Pledge-A-Picketer 2016

We started the Pledge-A-Picketer fundraiser in 2010, and have been doing it every year since then with great success.  It’s a simple fundraiser. You pledge whatever you choose for each protester who shows up, we count the protesters, and the more of them there are, the more money we raise for escorts and abortion access. Escorts use this fund drive for legal expenses, training costs, safety supplies, parking fees for patients and other miscellany.

Traditionally there are three big event days when a large number of anti-abortion protesters come to the clinic. The Saturday before Easter, the Saturday before Mother’s Day and the Saturday before Father’s Day used to be the biggest protester days of the year at EMW Women’s Surgical Center. When we first started the Pledge-A-Picketer fundraiser, we targeted the Saturday before Mother’s Day as the day to count protesters.  As the numbers on this day have dropped, some protesters have attributed the drop to them not wanting to contribute to the success of our fundraiser. I don’t really believe them. I think they are having problems bringing out large numbers because of more public awareness that abortion is part of healthcare and a human right. Plus, the sidewalk anti-abortion people are being viewed as the bullies they are by more people.

Here is the history of their turnouts from the years we counted. Notice the dropping numbers.

  • Easter weekend: From 170 protesters in 2009 to 60 protesters in 2016.
  • Mother’s Day weekend: From 275-325 protesters in 2009 to 100 protesters in 2015
  • Father’s Day weekend: From 300 protesters in 2009 to 108 protesters in 2015

Last year we combined the Saturday before Easter, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and the Saturday before Father’s Day and called it Spring 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.

The day before Father’s Day remains a large turnout day for anti-abortion protesters, mostly because it is the day the Sisters for Life come out. Sisters for Life members, including their director, Mrs. Angela Minter, do “sidewalk counseling” weekly in front of the clinic. Angela is known to harass people she recognizes and then call their family members to report they went into the clinic. That’s not really counseling, but you can see for yourself. Here is a video of her being carried out of the clinic when she trespassed following in someone she recognized.

 

This is a different Angela than she presents in front of the news cameras or when she endorsed Senate candidate Matt Bevin.

This will be the 8th year Sisters for Life has their fundraising drive of “Fathers for Life Day Walk or Bike.” They charge a registration that gets everyone a matching t-shirt and walk or bike to the clinic to carry signs, sing and block the sidewalk and entrance of the clinic.

A picture and a video is worth a 1000 words. Here’s FML’s article from last year’s demonstration on Father’s Day weekend. We stood in the pouring rain, fighting umbrellas while being sung to over and over. My personal favorites are the songs they make up on the spur of the moment. They don’t always go as intended and are frequently unintentionally funny.

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.

 

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…

Father’s Day 2014

Today, we had 35 escorts (a nice sea of orange!) who escorted clients past 17 Catholic pray-ers, 7 sign-holders from Kentucky Mountain Bible College, 14 Immanuel yellow-vesters (aka Chasers) and, because it is the day before Father’s Day, 115 red-shirted Sisters for Life (SFL) people.  The SFL group arrived about 7:35 and included quite a number of children, from babies to teens.  About 35 Catholics on Parade arrived around 7:45 and stood by the convention center, looking confused by all the activity.

It looked like this, approaching from 2nd Street:

There is no transcript for the video – it’s just a long walk up an empty sidewalk.   To the left, across about 6 lanes, are the group of Catholics on Parade, and then you turn the corner into the crowd of folks, mostly in red shirts, by the door.

Here’s what it looks like coming from First Street:

Again, a long walk up the sidewalk, past some fetal porn, past a few chasers, who are uninterested in an escort doing video, but would be all over you if you were a client, then into the mess.

And here’s some video from when the SFL group first arrived.

In this video they are singing enthusiastically about shouting for God and the Victory.

I can absolutely not imagine walking through that mess to go to the doctor.

But it happens every year.  They get a parade permit and here they come.  This year, they called it a “Walk or Bike for Life”  and charged a fee to enter.   It is their 6th Annual.

