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.



Escorts double down in the face of clinic property destruction

This past week, the clinic we escort at suffered it’s second act of property destruction within a three week span. People have used words including ‘insanity’ and ‘domestic terrorism’ when reacting to what happened. The pic below was taken by an escort on Thursday morning. More details about this and the previous attack (also resulting in a broken window) can be found in this article.

broken glass door

Now, as you might imagine, while police, clinic staff, and whatever additional parties have been filling out papers and watching surveillance footage, those of us on the sidewalk are going through our own reactions and feelings about this. Destruction of this property does not directly affect escorts. It’s not our window to replace. It’s not even our bosses’ window, as we are all volunteers and are only loosely connected to this clinic. That said, the indirect impact on escorts could possibly be more tangible than what the clinic staff has dealt with.

Five days a week, escorts stand toe-to-toe (often literally) with the people who encourage and enable this kind of extreme aggression to grow and thrive. We hold space and absorb hateful remarks day after day. We have been assaulted, and had our buttons pushed too many times to count. Escorts often harden themselves to the awful things that are spewed at us, but we can’t help but hear what is said, and we are often triggered by the terrible things that are said to clients and escorts: slut shaming, racism, low jabs about people’s physical features, bringing up personal details about people’s children, or lost loved ones. Remarks obviously meant to hurt us from people claiming to be there out of a love for life (and presumably people…)  It is bullying. We know this.

The bullies who come to protest – to exercise their freedom of speech – come for many reasons. Many come for reasons rooted in some sort of morals they’ve been taught. Some come from a place of misdirected compassion. There are those who are truly peaceful and simply pray. As far as I am concerned, none of it is ok. The reason why not is clearly demonstrated by the photo above. As long as people are kneeling and praying, and showing up to make their statement that they believe what someone else is doing with their body and life is wrong, to me they are enabling these broken windows. I think that people who drag their young children out in the cold to stand on a sidewalk and shame others are contributing to a culture that encourages rocks through clinic windows. We know from history that it doesn’t stop at bricks. (Search Drs. David Gunn and George Tiller, plus clinic bombings, etc.)

Sometimes it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of such a sick and widespread culture, but as justice advocates we are never alone and we are powerful too.

The escort who snapped the photo of the broken door also talked about how on that very windy morning little pieces of glass kept clinking on the ground as the clients entered the clinic. I was not there that morning, but to me it sounds a little eerie, and maybe stressful. I was glad to hear that the glass was replaced that day, and even more pleased to read the encouraging quotes from the clinic director in the article linked above.

Something like violence at a nearby abortion clinic isn’t something to be taken lightly, and for those of us there regularly, it won’t be easily forgotten.

This week the impact on those who occupy both ‘sides’ on the sidewalk has been strong. Someone described the protesters there this Saturday as possibly giddy (sick, huh?) As escorts we create and hold space because we think sidewalk bullying is wrong. After such an incident, I think we all feel especially convicted to hold that space a little differently now; deeper, perhaps.

So, when I say we are doubling down in the face of these attacks, i guess you could picture a number of things. It’s got nothing to do with triple-meat sandwiches, despite us being in Kentucky. It’s got more to do with practicing what we already do pretty damn well, but maybe through a cracked lens, if you will.

Things we will continue to NOT do:

  • Bring signs that add to visual clutter/chaos for clients and really carry messages more for the protesters, which might escalate tension. Signs are also often used to block and shove, and none of that is part of escorting.
  • Swarm clients and obstruct the sidewalk the way protesters do.
  • Start campaigns to recruit more escorts. We are constantly training new escorts and engaging interested people, but we don’t need to recruit. The protesters, legislators and media do that for us.

Things we will continue to practice (possibly with a little more depth now):

  • Gain consent from every client before walking and talking with them.
  • Keep de-escalation in mind at all times.
  • Hold space as best we are able.
  • Make client experiences our main focus. We are not there for antis.
  • Limit engagement with protesters, because to do otherwise might justify their presence in their minds. (This is by far the hardest, and is almost impossible to practice all the time, but when we do the result is remarkable. Also, not all escorts practice non-engagement the same way, and that’s ok too)

Of course we will keep doing lots of other things too, like adapting to changes as they come our way and doing our best to not make assumptions about folks we see on the sidewalk. Most importantly, just like the clinic staff has promised, we will keep showing up.

