Keeping Abortion Legal ~ by S.A.B.

In 1973, the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade determined that the current laws in place criminalizing abortions, except in the event that the mother’s life is at risk, is unconstitutional in regards to right to privacy. The attacks on women’s right to choose have not ceased. To kick off 2016, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed an informed consent bill into law. This bill, introduced by Republican Senator Julie Raque Adams forces women to have an information session about risks and alternatives with a medical professional 24 hours before the procedure.   “The importance of a face-to-face medical consultation prior to consenting to a surgical procedure is a widely accepted medical standard of care – and Kentucky woman deserve no less,” Raque said (Legislation Research Commission, 2015). A few months later, HEA 1337 moved through Indiana. This bill, authored by Republican representative Casey Cox, states that fetuses not carried to term, whether abortion or miscarriage, are required to be cremated or have a burial. Finally, and most recently, Oklahoma effectively banning abortions except in the case that the mother’s life is in danger. The bill however gives no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The bill’s sponsor, Republican senator Nathan Dahm, said that the bill was to “protect life” (Chokshi, 2016). The doctors who do not abide run the risk of losing their medical licenses. This essay will examine the negative effects of the public sphere overlapping with the personal sphere. In this case, the public sphere refers to the government, the personal sphere refers to individual women, and the technical sphere includes medical professionals.

A mostly patriarchal government is constantly making strides to dictate women’s healthcare and the choices regarding her body. These legislations are frequently, if not always, rooted in Christian biblical principles. These bills ignore the diversity of our nation and directly attack a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. While Roe v. Wade made great strides for the rights of women, it still leaves much to be desired. The ruling still leaves room for government involvement. In the case of the first trimester, if the woman wants to get an abortion, the judgement rests with her physician. In the second trimester, the state’s interest is legitimate under the guise of having the mother’s best interest at heart. In the third trimester, the state can intervene on behalf of the “potential of human life” (Lewis, 2015). While Roe v. Wade isn’t perfect, it does legalize abortion. Republic lawmakers continue to rage against it, despite the legal commonplace of stare decisis. A woman’s body and any decisions involved should be that of the woman’s to make. Government or religious institutions do not need to be involved.

Common sense tells us that a person’s right to choose what they want for their life seems like a basic human right. While Republicans will be the first to dismiss gun regulation laws based on this notion, they don’t look at women’s health care in the same fashion. In fact, if we’re being honest, one could say that they don’t look at women as people at all, but rather incubators. If these pro-life supporters looked beyond their narrow minded interpretations of scriptures they would see that there are many reasons why their arguments do not hold water. Firstly, we can look at the Constitution, the document that Republicans love to rave about. The Constitution speaks to rights to privacy and bodily autonomy (Justia, 2016). The 14th amendment talks about protection under the laws and privacy rights, it was paramount in the decision of Roe v. Wade. The ninth amendment says that just because rights aren’t specifically granted in the constitution, doesn’t mean that they are denied to citizens either (Legal Information Institute, 2016). The first amendment also sets the separation of church and state in place. Pro-life supporters often use Christian principles as support for their anti-abortion arguments. “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb”—Jeremiah 1:5 and “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless, maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed”—excerpt from Psalm 82 ( are just a few of the favorites one can hear shouted from the sidewalks at abortion clinics. From my own personal experience escorting patients into the Louisville clinic, reductio ad absurdum is a frequent commonplace employed by the pro-life protestors. They make claims that range from religious, to accusations of murder, to telling black patients that the clinics are funded by the KKK. The scientifically incorrect anti-abortion propaganda with bloody fetuses frequently accompanies their belief that the unborn child is a person with rights. While there is no clear consensus of when life begins, in title 8 chapter 12 of the United States Code, citizens of the United States are considered this after birth. Each qualification listed stipulates that it is after a person is born (Legal Information Institute, 2016). But usually, if the Constitution doesn’t help the pro-lifers out, the next line of defense is that God’s law is the only law. Maybe the legislators have a hard time including women in what we call basic, human rights, because of the engendered language.

G.T Goodnight (1982) breaks up society into spheres which he defines as “branches of activity”.  The personal/private sphere is more individualized or only applies to the participants involved. The public is like society, transcending the private and technical, almost all encompassing. The technical sphere is less accessible to the general public because it is more specialized. He talks about sphere overlap as well, it is a regular occurrence. But it raises the question—how far is too far? In the instance of the abortion debate, we can see an overlap of the public sphere into the personal sphere. The public sphere also seems to be compromising the technical sphere, or completely ignoring it. As I stated before, the public sphere wishes to dictate the personal sphere in matters of women’s health care, namely abortion. These legislations are based in religious principle. A reasonable argument would be that both a woman’s choices and religion are both matters for the personal sphere. Women’s health care and options therein are a matter of the technical sphere. We could also talk about sphere dependence. Most rational people would accept doctor expertise. It takes a great deal of intelligence and effort to get an M.D. tacked on to the end of your name. But if we look at these fanatical pro-life groups, we will see that there is a distortion of the abortion procedure, the size of the fetus in reference to the time of termination, and the “repercussions” on the woman.

