Day 2 – Roe vs Wade – Legal Barriers and Battles – by fml and servalbear

Every woman under the age of 39 has grown up with the right to access birth control and abortion. It is easy to believe that since it has been true for 39 years, it will always be true.
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The day Roe vs Wade was decided, some people worried the decision did not cover enough.
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Decision January 22, 1973

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  • Less than a month after the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade in 1973, The Nation published an article supporting the decision. “Jane Roe” of Texas and “Mary Doe” of Georgia wanted abortions, but their states forbade them, and the women decided to challenge the illegality of the procedure. “They, and the seven Justices who voted in their favor, have performed a service of incalculable importance for American womanhood,” wrote The Nation’s editors. Still, the editors were wary of decision’s aftermath. “The Supreme Court decision does not go all the way,” they wrote. “There will be renewed efforts to circumvent it.” Read more here
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These concerns proved prophetic. Every year since 1973, legislation has been introduced to chip away at the right to access abortion.
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Some of these laws are called TRAP ~ Targeted Regulations against Abortion Providers.  These may include the height of a sink or the width of a doorway in a clinic.  They are not medically necessary and are not applied to other types of clinics.
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At the EMW clinic, these regulations make it nearly impossible for the clinic to change locations ~ which would also allow us to have a private parking lot with direct access to the clinic.  But trying to meet the TRAP regulations would be too costly and would increase the risk of getting shut down completely.
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In Virginia, they have drafted new legislation that could cause some clinics there to close.  {Read more on TRAP in Virginia here.}   Pennsylvania and Maryland face similar challenges.
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The war on women’s rights, especially concerning abortion, birth control and even sex education, took on an aggressive aspect in 2011.  Bill after bill was introduced seeking to place limits on abortion that would make it nearly impossible to actually get one.
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  •  In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009. (Summaries by state included in this Reality Check article.) 
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The legislative aggression has already started in 2012.
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  • Anti-choice activists always say “punish the doctor, not the mother.”  For Florida Rep. Charles Van Zant, that punishment for the physician would be life in prison
  • Twenty-five Kansas House members have agreed to sponsor a proposed “personhood” amendment to the state constitution to ban abortion and are close to introducing it… 
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Keep in mind that personhood laws would also eliminate some forms of birth control.  While people can be against abortion and in favor of birth control, the official Catholic stance considers birth control equal to abortion.
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The World Can’t Wait states some of our concerns in their call for people to join with them in Washington, DC on January 22 and 23.
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  • Stand up for Abortion and Birth Control
  • 39 years after women won the right to abortion, this fundamental right is hanging by a thread.

    • Nearly 90% of U.S. counties have no abortion provider.
    • 2011 saw the greatest number of restrictions passed at the state level – parental notification laws, mandatory waiting periods, gestational bans, etc. – restricting this access even further.
    • Doctors who provide abortions are hunted, terrorized and killed.
    • And the stigma and shame cast on women who get abortions is greater than ever 

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As pro-access activists, we need to stay vigilant about pending legislation to limit the rights of women.  People often say that women’s rights are the first to be sacrificed by politicians. The legislative measures that have passed in 2011 clearly reflect that.

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The new campaign for Operation Save America in 2012 is a plan to leave entire states without an abortion provider.
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  • Operation Save America is embarking on a new national campaign called States of Refuge, Operation: First Abortion Free State.  Currently, there are five states (Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) with one remaining abortion mill within their boundaries.  Our purpose is to bring churches and pro-life ministries to each state and allow God to give us the first abortion-free state in America. (web link omitted purposely)

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Why are we continuing to fight the same fights 39 years after abortion was ruled legal? The simple answer is politicians encouraging evangelistic citizens to garner their votes.

Abortion Support in Kentucky is celebrating Roe vs Wade with their donation drive towards efforts to make abortion and reproductive healthcare more accessible in Kentucky. Please visit their website and contribute whatever you can.

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Day 1 – Roe vs Wade – The Marches – by fml and servalbear

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The 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade – the decision on abortion rights by the United States Supreme Court –  is January 22.  This week, we will publish a series of articles on different issues surrounding the decision.
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 Back alley abortions and women trying to abort on their own had been a fact of life for a very long time.   Roe v Wade didn’t start the controversy about abortion, but it brought it into the realm of politics.
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  • Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the United States into pro-choice and pro-life camps, while activating grassroots movements on both sides.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade
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There will be many articles written today and this week concerning the decision. “On The Issues Magazine” has devoted its Winter 2012 issue to the subject of abortion. Read it here.
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There will be marches in support of the right to choose abortion. There will be counter-marches by anti-abortion groups. The first marches began shortly after the decision.
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  • Abortion – Roe v. Wade linked control of reproductive rights to a woman’s constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy.  To social conservatives, this upset gender roles and traditional patriarchy, and was considered an attack on “the right of a husband to protect the life of the child he fathered in his wife’s womb.”  Read more here.

