Control Issues ~ by Ferret

I am something of a control freak, and the offspring of a line of control freaks. We used to joke that if one were to look up “Control Freak” in the dictionary, one would find a picture of my grandfather.

In my battles with depression over the years, I realized that being a control freak was contributing to my depressive state. I worked hard at becoming less of one in part to lessen the effect on my mien, with mixed results.

At one point in my life, I was invited to attend a twelve-step group based on Alcoholics Anonymous, called Emotions Anonymous. Either through that group or through my sessions with the counselor who introduced me to it, I learned the idea that while I couldn’t (by their definition) control my emotions, I could control how I expressed those emotions and which of those emotions I focus on at any given time.

I also learned that if I release control of others to those others, I am more able to do what I need to do to control how I present myself.

That led to an interesting revelation~one that I’m sure many have reached: I’m not responsible for any other person’s emotional state. Because I am not responsible for that person’s emotional state, I get to retain responsibility for my own emotional state and whether/how I express it.

This expands to all sorts of realms. Because I wish autonomy for myself, I cannot assume control over others’ autonomies. I have to accept that they will act in what they think is their own interests.

There are limits, of course, as the classic example of freedom to swing one’s arm illustrates: My freedom to swing my arm ends before impact with another person’s face. I don’t have the right to harm others, save for circumstances of self-defense, and even then the force I may use is somewhat limited. I cannot bring harm to you for endangering me once the danger has passed, for example.

The reason I mention all this at the moment has to do with the social discussion around abortion and related women’s rights.

Yeah, who am I, a white male, to talk about women’s rights?

Call me something of an ally.

And call me one who recognizes that, because I insist on autonomy for myself, I believe it is no business of mine whether a woman chooses to abort a fetus. Because it’s not my business, it’s also not the business of the government that allegedly represents me. It’s a decision for her to make, along with people she chooses to consult. Sidewalk “counselors” (religious bullies, for the most part) aren’t part of that circle. Congress Critters/Gynoticians* are not part of that circle.

Does that mean I favor abortion? Whether I favor abortion is immaterial. As I mentioned, I’m a guy and recognize that I have the privilege of not having to face that decision for myself. It means I recognize that her decision is hers to make. I have to assume that she will consider whatever options are valid in her situation.

And there may not be any viable options other than abortion. Sometimes the pregnancy is such that continuing it at all would put the mother at grave risk. In some cases, the fetus can never become viable. Since the percentage of times those happen is non-zero, and since I cannot know the exact situation (indeed, the exact situation is not my business), I cannot assume that any one woman’s situation doesn’t include elements of those factors. I’m not willing to put limits on abortion based on such factors either. It would be heartbreaking enough to have a wanted pregnancy result in such a situation without having to prove such to a gynotician* before earning a pass to have one’s abortion labeled “acceptable.”

* Per the Urban Dictionary: “A politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions.”

 

 

My Regrets Limit You

 

I regret my abortion

Laws should not not be based on what a small percentage regrets. Everyone has things in life they wish they had done differently. By that measure, I would expect marriage to be more heavily regulated than it is as many of us tend to regret our decisions of a spouse. Even Kim Davis  regretted a few of her marriages, but then tried to deny the right to others. To outlaw a common medical procedure based on others regrets or beliefs is absurdity.

Things I regret that should be legislated and/or banned immediately:

  1. Getting married without knowing their potential spouse for at least 5 years and have seen them handle some major life changes and/or stresses.
  2. Building a log home. Too many unseen issues present themselves years later.
  3. Getting a puppy. You don’t know what kind of dog it will become.
  4. Indian food. Banned. I have tried that three times, nothing good about any of them.
  5. Heels over two inches tall and shoes less then a D width minimum. Absolutely banned. These items have caused my feet much pain. I would like others to be saved that pain.
  6. Community college. Was a waste of time for me. I have nine credits that cost me a good bit of money that I can’t use today.

Now, if you think the above examples are just outrageous, they are. Simply because I regret something, or it worked out poorly for me, does not mean it is the right choice for many others.

It’s the same with abortion. There may be those who regret their decision not to continue a pregnancy, but their regrets should not become law.

So think on it. What decisions have you made and regretted that you feel the government or someone who believes other than you should have had a say in?

