First Time ~ by Patty

This is a guest post from a new escort about their first time at the clinic. We suggest that new escorts write about their experience escorting.  It can be an emotional experience, and writing about it is a way to begin to process those feelings. We ask them, if they feel comfortable with it, to share their first impressions.  Patty ecorted for the first time yesterday and she writes:
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The anti-choice people know that if a woman gets as far as the clinic door, minds will not be changed.  So they do their best to make a legal and protected medical procedure a shameful act.  They do their best to demoralize and break the spirits of the young women who enter the clinic.
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One woman chants in a bad actress delivery: “Do you know your friendships will be forever changed by killing your baby?  Do you know you will forever regret killing your baby?  How can you bring your daughter to this building where they kill babies, your grandchild?  These people (escorts) are not here to help you, they are here to ensure profits for the clinic.  Do you know this clinic made four million dollars last year?”
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They do not know me; they do not know the clients or their companions.  They have no love in their hearts; they can pray the rosary hundreds of times over; they can kneel on the sidewalk; they can stand with a Bible in their hands; they can take hundreds of pictures and movies, but it does not cleanse them of the evil that they do.
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They are the ones who should be shamed and condemned.
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REMINDER: If you are interested in escorting, particularly if you’re willing to hold space on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, don’t forget the training on May 9th at 6:00P.  Training is not required, but it’s helpful.

REMINDER: Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!
The Sunday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year.  It also is the date  where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts.  You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up that morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.

Use this form to make your pledge:

Men Who Trust Women

There is a neat new blog that was launched in February by Chloe S. Angyal. The name of the blog is “Men WhoTrust Women.”

  • Luckily, there are a lot of pro-choice men in America. These men believe that women are capable of making their own choices about what happens to their own bodies. These men believe that no man, whether he’s a politician, a priest, or a partner, knows what’s best for a woman better than she does. These men are appalled at the way that the national conversation about women’s healthcare has been dominated by anti-choice men.

March 20th, an article was published in Jezebel explaining the site. You should read the whole article here.

  • Men Who Trust Women is a tumblr where men who believe that bodily autonomy is every woman’s right can share their stories. It’s not about speaking instead of women, or on behalf of women, but alongside them and in support of them.

The Louisville Clinic Escort group is proud to have many men working for pro-access. They wear buttons and shirts saying, “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” and “Trust Women.” More importantly, they believe in these slogans and show it each time they escort by their actions and words. We have sent news out about this site twice to solicit stories from those people within our group to submit to this new site and share with us.

Reading the stories on this blog is heartening when the news about reproductive justice can be so discouraging. There are a lot of good people with good motivations supporting women in their fight for human rights. They have been present beside us not just the past two years, but in all years attempts have been made to marginalize women.

Some of my favorite titles for these stories:

  • their full autonomy as human beings
  • I trust all people, to make decisions about their own bodies
  • when the gains of women are eroded it impoverishes us all.
  • the state should simply treat women like actual human beings

We encourage you to read the full stories. If you want to add your story to Men Who Trust Women it is easy to do on their “Submit” page. Of course, we want to hear it too and would love it if you added your story to our comments.

If it sounds too good to be true….

The subject of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) comes up frequently when you are speaking of abortion rights. There are several complete definitions and examples of their practices available in Google searches. There are two examples below. I encourage you to go to the full articles and read about these clinics and their tactics.

  1. A crisis pregnancy center (CPC), sometimes called a pregnancy resource center (PRC), is a non-profit organization established to counsel pregnant women against having an abortion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_pregnancy_center
  2. Deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy can be very difficult. It may be made even more difficult by so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.” These are fake clinics run by people who are anti-abortion. They have a history of giving women wrong, biased information to scare them into not having abortions. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/pregnancy/standard-21507.htm

There are CPC centers in every state. The total number is estimated to be around 4,000 CPCs in the US. There are around 700 of these CPCs licensed for special medical services. Therefore about 18% of the existing CPCs are licensed to provide limited diagnostic medical services. http://www.naral.org/media/fact-sheets/abortion-cpcs.pdf

We have two CPCs, one next door and one within one block of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Both are called A Woman’s Choice (AWC) and they are operated under the same corporation. The corporation name is A Choice for Life, a corporation formed by Southeast Christian Church. AWC is a separate non-profit corporation affiliated with the church, but they share board members.

