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.

elbow

“I accidentally walked into the door, officer.”

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll keep you posted.

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

***********

Transcripts:

Escort Shoved to the Ground

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

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

Aaron Preaching

Obey my commands.

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

 

Dreams of a Safety Zone

We had a relatively new protester on the sidewalk this week.  I don’t know his name – someone called him Herman, and that works for me.  New protesters are sometimes a bit overly enthusiastic about their opportunity to save babies.  They don’t always understand the unwritten agreements between us and the antis.  Herman is a prime example of that.

In our first picture, Herman is excited because he saw an escort talking to someone in a car.  He runs to the Abolish Human Abortion crew to let them know.

IMG_1098(Picture shows AHA members, with one sign, and Herman, a white man with gray hair and a short gray beard, wearing sunglasses, holding a Bible and another book.  They are looking down the sidewalk in the same direction -his arm is slightly raised as he has just pointed at the escort who was talking to the people in the car.)

In this picture, Herman enthusiastically leads the way down the sidewalk to show the big guys exactly which car it was.

(IMG_1099

(Excuse my thumb in the lower left corner…)

I head that way too, phone camera ready.   I hope if I’m doing video they won’t actually surround the car.  And they don’t – they stay on the sidewalk.

Here’s that video, with transcript:

Joseph Spurgeon preaching:  Murder.
What you’re about to do will be the killing of your child. The murder of your son or daughter. We come out here, we want to plead with you that there are better options. Other options.
Anything is better than killing your child.
We would like to offer you assistance. we would like to offer you to adopt your child. We also want to warn you that the word of God has said that to take the life of another human being is murder To take the life of your son or daughter is murder.
It is a crime against God, and against man. iI is a crime against your creator.
Herman: (up close to me) Do you know your creator? Do you know your creator? Do you know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Do you know the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
JS: it’s a crime
H: Praise God almighty, you murderers –
J: Because God has created you in the image of himself, he has created your child in his image
H: You’re murdering people  How can you do this? how can you do this and smile about it?  Do you know how great God Almighty is??   YOU one day you will bow to him.  I pray that it’s not too late praise God almighty Turn to God Turn to God (Bible over camera)

JS:  (preaching over H)  And so if you kill your child if you would kill your son or daughter, it is an attack upon him as well. we come to warn you, not that you would mock or laugh. but that we would warn you to flee from God’s wrath and to turn to him.

(H quits talking, puts his Bible over my camera phone.)

JS:  Look to Jesus Christ. You can find hope for your situation. You can find…

I don’t know why Herman’s so upset about me doing some video.  The AHA guys really don’t care, and they’ve been taking pictures and doing video themselves all day.

Then Donna comes up and has a few words to say about me to Herman.  Something about  “her dear mother in heaven” who is “praying for her,” which is fine, the day is not compete without Donna talking about my mama.  The doors open, the clients go inside, and the morning goes on.

Maybe 10 minutes later, I’m standing in front of the clinic door, clients coming, lots of yelling from AHA and from Angela, I take a step back to get out of the way and bump into Herman, who is apparently right behind me.

“You need to move,” I say, “it’s against the law to block clinic access. It’s against the FACE act.”

“I’m not blocking access,” he says, “They got in, didn’t they?”

I walk away from him.

A few minutes later, I’m in the drop-off zone, and he approaches me.  I have my phone in hand, (mostly because I dont have any pockets in the pants I’m wearing) and as he starts talking to me, I raise the phone and hit “record.”

Through an intense 22 seconds, Herman holds his hand up over my phone and moves forward toward me, while I back up.

Here’s the transcript:

H:  Don’t push me
Me:  You’re making me really nervous
H:  Don’t push me
M:  You need to get away from me
H:  Don’t push me
M:  You’re scaring me
H:  Don’t push me
M:  Get away from me.  You’re following me.
H:  Don’t push me, don’t push me
M:  You’re following me, and I’m not touching you, i’m not doing anything to you
H:  You were touching me
M:  Get away from me
H:  You were touching me
M:  You need to get away from me
H:  You were touching me
M:  You need to back up, you’re scaring the crap out of me

At the end, Joseph Spurgeon kind of pulls Herman away, talks with him.  And I appreciate that.  Although – it’s an upside down world when Spurgeon is the voice of reason…

But now you know why I’m dreaming of a safety zone at the clinic.  I’m not usually afraid.  And I don’t usually think of it as particularly high risk to be an escort.  But I was talking about the risk level at abortion clinics with a friend recently.  She agreed – it is low risk – “It’s a one,” she said, “Until it’s a nine.”  Or a ten.  This Saturday was a good reminder of how true that is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nicest Escort Ever

Walt wouldn’t have wanted me to write this post.  If I could tell him I was going to write a blog post in his memory, I think he would have looked uncomfortable – the same look he got when I complimented him or told him how much we appreciated him.  He would have shook his head, “no,” and said, “Oh, you don’t have to do that.”   Walt was the most modest and unassuming person I’ve known.

