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

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

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“I accidentally walked into the door, officer.”

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll keep you posted.

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

***********

Transcripts:

Escort Shoved to the Ground

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

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

Aaron Preaching

Obey my commands.

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

 

Spotlight on Support: A Fund

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bowling over barriers to abortion access

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

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

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

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

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

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

THANKS!

 

 

Bathtub Abortions ~ by KYBorn

Bathtub Abortions-by KY Born

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shame on you all.

You belong in that cell, not her.

Helping One Person At A Time

We have been posting this week about the vandalism at the clinic in Louisville. The outpouring of supporting comments has been so uplifting. Many of the comments we have received have been “How can I help?”

Kentucky Support Network (KSN) is a practical support group based in Louisville that serves all the residents in Kentucky. They are an all-volunteer group who support people seeking abortion in Kentucky. Their volunteers include escorts and individuals from other groups who support reproductive justice. KSN is having a donation drive where you can help one person at a time to access abortion care.

Here’s the information. Please consider donating.

What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled to see a doctor?
Ky Map

Many of us don’t have to go far to get medical attention. Because of policies that restrict and stigmatize safe, legal abortion care, however, Kentuckians who need abortions often have to travel hundreds of miles to see a doctor who will work with them. These folks aren’t strangers: they’re our neighbors, sisters, relatives, friends. This holiday season, you can make a difference in their lives with one simple action.

Kentucky Support Network is a network of volunteers who support people seeking abortion with financial assistance, transportation, interpretation, and more. Visit our website to find out about our organization.

There are so many barriers for Kentucky residents who choose to end an unplanned or non-viable pregnancy through abortion:

  • By law, Medicaid and private insurance plans cannot cover abortion in almost all circumstances, so most patients pay for their abortion care out of pocket. This cost ranges from $650 to $2,000.
  • Most people seeking abortion already have children, so must find childcare for the time they are at the clinic. They must also take time off work or school, find and pay for lodging if their procedure lasts more than a day, and find an interpreter to accompany them if they do not speak English.
  • There are only two abortion clinics in Kentucky. 74% of women in Kentucky have no readily available access to abortion, and must travel to get it. (Guttmacher Institute)

Here’s where you can help one person at a time. KSN will give gas cards for those patients making the trips themselves. This is one less expense they have to raise in the process of accessing healthcare. Kroger stores across the state of Kentucky sell gas. Kroger also sells gift cards to use for purchasing fuel as well as groceries. You can purchase a gift card for $25.00 from Kroger. If you use your Kroger Plus card when you purchase the gift card, you will receive points for the purchase. When you make your purchase between November 19 and December 8, Kroger will give you four times the gas points with every gift card purchased. You receive a gift by helping one person at a time!

How do you get these gift cards to KSN? There will be collection boxes set up at the following locations:

Smokey’s Bean, 1212 S 4th Street, Louisville

Louisville Game Shop, 925 Baxter Ave, Louisville

Modern Cult Records, 1036 Bardstown Rd., Louisville

Don’t have time in the holiday season to drop off a card? Kroger sells their gift cards online and for a small fee will mail them directly to KSN. Our mailing address is: Kentucky Support Network, PO Box 4761, Louisville, KY 40204.

How easy is that? You help one person. You receive a gift. You can do this all from a computer any time of the day that’s convenient for you.

Thank you from the volunteers at KSN.

 

 

Sidekick Training, by Lou

On my first Saturday on the sidewalk I had prepared myself for the barrage of hate that would be spewed my way. I practiced steeling myself against the antis’ words. I had long since lost the religion of my childhood, which made it easier to ignore their religious hatred. I was determined to not allow it to get to me in such a way that I would lose it on the sidewalk. I knew that arguing with these people would be a waste of my time and effort.

I was paired with a fellow escort to shadow for the morning and we stood side by side holding the property line. She told me what the antis might do or say and that my goal was to hold the property line so that they could not cross it and prevent clients from getting to the door. As everyone began taking their places, like a show was about to begin, one of the AHA guys came over and stood in between myself and the escort I was shadowing. He was holding one of his giant signs and had a smug look on his face as if he had just beat me at a game of poker. My first thought was, “Oh crap! I need to stand next to her because I don’t know what I’m doing!” Then I felt that just standing next to this guy meant that I was somehow validating what he was doing. It felt gross. I wished he would just move and take his hate somewhere else.