While abortion is currently legal, the status quo, for centuries, has been that women aren’t capable of making their own decisions. If we look back the early 1900s first wave feminism, we’ll see that women were denied basic legal rights, like voting. Women were not seen as fit to decide their public officers, if they attended college it was thought they were only seeking a husband and were not awarded a degree, they couldn’t own property or keep their children in the event of a failed marriage. There were no women’s clinics or educational material about pregnancy prevention. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was not pro-abortion by any means. In her book, “A Case for Birth Control”, she depicts several tragic deaths of impoverished women who had unsafe abortions (Sanger, 1917). Today the problem still persists. There is a stigma surrounding talking and being educated about sex. 37 states require sex education that includes abstinence. 26 state sex education programs emphasize abstinence alone (Beadle, 2012). We tell teens and adolescents drowning in hormones and observing our hypersexualized media that “not doing it” is the best way to go. Thankfully, as of this April, California ow offers birth control over the counter with the passing of Senate Bill 493 (Johnson, 2016).

The harms that will occur if we make abortion illegal are insurmountable. Many pro-life supporters argue that adoption is also an option. While it is, they fail to notice that as of 2013 the total number of children waiting to be adopted, whether foster care or orphanages, was just over 100,000 (Child Welfare, 2013). Also, placing the child for adoption doesn’t accomplish what the woman truly wants: not to be pregnant. The women who use birth control want the same thing, but are far less criminalized just because they have access to resources. We must make these resources available to everyone. A study from the Guttmacher Institute showed that 47,000 women in developing countries die of complications from unsafe abortions. The study showed that the legality of abortion bore no correlation to the number of procedures occurring (Culp-Ressler, 2012).

The best course of action would be for the government and lawmakers to remove their personal beliefs from the personal choices of women. Planned Parenthood, rape crisis centers, and abortion clinics need to remain open and protected. Another argument arises that tax dollars should not fund abortions. Currently their funds come from government grants and contracts (only 1/3), Title X Family Planning Program and Medicaid. Abortion procedures only make up 3% of the services offered at Planned Parenthood. In fact, a majority of Planned Parenthood patients are there for cancer screenings, STD tests, and contraception. Legally, Planned Parenthood cannot use federal government dollars for abortions. The Hyde Amendment restricts Medicaid funding unless it is a case of rape, incest, or the mother’s life is at risk (Robertson and Morse, 2011).

A familiar pro-choice slogan is “no uterus, no opinion”. But this pervasive idea that masculinity is the dominant characteristic fights this. For millennia society has favored men over women, put them in charge over women, and paid them more than women. These old, rich, Republican white men are on a power trip because they’ve never been told any differently. Despite our advances in the last forty years, women are still seen as the lesser sex. These men do not understand the struggle women face because they have never had to struggle. Then, when confronted with their privilege, they become irate that they too are persecuted in “some ways”. The legislators need to understand that they cannot prevent abortions, they can only prevent safe abortions.

Sources

 


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.

 

Bowling over barriers to abortion access

Louisville Clinic Escorts will be going balls out to strike down barriers to access at the Kentucky Support Network‘s Bowlathon again this year.

KSN provides practical support to people in and around Kentucky who are seeking abortions and need support overcoming barriers to access. The Bowlathon is the main way KSN raises funds to pledge towards clients procedures, pay for transportation assistance, and cover other practical needs.

If you’re in the area, we would LOVE to see you at this fun event (even if you don;t like to bowl, there will be prizes, entertainment, and lots of awesome folks! here is the link to the facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/697645673710272/

Whether you’re closeby or not, please consider making a donation to KSN so they can continue to fulfill this very real need, as restrictions to abortion in Kentucky seem to be the newest trend in Frankfort. Bowlathon pledges can be made through this link:

http://bowlathon.nnaf.org/fundpage.asp?Branchid=88

pick a team, any team! and of course, you can donate any time through the website linked above.

THANKS!

 

 

Documenting Fear

There have been so many articles written about abortion, abortion access, clinics, anti-abortion protesters and reproductive justice issues in the past five years. It’s not surprising, because since 2010 states have considered almost 400 abortion restriction bills and have adopted 288 of them. Most of these restrictions were TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers). It doesn’t seem that any of the GOP legislators are listening to anyone except their anti-abortion constituents.

This week the Town Hall meeting with Chris Matthews gathered enormous news coverage when Donald Trump said he believes if abortion is legally banned, women should be punished for an abortion. Of course, when the media storm broke over his comments there was a “misspeak” retraction. What I found most interesting was the flurry of articles stating women are already being punished for abortion and it is still legal. They are punished by those TRAP law effects and the anti-abortion protesters present every single day in front of clinics around the country. Their Freedom of Speech rights allows the protesters to call women murderers, follow patients to the door at abortion clinics, harassing and bullying them. Every. Single. Day.

The Supreme Court struck down the Massachusetts buffer zone law in 2014. Since that decision, buffer zones have either not been proposed or have been revised downwards in several cities. The court decided in the case of Massachusetts, the 35-foot buffer zone law they had was too big and impeded the grandmotherly “sidewalk counselors” in exercising their First Amendment rights.

