Changes on the Sidewalk

Remember Nurse Betty?  Yes, Nurse Betty, the protester.  And Donna, the little red-headed lady who shows up 5 days a week to harass the clients at the clinic?  You know that they have been some of the most persistent and bothersome protesters.  Well, along with Ron and Ponytail Guy and Andrew and Angela, and some of the other regulars.

But Donna, with her refrain of “You’ll always regret this, your life will never be the same.” was super annoying.  Doing her little “come here” hand gesture, as if this invitation would be irresistible to clients waiting to check in for their procedure.   “Did you know they take you in the basement?” she would say.  “If this place caught on fire, you wouldn’t be able to get out!”  Because fire safety is your primary concern when you need an abortion.  Donna.  Annoying, but laughable.

And Nurse Betty, with her laminated page of graphic fetus images.  She would thrust it at people – escorts, clients, whoever – exclaiming, “Look at this!!  Look at this!!  Do you know what you’re doing?  Do you see what you support?”

She still has that page, Nurse Betty does.  She was clutching it today, ready in case she had the opportunity to thrust it at someone.  But you know what?  That laminated 8 x 10 sheet of graphic fetus images just doesn’t have a lot of shock value anymore.  Because this:

IMG_5151

doesn’t carry much weight next to this:

11998457_10207913341536477_1368200988_n

Or this:

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31 x 48 inches – 2 1/2 feet by 4 feet – that’s the size of the posters.  Over four times as big as Nurse Betty’s little piece of paper.  It almost makes me feel sorry for her.

And let’s talk about sound.  Once upon a time, we could hear the Catholics saying the rosary.  We’d hear Donna’s comments, maybe Andrew, exhorting the clients and escorts, talking about his own pre-born child. Then Angela might show up, and we’d think she was loud.   Yep, Angela seemed real loud, yelling and preaching at the door.

This video is ridiculously long, but kind of great because you can see and hear Joseph, one of the AHA (Abolish Human Abortion) guys, talking directly to an escort (not using his amplifier, although sometimes he does use it even when he’s that close to someone)  He’s saying things like this:

You have to put your faith in Jesus Christ, he is lord and savior He’s your king. one day you will bow down before him … will you do that willingly?  we’ve been praying for you…  I pray for you by name – your name is escaping me right now – but i pray for you by name… There was a time in my life when I laughed and mocked… every knee will bow… I want you to have grace, i really do… At one time we considered black people not persons… The same court that held that black people were not persons are holding that babies are not persons…   Why not repent while you have time… The bible says today is the day of salvation. Repent. Turn to Jesus”

In the background you can just barely hear Angela yelling at the window.  She’s saying things like this:

Don’t go in that abortion mill.  Don’t do it.  Come out right now You think that abortionist is going to solve your problem, you don’t want to have a baby, but you already have a baby. Right now, you’re a mother right now you’re a father right now you are already a mother.  You’ll just be the mother of a dead baby.  Come out!”

You can hear the Catholics saying the rosary and at the end, another preacher chimes in.  And you can hear them all.

Or here – here’s Donna and her plastic fetus dolls (from 2013):

Innocent, defenseless, unsuspecting child. Abortion is the ultimate act of terror. Look at these little babies – seven to ten weeks Put that up on your website. Might change the hearts of some of these folks.

But now listen to this:

“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!!”

Or go back and listen to the video I posted in “Don’t Be a Mocker.”  The sound level has increased exponentially.   The Catholics can barely hear themselves praying anymore.  The AHA preachers with their loudspeakers drown out other voices, and they only grudgingly let the other street preachers like Angela take a turn.

Nurse Betty and her little paper, the chasers with their pamphlets and brochures, are ineffectual now.  Even Donna’s little fetus dolls seem pale and – well, almost boring.

Then a few weeks ago, this happened.  It’s Joseph again.