Feeling Under Siege

I have been clinic escorting for just over two years now. I have seen the aggressiveness, in-your-face harassment and flat out verbal assault attempting, and many times succeeding, in reducing patients, companions and family into hysterics and tears. Other than quiet words of support and reassurance that I will see them safely through to the door as best and as quickly as I can, there is nothing that I can do.

Our clinic is now being heavily targeted by one of the most radical, aggressive and dangerous anti-abortion groups in the country. These are not quiet old ladies from local churches praying the rosary. They are a nationwide group of extreme fundamentalists, with leaders who are convicted felons. So far they have managed to stay under the radar of the Department of Justice and Southern Poverty Law as a hate group. It will only be a matter of time before they hit the headlines big and others stand up and take notice.

I refrain from posting any of their public videos as they are so graphic, violent and triggering that I don’t know if any of my non-escort friends could watch it without being very unsettled and frightened. Hell, they frighten me.

Do not think that this does not affect anyone in your life. 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the age of 45 from all races, classes, backgrounds and yes, religions.

It is unacceptable for this kind of domestic terrorism against our sisters, mothers, aunts, daughters, friends and ourselves.

Chloe Angyal in a memorial article for Dr. George Tiller, murdered by an anti-abortion extremist on May 31, 2009, describes the escalation of violence by anti-abortion protesters being experienced across the country. I recommend you read the whole article “The Subculture of Embattled Abortion Workers”, but here is a preview:

When Tiller was killed, in 2009, a rush of anti-abortion legislation was just beginning.  And violence against abortion providers, those few who remain, was and remains a daily reality no matter where they live. A continual threat, part of the buzzing background noise that is American violence.

Six years later nearly to the day, I’m still here in the U.S., and though no abortion provider has been murdered since 2009, harassment of these doctors continues. And not just the doctors; anti-choice extremists will target almost anyone who is associated with the provision of abortion: nurses, receptionists, the men and women who run clinic networks, clinic escorts, clinic security guards, landlords, and the neighbors and families of all those people.

Do you condone this behavior? By your apathy, silence and inaction you do.


Interested in becoming a Louisville Clinic Escort? Please read the information in the “Trainings for Escorts” page. Our next training will be in mid-July. Send an email to and we will send you more details about the next training.


REMINDER: It’s not too late to make your pledge for Pledge-a-Picketer.  The campaign ends and we make the final count the day before Father’s Day, June 20. So far, we’re are at 179 protesters.  You can pledge here, with either a specific amount per person or by pledging a lump sum for the whole horde of protesters.



Waiting for McCullen v Coakley ~ Co-Authored by Oubli

We write about the antis all of the time on our blog. We photograph them, take videos of them and recite things they say to clients. The post this week by fml got a lot of comments and views, which is always very appreciated. We love active discussions with our readers.

The videos in the article of Reboot captured the atmosphere of the sidewalk perfectly. It is chaos. It is full of people shoving and shouting to harass and shame clients going for a legal medical procedure. I have said many times, that if you were going to a dentist’s office and protesters showed up to demonstrate they were against fillings because they thought they were a communication device to the devil, those protesters would not be tolerated by the community. But because the medical procedure being accessed at EMW is abortion, it is tolerated by society as being the antis’ right to free speech. Just another political demonstration of their views.

It is not a harmless demonstration. It is not a way to help anyone. The Report of the  APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion* “found that the greater the number of antiabortion picketers and the more aggressive the picketing that women encountered when entering an abortion clinic (as coded by observers), and the more the women reported feeling upset by the demonstrators, the more depressed affect they reported right after their abortion.” In other words, the antis outside the clinic cause more harm to the patient than the actual procedure. States and individual cities have recognized the harm and potential for violence by enacting buffer and/or bubble zone laws to separate the antis from close proximity to patients, escorts, staff and the clinics themselves.

Frequently, we are asked in comments about why we don’t have a buffer zone. We would love one, but there has never been a political climate in Louisville to be able to get the votes for implementing a buffer zone here. There are several reasons why this is our reality. We have studied the risks and benefits of launching a campaign to give the citizens of Louisville and residents of Kentucky a safety zone around the abortion clinics in the state, but for now we are waiting for the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of McCullen v Coakley. This will be decided during their current session. This case could overturn all existing buffer laws; a frightening prospect.

Oubli is a valued reader, a frequent commenter and has authored articles on our blog. Oubli sent this information and the additional resource information below, to emphasize  the importance of this case to all of the existing and proposed buffer zones in the United States.

We need to keep an eye on McCullen v. Coakley because it will determine the constitutionality of clinic buffer zones.

