Common Ground


On Twitter, there was a discussion about finding “common ground” with anti’s. An anti, who bills himself as a person who “helps pro-lifers be more persuasive and less weird when they communicate with pro-choice people” started this discussion.  

Some of the questions he was asking went along the lines of, “Is it right for boyfriends and parents to pressure women to have abortions?” and, “What do you think about abortion if the unborn has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome?” and, “Would you prefer that there were fewer abortions?”

Of course my response was, anyone who wants an abortion should have safe and legal access to it, period. His response, “Well, its hard to have a conversation about abortion if you start by assuming it should always be available.”


Mr. Pro-Life speaker, you want to have a conversation on limiting abortion access and ultimately ending abortion. I do not.  We have no common ground.  We don’t have to have common ground.  It is OK.

More to the point, here are some pretty big reasons why we will never have common ground.

1. You want to make abortion illegal.  I do not

2. You want to put stipulations on abortion.  I do not.

3. “Counseling” is not a pro-active thing.  If you were really interested in counseling, a client would seek you out and come to you with questions and wanting to talk about options besides abortion.  We all know that isn’t how it goes. You chase clients down the street and shove flyers at them.  You yell at companions and (when applicable) insult their “masculinity” by telling them to “man up” and “bring your woman out of there”.  That isn’t counseling.

4. You want to make “pro-life people less weird”.  That is impossible.  Even if you rounded up all the anti-choice protesters and made them sit through one of your presentations, there would STILL be protesters that don’t listen and do what they want. There would still be protesters that get in people’s faces, stalk, and get physically violent. The harassment and the intimidation would continue, unabated. Therefore, common ground is pointless.

5. Something that may actually help “counselors” do some actual “counseling” on the sidewalk is a buffer zone. A buffer zone may discourage harassing behavior, while still allowing clients TO APPROACH YOU instead of the other way around when they want to talk about options.  That would be real counseling.  I wonder how many “pro-life counselors” would be ok with that type of arrangement?

At the end of this twitter exchange, the pro-lifer said “I’m just saying that on the night that the #abortionchat topic was on common ground, I found a ton of CG with @LouClinicEscort , but he or she couldn’t find one iota of common ground with me :-/”

My response was this “Anti’s like to make themselves victims on the sidewalk, even as they are harassing. But no, you are the victim here”.  Of course, it was all about his feelings.  Even as people that he supports push and yell and scream and don’t listen to constant, “NO, GO AWAY, LEAVE ME ALONE”. Of course, its MY fault that we couldn’t find any “common ground”

I don’t have any common ground with pro-lifers, much like I don’t have any common ground with rapists.  Stop harassing clients. Stop the guilt and shame.  Leave people alone to go to the doctor.  Period. Just go away.

(BTW, if you want to see some of the things we discussed on Twitter, I tweet @LouClinicEscort.  The “pro-life speaker” in this exchange was @JoshBrahm.  Or you can check out the hashtag #abortionchat)

An Exercise in Futility

Things were a bit ramped up here recently – an adult couple  arrived at the clinic with a young person.  One of the protesters – Ron – decided the young person must be a 10 year old girl who’d been raped.  Yes, he just made that up, but he was sure that was the story, because protesters know these things, right?

He decided that meant that we – the escorts – were protecting the perpetrator of the crime.  Yes, I know that’s an astounding leap outside the bounds of anything resembling logic, but there you go.  It went downhill from there.

From the comfort of my own home now, I can see that it might have been more helpful if I had ignored him, but he was all ramped up and raving and I might have gotten a bit ramped up myself.  So when Ponytail guy said it was probably one of the escorts who raped her – well, I might have said something a bit inappropriate.  Yep.  I did.

I know, it wasn’t helpful, just like it wasn’t helpful to ask Ron to explain how it would be better for a 10 year old to actually have to be pregnant and  have a baby.  He didn’t answer that, and I didn’t expect him to.  He just kept asking why we would protect the perpetrator.

Such nonsense.

I need to make sure I’m wearing my cloak of disengagement from now on.  I need to remember that Ron, and the other forced birthers, don’t have any actual power, which is why they spend their time trying to bully other people.

On the other hand, wasn’t there some state that tried to pass a law making it illegal for someone to help a minor who who was a rape victim get an abortion?  Some stuff about it “destroying the evidence?”  Good grief, do they not realize you can get DNA evidence from the aborted fetus if they needed to?  Oh, that’s right, science is not their strong suit.

Plus, as someone pointed out at breakfast, this is one more example of the way the antis distrust women.  It’s not enough for someone to say they were raped and name the person who raped them.  No, they need to have the rapist’s baby so we can make sure who did it.  Really.