J:  “You can be sure they’ll have a home that loves them.   Please.  Please let me adopt your child. Please. (comes off stool toward the clinic)  Allow me to adopt your child please. (He crosses the property line, escorts begin to say, “You’re trespassing. You’re trespassing)  Just allow me to adopt your child.  Allow me to adopt your child please.  (You’re trespassing.)  You don’t have to call the police.   She needs to allow me to adopt her child. Please allow me to adopt your child Please allow me to adopt your child
I was asking.
Clinic staff:  I’m calling the police.
J:  I’m not blocking anybody, not breaking any laws
Clinic Staff:  You are trespassing this is our property.
J:  You need to stop killing children. (steps off property) You need to stop killing children. Allow me to adopt your child please.

Dominic yells:  “You had an option ma’am. That’s what it is, Murder in the first degree.”

J:  You are a murderer you need to repent and turn to Christ. (Escort:  “go away”) You need to repent of your sins. (Escort:  Go away) You need to repent. i’m just trying to talk to some someone and offer to adopt their child.   You can get mad all you want sir, but you are a murderer, you’re a hateful , you’re a hateful murderer   You don’t care about these people. You do not care about these people.

Another protester (to the escort):  And you’re a coward.  Because if you were a man, you’d be standing up for these babies.

Escort: (scoffing)  If I were a man like you?

Protester.  “No not a man like me.   A man like Jesus.”
J:  i was offering to adopt her child  (To the escort) don’t be a coward, sir, speak up, stand up for your convictions
Escort:  I am!
J: Well then tell me, what’s wrong with trying to adopt someone’s child? (Unintelligible)  In this building they will murder children,”

This week, Joseph slammed his sign into an escort standing on the property line at the clinic.  He apparently thought she was standing where his sign should have been.  The sign is almost as tall as she is, and he shoved it into her.

Even one of the Catholic protesters thought that was out of line.  She told him his rudeness “was putting a bad face on pro-life.”   His response?  He turned away from the woman confronting him, and said to an escort, “I can do whatever I want to.”

Let me be clear.  Joseph, the AHA guy does not care about the escort he slammed his sign into.  In his mind, his mission trumps her right to stand on the sidewalk.  He thinks a woman he doesn’t even know should change her entire life, carry a pregnancy to term, and give him – a stranger, literally someone off the street – her baby.   Because he wants her to.

In the same way, the anti-abortion people no longer care if a woman’s health is at risk. They are not worried about women’s well-being, or even their survival.  The fall-out from the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood have exponentially increased the damage the anti-abortion groups are doing.  Women’s access to any reproductive health services is at risk, especially women who are living below the poverty level.

“Pro-lifers” have been chipping away at abortion rights until they are almost gone.  Now these new groups plan to swoop in and impose their radical religious agenda on everyone.  They do not want women to be able to use birth control, practice family planning, or exercise bodily autonomy.  I don’t know how far they’ll get before people wake up and  stop them.

In the meantime, we just keep escorting.  Supporting women seeking a common medical procedure.  Trusting women to know what’s best for themselves and their families.  Holding space for clients and their companions on the sidewalk.

Sex, Lies and Videotape ~ by KyBorn

Well, I admit it.

I behaved badly earlier in the week.

I should be better. I expect better from myself. I expect better from the pro-choice community. However, in that moment, when Holly O’Donnell, the Joan of Arc of fetuses, saw her life* laid out bare and in a probably irrelevant and skewed way, I laughed.

It wasn’t funny. Holly O’Donnell isn’t the biggest problem in this war waged against Planned Parenthood and abortion in general. Does laughing at who is likely a minor player and disposable pawn in the minds and money behind the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) make a difference?  Not really, she will probably be used, abused and tossed aside like a piece of garbage soon enough.

Still, none of this is right. No matter who does what, it isn’t OK for human beings to treat each other this way even if the woman in question works for an organization waging war based on highly-edited videos. Sure, they say they are releasing “whole videos” and they are only “editing” the same way a news organization does. Of course, this doesn’t explain why they need to edit a two-hour video that they still release on YouTube in its entirety. Surely, the media is capable of editing these works of genius down to the time they need to fit their specific needs.

Aside from the bizarre editing, it doesn’t even begin to explain why CMP is inserting footage completely unrelated to the interviews they were filming undercover. The most recent video has the inserted images of a fetus born prematurely to a woman in the hospital. The fetus was not able to survive at 19 weeks. It had nothing to do with abortion or Planned Parenthood. It did have to do with a woman’s tragic loss of a wanted child. Who knows if they even had permission to use this clip?  They chose to turn this tragic family moment into filler footage as Holly O’Donnell rambles on about alleged medical atrocities she conveniently doesn’t have on video.

CMP is closely allied with and funded by several groups who claim to be Christian. Christian label or not, they do seem to have quite a bit of trouble following the directions of their own holy book which admonishes people to tell the truth. The easiest of untruths to spot of course, is that they lied about the purpose of CMP and then further lied when CMP filed papers of incorporation for a false company known as BioMax so they could get access to Planned Parenthood staff and people attending a National Abortion Federation convention they would have otherwise been banned from. Then there is the fact that they probably broke the law in California with fake IDs as well as their one-party recording of people in a state that requires the consent of two parties. To heap onto their problems with tape, they also signed a non-disclosure agreement where they agreed not to audio or video record at the National Abortion Federation convention because people worry about their safety. That’s right, abortion providers and those who choose to work in that field of medicine have to worry about being murdered, shot, assaulted, harassed and stalked along with their family members, so it is natural that a convention for abortion providers would want to make it a safe place for providers to gather to learn and exchange knowledge.

However, the most subtle lies are the ones they tell with their videos. They weren’t just edited for brevity, but they were edited for content so that the CMP staff pretending to be BioMax could tape themselves asking one question and show the unwitting victim answering another question. Not only do respectable news organizations not edit clips to change the entire message, they don’t insert their “clips” full of images that have nothing to do with the story at hand.

An example would be if I decided to conduct an interview with Person A about the Holocaust and Person A has no idea they will be appearing on video. Using the rather slimy methods of CMP the interview would go something like this:

Me: What do you think about the Holocaust?

Person A: I think it was horrible

We go on to chatter for another hour about various topics and at this point I change my questioning.

Me: What do you think about pictures of kittens?

Person A: I think that they are adorable.

If I was editing the CMP way, I would show myself asking the question about the  Holocaust, insert some footage of the Holocaust that had nothing to do with anything I had gathered myself, and I would do so without comment followed up by Person A’s response, “I think they are adorable.”  For an extra touch, I would freeze those words in quotes up on the screen over images of Holocaust victims and then use a voice over to remind the audience that Person A thinks the Holocaust is adorable and finish with some ominous music as we faded out over the bloody body of a recent murder victim.

In this case, every word spoken by Person A was truly spoken by Person A. The lying comes in the editing process and if I, in fact, choose to edit in the hypothetical way described above I become a liar with my pants perpetually on fire without even opening my mouth.

Now, back to Holly O’Donnell. I don’t have any questions about her sexual practices. They have nothing to do with her being neck deep in a lying plot to undermine Planned Parenthood. There are some questions I would like her to answer, questions that she never gets around to while she is bashing Stem Express and Planned Parenthood. Since I would never run into Holly O’Donnell, I’ll just ask them here.

How much did CMP pay her for those videos?

Why would an avid pro-lifer take a job that required her to harvest fetal tissue from a facility that performed abortions?

She tells us at least once that she is a “Certified Phlebotomy Tech” but proceeds to fiddle around, bare-handed with needles in a dangerous and unsanitary way as she is reciting a tale of woe for the camera. Does she know correct sanitary procedures?

Did she not take any sort of anatomy class where she would have learned that “tapping” any sort of heart be it fetal, infant, adult or child does not cause a heart that has ceased to beat to magically come back to life?

In reference to the last question, I am wondering why she didn’t have this miraculous, never before reported event, on video and certainly why didn’t she have the alleged crime that followed on video?

