Not in My State! ~by KYBorn

So, I’ve been gone for a while.  I have a good excuse that circles back to the title if you can hang in there long enough.

I had an unexpected illness that required multiple surgeries, a long ICU stay and a month long stay in my home state since I could neither stay alone or travel

Anyway, after the insurance sorted out all the things they would pay for I ended up back in my home town doing outpatient therapy.

Being back in my home town for an extended stay brought back a lot of memories. It didn’t take long for me to be reminded of the desperation felt by women who had a 90-mile drive and a time zone to cross. It reminded me of high school girls who went to a subpar practitioner in Lexington because he didn’t check IDs.  It reminded me of why I didn’t have sex until I was over the age of 18 and free to dispose of unwanted products of conception as I chose. Sure, the town had changed in a lot of ways. Heck, they even have a Mexican restaurant that serves margaritas that actually contain alcohol and a Super Wal-Mart. What they didn’t have and still don’t have is reasonable and affordable access to safe pregnancy termination.

I was born and raised in rural Kentucky. I spent part of my adulthood living in a less rural part of the state. Both places lacked convenient and affordable access to abortion care, but most women knew that as long as they were 18 they could go to Louisville, even if at great cost, to terminate an unwanted pregnancy or a wanted pregnancy gone wrong. None of us thought it was right that we should have to travel so far to get legal health care, not to mention walk a gauntlet intended to shame us that has only become progressively worse. I had already left the state before the worst of the TRAP laws that have been thrown down as barriers for all women, but can be particularly difficult for rural and low income women became law. I read as two of three clinics were closed, but at least there was one that had been standing for years. At least there was one clinic left in the state.

Then I read that the new Governor Bevin is ordering it shut down on a technicality. Yes, I got angry enough to throw my shoes. Hard.

Since I would likely be arrested for screaming on my front lawn, I’ll scream it here.

Not in my state!

It was bad enough before with underage girls sneaking to back alley butchers and only the wealthy being able to afford to take the time off to usually spend the night (due to time change, or two nights in the case of a two-day procedure) without choosing between rent and health care.  It was bad enough when women had to walk an oversized block filled on both sides of people shouting obscene dialogue of hellfire, waving fetus porn and surreptitiously directing them to “the clinic next door” where they got everything BUT the abortion they were seeking.

So, I don’t live there anymore.  I can drive and easily pay for an abortion in two locations.  I can get on a plane and use my health insurance at one of over 10 clinics to pay for abortion.  I know who and how to get misoprostol to induce a miscarriage without walking a gauntlet of shame as now required in Kentucky. I wouldn’t be one of those women who ended up dead due to infection from a botched abortion by a quack or ended up poisoning myself by consuming herbs or plants that are supposed to induce abortion. There are a lot of places in the world where desperate women are harmed by resorting to desperate and unsafe measures. The United States is rapidly becoming one of those countries and certainly Kentucky is on the forefront of denying safe abortion care.

Of course, Governor Bevin wants to shut down the last place in the Kentucky where a woman can walk a gauntlet of shame filled with fetus porn, stalkers and statues of the blessed virgin.  No.  It isn’t enough to shame women but they must be denied care they are obviously desperately seeking at all. He wants Kentucky women to be regulated to the status of second-class citizens in a third world theocracy.

NOT! IN! MY! STATE!

This is not what most people want or care about.  They want better education, better job opportunities and training, dealing with drug overdoses rising out of control and better support for women who choose to go to term.  Mostly, they want the government out of their bodies, just like I want the government out of mine.

But it isn’t going to happen in my state (or commonwealth, if you prefer).  The doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate is nothing more than biblical anarchy.  This is what the Governor is buying into.  It may be crap, but your state tax dollars will pay for it while boxes of rape kits sit untested in a basement because that money has been allotted to defend unconstitutional laws and regulations based on religious beliefs.

So now is the time.  To steal a bit from the Reagan years, “Just Say No” to shutting down the last abortion clinic in Kentucky.

 

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.

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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…

 

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs…

If you’re familiar with that song, just those few words are enough to get it stuck in your head.  Surrounded by signs at the clinic, it looped endlessly in my mind today.

Signs Signs
Everywhere there’s signs
Fu**ing up the scenery
Breaking my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign

This is where the Catholics keep their spare signs – attached to the fire hydrant.

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 As you can see, they had a few extra today.

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The woman we call the tailgater brings this one.  She sits behind it – yes, sometimes, on the tailgate of the truck.

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This sign has its own rope so you can be a human billboard.  It makes me laugh in a twisted humor way because it’s like letting people know where the clinic is.  fullsizeoutput_1320

This sign offers bloody fetal parts, but hardly recognizable ones.

