire in a Crowded Theater~by KY Born

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances”.-First Amendment of the United States Constitution

Isn’t the First Amendment great?  I have no desire to see it go away. However, like any idea, it can be corrupted just as it is currently being subtly corrupted by antis now.

It was the idea that the First Amendment was some sort of carte blanche that led to the Supreme Court ruling in 1919 known as Schenck v. United States where Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes tried to give some clarity to what limits could constitutionally be placed by the government on personal expression in order to protect not only the rights of one person, but the rights of all citizens from the actions of one to impede their freedoms. I have purposefully bolded “by the government” because many people seem to think that private entities like Facebook, Twitter, Target or private citizens’ blogs have some obligation to allow whoever and whatever to be published on their websites, or posted on their private property as part of the First Amendment. This simply isn’t true. Perhaps the most famous quote to come from this ruling is, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

The problem comes that antis are no longer just committing occasional violations or giant violations that make the news, but are committing ever-increasing and bolder violations while still remaining under most people’s radar. When challenged, they wrap themselves in the First Amendment because many local, state and federal officials hesitate to approach the line between “free speech” and “shouting fire.”

We all know about the big events that are used to terrorize women away from clinics so I want to talk about the smaller violations that are often overlooked, but still are used to terrorize women seeking healthcare. The line is crossed more easily than ever due to YouTube and access to internet postings that feature antis screaming that people are murderers, or post their picture and personal information all over the Internet.

Did you know in some locations antis erect ladders that totally block public sidewalks, forcing anybody who needs to use the sidewalks to access the clinic, or simply to pass through, to step around them? They do this so they can peer over fences to film people entering a medical facility, write down license plates and directly harass patients. This You Tube video was taken in Jackson, Mississippi, but happens at other clinics around the country every day.

The even more subtle, which I have witnessed myself, is the slow walking back and forth across driveway entrances, causing cars to slam on brakes in the middle of busy roads and potentially causing accidents. In some communities, the response from public officials is to call it the First Amendment and do nothing to stop it.

Another subtle way that anti organizations intimidate people and obstruct their right to terminate a pregnancy is through Crisis Pregnancy Centers, or similarly called organizations, that try to trick women out of getting abortions. Much has been written about them other places so I won’t repeat it other than to give people this advice about anyplace that claims to provide medical care:  If they do not give you a Notice of Privacy Practices (more commonly known as the HIPAA form) demand all of your personal information, any copies made and walk out. They are not a legitimate health care provider.

I don’t believe we need a lot more new laws, but we need the current laws enforced. None of this would be tolerated anywhere except outside a medical facility that provides abortion services, or at the homes of those who work there.

I guess this is my main point. I use this analogy frequently and I have self-named it the “ex-boyfriend rule.”  If you have already heard me say this feel free to skip over it, but my point is that if one of my ex-boyfriends chose to engage in any of above-mentioned actions under the guise of freedom of speech or religion, they would be served with a restraining order and likely criminal charges. If they and their gathered group of friends who also believe as they do, follow me, surround me on a public sidewalk, prevent me from walking on a public sidewalk, turning into a private driveway, erected a ladder on a public sidewalk to view my activities over a fence on private property, or provided information to people intent on causing me harm, they all would be subjected to restraining orders or criminal charges.

Garbage like this makes me wonder if the end of abortion will not come about from dramatic events like the overturning of Roe or a series of clinic bombings, but the slow, steady and repeated crossing of lines under the guise of “free speech” that is nothing more than shouting fire in a crowded theater.

I took the right to abortion for granted for years.

I will not make this mistake again. I hope you won’t either.

 

My Regrets Limit You

 

I regret my abortion

Laws should not not be based on what a small percentage regrets. Everyone has things in life they wish they had done differently. By that measure, I would expect marriage to be more heavily regulated than it is as many of us tend to regret our decisions of a spouse. Even Kim Davis  regretted a few of her marriages, but then tried to deny the right to others. To outlaw a common medical procedure based on others regrets or beliefs is absurdity.