However, the idea has still percolated that a smaller buffer zone might work for everyone. The anti-abortion protesters will have to yell across a shorter space and can still hand out pamphlets, but they will not be able to block the entrances or stop patients from entering an abortion clinic to exercise a legal health care procedure.

Louisville Clinic Escorts have been working with the National Clinic Access Project and the staff at EMW Women’s Surgical Center for the past few months to document the type of intimidation experienced by patients entering the only full-time abortion clinic in Kentucky. We have started by presenting anonymous questionnaires to the patients on what they experienced from protesters on their arrival at EMW Women’s Surgical Center for their appointments. We have gathered the questionnaire answers for a month and the results are interesting.

I would like to focus on just a few of the answers, but the full results are at this link. Be sure to read the comments. They are from truly frightened people. 2016 March Monthly Report-EMW Client Questionnaire

This graph has some answers to some of the questions we have about the potential for violence in front of the clinic.  

IMG_0828

If over 50% of the patients say the protesters made them feel scared and nervous, it isn’t counseling. It is intimidation. If 38% of patients say they thought about confronting protesters and 12% of them did, it isn’t counseling. It is harassment. What happens if all 38% confront the anti-abortion protesters? Do we have assault and counter-assault charges being filed against the protesters? Does it escalate into violence in an instant? If 50% say the noise level bothered them very much, it isn’t counseling. It is intimidation. What other medical practice is it allowed for protesters to step in front of patients and block their entrance 41% of the time? That is a violation of the FACE Act.  

Are you listening to us? Is it time to say, enough? We need a buffer zone in front of the clinic in Louisville. 15’ would be wonderful, but even 8’ would allow patients to enter a safe space before they walk into the clinic. When is it time to truly protect our citizens instead of proposing TRAP laws that pretend to be for the pregnant person’s health, but really have the end goal of stopping legal abortion?

We will continue gathering the questionnaires. We will continue to document the harassment, intimidation, violations of city and state ordinances, and incidents of violence. I dream of the day when we don’t have to fight daily battles in the struggle to access abortion. 

 

Spelling Errors vs Reading Comprehension

The words coming faintly through my layers of ear muffs, wrapped scarves and hood sounded whiny and nasal on the cold wind. The ones I heard anyway. “On your vest.” I looked back to see one of our daily protesters with a cold, pinched, disapproving look on her face.

Wonderful I thought, another fashion fail for me, as I inspected my vest to find what the heck she was talking about that was wrong with it. Early mornings as I dress to head down to the sidewalk each week, I have been known to concentrate on dressing for the weather not for style. Mostly it’s a mismatched combination of things meant to keep me warm, dry and comfortable, not for fit and fashion as a few of the antis seem to do no matter the weather.

In the past after a morning of escorting, I have discovered I somehow put a layer on inside out, or backwards. Once much to another escort’s amusement, I looked down to see a dryer sheet peeking out from the bottom of my pant leg. That was a static electricity fail there and I’m not taking the entire blame for that one

So after failing to find any obvious issues with my escort vest I must have had a very puzzled look on my face.  She stepped closer and pointed at me, saying again, ” There’s a spelling error on your vest. It says Pro-Choice but it should read Pro-Death.”   

Thanks to the Clinic Vest Project we are supplied at no charge to us bright neon, highly reflective vests that are lettered with big bold lettering PRO-CHOICE CLINIC ESCORT.

Clinic Escort VestI smiled to myself and thought, poor woman, it’s actually a reading comprehension fail on her part.  She does not understand choice.  By refusing to look at things from outside her own narrow point of view she never will.

Pro-Choice to me is the ability to make whatever decision is best for you, your situation and family regarding a pregnancy. I trust your judgement to make the best choice for you. I don’t know the reasons you are walking with me to the clinic, I do not make assumptions, I do not ask. It is not my place. It is even your choice to walk with me or not. If you say no, I simply tell you it’s the building with the tan painted overhang and let you be.

That’s the difference between escorts and antis. There is only one way of thinking when it comes to them, ” Do it our way.”  They do not respect personal space. They do not listen when asked to go away. They hand out medically inaccurate information and insist on you making a choice they want you to make. That’s not choice. That’s intimidation, guilt, shaming and lying.

This is your journey in life. Make the best choice for you no matter what you choose.  Let no one bully you from the path you know is the right one for you. Whether it is the decision to terminate a pregnancy, to have and raise a child, or decide adoption is what you want. Choice. It’s a powerful word and only you can make the decision. That’s the reason I am all for choice.

So, I will proudly wear my vest that is spelled correctly and continue to respect a  woman’s decision on what she feels is the best choice for her. 

What Does Desperation Look Like? ~ guest post by Heather M

The recent headline cases of women who have miscarried or resorted to self-abortion attempts to end an unwanted pregnancy (Purvi Patel , Kenlissa Jones and Anna Yocca) have had many people saying ” How could they?” Some from an anti-abortion stance that seems to value the life of a fetus over the woman carrying it. Others from a perspective of the fact that abortion is still legal and has been legal nationwide since 1973, Why would anyone take such risks when they could just go to a doctor?