Oh, but wait – if you get raped, you can’t even get pregnant, right????  Don’t we just “shut that whole thing down??”  Hmmm, this forced birther logic is so hard to follow!

Oik, enough of that, it’s not really funny, although we laughed about it a bit later.  At the time, it was ugly, and next time I’ll try to walk away sooner and ignore them harder.  Like Servalbear’s button suggests, I’ll ignore them so hard they’ll start to wonder if they exist.

Last week I posted the video of Chad preaching and said there was another video that gives a good perspective on what it can be like up by the door.  I transcribed it this week – actually the last couple of minutes are the same as last week’s videos so you don’t need to watch the whole thing.

There are three people talking/preaching at once, so I’ve used different type for each one – Chad is regular print, another preacher (I think he’s one whose nickname has the initials RFN, but I’m not sure) is in all-caps, and a third anti, a man in a red jacket, is in bold (which is ironic, because he’s talking really softly.)

Here’s the video:

And here’s the transcript:


… that they may live.


That’s the book of Deuteronomy.


And not only does he want us to choose life,


he has given us a way to choose life eternally, Eternally.


Jesus said he comes to bring life and life more abundantly.



Jesus said that. Jesus said he comes to bring life and life more abundantly.
Not abundantly in the sense that you get to have riches and wine?


Abundantly in the sense that you can live and worship him in eternity.


Live in the Glory of God, in the light of his son Jesus Christ for eternity.


Folks, that’s good news, That’s what the gospel means. You and I deserve eternity in hell. Eternity in hell and the fires that will never quench. That’s real friends. It exists. It is real, more real than our existence right now.


Hell is real. Jesus preached about hell,

Do you want to make a thousand angels in heaven rejoice? (This is the man in the red jacket. He’s talking to some young people who are escorting today, particularly a couple of young women.)

Jesus warned us about hell more than he preached about the Kingdom of Heaven.

How do you get a thousand angels to rejoice? How do we get a thousand angels to rejoice?

So friends, be prepared,

Anybody wanna rejoice?

he wants us to avoid that place

you know how to do it?

and the way to do that is to repent and be saved. believe on the Lord Jesus Christ today. Believe on him. Put your faith and trust in the Lord who is worthy to save

All of the lambs who (something) is worthy to be saved

Who wants to get saved today?


You’ll make the angels rejoice…

This is the lie you guys are believing.

(Can’t tell what Red Jacket is saying…)

This is what happens to those babies. Period.

A thousand angels will rejoice…
Sir, but that’s exactly what happens. a lot more children That’s what you’re supporting, you’re an accomplice to this. And that’s what you’ll stand and be accountable for on judgment day. Unless you repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ and your sins are washed away. That’s what you’re going to have to stand up and face. This is true. This is what abortion is. This is what (something)

It’s the murder of an unborn child. The massacre of babies and it looks just like that. I hope you’re happy about that, because that’s what happens.

you need to repent. You all need to turn from your sins and believe the truth about abortion. Here’s what it is- plain and simple – here’s what abortion is – here’s the truth of abortion – death destruction killing and destruction. That’s of satan that’s what god hates and he wants you to repent he wants you to turn from your sins – to choose life, he wants you to choose life so your children will live He commanded us to go forth and multiply and to fill the earth…

And that’s where the videos I posted last week start, so I won’t add those transcripts here.  I can’t promise I got all the wording right, but it’s close enough to give you the idea.

It’s interesting how their words overlap sometimes, as if they’re bouncing thoughts off each other, but really each person is intent on his own presentation.  Red Jacket is brand new to our sidewalk and I hope he won’t be back.  He really was only talking to the young female escorts who were standing on the property line.  Yep, just a bit creepy.

This week’s post is strictly a “for my own emotional well-being” one – I just needed to describe what it was like that particular Saturday morning at the clinic.  There’s no particular point – no point in trying to reason with Ron, no point in getting upset with Ponytail Guy, no point in lots of things happening on the sidewalk.

But the whole point is being there for the client.  That’s the point of escorting.  When I remember that, the rest of this really does fall away.  And I’m ready for another day on the sidewalk.