The annual marches in Washington, DC are considered a “Festival and Special Event” by About.com.  Listed between “Home and Remodeling Show” and “Bethesda Chevy Chase Restaurant Week,” the information about the rallies includes directions to the Supreme Court and the National Mall. Tourists can view the expected 250,000 or more demonstrators for both sides as part of their visit to Washington.

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Washington 30 Year Anniversary March

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We worry a little that listing this in a guide about Washington might trivialize the importance of the decision.   Might make the struggle to protect the right to abortion under all circumstances without stigmatization seem like a festival for fun. If it adds to the crowds lending their voice for the rights of women, it helps.  If it becomes a spectacle, an event for entertainment, it doesn’t help.

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This anniversary is historically the most important step forward for women’s bodily autonomy . There is so much work still to do.

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Reminiscence by fml:

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I’ve never participated in a march in support of abortion.  But I was 16 when Roe v Wade passed, and I can remember how exciting a time it was.

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The year before that, six of the young women in my junior year of high school had left school because they were pregnant.  Back then, the only legal choice was to have the baby.  You could get married, or you could put it up for adoption.  Very few people chose to raise the child alone.

I knew of six girls in my class who got pregnant that year.  There may have been others who managed to get a “back-alley” abortion, or whose parents had the means to take them out of state for a legal abortion.

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Some of the girls I knew got married, child brides at 15, some of them didn’t.   Most of them, I never saw again.  And of course, I don’t know what any of them would have chosen back in those days.

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But when Roe v Wade passed the next year, we knew it opened doors that had been nearly closed up until then.
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Reminiscence by servalbear:
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Roe vs Wade was decided when I was 23. Even though birth control pills were available in the early 1960s, there were state laws prohibiting the distribution until a Supreme Court ruling in 1965 stated that these laws violated the “right to marital privacy.” (Griswold vs Connecticut). That made it possible for married couples to obtain prescriptions for birth control pills without restrictions.

It wasn’t until 1972 that unmarried couples were included in this right. (Eisenstadt vs Baird) I was also 23 when that decision came down from the Supreme Court. Some states still have restrictive laws for the distribution of birth control to unmarried minors.

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In real-life terms, that means:  For all of my teenage years, the only birth control available for most single women was abstinence, rhythm method, douches or condoms.

Needless to say, these were not 100% effective. There were a lot of unplanned teenage pregnancies. The only options were drop out of school to raise the baby, put the baby up for adoption or go to a back alley abortionist.

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I joined NOW and marched in support of Roe vs Wade and the equal rights amendment for women. To witness firsthand the number of young lives derailed by unplanned pregnancies made me a lifelong advocate of bodily autonomy and a feminist.

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The decision in Roe vs Wade was a cause for celebration. We can never go back to the way it was before. Over 50% of the population in America are women. We need the right to make the reproductive choices best for our individual lives.

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Abortion Support in Kentucky is celebrating Roe vs Wade with their donation drive towards efforts to make abortion and reproductive healthcare more accessible in Kentucky. Please visit their website and contribute whatever you can.

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Trust Women. Thank goodness for Roe v. Wade

What does it mean to Trust Women?

Trust Women.

Do I really have to answer such a simple question?

Justify such a powerful statement?

Is the idea that personal integrity and freedom extends to women such a stretch?

Why does the content of my uterus change my right to legal medical care?

My right to decide if I want to be a parent.

Why must I shoulder the burden of my pharmacist’s conscience

What is it about women refusing to acquiesce our reproductive and sexual autonomy that evokes the kind of anger that manifests bombings and murder.

Every year the anniversary of Roe v. Wade gives me pause. I am ready to celebrate, yell from the rooftops my joy at being a woman, a queer person and the Supreme Court’s decision to respect my privacy and bodily autonomy. In that same moment however, I mourn the tragedy that is the anti-choice movement’s march across the political landscape, throwing up roadblocks large and small. The cumulative result being a tiered system of the haves and the have nots, baring access to reproductive health care with parental consent laws, 24 hour waits, compulsory ultrasound viewing, personhood amendment, prohibitions on sex education, emergency contraception and constant stigmatization and harassment.