This brings me to my final point about videos. We in the pro-choice community know that antis use video as a weapon. They claim it is for self-defense but I’ll be doggone if I can find a way that a car license plate, a weeping woman running away from the anti or a doctor sprinting into work from 50 feet away and behind a fence as a threatening situation On the other hand, antis frequently make claims of evil deeds done to them by pro-choicers and escorts. The most recent tale of woe I read involved the companion of a patient dousing 6 quietly-praying women “from head to toe” with Comet**. Even though in later still pictures you see that nearly everyone has a body cam or is recording with a cell phone, we are told to believe not only did not a single person catch the travesty on video, they don’t even have a still picture of it. So as you can see, missing video is also a weapon.

So what is my point?  Even in this age of videos everywhere, most people with cameras on their phones available 24 hours a day, in all parts of everyone’s lives, we have to be careful and look more deeply at the images presented. In fact, it may be even easier to lie to people in this time where it is easy, cheap and fast to spread gross or false images around the world. In fact, rather than asking about what we see in the videos, we need to spend more time asking what we don’t see at times and question the need of irrelevant images at others.

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*Article removed from publication. Editor’s Note: Our Reporting on CMP and Holly O’Donnell

**All links to anti-abortion websites have been omitted purposely. Please Google “protesters attacked with Comet”or message us separately if you would like a citation for sources.

 

Road Rally a Success!

A great time was had by all at the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights on Saturday, November 2nd. On a beautiful fall day, we had a fantastic turnout and an awesome slate of speakers who fired up the crowd in advance of the 2014 legislative session. Truly, we could not have asked for better weather on a November weekend.
Capitol
Many thanks to all our speakers for their thoughtful words.
Road Rally Speakers
Dawn Cooley, minister at First Unitarian Church in Louisville, spoke about the intersection of faith and reproductive rights, emphasizing that the right-wing evangelicals do not possess the morality of reproductive issues.
DerekAndFrede
Derek Selznick (left), from the ACLU of Kentucky really heated up the crowd as he spoke to his experience lobbying for family-positive legislation in the Capitol, the building on which steps we rallied. F (right) spoke movingly about her abortion experience that was rife with hurdles and complications, problems arising primarily from anti-woman legislation.
ClinicEscortatRally
Michelle Kinsey Bruns joined us, who tweets as @ClinicEscort, driving from Washington, D.C. to be a part of the action. Her words about moving from compassion were a beautiful cap on the day.
Mel
We are thankful to have had media coverage from the Lexington ABC affiliate, WTVQ, and from Kentucky Public Radio, whose story can be followed on the Louisville public radio station or WKYU. It is important that our message reach both legislators and like-minded citizens.
Merch
Specifically, in Kentucky, there is an immediate concern of which to keep abreast. A longtime reproductive rights activist, Kathy Stein, has been appointed to the judiciary. Her vacant seat will be filled in a special election on December 10th. Many of our District 13/Fayette County (Lexington) allies were busy knocking on doors on Saturday, in the run-up to that special election. We are following that race closely, as Stein’s vote was often an important one in blocking anti-family, anti-woman legislation in our State Senate.
PreacherAndHerPulpit

What’s Next

Rally attendees were encouraged to return to their homes and speak out about being supporters of reproductive rights. You can join in the next steps, too!

1. Invite two or three friends for coffee or lunch and chat about an article on reproductive rights. RHRealityCheck.org is a great place to find something to talk about, as is ReproductiveRights.org or ACLU.org/reproductive-freedom.

2. From these two or three friends and you, begin an activist club, where you meet regularly to discuss articles, learn about legislation, and keep up-to-date on what’s happening in court dockets.

3. Find out who your legislator is – on the state level and the national level. How are they voting on issues about reproductive rights? Make sure your voice is heard when they have bills to consider that affect reproductive rights.

4. Keep up-to-date on bills in congress. For Kentucky, specifically, you can see what bills have been prefiled or, once the legislature is in session, what bills have been filed, what’s being heard in committee, what is being voted on, who wrote the bills, who else is sponsoring them – in other words, more information than you ever thought you could learn in one spot. By clicking on different subject headings – Women, Public Health, Children, etc – you can keep yourself informed about what our representatives in Frankfort are doing. Better yet, sign up for BILL WATCH, a service that your tax dollars are subsidizing, so, you know, use it!