There are so many lies and half-truths we hear on the street from their counselors I wanted to clarify some things.

First, we are told by their sidewalk counselors the AWC location is a medical clinic just the same as the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Well, not exactly.

EMW is licensed by the State of Kentucky as an ambulatory gynecological surgery clinic. They have doctors, nurses and counselors present every day at the clinic.

AWC is licensed by the State of Kentucky as a Special Health Clinic. This is a medical clinic that allows for limited medical services. These services AWC is authorized to provide include counseling, pregnancy testing and performance of ultrasounds.

  • Section 2. Scope of Operations and Services. Special health clinics are institutions which provide limited health services, on an outpatient basis. These services include: family planning clinics, pulmonary care clinics, disability determination clinics, weight loss clinics, speech and hearing clinics, wellness centers, counseling centers, and any clinic which only provides diagnostic services.  http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/902/020/260.htm

AWC is required to have personnel including one physician and one nurse. The physician is required to be present for consultation once a week and be available within one hour by phone. There is no time specification for the licensed nurse to be available. They just need to be able to review medical records. The counselors are the full-time, ever-present personnel. They do not have to be licensed. Some are employees and some are volunteers. The counselors and employees of AWC do not confine themselves to the buildings and engage in sidewalk counseling daily.

The medical director for AWC is Dr. William R. Cutrer. In addition to being a licensed OB/GYN physician, he is an ordained minister and author of several books. “The Church Leader’s Handbook” is one of his that includes long passages on anti-abortion repeating a lot of the myths surrounding abortion. Dr. Cutrer stresses in his writing the first thing in counseling someone who has had an abortion is to have them acknowledge their sin.

  • A Woman’s Choice links the church to a national network of crisis pregnancy centers and post abortion groups that share marketing strategies, legal advice and literature emphasizing what they say are the harmful effects of abortion – including increased risk of breast cancer and a psychological condition called post abortion syndrome, which are considered scientifically unsupported by the National Cancer Institute and the American Psychological Association. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/16/national/16abortion.html?pagewanted=1&th&emc

The most common thing we hear on the sidewalk is, “Why don’t you come next door for a free ultrasound? It will only take a minute.” That’s a pretty good deal: free ultrasound. You can verify if you are pregnant and approximately how many weeks. Well, maybe not such a good deal.

  • Though the center has a medical doctor and nurse practitioner on staff, the main function of the free ultrasound sessions is persuasive, not diagnostic, said Dr. Bill Cutrer, the center’s medical director. “The primary purpose is to show them that it’s not a clump of tissues but a human being,” Dr. Cutrer said. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/16/national/16abortion.html?pagewanted=1&th&emc

Even the AWC website does not say free ultrasounds for everyone.

  • Is everyone who comes in guaranteed an ultrasound? 
  • No.  There are factors that determine eligibility for a free ultrasound.  Your counselor will ask you a series of questions to determine your eligibility. (web link omitted purposely)

The series of questions they ask is to determine how high at risk the client is for getting an abortion. The more the counselors consider you to be likely to get an abortion, the more likely you will be to get a free ultrasound. (see Dr. Cutrer’s comment above)

There are so many articles written on the deceptive practices of CPCs. We have seen all of the following used at AWC:

  1.  Not acknowledging they are not the abortion clinic while talking to a client. Many clients have been counseled for up to an hour before they realize they are not in the right clinic.
  2. Offering food and drink to a client when they first come in. This will not allow them to get an abortion the same day.
  3. Separating clients from their companions by taking them alone into a back exam room.
  4. Keeping client clothing from them until they are finished counseling, despite repeated requests to return them
  5. Keeping client ID and/or medical records
  6. Lying about having an ultrasound at their facility would reduce the EMW Clinic bill by $250. AWC and EMW have no connection and services performed by AWC are not accepted by EMW.

There are stories escorts can tell of clients running out of AWC when they find out where they are; companions calling the police to help them get a client outside AWC and into EMW; clients having to pull their ID from the counselor’s hands; clients having to come up with additional funds because of delays or lies; sobbing, traumatized clients finally arriving at the correct clinic.

