And you can hear my weird voice and talk about disability and repro justice and why Valentine’s Day is extra special for me!
And you can hear my weird voice and talk about disability and repro justice and why Valentine’s Day is extra special for me!
Things are ramping up and not in a good way.
It’s frickin early in the morning as I write this and I have to decide if the cold weather (ah, Minnesota in the springtime) is too cold for escorting this morning. #livinglavidachronicpain
I’ve been sitting on this here link for days now, because it needs to be shared. The awesome folks at the much beleaguered EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, KY (follow them on Twitter to see just how much fuckshit they have to deal with EVERY DAY the clinic is open) have been giving out anonymous questionnaires to patients asking about what they go through to get into the clinic.
The results are fucking terrifying. These patients have had to contend with motherfuckers pushing against their car doors, shoving fetal snuff porn into their faces, being pushed, being physically blocked (hello there, violation of the FACE act), screamed at, and video taped. They reported feeling scared, threatened, HARASSED.
Now, EMW is collecting this info to use to try and get some sort of buffer zone in front of their clinic – not a big one, even 8 feet would do. And I support them in that struggle. I’m glad they’ve been collecting this info, because it gives me some actual numbers for this following rant:
Dear Former Chief Justice Antonin Scalia,
If only you were alive so you could see these numbers and watch the videos that the antis proudly post on YouTube. If only you could see that this protesters aren’t sweet old grannies just trying to peacefully offer pamphlets of lies. Hell the “grannies” sometimes are the most viscous and persistent people I’ve personally seen.
Then again, you probably wouldn’t have paid attention anyway. You sure didn’t when you were sitting in that seat in the Supreme Court.
May you continue to rot into pieces.
To everyone else alive enough to read these words,
THIS IS A THING THAT IS HAPPENING. Right now. Today. In the year of our Calendar 2016. Escorts battle with these antis, the patients battle with these antis, all in the name of some fucked up twisted interpretation of “freedom of speech”. This “freedom of speech” turns into harassment when someone says “No” and an anti continues anyway. You’d think it would be obvious.
But the patient can’t report them to the police. Not right then and there. And we can’t call the police on their behalf. Fuck, when we call the police for shit like crossing the property line/buffer zone/blocking the way, we mostly get nothing. NOTHING. They are useless.
We can’t fix this all by ourselves.
What can you do? If you have the time and spoons, why not call your local women’s clinic and see if they have escorts. Join us. If you don’t have those, then we need stronger harassment laws or to push our lawmakers to push the police to take these calls seriously while not forcing the patient to miss their appointment. There are violations of the FACE act and outright harassment that they can see, again, on YouTube. They call it “sidewalk counseling”, we should be calling it “evidence”.
This isn’t a free speech issue and it never was. This is (SPARTA!!) harassment. It needs to stop. It needs to be made clear that when you keep bugging someone after they’ve said “no”, you are committing a crime.
It needs to stop. Help us.
In “other things I like post about”, the fine folks at A Women’s Choice in Jacksonville, FL posted this gif on their Facebook page:
Such compassion. See, the clinic set up this privacy fence for reasons that should be obvious. It’s already bad enough that these jackwagons wear fake volunteer vests, but they decide to get up on a damn ladder, over the privacy fence…to “counsel”.
Apparently trickery and abuse of privacy is considered ‘compassion’ to these folks.
If you happen to be new to this whole “clinic protest” thing (and I am regularly in awe of people who don’t know that this is still a Thing), here are some resources you can click on to see just how shit it is. I promise you, it’s not just, as the recently decease Scalia (May he rot to pieces) once described as kindly old ladies passing out lit.
If tumblr is your thing, follow Shit Anti-Choice Protester Say. There are videos, taken by these shitmunchers themselves, of people being harassed.
Or, you can follow the fuckery on Twitter using the hashtags #notcounseling #protectthezone or #clinicescorts. These are used by a couple of escorts around the country to document the fuckery. Including yours truly, once I get back into the game.
You don’t have to volunteer, but at the very least, educate yourself and spread the information around so no one has the excuse of ignorance of what these poor excuses for caring human beings really are.
The issue of counter protesting at women’s clinics can be a dicey one. Some places, like the Pink House in Mississippi, do it very fucking well, with clinic defenders at the front lines. Others would rather that not happen, at least not during clinic hours.
I’m of the latter, I feel that having too many voices yelling would further upset and confuse patients, and it’s my job as an escort is to be very aware of the patients’ safety and comfort. So far, among escorts, anyway, we’ve most decided to live and let live, do what works for your location, etc.
There is a way to fuck it up.
This isn’t for you. Yes, being spat on by a protester IS assault – but if you had any understanding of how these fuckers operate, which the escorts could have happily told you if you weren’t such a fucking toolbox towards them, confrontation is WHAT THEY FUCKING WANT, especially a physical one. They want someone to give them that sort of attention. I don’t even want to think about the buzzing around on social media by pro-lifers about how one of their own was assaulted by one of those pro-aborts. What you should have done, what you have the privilege of doing since you’re the not the one who either have an appointment to get to OR be an escort who is iffy about getting their name on a police report, is CALL THE POLICE. REPORT THEIR ASSES.
Are you actually here to help patients? Obviously fucking not. So go away. Stay away.
This is why I don’t want a bunch of angry counter-protesters showing up. Y’all don’t know even how to act. You seem to think that just showing up and yelling at the protesters is going to do anything.