I started escorting at EMW Women’s Surgical Center in 1999 and am there every Saturday morning. I have walked with countless families past protesters yelling, begging, lying, crying, pushing, obstructing, harassing and bullying.

I have used my body to create space between the most confident 15 year old in the world and grown men who think they know her story without ever asking.

I have run with terrified women past protesters trying to grab her arm into the clinic doors.

I have stopped anti-choice protesters from slipping religious materials into client’s purses.

I have watched protesters call out their neighbors by name as they enter the clinic and then call the client’s mothers, pastors and sisters to bully them into leaving.

I have held a crying woman in my arms as she told me about her diagnosis with MS after her health began to rapidly deteriorate with her fourth pregnancy, and the agony in her voice as she wondered about sacrificing her body for the one or preserving her health for the other 3.

I have heard hundreds of stories of families in need, poverty beyond my wildest nightmares and heartache that I do not have the language skill to adequately express. And everyone of these people have been forced to walk through a gauntlet of anti-choice protesters who believe they know better than each of these women how to handle the struggles in their lives.

So what does it look like to Trust Women?

Trust is earned by every working mother.


Trust is knowing that women are life bearers. There is great power and knowledge in being the one to bring forth humanity. Trust is believing that women know better than anyone else when and if they have the resources to bring a child into this world.

Trust is agreeing to disagree; every woman experiences pregnancy on a continuum, Trust is supporting women no matter what.


Trust is acknowledging and dismantling privilege.


Trust is recognizing that poverty, racial and gender oppression burden us all.


There is no healthy world without healthy women.

Dr. Tiller understood.

Women are to be trusted.


This is the day…

(I realize that this is a kind of long picture post – but if you only look at one thing, watch the first 30 seconds or so of the video at the end! It’s amazing – I was sung to/at!)

This was my first weekday at clinic. There were 6 escorts, if I remember correctly, and about 10-15 protesters. My numbers might be off, but that’s my estimate.

This morning was pretty interesting. The dynamic is very different with fewer clients, fewer escorts, and fewer protesters. The really loud and pushy protesters (soap box preacher, Angela, Donna, and gray haired rude dude) seem to enjoy the extra attention and engaging escorts as much as possible.

Here are the finest photos I managed to get today:

This guy does great ad-libs ("Do the math, people!") and make the most artificial looking hand/arm motions

This guy does great ad-libs ("Do the math, people!") and makes the most artificial, practiced looking hand/arm motions

... but when Angela showed up, he stepped down for a minute. Note the sorrow (or annoyance?) on his face. Poor guy.

... but when Angela showed up, he stepped down for a minute. Note the sorrow (or annoyance?) on his face. Poor guy.

Donna was there. As usual. I wanted to photoshop this to say "Asshole" with an arrow towards her face. But that would be childish. Then again, I had to tell her "No pushing!" a BUNCH today, so maybe childish is ok.

Donna was there. As usual. An advocate for choice! I wanted to photoshop this to say "Asshole" with an arrow towards her face. But that would be childish. Then again, I had to tell her "No pushing!" a BUNCH today, so maybe childish is ok.

This guy was very entertaining today, and was adament that he was neutral. He told us lots of interesting stories, showed off his baby (Matilda, aka Mattie), and even told the Soap Box dude to shut up. He is an interesting guy, for sure.

This guy was very entertaining today, and was adament that he was neutral. He told us lots of interesting stories, showed off his baby (Matilda, aka Mattie), and even told the Soap Box dude to shut up. He is an interesting guy, for sure.

This bossy lady stayed pretty quiet today, but did give us very stern looks.

This bossy lady stayed pretty quiet today, but did give us very stern looks.

This seems to be one of Donna's buddies. She said "What do you want me to do, smile?" and I said "Sure, smile, make a face, whatever." After I took her picture a few times, she said "That was pleasant," and walked away. What?

This seems to be one of Donna's buddies. She said "What do you want me to do, smile?" and I said "Sure, smile, make a face, whatever." After I took her picture a few times, she said "That was pleasant," and walked away. What?

Angela held open this car door as a client's support person/friend was getting in her car. I told her that she should think about not touching other people's cars. It was weird and I felt uncomfortable, because the friend was not adament about Angela backing off. I hovered a few feet away in case she needed/wanted some back up.