Given the “free ultrasound” results, would you want to go to AWC for a free pregnancy test? EMW charges $5 for the test without all of the discussion of morality. I know that even $5 is hard to spare for a lot of people. Planned Parenthood can help with the same tests usually at no or low cost, also without religious lecturing. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-center/centerDetails.asp?f=3290&a=90590&v=details#!service=pregnancy-testing-options

Much of the help AWC offers work like their ultrasounds and are on a contingency basis.  If you go to them and want the baby, you will receive less help than the client who wants an abortion and wanders in by mistake. Married women also generally receive less tangible help and more counseling. The offers of maternity clothes and baby supplies are available by appointment and two mornings a week. If you are faced with an unwanted pregnancy some help is better than no help, but you cannot count on a lot of help. We have had clients of AWC report promises of material help as promises not being kept.

Adoption referrals they offer are suspect as well. Southeast Christian Church has an adoption referral service not affiliated directly with AWC, but I would think they would utilize this service. (web link omitted purposely)

There have been so many complaints about CPCs coercing clients into carrying their pregnancy to full term so they can give the baby for adoption to loving, Christian homes deemed better able to raise children. There is no evidence this practice goes on specifically at AWC, but it wouldn’t surprise me since it fits into the pattern of operation for most of the CPCs.

  • While there is growing awareness of how CPCs hinder abortion access, the centers have a broader agenda that is less well known: they seek not only to induce women to “choose life” but to choose adoption, either by offering adoption services themselves, as in Bethany’s case, or by referring women to Christian adoption agencies. Far more than other adoption agencies, conservative Christian agencies demonstrate a pattern and history of coercing women to relinquish their children. http://www.thenation.com/article/shotgun-adoption?page=0,0

When escorts hear sidewalk counselors from AWC say, “Just come inside for a minute. What harm could it do?” it is hard not to react. We know they will not be in there for a minute. We know they will be lied to about medical facts and misled on other issues all in the disguise of helping them.

When the sidewalk counselors lead a client into their building, it is hard to remain impartial to the action. We don’t know what persuaded the client to make the decision to enter AWC. We know the lies the antis tell and hope the client does too. We respect their decision and trust they are doing what is best for them and their families.

My contempt is directed towards the staff of AWC and the other antis who do not feel it is necessary to tell the truth about so many things. Their end goal of stopping abortion access is the only important agenda item for them.

My anger is directed to our state and national governments. We have over four times as many CPCs as there are abortion clinics in the US. (4,000 CPCs/682 abortion clinics) Government funding of the operations of these CPCs and the funding shift to abstinence-only sex education in schools has me feeling enraged about the betrayal of our health care and education to win the votes of religious fundamentalists.

  • Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are not new to the American cultural landscape. For over three decades, they have provided pregnancy options counseling from an antiabortion perspective. But CPCs are relatively new to the political scene. The last few years have seen a sudden groundswell in both federal and state legislation designed to support and promote them. To date, such efforts have largely focused on two goals: securing direct or indirect government subsidies for CPCs and raising their profile and stature in the public eye. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/05/2/gr050204.html

Really, why should we be proud of states that funnel money for license plates directly to the CPCs? http://www.kychoose-life.org/about_us.php

There is a tiny silver lining in my anger. The yellow Choose Life Kentucky license plates are helpful to escorts for identifying protesters parking in front of the EMW clinic. We only have to view the back license plate to know they are at the clinic to protest.