Bodily autonomy is a right of everyone. No one can take part of your liver, some bone marrow or drain off some of your blood without your consent, even if it means someone else will die, even if you are a corpse. A woman has a right to her own body and what is in it, even if removing something would cause it to die.

Those are my thoughts as I wait yet another few days to hear the Supreme Court ruling on Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt that could determine access to a constitutional right for women across the nation,

 


What Happened to Compassion?~ by KyBorn

I was originally writing this a few hours after leaving my physician’s office. Going to a specialist is never fun, even one you like and respect. Even one who listens to you and works with your body, that seems to have an unbearable bad reaction to almost every medication in a class of medication you must take to avoid ending up back in the hospital. Even though my doctor had moved to a new office, another kind man who turned out to be the doctor next door walked me to the office, opened the door and told me have a nice day. My first thought was what a difference it was from the gauntlet women in my home state have to walk through just to get medical care. Medical care that even though it was a different kind than mine, was just as vital.

All I had to do was whip out a new insurance card and I was ushered back to the office. Not that it does any good for those seeking an abortion in my former home state. Those who make the laws have determined abortion is evil and that those good people who pay into an insurance pool, or pay taxe, must not have their blessed tax dollars sullied by the evils of abortion. There is no equality, no compassion and no thought of the women that they see as just a shell for a fetus

Yes, I do have a point. What inspired this particular rant was that as I waiting in my doctor’s office, where they apologize if you sit for five minutes past your appointment time, I was looking at an article about a woman who was clearly an inmate in jail scrubs, wearing a waist chain and handcuffs, being shuffled, head down, into a Planned Parenthood by two uniformed officers.

And then it hit me. Hard. My privilege. My private and uninterrupted walk down a short sidewalk to my doctor’s office with nobody telling me I was going to hell.

There I sat irritated about internet access on my phone and some woman was being shuffled into a Planned Parenthood, in full jail regalia while being filmed by some anti-choice asshole who couldn’t give a flip about her or why she was there. I’m also 99% sure that it never occurred to them that it was none of their business.

For whatever reason she was there, this nameless woman, shuffling head down in a jail uniform will forever be stuck in my mind when I compare it with the short, peaceful walk made without interference to my own doctor. The other thing that will forever be stuck in my mind is that our places could just as easily be switched. In spite of the pull-yourself-up-by-your bootstraps rhetoric spewed by antis, this just isn’t the case. Certainly, people pull themselves out of bad circumstances. Some people are just born lucky or end up with better opportunities.

This case really made me think hard about the woman being shuffled into a medical appointment. More personally, I thought about who have I become, when my first worry is the phone and internet coverage in my specialist’s office and not the women who have to fight a battle just to get legal health care?

Mostly, it makes me wonder what happened to compassion in this country. When did we become a nation where it is okay to film a woman in already bad circumstances going into her doctor’s appointment?  She deserved the same privacy and dignity that I had, but people seemed more worried about snapping her picture than giving her space, dignity and healthcare.

Given the latest round of anti-violence in Colorado Springs, this seems trivial on a certain level. (Disclaimer: I wrote this article before Colorado Springs and had to revise and edit afterwards due to some other commitments.)

Surely though, surely, our country hasn’t become a place so devoid of compassion that all women can’t get healthcare with privacy and dignity…..and oh yeah, without being afraid of being killed.

 

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.

 

What To Do When They Come To You~by KYBorn

Some months ago, I had the pleasure of having an article from ESM picked up by She Who Shall Not Be Named and the other one who likes to run around investigating child sexual abuse at abortion clinics, but never Catholic Churches. Against better advice, I slipped on over to both sites to read exactly what they thought of me and my opinions. It doesn’t matter what they said. Most of it has dissolved into a blur of useless stupidity that floats through my mind once in awhile.

One thing that was said, and I will admit imagining her making this comment in a snotty, high-pitched superior voice, was that when the great fall out comes and a woman finds herself pregnant or a man or woman regret an abortion they KNOW they won’t come to us pro-aborts. They will of course throw themselves on the mercy of those blessed saints at CPCs who will guide them through a healing process, even though they don’t have any legit counseling credentials. Now, not that you need these to run a peer support group. If these people were up front about this being peer counseling the same way AA is then I wouldn’t criticize them. OK, I wouldn’t criticize them as much.