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Our doctor’s name is at the top of this sign.  The sign says he does this to children.

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  “LEAVE THIS PLACE OF DEATH,” is one of the things the antis yell at clients.  This person stood right at the edge of the property line today.

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“Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess”somehow reminds me of the Puritans and the stocks and scold’s bridles and other instruments of torture.

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I kind of like this one – well, not the fetal parts – but I like that they’re scolding other churches for being incrementalists.

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Of course, they have to compare ABortion and escorts to Hitler and Nazis.  Strange to imagine someone saying, “Oooh, I know – let’s put little fetuses in each corner of this sign – won’t that be cool?”  But they are a nice decorative touch.

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The rest of this verse reads:  “It will be ruined.”   “The kingdom which will not serve Christ will perish.  It will be ruined.”

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THE BODY INSIDE YOUR BODY IS NOT YOUR BODY.  This one creeped me out the first time I saw it, and still does.

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Lots of signs today.  Fetal porn, we call it.  Do you think they think these signs will get people to change their minds?  All it did for me today is get this stupid song stuck in my head… and it’s still there.

Signs Signs
Everywhere there’s signs
Fu**ing up the scenery
Breaking my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign…

 

From the Sidewalk – October, 2016

I know, it’s been a while since I posted.  I guess I ran out of things to say about the chaos on the sidewalk.  And there have been so many new voices talking about their experience as clinic escorts.  I love hearing other perspectives.

But I don’t want you to forget that we’re still here.  And today -it was wild on the sidewalk.

Antis standing in the drop-off zone

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The police asked them to move out of the street, which was helpful, but that was the sweet spot of the morning.

Ky Mountain Bible College showed up. img_1691

Actually, clients came up behind this crew -if they were approaching from the corner on 2nd St.  People coming from 1st were greeted by these folks.

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If you were on the front line today, you got to hear some preaching:

All of us outside of Christ – all of us outside of Christ – are lame and crippled and weak and sick. But we build up ourselves – we have this self righteousness that says we can take care of ourselves, we can save ourselves. There is room at the table for those that are unable to save themselves, which includes all of us. None of us can save ourselves

(With apologies for the music – it helps drown out the noise of the megaphones inside the clinic.  At least it wasn’t polka music today.)

One escort got some special attention:

There is room at the table for all sinners, even you, Sir. Sir, we love you we do, I know you don’t believe that, you probably go home and laugh about this, but we care about you. We do. God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I don’t like being out here. I hate it. But we are coming out here to warn you

 End of the morning.  Some escorts talking amongst themselves and  – they laughed.  Spurgeon didn’t like that.  I walked up after he was already on a roll.

JS: WHERE IN THE WORLD – IS IT FUNNY – THAT 25 CHILDREN ARE GOING TO BE MURDERED RIGHT HERE?  YOU TELL ME – TELL ME WHAT WORLD THAT IS FUNNY IN!!!  

Escort: I don’t know who you think you are but you need to bring it down because you are incredibly – no – no-

JS: HEY!  YOU BE QUIET!  25 CHILDREN ARE GOING TO BE MURDERED IN HERE!!!  

Escort: …you talked enough during the day and I am going to say something

JS: 25 children are gonna be murdered in here and you led them…

Escort: I don’t know who you think you are but do not raise your voice at me like that at all (she continues to say “at all” several times as JS yells over her.)

Anti in the background: We totally raise our voice.

JS: I WILL RAISE – YOU’RE MORE CONCERNED THAT I RAISE MY VOICE THAN THE FACT THAT 25 CHILDREN ARE BEING MURDERED AND YOU LED THEM TO THEIR SLAUGHTER – YOU LED 25 CHILDREN TO THEIR SLAUGHTER!!!  

Escort: …we are grownups and grownups don’t have a discussion like this.

JS: GROWNUPS DON’T LEAD 25 CHILDREN TO THE SLAUGHTER!!  GROWNUPS DON’T KILL BABIES!!!  YOU’RE NOT A GROWN-UP!!!!  

And just in case we didn’t get the point:

Male Escort: Go home, Joseph

JS:  YOU HAVE MURDERED 25 CHILDREN!!  EVERY ONE OF YOU LED 25 CHILDREN TO THEIR DEATH.  THAT’S NOT FUNNY.  IT’S NEVER FUNNY.  I DON’T CARE WHAT YOUR OPINION ON THIS PLACE IS AND WHAT YOU THINK OF ME, IT IS NEVER FUNNY!!  

Female escort:  All right, I think we’re done, let’s not keep giving him the audience he wants… 

At the end of the day, I’m just glad that clients and their companions only experience a minute or two of the chaos on the sidewalk.  It’s like I always say, as we head for the door, “You don’t have to stop or talk to them, we can just keep going.”  And we do.