Thanks for listening…

Sidewalk Snippet – {3/5/12}

M was pressing up against the car as soon as the client and companion were parked. The client got out of the car yelling, “Get away from me. You don’t know me.” M ignored her and kept pressing against her talking. The client swung around and yelled, “I have three children already. You don’t know what you are talking about.” We weren’t even out of the parking lot yet and still had a block to go. It was raining, but there were still M and four other antis surrounding the couple as they walked to the sidewalk. The companion tried to calm the client and the two escorts kept speaking calmly, but the verbal contest continued between M and the client. As we crossed the street more escorts joined in to try to put distance between M and the client, but M kept pushing up against the client and the client kept warning not to touch her. Just before we reached the door of the clinic, the client had enough and turned towards M with her arms outstretched almost reaching M’s neck with her hands. Kescort stepped in between the client and M and kept asking M to back away. The client did get into the clinic. M didn’t get strangled or punched. We don’t want clients to hurt obnoxious antis because of the consequences to the client, but sometimes the clients are able to say and do what we can’t. Why are personal boundaries not honored by antis? Why is “No” such a hard word to understand? Rhetorical questions that I don’t expect answered.

After the client went into the building, Kescort instinctively asked M if she was okay. Another escort asked Kescort, “If I punched my rapist in the balls, are you going to ask him if he is okay?” Another rhetorical question.

The Anti’s Talk On {Part II – The Rest of the Story}

So this was two Saturdays ago now, and i was still feeling good about how L and I had ignored the talkative protester until he went away.  I walk another couple of women up the sidewalk.  As I come back down, I see L and R, both female, who are half-surrounded by the group of male newbie protesters.

I hear R say, “NO!  NO!! NO ~ we DON’T have to talk to you!  We were having a private conversation ~ WE were,” and she points from herself to L and back again, “and you rudely jumped in…”

And one young guy protester says, “You’re the one being rude, you won’t listen to us.”

I think that R might explode with anger, but she just says, “NO!  WE were talking.  WE were having a conversation.  YOU interrupted.”

Another young protester guy says, “Well, but there’s no reason we can’t talk to each other,” and I realize he’s the same one who wouldn’t leave me alone a couple of weeks ago.  “I mean, we’re both out here on the sidewalk…”

“NO,” says R, and L chimes in, “WE’RE having a private conversation, we don’t have to talk to you…”

and he continues, as if they haven’t said anything, “We’d LOVE to talk to you about the gospel of Christ,”

and I just shake my head.  Good grief.

“We’ve tried moving away from you,” says  L, “and you’re following us.  That’s harassment. If you keep it up, we’re going to call the police.”

Several other escorts are close by now, and T, who is a young male escort, gets out his phone.  I was going to call, but it would have taken me five minutes to peel off my layers of gloves and mittens to use the touch screen.  T hands me his energy drink to hold, and quickly calls.  He calls the police department directly, not 911.

As T talks, or tries to talk, the protesters continue, loudly insistent that we need to talk to them, need to listen to them, need to not be rude to them.

L and R move away again.  The protesters follow.

Another couple who actually have an appointment at the clinic come around the corner; D and I break away to walk with them.  I realize I have T’s energy drink with me, but it’s too late to give it back.

We walk up, and make it back to our corner pretty quickly.  T is off the phone, and I give him back his energy drink, which he he takes from me like it was his long lost lover.  “I just looked up,” he says, “and it was gone!”  He adds reproachfully, “I thought, ‘damn, can’t trust anybody these days!'”   I have to laugh.

The anti’s have stepped away a little bit, and I join L and R, ’cause now I want to hear the conversation they were having.

But R’s still in mid-story when the police show up.  Two police cars, and the officers get out right away.

R and L explain what had happened, and the one guy, the one who’d been the pushiest, is right there ready to argue.  But one of the officers moves away with him, and steps around the corner to talk to him and the other new protesters.

The other officer stays to remind us that they’re limited in what they can do, although they agree, the protesters can’t follow us around trying to talk to us.  If we say no and move away once, they’re supposed to leave us alone.

Which we already knew, although we don’t mind hearing it again.  We point out that these guys are new, and don’t know the rules yet – and for sure, won’t listen to us!

I don’t hear what the police say to the protesters, and don’t need to.  Whatever they say, it’s enough.   This group of anti’s leave us alone the rest of the morning.  Which was all we wanted in the first place.

So I’ll say what I was thinking that first week, when new guy insisted on talking to me.  This is a good example of rape culture.

No, it’s not rape, and I’m not suggesting it’s like being raped, because it’s not.  But clearly it reflects rape culture.

The protesters believe that what they want carries more weight than the fact that we don’t want it.  That their urge to talk to us is more important, that it takes precedence over us saying ‘no, leave us alone.’

They believe that they’re entitled to insist on getting their way no matter how many times we say no.

That’s how rape culture works ~ consent is not a factor, and my “no” doesn’t mean “no” to them.