But, back to the topic at hand. Most antis seem to think that the second a friend confides in an unwanted pregnancy we tie her up and drag her off to the nearest abortion clinic when we all know this simply isn’t true. I have had many people, close friends and not close friends, come to me with “crisis” pregnancies (many of which were carried to term with exactly no help from the local CPC even when asked),.I wanted to share a few of the things I have learned from this process, as well as what I have learned for those who deal with regret after an abortion

When talking about an unexpected pregnancy, these are things I learned:

  • Find out if this is a wanted pregnancy right away. Some women know they want an abortion the second that test shows two lines. Ask her directly. Reassure her that you care and want to help regardless. Tell her you are not there to judge but you are there to help as little or much as she wants.
  • Let her take the lead. It is her body, her pregnancy and her life. Maybe she needs some time to think before she talks anymore. If she reaches out to you for a hug or wants to cry on your shoulder, let her.
  • If she tells you right off the bat she doesn’t want to be pregnant, start helping her look for resources. Realize, especially in a rural area, this may be more difficult than a quick walk down the street. Start looking for a clinic right then. Familiarize yourself with restrictions because they vary from state to state. Talk about how she is going to meet other obligations while she is away and not feeling well a few days.
  • Encourage her to read about the procedure from a legitimate medical site so she knows what to expect. There are several sites on the Internet that give accurate, nonjudgmental information about pregnancy and/or abortion. Three sites are: Web Md with separate sections about pregnancy and abortion facts; Planned Parenthood that also has separate sections on pregnancy and abortion facts; and Backline that lists resources for more information and provides all options, anonymous counseling over the phone. Sources from most educational institutions should be accurate. Avoid any websites that link to a CPC, describe what “the baby is doing” at any one gestation period, or mention health risks that have been proven untrue, such as the link between abortion and breast cancer. If the clinic has a website or escorts have a site, encourage her to read it.
  • Make the appointment as soon as possible

It is quite possible that she does not want to be pregnant, but is not comfortable with abortion. Tell her this is OK as well. In fact, she may be sad about the pregnancy but has already decided to carry to term. If this is the case:

  • Congratulate her. Offer to help in any way you possibly can. We all have our limits. Don’t make false promises.
  • Start looking for resources right now. If she doesn’t have health insurance, tell her she needs to get down to her local Medicaid/Passport office the next day. In some places there is a lengthy wait to see an OB/GYN and you want her to have a healthy pregnancy.
  • Encourage her but be realistic. You don’t have to do this all at once. You have nine months, but it is best to start the planning early. After medical care, other things to think about are adequate housing, adequate transportation (sorry, car seat ain’t going in the back of that Mustang).
  • Talk to her about realistic support services. If she is going to depend on her mother to watch the baby while she works, she needs to ask her mother and clear this up right now instead of the day after the baby is born. If she is going to need money from her parents/family/church, she needs to let them know now, not 2 weeks before the hatchling emerges. That is unfair to the people in her life.
  • Make her aware that not everyone can do everything she may need. Know your own limits. Tell her she must accept the limits of everyone else without anger or entitlement. Offer to do what you can and be upfront about what you can’t. For example, I am not a person who would be comfortable or competent babysitting. It’s OK for me to be this way and it is OK for me to tell her upfront.
  • Throw her a kick-ass baby shower, as much a finances allow. Do encouraging things during the pregnancy, especially if the sperm donor is not around. Be happy to feel when the baby kicks even if it grosses you out. Send her cards or e-mails that are encouraging. Celebrate just as you would a wanted, planned and expected pregnancy because she may not be getting much support from family, friends or church. They may view her as an evil, single whore who shamed everyone she knows (shockingly, some of these will be the same people who protest abortion outside clinics or “counsel” on the sidewalk).
  • Reassure her when she feels down. This is a hard thing she is facing. If you haven’t been through it, don’t make pointless statements like “I understand,” because you don’t.
  • Most important, LISTEN when she talks. This is the problem with CPCs. They don’t listen. They are on a mission to save the fetus. Period. Make sure you always let her know she is most important, even late in the pregnancy.
  • If she changes her mind and decides to terminate, support that as well
  • Don’t take her to a CPC. They don’t care about the woman in spite of what they spew. The sole goal of a CPC is to get that baby born. Once they realize she isn’t having an abortion, most help will vanish.

What to say when she regrets an abortion:

  • Tell her you are sorry she is hurting. Listen to her. Let her take the lead in how much she wants to share, how much physical comfort she needs and how much she needs to cry. Let her know that this is about her.
  • Encourage her to speak to a licensed psychologist and a psychiatrist because this may not be about abortion at all. It may be about a medical condition that needs to be treated with medication. It may partially be about the abortion, but there may be many other issues that need to be dealt with by a professional. If she simply MUST go to one of those healing religious retreats that never seem to heal, then encourage her to get checked out for other conditions before it’s off to the guilt classes.
  • If she wants to go back and talk about how she could have had the baby, remind her that it is easy to forget just how hard her situation was when the decision was made. Ask her to talk or think about how she would have handled all the issues that would have come with going to term.
  • Listen! Listen! Listen! and remind her that she is not a bad person for taking care of her own health care needs. Remind her that even if she really, honestly regrets the abortion that very few of us get through our lives without regretting major life decisions. It’s part of the human condition.
  • Let her talk as much as she needs to and as much as you have time to listen. Also remind her that many people don’t regret the abortion, but regret the events that led up to the abortion (like going home with that dude from the bar that night and failing to use a condom).

No, no I have not forgotten about men.

I know there are men who regret that their pregnant partner had an abortion or that they participated in it. Yes, I have actually had these conversations with male friends, although I admit my knowledge is less than dealing with women. Mostly my advice is the same here.

  • Tell him you are sorry he is hurting. Listen to him. Let him take the lead in how much he wants to share.
  • Remind them of the things that were going on in their life at the time that would have made having a baby an unwise idea.
  • Tell them that there is no such thing as a “they” who are pregnant, only a she. While he may have been stuck with child support, he doesn’t do anything when it comes to gestating and birth. This means that the ultimate decision belongs to the person who has to do the actual work.
  • Listen to them as much as they need. Again, encourage them to see a licensed psychologist and a psychiatrist. It may not be the abortion they are mourning. They may have other medical issues that need to be addressed with medication, or they may have other issues along with the abortion regret that need to be dealt with by a professional, not some other dude working out his own guilt by leading a group where more guilt can be heaped on the man.
  • Encourage them in the future to discuss this issue with their potential partner ahead of time. Is it awkward?  Yup. It was for me and I was a silly 19 year-old college student who had to initiate this conversation with a grown man years older than me. Both the man and woman should be honest. If abortion is not acceptable to a man then he needs to say so up front and not have sex with this woman. Same thing for the woman. On the other hand, if the conversation goes like mine did, which basically consisted of me telling him there was no way I would jeopardize my future with a baby when I probably didn’t want kids at all, then you also don’t have sex. If one party can’t accept the other’s choice, it’s time to go home and masturbate because there is either an abortion or a baby when a pregnancy occurs. There is no compromise.
  • Remind the man to use birth control-EVERY SINGLE TIME-until he is at a point where he and a woman have agreed it is time to have a baby. This will help him avoid the situation in the future. It is perfectly fine to be sympathetic and honest at the same time.
  • Remind him that regardless of what is said, promised or agreed, it is always her choice. Always. If he can’t accept this fact then he needs to not have sex.

I make no claims of having any sort of professional credentials. My advice is nothing but my free advice, which means it is probably worth what most free things are. Nothing. I’m sure the antis will froth and moan because my answer to every unplanned pregnancy is not to rush them to a CPC. I’m sorry. I think those places prey on women. I think they barrage them with guilt and religion when what they really need is somebody to listen and help them reflect.

The (almost) last thing I will say is, and this is just a personal thing for me, I never answer the question “what would you do if it was you” with what I would do. I am not them. I will never be them. I will never live their lives. I will never have their problems. It doesn’t matter one rat’s ass what I would do for the above reasons. Helping somebody work out a solution is a great thing, but trying to tell them what to do, or what you would do, or what your great aunt’s cousin’s dog did is not helpful.

The only person that any of us should be concerned about when they come to us with an unwanted pregnancy or abortion regret is that person. They are the only ones who have to live their lives, and no, I don’t think religion-based guilt trips are the answer to any of the above problems.