I turned to my right and peered down the sidewalk. Catholics praying with their rosaries, more enthusiastic Catholics holding up signs, two frail looking ladies with looks of worry on their faces as if they had lost a beloved pet. And then I looked across the sidewalk at what was directly in front of me. Signs 3-feet high with bloody fetuses and tiny body parts; one sign said something to the effect of what Hitler did was legal; one sign denouncing atheism was particularly strange because I wasn’t sure what atheism had to do with all of this. Then again, I’m not sure what Hitler has to do with all of this either.

When the guy from AHA turned on his speaker and started preaching to whoever was listening, the environment became like that of a circus, or actually kind of like walking up and down the rows of vendors at the fair where people desperately hawk their wares. I imagine him selling one of those contraptions that cuts your vegetables into noodles.

I spent much of the morning wondering how I would know who was a client and who was a pedestrian or a protester joining their group. When the first client was escorted through the neon orange wall of escorts and on to the door of the clinic, I knew right away that there would be no mistaking who was a client and who was not. They all had the same look of panic drawn across their faces. Most of them had companions alongside of them shielding them from the freak show. One of them could not handle the protesters and had to go for a walk with an escort before the clinic opened. Several of them had earbuds in to drown out the hideous noise. Most of them were rushed through, kind of like celebrities only instead of camera flashes, there were flashes of “Murder!” “Don’t kill your baby!” “Murder in the first degree!” “Let me adopt your baby!” I’ll never forget the first woman who walked through with her head held high as if this shit didn’t bother her at all.

So I had steeled myself against the hate that I would hear and see and most of it just flew on by my head without a thought. What I didn’t expect was how I would feel when I saw the women running through the gauntlet. The looks on their faces. The panic when they finally reached the door only to discover that the clinic hadn’t opened yet. They were shielded by companions and hunched over, even the ones who held their heads high with earbuds in their ears pulled on the door with desperation. The AHA guys would swarm the door whenever someone couldn’t get in. The big bald one used his loudspeaker even though he was 3 feet away from his target. He blared some garbage about God and Jesus, dead babies and “change your mind.” The door finally opens, the women rush inside, and the antis go back to their places on the sidewalk.

I know the antis like to think of themselves as heroes, somehow saving babies. I think most of us know who the real heroes are. The real heroes are the women who brave that mess just to take care of their very own bodies. The real heroes are the doctors on the other side of that door. And we escorts, we are the badass sidekicks.

Changes on the Sidewalk

Remember Nurse Betty?  Yes, Nurse Betty, the protester.  And Donna, the little red-headed lady who shows up 5 days a week to harass the clients at the clinic?  You know that they have been some of the most persistent and bothersome protesters.  Well, along with Ron and Ponytail Guy and Andrew and Angela, and some of the other regulars.

But Donna, with her refrain of “You’ll always regret this, your life will never be the same.” was super annoying.  Doing her little “come here” hand gesture, as if this invitation would be irresistible to clients waiting to check in for their procedure.   “Did you know they take you in the basement?” she would say.  “If this place caught on fire, you wouldn’t be able to get out!”  Because fire safety is your primary concern when you need an abortion.  Donna.  Annoying, but laughable.

And Nurse Betty, with her laminated page of graphic fetus images.  She would thrust it at people – escorts, clients, whoever – exclaiming, “Look at this!!  Look at this!!  Do you know what you’re doing?  Do you see what you support?”

She still has that page, Nurse Betty does.  She was clutching it today, ready in case she had the opportunity to thrust it at someone.  But you know what?  That laminated 8 x 10 sheet of graphic fetus images just doesn’t have a lot of shock value anymore.  Because this:

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doesn’t carry much weight next to this:

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Or this:

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31 x 48 inches – 2 1/2 feet by 4 feet – that’s the size of the posters.  Over four times as big as Nurse Betty’s little piece of paper.  It almost makes me feel sorry for her.