Easy. Legal does not mean accessible, or affordable.

This is my story and I am going to smash some stereotypes many associate with a self-abortion attempt. First, I am a white, US-born female, raised in a middle class Catholic family with two parents present. I was raised in the North Eastern US. I finished high school. I was living on my own and supporting myself with a full-time job. I was in a committed relationship and was using birth control the month I became pregnant.

The year was 1990. I was 20 years old. I was working with racehorses as a caretender, a job with long hours (sixty to seventy hours, seven days a week), tons of responsibility and a great deal of personal satisfaction. I was making my bills every month, rent,  utilities, but did not have much money left over for anything else. To make a big or unexpected purchase I either put it off or worked nights in addition to my regular job, as hard and long as I could, to earn what was needed.

Sometime in early March of that year my period was late and I had been sick and struggling under my work demands. After waiting a few more long scary days, I went and bought three different brands of home pregnancy tests from three different stores. I wanted to make sure I did not get an error due to a bad test.

I read the directions over and over as I did not want to waste one by using it wrong. As I took them, one after another showed a positive result: two dots, two lines, a pink window. All horrifying results to me. I did everything right. How did this happen to me? I used the Today sponge and spermicide. I went out and bought another two tests and took them again the next morning; same results. No denying it now. That’s why I had been feeling so sick

I knew immediately that I did not want to be pregnant. I was not going to be having a baby in the fall of that year. Somehow I was going to figure this out. I had already made my decision when I had used birth control and this was like an invader in my own body; alien like and causing me to be physically ill, draining me and robbing me of my ability to provide for myself.

I was living in a state that had multiple clinics available. I picked up the phonebook and started dialing trying to figure out how much an abortion was going to cost, how far I would have to drive and how hard I was going to have to work to raise the money. Then get the procedure done without missing any time from work or I would be fired. I had found two clinics that were about 40 miles away but the procedure cost $400  cash or credit card. I did not have a credit card so I figured up how many weeks working days and  nights it would take me to save the money. Five weeks was my estimate. After that I may be too far along for those clinics and the price, distance and difficulty would rise.

In the meantime I had a plan. One of the racehorse mares I was taking care of was on a medicine to suppress her heat cycles. Without it she was impossible to manage let alone train and race. I had been instructed to let one of the men in the barn dose her everyday as it was dangerous for women to come in contact with that drug. I went to work that morning and quietly read and reread the cautions and warnings in big bold letters on the packaging. MAY CAUSE MISCARRIAGE!  WOMEN OF CHILDBEARING AGE DO NOT HANDLE WITHOUT GLOVES AND USE EXTREME CAUTION NOT TO COME IN CONTACT WITH IT.

I began quietly taking some of the horse’s medication every day hoping to induce a miscarriage that the label warned in big bold letters about. I weighed about 155 lbs and was making sure I took enough for a 1500 lb horse. This I hoped would work. In the meantime, always planning that if the medicine failed I was going to go ahead with the abortion.

I worked for almost four weeks my usual sixty to seventy hours, seven days a week and started taking night work at the racetracks three nights a week to earn extra money quickly. Those days became 20 to 22 hour marathon work stints two and sometimes three days in a row. Sick with morning sickness. Sick with taking medicine for equines in doses over a dozen times what I weighed. Sick from lack of sleep. Still I kept on. I was not under any circumstances going to remain pregnant one minute longer than I had to. Whatever came first, the miscarriage or enough money saved for the abortion I was going to keep working towards it.

Finally, the end of the first weeK of April I  had saved the $400. I called to set up my appointment. I wanted the latest one available in the day as soon as I possibly could. Why you ask did I not want one first thing in the morning?  Because I had to work. I set up for as late as I could one morning. I was told don’t eat anything after midnight. That morning I was at the barn by 330 am so I could rush through my work by mid-morning and I paid one of my coworkers to take care of my afternoon responsibilities. I told them I had an emergency that came up. I did not confide in anyone except my boyfriend, and even then I did not tell him I was trying to induce a miscarriage.  He was fully supportive, but as cash strapped as I was. He helped some, but my pride and my sense of responsibility kept me from asking for more than I knew he could give.

At the appointment I was given forms to fill out, everything was explained in detail and I was asked repeatedly if this was something I really wanted to do. I could take another few days and think it over now that I had been given information about the procedure. “NO,” I fairly screamed, ‘for a month I have been saving and working like mad to gather the money together. I would have had it done four weeks ago if I could have afforded it!!”

With everything that I had put my body trying to rid myself of this unwanted invader that had taken over my life in such a drastic way, the abortion itself was almost anticlimactic. The thing that stands out the most was the warm thick socks they put on my feet. They said the metal stirrups were cold and the walk to the recovery room was on cold tile and they did not want me to feel chilled. I felt cared for and like I could for the first time in weeks let someone else worry for me. A few hours later I was ready to go and called my boyfriend to come pick me up.