Pearl-clutch away antis. You aren’t the only people with answers to unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. You aren’t the only people who are sought out for advice. In fact, I think most of the time you don’t have any answers besides just have the baby and feel guilt for the rest of your life if you have an abortion.

 

A Study in Sidewalk Counseling

Before I started escorting, I always viewed the word “counseling” in a positive light. The advice of a knowledgeable expert to assist in coping with life events is positive. Counseling to me implies an impartial, truthful examination of facts from someone with training to help.

Now, I always have a negative reaction as soon as I hear the word “counseling” because I think of the antis and their sidewalk counseling. Like so many terms, they were purposeful in their choice to describe their actions. They have taken a positive word and changed its meaning, like “choice” was made to mean something negative when they use the word. Instead of a positive outcome for the clients and companions “counseled” by the antis on the sidewalk, there is a heaping on of incorrect information, shame, blame and judgment. If any of the clients do not take their advice, the antis turn from gentle words to ones meant to hurt.

Sometimes escorts just watch and listen. We are able to pick up a lot of details without interfering with a client’s actions or decision. There are times it is hard to stand by passively, but when action would only add to the chaos surrounding a client, we wait for a signal they need our assistance. We do not interfere when clients or companions want to talk to the antis. Firm belief in every person’s right to make their own decisions helps us to be witnesses instead of participants.

There was a morning last month escorts were witnesses. The sidewalk drama played out before us for almost 30 minutes. It was a study in how “sidewalk counselors” work.

This story started with the client and a companion pulling to the curb around 715a. We approached and said our normal statements about going to the abortion clinic and explained our orange vests. The reaction from the companion was not friendly, but they listened and decided to park in the $3 parking lot. We let them know we would come get them when the doors opened.

Around 730a a companion parked in the AWC lot. An escort asked if this young man was looking for someone going to the EMW clinic. He answered yes and stopped to talk to the four AWC staff in their parking lot to greet him. An escort overheard part of their conversation and apparently the client and he were in AWC until 5p the day before. He hurried to the entrance of EMW saying, “She’s in there.” All four of the AWC staff followed him.

At the same time, escorts were walking the client and her companion to the door of the clinic. They met at the door. The young man grabbed the client’s arm and tried to hold her back from entering. The companion who had come with the client, pulled her other arm and got her into the clinic door. The young man followed them into the sign-in area. The entire time the four AWC staff were standing at the property line saying, “You don’t have to go in there. Your mother can’t make you do this. Come out and talk to us.”

After a short time, the young man came back to the AWC staff standing at the property line. All four of them were talking to him. “Pull her out of there. What they are doing is illegal. It is illegal to coerce someone into killing their baby. Go tell her they are breaking the law.” He went back into the clinic.

This was repeated four times with variations in the words, but the meaning was the same. The escorts watching were treated to “You say you are pro-choice, but you are only pro-death,” comments when they were waiting for him to come back out.  The last time he came back out, the clients had already gone back for counseling by the EMW staff. During all of this, the EMW staff allowed him to talk to the client and escorts didn’t interfere with his entrances and exits from the building.

The staff of AWC know, or should know, the trained staff of EMW counsels each individual client to make sure they aren’t being forced into their decision. They will turn clients away if they are not sure or if there are questions about coercion.

This morning will always be engraved by two snapshots in my mind of the people involved. The first is of the client pulling away from the young man, tears in her eyes and repeating, “No. I want to do this.” The second is of the young man, head down and shoulders slumped, facing the sidewalk counselors as they walked away from him saying, “You didn’t try hard enough.”

We need to call them something other than “counselors.”

First Impressions ~ by Anonymous

I felt pretty comfortable today and as I reflected back on what I heard and saw, the best comparison I can seem to come up with is used-car salesmen and/or pushy shop owners in the cruise ships foreign ports of call.

Car salesmen are trying to sell you an idea/product/service that you have no interest in. They are using repetitive streams of words to overwhelm your senses and put doubt in the choice that you have thought over, researched, and know is the correct one for you at this time. Be it something as simple as XM Radio, alloy wheels and road hazard coverage, or something as personal as the decision to end a pregnancy.