So, here’s the thing about escorting  ~ one of the things about escorting.  Just when I’m feeling comfortably self-righteous, something busts my bubble.  If I had only published this before last week, it would have been great.

But last week, i watched one of us, an escort, someone I like and respect, get so angry that they buttonholed a protester ~ it was A, the seminarian ~ and insist he answer a question.  My friend kept talking to him, ignoring his relatively polite efforts to end the conversation.


It’s what I love and hate about escorting.  It constantly calls me to check myself.  ‘Cause it could just as easily have been me transgressing the points of unity, there on the corner.  Trying to talk to a protester isn’t my style, but I’ve been known to yell at them ~ not lately, thank goodness, but it could happen again.

More often, I’ll make a really snarky comment about them while they’re close by.  Yeah.  Intended for them to hear.  It’s not helpful.  Feels real good in the moment, but not helpful in the long run at all.

Maybe I’ll give that up for Lent…

The Anti’s Talk On… {Part I}

You may remember the post I did recently ~ “Why I Don’t Talk to the Anti’s.”  It was about a group of new protesters and their (unsuccessful) efforts to initiate conversation with me.  That week, after I’d explained (twice) why I wasn’t going to talk to them, they finally left me alone.

But I said in my article, “… I know they’ll try again…”

Last week, I was out of town.  This week ~

L and I walked up the long block with two young women who were relatively comfortable, while one of the newer protesters danced in front of us, walking backwards.  Part of his spiel, his speech pressured, words tumbling out,  went like this:

“What about adoption?  Have you thought about adoption?  Lots of people would adopt your baby.  I’d adopt your baby!   No, really, I’d adopt your baby!  I’m on the list, I’m trying to get approved, let me, let adopt your baby.”

The woman and her companion started laughing.

L and I joined in, because really ~ well, for me, i’m laughing at his arrogance in assuming that his offer to adopt the not-yet-born child of a woman he’s never met and knows nothing about would just automatically be considered a better offer than the decision she’s already made.

For a second, I imagine her stopping, right there in the middle of the sidewalk, and taking him up on it.  But of course, she doesn’t.  She just says, “You’re gonna adopt my baby?!!”  laughs a little,  and goes on.

After we leave her and her companion at the door, L and I are talking to each other on our way back to the Second Street corner.  It’s bitter cold – the wind is fierce today, and even though the only exposed part of me is my face, it’s a very cold face.

I may have complained about it.

“Moisturizer,” L says.  “I use a double layer of moisturizer, it seems like it cuts the wind.”

“Really?”  I’m interested, of course.  “Is it a special kind of moisturizer?

And suddenly, here’s our newbie, I’ll-adopt-your-baby guy, bouncing right up behind us.

“Hey,” he says, “You were laughing at me.  You think it’s funny?  You think adoption’s funny?’

“I get it at this store in Oxmoor,” says L.  “It’s kind of expensive, but it’s worth it.”

New guy bounces around in front of us, looking back at us.  “It’s not funny,” he says, “adoption’s not funny, I would have adopted her baby, that would be better than…”

and I tune him out.  “But,” I say to L, “I’d have to go to the mall to get it.  I hate the mall.”

“Yeah, I do too,” she says, “But ~”

He’s bouncing back and forth in front of us, kind of bobbing and weaving, the way young children do when they really, really want your attention.  “It’s not funny,” he says, “Adoption would be better than killing these babies, that’s what they’re doing, killing babies, I would adopt…”

“I get it at this special store,” L says.   It’s a make-up store, that’s all they sell is make-up.”

Vaguely, I hear him say something about “really want to adopt…”

I laugh, and say to L, “Omigod, I don’t know if I could even go in a store where all they sell is make-up.  Do you think they’d even let me in?”

And he gives up.


He quits bouncing in front of us.  Quits lecturing.  He goes off to bother someone else.

It’s a happy moment.  L and I are just grinning at each other.  “We did it,” I say.

“Yeah,” she say with a big smile.  “Next time, we’ll just start talking about dildos.  That works really fast.”

But we don’t get a chance to use that strategy…

{to be continued}


There are so many intense things going on with birth control and anti-abortion legislation that I almost felt like I shouldn’t run this fairly light-hearted post now.  But this blog is about our experience, and when I look at what’s going on around us, I need all the light-hearted I can get.

If you haven’t been keeping up with what’s going on though, here are some articles and other blog posts and a wonderful video to check out:

On the new laws introduced in Virginia, which seem to have a chance of passing ~ click here ~ New laws

Blogs about the new laws ~ This one by my friend Gina, who intiitiated Bloggers United for Reproductive Choice and this one by me on my personal blog.