It will not. It only makes them feel more empowered. It might make you feel like you’ve done something really important, but let me assure you…YOU ARE NOT. You really want to help, show up, put on a vest, stand with us (or again, learn from groups who are already doing a fine job of C-P, like the aforementioned Pink House). Otherwise, this is more about you than the patients, and we don’t need you.
Look, if you wanna play in this game, learn the rules or stay the fuck home.
I’m going to be late for my doctor’s appointment messing around with this nonsense, but this was too good to pass up, y’all.
It’s another one of those “Feminace Rips Apart Some BS Pro-Life Screed”, but this has a special twist – I’m “supporting” local talent. Yes, cats and kittens, a friend shared a screed, and I read it and recognized the names as being two of THE WORST of our protesters.
It’s a how-to guide about responding to the myriad objections people give when these fuckers start harassing them, and since I’m not allowed to engage while in the vest and on the sidewalk, I’m not going to let this opportunity pass me by. Oh no.
First, just read this shit. It’s short, don’t worry. Don’t read while driving, or drinking anything or eating anything less you choke or spill or crash. Got it? Good.
Where do we even start?
You can see, pretty clearly (and I’ve heard, pretty clearly), that harassment IS the name of the game. They have responses for “objections” like:
“Back off! Get lost! Leave me alone!”
“Quit harassing us, this is hard enough already!”
“I’m just here for birth control.”
“I’m not even pregnant.”
“I’ve already made my decision.”
“Leave us alone or I’m calling the police.”
…with everything BUT backing the fuck off and respecting the speaker’s right to be left alone. This is what they train others to do as well. Keep talking, never shut up, respect, what respect?
There’s also a great deal of gaslighting (that is: creating doubt to the point that your victims cannot trust their own judgement) in some of these responses as well. Check this shit out:
“Back off! Get lost! Leave me alone!”
“Your anger is misdirected. You are angry that you are in a bad situation, but we can help you.”
“Adoption? You think I’m going to carry this baby for nine months and then just give it away!?”
“That’s okay; how can we help you KEEP your baby?”
“I’m just here for birth control.”
“Sometimes people tell us they’re here for something else when they’re really here for an abortion. You can be honest with me. God knows the truth anyway.”
Gaslighting is a pretty insidious tactic, commonly used by abusers to keep their victims always guessing and dependent on abuser’s guidance. And the fine folks at Pro-Life Action Ministries openly advocate this tactic of treating patients as if they themselves have not the fuck clue what they want. That they actually want what the protesters want. Always. Such respect, Wow.
Then there’s outright WTFery, stuff that when I’ve heard it, made me stop in my tracks for a moment:
“You don’t need to listen to them, they are just protesters.” (from an abortion escort or worker)
“I am not a ‘protester,’ I am a ‘protector,’ a ‘protector of women and their unborn children.’”
Sure thing, sweetheart. You pass out lit, harass every person who walks by, and wave signs. Nope, not the actions of a protester. Not at all.
“It’s too late. I’ve already started the abortion.”
“There’s a good chance your baby is still alive and is healthy! Babies have survived (the abortion pill or the first part of a late-abortion). Let’s call a doctor who can help you right now.”
…nice advice from people who are not medically trained. And the ‘reversal’ they’re currently trying to hype hasn’t been tested enough to be considered a mainstream procedure. Note that the only state that tried to make mentioning it a requirement had its law put on hold, with opponents stating pretty much what I just fucking said. I dunno about you, but I wouldn’t trust a bunch of non-doctors recommending any sort of medical treatment with a fuckton of evidence.
“I could die if I have this baby.”
“If that’s really the reason you’re having an abortion, let’s get you to a pro-life doctor who cares about BOTH you and your baby. Besides, this abortion could hurt you; women have even died from abortions.”
We have had a women collapse in tears in the lobby after being badgered with this shit. Her fetus was not viable. A doctor already told her that. This isn’t just WTFery, it’s cruelty.
“Will you just shut up?” (from a boyfriend outside smoking)
“Okay, I’ll stop talking if you take and read this information and pass it on to your girlfriend. Otherwise, I need to tell you the truth about abortion and how we can help you and your girlfriend and your baby.”
“I will cease harassing you if you do what I tell you to do.” Yup, that’s not harassment at all.
And now, I’ve had people ask, repeatedly, when I share my stories from the sidewalk “Why don’t the patients call the cops/mace or throw water or even punch a protester? That’s what *I* would do.” And the fact that I have to explain this answer rankles me…sometimes. So, here goes.
Let’s say a patient does call the cops for harassment. That means the patients has to come out of the doctor’s office to talk to said cop and point out who exactly did it. Now, remember, when it comes to abortions, time is of the essence. The longer you wait, the more costly and complicated the procedure will be. So, they might miss their appointment window and have to reschedule and frankly, it wouldn’t be worth it to me. Also, now they have/know my name and address if I press charges, because police report.
And what if someone offs and slaps the shit out of a protester? Oh boy, they can martyr that shit right up. They can call the cops, the assailant is compelled to come down, and in some cases, the poor hurt protester won’t press charges if the patient just “talks to them”.
See the problem?
And of course, others are proud to inform me that they would happily shut these guys down with the application of either harsh words or increased volume or both. Trust me, wanna-be warriors, you’d only be wasting your precious vocal chords. If large angry male companions and loud angry female companions and upset, crying, screaming patients of all sorts don’t faze these assholes, you don’t stand a chance. Not one. See this article? They are trained to be relentless. