Clinic Escorting Tales

Last Saturday was the first time that I’ve escorted during the current round of 40 Days For Life (Imma start shortening that to 40DfL). As the name might indicate, this is an anti-abortion event that spans Forty. Loooooong. Days. It was created to help prolife groups energize their ranks. 40DfL activities are hosted by local groups, and each group has different events, but they typically revolve around holding prayer vigils, fasting, harassing patients and companions outside of clinics that provide abortions, and smiling in a creepy, brainwashed way at the escorts and clients while inviting us to “just talk for a moment”.

I’ve escorted during 40DfL and it’s always been a bit of a circus. But we get through it.

40DfL snuck up on me this time. Me, Jailawrites and Pixelsnake (twitter handles used for privacy) showed up for the 7am shift on Saturday and were met by the usual suspects. Pleasantries were exchanged (“How many babies are on death row today?” from her, and quiet chatting amongst ourselves as we ignored her) and we did the clinic escort thing until our shift was over at 8:30am. There were no other escorts this morning and only seven protesters. A normal Saturday morning for all involved.

The three of us headed inside to wrap up and go home. Along the way we began chatting about breakfast. We quickly worked our way into the mood (frenzy) for pancakes and waffles at The Original Pancake House. Mmmm… gluten-free crepes with cinnamon cream cheese and fried apples, lots of maple syrup applied early on so that the bottom of the crepes are soaked by the time you get to them. Coffee…bacon…orange juice! We practically ran out of the clinic.

And there they were.

Down at the end of the block…a gigantic huddle of protesters with signs that read “All Life Is Beautiful” and “Abortion = One stopped heart and one broken heart”.

Uh-oh.

I whimpered “but…pancakes…?” a few times, but JailaWrites convinced us to go back upstairs to make sure there were no more appointments. Alas, there were. With a sigh and a mental wave goodbye to breakfast we pulled the escort jerseys back on and headed downstairs to be harassed in the name of Jaysus.

As anyone who’s spent time clinic escorting will tell you, protesters grow bolder in greater numbers. We did a quick headcount and came up with about thirty adults. Crud. Aside from the signs and rosaries, they had brought two props with them. Err…I’m sorry…I mean children. One was a small infant in a stroller. The other was a golden-haired, happy, rambunctious toddler who they trained to carry an anti-abortion sign (it was as tall as he was), and then they encouraged him to waddle over to us while they called triumphantly, “Look, he has a message for you!”

At one point someone shouted, “Two years ago it would have been legal to kill [the toddler]. It wouldn’t be okay to kill him now; why was it okay to kill him then?”

Jailawrites received her near-weekly “but Margaret Sanger!” lecture (Jailawrites is the only regularly attending black clinic escort right now).

A kindly-looking, older gentleman walked around with a smile on his face and the toddler in his arms for much of the morning. When he passed by he’d say, “Look at what you’re denying these women. Look at this perfect, beautiful boy! *dramatic, heavy sigh* I don’t know how you do what you do, girls.”

The ignorance! The priviledge! The assumption the clients who are coming to the clinic will have a perfect, healthy babies if only they wouldn’t abort! The confidence that having a baby would suddenly make them able and wanting to keep it, care for it, love it, provide it a happy home! And the assumption that we escorts have anything to do with the client’s decision on whether to bring a child into this world, or to have an abortion, or make any other health care or life choice… gah!

And he kept calling us girls. Blech.

We were approached by several young, bright-eyed protesters who invited us to talk with them. When asked where we went to school and if we lived around here, Pixelsnake said “I don’t think I want to tell you where I live.” The guy laughed a little awkwardly, tried to regroup, and then just smiled and moved on.

*sigh*

It always seems to surprise the new protesters when they come across escorts who won’t talk to them. After all – all they want to do is talk! Do you know why those conversations rarely progress past the awkward stage into the angry, frustrated, frenzied stage? Because one side refuses to engage.