In 2009, the first Father’s Day for the blog and the SFL,  (and before my time on the sidewalk) we were not expecting them.  300 protesters showed that year, and the escorts were up to the challenge.  Here are some pictures from that year.  In 2010, Dan shared his thoughts about escorting, and we have more pictures.  In 2011, we did our pledge-a-picketer event on the Saturday before Father’s Day, because the clinic had been closed Mother’s Day weekend.   In 2012, we just have a video of them singing in front of the clinic.  In 2013, we posted video, and I told a story about a little girl who’d gotten caught up in the mess.

And here we are.  2014.  Same story, different year.   Maybe we can work on a buffer zone?  I’d like for 2015 to be different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

IT IS YOUR CHILD

… that they may live.

AND YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE

That’s the book of Deuteronomy.

FOR THIS CHILD.

And not only does he want us to choose life,

NO MATTER WHAT YOU DECIDE TODAY YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THE MOTHER OF THIS CHILD

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

SIR THIS IS YOUR CHILD, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THE FATHER…

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

I ENCOURAGE YOU THIS MORING TO CONSIDER THE FACTS. CONSIDER THE TRUTH TODAY.

DON’T BE DECEIVED. THIS IS A CHILD. YOU ARE ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS CHILD.

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?

YOU MAY SAY, “WE’RE IN A TOUGH SPOT, WE CAN’T HAVE THIS CHILD”

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

IF YOU CAN’T HAVE THIS CHILD, THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE WILLING TO ADOPT IT, IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO CARE FOR IT

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

AND YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO ALLOW IT TO GROW AND DEVLOP AND THE ABILITY TO BE BORN. JUST LIKE YOUR PARENTS GAVE YOU THAT SAME ABILITY TO GROW AND DEVELOP AND BE BORN.

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.

MA’AM AS YOU WALK THROUGH THAT DOOR, PLEASE CONSIDER SIR YOU HAVE TO OPPORTUNITY TO EVEN STILL THIS MORNING.

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?

Repent.

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…

Have Soapbox, Will Preach

“Soapbox:  A temporary platform used while making an impromptu or nonofficial public speech.”  (according to the Free Online Dictionary)

Last week, for the first time in quite a while, one of the preachers (we call him Chad – don’t know if that’s his real name or not) brought his step stool, and his microphone, and preached to us.  He preached to us for a full hour and fifteen minutes, leaving some of the other preachers on the sidelines.

I thought I’d share some of that pleasure with you.

Transcript:

…so your children may live.  He commanded us to go forth and multiply and fill the earth.  That’s what he commanded us to do from the very beginning – he told Adam and he told Noah to do the exact same thing.
Come on, people!  Come on!  We’re in America!  We don’t need to do this!  If someone said, “Well, I can’t have a  baby because I can’t do this or I can’t do that or I don’t have a job or whatever,” – there’s no excuse in this country today for doing this (waves his arm at the fetal porn)  There are adoption agencies – people waiting in line to adopt babies – there is someone – someone wants to help you in this situation.  If you don’t have a job, someone will find you a job.  If you don’t have a home somebody will find you a home.  If you need money, clothing, shelter, food, there are people in this country who will help you in an instant.  And they don’t even have to be Christian or religious.  There are secular groups that will help you in this country today.
You don’t need to do this!!  (Pointing at the fetal porn.)  This does not need to be done!!

Just a couple of comments – notice that “He told Adam and Noah to do the same thing” about going out and multiplying – no need to mention Eve and Mrs. Noah, right?