An article about the protest in Virginia,

A blog that reminded me of why the right to access to abortion is so important.

And finally, a video.  This one comes with a warning – it may be a trigger for strong emotional reactions.  Let me be clear, it may be a bit traumatizing, but it’s incredibly beautiful.

The Blogging Community and Reproductive Choice

Thanks to A Bookish Beemer, who tagged us with the Versatile Bloggers Award!  You can read the nice things she said about us here.  To accept the award, we have to:

1) Nominate 15 fellow bloggers

2) Inform the Bloggers of their nomination

3) Share 7 random things about yourself

4) Thank the blogger who nominated you

5) Post the award badge.

So far, I’ve done number 4 ~ thanked BB ~ and haven’t even done that well.  But I need to consult with the other escorts about the blogs we want to select, and the facts about escorts that we want to share.  I’ll have that post ready by next Wednesday.  In the meantime ~

This post caught my eye on Facebook, so I reposted it.  By Sunsara Taylor, the post is entitled:

Should a Woman Feel Sad About Her Abortion? Fuck No!

It’s an impassioned piece that starts out:

There is absolutely nothing wrong, tragic, unfortunate, or sad about a woman choosing to get an abortion. Nothing.”

It’s a brief post, but powerful.  One piece that particularly resonated with me:

“If a woman is impregnated because of being raped, it is the rape that is the horrific crime – the abortion which prevents her from being forced to bear the child of her rapist is positive and liberating.

If a woman really wants a child but something goes wrong with the pregnancy, it is the medical problems that are the tragedy – the abortion that eliminates those dangers is positive and liberating.”

As I read that, I realized how affected I have been by the atmosphere the anti’s create on the sidewalk.

 The antis have taken some beautiful ideas and beliefs and used them to cover their toxic, hateful beliefs about women and sex and our role in the universe.  Their poison is covered with a thin overlay of Christian kindness and concern,
The hateful ideas they spew hang in the air and seem to cling to my skin when I leave.  I can go for days, weeks, maybe, while the toxin builds up on me.

I am most acutely aware of that when something cuts through the slime, as this article did.  Suddenly, I am breathing cleaner, feeling lighter.

Thanks to Sunsara Taylor for that!  Her article cut through the slime residue the antis left like ~ like Dawn dishwashing liquid cuts through grease!  I feel so much better.


After I posted the link on my Facebook page, I got a comment from Gabriele Alcalde, who is a strong supporter of reproductive justice.  She said:

“I think the problem is when anyone tries to tell women how they should feel or interpret their situation…I find that this blog does the same, limiting what a woman should or should not feel…it is a personal decision and experience and I find anyone telling a woman what is “normal” or “appropriate” to feel paternalistic…it may be sad for some, it may not for others, and everywhere in between and women have a right to whatever emotions they have without anyone telling them what’s “normal”…”

And she’s right.

I appreciated the reminder.

I felt like ~ how can I describe it?  It’s like the antis take this incredibly firm, extreme stance against abortion.  Firm is an understatement, it’s chipped in concrete.  No shades of gray there.

Sunsara’s blog is equally firm.  It etches out a position at the opposite end of that.  Carves out space for me to stand that is unapologetic and proud.  I needed that.  There is warrior energy in her post.  I needed to read it, needed to feel it.

Gabriela’s comment pulls me back to where I want to be.  I don’t want to fall into the habit of thinking in ‘all or nothing” ways.  I want to remember nuances, room for differences, and a full range of ways to think and feel, or I become like the antis.  Carved in stone in one place.

It took both parts of the discussion ~ Sunsara’s blog and Gabriella’s comment ~ to position me.  The beauty of the pro-access community is that we do that for each other, and I hope this blog does that for some of you.

I had intended to end this post there, but along those same lines, I’ve been folllowing the comments on a post by The Sex Geek.  Entitled “why rape jokes aren’t funny even if you’re kinky,” it’s not about reproductive choice directly, but clearly speaks to rape culture.

Sex Geek argues the point beautifully.  She makes her case eloquently, and while I didn’t need convincing, I really appreciated hearing her reason it out.

I’ve been surprised by the number of comments suggesting she’s wrong. It’s been a little disheartening, but probably good for me to hear.  Sometimes I’m too sheltered.

So I read a comment and get all annoyed and indignant, frustrated with the commenter.

