I don’t even escort.
We luckily don’t need them at the two clinics in the city I live in and the next closest clinics are over 3 hours away from me. We have antis, but they are pretty well contained by a fence and actually mostly just pray. At one of them where the CPC is in the building next door, they run up and down the fence screaming crap like, “This might be your last chance to be a mother.” They write down license plates and film, but I don’t think they post on the Internet. I’m probably on some anti film being played in church as an example of a demon-possessed “abortion-minded mother,” when all I was doing was taking a friend to the clinic.
One of the men commented, in addition to the motherhood comment, that if I could afford that car I could afford a baby. I was already pissed off because they shoved their “information” under my windshield wiper since I had to slow down because they were in the drive entrance. Since everybody was still waiting in line outside, I went over to the fence to let the dude know that I hoped I never got pregnant again (I wasn’t the one pregnant) because I didn’t want to have to come back to get an abortion and listen to him yapping again. Oh, and I used a lot of profanity. Manly man jumped back from the fence as if I was going to be able to walk ten feet, scale a six-foot fence in three seconds and somehow do him bodily harm. So much for manly men and doing anything to save babies.
I don’t know how people do it week after week, day after day. I don’t know how they deal with being called nasty names in the name of religion. I don’t know how they stand to walk past the signs all the time without laughing. I don’t know how they deal with seeing patients reacting with terror at people who claim to be helping them. I admire them, but I don’t know how they do it.
Sometimes I think “I couldn’t do that every day,” and then I think of the patients. I think of the patients I used to work with at a very difficult job that most people can’t handle. Their stories haunt me. I know the stories told to escorts haunt them. I think about the patients, not abortion patients but patients with horrible stories and medical issues, and how I dealt with that. That makes me think I can escort but I’m glad our two clinics don’t need them for now.
Of course, we may not have any clinics in the next year. This is the negative me talking. This is the part of me that says, “What’s the point?”
I wonder if we are all just tilting at windmills. Are we fighting an imaginary battle that is already lost and we just don’t know it? Has the fate of reproductive rights in this country already been decided by a bunch of old white men, a few loud women who never worried about paying the light bill, women who made bad medical decisions for themselves, and people who drag their many small children and brainwashed teens to stand outside clinics?
It feels that way, and then I remember that we are not tilting at windmills at all. We are fighting a real battle that is still going on. It shouldn’t be, but it is. The right of a woman to privacy when making medical decisions was decided before I was born. For years, I took it for granted. I remember the occasional talk of those “rescues” before the FACE Act. They seemed like something off-kilter that only happened in far-away places. Places I thought I would never go. Places I thought I would never need.
That was back when they were called protesters and liked it. That was back before the Internet gave them a free platform to spew their hate, so that it seems like there are only a handful of pro-choice people who huddle in little groups while the country is filled with anti-choice people. Of course after FACE, which they do still violate, they call themselves “counselors” and “abolitionists,” even though they are mostly doing the same old thing. Stalking, fear, guilt, shame, stigma, violation of privacy, lies and outright threats, both physical and more subtle, like threatening to tell somebody’s boss or mother, still abound.
There seem to be so many of them even though there aren’t. It’s like standing outside the closed door of the toddler room at a daycare on a bad day. You are sure there are 1000 small people in there all crying, screaming and trying to make the most noise to get the attention of one harried person. Then you open the door and find that there are only four or five of them. I think antis are those toddlers, just seeing who can scream the loudest and get the most attention. Sometimes they even fight over who has the best toys.
This is quite funny to read about or see, but it is unlikely funny to the patient who has to wade through the sea of fetus porn and baby murder signs. It doesn’t matter to the patient who has to walk through the gauntlet of people who recite their prayers the loudest for the patients walking by before they get back to the regular gossip. It doesn’t matter to the patients who lose all privacy as nosy people film them, take pictures of their license plates or car, or even tell their stories using real names without permission. To top it off, they post all of this on the Internet for the world to see. Right to privacy, my ass.
It is violated every day, just like entirely too many women and men are physically violated only to be dismissed as either making it up because of bitter break-ups or profit, or blamed for dressing the wrong way, having the wrong sexual orientation, going the wrong place or drinking the wrong thing. If you are lucky, and you are the right kind of victim you may be believed, but even if you get pregnant against your will it is a beautiful “gift from God,” so you can just suck it up while your body is violated daily for the next nine months.
That is part of the point. My rights, your rights and everybody’s rights are being violated by people who want to legislate who we marry, if we marry, when we have sex, if we have sex, if we use birth control, what kind of birth control we use, what kind of sex is legal, how we plan our families, what is a family and how we handle the results of trauma.
I could go on, but that is the point.