But I think he would have approved of this post in the end, or at least agreed to let me do it, if I explained it was really for us.  If I told him that we just wanted to share a few memories and publicly say good-bye, I think he would have given in and told me we could do it.

From his fellow escorts:

I still can’t believe it is true I can’t get my head around the idea that such a caring person is gone so suddenly,maybe next Saturday I’ll see him walking down the side walk then I’ll know I was dreaming.

~~ AI

Walt was a true gentle man and an example of civility

~~RS

Class act that guy. Chatted with him a few weeks ago. Never mentioned he was sick. Talked about his daughters. Hoping his family is doing ok.

~~JR

I remember him always smiling, always full of cheerful good mornings. And the cheerful good mornings were to the escorts and protesters alike. Nodding good morning and smiling, with his hat off and pressed against his chest as he passed through the prayer line. Class act indeed!

~~KS

I already miss him & his always smiling face.

~~JT

Way too bad. The last thing I heard him say was a suggestion to do what seems right, to which I made a flip reply. But that was clearly more important than I realized at the time, spoken as it was by a man who was out on the street engaged in his activism only a couple of weeks before his death. That’s practically dying with your boots on. Rest in power, Walter.

~~AD

That corner will always be “Walter’s corner” to me.

~~CB

Walter was the nicest person I have ever met. Full stop. He always had a smile, a warm greeting and a kind word for everyone he met. He will be missed in my life and in the escort community.

~~PC

It just won’t be the same without Walter’s big bright smile warming up that strip of 2nd street.

~~MS

Walter was a quiet, gracious person, friendly to everyone. He seemed to like to be in quiet surroundings, but was willing to endure the harsh cacophony often demonstrated on the sidewalk on Saturday mornings, to stand up for women and their rights. He would stand on ‘his’ corner all morning, smiling at anyone who came by and making encouraging comments to clients and companions.

Sometimes I would stand with him when it was calm on the corner, and we would chat a little, and then just spend time being quiet. He told me once he appreciated my quiet presence, and that meant a lot to me. I will certainly miss him, and will always remember his smiling face.

~~PG

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RIP Walter…

`

The Things We Carry, by Penny

TW:  Violence, rape

On the sidewalk, the “antis” look at us, escorts as well as clients, and based on our ages, the vehicles we drive or don’t drive, the clothes we wear, the overheard snippets of friendly conversation, they’ll tailor the harassment to what they believe is the greatest effect.

“Does your mother know you’re here – you may be an outcast!”

“That’s what a real baby is supposed to look like.”

“You are not young, nearing the end of your life – repent now!” and memorably,

“Go home and put some decent clothes on!”

We immediately think through all the counter-arguments, the snappy retorts, the “you-don’t-know-me’s,” and sometimes a client or companion will voice them. Mostly we hope to avoid the added annoyance of them learning our names. I can’t help but cringe when this happens, because any acknowledgement feeds the antis. But it’s hard. It’s so hard not to respond, and I understand the temptation. We’re good at what we do, but we’re not robots. We all have reasons for being there, unique experiences we carry up and down the sidewalk.

I carry the memory of Catholic school in the first grade, when getting regularly pinched and shoved by a boy was considered normal, even adorable behavior. “He just likes you.” “Boys will be boys.” When I finally bit the hand that assaulted me, I was scolded by the nuns for my “unladylike” behavior and had a note sent home to my parents.

I carry the endless lectures from puberty onward that “men only want one thing – that’s how they all are, they can’t help it, and so you have to protect yourself.” Internalizing this meant that in order to receive any affection from men, I needed to reduce myself to my body. It meant I accepted as a given that my mind was irrelevant in any romantic entanglements. It took me almost the rest of my life to unlearn this.

I carry the heavy months I spent as a sex worker, and knowing that this would be the peak of my earning power. That society valued me most on my back. That if I got raped, beaten, robbed, there was no one to safely turn to – again, my body was the only valuable thing, but I still had little control over what happened to it. But hey, at least I could pay my bills.

I carry the boyfriend who “rescued” me, who convinced me that no one else but him could possibly love me after sex work. Who asked me to marry him. Who threw a full can of beer at my head in the middle of a party while everyone else shrugged. Who I eventually married because who else could want me now? I felt I must deserve the abuse after my past.

I carry the day I went alone to a Planned Parenthood for an abortion, one I had in secret for fear of what would happen if he found out. One I had to drive halfway across the state twice in two days to obtain. The impotent rage of fighting my way through protestors, with no escorts to assist me. This choice allowed me the time to gain the skills I needed to survive in the nine-to-five world, and without it I don’t know where I’d be. I never once doubted my decision, and don’t to this day, but I do wish that I’d been brave enough then to confide in a friend, and that I’d had escorts to run me through the gamut of shaming.