The next morning at 7 am I was back at work, moving a bit slow and taking care to not let cramps keep me from being able to get my work done. it was the first time in over six weeks I had not wanted to throw up everytime I wheeled a full wheelbarrow out to dump it. I clung to the horses to steady myself every now and then, but by now they had become accustomed to it. I had been horribly sick for weeks, but not letting on to anyone human at least.

So, almost 26 years later why am I now telling this story?  Because those women are me: every last one of them. Pregnant and not wanting to be. Desperate and willing to try anything to rid our bodies of this unwanted entity. I was fortunate that I lived in a state with access to multiple clinics. I was able to get an appointment within days of calling. I had the ability to eventually earn the money needed for the abortion, even if at  great personal cost of health to myself. I am one of the thousands of women who will try to self-abort. Some succeed and no one will ever know. Others finally save up enough somehow for an abortion. Others yet are like the cases in Indiana, Georgia and Tennessee where things go very wrong for them.

I was lucky. But make no mistake, I would have been desperate enough to do anything even if it meant I died as a result. Do I have any regrets? Only one. That I did not speak up sooner so many others would know they are not alone. I understand. I am you  You are not alone.

 

 

Bathtub Abortions ~ by KYBorn

Bathtub Abortions-by KY Born

I told Servalbear I was going to wait until I calmed down, but I’m not calming down so I’m writing this anyway. It is too close to the person who could have been me. It is too close to where I live part of the year. It is too close to a state being allowed to regulate a woman’s body. It is too close to the fact that women in “red” states have to cough up their own money for an abortion.

I don’t know why this woman got in the bathtub and used a coat hanger to try to end a pregnancy. I don’t care. She was not obligated to be a life support system for anybody. When the fetus was born alive, and thus became an infant, she clearly did no harm since the premature infant arrived at the hospital alive. Sure. The infant will have life-long problems. Most fetuses who become infants at 24 weeks born in hospitals don’t even survive.

Here is what I do know. I had the money and the knowledge to terminate a pregnancy legally and medically safe. Here is what I also know. If I had not had the money and knowledge of resources, I would have done anything to end that unwanted pregnancy.

I wouldn’t have waited so long to start the process. I would have tried medications first, even if they held the risk of death. I would have stopped eating and taken every herb known to man to induce an abortion.

If that didn’t work I would have been the woman in the bathtub. I would have killed myself before bearing that child. If that meant risking or even causing my own death at 20 or more weeks gestation, I would have done it.

So stop. Stop meddling in women’s medical decisions. Let us decide if we want to be mothers (and no, we are not mothers of dead babies if we choose abortion).  Get rid of the Hyde Amendment. Get rid of making abortion anything but what is: a medical procedure. Get rid of assholes who make gauntlets of people “praying for babies” and harassing people outside clinics.

Have your pro-life “clinics.”  Stay inside them and let people come to you instead of trying to lie to lure them to you. If you have to lie to get people in your joint, you don’t have much to say anyway.

Regardless, if all you “pro-lifers” don’t want any more incidents like this then follow my advice. You can pray for those aborted “babies” at home or in your church. You don’t need to make a public display of it for everyone else to hear it.

Bottom line is this woman hurt herself, her own body, but nobody cares about that. They care about a fetus that became a premature infant. What’s next? Shall we charge women who give birth early with involuntary manslaughter?  Why not?  Her uterus expelled a fetus before it was ready?

Ick. I just can’t say any more than make it easier for a woman who wants to end a pregnancy earlier possible.

Most of all, this should never have been a legal issue. It was a medical issue. Period. Shame on the doctors and hospital who even alerted law enforcement to this event. Shame on this community who elected Scott Des Jarlais, a man who was hunky dory with his own wife’s two abortions, and pressured one of his mistresses to abort on while recording the conversation on tape. (He taped the conversation himself, whether she was pregnant, aborted or gave birth is none of anybody’s business but hers).

Mostly, shame on the state of Tennessee. You and the assholes you voted into office caused this, not the poor, desperate woman in the bathtub you have shoved in jail. You and your version of high moral standards you impose on all of us are the cause of this and you bear the shame, and any criminal responsibility. So lock the legislature and governor in jail.

Let this woman go. She did no harm to anyone but herself.

Shame on you all. Everyone who holds up a gross sign. Everyone who blocks clinic entrances. Everyone who follows women for blocks. Everyone who films women entering clinics. Everyone who forces their literature on them. Everyone who misleads them into “crisis pregnancy centers.”  Everyone who votes for people who think a woman has no right to decline to be life support for another not yet human being.

Shame on you all.

You belong in that cell, not her.

Gift Bags

We have a wide variety of protesters yelling at patients and companions entering the clinic. Every morning the clinic is open they line up to pray, yell, preach, or shove pamphlets into cars and the hands of people who just want to get to their appointment. If you’ve read any of our articles on this blog, you know them. You’ve seen them in action on our videos. You’ve heard their voices when we record them.