We must fight back. We must be louder. Not when the patients are around of course. They don’t need extra chaos. I know some of you reading are exhausted, and you are thinking “but I already help by escorting, what else you want me to do, bossy woman?” If you are just plain burnt out, or over-extended, or doing all you can, I am not talking to you.
I am talking to anybody who has the time and energy, or who can gather up what is left of it, to fight these battles that are seemingly endless.
I am asking you to raise your voices. I’m not in any way saying we should become the screaming toddlers the antis are, but I am saying it is time that everybody who is pro-choice or pro-access raise their voices in other ways, calmly but still louder than the few screaming toddlers in the room who need to be hushed by the teachers.
I don’t think antis need to be hushed by censorship as that would be a violation of their constitutional rights. OK, I admit I fantasize about laws that hush them completely, but I know that this isn’t legal. In fact, that would make me a lot like the antis to want to control their speech.
What I do think is that pro-choice and pro-access people need to let their voices be heard. This can happen in many ways. Write, call or email your elected officials about reproductive rights, even if you think it won’t help. Vote, even when it seems pointless. Protest bad laws, if you are so inclined. Organize groups that support reproductive rights. Write on blogs. Complain to social media outlets that are used to stalk and violate the privacy of patients by individuals and groups. Talk about your own experiences as escorts or patients. Encourage patients who are interested to pursue legal action against those who have violated their rights and have the information they need on hand.
Now I can already see you thinking I’m a hypocrite because I am telling you all to raise your voices while I type behind an alias. I do this for several reasons and I’ll flat out say that some of them are practical, like not wanting it to impact my career prospects. Most of it is the strong emotional need for my own privacy and to protect the privacy of my family and friends. While I don’t think anti harassment would bother me beyond tolerance, I refuse to let my family and friends be drug into my fights, as we all know antis are more than willing to do this.
So maybe I am hypocrite, but I am doing my best. It is why I write for this blog. It is why I finally told my rape and abortion story by putting it on virtual paper and posting here. When I write, I hope people who read not just my stories about reproductive issues, but everybody else who puts it out there understand they aren’t alone. I know finding this blog made me know I wasn’t alone in knowing we had major problems with reproductive rights in this country, so when I was asked to write here it was one of the ways of raising my voice.
So when I think that there is no point in continuing this fight, I remember that scared young woman who went alone for her abortion. That was me. I remember the families who have had their privacy violated in order to bury their family members while vocal antis gleefully crowed about their death, or mourn the death of a fetus incompatible with life, but not the life lost months before. I remember the woman who was followed to her hotel and had to face protesters who had posters with her name on it. I remember the antis who scream and lie both virtually and in real life at patients who think, feel, love, cry, hurt and who have hopes, dreams and problems that aren’t solved by a pack of diapers and supplies that are only given to those who attend Bible classes, plus empty promises of housing or money. I remember the people I will never know or see who go through hell to access legal health care. I remember the people who can’t scrape together the money or take time off work so they, at their own peril, try to terminate the pregnancy by themselves even though it risks their lives and health. I remember the young faces of the supposedly pro-life generation forced on the sidewalk by parents and schools with their signs and realize that some day a portion of them will need access to the very health care they hold signs up against.
I know if you are reading this you are tired. Probably tired of listening to me ramble on. Probably tired of being told to do more than you already are. Tired of this fight that shouldn’t be happening in the Land of the Free in 2015. Maybe you are even feeling that this fight is pointless. Maybe you feel it a little or maybe you feel it a lot. Maybe you are like me, and have to turn off the TV, put down a magazine or click off an article or post because you are overwhelmed by the steady stream of anti-choice messages, anti-choice spew not backed by science and plain out flat lies told by antis about weeping women overwhelmed by guilt, infertility, breast cancer and trauma of a pregnancy termination that occurred in a blood-soaked room after she was forced to abort by those evil, money-hungry doctors.
I know I am. I also know that if I give up the fight, I can’t complain because I stood by and let my Constitutional rights to a private medical procedure be stripped away by people who are basically trying to be voyeurs into the lives and bedrooms of strangers. I know the more of us who refuse to stand for this kind of violation, who speak out on a lot of fronts, both now and in the future, will have a great impact on the direction reproductive rights take in this country.
When I started this rant I wasn’t sure where it was going to go. I know I wanted to express how those who are silent need to speak up and encourage and thank those who do far more than me. I wanted to find a reason for myself to continue to be involved in this fight when there are so many things that are more fun to do. I found it here, and am feeling a bit renewed in my urge to do more, to speak louder and over the small band of loud antis, whose volume make them seem much more numerous than they are really.
We are losing our rights to a small, loud minority and it has to stop.
That is the point.