Owning The Language

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Reading blog articles concerned with abortion, the subject of labeling or mislabeling comes up frequently. Isn’t it time we work to clarify what we call opposing viewpoints in the abortion access struggle? This isn’t a unique idea. It is one I have heard said repeatedly.
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Numerous times the comment has been made the protesters against abortion have much better marketing plans than the various groups supporting the right to abortion. The antis have a much better grasp of the emotional content words bring to a debate.
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What a stroke of genius to label their viewpoint pro-life. How could anyone oppose them without sounding like they are anti-life?
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Recently I attended a speech concerning reproductive justice. There were several good points brought up for discussion that I am still giving a great deal of thought. How do I personally feel about these ideas? Some I am able to embrace wholeheartedly and others I need to explore my feelings about the long-term benefits. Like all of us, I need to unlearn some of my viewpoints to embrace change.
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Among other subjects discussed, the topic of how important what we call things was brought forward. The idea was put forth that we need to change or take back some of the language we call things concerning reproductive issues.
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Antis have appropriated the words we should be using to describe our position. Our position is actually pro-life. We support the living person in their decisions about reproduction. The antis are only concerned with life pre-birth, even at the cost of the woman’s life. Their position is anti-woman and their attitude is often detrimental to poor families.
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The comment from this speech resonating the most with me was, “Choice implies consumerism.” The idea was put forth that the term “choice” comes from a place of privilege and implies every individual has a choice in their decision to terminate a pregnancy or carry the pregnancy to full term. This is very far from reality for so many.
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Many do not have access to abortion as a choice. They may not have the money. They may not have transportation. They may not be able to get time off from work without risking their job. They may have an abusive partner who will coerce them into carrying a pregnancy. They may have a combination of these factors or others that will not allow them to choose abortion.
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In the reverse, many cannot choose to carry a pregnancy to full term. The realities of poverty make this impossible for many. They may already have children and cannot afford another one without jeopardizing the welfare of their existing family. They may be struggling to support themselves and cannot afford to bring a child into their life at this time. They may be just starting a career and are not ready to be a parent. They may have a combination of these factors or others that will not allow them to choose to carry a pregnancy to full term.
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Physical health and mental health reasons may prevent someone from having a choice. They may have life-threatening health issues that prevent them from carrying a pregnancy to term. The fetus may be dead. They may have an ectopic pregnancy.  All of these reasons and more move abortion from the realm of choice to the realm of necessity.
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The proposal was made to substitute access for choice. Our position would be described as pro-access. ‘We believe every person should have access to the reproductive care they need.’ I like that statement. It covers everyone and doesn’t assume that everyone comes from the same life situations.
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Thank You For Your Support

(Photo by Isis, Germantown, MD, August 2011)
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We talk in this blog a lot about what the antis are doing to prevent a woman’s choice for healthcare. We do not often talk about the support escorts receive from various groups around Kentucky.

When our minds are bruised with the things we have heard and seen in front of the clinic, it is always a lift to think of the pro-choice support we get from our friends, our community and  nationwide.

Cooking a breakfast for escorts? This is a great morale booster which we are treated to at least twice a year from one group of supporters. It is always yummy and we are able to socialize with each other and people who believe in what we are doing when we escort.

Providing us with supplies? This is such a great help to us and is always appreciated. We have limited resources and donations of copies, office supplies, vests and even money are welcome additions to our effort.

Training information? We have individuals who make time in their busy schedules to present at training sessions. They are experienced in areas we need to know more about in order to be effective escorts.

On the spot support? A honk and wave as a car passes in the morning or a yelled, ‘Thank you,’ as the car moves down the street. A pedestrian saying, ‘Thank you for being here,’ as they pass the clinic in the morning. These give a lift to the escorts and strengthen our resolve we are doing something necessary.

There are so many generous supporters who believe in a woman’s choice.

They believe in the slogan: TRUST WOMEN

They swell our numbers beyond just the small group escorting.

Thank you, one and all.

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Blog for Choice Day

Last night around 50 people came out in the snow, after our venue was changed and school was cancelled to the Speakout to Normalize Abortion.

We had a powerful event where people shared their abortion stories and supported each other.  We worked very hard to create a safe space to hear how different every person’s abortion experience can be.

Every one entering our speakout signed a pledge to be supportive, not engage in shaming behavior or use judgmental language and to keep confidential all the stories told.

Because of that promise, I am not going to write about all the different types of people who spoke or about the stories told.  Holding that space still reminds me of the  value of Trusting People.

Honoring the fact that just because abortion is a normal part of our lives does not mean these moments of transition do not challenge our beliefs, or make us grow; giving us time to pause and hopefully validate our strengths.

1 in 3 American people with a uterus will have an abortion in their lifetime, half world wide.  The sooner we recognize that abortion is a normal part of our reproductive lives the better.  The sooner we ensure safe, clean, supportive abortion services to the whole world the sooner we can prove that what happens to individual people matter.