Servalbear says her favorite line is “Come on, people!  We’re in America!”  and I agree, that has a nice ring to it.  But I think my favorite line is in this one:

Transcript:

…so you can live the gangster rap life.  This is what murder is.  This is what happens.  We don’t need to do this in our country today.  There are people who want to help.  So the excuse, “I’ve got no other choice,” DOES NOT HOLD WATER!  Not with me.  Not in America.  I know what happens in this country.  There are people that wanna help.  Let them help you!!
Let them help you do something that’s right!  Let them help you find a home for your baby!  Let them help you find a job!  Let them help you find a way to do something that’s right instead of doing something that’s wrong.
And THIS is wrong!  THIS is wrong!  (Pointing to the fetal porn)   Turn from your wickedness and turn from your sins today.  Put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  And if you don’t…

Ok, it’s kind of repetitive, but worth it for the line “…so you can live the gangster rap life.”  Really, Chad?   That’s classic.

Unfortunately, I didn’t capture the part where he says “there are no intellectual arguments that support evolution…” and “…there are no scientific facts that supports feminism, evolution or abortion. They are all sins against god.”  No intellectual arguments – no scientific facts- good grief.

We do have a longer video of him and other things going on at the same time that gives a really good picture of what it’s like in front of the clinic, but it’s tough to transcribe.  I may work on it though.  It’s such a lovely cacophony – Chad and another preacher both preaching at the same time, and red-jacket guy wandering over to some young escorts to talk ask if they “want to delight a thousand angels…”  Yeah, I may have to work on it.

But I post this today to highlight the privilege and the arrogance that the antis bring to the sidewalk.  I think Chad says it all when he proclaims that “your excuses DON’T HOLD WATER.”  You need to know that your “excuses” for your life decisions don’t hold water with Chad.

Doesn’t that kind of say it all?

Saturday on the Sidewalk

Eighty protesters this week.  Most of the regulars were there, and about 25 extras from Kentucky Mountain Bible College.     The Bible college folks broke into two groups.  Half of them  stayed down at the end of the gauntlet, where one dark haired woman in particular pleaded with clients, companions and escorts alike to “please read this, just read this, please,” thrusting the pamphlet at us as we passed by.

The other half of the Bible College folks lined up in front of AWC, the anti-clinic next door to the abortion clinic.  That positions them right where the clients will see them if they come that way rather than walking the gauntlet.  This group of antis also sang, mostly Amazing Grace, which makes it a challenge for some of us not to sing along.

The best part of the Mountain College people being there is at the end when they line up to display their fetal porn in front of the windows of the clinic.  I couldn’t even get them all in my picture, but here’s some of them

IMG_2942

That’s Angela preaching at the windows.  The good news is that the people inside can’t hear her, and the blinds are closed so they can’t see the posters.

But that’s nothing really new.  *New* this week is a preacher/chaser we’re calling Reboot, for reasons that don’t need to be shared here.  He showed up after the morning was already under way and made up for lost time by being as loud as Screaming Preacher, and just as aggressive.

. Here he is:

{For those of you who can’t watch video, he says:

Anybody who has anything to do with things like this, It’s murder, you’re, you’re you’re , you’re just as guilty just as guilty as the doctor, Dr. Kevorkian, you’re a doctor

Tim (another anti – talking to Reboot):  We pray for the mentally challenged too.

Reboot (to the escorts) you’re doing Satan’s work, I rebuke that evil. in the name of Jesus I rebuke that evil, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth

You can hear Angela preaching in the background about her own abortions: “… It was legal but it wasn’t ok…”

Reboot:  And I pray that the power of God works and shakes this place, that these doors get shut today cause that’s what God wants, God doesn’t want this place open.

Angela:  In your heart – I’m praying your heart will be turned, I hope God will turn your heart In Jesus name

Reboot:  …anybody that has anything to do a with murder, you are a component of murder you ~ are ~ a murderer in God’s eyes. which makes you guilty before God.         And  you need to repent. if you advocate abortion you’re advocating murder and you’ve got a murderous spirtit.  And you’re deceived by Satan.

Angela:  You can place your baby for adoption, you can place your baby for adoption.

Reboot:  (to another escort who was videotaping him}  Ma’am I’d appreciate if you don’t do that.  You’re violating my preaching.