And let’s talk about sound.  Once upon a time, we could hear the Catholics saying the rosary.  We’d hear Donna’s comments, maybe Andrew, exhorting the clients and escorts, talking about his own pre-born child. Then Angela might show up, and we’d think she was loud.   Yep, Angela seemed real loud, yelling and preaching at the door.

This video is ridiculously long, but kind of great because you can see and hear Joseph, one of the AHA (Abolish Human Abortion) guys, talking directly to an escort (not using his amplifier, although sometimes he does use it even when he’s that close to someone)  He’s saying things like this:

You have to put your faith in Jesus Christ, he is lord and savior He’s your king. one day you will bow down before him … will you do that willingly?  we’ve been praying for you…  I pray for you by name – your name is escaping me right now – but i pray for you by name… There was a time in my life when I laughed and mocked… every knee will bow… I want you to have grace, i really do… At one time we considered black people not persons… The same court that held that black people were not persons are holding that babies are not persons…   Why not repent while you have time… The bible says today is the day of salvation. Repent. Turn to Jesus”

In the background you can just barely hear Angela yelling at the window.  She’s saying things like this:

Don’t go in that abortion mill.  Don’t do it.  Come out right now You think that abortionist is going to solve your problem, you don’t want to have a baby, but you already have a baby. Right now, you’re a mother right now you’re a father right now you are already a mother.  You’ll just be the mother of a dead baby.  Come out!”

You can hear the Catholics saying the rosary and at the end, another preacher chimes in.  And you can hear them all.

Or here – here’s Donna and her plastic fetus dolls (from 2013):

Innocent, defenseless, unsuspecting child. Abortion is the ultimate act of terror. Look at these little babies – seven to ten weeks Put that up on your website. Might change the hearts of some of these folks.

But now listen to this:

“Turn back to God and become the man that God intended you to be! Don’t stand up th~~ Take off your orange vests, men, and pick up your Bible {thumping on the Bible} and read it! And heed it! That was God’s intention for you! That was God’s intent! He said for us to rule this world – subdue the planet – to control it!!”

Or go back and listen to the video I posted in “Don’t Be a Mocker.”  The sound level has increased exponentially.   The Catholics can barely hear themselves praying anymore.  The AHA preachers with their loudspeakers drown out other voices, and they only grudgingly let the other street preachers like Angela take a turn.

Nurse Betty and her little paper, the chasers with their pamphlets and brochures, are ineffectual now.  Even Donna’s little fetus dolls seem pale and – well, almost boring.

Then a few weeks ago, this happened.  It’s Joseph again.

J:  “You can be sure they’ll have a home that loves them.   Please.  Please let me adopt your child. Please. (comes off stool toward the clinic)  Allow me to adopt your child please. (He crosses the property line, escorts begin to say, “You’re trespassing. You’re trespassing)  Just allow me to adopt your child.  Allow me to adopt your child please.  (You’re trespassing.)  You don’t have to call the police.   She needs to allow me to adopt her child. Please allow me to adopt your child Please allow me to adopt your child
I was asking.
Clinic staff:  I’m calling the police.
J:  I’m not blocking anybody, not breaking any laws
Clinic Staff:  You are trespassing this is our property.
J:  You need to stop killing children. (steps off property) You need to stop killing children. Allow me to adopt your child please.

Dominic yells:  “You had an option ma’am. That’s what it is, Murder in the first degree.”

J:  You are a murderer you need to repent and turn to Christ. (Escort:  “go away”) You need to repent of your sins. (Escort:  Go away) You need to repent. i’m just trying to talk to some someone and offer to adopt their child.   You can get mad all you want sir, but you are a murderer, you’re a hateful , you’re a hateful murderer   You don’t care about these people. You do not care about these people.

Another protester (to the escort):  And you’re a coward.  Because if you were a man, you’d be standing up for these babies.

Escort: (scoffing)  If I were a man like you?

Protester.  “No not a man like me.   A man like Jesus.”
J:  i was offering to adopt her child  (To the escort) don’t be a coward, sir, speak up, stand up for your convictions
Escort:  I am!
J: Well then tell me, what’s wrong with trying to adopt someone’s child? (Unintelligible)  In this building they will murder children,”

This week, Joseph slammed his sign into an escort standing on the property line at the clinic.  He apparently thought she was standing where his sign should have been.  The sign is almost as tall as she is, and he shoved it into her.