The pushy shop owners comparison is when upon finding out that you are not interested in what they are selling and pass it up, they then attempt to heap words of guilt, shame, regret, etc. on you in an effort to make a sale of something that you don’t want because the sale suits their need, cause, agenda.  Hoping that the stinging words will have an effect on your emotions and override the hard thought you have put into whatever choice you have decided upon. Again, be it Mexican coffee, trinkets, woven blankets or a reproductive decision.

I have had shop owners shout “CHEAP LADY” at me in ports of call as I walked past and would not cave into to going to look at or buy something in their shops.  I have also had used-car salesmen try and talk me out of a standard shift car telling me that they can be too tricky to drive in city traffic, or that as a woman I would be better off with full-coverage roadside protection for my safety.  “Silly them,” I think laughing inwardly. They don’t know me at all.  I don’t buy overpriced junk made in China at tourist traps and I can drive a variety of vehicles, including a stick-shift Dodge dually-diesel pickup,  through city traffic, I see myself having no problem with a 5-speed Honda sedan. My Dad taught me how to change a tire, so covered there too!

The thing that sticks out in my mind as being at the top of my list is, “You have not seen my life through my eyes. DO NOT try to put yourself in MY shoes. Your feet and your views are not a good fit.”    As I remember back when I had an abortion, I am glad the few protesters that I encountered only held up signs and prayed quietly and did not approach me.  If they had, I am sure that I would have been more upset and scared then I already was.  I would have loved to have had someone like the escorts I have met to hold my hand and walk me to the door.

I am glad to have met a like minded, strong group of people like those who come out to escort in Louisville.

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REMINDER: Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year.  It also is the date  where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts.  You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up that morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.

Use this form to make your pledge:

 

 

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First Time Escort – by Tom

My wife has been a clinic escort for over a year. She has helped with new escort training several times, and she discusses with me her experiences as a clinic escort, telling me how various “regulars” among the anti-abortion crowd act and react and how escorts, clients, and client companions manage themselves in what can be a tense environment.

In our discussions, I find that my first reactions to envisioned scenarios are sometimes good, and sometimes not so effective, in light of the primary mission in the Points of Unity the escorts agree to follow: It’s not about escalating. It’s not even about me, or any escort or anti-abortion protester. It’s about providing the space for clients to follow their decision through, with the underlying assumption being that clients have considered their options well enough to make their own decision. The hows and whys of their decision, just like the decision itself, is their own business, to be shared only with people they trust.

Of course, this also means that to focus on the clients, there is no time or space to judge the protesters. They have their own reasons for being there, most often based in their religious belief systems. That I do not share the specifics of their belief hierarchy is irrelevant. They are still people. As discussed later this morning, if calamity were to strike, I would do what I could to help them.

But I digress. Often. You’ve been warned.

I know myself well enough to realize that I would have to be VERY careful if I were to volunteer on the sidewalk. I am too ready to escalate in general. Even so, I have wanted to be there, to see first-hand the intensity, the individuals I hear of by nickname and actions only, and to help.

So, this morning, I went. It’s Easter weekend, a time crucial to the central belief of many Christians, so it was expected that there would be extra and extra-loud anti-abortionists on hand. As it turns out, the call went out via many electronic avenues, and we had students from the University of Louisville Medical School, other college students, and many other folks come out to wear orange vests. I don’t know how many orange vests were in use—one count was in the upper forties, and more people came afterward. I’ve seen posts claiming that sixty or more escorts were on hand—a reality commented upon by a couple of the anti-abortionists, who may or may not have cared that I heard them claiming to each other that our huge turnout was an indication of our concern over the power of their message. Delusions abound.

With all that extra staffing, we had the luxury of posting several volunteers across the entryway to the clinic. We were a moveable wall—tasked with keeping antis from blocking access to the clinic building, moving out of the way when clients and client companions arrived.

It was pretty easy duty, really. Stand there and let the preachers preach, let the antis spew their religious silliness. At times, move aside to allow passage by clients, client companions, and an occasional escort.

Yes, I was more than once reminded of scenes in movies in which drill instructors yell at recruits during boot camp, with the recruits required to stand at attention and all but ignore the verbal abuse. Some of the antis even tried to shame us, speaking derisively of our humanness, calling us names, telling us that their god was going to punish us for our wicked evil abetting of the abortion mill. And then in the next breath telling us that if we confess to their god, and ask forgiveness, we could enter heaven after all. Such hypocrisy. Such ludicrousness.