This clinic is the flash point for the case.**

Planned Parenthood's clinic in Boston, MA. The yellow line on the sidewalk and street marks the 35-feet buffer zone.

Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Boston, MA. The yellow line on the sidewalk and street marks the 35-feet buffer zone.

Planned Parenthood's Springfield, MA clinic has white arcs painted on the street to represent the buffer zone.

Planned Parenthood’s Springfield, MA clinic has white arcs painted on the street to represent the buffer zone.

I think that buffer zones do not violate free speech. My analogy would be the equally distasteful but protected freedom of speech right to protest military funerals. Yes, they can protest but as long as their protest was far enough away from the grievers as to not cause distress.

I would really like to pause for a minute and ask you to scroll back up to the photos with their lovely white and yellow lines.

We desperately need this type of space at our clinic. Go back and watch the videos from Wednesday’s post, Saturday on the Sidewalk. On the first video, those white tennis shoes you see were worn by me. In the second video you can see how much shoving, pushing and up close and personal Reboot was to the escorts and the client. Personally, I would prefer to not be as up close and personal with someone screaming in my face. Any escort who has been on the sidewalk in Louisville one time would vote instantly for any buffer zone we could get. The current situation has a high potential for violence and does nothing except cause harm to the clients and their companions.

In the meantime, we wait for the decision in this case that could turn back the clock 20 years or pave the way to a safer experience for all abortion clinics around the country.

Borrowing a slogan from the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights: “Kentucky families deserve better!”


*American Psychological Association (APA) study. pg 84

Additional reading:

**Mike Blog: Law in Plain English McCullen v. Coakley (photographs source)

Policy Mic: McCullen v Coakley is Heading to the Supreme Court Again

Alliance Alert, Law Review: Balancing Public Safety and Freedom of Speech Outside Reproductive Healthcare Facilities-McCullen v Coakley

Cooperative Research: Profile: Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act

National Abortion Federation: Legal Remedies to Address Clinic Violence and Harassment. A Handbook for NAF Members.(Pdf)


We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

FB page:




Dr. George Tiller*

Dr. George Tiller*

This day four years ago Dr. George Tiller was murdered. He was murdered by an anti-abortion protester on May 31, 2009. He was murdered while ushering at church services on a Sunday morning.

Today we should remember his bravery and commitment for years to help women, even at great risk to himself. Today we should honor his life while mourning his loss. Today we should remember to “Trust Women.”

Trust Women


*The photo of Dr. Tiller is included in a statement from Merle Hoffman, On The Issues Magazine, Spring 2009 edition. Please take a minute to read it.


If you are interested in reading more about Dr. Tiller’s story, I highly recommend  ”The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion” by Stephen Singular, published by St. Martin’s Press, First Edition edition (April 12, 2011) It is available for purchase at bookstores and

National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers

Sunday, March 10th is National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. The dedication of providers and their staff make it possible for abortion to be accessible for those who need it.

Why March 10th?

  • The National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers is recognized every year on March 10th, which was the anniversary of the day in 1993 when David Gunn, MD, was murdered by an anti-choice extremist.
  • Dr. Gunn was the first to be killed in the United States for providing abortions. In 1996, pro-choice organizations designated March 10th as the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. Including Dr. Gunn, four physicians have been murdered since 1993 because they provided abortions, as well as one clinic escort, two receptionists, and one security guard. The total death toll is eight.

The National Abortion Federation has detailed information about clinic violence and the FACE Act signed into law in response to Dr. Gunn’s murder.

  • The abortion debate first turned deadly in 1993, when Dr. David Gunn was shot and killed by an anti-abortion zealot in Pensacola, FL. In addition, twelve arsons, one bombing, and 66 blockades were carried out against abortion clinics during that year.
  • In response to this unprecedented act of political assassination, and with the support of pro-choice groups, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The bill was signed into law by President Clinton in May 1994.

Despite the FACE Act, clinic violence by anti-abortion protesters remains a reality. Imagine the stress of going to work every day by a different route to be sure you aren’t followed, checking your car for explosives every time you get into it, checking your work area for explosives, being trained to carefully open mail at work, screening phone calls for serious threats, and being alert to any person entering the clinic for potential violence.

Families of workers can be targeted for harassment. Voice of Choice was established in response to the bullying by anti-abortion extremists of the landlord of an abortion clinic in Maryland.

What can you do to let these abortion providers know you appreciate their sacrifices?