Escort:  No, no…

Reboot:  I’m on my line, you can stay over there, but I’d appreciate if you didn’t put that camera in my face.  Thank you.

The very end makes me laugh – the change in his tone from  the wrath of God ~ you ~ are ~ a murderer ~ to the mild-mannered, slightly aggrieved complaint that he feels “violated” by a camera   I mean, really???

But that’s not actually funny.

I think he freaked us out a little bit – well, he freaked me out a little bit anyhow, calling me a murderer. And before I started taping, he was saying God believes murderers shoudl be executed, so yikes.  That’s why I started videotaping, and a couple of other escorts did too.

While I’m discretely doing some more video of Reboot praying for God to shut the doors of the clinic and “make this place crumble,” a woman comes out of the clinic and heads toward her car.  A couple of escorts accompany her.

In a flash, Reboot decides to chase her.  I decide it’s a great time to do some video without jeopardizing the confidentiality of the client.   So here we go:

I really can not do this justice in a transcript – his voice tones go from fairly soft to so loud they about burst your eardrums.  But here we go.

(rustling footsteps walking though leaves as I try to catch up with them… and really poor video of the ground…)
Reboot:  “ma’am, ma’am”
Escort:  Don’t touch her, don’t touch her.
( Reboot pushes his way in front of the escort.) I’m trying to to talk to her!  No, you can’t prevent me from touching her – from talking to her.
(He pushes the escort out of the way so that the escort has to go around the other side of the bush.)
Reboot:  I’m not touching her!  Ma’am are you ok?  Are you ok, ma’am?
(To the escort) You can’t touch me  Quit touching me!
Escort:  You’re – you keep walking into me ~
Reboot:  I’m going to call the police on you.
Escort:  you’re walking into me
Reboot:  Yeah, I’m trying to talk to her.
Reboot (to the escort) IN THE NAME OF JESUS, GET OUT OF HERE!
I REBUKE YOU!  GET OUT OF HERE IN THE NAME OF JESUS GET OUT OF HERE
Reboot:  Ma’am, Ma’sm in Jesus’ name, in Jesus’ name listen to me, Jesus loves you God loves you you didn’t have to do that, but you can repent you can get saved GOD LOVES YOU, JESUS LOVES YOU, a murder was just committed Jesus loves you God loves you, you can get saved He’ll forgive you God will forgive you God didn’t want you to do that, but you can repent, Jeus loves you  A murder was just committed  God will forgive you  You got to repent.  In the name of Jesus… it’s not ok in the eyes of God  christ loves you, Christ loves you
(car door slams, engine starts.)

As the woman leaves, the new guy turns and heads away.  The escorts pause, another car has pulled into the lot.  A woman with a hoodie pulled up around her face, wearing sunglasses, gets out of the car, a young man hops out with her.

Reboot realizes what’s happening, and starts back toward us.

My camera is already ready, so as he approaches, i start taping.  Here’s what happens:

He says:

You can take my picture, you can take my picture all you want to, it ain’t gonna do you any good, I got the power of God on me.

And he turns and walks away!

Yep.  Turns and walks away.

Ok, he goes back out front and starts “preaching” again, which is unfortunate, but he leaves the client in the parking lot alone,  So I guess taking pictures did “do some good.”

As I was finishing this post, my partner asked me how I thought the antis feel about having videos of them posted.  He wanted to know if I thought they got a big kick out of seeing themselves on the blog.  So I had to stop and think.

Of course, I don’t know if they do or not.  They act like they don’t, but I guess there could be some pleasure they get from it.  But I don’t guess it matters.   If it “encourages” them, it’s only one drop in the bucket of their motivation for what they do.  It’s not like they’re doing it because they want to be featured in my blog post.