Jill Stanick wants to ask what does choice really mean. I think it means public funding of abortions at 6 weeks, at 12 weeks at 20 weeks, at 24 weeks.

I think the right to parent our children even if we are poor is included in choice.

I think the right to not be forced into cesarean and medicalized birth is included in the right to choose.

I think the right to be unapologetically queer is part of Reproductive Justice.

Choice includes access to comprehensive sex education, birth control and emergency contraception.

Choice means addressing privilege and dismantling rape culture and racism.

Supporting and normalizing the right to access abortion services gives us all more room to build community where the lives of the disadvantage are not denied dignity and respect.

Tell your story

Hi! Several escorts are working on a documentary about abortion access in Kentucky. We are looking for people who would be interested in telling their stories about seeking an abortion in Kentucky. If you are interested, please get in touch.

E-mail us at myabortionstory (at) gmail.com, or call us at 502 299 7492.  Also visit kyaccessproject.wordpress.com for info and updates.

Please forward this information along to anyone that you think might be interested, or anyone that you know that has a powerful story.

Thank you!

P.S. We are committed to protecting your privacy. No information about anyone who contacts us will be shared outside of those working on the film unless we are given permission.

Moral Reasoning, Kohlberg, and Escorting

A few escorts and myself have been talking about moral development for a while now. Basic psychological theories of moral development go from very basic levels of thinking (Will I get punished? Did someone tell me this is right/wrong? Will I get what I want?) to higher levels of thinking (What’s the context of the situation? Regardless of whether I was TOLD this is right/wrong, is it?). One theory that I particularly love (and keep coming back to) is Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. I’ve thought a lot about where I fall on this scale, and where others at the clinic fall on this scale.

Kohlberg’s stages go from pre-conventional to conventional to post-conventional, with six stages that fall into those categories. Kohlberg discussed the idea of regressing from higher to lower stages and had other important insights, but I won’t go into all of that here.

Pre-conventional: Common in children, but exhibited in [many] adults. Judge morality based on direct external consequences.

  • Stage One: Obedience and punishment driven. Individuals in stage one consider the consequences of their actions on themselves, and usually think that the worse the punishment, the worse the crime, morally speaking.

  • Stage Two: Self-interest driven. Individuals in this stage wonder what’s in it for them, and define right behavior as whatever is in their own best interest. Limited concern for the needs of others (except in the context of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”). Lacks societal perspective.

Conventional: Typical of teenagers and adults. Judge morality based on societal views and expectations, and accept social norms concerning right and wrong. Major concern for “the rules.”

  • Stage Three: Conformity driven. Individuals in stage three consider the consequences actions might have on their relationships and are concerned with social roles/living up to expectations of others. The intention behind actions becomes important (whether someone means well or not), and there is a desire to maintain rules and authority.

  • Stage Four: Authority and social order driven. This stage focuses on laws, social conventions, and above all maintaining a functioning society. Often a central idea guides judgments of right and wrong (perhaps religion), and morality is dictated by an outside force. Views breaking a law as morally wrong (and potentially leading the way for others to follow, which would break down social order)

Post-Conventional: Recognizes that different individuals will have different perspectives, and these people live by their own (abstract) principles about right and wrong. View rules as useful but changeable (not absolute, not to be obeyed without question). Post-conventional moral reasoning is less common. It is worth noting that “Because of this level’s ‘nature of self before others’, the behavior of post-conventional individuals, especially those at stage six, can be confused with that of those at the pre-conventional level.” (That was a concern for me, honestly.)

  • Stage Five: Social contract driven. Individuals in this stage view the world as full of different opinions, rights, and values, and feel that these should be mutually respected. Laws are viewed as social contracts, and those that don’t promote general well-being should be changed to do the most good for the most people.
  • Stage Six: Universal ethical principles driven. Moral reasoning in this stage is based on abstract reason, using universal ethical principles. Laws are valid only if they are grounded in justice, and a commitment to justice carries with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws (I love that!). This stage involves imagining what you would do in another person’s place. Individuals in this stage act because it is right, not because it is legal or expected.