5. Get involved with a local group! Find a group near you that is working on reproductive rights. The ACLU of Kentucky has an email list that will send out email blasts about pending legislation, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is a great resource, too. There are many other groups, like the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Unitarian Univeralist Social Justice Network, and others. Many of them sponsored the rally, so be sure to check out the sponsors’ page on the website to find links to their websites.
Sara
Over the coming days and weeks, the rallly website will have a new tab for “What’s Next,” where this information, and more!, will be available. We will be posting resources to keep you informed, and ways you can link into local groups working for reproductive rights.

Let’s make 2014 the year that Kentucky families get the support they need – in comprehensive sex education, affordable and accessible contraception, access to abortion services, and family support programs – because Kentucky families deserve better!

Rallying in Frankfort Today!

After escorting this morning, many of us are headed to Frankfort to rally on the Capitol steps to tell our elected officials that Kentucky families deserve better! If you can’t join us, you can keep up with all the info by following the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights’ Twitter feed, @kyroadrally, and by clicking “Like” on the Facebook page.

We are rallying in support of four reproductive rights issues:

  1. Comprehensive sex education;
  2. Affordable and accessible contraceptives;
  3. Access to abortion; and
  4. Family support programs.

COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION
In Kentucky, there are extremely limited sex education requirements. According to the Kentucky Department of Education’s Core Standards, sex ed must fulfill only the following two high school standards:

Students will understand that decisions regarding sexuality have short and long term consequences and responsibilities. (PL-H-PW-U-4)

and

Students will understand the importance of assuming responsibility for personal health behaviors by explaining how decision-making relates to responsible sexual behavior (e.g., abstinence, preventing pregnancy, preventing HIV/STDs), impacts physical, mental and social well- being of an individual. (PL-H-PW-S-PPH1.c)

However, it has been proven in multiple studies that comprehensive sexuality education is the best first step in decreasing unintended pregnancies and transmission of STDs, as well as increasing victims’ willingness to report sexual violence.

AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE CONTRACEPTION
While the ACA requires contraceptives to be covered in all insurance plans beginning January 2014, access to contraception can be difficult, especially for people living in rural areas; particularly were a so-called ‘conscience clause’ passed, allowing pharmacists and doctors to refuse filling or prescribing contraception.

ACCESS TO ABORTION
Kentucky currently has two abortion clinics, only one of which operates on a regular schedule. Currently, state-mandated counseling must be provided 24 hours prior to the procedure but can be done over the phone. In each of the previous three legislative sessions, bills seeking to restrict a woman’s right to access abortion have been presented; some of those bills even passed one house of Congress, only to be stopped by a handful of stalwart reproductive rights allies in the other house. One such ally has been appointed to the judiciary, leaving her seat open; a special election is being held on December 10th to fill that seat.

FAMILY SUPPORT PROGRAMMING
Kentucky has a poor track record of support for families. To add insult to the cuts in support programs at the Federal level, families living at the poverty line were handed another blow through the cuts to childcare assistance funds this year.

Check out what’s happening at the rally on Twitter!

Like us on Facebook!

Check out our YouTube page and Tumblr.

And look for a full report about the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights here on Monday!

Good Cop vs Bad Cop ~ by Eeyore

Recently I was standing by the door at the clinic when Tim arrived. He cupped his hands to his face, as he is wont to do, and stood for a few moments before starting his spiel (sometimes he’ll stand like that for over a minute – I’ve timed him – with his hands at his face not speaking, I guess waiting for divine inspiration. It’s creepy, like he just turns off for a bit). It went pretty much along these lines . . .

“Mothers, we aren’t here to judge you, we are here to help you. We can help with your bills, we have a beautiful maternity home that you can stay in for three years for free. And men who are in there, you are sitting next to a murderer. You are with a woman who is going to murder her baby.”

Did you notice that subtle shift in message? Yeah, me too. Part of me wanted to walk up and tell him that just because he addressed the last bit to men doesn’t mean women’s ears stopped working. Or maybe he thinks saying men switches everything to a masculine frequency that women can’t hear. Sorry Tim, that’s not how ears work. The woman you wanted to trust in this offer of loving, non-judgmental kindness just heard you call her a murderer in literally the next sentence. See, right there, that’s you judging her. So now she knows you’re a liar and rarely do people look to liars for counsel.