I carry the time a few years later when my husband began to hit me in earnest, holding our six-month-old baby hostage because “no one is going to give you custody, you’re a whore.” When I called the police one awful night, they talked me out of pressing charges. I was obviously just overreacting, hysterical. I didn’t want to invite CPS into my life, did I? I locked myself into my child’s carefully decorated nursery and silently cried all night.

I carry the last exhausting month of our marriage three years later, when I was trying to leave and he used the threat of further traumatizing my son to get away with raping me. More than once.

* * *

It’s a little past two years since I filed for divorce and never looked back, and it hasn’t always been easy, but I came out the other side knowing this for sure – autonomy is worth fighting for. My story is mild compared to a heartbreakingly large number of people. We need to draw a hard line here, because raising girls to believe that they are only their bodies – as blow up dolls, incubators, or punching bags – is dangerous. I want better for myself. I need better for myself and my child and I am willing to accept nothing less. No one, man or woman, should ever have to suffer living with less.

These are the things I carry with me every morning on the sidewalk, though the antis would never assume it. Even if they did, it wouldn’t matter. The shame and intimidation tactics are achingly familiar to me. They want to grind you down, make you docile. I lovingly carry my weight to the clinic because we need to hold the line against those who would trap us in our own bodies; against those who would determine our worth for us; against those who would use shame to control us.

If I see you on the sidewalk, client, companion, or escort, I hope you’ll hold your head high. Because it matters, and if you’re out there in spite of all they throw your way, I am proud of you. Make any choice you want, as long as it’s yours. Stay brave, stay free, and may your pack be light.

Sidekick Training, by Lou

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theater of the Absurd: 9-19-15

I don’t usually escort on weekdays.  When I do, it seems quiet and calm compared to Saturdays.   I have time to chat, and time for random observations.  For example, you may have seen this on billboards:

IMG_5173It’s a baby -maybe a 6 month old – smiling, and the text reads:

BEFORE I WAS EVEN BORN

I COULD SMILE!

The sign is leaning against the fire hydrant, one of the handy devices the city has placed on the sidewalk in front of the clinic to showcase the antis signs.  (The sign on the other side of the hydrant says, “THE KILLING PLACE,” a helpful marker for people having trouble finding the clinic.)

But the “I could smile” sign confuses me.  Because I’m pretty sure that after babies are born, they don’t really smile.  I mean, they make that little Mona Lisa smile sometimes and we say, “Oh!  Look!  She’s smiling!”  And then somebody else says, “No, I think that’s gas.  They say that’s just gas – I don’t think they can smile yet.”

When a baby gets to be about 4 months old, they start smiling like they really mean it, and we’re all thrilled and say, “Oh, look!  Look at that smile!!  Oh!!” and no one disagrees, and our hearts all melt a little bit.

So I don’t understand this pre-born smiling thing.  Is it that little Mona Lisa smile?  Because that one really doesn’t mean anything.  Or is it the big “I’m so happy to see you” smile?  If that’s the one, then I want to know what happens to it once they’re actually born.  Why do they not smile again for months?  Do they miss the womb?  Feel disappointed about their life?   Very strange.

Interestingly, the sign was made by a company based here in Louisville – a non-profit started by people at a local church.  Now I’m wondering if the billboards are sold nationally, or if other cities have their own sign makers.  And are all the billboards the same? Surely we’re not the only place to have billboards proclaiming:

I COULD DREAM BEFORE I WAS BORN 

or

7 months BEFORE I was born I had FINGERPRINTS!

The billboards are real bright, like the picture I posted, mostly blue and yellow, with splashes of red.  Do youall have the same ones where you live?  And do they come from the same company?

These are the kinds of things I ponder on a weekday morning at the clinic.  Here’s the other thing that caught my eye.

IMG_5174Yep, it’s one of the AHA fetal porn signs with a DIY handle on the back.  I’ve been watching the AHA guys handle the signs as if they were shields and wondering how they did it so handily.  Now we know – a yardstick and a little packing tape is all you need to make an effective “enarmes,”.  If they attach some leather straps, they can sling it over a shoulder as they come and go.  That would be downright swashbuckling.

Finally, I bring you this video from a Saturday. A couple of clients and their companions arrived early and were treated to Story Time by Dominic. I guess it’s better than listening to him yell, “Murder!  Murder in the first degree!!”  So this kinder, gentler Dominic starts off saying that he’s Japanese American.

We were put in internment camps, just because of our race.  It didn’t matter if our parents were born here, or that I was born here.  My parents and grandparents were put in internment camps just because of their race.  And again – the Supreme Court said, “It’s ok.”

Donna (comes up behind him):    Honey, you are already a mom.