The antis sometimes act like we’re not *supposed to* videotape them, but they’re on a public sidewalk, interacting with the public ~ there’s no law against taking their picture or videotaping them,   Someone asked me once if it was “necessary” to video them – and no, of course it’s not necessary to do it.   But it’s the best way I know to show what it’s like on the sidewalk.  So this is what it was like last Saturday.

We Care About You

This past Saturday morning it was raining really hard early in the morning. I find myself hoping most of the antis will stay away because of the weather, but of course they never do. When I arrived at the clinic there were already a couple dozen of them standing with their umbrellas. Most of the regular antis were there and they were joined by groups of people. We ended up with about twice as many protesters as we normally see on Saturdays. The positive part of this is the rain stopped and the umbrellas came down before the first clients arrived.

This is the view from the clinic entrance.

Saturday 092113 Right

Across the street, a group of about 10-15 Catholics gathered to pray. We assume they were Catholics because they were carrying rosaries and a priest in cassock was part of the group

There was a group from Kentucky Mountain Bible College who came out to display new fetal porn posters and sing. When they first arrived, they lined up on both sides of the sidewalk at the clinic property line to display their posters. Then they moved to the corner of First and Market in front of AWC (the CPC), to sing and pray. They were joined by a prayer leader and alternated between praying and singing. You can see the leader in this video. He is the one in the white jacket. There was a lot of traffic noise so you cannot hear the song, but this time they were singing a version of “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

One escort’s observation about the group’s activities was they could now say they had seen the definition of  “preaching to the choir.”

Even though the Screaming Preacher was there, he left all of the preaching and yelling at the windows to A. A is a regular and is known for his attempts to connect with clients and companions in his approach of ‘I was just like you. I understand you. I care for you.’ This is A.

Andrew

In this video, he is talking to clients and companions waiting by the entrance for the doors to open.

Transcript:

valuable. Because you are infinitely valuable. That’s why we’re here because we, we don’t know you, but we care about you. We care about you. I would love to prove that to you. If, if you would just give me five minutes of your time, I would love to prove to you how much we care about you. Ma’am, you can stand up for life today.

In all of the times I have seen A preaching, I have never seen a client or companion give him those five minutes. Sometimes they will engage with him to correct biblical statements, but not walk away to just talk to him.

A increased his volume after the clients entered the clinic, but his message is always the same. Escorts have heard him so many times, we can recite the story he shares on the sidewalk. ‘I wasted my life until I was 23. Then I read the Bible. My friends said they would find out about Jesus later. One died in a car wreck. He didn’t have time to find out. You never know what is going to happen. You need to find out about Jesus today.’

One of the interesting things about A recently is how he speaks about his wife’s pregnancy. When he first started saying, “My baby is 19 weeks old,” we thought he was talking about a born baby. No, he was talking about his wife’s pregnancy. This morning he let us know his baby was 26 weeks old, adding that the baby recently became legally safe from abortion doctors. An escort observed, “I wonder if he thinks that abortion doctors do drive-by abortions and will randomly attempt an abortion if his wife gets too close to a clinic?”

My question is if he cares for the clients and companions so much, why does he speak words meant to shame and harass them for their decision? I know that is a rhetorical question and won’t be answered, but it doesn’t matter if you scream your words or softly speak them. You are still there to interfere with a legal, medical decision by any way you can.

A Potpourri of Moments on the Sidewalk

After the doors to the clinic open, and the clients are mostly in, I’ve started spending time in the front, doing some video.   The videos are mostly ridiculous, so I post them with a shrug.  This is what it’s like on the sidewalk in front of the clinic.

If you have trouble getting any of them to play, I’m posting links to them on youtube at the end of the article.

We’ll start with Ron – you may remember Ron, the last time we saw him he was talking about “bloodsuckers,” referring to us, the escorts.   Today, he’s speaking directly to me.  To appreciate this one, you have to know that my escort vest is an heirloom ~ it’s my daughter’s vest, and has been handed down {handed up?} to me.  So when he says that’s not my name ~ well, he’s right!