Like a Morality Play

There’s a property line on the sidewalk in front of EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Traditionally, the protesters don’t cross it.  But lately, the antis have enjoyed mocking this boundary.  They get as close to the line as possible, put their toes across it, and one morning…

IMG_0083 …the anti in the snazzy camoflauge wear maneuvered himself in-between the two escorts right on the line.   With his sign. IMG_0084 Yes, his arm is over the property line.  Yes, he’s almost touching the escort, with his arm, with his sign, and with his body.  And yes, he’s smirking.   He thinks he’s “won” something here.  Well, and he likes the attention of having his picture taken.  Yes, I’m sorry I gave him that pleasure.

But the picture illustrates my point.  Like a morality play, the action in front of the clinic often seems like an allegorical acting-out of the theoretical battle between “good” and “evil.”  A symbolic representation of the conflict between belief systems, it’s played out in dramatic postures, with repetitive scripts, and proscribed roles.

Protesters are convinced they’re the good guys.  They care about the pre-born, “the most helpless and vulnerable among us.”    Protesters want to stop women from having abortions, for their own good, because they really care about them.  They know that escorts don’t care, that we’re evil people who want to kill babies.  And hurt puppies.

Escorts know that we’re the good guys.  We love babies and puppies, and we care about the already-born.   Escorts want all options family planning and a full range of reproductive health care.  Escorts believe in equality and self-determination, while protesters are evil people who want to oppress, shame, and subjugate women.

Right?

Well, no.  No, of course that’s not completely fact-based.  But when I’m on the sidewalk, it’s easy to see it that way.   I fiercely oppose some of the values and beliefs that the protesters represent.   They push us toward a world without birth control or access to abortion, a culture where a women’s worth is inextricably tied to giving birth, and where an embryo is worth more than an already-born woman’s life.   I believe those ideas are dangerous and damaging to us all.

But on the corner of 2nd and Market at 7 a.m., the antis are there mostly for symbolic reasons.   Think about this.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than 99% of women who have experienced sexual intercourse have used at least one form of birth control.  Some of those people are on the sidewalk protesting.   The data indicates that one in three women has an abortion in her lifetime – and some of those women are on the sidewalk, holding signs, yelling, chasing, and shaming others.

I used to think this was the most amazingly pure hypocrisy I’d ever seen.  But maybe it’s just the difference between their “real life” and the virtues they’re touting ~ um, representing ~ on the sidewalk.  Do you see what I mean?  I’m not saying they don’t believe what they’re saying – I think they do, in theory.  But in real life ~ well, people need birth control and sometimes they need abortions.  That doesn’t have anything to do with showing up to protest at the clinic.

Ok, yes, that is hypocrisy.  By definition, it is.  But before I start to throw stones at them (figuratively) consider this.   Few of us live up to our own standards all the time.   I believe that climate change is a real problem and that we need to use our resources more wisely.  And I still drive my car everywhere and get my groceries in plastic bags.  I know, I know that’s bad, and yes, I do feel guilty.  But I could still go to some protest against a big corporate polluter and feel virtuous about it.

Trying to escort in a way that adheres to my values is hard too, and I don’t always do it as well as I want to.  When I started escorting, six years ago, I imagined I would be able to stay calm and centered all the time.  Wrong.  300 mornings of watching the protesters preach, scold, shame, harass and harangue the clients has challenged me in ways I didn’t expect.

Figuring out how to do what we do on the sidewalk, without being terrible hypocrites ourselves, is the most interesting part of escorting, for me,  The challenge is different for every escort, and different clinics approach it differently, and it’s all fascinating.  I’ll talk about that more in my next post.

In the meantime, I want to make a personal pledge:  I pledge to donate $5 to fund abortion access every time a protester reminds me that I publicly said on here that I “don’t always live up to my own standards.”   Another $5 if they mention my environmentally-unfriendly flaws.    That’s right – $5 every time they mention either one.   I’m creating win-wins every chance I get…

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The Saturdays before Easter, before Mother’s Day, and before Father’s Day are big days for protesters.  You can help raise funds for escorts and for abortion access by pledging a small amount per picketer, or by pledging a lump sum for the horde of antis who come out to harass and intimidate women seeking legal medical care on those days. We count the protesters each day, but on Pledge-a-Picketer days, it gives us great glee to know that each number ticked off means more money raised to support the very thing they are there to obstruct. We’ll be posting updates after each big day with the total number of antis, as well as any new sidewalk stories that emerge. This form will be included in our posts from now through Father’s Day, but don’t wait til the last minute, pledge now: Pledge-a-Picketer Pledge Form

This is the clinic the Saturday before Mother’s Day in 2009.

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