  • Send cards and letters of appreciation to your clinic
  • Send flowers or other small factory-sealed gifts to the staff of your clinic
  • Volunteer to be a clinic escort
  • Donate funds to help provide access to abortion. (Our “How to get involved” page lists some suggestions)
  • Raise your voice publicly by writing letters to the editor of your newspaper, writing your legislators and
  • Most importantly by voting for pro-access candidates in the elections.

Join us March 10th in thanking abortion providers for their dedication. 

Explaining Abortion Clinic Escorting


Last month we were approached by one of the co-founders of the website Jobstr to participate in their listings to explain escorting. Their website is designed to “Ask people anything about their jobs.” When you participate, you write a brief explanation of what your job is. Then members of their website ask you questions and vote on your answers. Anyone can read the listings, but you have to join to comment or ask questions.

We looked over their website and discussed participating. The co-founder assured us, “it’s extremely low-maintenance.” I have to admit, I was reluctant. I was concerned we would have a lot of antis commenting or asking questions. Spending the day deleting “dead baby” posts wasn’t something I was eager to tackle. Despite the statement from the co-founder, “Our readers are an intellectually curious bunch who tend to ask great questions,” I was hesitant. In our research, we found most jobs had questions ranging in number from 20 to up to about 60 questions. How would the subject of abortion access change this?  It would be a way to add awareness of what escorts do out of the normal channels we reach, but I believed it would also be an attractant to antis too.

After weighing the pros and cons, we sent this answer to the invitation: “We want to thank you for the invitation to participate on your Q&A site. The subject of abortion is controversial, so any opportunity to dispel the myths and clarify what actually happens in front of clinics daily is an opportunity not to be missed. That is part.of the reason we write our blog. We will sign up to be a host today.”

This was the start of a very interesting project. I was so wrong and I am glad cooler heads prevailed. We participated and did not receive one negative comment or question from antis. The co-founder was correct, it was low-maintenance and we were able to answer questions as we had the time. There was no pressure to send an instant reply. The 19 questions we received were respectful and some of them made us think a lot about a clear answer. The reader voting also let us know what questions generated the most interest.

I am not going to recreate the web page for “Abortion Clinic Escort” in this article, but I would like to list the questions. You can read all of the questions and answers at this link.

Please let us know what you think of our answers. How would you answer these question differently?

Here is the list of questions we were asked in order of popularity votes:

  1. Have you ever met protesters who presented their position in a respectful manner such that, despite your conflicting beliefs, you still had respect for them? Or do both sides just assume “My way is the right way?”
  2. You say “Abortion is not a dirty word.” While I tend to agree, do you at least acknowledge that it’s a “heavy” word and appreciate why many people, even those who are pro-choice, have trouble throwing it around lightly?
  3. Are there protesters every day at every clinic you volunteer at? Is mainly picketing and shouting, or does it get violent?
  4. What are protesters allowed and not allowed, legally, to do? I assume they can yell whatever they want, but where’s the legal line to how far they can take harassment?
  5. What motivated your decision to volunteer?
  6. Do you ever feel like you’re in any real danger while on the job?
  7. Do you talk to or console the women you escort about their decision, or is your job simply to get them from car to clinic?
  8. Have you ever had a pro-life volunteer who simply didn’t think it was right for women to get harassed by exercising their legal right?
  9. Are there women who arrive at the clinic who insist that you *not* help them? Or do they all readily accept the offer?
  10. Do you do more than walk clients from their car to the clinic door? If they ask you questions about abortion or law or religion, are you allowed to answer them?
  11. Is your volunteer group comprised most of women who have had abortions themselves?
  12. Roughly what percentage of women arrive at the clinic alone?
  13. How many women show up for their scheduled abortion but then change their mind?
  14. Are most of the protesters doing so for religious reasons, or are there a lot of non religion-based pro-lifers involved?
  15. Have pro-life nuts ever tried to pass laws restricting clinic escorts, maybe thinking that might be an indirect way to make women less likely to get abortions?
  16. Do you have to get permission to act as ACE’s from the clinics you volunteer at? Or do you just show up?
  17. Have you ever turned down someone who wanted to be an escort? Would anything completely disqualify me?
  18. Do protesters bring their young kids to join in? As an American, do you respect their right to free speech, even when it’s abusive and insensitive?
  19. Do protesters taunt you guys too, or just the women going to get abortions?

In conclusion, we would like to thank Jobstr for inviting us to participate. This was out of our comfort zone, but a very rewarding experience.