Saturday mornings are particularly chaotic. We will normally have 70-100 protesters harassing and bullying. As the holiday season gets closer, we will have more protesters showing up to heap condemnation on people. We’re already hearing, “This time next year you could have presents under the tree for this baby.” We are already seeing more chaos this past Saturday.They seem to be trying to out-perform each other in many ways. Who can yell the loudest? Who can block an escort? Who can delay the patient long enough to shove pamphlets in their hands? Who can make the one comment that will make the patient or their companion react with tears or anger? They push and shove each other, milling around the entrance, carrying their fetal porn signs as blocking weapons. Each one appears to want to make a “score” for Christmas.

When I am asked by people we are escorting, “Are they going to be here when we leave?” I always tell them, “Most of them leave right after the escorts do. There may be one or two here when you leave, but just walk past them.” We know there is the possibility of antis being present when they leave, especially during the 40 Days for Life campaigns, but there isn’t the great numbers of people we see in the mornings.

Every Saturday afternoon there are at least two antis handing out gift bags to departing patients. They are present on other days, but Saturdays you can always count on them to be present. They watch the doors of the clinic from the property line and rush to give their gift bags. It’s always extended with the comment, “We know you have had a hard day. We just wanted to give you this gift.”

This Saturday I was giving a ride to a patient when the surgery was finished. We walked out and the two present-bearing antis ran to us. One of them blocked my car door so the patient couldn’t get in until they took the bag. They asked them, “Is there a snack in there?” Since they said “Yes” they took the bag. As we got into the car, the other anti ran up to another patient leaving and forced the bag into their hands. Running up to strangers, pushing, blocking and forcing gift bags on them. It’s what the holiday season is all about, isn’t it?

When we got into my car, I asked the patient if I could remove the anti-abortion literature from the bag before they looked into it. I said, “You don’t really need to read these do you?” They replied, “No, I’m just hungry.” Pamphlet and book were removed and I handed the bag back to them. The bag contained an airplane-sized bag of pretzels, a full bottle of Olay body wash and a nylon mesh body wash scrubber. No doubt the body wash and scrubber were to symbolize washing the sin away? The pretzels were consumed and the other things taken home.

I think this bothered me so much because as the patient went into the clinic in the morning, they displayed so much confidence and shared with me before we left the clinic how relieved they were to have this over. For them to have to endure one more round of harassment going home just made me mad.

What were the pamphlet and book?

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Two Ways to Live – the choice we all face, Pocket Edition. This is a 16-page pamphlet that says a lot of things, but it summarizes the two ways to live are “Our Way” rejecting God or “God’s new way” by submitting to Jesus.

The Holy Bible New Testament- This is self-explanatory except for the handwritten inscription inside the cover.

“We know that today has been difficult. There may come a time when you experience sorrow, regret and guilt over what took place today and at that time, you may wonder if there is a safe place you could turn to for help and support, A Woman’s Choice Resource Center is that place where you can find hope and healing. Please give them a call at (phone number edited out). They would love to listen to your story and speak with you further. Remember you are valuable and loved! “

First of all, they didn’t listen to their story as they entered the clinic. They just shouted the same things they shout at everyone else. Why would they want to listen after the abortion unless it is to further heap shame on them?

Second, there are some really great organizations listed on our Reproductive Services page who do listen and counsel. They are trained counselors instead of staff and volunteers wanting to push a religious agenda like at A Woman’s Choice.

For any future patients at EMW, please be aware the pretzels are good, the body wash is handy, but just pitch the literature.

 

Theater of the Absurd: 9-19-15

I don’t usually escort on weekdays.  When I do, it seems quiet and calm compared to Saturdays.   I have time to chat, and time for random observations.  For example, you may have seen this on billboards:

IMG_5173It’s a baby -maybe a 6 month old – smiling, and the text reads:

BEFORE I WAS EVEN BORN

I COULD SMILE!

The sign is leaning against the fire hydrant, one of the handy devices the city has placed on the sidewalk in front of the clinic to showcase the antis signs.  (The sign on the other side of the hydrant says, “THE KILLING PLACE,” a helpful marker for people having trouble finding the clinic.)

But the “I could smile” sign confuses me.  Because I’m pretty sure that after babies are born, they don’t really smile.  I mean, they make that little Mona Lisa smile sometimes and we say, “Oh!  Look!  She’s smiling!”  And then somebody else says, “No, I think that’s gas.  They say that’s just gas – I don’t think they can smile yet.”

When a baby gets to be about 4 months old, they start smiling like they really mean it, and we’re all thrilled and say, “Oh, look!  Look at that smile!!  Oh!!” and no one disagrees, and our hearts all melt a little bit.

So I don’t understand this pre-born smiling thing.  Is it that little Mona Lisa smile?  Because that one really doesn’t mean anything.  Or is it the big “I’m so happy to see you” smile?  If that’s the one, then I want to know what happens to it once they’re actually born.  Why do they not smile again for months?  Do they miss the womb?  Feel disappointed about their life?   Very strange.

Interestingly, the sign was made by a company based here in Louisville – a non-profit started by people at a local church.  Now I’m wondering if the billboards are sold nationally, or if other cities have their own sign makers.  And are all the billboards the same? Surely we’re not the only place to have billboards proclaiming:

I COULD DREAM BEFORE I WAS BORN 

or

7 months BEFORE I was born I had FINGERPRINTS!