The three of us have a favorite patient who comes in every Saturday for dialysis. While she was hanging out with us this past weekend, one of the protesters threw out some comment about black babies and she flipped out on him, shouting at him about why he had to bring up race, what did race have to do with it, etc. The guy smugly, self-righteously started talking back and all of the nearby protesters homed in – physically and verbally – and started loudly putting in their own two cents. It was like sharks to blood, and it was intimidating.

It was a much needed reminder to me about why I try my damnedest to tune out and bite my tongue when it comes to dealing with protesters. Our attention is fuel on their fire.

Meditating Cat

Meditating clinic escort cat chants, “I’m just here for clients. I’m not here to debate. I’m not going to change their minds or make them leave. I’m just here for clientshutthehellupwhywontyoustoptalking ….mmmm…. clients. Clients…” Image source
Image shows a fluffy orange and white cat sitting on a stone path with eyes closed.

18 days left.

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Clinic Escorting Tales
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272 thoughts on “Clinic Escorting Tales

  1. 1

    I’ll fess up: Hi everyone, I’m @jailawrites

    I’m pretty sure I didn’t help that last moral push by screaming “Put a hat on that kid!”. There was so much I wanted to say, but the fact that the little cutie was toddling around in 40 degree weather in a dress shirt and pants while we’re standing there in jackets and hoodies just screamed what their priorities where.

    …and damn, I completely forgot about being referred too as a “girl”. Between that and the college guys, I’m getting the feeling that they assume that we’re all young college aged ladies who just don’t know better. And now I’m pissed again.

    Good luck this Saturday, guys. If spirits existed, I’ll be there in spirit Get some pancakes/waffles for me 🙂

  2. 2

    Just dropping a comment to say how awesome what you guys do (escorting) is, and apologies for the clumsy sentence.

    I know I don’t have the temperament for that kind of work. But I have all kinds of appreciation for people who do.

    Clients!!

  3. 4

    I’m a Volunteer BodyGuard. I fight back against these TAMPON TERRORISTS. They are NOT protestors. They are vicious liars. Snarling primates who refuse to evolve. CREATIONISTS. And the 40 Days For LIES is a papal conspiracy to force all pregnancies to term regardless of a woman’s medical needs. In 8 years MORE RELIGIOUS FANATICS HAVE LEFT never to return than become serial assailants stalkers trespassers vandals or in situ theocrats … BECAUSE I dosed them with Atheism… carried my signs … read ALOUD pro-violent abortion passages from their bibles to them … read Ezekiel 23:20 & violence of 139th Psalm to them … that is not DEBATE that is fighting fire with Atheist truth telling fire…. most ” decent ” believers retreat to hide their faiths/ears/eyes from safe from Atheist secular combat. Passive mute escorting is a choice I support for those not ready to defeat the TAMPON TERRORISTS. Only those armed with facts can defeat insane faith opponents. Bufferzone laws IF UPHELD by US Sup Ct for Colorado can reduce the need for more escorts in all 50 states. Strict enforcement of F.A.C.E & R.I.C.O laws is sorely needed. We forced a pedophile pope to resign. Keep up the scorn against enemies of women’s healthcare & human rights. If we don’t… rapist rights & women’s lives will continue in peril. 843-926-1750 @Greens926_1750 @AtheistVet @LarryAccomplish Larry Carter Center for Congress 2014

  4. 5

    I was going to say it might be fun to show up and out-pro-life them, but then it occurred to me… That’s not possible. No level of ludicrous I can come up with doesn’t sound exactly like how they sound. Nope, I think the only thing I could do is a counter protest, but I’d be concerned about losing my cool. Those people have a capacity to make me far too punchy. That’s weird, cuz I often bounce in bars, and have never in all the years I’ve done that taken a swing at anyone. Drunk kids on E calling me names and threatening to hit me? No problem. Obnoxious twats trying to abuse people verbally at a difficult time? Can’t handle it.

