Fear and Loathing in Clinic Escorting

Things are ramping up and not in a good way.

The National Abortion Federation has reported that this year has seen a serious uptick in clinic fuckery. The shooting in Colorado got the most media coverage, of course, but threats of violence, more aggressive “sidewalk counseling”, and more dangerous rhetoric coming from anti-choicers are on an increase as well.

It makes escorting more dangerous now, since we’re the faces of the clinic, the first people a patient sees, or in the case of protesters, the only face they see.  Some of us wear bright colored vests that mark us as volunteering for our clinics.  What I’m trying to say is, if someone got it in their head to do a clinic harm, we may be the first going down.

And that just makes my already anxiety addled mind even more afraid.

I thought that we here in the Twin Cities were relatively safeish, given the quiet nature of our merry band of fools, until two weeks ago. Stephanie documents what happened there, and I can say that every part of me wanted to run into my car and floor it when this dude in question strode past us and into the building.

One clinic is trying to do something about this.

The EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, KY, have always had it much worse that here. Their protester are from different groups, there’s no buffer zone, so they can march right in front of escorts if they want to, there are a lot of them all lined up to harass from the jump, and they’ve been known to push escorts around.  Now, they’ve teamed up with NAf to train legal observers to attend these fuckery sessions.

These legal observers are not escorts. They are not counter-protesters. They are just observers. They will be signing strict non-engagement and confidentiality agreements. They will not be talking to escorts or anti-abortion protesters. They will be writing observations, taking photos, sound recordings and videos. They will respect the patient’s privacy at all times. The observers will work in pairs. You will be able to identify them by their red wristbands.

They’re there to document, journal, video and sound record ever single misstep those fucksticks are using towards the patients and escorts.  With hope, the shit these fucks are up to will stop.  And if not, there will be plenty of proof that all of that sidewalk counseling horseshit is just that.

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Fear and Loathing in Clinic Escorting
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6 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing in Clinic Escorting

  1. 1

    I have a question: Do y’all need more escorts?

    I used to escort for the the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force in 90s (we escorted for Baltimore, DC, and Virginia clinics). I moved to the Twin Cities a while back. I’d need to be retrained because it has been so long, but I’ve been thinking on and off about doing the clinic defense gig again.

    Back in the 90s, I escorted at a clinic very near where Michael Bray lived. There were mornings when I wondered if I’d have to duck lead projectiles but luckily, nothing ever happened (crosses fingers). So, I understand the anxiety you are feeling. There are some real unsavory types walking the sidewalks clutching rosary beads and bibles.

    1. 1.1

      More escorts are ALWAYS welcome, though on most days, our particular breed of protesters tend towards damned boring and useless minus a few (by that I mean one or two) persistent assholes.

      Michael Bray makes my teeth itch and makes me wonder if someone should start a bullet proof vests for escorts to go along with our ID vests.

      1. Yeah, bullet proof vests have crossed my mind. Ugh. The regular protesters a “my” clinic in suburban Maryland were pretty useless, too… and I’m just fine with that, actually. ๐Ÿ™‚ However, the proximity of such a dangerous fanatic was really, really worrisome.

        Should I contact Minneapolis Planned Parenthood or is there a local clinic defense group like the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force which handles this?

        1. Well, you have several choices:

          Planned Parenthood in St. Paul is one of the ‘safer’ locations – funny how a shooting makes your shit safer. They have their own volunteer program, so you would have to call them.
          There’s Dr. Hanson’s office, still running after Dr. Hanson’s passing last year. We get some of their escorts sometimes.
          And then there’s us, Whole Women’s Health. There not much in the way of training after you sign a privacy agreement, the rules are pretty basic – Don’t talk to the protesters (though I bend the rules by talking shit about them), don’t touch them or the patient (unless the patient asks for a hand or something), and the police are fucking useless. We share a huge ass office building with other offices, including a dialysis clinic, so on Saturdays you’ll see more patients for that clinic than ours, thanks to the on-site parking.

          I’ve spoken words about both independent clinic’s escorts create a defense group were we could share who’s protesting, etc. But take a looky at my previous post to see why that’s a task above my brains.

          1. Thanks for the information! Since I live near downtown Minneapolis, Whole Women’s Health is the most likely location for me. I’ll give them a call.

            I’m not sure if something like WACDTF (Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force) is as necessary here. The Baltimore/Washington/Northern Virginia region is a massive metropolitan area with numerous clinics. The area has tended to be heavily targeted by protesters because of its proximity to the nation’s capitol. At least in the 90s (not sure now, since I haven’t been involved), large numbers of protesters (50-100+ per location) would show up at many clinics during January’s anniversary of Roe vs Wade. It served as a means of making an anti-choice right wing political presence felt in the capitol. Things got pretty messed up sometimes. We’d be surrounded by so many protesters that the targeted clinics would often have to close for the day. And yeah, the police were frequently useless, if not clandestinely supportive of the protesters.

            So really, I guess it boils down to how many protesters area clinics are getting hit with and how (potentially) violent things are? That’s just my 2ยข but my knowledge is from nearly 20 years ago.

            I hear you on not being the person to organize this sort of thing. My own issue is that I burn out too easily dealing with the frustrating social dynamics of political organizing. Hence my being out of the loop for so long.

            Thanks again for the information!

          2. I feel you on the burn out thing. I’m almost at week one of my self-imposed two week break from social media/social justice stuff.

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