It’s not an uncommon experience on the sidewalk. If a client approaches from a distance and a protestor gloms on, they will often start with the “we are here to help, we just want to love you, god loves you” rhetoric. About half way to the clinic the talk turns to a pleading whimper saying “don’t murder your baby, you know it’s wrong, mommy don’t kill me”. As the client turns the corner to enter the clinic the anti’s frustration breaks and the damnation and shaming spews forth “don’t do this, god will punish you in the fires of hell, don’t make this baby pay for your mistakes”.

The thing is, you can’t play both sides by yourself. That’s why in TV shows where they’re doing the good cop/bad cop routine there’s always TWO cops. Working alone would make a person look insincere at best. The person being questioned by good/bad cop won’t trust him, the audience won’t trust him. All of his words and deeds have become suspect.

I’ve often been amazed that the anti’s don’t see something so obvious and focus on one message at a time.Why not just stick with playing the good cop routine? It would probably have better results. I think that in their minds, though, they’re never playing bad cop. Love and punishment, help and judgment, sex and shame all go hand in hand. To them it’s all the same message.

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REMINDER:
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: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

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!”

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*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)

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REMINDER:
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: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

We Care About You

This past Saturday morning it was raining really hard early in the morning. I find myself hoping most of the antis will stay away because of the weather, but of course they never do. When I arrived at the clinic there were already a couple dozen of them standing with their umbrellas. Most of the regular antis were there and they were joined by groups of people. We ended up with about twice as many protesters as we normally see on Saturdays. The positive part of this is the rain stopped and the umbrellas came down before the first clients arrived.

This is the view from the clinic entrance.

Saturday 092113 Right

Across the street, a group of about 10-15 Catholics gathered to pray. We assume they were Catholics because they were carrying rosaries and a priest in cassock was part of the group

There was a group from Kentucky Mountain Bible College who came out to display new fetal porn posters and sing. When they first arrived, they lined up on both sides of the sidewalk at the clinic property line to display their posters. Then they moved to the corner of First and Market in front of AWC (the CPC), to sing and pray. They were joined by a prayer leader and alternated between praying and singing. You can see the leader in this video. He is the one in the white jacket. There was a lot of traffic noise so you cannot hear the song, but this time they were singing a version of “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

One escort’s observation about the group’s activities was they could now say they had seen the definition of  “preaching to the choir.”

Even though the Screaming Preacher was there, he left all of the preaching and yelling at the windows to A. A is a regular and is known for his attempts to connect with clients and companions in his approach of ‘I was just like you. I understand you. I care for you.’ This is A.

Andrew

In this video, he is talking to clients and companions waiting by the entrance for the doors to open.

Transcript:

valuable. Because you are infinitely valuable. That’s why we’re here because we, we don’t know you, but we care about you. We care about you. I would love to prove that to you. If, if you would just give me five minutes of your time, I would love to prove to you how much we care about you. Ma’am, you can stand up for life today.

In all of the times I have seen A preaching, I have never seen a client or companion give him those five minutes. Sometimes they will engage with him to correct biblical statements, but not walk away to just talk to him.

A increased his volume after the clients entered the clinic, but his message is always the same. Escorts have heard him so many times, we can recite the story he shares on the sidewalk. ‘I wasted my life until I was 23. Then I read the Bible. My friends said they would find out about Jesus later. One died in a car wreck. He didn’t have time to find out. You never know what is going to happen. You need to find out about Jesus today.’

One of the interesting things about A recently is how he speaks about his wife’s pregnancy. When he first started saying, “My baby is 19 weeks old,” we thought he was talking about a born baby. No, he was talking about his wife’s pregnancy. This morning he let us know his baby was 26 weeks old, adding that the baby recently became legally safe from abortion doctors. An escort observed, “I wonder if he thinks that abortion doctors do drive-by abortions and will randomly attempt an abortion if his wife gets too close to a clinic?”