Even one of the Catholic protesters thought that was out of line.  She told him his rudeness “was putting a bad face on pro-life.”   His response?  He turned away from the woman confronting him, and said to an escort, “I can do whatever I want to.”

Let me be clear.  Joseph, the AHA guy does not care about the escort he slammed his sign into.  In his mind, his mission trumps her right to stand on the sidewalk.  He thinks a woman he doesn’t even know should change her entire life, carry a pregnancy to term, and give him – a stranger, literally someone off the street – her baby.   Because he wants her to.

In the same way, the anti-abortion people no longer care if a woman’s health is at risk. They are not worried about women’s well-being, or even their survival.  The fall-out from the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood have exponentially increased the damage the anti-abortion groups are doing.  Women’s access to any reproductive health services is at risk, especially women who are living below the poverty level.

“Pro-lifers” have been chipping away at abortion rights until they are almost gone.  Now these new groups plan to swoop in and impose their radical religious agenda on everyone.  They do not want women to be able to use birth control, practice family planning, or exercise bodily autonomy.  I don’t know how far they’ll get before people wake up and  stop them.

In the meantime, we just keep escorting.  Supporting women seeking a common medical procedure.  Trusting women to know what’s best for themselves and their families.  Holding space for clients and their companions on the sidewalk.

What’s New on the Sidewalk?

Not much is new, really – although there’s often a surprise or two on a Saturday. This week, we had Catholics on parade, and the Archbishop was there – so they had a police motorcade – and they brought the Knights of Columbus. Someone thought they were from the Renaissance Faire, but no.

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(Ten or twelve people walking down the street, the one in front carries a painting of a woman, probably representing Mary, behind her are three Knights, older men in tricorn hats with feathers, white or red capes, black suits.  At their sides, they are wearing swords.  Behind them is the Archbishop in black pants and shirt, with the touch of white clergy collar.  Behind them is a young man, casually dressed, and a few other people.  The front of a police car is visible on the far right.)

I am not trying to be snarky about the Knights but they do look a little medieval, right? And the swords might be a bit over the top. Yes, swords – see the silverish things hanging down beside them? Swords. Grown men. Broad daylight. In front of the abortion clinic.

The official mission statement for the Knights of Columbus says:

The Kentucky State Council is dedicated to growing the Order throughout the state of Kentucky to further the vision of our founder, Fr. Michael J. McGivney and the Evangelization of our Catholic Faith. The Order was founded on the principle of Charity, specifically to care for the widow and orphan of a Brother Knight. Later the principles of Unity and Fraternity, as well as Patriotism were added. The everyday actions of the State and local councils are a means for Knights to live the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. It is through the implementation of programs that exemplify these principles that the Kentucky State Council will continue to grow the Order. The State Council will lead by example and through both action and dialogue inspire its members into action.

They are not, as far as I can tell, joined by the Knights of Peter Claver which, according to Wikipedia:

“…the largest and oldest continually existent predominantly African-American Catholic fraternal organization was founded more than 100 years ago. It was formed to provide opportunities for Catholic Action to men of color to be actively involved in their faith by living the Gospel message. The Knights of Peter Claver membership now includes the entire family and offers opportunities to engage in a variety of church and community service projects and support various charitable appeals.”

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But the Knights are in fine fettle, standing across the street from the abortion clinic.  I hope those swords have a dull point, like epees, but I’m not close enough to tell.  Actually that is not my thumb in the pictures here either.

(Two images, each of a man standing at attention, holding a sword up over his right shoulder.  They are wearing black hats with huge white feathers, and black suits.  The one on the left appears to be elderly and is wearing glasses and a red cape, while the one on the right is wearing a white cape and has a white mustache.) 

In other news , the ongoing conflict between our regular Catholics and the AHA people (Abolish Human Abortion) flares up today.   The Catholics, who create the gauntlet of people lining the sidewalk, mostly just say the rosary.  AHA  folks bring their microphones and preach the whole time – loudly.  Makes it difficult for the Catholics to hear themselves pray – so today, we hear a sudden blast from a referee whistle, and a lot of yelling at the preacher.  But it is just a momentary disruption and no blows are exchanged.