Ok, so all of these stages are lovely and great, but how do they tie in? Well, as adults who are doing something we believe in (which applies to most of the protesters at the clinic, not just the escorts) we have to have used some method of reasoning (moral and other) to conclude that what we are doing is indeed right.

To me, it seems fairly obvious. It seems clear that many (many, not all – this is a generalization) of the protesters are hung up in stage four. Which is where many people are – I’m not using this as a fancy (long winded) way to say that the protesters are stupid, just that our thought processes are very, very different. Consider the criteria for stage four in the context of the clinic. So often I hear arguments about how god has told us what’s right and what’s wrong, and god has said what to do and what not to do. But those arguments don’t seem to go much further than “Because god says so.” I don’t care of the law or god or aliens tell me if something is right or wrong, it’s still up for question if it doesn’t sit with me, and if it doesn’t appear to be in the best interest of people in general.

As for the escorts, I think that many of us have had to think deeply about escorting, abortion, and the situation at the clinic. It’s not a matter of someone having told us to do this, or someone telling us that abortion is right and us blindly obeying. It’s something that we had to tease out for ourselves, from our experiences, beliefs, intuition, and the world around us. I think that escorts tend to feel a commitment to justice, even when that includes doing something that our families, friends, parents, teachers, peers, and on and on, might take issue with. We feel a commitment to justice, even if that means doing something that can be potentially dangerous. We honor this commitment, even when it means being harassed and bullied. We honor this commitment because we see how important it is, and because we see that the rules and laws may not be doing the trick. Those of us who are at a place where we are able to escort (because there are many factors that make it impossible, and for some it is not the best place to direct their energy)  honor this commitment because once we’ve seen the necessity we realize we cannot ignore it.

Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief

I’m in a lot of psychology classes in college (and I love those classes, which is why I’m a psych major). For instance, taking social psychology led me to have a brand spankin new insight into escorting and the mentality that people get when they do things like go to the clinic and harass people.

Taking Adult Development led me to thinking about the 5 stages of grief proposed by Kubler-Ross (here at the end of the semester we’ve been talking about death and dying – a jolly way to kick off the holiday season). It came up at clinic, and I’ve been thinking about it since.

The five stages are:

Denial – I think in the case of the clinic, this is manifested in how some folks don’t think it’s a problem, choose to look the other way, or pretend that reproductive healthcare is doing just fine these days. But once people get past that denial they sometimes start to escort when they do recognize that a problem exists and that they can do something about it.

Anger – I see this a lot at the clinic (on both sides). I think escorts deal with anger in many different ways, but it definitely shows up. It’s interesting how people who seem incredibly calm and patient can lose it. I see myself lose my cool sometimes, because I get hot headed and upset and frustrated, and I think that I have grown a lot from trying to handle anger and learned about myself in the context of anger.

Bargaining – Sometimes we escorts try and reason with protesters. I think that sometimes we convince ourselves that conversation will work. Sometimes actual bargaining does go on – but the deals aren’t often seen though, just proposed. And maybe in some way showing the protesters that we are human, by having pleasant conversations with them, we are trying to bargain – if I’m human to you and don’t yell and swear at you, will you calm down too?

Depression – This is a tough one. It seems so overwhelming sometimes, to continue escorting. Or to escort on days when not many other escorts show up, to have your buttons pushed, or to see strangers cry because they’re being harassed. It’s hard not to feel helpless and insignificant. It is an awful feeling, thinking that we’re up against a brick wall – that the government isn’t going to change things for the better, that the police aren’t going to save the day and enforce laws, that the clinic won’t even work with us. It gets depressing. But I try to stay positive and look on the bright side, and recognize that what we do might mean the world to someone walking into the clinic. No, we might not get a bubble law on the books here in the great state of Kentucky, but to one person who walks in the clinic, we might be really helpful and give them the support they need. And that gives me a little bit of hope.

Acceptance – I guess that acceptance comes through a little bit in what I was saying about depression. We have to accept that what we do DOES make a difference, and that even though it might seem insignificant sometimes, it might mean the world to a client or their support person. And it is important to take a stand for what we believe in, to not let bullies run things, and to get people thinking and talking about important stuff (or hell, even the unimportant stuff – you just have to start thinking and talking about SOMEthing).