Angela held open this car door as a client's support person/friend was getting in her car. I told her that she should think about not touching other people's cars. It was weird and I felt uncomfortable, because the friend was not adament about Angela backing off. I stayed a few feet away in case she needed/wanted some back up.

I like this picture. Gotta get creative with time to kill, right?

I like this picture. Gotta get creative with time to kill, right?

And here is the crowning glory of my morning! I get a shout out about 30 seconds in.

Feb 15, 2009 by andy

Feb 15, 2009

Escorts: 13

Protesters: 90-100

Cops: 1

“The bond that links a true family is not one of blood, but of joy and respect  in each other’s lives;  rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof”

Tales of a Reluctant Messiah

by Richard Bach

I showed up at the clinic Saturday morning and at 7:00am there were between 50 and 60 protesters lining the gauntlet before the clinic doors opened. The weather was almost not cold and I guess the protesters were feeling froggy.

2-15-09-21

We had a few chasers this morning, Angela being the main culprit, but in addition to her there was a new young couple out getting up in the mix. The guy mostly took pictures and talked to Zen Master D. The young gal on the other hand was very assertive chasing clients from their cars trying to hand out lit and redirect them.

Rick from the Creepy Crew was out lurking as usual in the parking lot.

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And sometime around 7:45 am Mary and Mike march up 2nd St and onto Market across from the clinic door with another 35-50 people. They stood around completely blocking the sidewalk for the rest of the morning saying the rosary.

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The happenings this morning that stick out in my mind the most however, came from a family of 5 I have never seen at the clinic before. The parents were in the late 20s or early 30s and had three small children ranging from maybe 3 to 7 years old. They stood at entrance to the parking lot and as clients walked the mother would push her children into the path of the client and escorts offering to speak with the client about family.

Now I have seen the protesters use almost every tactic I can think of to persuade pregnant people that to give birth to a baby, but this takes the cake.

2-15-09-14

CHILDERN ARE NOT POLITICAL TOOLS.

They should not be used as props to intimidate, shame, guilt and distract women.

There is nothing wrong with having an abortion.

And instead of dragging children out into the cold on a Saturday morning to use them as happy, white, heteronormative examples of a socially constructed familial paradigms, Stop and recognize that all kinds of families make the decision to have an abortion.

Many people make the decision to have an abortion to preserve their family’s well being.

The assumptions made by these protesters about the family structures of women choosing to have an abortion belie the complex reality we, as whole and unique individuals, exist in.

And until we are able to break through the socially constructed heteronormative family as our default interpretation of family we will continue to miss out on the vast beauty of what family can really be.

Inclusive, supportive, loving, tolerant, real, strong and unconditional.

Again with January 17 and January 24 by andy

January 24, 2009 by andy

Escorts: 14

Protesters: maybe 30

Cops: 1

It was in the low 30s this morning, not too bad over all. And for the most part it was a regular morning, with pushing and yelling. Mary was wound up and being extra preachy at the escorts. She accused us of thinking we know everything. This allegation is silly since it is the escorts that recognize that we do not have enough information to make informed decisions regarding anyone’s choice to obtain an abortion. She is the one that thinks diapers and computer classes will fix every problem pregnancy.

1-24-09-gauntlet

But over all it was nothing special and we had way more escorts than we could have really put to good use. Thanks for coming out everybody. After last week we wanted some back up and we got it in spades.

I am going to write about this week in another post, because I have more to say about last week.

I would like to say again that we got our collective asses run all over the place by the protesters. They were physically aggressive and very intent on impeding the ability of clients to enter the clinic. Mary, Mary2, some semi-regular prayer, both Angelas (Catholic and Pentecostal) and the fake clinic staff were all up in the mix. We had no police support until the very end, and then he escalated the problem.

In the same scrum I wrote about last week, there was another side to the story that I did not tell.

The semi-regular prayer, we’ll call him “Buck”, got his panties twisted into knots so tight he began flailing at clients.

Over my back, around the other escorts, thrusting lit at the client in a manner that can only be described as threatening.

The client’s boyfriend (?) was trying to make space through the mob of Mary and the other 4 or 5 protesters, who were surrounding us and really making the trip from parking lot to door cumbersome.

The father was trying to keep the family together and holding onto the client as we walked.

We finally got across the street and onto the sidewalk, where the cop was standing watching.