My question is if he cares for the clients and companions so much, why does he speak words meant to shame and harass them for their decision? I know that is a rhetorical question and won’t be answered, but it doesn’t matter if you scream your words or softly speak them. You are still there to interfere with a legal, medical decision by any way you can.

Keeping Score

We published an article last September titled “Myths About Escorts.” One of the myths we examined was the one where escorts keep score of clients entering EMW and celebrate a “win” when a client leaves AWC (the CPC) next door. I pointed out D is the one who carries a handheld tally counter daily.

Hand Tally Counter

It still isn’t a sport where points are won depending on the count of clients entering a particular building. Reproductive rights are not a game. The decisions people reach about a pregnancy will impact their lives and the lives of their families. Abortion is just one of the decisions clients may make about their healthcare. Escorts try to make access to abortion easier for clients, but we do not try to persuade anyone to make a decision based upon our beliefs. This is a concept the antis never seem to grasp.

One day last month a client and two companions entered the clinic without incident. Shortly after 8a they all came back out. They walked to their car parked close by at the curb, but before they could reach it the anti MW stopped them. Then we saw MW put her arm around the client and talk to her. They talked for a couple of minutes before all three walked back up the sidewalk and into AWC.

During the approach by the anti and the walk back into AWC, the escorts did not interfere. We just observed what was happening without comment. We respect the client’s right to have a conversation without interference.

We left for the day shortly after they entered AWC. When I got into my car D yelled into my closed window, “You lost one.” Her look was triumphant and volume was loud.

This always gets to me. D had just dehumanized the client by converting them into a score in a game only one side is playing. Her unspoken message I heard was, ‘you lost by one point.’ Even though D keeps a counter at hand to tick off the clients going into the clinic and keeps her own score, it still isn’t a game.

We don’t know why the client left the clinic and neither does D. Maybe their mind was not made up and they needed more time to think about their decision. Maybe they didn’t have all of the paperwork they needed. Maybe….maybe….the list could be long. Only the client knows why they left.

I am not sure why, even though D has witnessed similar scenes many times, she doesn’t realize yet it is all about choice for the escorts. We support any client in any decision they make about their pregnancy. The last thing any escort would want to do is coerce someone into doing something they are not sure about. We realize clients are capable of making their own decisions, including deciding who to talk to about their pregnancy.

We respect and support whatever decision they make.

Sack-of-Potatoes Doctrine ~ by Lepus

“Take your woman out of there”

 “Men, convince her to leave this place”

“As men we are to stand up for women and be leaders”

I’ve noticed that antis always go after the men, particularly trying to wound and prick them in the “masculinity” department.  You know, that department where historically women could do nothing without express permission from either her father or her husband.  Women couldn’t own property or inherit property because they were considered property by society at large.

Times have changed for the better, but it doesn’t surprise me that those that see the world through Christian Patriarchal lenses say these things to men as they enter the clinic.

It also doesn’t surprise me that it rarely. if ever, works.  As if women have no mind of their own.  As if women are sacks of potatoes that can be thrown over one’s shoulder and carried off.  As if women are so easily influenced.

An anti spoke to myself and a male escort the other day.  The male escort informed me that the anti told him he was leading me in the wrong direction. Because all women need tending and leadership, because they are submissive and sinful by their very nature (again, this is the Christian Patriarchal worldview talking).

I chuckled.  Why, I got myself out of bed and drove myself to the clinic to escort that very day.  Imagine.  A woman, making a decision for herself, and acting upon it, unlike the sack-of-potatoes that the antis think women are.

A Network of Support

In my last post, I mentioned a particular time when I was walking the gauntlet at the clinic – the rows of pray-ers who line the sidewalk, saying the rosary, singing, and yelling at clients as they come through.   It was a couple of years ago now, but the memory is vivid.

As I passed through them ~ men, women, and children ~ I suddenly knew that some of them wanted to hurt me.  I felt a visceral awareness of the waves of anger and hatred rolling off some of them, directed toward me.  They could easily have become an angry mob, throwing stones at me.