Of course, I would suggest that his interpretation of that is inaccurate.  I’m not so much a “big phony, liar” as I am a “terrible procrastinator.”   I had originally planned to stencil in “Mother of” over the name, I just never got around to it.

Here’s one of the preachers.  His voice doesn’t carry like some of the ones you’ve heard before here, so he uses an amplifier.  Today, he’s preaching on the Declaration of Independence.

It’s really just another version of slut-shaming, isn’t it?  The image he presents of women gone wild, celebrating their freedom to wantonly do whatever they want by coming to the clinic for an abortion.

Of course, regardless of why the clients are there, it’s none of his business.  But the facts of the matter are that women need abortions for many reasons, and each person has their own situation.

Next is Andrew, talking about his 17 week-old.  At first we thought he and his wife had a new baby, but actually it’s 17 weeks pre-born.

The things he says about the developing fetus are sincere, I think, and touching.  I’m glad for him, and wish him and his wife the best.   And ~

~ it seems kind of cruel, what he’s doing.  Telling everyone how wonderful his soon-to-be baby is, how happy he and his wife are, what joy they’re experiencing. He acts like his experience can be everyone’s choice ~ like they could walk out the door and say, “Oh, yes, I’ll have a life just like yours, please and thank you.”  Plus he assumes, I guess, that if they could have a life just like his, then they would surely pick that.

It’s ridiculous, and cruel, thoughtless and arrogant.   As I listen to him ~ and he went on much longer than the video suggests ~ it began to seem like boasting, a kind of taunting.  “Here’s the wonderful life I have, don’t you wish you had this?”

Enough of that.  Let’s close with Ron.  A double header for him today.  He starts out talking ’bout my Mama…

And ends by saying it would have saved me a lot of trouble ~ been better for me ~ if my mother had aborted me so I wouldn’t have to face the fires of hell and eternal damnation.  Really.   That’s what he says.

Which makes me laugh. Out loud.  By that logic ~~

~~  oh, good grief, never mind, there is no logic there.  It’s just silly.  That’s what it’s like on the sidewalk in front of the clinic.

~~  fml221 ~~

Even Your Name is Phony

Declaration of Independence on the Sidewalk

17 Weeks Old

“This One…”

Birds of a Feather?

I was going to do a whole blog post about abortion and depression and the fact that there is no such thing as Post Abortion Trauma Syndrome.  I was going to talk about the research review by the American Psychological Association that shows that most women experience relief and happiness after their abortion.  I was going to cite some data and talk about the factors that contribute to risk for psychological problems after abortion.

I wanted to start with a video of Donna saying this line she uses.  I’ve quoted it here before ~ it is one of my very favorite “most horrible lines I’ve heard.”

So I was delighted when the escort who took this video gave permission to use it here.  It does, indeed feature Donna, and she says her line right away, as if she had agreed to perform for the blog.

But then she goes on to say so many other things, by the time you get to the end, you may have forgotten the beginning.  It’s a long video ~ 3:45 ~ which shows you the reality of the sidewalk.  Periods of silence broken by Donna talking at the door of the clinic or lecturing the silent escort videotaping her.

Do you remember the beginning?  At the very beginning, Donna is talking to the client ~ or to the door the clients have gone through.  She says:

“Honey, they only want your money.  They’ll take your money, kill your child, and turn you loose to a lifetime of regret.”

Sweet, huh?  And here’s the kicker.  One of the four risk factors for experiencing emotional distress after an abortion is exposure to anti-abortion picketers.  Big shock, right?

I always thought that might be the case.  That these so-called sidewalk counselors were actually causing harm ~ and they are.  Not just in my opinion, not just from what we know intuitively, but also based on the data.

Let me back up ~ actually, the best predictor of whether or not someone will have psychological problems after an abortion is how they were doing before the abortion.  If you already had mental health problems before, you’re more likely to have them afterwards.