As I’m crossing the street with a client, one of the AHA guys joins us.  He’s wearing a microphone and actually starts broadcasting at the client as we cross the street.  That’s a first for me, and I’m sure for her too.  Doesn’t seem like you would need amplification if you’re standing right next to someone.  I’m hoping he’s not going to make a habit of it – it just seems like a new level of rude.

But lots of things are the same.  They still hang their signs on the fire hydrant – I guess they think the police just meant they couldn’t do it that one day.  Dominic still yells, “Murder – Murder in the first degree!”  Donna still gives her little hand wave, motioning for the clients to come out of the clinic.

So much happening there, it’s such a circus, and seems like such a big deal.  And then I read Ky Born’s story about her abortion experience and I’m reminded that the walk up the sidewalk is a tiny part of the “getting an abortion” process.   All this chaos is one tiny part.  That’s a good perspective to hold on to.

The Good Abortion – Part III – By KyBorn

{Part I is here; Part II is here…}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel nothing but relief.

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

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

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

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

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

The Good Abortion- Part I – by KyBorn

It is several years ago and I am living in my first apartment, a tiny starter place with three rooms and worn carpet .  I stare at the wallpaper – brown with white vines and blue roses – as I wait for the timer to go off.   The test is on my kitchen counter.

I wait, knowing I’m pregnant.   I can tell myself my period is late because of the stress of the rape and stalking; that I was never regular anyway.  But a few mornings puking when I see my co-workers eating breakfast and I know I need one of those dollar store pregnancy kits.  Will it be good news?  Or send my life spiraling off into chaos?

And the answer is –  two lines.  Two lines that will change – possibly ruin – my life.

I sit up all night crying and hyperventilating in panic.  I want to be done with thinking about the rape, not have a reminder in my uterus growing bigger by the day.  There are only two options when it comes to pregnancy – abortion or giving birth.   A person cannot “adopt” an unwanted embryo out of my uterus.  For me, abortion is the only option.

In the small town where I grew up, people don’t talk about “those sorts of things.”  There are girls in high school who are quietly spirited out of town for a few days; they return with strict instructions to pretend nothing happened. There are rumors, but nobody speaks out about having an abortion.

I live in a larger city now, and have known women who had abortions, but I hadn’t asked where they went. My OB/GYN has refused to discuss long-acting contraceptives with me because she’s sure I will want children, but I think she’s still my best choice.  Surely she can refer me to a doctor who provides abortion care.

Wrong.  I call at 8:00 AM.  The receptionist, her high-pitched voice entirely too cheerful for that time of morning, asks how she can help.  I don’t want to waste time explaining  why I want an abortion – I don’t feel like I owe people explanations.  I tell her I need a referral for abortion.  I can hear her breathing on the other end of the phone.   You would have thought I told her I wanted to build a rocket so I could go to the moon to fight the purple scorpions who had come from Uranus.   After a long pause, in a decidedly less cheerful voice, she says, “WE don’t do that here, and we don’t refer patients for THAT.”

I just hang up.

I need to find one of those Planned Parenthood places I’ve heard about.  We don’t have one in my city, but luckily, in the age of the internet, I can find contact information for the one in Big City,  in another state over 70 miles away.

I call.  Another too cheerful receptionist asks how she can help.  Again, I skip the long story and tell her I want an abortion.

This time, there is no ominous silence.  She chatters along, asking questions,  explaining that I will have to talk to the scheduler to make an appointment.  She asks me if I’m sure I’m pregnant.  I want to say, “No, not at all. I just get abortions for shit and giggles every so often,” and throw the phone.  But she’s just doing her job and being a jerk is not going to help me get an abortion.

She transfers me to the scheduler, who asks questions and explains the process.  I need proof of blood type, or they can check before the procedure, so they can administer Rho-Gam if mine is negative. They’ll check my iron level that day too. I’ll watch a film and talk to a counsellor.   Insurance does not cover abortion, she explains, and tells me the cost. Luckily, I have that amount without having to skip rent.  At least the stress of scraping together money isn’t heaped on me as it is so many other women.

And I have my appointment.