It was strange and oddly chilling.  Very powerful.  I don’t think about it often, but when I do, I can feel it again.

But the other night, I had an opposite experience.

Really, it started months ago.  Servalbear and I were talking about states that just have one clinic and what it would be like if they really do close the last clinic in a state.  I said, “What would we do if they closed the clinic here?”

Servalbear looked at me kind of funny, as if she were surprised I’d ask.   “We’d drive them to a clinic somewhere else,” she said. “Indianapolis, Cincinnati…”

I thought, “well, duh, we already have a network of people helping with transportation locally.  If the clinic closed, instead of escorting, I guess I’d drive people.”

Then Saturday night, I was reading articles from Facebook ~ something I do way too often ~ some for pleasure, some not-so-much.  I read this one from The Daily Beast, entitled “Blue States Buck Abortion Trend.”  It’s well worth reading.

I already knew that some of the more liberal states have been increasing access to abortion.   The article notes that California recognizes that

… one doesn’t need high-level surgical skills to administer a pill or perform a one-minute vacuum-aspiration abortion, lawmakers in the state have passed a bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign, that would allow midwives, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants to perform first-trimester abortions after taking a training course in how to do them

I knew that, but hadn’t really thought about what it meant.  The article points out that:

While the abortion-clinic model of care initially arose to make women’s lives easier as a one-stop shop for a rare procedure, the existence of stand-alone clinics has made them sitting-duck targets for restrictive laws. Part of what “sells” the claim that abortion clinics need to meet ambulatory-surgical-center standards and have hospital-admitting privileges—two regulations that are being used to shut down clinics—is this widespread but utterly false belief that abortion is an intense and dangerous surgery. Allowing a nurse practitioner or a midwife to offer abortion services would drive home the reality that first-trimester abortion really is a relatively minor medical procedure that hardly merits the term “surgery,” especially in cases where it’s just a matter of taking a pill. This move could also help lower the price of an abortion, much in the same way these types of providers offer a bevy of more affordable care.

They go on to say:

In general, the West Coast is trending toward decentralizing abortion and making it as widely available as possible. Oregon has no abortion restrictions—it treats abortion as it should be treated, as just another medical service—and Washington is now requiring all public hospitalsto provide abortions. Unfortunately, the latter doesn’t do much to reduce the cost, but the move does help spread the message that there’s nothing about an abortion that requires it to happen only at a specialized abortion clinic.

Then there’s this:

Of course, beefing up access in blue states to make up for the shortfall in red states isn’t enough—not everyone can afford to travel across state lines and not every red state is bordered by a more sexually liberated state. Doctors have been experimenting with one strategy to help for women in far-flung areas: prescribing the abortion pill remotely via phone or Internet and advising the patient on how to use it correctly.

This potential loophole, which would allow women all over the country to get a safe abortion, has anti-choicers in a panic. Eleven states have already passed laws requiring a doctor to be present when a woman takes the abortion pill, a measure clearly designed to keep doctors from using this strategy to help women in need.

And I thought “OH!!  THAT’S why they’re passing those laws in the anti-abortion states!  No wonder they’re so adamant about it!”

At the same time, I felt a tremendous sense of connectedness with the people across the country who are working to ensure that abortion services are available ~ at least somewhere.

I thought, some of that is just business sense, right?  We know that women who are able to will travel great distances to get an abortion if they can’t get one near home.  Look at the Irish people, who have to go to England.   So if you’re an abortion provider in California or Washington State, and states around you are shutting down access, of course you need to be able to provide for the people who will be crossing state lines seeking help.

But I also had this feeling.  It was the opposite of what I felt on the sidewalk, the opposite of the hate rolling off the protesters in waves.  It was as if I could see the network of support instead, stretching across state lines, across the country,

I felt the connection, myself as part of that network, providing support however we need to.  Affirming each other, supporting access, providing space and opportunity for people to be empowered.

I hate that we need the network.  The things that are happening in states that limit access are wrong, and people will suffer because of it.  But I’m glad the network of support is there, and being strengthened.

I’m glad I’m part of it.