The research shows that most people are relieved and happy after an abortion, with a minority who experience depression and guilt afterwards.    And there are four significant risk factors for that ~ I’ll just mention them here, because when I learn something, I like to make sure everyone else knows it too.  According to the APA,  ” …the most methodologically strong studies…showed that

~  interpersonal concerns, including feelings of stigma,

~  perceived need for secrecy,

~  exposure to antiabortion picketing, and

~  low perceived or anticipated social support for the abortion decision

negatively affected women’s postabortion psychological experiences.”1(p. 92)

And really, those things are all common sense.  But it’s still nice to know that the data supports what seems likely.

Donna, of course, doesn’t stop with her first line in the video.  She goes on to have a little chat with the escort who’s doing the video.  Wait, not really a chat with her, more like a chat at her, if you know what I mean.  But in a soft voice, as if it is an intimate chat, Donna says:

“Remember when I told you how your persona would change?  You’ll be looking like these old women.  You’re young, honey.  Think for yourself.”

Right.  Listen to Donna – that’s thinking for yourself.  And what old women is our young escort going to look like?  I’m a bit offended ~ was she talking about me???

But Donna goes on:

“Don’t give in to this culture of death.  Use your brain.”

Then she talks about the fetus dolls and the picture of the supposedly ten week fetus.  “Is your heart so hard already that you can’t even think straight?” she asks.

There is a silence ~ that’s how it is on the sidewalk after most of the clients are in on weekdays~ long silences  punctuated by one of the antis talking at the escorts or at the wall.

The video moves to Camera Joe, who is taking pictures of the escort taking pictures.

Donna says, “You don’t have to ever come back here again.  Is this what you do for socializing?  Is this the “birds of a feather?”

“You don’t have to waste your time or your film on me.  There’s enough film existing on me to do a two hour movie.”

Now there’s a thought, right?  A two hour movie of Donna on the sidewalk.  What would we call that?  But she goes on.

She says, “Think for yourself.  Don’t buy into this culture of death.”

“Look at this little baby at ten weeks,” and she holds up the fetus doll.”  “How can you deny that these are children being murdered in here today?  And you’re a party to it.  You are aiding and abetting the death of unborn children.   It’s very sad.  Think for yourself.”

The video ends on that note, although I’m sure Donna went on.  There are all kinds of things I could say ~ funny commentary on her little lecture, speculation about the title of a 2 hour movie featuring her ~ but I won’t.

Instead, I want to go back to the beginning of the video, and the risk factors for psychological problems after abortion.   It’s clear that the protesters on the sidewalk are actually causing harm to people seeking abortion.  But it’s also clear how we can help.

Every time we publicly express our support for abortion access, we reduce the stigma.  By stepping forward to say we’re in favor of women making their own decisions about reproductive health, we can actually increase the perception of support, and by doing that, reduce the risk of psychological difficulty afterwards.  Our willingness to speak out can make a difference to the 1 in 3 women who will access abortion in their lifetime.

The Not So Cranky Escort

This post is a potpourri of the things that have happened since my last post about not liking the way I feel at the clinic.  A lot has happened.

First, we got this comment, which you can see here in full.  Cheryl writes about what led her to the clinic and what that experience was like.  I’ve shared it in some other venues, but if you haven’t already seen it, it’s well worth reading in full.  It says, in part:

…What I really remember, though, is the clinic escorts that greeted me, one in particular…”

“…And he stands out in my mind simply because I never for a moment thought there could be a short, white haired man, above the age of 50 who believed in my right to choose. Who would want to be up at a stupid early hour, in the cold, fending off protestors. Yet, there he was, a man that reminded me of an old college professor I had, talking to me as he walked me to the door and explained that the doors weren’t open yet, but that they would be soon and that he just didn’t understand how the protestors could behave the way they do…”

“… that escort was so kind and calming. I thought I could do the whole thing alone, but I’m not sure I could have made it through that gauntlet of protestors had he not been there to shield me and quietly lead me to the door. He was perfect and I hope he is still there helping.”