The billboards are real bright, like the picture I posted, mostly blue and yellow, with splashes of red.  Do youall have the same ones where you live?  And do they come from the same company?

These are the kinds of things I ponder on a weekday morning at the clinic.  Here’s the other thing that caught my eye.

IMG_5174Yep, it’s one of the AHA fetal porn signs with a DIY handle on the back.  I’ve been watching the AHA guys handle the signs as if they were shields and wondering how they did it so handily.  Now we know – a yardstick and a little packing tape is all you need to make an effective “enarmes,”.  If they attach some leather straps, they can sling it over a shoulder as they come and go.  That would be downright swashbuckling.

Finally, I bring you this video from a Saturday. A couple of clients and their companions arrived early and were treated to Story Time by Dominic. I guess it’s better than listening to him yell, “Murder!  Murder in the first degree!!”  So this kinder, gentler Dominic starts off saying that he’s Japanese American.

We were put in internment camps, just because of our race.  It didn’t matter if our parents were born here, or that I was born here.  My parents and grandparents were put in internment camps just because of their race.  And again – the Supreme Court said, “It’s ok.”

Donna (comes up behind him):    Honey, you are already a mom.

D:  Think about that, Brother.  Think about that Supreme Court that has made just more tragic mistakes.  This is just another mistake.

Yep, darn Supreme Court, if they hadn’t made abortion legal, no one would have one.

You might have thought I was going to write about Planned Parenthood and the continuing efforts to defund them, or how these ludicrous efforts are inciting more push back from people who might not have paid attention otherwise, or how some states are passing more restrictive laws while other states are having their restrictive laws overturned, or any of the other substantive challenges facing us.  But no.  The sidewalk is a form of the Theater of the Absurd, so:

“There is no action or plot. Very little happens because nothing meaningful can happen.”

The action on the sidewalk doesn’t meet all the criteria for Theater of the Absurd, all the time, but it comes close.  More about that another time…

The Good Abortion – Part III – By KyBorn

{Part I is here; Part II is here…}

Back in the lobby,  the young man insisting his broke girlfriend have a baby they can’t feed is slouched and pouting in his chair; crossed arms, splayed leg and lower lip stuck out like a  toddler not getting dessert. I am ready to get lost in my murder mystery again when they call me back for counselling.

I don’t pay much attention. My goal is to correctly respond to this woman’s questions so I can finally get an abortion. I don’t want to get into the rape. I didn’t want to say anything that might hint I don’t want an abortion. I certainly don’t want to be sent home “to think about it.”

Then  back to the lobby for medications.  The nurse gives me 800 milligram Ibuprofen and asks me if I’m sure I don’t want the Valium most of the other women are taking.  I briefly wish I could have one of the mysterious happy pills, but even Valium isn’t worth spilling the beans to someone so I can have a companion.  With regret, I say no again.

The antis have predicted the procedure room will be filthy, with dried blood on the walls and tables, with jars of dead fetuses placed haphazardly on various counter surfaces, with unsterile instruments laying on a bedside table.  They will tell you the doctor is mean, rough, covered in blood and won’t tell you his name. He might even rape you, or slap you if you scream out in pain too loudly, because oh yes, there will be pain.

The nurse calls me back to the actual procedure room.  The table is not crusted in blood.  It has stirrups that you put your thighs in and slide down to the end of the table, instead of stirrups for your ankles like at the OB/GYN.  I am barely situated when another assistant knocks and asks if it is OK if she comes in. She’s carrying surgical instruments that have clearly just come from the autoclave. I can tell because the tape on the outside has the diagonal black stripes.

As she is laying out the surgical instruments, there is another knock on the door asking if they can come in. I say yes, hoping they will start and finish soon.  I am dreading the pain.  I feel like I did a few years earlier when I had an infected wisdom tooth.  I wanted it out so bad because it hurt, but had to take antibiotics for 10 days. I spent the whole 10 days excited to have the tooth out, but nervous about the procedure. I feel exactly that same way on the table.

There is now a doctor and another nurse in the room. She gives me a stress ball to squeeze and offers to hold my hand. I take her offer and she wraps both her hands around mine. The doctor asks if I’m sure I want to do this and I quickly say yes. I am so ready for this to be over.

The doctor tells me what he’s going to do.  Having Lidocaine shot into your cervix is about as pleasant as having it shot into your gums.  The nurse says they will explain everything as they go, and I appreciate that, but still keep trying to raise my head to see what’s going on.

I get a glimpse of the cannula.  Why do antis have these morbid fantasies about a dull suction instrument- there’s no way it could perforate a uterus, intestines and rectum.

The nurse explains that the suction machine can be loud and I may start to feel cramping, especially near the end. I am to tell her if it gets unbearable. I feel no pain when the doctor inserts the cannula. As the suction machine began running, I start to feel slight cramping in my uterus like I have with my menstrual cycle. It gradually becomes worse until it feels like the worst cramps I have ever had. Just as I tell the nurse I don’t think I can stand it and nearly squeeze her hand off, she tells me it will be over in five seconds. And it is. I don’t feel anything when they remove the cannula. The nurse tells me I can lay there as long as I want, but when I feel like it I can go to the bathroom and get dressed.