And Sex Geek comes back to counter each comment in a voice that’s reasonable and stays true to her original point.  She has patiently avoided being sidetracked by nonsense.  I am so impressed with her, both the original argument, and her ability to respond appropriately to each new “yes, but” comment, that I had to mention her here.

So I begin to feel a real sense of community, the connectedness among us growing stronger.  Each voice bringing its own wisdom, it’s own part of the story.  Thanks to all of you for being part of that.

And stay tuned next Wednesday, when we gratefully accept the Versatile Bloggers Award, so kindly bestowed on us by the delightful Bookish Beemer!

who’s fight is this?

by Kescort

There are times when revelations of the weight of reproductive choice hits me like an elbow to the throat. A man with his toddler child left the clinic this morning after most everyone, escorts and antis, had left. Another escort and I asked the man if he wanted us to walk with him. He said he didn’t need it but if we wanted to talk to him, he’d like to know why we escort. I told him we were volunteers, didn’t get anything for doing this and I was motivated by not wanting to allow people to put their personal moral, ethical or religious beliefs above the rule of law. He was blown away that we would get out of bed before dawn on a Saturday to come put up with all that bullshit. I want to pass on his gratitude for what we did this morning folks, without our support, his trip into the clinic with a toddler would have been horrific.
Of course, Angela chased along, telling the man he needed to bring his wife out of that horrible place and across the street to AWC yaddyyaddyyaddy. She got right up next to him and his baby. I offered to make some space
“No, I want to talk to her too.”
She continued with her usual spiel about heart beats and brain waves, the baby drinking amniotic fluid and having fingers and toes and a tricycle. (OK, she didn’t say the tricycle part but she might as well.)
He listened patiently and then began to tell his story – two great kids that they love but are barely making ends meet, carrying a baby full term and then giving it up was not in their emotional tool kit, they made the decision early so as to minimize the suffering of the fetus, this was a decision they discussed with their religious leader and considered for as long as they could before reaching the best decision for their family.
Angela then went into damnation mode, “You’ll stand before Jesus and he will judge you for killing your baby. Do you want to have to answer for that blood on your hands?”
“Look lady, I love my family and am doing what I think is the best thing for us. If God sends me to hell for doing my duty to my family, then so be it. I’ll suffer forever as long as my family is safe and taken care of”
It’s easy to think we are fighting a battle on the sidewalk every Saturday morning. But the truth is, we are not the warriors here, that would be the clients and companions. We are, at best, the emotional MASH unit.

forced council

good intentions?

in the rain

when i think back to saturday mornings as a kid i remember pajamas, the waffle iron and cartoons.

over the years i have seen countless children brought to protest at our clinic.  when i see these kids on the sidewalk, part of me feels sad, for what they are missing.  another part of me becomes a little ragged, imagining what sort of imprint these parents are leaving on their kids.

mother's day 2009

will these people grow up to be brainwashed zealots, carbon copies of their parents?  will they rebel, and end up angry?  will they become teenage parents, products of abstinence only education and guilt laden stigma?  will they have abortions? become clinic escorts?  there’s no telling.


i can’t help but wonder what makes these parents think this is an okay place to bring little ones?  there are regular incidents of aggression, both verbal and physical.

rather be in bed

there are disturbing images on posters larger than these kids are.  it’s not unusual for people to lose a shoe in the trek to the door, and while it is rare we do see violence.

not safe

and yet, parents decide to bring their own kids down.  to drag them out of bed and make them stand on a sidewalk for 2 hours and just stand there.  no playing, no talking, just stand there.  maybe pray, but certainly do not do any of the things kids naturally do.


to me this is not acceptable parenting.  the parents justify it in the name of “saving the unborn”.  oh, please. what about the born?

why don't these kids have on hats!? their mom only brings them in the winter!

i have seen babies with no socks on while there is ice on the ground.  in below freezing temps i’ve seen little ankles and calves with no coverage, or just tights. this is not a rare occurrence.

like i said,  for years i’ve seen people drag their kids to the prayer line, for what i see as an excruciatingly long timeout, for which they did no wrong.