D:  Think about that, Brother.  Think about that Supreme Court that has made just more tragic mistakes.  This is just another mistake.

Yep, darn Supreme Court, if they hadn’t made abortion legal, no one would have one.

You might have thought I was going to write about Planned Parenthood and the continuing efforts to defund them, or how these ludicrous efforts are inciting more push back from people who might not have paid attention otherwise, or how some states are passing more restrictive laws while other states are having their restrictive laws overturned, or any of the other substantive challenges facing us.  But no.  The sidewalk is a form of the Theater of the Absurd, so:

“There is no action or plot. Very little happens because nothing meaningful can happen.”

The action on the sidewalk doesn’t meet all the criteria for Theater of the Absurd, all the time, but it comes close.  More about that another time…

What’s New on the Sidewalk?

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

IMG_0721

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

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

The official mission statement for the Knights of Columbus says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Good Abortion- Part I – by KyBorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just hang up.

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

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

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

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

And I have my appointment.

We Win Again

Only 100 protesters turned up on Saturday before Mother’s Day.  You know the deal – Pledge-a-Picketer, the more anti’s show up, the more money we make from the fundraiser.  It was always a win-win proposition – if lots of protesters show up, good for us, if not so many show up, good for us – and the clients. Here’s the history.

2009 – between 275 and 325 protesters.  (This was the year that inspired the fund-raiser.)

2010 – 255 protesters, 89 escorts

2011 – Closed for Derby Day

2012 – 151 protesters, 40 escorts

2013 – 315 protesters, ? escorts {can’t find the count for this year, sorry.}

2014 – 103 protesters, 60 escorts  {Donna tells the escorts that the numbers are low because they know about the fund-raiser we do so they stay away.  YAY – that’s a win for us too!}

And now ~~ this year ~~ drumroll please ~~ i

100 protesters, 35 escorts

Yep, that’s it.  I know, it’s a little ho-hum.  Here’s what it looked like:

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It was a lovely sea of orange up by the front door.

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Here’s what it sounded like.

Chad, standing on his step stool, preaches to the men:

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

Lovely, right?  And this:

Chad says:

No thieves, no covetous, no drunkards, no revilers, no extortionists shall inherit the kingdom of God.  {Leans over and points at me}   Fear God, repent of your sins, and put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  {unintelligible} eternal life.

I am not sure which of those types of sinners I am – I mean, possibly all of them, but I don’t know which one he’s accusing me of being.  Baby killer is my usual gig ~ in their view ~ although, for the record I have not actually killed any babies, either pre-born or post.  So I’m a little baffled, but that’s ok.  I don’t want to have a conversation with him about it or anything.

Because we’re doing a Spring Pledge-a-Picketer this year, we still have one more day to go before we tally up on fundraising.  The Saturday before Father’s Day is another special occasion, famous for the parade that comes in from a nearby church.  Lots of singing and excitement – i would kind of like if they would just do it somewhere else.  Here’s what it was like last year:

It’s a gospel song, and mostly says, “Shout for victory, Shout for the Lord.”

So it’s not too late to make your pledge for Pledge-a-Picketer.   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.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1cATk530BlUVRVofUMNaNHU1yo9FvN78ByX-_rHzWbtk/viewform

Antis Say the Darndest Things~ by fml

Most of you already know that protesters on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic say the same things over and over. And over. You probably already know that to call their words “counseling” stretches the imagination beyond breaking point.

If you follow this blog, you may remember Escort Bingo – if not, you can refresh your memory here. You may even have a personal favorite in the repetitive lines that the protesters use. I have a bunch of favorites, but here are a few:

“Just take 5 minutes to get a free ultrasound. What’s the harm in that?”

“We only want to help.”

“God is watching you.”

“Why don’t you go to a real doctor?”

“They don’t care about you. They only care about your money.”

“Come next door where we care about you.”

So the other day, a couple of escorts started a little game. One of them pledged a quarter for every time Anti XYZ says a particular line. Another escort pledged a dime for every time Anti ABC says one of their favorite lines. Then – who knows where these ideas come from?- some escort says, “We should make this a fundraiser!”

So now it is. It’s our pre-Easter, just-for-fun, antis-say-the-darndest-things fundraiser. We’re not expecting to make a lot of money – the Bowl-a-Thon is coming soon, and then we’ll be working on Pledge-a-Picketer. We’re not trying to wear anyone out with excessive fundraising. This is just for fun.

We want the antis to know we are doing this fundraiser, but we don’t want them to know which antis and which phrases we are tracking. If they don’t know, the only way they can keep us from raising funds is they all have to stop saying anything. It’s a total win-win scenario for us.

We already have escorts lined up to track the things they say. If you want to play – to pledge a certain amount for every time XYZ says that thing they say, or ABC says their rudest admonition, email us for details. You can find us at everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com

We’ll let you know the tally and winning phrase after Easter.