Remembering Dr. George Tiller

Violence surrounding reproductive health services, especially abortion, is on my mind this week. There were two arsons at two different clinics in Georgia last week. There was another arson in New Orleans at Women With a Vision.

The National Abortion Federation has  a breakdown of the history of violence surrounding abortion and abortion providers.  It has not been updated to include the Florida arson in January nor the ones this past week, but it is a reminder to all of us the potential for violence at abortion clinics is always present.

Dr. George Tiller was murdered by an anti-abortion protester on May 31, 2009. Dr. Tiller was 67 years old when he was murdered. He could have retired, but he worked tirelessly for women’s reproductive choices. He faced years of death threats, protesters interfering with his work and even harassment by Phill Kline, the Attorney General of Kansas.

Imagine the commitment to go to work every day with the threat of violence. Would you want to go back for almost 15 years after you were shot five times because you were an abortion provider? Would you post a sign at your clinic after it was firebombed, saying “Hell no, we won’t go”? Dr. Tiller’s commitment to women was summed up in his motto: “Trust Women.”

I remember where I was when I heard the news of his murder. My shock at the news was spent in endless hours watching news coverage and reading articles. It also awakened in me a need to translate my commitment to abortion access for everyone, for any reason, into action. I know I do not have a tiny fraction of the courage Dr. Tiller had, but I had to honor his memory by continuing to speak out in support of women and their choices.

It is hard to believe it has been three years since Dr.Tiller’s murder. It is hard to believe the legislative landscape for abortion and even birth control is worse than three years ago.

Please hold Dr. George Tiller and his work in your thoughts tomorrow. Wear your “Trust Women” buttons and t-shirts proudly in honor of his commitment.


If you are interested in reading more about Dr. Tiller’s story, I highly recommend  “The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion” by Stephen Singular, published by St. Martin’s Press, First Edition edition (April 12, 2011) It is available for purchase at bookstores and

Martyrs and Saints

When we publish articles on Every Saturday Morning, we moderate all comments received. Our view on comments is spelled out on our Comments page. Even though it is spelled out clearly we will not post religious or anti-abortion comments, we frequently get comments from antis wanting to let us know the error of our ways.

One comment we deleted because it violated our comment policy got me thinking about the different types of motivations for antis who come out on the sidewalk regularly. It is part of my personal, never-ending quest to figure out why antis come out to harass strangers once a week. I especially do not understand those antis who come every day.

They all believe they are entitled to be there. They frequently tell us they are exercising their right to free speech. They tell us they see the truth and say we are Satan’s tools. They pray for escorts and clients. We frequently hear, “May there be a Holy Ghost intervention to stop you from entering this clinic,” “I will pray for you to see the truth,” “You know you will go to hell for what you are doing,” “If you died today, are you ready to be judged?”, directed at clients, companions and escorts.

If prayer isn’t answered fast enough, some antis block the way, pushing and shoving. We trip over them in our attempt to walk clients around them. They frequently provoke a reaction from clients, companions and sometimes escorts. When violence has been barely avoided or actually sparked, we have been told by this same comment-writing anti, ‘I am here to stop the killing of babies and would lose my life if necessary.’ This anti has been punched, shoved off the sidewalk and screamed at by clients and companions. Still E comes back every week.

This anti isn’t rare and we see the type each day on the sidewalk. I call these the Martyr and Saint protesters. These particular protesters go a little further in their actions. They appear to be eager and willing to put themselves in harm’s way as if to prove their devotion to their belief. A violent reaction seems to be one of the things they are seeking. Sometimes they do get violent responses. Then we hear them ask other protesters, “Did you see what they did to me?”

These antis are volatile and unpredictable. When we point out they are violating the FACE Act one of them replied with, “Federal law’s a joke. What about the law above?” It is not unusual to have these antis standing 3 inches from our faces screaming about how escorts are all liars, sinners and murderers. This sometimes gets an angry reaction in response.

M is one anti in this group we write about all of the time. The potential to provoke physical violence is present each time M is on the sidewalk. The reactions to M from companions and clients are always vocal repetitions of, ‘Leave me alone,’ in the words they choose to say to convey that message. Clients and companions have balled up their fists and swung, yelled and pushed, but M’s tactics have not changed.

D is there 5 days a week and is in this group. D is like postal delivery: neither rain, snow, sleet or any other obstacles will prevent the visit to the clinic daily. Imagine what benefit that kind of dedication would be able to do in a different setting. Feeding the poor? Helping the homeless? The possibilities are endless.