SIT! good girl.

bumper bellies?

some parents take it a step further.  they carry their children while chasing clients from their cars, down the sidewalk, to the doors.  it is during these walks that a lot of shoving can take place, and shoes come off, etc.  the sidewalk is cracked, and uneven, and there are obstacles that escorts and chasers bump into (parking meters, light posts, trash cans.)  it is a truly hazardous situation.  still, these parents walk with their babies, and kids in hand while harassing people who are often under stress.  again, i just don’t get it.

there used to be a woman who would walk backwards in front of a group going to the clinic.  she would hold her baby in her hands with her arms stretched out.  the police told her to stop, and we have not seen her since.  here is a video of current bad parenting tactics…

Dear Stephanie

As a comment to the post “Not Making Things Worse” I got this:


I am a life escort and I escort almost every Saturday morning. And I realize you probably won’t post this on the blog. But I do want you to know that there are quite a few of us who do not wish to hate or speak hateful words to you, any escorts, or any clients. I know that there is a good chance that we will never really find much common ground on this issue. But Ken did say something to me last week about both the clinic escorts and life escorts that I believe is true. He said that we are essentially all there for the same reason…to show compassion. I believe he could not have been more right. I read about the compassion you have for clients almost every week.

I respect you for being so honest in this post. Believe it or not, I too have felt much the same way as you have. I too have been pushed around and hated especially on Saturday mornings. And I too have had a hard time controlling my tongue. And as a result, I too have said and done things I have regretted. And I too have not wanted to apologize for them. But the Lord compelled me to do so. I did apologize and seek forgiveness from that escort I wronged. And here is the part where Stephanie feels the need to tell me all about how I was hurt by my ex, she can empathize, knows what it is like to be me and god can fix it and how great he is for a paragraph or two.


And here is the response I sent her via email today.


To clarify, I did not write the post about de-escalating. ESM is a collaborative blog and several people write for us. I also want to point out that while you may be able to identify with something that is written here, please do not assume you know about the lives of the escorts and especially the lives of the clients. What is shared here is limited, and certainly not the whole story.

You are correct that I will not post your comment in its entirety. But not for the reason you think. I am not a Christian. I have no desire to hear about your god, beliefs or opinions about the lives of others based on the lack of compassion you and your friends show the rest of us.

I understand you disagree with me and feel like you show nothing but compassion.

We feel judged, harassed and most importantly disempowered by you and yours.

There is a huge difference between intention (what you think you are saying/showing/acting) and perception (what I feel/perceive/interpret).

It is not up to you to tell me that I should not be offended by you if I am in fact hurt by the way you push your opinions on me.

Escorts are a motley bunch with beliefs ranging from very devout Christians, Jews and Muslims to atheists and pagans, but mostly we are people who are just willing to admit we do not have the answers.

We have in our culture a great respect for the faith of our citizens and thus give massive latitude to religious speech. As a person in the cultural majority (Judeo-Christian world view) you may not be able to see that your faith colors every aspect of my life.

And I object.

The protection that grants you the right to speak your faith limits my right to set boundaries rejecting it. This is clearly the Right to Free Speech v. the Right to be free from Harassment social dichotomy acted out everyday in front of the clinic.

And so, this is my blog, and I will not provide space for you or anyone else to prosthelytize.

We know.

We have heard you tell us all about your faith and god ad nauseum.

And the fact that you REFUSE to accept no for an answer puts you in a position as the aggressor. I do not want you to aggress against me or the clients or my escorts any more.

As women we are taught No means No.

I am saying to you, and the clients say to you NO all of the time.

Your faith in god does not change the fact that you are in that moment no different from a rapist. To be clear I am simply making an analogy: person A says no to a certain type of interaction, person B does not accept those boundaries and forces themselves upon person A.

Lastly, I want to point out to you that to escort someone is to safely ensure they arrive at their intended destination.

You do not escort anyone anywhere.

You literally chase people, who are telling you to leave them alone, down the street.

While I understand the literary point you are trying to make, it falls short in every way. You and your friends are engaging in deception.

Your orange vests cause more confusion than they create calm.

I was told the first morning you all showed up in those vests you all were trying to “level the playing field”.

It seems you all view this as a game to be won, strategy to be put into place, and no matter how you spin that statement, I think it was very honest.

And disgusting.

I disagree with Ken on this point.  I don’t think any of you care about these women and the torment you put them through by your actions.

You may disagree with the choice they are making, but many of these women are caused 100% more hurt by you than the abortion will ever cause them.

I know you disagree with me. Which is your right.

But the reality is that this is a choice they must make and live with.

It does not matter one little bit if you and I disagree. What matters is that in my 10 years of escorting I have spoken with thousands of women and most of the ones who talk to me about their decisions are confident they are doing the right thing. And none of the ones who were not sure felt like you all were really there to give them a better option.

I trust you speak with women who are grateful for your services, and while I find the services provided at AWC to be dishonest and disingenuous, it is not my choice make. And I will ALWAYS provide support to every person regardless of what I think about her decisions. This is not the same for you and your friends.

The climate on the sidewalk in front of the clinic is more than just the words we speak.