As Towanda was being stepped on by Buck, she yelled to the cop “Are you going to do anything about this?” and his response was to hook her by the shoulder, headed in the opposite direction dragging her out from under the protester and away from the pack. He then motioned for Buck to follow. They all went across the street and were lectured.

Buck was shamed pretty well, the cop said that he looked like an upstanding citizen and that he should know better than to act like “that” (an over grown bully).

He told Towanda that she was the problem, that she should not respond to the protesters aggression and that she is too emotionally involved (because the thugs for a loving jesus are paragons of rationality and even tempers).

He threatened to arrest everyone if there was more pushing.

Really?

Again we see the status quo perpetuated; women are not entitled to be free from harassment if they are having an abortion. This is a charged issue, we must let the protesters speak their mind, and clients should understand that it is going to be like this.

Bull shit.

Access means more than just being able to get in the door. Access includes being free from judgment and harassment as one handles ones own business. Access includes being treated as a whole person with feelings, thoughts, hopes and wishes as complex and valid as those of the protesters. To be free from intimidation and coercion regardless of the choice being made.

We as a society do not stigmatize anyone as thoroughly as we do people who have abortions. We think there are two types of women, those who have abortions and those who have babies. This is just not the case. The Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that “about 60% of women having abortions have one or more children”; and that about one third of all American women will have an abortion in their lifetime.

With this in mind I contend that abortion is a normal part of our reproductive lives. We as female bodied people are empowered to care for ourselves and our families and we must not tolerate this kind of moralistic fervor. We must stand up for ourselves and acknowledge the realities of our live.

So make some noise.

Take a radical stance.

Empower yourself and others.

Trust each other.

January 17, 2009 by andy

January 17, 2009 by andy

Escorts: 7

Protesters: about 65

Cops: 1

1-17-09-7Jesus, Mary and Joseph it was colder than a witch’s tit out there this morning. It was 6 degrees at dawn with a wind chill of -1, we were out there for almost an hour before the sun came up. And it was as aggressive as it was cold. For the week before the Roe v. Wade anniversary and the week before the inauguration of Barak Obama, the anti- abortion crowd is feeling a little like a cornered animal.

And they are lashing out.

At the women.

Isn’t that christian of them.

I was late of course, with a car full of escorts. When we turned onto Market St. there were two groups of protesters, one on the north side of the street (across the street from the clinic door) and the usual gauntlet on the south side. There were chasers aplenty as the fake clinic had extra people out to as well as Angela (Catholic) and the creepy crew.

Mary and Mary2 were both rabid today, crying and pushing and running and wailing at every client.

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We had several young clients this morning and these wackos think if they just scare her enough she will change her mind.

One of the last clients I walked in this morning was a female bodied person with her parents and either partner or brother. This family was completely unprepared for the venom they received from Mary. As they were all getting out of the car and getting their things protesters approached them from the rear of their car with a van next to them, blocking their path. The girl was crying and trying to hide her face from them in her parent’s arms. Her parents were both wide eyed but kept it together.

Mike and Mary

While they were gathering their wits and things about them Mary was yelling at them from around the front of the car. She yelled at the girl that they [her parents] couldn’t make her do this, and that if she wanted help they would help her get away from them. She said the girl would never forgive her parents and they would all hate each other for ever. She admonished the parents not to damage their daughter with this kind of abuse. She called them all abusers and murders. This family held on to each other and put one foot in front of the other through a scrum of shoving protesters, across the street, past Mike wielding his video camera in her face and down the gauntlet past protesters trying to step in her way and yelling at her.

We finally made it into the clinic anteroom, and the girl went straight to the corner and began to sob. Her parents and partner all held onto her and cried. The father grabbed my arm and held on as he held his family. I affirmed the young woman’s autonomy, expressed my faith in their familial strength and tried to offer some kind words.

I have no doubt that this family was going to be ok. They were together and even though this is hard, they had each other.

What an amazing difference unconditional love and kindness makes in a hard situation. My wish for every person who obtains an abortion is to have as strong a support as this family demonstrated.

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Instead of these condemning, judgmental, voyeuristic, hateful, busybodies.

Happy Roe v. Wade day every body. Tell the people in your life that have had an abortion that you love them and are proud of them. Tell the people in your life that support other who have abortions you appreciate them. Tell the a-funds, nurses, doctors, escorts, pharmasists, doulas, midwives, techs, educators, and others involved in providing support and access to reproductive health care they are acknowledged, empowered, needed, loved and supported.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.