I realize the quest to understand these antis is never-ending for me and never to be fulfilled, but I know I will continue to explore the subject.

More Anger

Saturday started out so beautifully.  i rounded the corner to the clinic and saw a sea of orange vests, and no protesters.  It was lovely.

Of course, i was there half an hour early, so it didn’t last.  But it was a moment.

There were parking issues.  Marathon season has started, so there were runners in their jogging outfits, numbers on their chests, often in groups.   All those runners have to park somewhere.  So a bunch of us got to the clinic early and took up almost all the on-the-street parking.   Then, when clients started coming, we moved our cars to let them park.  It was pretty effective.

It also kept the man with the anti-choice billboard on a trailer from parking right in front on the clinic.  He found two spots across the street, but it still felt good.

I was down at the far corner again, and we walked quite a few clients up from that end.  It was all going about as well as it can.  Then ~

I was approaching the clinic and I could hear someone yelling about halfway up the block. As I got closer, I could see him.


As we got closer, he turned and looked directly at me.  “AND YOU – YOU’RE WALKING HER IN THERE!!”  He turned away, as if disgusted, but continued to yell, pacing back and forth.

The woman and her companion made it onto the clinic property ~ which always feels like “home free.”  I paused a minute.

Another escort said something to the super angry man ~ i’ll call him Sam ~ I think something about it not actually being babies.  He responded with a roar, going off into another tirade.

He was yelling in my direction, gesticulating, fists clenched, face contorted.  He was a little scary.

In some foolish moment of wanting to see if I could de-escalate him a little, I said softly, “Gosh, you’re really angry.”  Believe it or not, sometimes that helps.

But not today.  In fact, it seemed to make it worse, so I backed off and headed back down the sidewalk.

A little time went by ~ we walked another client or two up the walk ~ Sam was still there, ranting and pacing.  He seemed so volatile, it made me really nervous.

“You know,” K said, “He’s the person that threatened the clinic before.  Said he was going to blow it up.”

I shook my head.  “I think we should call the police.  He seems awfullly angry, and a little out of control.”

“Well, he’s not supposed to be here,’ said K.

So ~ long story short ~ when an officer drove by, K waved her down.  She and some other officers talked to Sam, but apparently the restraining order the clinic had taken out against him had already expired.

Sam calmed down to talk to the police.  When the officers left, he started yelling and ranting again.  The other protesters were happily supporting him, giving him hi-fives and agreeing with him, glaring at us.

I had just left another client at the door and was heading down the sidewalk, through the gauntlet of Catholics reciting the rosary.  Sam was standing at the end of the rows, directly across from a woman and her children, yelling and ranting.

K was talking to him, trying to get him to stop, I suppose.

The woman started yelling too, yelling that Sam was right, that they were killing babies in there.  Her children listened, wide-eyed.   Her face was contorted and angry too. And suddenly ~

I don’t know if I can really describe it ~

suddenly, I felt a heaviness in the air around me, as if their anger had weight.  As if it were actually touching me.

I was shaken, and a little afraid.

Usually, I don’t feel afraid at the clinic.   Most of the protesters have lives that matter to them and family and friends.  I think most of them would not be willing to risk what they have to bomb a clinic or hurt an escort.

But Sam feels out of control, like he might act on all that rage.   Like it might be worth anything to save those babies.  AND ~

It felt like the protesters wanted him to.  Like they wanted him to act out his rage.  Like they wouldn’t do it themselves, but they kinda wanted him to hurt someone.

To hurt me, maybe.

And in that moment, i had a flash of knowing ~ some archetypal memory ~ or things I’ve read ~ a moment of sensing the force that led to witches burnt and sinners stoned.

A little afraid, I moved on down the sidewalk.  Moved away.


Back in the safety of my everyday, I ask myself if my anger rages like that, if the escorts share that kind of mob mentality.

Do we want someone else to act out our rage?  Do we secretly, points of unity cast aside, want to see a protester hurt?

I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want to be part of a rosary wielding crowd, waiting for someone to throw the first stone.

And then I remember ~ with great relief ~ no, we’re not like that ~ we really don’t want anyone to get hurt.  We calm each other, try to calm companions when the anger starts to spill over, when violence threatens.   If one of us is in a rage, other escorts don’t cheer them on.  We don’t encourage them the way the protesters did with Sam.

For a moment Saturday, I felt the threat of a holy war.  The Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch hunts, or Jihad… they all end badly for the non-believer.  I don’t care what people believe, I just want women to be able to keep their doctor appointments.