Can you even imagine what it must be like for women to be surrounded by 15 people, half of them shoving lit in your face, calling you a murderer, shoving in front of you to block you from taking another step?

Your words are the smallest of the ways in which you and your friends intimidate and cause fear.

We are all human and say things that we regret. There are always better ways to interact. But I can not stress enough that you contribute more to the hurt that women feel through your disempowering actions than anything else they are dealing with that day.

I don’t want to be your friend. I certainly do not want to develop a relationship with you so that you can have secret, or overt for that matter, plans to save me. I don’t need saving nor do any of the escorts or clients. Please leave us alone. In the end, all anybody wants is a little privacy to live our lives the best we can.


abortion is not a dirty word.

Reproductive Justice is the Antidote to Rape Culture

Recently there has been a lot of attention paid to a tactic a group of anti-choice protesters outside of EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville KY is using to deceive the clients trying to access abortion services. Louisville’s Clinic escorts (volunteers provide emotional and tactical support to clients entering the clinic) wear orange vests that say ‘Clinic Escort’ identifying themselves to clients. In the last month the anti-choice protesters have begun wearing remarkably similar vests, the only difference is the wording on the vest: ‘clinic escort’ vs. ‘life escort’. In this post I want to explore the intersection of Rape Culture and anti-choice activism highlighting the places were reproductive and sexual health meet the reality of our cultural norms.

Louisville's Clinic escorts vests


Rape culture is defined as the cultural normalization of sexual violence. We see this in the social context of blaming the rape survivor for the rape; they were asking for it because they attended a party or had a few beers. Our court system routinely blames survivors of domestic violence for staying in abusive situations without providing viable options for those seeking refuge. Melissa McEwan has an awesome Rape Culture 101 post with lots of examples of what rape culture looks like including this gem of a paragraph.

Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality that many women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women’s daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.”

An example of rape culture being utilized as social control against women and LGBT people can be seen in the 2009 horrifying gang rape and murder of Eudy Simelane, an out lesbian footballer in Kwa Thema, a suburb of Johannesburg South Africa.

The motive for the attack was “corrective” in nature, that is, culturally sanctioned sexual violence in order to enforce heteronormativity. The Guardian reported “What we’re seeing is a spike in the numbers of women coming to us having been raped and who have been told throughout the attack that being a lesbian was to blame for what was happening to them,” said Vanessa Ludwig, the chief executive at Triangle. The goal of the rapists is social conformity to the broader misogynistic paradigm, or in other words the heteronormative, enforced gender binary with women’s bodies and supporters of women’s bodies the target of socially condoned sexual violence and intimidation.

Dr. George Tiller

Now, let’s turn to the sidewalk in front of EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville KY. Five days a week, protesters chase women and their families from their cars to the door of the clinic, yelling at them, calling them murders and whores, in general harassing them. The anti-choice protesters view themselves as peaceful, information bearers. They genuinely believe they have been ordained/ instructed by God to minister to these women. And while they certainly have the right to speak their mind and oppose abortion, we move squarely into the realm of rape culture when there is no place between the interactions of anti-choice protesters and the women to consent to the interaction. We move even further down the continuum of disempowerment and social control when women clearly DO NOT CONSENT to the interaction. Routinely clients will say something along the lines of “Please Leave ME ALONE” and the anti-choicers continue to aggressively impede their progress, thus crossing the line between free speech and assault.

white male privilege says "yes, you can and are"

The first week the anti-choice protesters showed up wearing their very deceptive vests one of the regular chasers told a group of escorts they (the anti-choicers) were simply trying to “level the playing field”. Which I feel is one of the most disgusting displays of social privilege I have witnessed in my 10 years of escorting in Louisville. What I think this young woman was trying to get across is that they feel entitled to the time and attention of the women entering the abortion clinic for reproductive health care services, and that if it is necessary to be physically imposing to do so, obfuscation and misinformation are appropriate tools to such an end. This entitlement is at the core of rape culture. The attitude that the bodies of women and queers are fair game as a battle field for social conformity is exactly the place where reproductive justice and rape culture intersect. Eudy Simelane and Dr. Tiller’s bodies were destroyed in attempts to isolate and stigmatize the ‘other’.

Tim Tomeny and another bully stand as close to the door as they legally can. from these posts they jump out at clients, shove or trip escorts and sometimes snap pictures. nice guys, real nice.

Well, we are all the ‘other’. There is no ‘other’. Rape Culture hurts us all. Rape is a tool of war. Gender equity is destroyed by rape. And the only way to combat these evils is to fight for the autonomy and empowerment of all people.