Things I regret that should be legislated and/or banned immediately:

  1. Getting married without knowing their potential spouse for at least 5 years and have seen them handle some major life changes and/or stresses.
  2. Building a log home. Too many unseen issues present themselves years later.
  3. Getting a puppy. You don’t know what kind of dog it will become.
  4. Indian food. Banned. I have tried that three times, nothing good about any of them.
  5. Heels over two inches tall and shoes less then a D width minimum. Absolutely banned. These items have caused my feet much pain. I would like others to be saved that pain.
  6. Community college. Was a waste of time for me. I have nine credits that cost me a good bit of money that I can’t use today.

Now, if you think the above examples are just outrageous, they are. Simply because I regret something, or it worked out poorly for me, does not mean it is the right choice for many others.

It’s the same with abortion. There may be those who regret their decision not to continue a pregnancy, but their regrets should not become law.

So think on it. What decisions have you made and regretted that you feel the government or someone who believes other than you should have had a say in?

Bodily autonomy is a right of everyone. No one can take part of your liver, some bone marrow or drain off some of your blood without your consent, even if it means someone else will die, even if you are a corpse. A woman has a right to her own body and what is in it, even if removing something would cause it to die.

Those are my thoughts as I wait yet another few days to hear the Supreme Court ruling on Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt that could determine access to a constitutional right for women across the nation,

 


Results of My Version of Pledge-A-Picketer

Wow! Amazed, surprised, shocked and pleased comes close to what I felt escorting Saturday morning at the EMW clinic in Louisville. Why you ask was this different from past Pledge-A-Picketer days? Shockingly, only 45, yes, just FORTY FIVE protesters came out to be counted and help us raise money for abortion access.

It was a beautiful sunny, cool morning and we had plenty of escorts. The sidewalk was navigable. There were just five over-sized fetal porn posters toted around by our most persistent, aggressive and hateful antis. Surprisingly, there were no children present. I hope they enjoyed doing something fun with their families this weekend. Boating, hiking, biking, you know, quality fun time unlike past weekends spent shaming and harassing strangers on the way to the doctor.

I am very glad I decided to donate on my own concocted sliding scale system. My article May 30 includes my reasoning, but here is the scale:

  1. $0.10 for every adult
  2. $0.25 for every child preteen or younger
  3. $2.00 for every person dragging around a huge cross or oversize sign
  4. $3.00 for every person preaching on a ladder or stool
  5. $10.00 for every person preaching on a microphone
  6. $10.00 added for every protester reported blocking the entry to the clinic in violation of the federal law FACE Act.

Fewer  protesters made it easier to determine our top money anti. Wow, this particular person was just on a roll that morning and I had to whip out my calculator just to keep up with the money they were adding. Here in Kentucky picking the winner is like betting on horses: You take into consideration past performances, who their competition is, what weather conditions are and that gut instinct you get when picking the potential winner. This one was easy to spot right off: big fetal porn sign, microphone and amp, strap on GoPro camera. Already just out of the gate this anti is tied with two others at $12 a piece!

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And that’s when it kicked into high gear and by far and away this anti was going to be bringing in lots of donations. It was painful to watch and listen to at times, other times downright creepy.

This anti blocked clients four times at the property line with the large sign at $10 each incident, now just one person alone has raised $52 for abortion access and was just getting started. He proceeded to follow a legal observer up and down the sidewalk, very closely behind with what I can best describe as a yearning look, while asking them to repent their wicked ways. This went on for so long, the escorts and other antis started chuckling. The observer just led him up and down, up and down, up and down, like a puppet, without once acknowledging his call to repent.

Another favorite tactic of his is once he learns your name he makes a point to repeatedly call out to you directly by name. He wants everyone to hear his call for you to repent and turn from your sinful ways. He has done this with clinic staff, escorts and even patients or companions.

That morning he named both of our doctors and condemned the work they do. Abortion providers across the country face this sort of personal harassment both at work and in their private lives on a daily ongoing relentless wave.

For trying to dissuade our doctors from performing the very important work they do with your harassment, slander and lies, I have decided to include a $50 donation for your hatefulness and arrogance. Your lack of empathy, compassion and just general all-around respect for anyone born who does not believe as you do just earned money for clinic escorts.