A couple years ago, I read the book, The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture, by Darrel W. Ray. The base premise of the book is that an apt metaphor for religion is found in the study of virology. Others have used the expression “thought virus” to describe other applications of the analogy, and I find the expression apt. The idea is that once a thought virus gets into one’s head, it’s exceedingly difficult for a thought counter to the original to take root. It’s hard for someone indoctrinated in religion to see an atheistic viewpoint as even being an acceptable alternative to belief in his or her god. Scripture makes use of this, even without formally recognizing it, when it has passages that demonize those of us who don’t believe.

Of course, it could be viewed in reverse: Those of us who have been “inoculated” against the virus don’t get absorbed into it. Speaking from personal experience, I simply find the reliance on the religious person’s god to be speaking of some imaginary friend, like Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. It’s hard for me to imagine believing in what seems horrendously illogical to me. The hubris in saying that no matter what our sins, the Christian God will forgive if we but ask is astonishing to me. That some sidewalk preacher dares to condemn me to his version of hell, not having any idea who I am or what I do is an insult. It’s meant to bother me.

But, because I have the secret weapon of knowledge of the concept of thought viruses, I am able to let his vitriol go on by me. I am able to focus on keeping my place, keeping my awareness on my surroundings so that I can alert my colleagues that clients are coming our way and that we need to be ready to make room for them to pass into the building.

A couple hours after things settled down, after the group breakfast, after some errand-running with another escort to collect her bicycle, and after starting to type out my thoughts, I realized that the antis were giving me a lot of power over themselves. Because I was able to let their words go by me without effect, they got angrier and more strident in their word choices.By giving me this power, they in effect empowered me to be a better volunteer, and do a better job for the clients and their companions.

I say this because one in particular spent some time in front of a group of us, deriding us, mocking us, telling us we must have been “real men” to stand up to a woman haranguing clients in front of an “abortion mill.” He went on and on, talking about how he imagined us being really proud that we were abetting the killing of babies and all the guilt-trip words he added to that. We mostly ignored him, until he called us weasels. One of our group piped up with “Can I be an otter instead?” which prompted me to chime in with “I’ll be a ferret! People treat pet ferrets quite well!” The guy walked away, disgusted that he couldn’t upset us. He came back a couple times, trying again to shame us, without success. He gave us the power to disgust him with our indifference to his snide remarks. Again and again.

Other of their ilk preached for a bit at us, or more accurately, at each other for my amusement, then moved on to preach at other vaguely-human forms wearing orange vests or clients or anyone who would listen.

A snippet, because I enjoyed seeing it happen: At one point, a fellow escort was standing beside me, and one of the more vocal preachers was haranguing people who had walked into the building. Because the preacher’s words were having less than the desired effect, he focused his attention on my fellow escort, who was at times smirking at the lunacy of the vitriol. “You mock me! You dare to mock me as I speak the word of God! You dare to mock me!” the preacher shouted.

The escort’s response? Indifference, in the main. An occasional chuckle. He removed his glasses to clean the spittle from them, put there by the preacher as he shouted his anger at having a less-than-desired effect on the escort’s mien. My fellow escort and I chuckled to each other soon after the preacher’s departure.

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REMINDER: If you are interested in escorting, don’t forget the training on Saturday, April 13th at 9A.  Training is not required, but it’s helpful. Please see our Trainings for Escorts page or email us for additional information

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REMINDER: Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year.  It also is the date  where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts.  You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up that morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.

Use this form to make your pledge:

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Little Lies

I want to start by stating the obvious: there are wide divisions between antis and escorts in our beliefs. Escorts believe in a person’s choice for abortion. Antis believe no one should choose abortion ever. Escorts believe in not making judgments about people they meet at the clinic. Antis judge everyone on the sidewalk. Escorts believe in telling the truth to clients and companions. Antis lie about almost everything in order to coerce clients into their CPC.

This story may seem frivolous or petty. I admit I think it is on one level. It does point out the wide gulf between  the escorts and antis on even small, everyday situations.