The thing about these 5 stages, at the clinic and in other situations, is that people experience them differently – in different orders, in different ways, and some people don’t experience certain stages at all. I think that I cycle through the stages over and over again – I go from feeling angry to depressed to acceptance and back around again as new things come up and as I change and learn.

I can get very college-student-ey about this stuff, and definitely tend to take things that I’m learning about and apply them to different areas of my life. But that’s one way that I deal with the things going on for me – it helps me sort through everything happening.

It helps me to get thoughts out – they stop swirling around in my brain so much. That’s part of why  I love this blog and our wonderful clinic escorts. I love the conversations we have over breakfast, at the clinic, on the internet. I love the community that has formed, where I can verbalize stuff like this!

Because it’s late and I get goofy when it’s late, and because the Golden Girls have always helped me get through my sad days, this one goes out to all of the amazing escorts out there:

P.S. In case you were wondering, the Golden Girls were pro-choice – they even filmed a pro-choice ad in 1989 for Florida Voice for Choice while a columnist came to Florida to speak against abortion, right before the Florida governor began sessions to consider abortion restrictions. (Unfortunately I couldn’t find the ad on youtube.) They are the greatest, in my book.

Bad sad mad morning

Today was hard.

I’ve been on a semi-hiatus for a while, due to oversleeping, being out of town, and feeling the need for a bit of a break. But I managed to get my butt out of bed this morning, and I’m glad I did.

We had 6 escorts this morning, and not very many protesters, but the 10 or 15 that were there were pushy and horrible (what else is new though, right?).

Towards the end of the morning, a woman walked up, crying. Her support person was nearby, and Angela ran over. Angela evidently knows this woman, and also really loves targeting people of color. Angela was freaking out, trying to push through our circle of escorts, screaming that she knew the woman and that the woman wanted to talk to her. But the woman was crying so hard she could barely walk, let alone answer any questions about whether or not she actually did want to talk to Angela.

Then something kind of amazing happened. As we escorts were making really slow progress towards the door, an inch at a time, several people that were already inside of the clinic (and I’m not clear if they were with the woman coming in or not, but I believe at least one person was with another client) came outside. They held the woman’s arms and walked her up to the property line, pulling through Angela and Donna and all of the other really excited protesters. They created a space for her to make it up to the property, and really did what we try to do as escorts. It was so amazing to see that. Angela was still yelling, and Brady was losing it, but the client made it through the gauntlet, past the harassment of a supposed friend.

I’ve never cried at clinic, or ever even come close. That was one thing I was really concerned about when I first started going (and before I ever went that was a big concern, that I would just break down and be a mess), because sometimes I just get weepy. TV shows can make me cry, seeing other people cry can make me cry, and sometimes I just need a good cry to let go of some stored up shit. But nothing at the clinic has ever made me so sad. It’s also the first time I’ve seen some very even tempered escorts really get upset. It’s hard not to just want to get violent and angry and sad when a woman, so upset and crying so hard she can’t talk or walk, is being SCREAMED at by a “friend,” by someone who “cares,” not to mention strangers who can’t mind their own business.

This is a time that people really need support, and love, and a friend to tell them that they will be ok, that they are making the right choice because it’s what they are choosing for themselves based on their situation. Angela doesn’t know what’s going on with this woman, whether she had an unwanted pregnancy or had a very wanted but nonviable pregnancy. And screaming “I know you talked to ____ from our church last night, she told you I’d be here and she was right! Don’t do this, NO!” is not support. It’s not coming from a place of love, understanding, respect. Or even a place of basic common decency.

Days like today, I really hate how ugly religion can make some people. It’s hard not to be completely bitter towards religion, which is a shame because for so many people it manifests in a very beautiful way. But all I can see on mornings like this one is how hideous and hateful religion can be.

So for this morning at least, I’m going to re-focus my attention to the friends and partners and support people who go in with clients. They set aside their own beliefs and are there to support a friend. And sometimes that’s what it takes to be a good friend – shutting up about your shit and what you feel is best and standing beside someone when they need you. Thank you thank you thank you support people. You make me feel better about the universe.