That really gave us all a boost ~ thank you, Cheryl for the powerful reminder of why we’re therel!!

Then I started working on my part as a presenter at this online conference coming up on Saturday, July 20.  It’s a panel of reproductive rights activists ~ from Minnesota, Kentucky, Virginia and Ireland ~ including another escort from here. We’ll be debunking the whole post abortion trauma syndrome myth.  We’ll refute the protesters’ claim that, “They always regret it.  Women never get over abortion,” with the actual facts of the matter, including some thoughts on how we can help impact the outcome.

The panel will be presented as part of this free, online conference, FtBConscience. Learn more about it at http://www.ftbcon.org  The conference is all weekend ~ our little part is at 2:00 CST (3:00 EST).  There will be a chat room and time for questions, and we’d be delighted for you all to join us.

Then there’s this ~ Talking to Men Who Are Clinic Escorts, on the RH Reality Check blog ~ featuring two of our very own finest escorts.  It made me proud to know that Dan and Ken are my friends.

Plus ~ as if that weren’t enough going on ~  there was a letter to the editor in our local paper talking about how the people outside the clinic have bad attitudes and look angry and how awful that is.  I thought the letter was about the protesters, and was agreeing with him, but apparently the letter writer was a protester and apparently was talking about us too!

I had to laugh.

Sometimes, the protesters will accuse us of being angry, but then if we smile, they talk about how awful we are, laughing while babies are being murdered.  So the letter kind of cracked me up.  I even wondered if my Cranky Escort post had inspired him.

But here’s the thing.  I may feel angry with the protesters, but I don’t talk to them, and I don’t generally look angry, because that wouldn’t be helpful for the clients.  I typically come across as very calm.  On the other hand:

This one amused me too ~ Ron, talking about us escorts being “blood-suckers” and how they “don’t have to let youall have them,” that they “rescue them.”  I guess he’s talking about the fetuses, but I’m pretty sure he’s wrong, they do have to let people go into the clinic.  I have a lot of video from last week ~ I’ll share more another time ~ but last week it was easy to see how ridiculous it is.

And it still doesn’t matter, whatever he says, it’s just Ron talking his same lines.

More importantly, I remembered that really, it’s ok if I feel angry.  I don’t like it when I feel so angry that it’s hard to let it go, but you know, it’s just natural to feel angry when we watch people saying and doing mean things ~ to me, or to others.

I try to remember that:

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

So part of what made me feel better was taking some action.  The conference coming up is exciting, we did a letter in response to the editorial in the paper ~thanks to Maggie and her writing skills, persistence, and patience.  Trying to do a group letter with escorts is totally like herding cats.

And I’ve got some other stuff going on too, but I’ve also got things in better perspective.  I’m remembering not to fight what I’m feeling, but to let the feelings come and go like waves in the ocean.  It is truly an opportunity to practice finding my zen.

And one last thing ~ I saved this for last because it may be the most important part of this post.

Did a so-called “crisis pregnancy center” lie or mislead you about the services it offered, or give you inaccurate information about your options? Did you go to a CPC and feel that something was just not quite right?

As you may have experienced, CPCs have been known to try to shame, confuse, frighten, and coerce women — who are already facing a difficult decision — not to have an abortion. CPCs hand out anti-abortion material and refuse to tell women about their options. They may force women to watch upsetting videos or slide shows. They even provide false “facts” about the safety, availability, and consequences of abortion and birth control.

By sharing your story, you can play an important role in ensuring that women receive honest, unbiased medical care when they need it the most. We understand how difficult it may be for you to tell your story, but your voice makes a difference. We will contact you for permission before sharing it with press and Members of Congress.

Here’s the link for where to share your story, and here too:

http://action.nwlc.org/site/Survey?ACTION_REQUIRED=URI_ACTION_USER_REQUESTS&SURVEY_ID=17620

This is one more way we can make a real difference.