There were only two escorts to begin this day and about 9 protesters. When we got out of our cars as the first clients arrived, the other escort started to the $3 lot and I talked to a client at the curb. While walking to a second car pulling to the curb, I saw a glove on the sidewalk. Not knowing who of the many people on the sidewalk it belonged to, I carefully draped it on the rim of a wrought iron cage for a trash receptacle near where I found it; about 30 feet from the clinic door. It was in plain sight there and would not get dirty. I saw D stand directly in front of the cage for the trash receptacle for a full minute, looking down at the spot where I had placed the glove, before moving to one of the cars I had just spoken to.

The first clients had been approached and more escorts showed up when the first escort told me they had lost their glove. Delighted I had found it, I told her what I had done with it. When we checked, the glove was gone. It wasn’t in the trash. It was just gone.

I told the escort I had seen D look at the glove and suggested maybe she picked it up. The escort asked D if she found a glove. The answer was, “No, I didn’t see a glove.” About 5 minutes later, the glove turned up. It was draped on top of the fire hydrant directly in front of the clinic doors.

I cannot prove D placed it there since I didn’t see her do it, but proximity to both sites the glove was draped seem to circumstantially indicate she saw it, picked it up, and then placed it somewhere else we were sure to see.

Lying seems to be so automatic with D that even a simple non-confrontational question is met with a lie, even when the truth would not cause any controversy. “Yes, I saw a glove on the trash container,” or “Yes, I found a glove. Is this yours?” No real need to get in a long discussion with an escort, but her first response was to just lie.

I thought of all the times when we have found things dropped by antis on the sidewalk and made an effort to return it to them. We have even given D hand warmers she has dropped.

What motivates someone to tell lies about little things? Is it justified because we are “evil deathscorts”? Is there any way we could believe D on any comment she makes? I confess, if she told me the sky was blue, I would look up to verify it.

Escorts are not saints. We come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse personalities. What we do have in common is that we are people trying to do the best we can to make a space for clients to go to the doctor. We have our Points of Unity to guide us and try to follow them. One of the points is about being honest and transparent.

I wonder if we could get the antis to agree on Points of Unity for their sidewalk protests. Honesty, transparency, de-escalating? Yes, I know I am dreaming.

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You too can be an escort!!

Come to the training Saturday, April 13!!

9 a.m. ~ breakfast and good times.

Training is not required, but it’s helpful. Please see our Trainings for Escorts page or email us for additional information.

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REMINDER: Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year.  It also is the date  where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts.  You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up that morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.

Use this form to make your pledge:

 

 

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Just There to “Help Women?”

This is a video i took last Saturday.

 

Up til now, I’ve been hesitant about posting some of these videos.  I don’t particularly want the protesters to post videos of us on their websites, so  I’ve been a bit careful here.  But if we want to push for a buffer zone or a bubble law, then I think people need to see the unvarnished version of Days on the Sidewalk.

The men featured in this brief clip are well-known to us – Tim and Ron.  I’ve decided to use the names that we know them by ~ I don’t actually know if those are their given names, or just ones we’ve used to identify them.  For some time now, Servalbear and I had been using initials for the protesters, but that’s kind of pointless too.  Whether I call him “R” or Ron, his actions are the same.  However, I won’t publish both first and last names, even if I know them.

The clip starts with Tim yelling at the clinic windows, as the antis so often do, promising the clients the moon if they’ll come out.  Scholarships to UL, places to live, the job they’ve always wanted.  I would be more impressed with that if I hadn’t heard that the benefits only last as long as the pregnancy, and that once the baby’s born, they disappear into thin air, rather like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.

Than we move to Ron, who’s right in front of the clinic door.  A member of the clinic staff is standing in the doorway.  You can’t see her, but he’s talking to her and a couple of escorts. Ron is the one who thought we should give him some of our ginger snaps a couple of weeks ago.  The person he addresses as “Weasel” is one of our escorts.  Tim joins him to help harass the clinic staff person.

While I was watching them, I kept thinking, “And they claim to be here to ‘help women?’   This is an odd way to do it.”  There are no women being helped in this video…  In fact, all of the clients are already in for the morning, and they can barely hear people yelling at the window.

And of course, while i’m videoing them, some of the antis are videoing me. Sigh.  That’s fine.  I can live with that.