I am expecting to be bleeding profusely, after reading one too many an anti-choice site.  That stuff crawls up in your brain without you even noticing.  Another thing they swear is that after an abortion you will see baby parts floating in canisters. So I wander over to the covered canisters and peek at my products of conception. I am amazed at how much blood and tissue of mine it took to support a microscopic thing that looks like a jalepeno pepper. There are no hands, feet, ribs, head or any other identifiable body parts floating in the canister.

Pregnant, I had felt like a character in a B-grade horror movies –  knocked unconscious, placed in a coffin – still awake as the evil-doer is shoveling dirt on top of my coffin – listening as each pile of dirt marks less time I have to live. I felt that way the entire four weeks waiting for surgery and now – just as I’m gasping my last breath – the movie hero finally shows up and yanks open the casket.

I feel nothing but relief.

In recovery, I feel a little guilty for not feeling guilty.  The young woman who had been fighting with her boyfriend has found a temporary bravado and is swearing she’s leaving his ass. They give me my RhoGAM shot and discharge me with antibiotics and home-care instructions, along with a date for a follow-up exam.

I smile as I walk out to my car. I am so relieved there no protesters.  I had read about how they mob your car as you enter the parking lot. I was afraid of being filmed and somebody I knew seeing the film. When I was dealing with the rape, someone screaming, waving signs, encircling me with their friend, and calling me a murderer and whore, might have broken me.

As it is, I leave smiling with relief. I smile for the next 40 miles.  In the middle of nowhere, I realize I’m hungry.  It had been so long since I had been hungry and suddenly I was.  I drive-through at a McDonald’s at a tiny town off the interstate. Four cheeseburgers, a large order of fries and a large soda. I sit in the parking lot, eating cheeseburgers as fast as possible, and the tears finally come.

They aren’t abortion regret tears. They are tears of relief at being able to close this chapter of my life.  Sitting in my car, alternating wiping my face and stuffing more food in it, I’m sure people think I’m crazy.  It is the first time I have eaten in four weeks that I don’t puke at least part of it up.

Planned Parenthood was the only non-judgmental place I found that would perform an abortion.  I know antis hate the idea that anyone can have a good abortion experience.  But having an abortion saved my life.  Without it I wouldn’t be the person I am now.  Planned Parenthood saved my life.

Feeling Under Siege

I have been clinic escorting for just over two years now. I have seen the aggressiveness, in-your-face harassment and flat out verbal assault attempting, and many times succeeding, in reducing patients, companions and family into hysterics and tears. Other than quiet words of support and reassurance that I will see them safely through to the door as best and as quickly as I can, there is nothing that I can do.

Our clinic is now being heavily targeted by one of the most radical, aggressive and dangerous anti-abortion groups in the country. These are not quiet old ladies from local churches praying the rosary. They are a nationwide group of extreme fundamentalists, with leaders who are convicted felons. So far they have managed to stay under the radar of the Department of Justice and Southern Poverty Law as a hate group. It will only be a matter of time before they hit the headlines big and others stand up and take notice.

I refrain from posting any of their public videos as they are so graphic, violent and triggering that I don’t know if any of my non-escort friends could watch it without being very unsettled and frightened. Hell, they frighten me.

Do not think that this does not affect anyone in your life. 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the age of 45 from all races, classes, backgrounds and yes, religions.

It is unacceptable for this kind of domestic terrorism against our sisters, mothers, aunts, daughters, friends and ourselves.

Chloe Angyal in a memorial article for Dr. George Tiller, murdered by an anti-abortion extremist on May 31, 2009, describes the escalation of violence by anti-abortion protesters being experienced across the country. I recommend you read the whole article “The Subculture of Embattled Abortion Workers”, but here is a preview:

When Tiller was killed, in 2009, a rush of anti-abortion legislation was just beginning.  And violence against abortion providers, those few who remain, was and remains a daily reality no matter where they live. A continual threat, part of the buzzing background noise that is American violence.

Six years later nearly to the day, I’m still here in the U.S., and though no abortion provider has been murdered since 2009, harassment of these doctors continues. And not just the doctors; anti-choice extremists will target almost anyone who is associated with the provision of abortion: nurses, receptionists, the men and women who run clinic networks, clinic escorts, clinic security guards, landlords, and the neighbors and families of all those people.

Do you condone this behavior? By your apathy, silence and inaction you do.

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Interested in becoming a Louisville Clinic Escort? Please read the information in the “Trainings for Escorts” page. Our next training will be in mid-July. Send an email to everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com and we will send you more details about the next training.

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REMINDER: It’s not too late to make your pledge for Pledge-a-Picketer.  The campaign ends and we make the final count the day before Father’s Day, June 20. So far, we’re are at 179 protesters.  You can pledge here, with either a specific amount per person or by pledging a lump sum for the whole horde of protesters.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1cATk530BlUVRVofUMNaNHU1yo9FvN78ByX-_rHzWbtk/viewform