Congratulations, Joseph Spurgeon for being my top fundraising hateful anti of the day and personally raising $102 dollars for abortion access.

My condolences to Donna, Nurse Betty, Ed, Angela and few of the other regulars that I only pledged a dime on. However, I am happy to tell you that since the turn out at the clinic was so light, I decided to count the Sisters for Life marchers at Planned Parenthood as well. This means you regular harassers were counted twice.

My total donation is $138.10.

Pledge-A-Picketer – The Official Count!

Since the clinic was closed on Derby Day, which was also the day before Mother’s Day we decided to have the Pledge-A-Picketer target date on Saturday, June 18. This is the day before Father’s Day and is one of the days of the year we normally see more protesters at the clinic. The official count of protesters for the day is 45.

We did publish an article on the Every Saturday Morning blog when we launched the fundraiser with the information and why we were especially targeting the Sisters For Life annual fundraiser march to EMW Women’s Surgical Center. If you didn’t see it, here’s a link.  

This article was more successful than we ever imagined! The Sisters For Life changed their march to end at the new Planned Parenthood location in Louisville. That means all 46 of those marchers were not there to harass patients at EMW!

To us it was a definite win-win-win situation.

  1. The patients weren’t faced with large numbers of protesters and we still were able to raise funds.
  2. The 45 who turned up at the clinic were a far cry from the 300 who were there in 2010 or even the 108 who were there last year.  
  3. Their march was postponed long enough so that some of us were able to counter-protest at the Planned Parenthood site when they arrived.

We think this was a very successful year for the Pledge-A-Picketer campaign. We want to thank everyone who pledged and donated to help the volunteer escorts.

Our supporters make us strong!

 

My Version of Pledge-A-Picketer

Pledge-A-Picketer is just a few weeks away!! Do you know that in years past there have been over 300 protesters that have showed up and we count them to raise money for abortion access?

Since we have been doing this for a few years, they have caught on and some have stayed home so they won’t be counted and help raise money for escorts. Soooooo, that’s why this year I am doing my donation on a sliding scale system. Yes, the more aggressive, the louder, the larger the graphic posters they carry, the more shaming they do, the more money they will help raise.

Some protesters bring children to use as their visual props. Many children are holding signs and parroting adult words and phrases at clients, companions and escorts alike.

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Others just like to come out and shame strangers with their words of condemnation and hate.

P82 Playing with Dolls Tweet

A few make this a big family production and have every member, no matter how young, playing a role to shame and guilt people making a very personal decision not to continue a pregnancy. The person making the decision for their own very valid reasons doesn’t need to hear a crowd of strangers’ opinions about their decision.

P82 Ministries Tweet Not Counseling

I have thought for some weeks on the amount I would like to donate. I have decided to leave it up to the protesters. Yep, you heard me right. They will personally decide how much money each one of them is going to add to the funds for abortion access.

  1. $0.10 for every adult
  2. $0.25 for every child preteen or younger
  3. $2.00 for every person dragging around a huge cross or oversize sign
  4. $3.00 for every person preaching on a ladder or stool
  5. $10.00 for every person preaching on a microphone
  6. $10.00 added for every protester reported blocking the entry to the clinic in violation of the federal law FACE Act.

Now, putting my pen to paper and doing some adding there are one or two individuals who will raise TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS just for showing up and doing what they do every week.

So, fair warning antis, if you want the money to be less, or not at all then stay home. This is not your platform for harassment and shaming. This is heathcare.

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REMINDER: Pledge-A-Picketer 

This year we are targeting the Saturday before Father’s Day as the only day of the campaign. Father’s Day is June 19, so our campaign will be on Saturday, June 18.

How can you pledge? Go to this link and fill out the simple form. When you fill out the form it will record your pledge to help us reach our goals. You will receive an email from us within 24 hours confirming we have received the pledge.

We will publish the count of protesters shortly after Father’s Day along with instructions for payment.

How can you help? Share this with your friends, or anyone you think would be interested.