    1. 5.1

      Escorts simply are willing verbal abuse victims. And they comply with established guidelines to minimize terrorist provocations of healthcare staff… patients & companions. What I do is much more than a COUNTER PROTEST. I practice borderline deprogramming anti-cult tactics. I challenge the terrorists to repent of the fear instilling lies that harm women. After all is said & done 40 Days For Lies gives women 2 choices: be celibate or ONLY HAVE SEX 3 days per month to ensure a guilt free perfect pregnancy. Thus menstruation IS MURDER if a single sperm inhabits their vaginae failing to perfect Jehovah soul CONCEPTION. And papists & baptists have no answer to whether twins are HALF SOULS EACH or a triplet is a quarter soul twice & a half soul first… Life ONLY BEGINS WITH A WILLING HEALTHY MOM as there ARE ZERO gods about lurking in fallopian tubes or uterine walls

  5. 8

    I don’t know that I would have the temperament for what you do. I have a bad habit of saying extremely cutting things when pushed by unreasonable people. I do want to express tremendous respect and appreciation for what you and your companions are doing.

  6. 9

    I did this in Buffalo back in the day, while attending university just my side of the border. I remember when OpRes came to town, and it got really hairy for a while. I got bonked on the forehead with a bible by a Catholic priest, or someone dressed as one anyway. I thought that was remarkably revealing, that the book should be used to be directly violent against someone who doesn’t agree with it.

    Big ups for everyone involved, doing the daily work of being heroes. Thank you.

  7. 10

    I’ve occasionally thought about volunteering to do this, except that here in Canada, there’s much less need for it (the local clinic has a huge do-not-protest bubble around it, and for the most part the anti-abortionists comply with it).

    Also, I’m the sort of guy who would feel compelled to engage with them, to answer their BS questions and to respond with mountains of snark. And the policy of not engaging with them at all is clearly the best policy.

  8. 11

    I used to be a clinic escort in Portland, OR. They are the same everywhere. Standouts were a man with a huge (at least 6′) crucifix held against his crotch and sadly a very visibly physically and mentally disabled child in a wheelchair with a sign hung around his neck proclaiming that he was adopted and should he have been killed. I felt sorry for this poor boy who apparently had been adopted to be a prop.

    One day they decided to block the clnic. It took some time but we got all the patients in. They then tried to surround it so patients could not leave (damn, what do they want)? I was part of a human chain, locked arms with another woman, but my other arm was twisted behind my back while I was being slammed into a plate glass door. Very scary. Then one of the fetus freaks put his hand on my chest and shoved me. I told him, twice, to get his damn hand off my chest. He didn’t. I’d been out for about 7 hours with no food or restroom and was past thinking, acting on pure instinct, I bent my head and bit his hand. That worked.

    This same man insisted he would never, ever, ever, under any circumstances – use a condom.

  9. 12

    When I first started clinic escorting, the “do not engage” rule just wouldn’t work – not with a dozen or so pro-choicers vs over a hundred aggressive antis, on a narrow sidewalk. So we cheerfully got in their faces, making the experience unpleasant enough to drive away two three churchfuls worth of harassers, while getting all patients safely into the clinic and not having any of our people get arrested.

    Our two most effective members used different tactics, though we made very sure to always have muscular mean-looking people covering their backs quite closely. One was an extremely out-of-the-closet gay man who would flirt with the anti men: “I bet you got a big one, dontcha? … He’s one of us, I can tell, aren’t ya honey?” Some of his targets’ faces turned red enough they could have been used for traffic lights; few came back for another round, and hardly any made it past three encounters.

    The most effective defender was a soft-spoken young Wiccan, who would zero in on a leader and start explaining about The Goddess. This always rattled them much more than anything else – “Oh dear lord, deliver me from this woman!!!” Those she spoke with would always retreat from the clinic area, usually taking along a few friends to help pray away the pagan.

    And me? Suffice it to say I earned a couple of personal customized exorcisms (which had no discernible effect other than making me giggle).

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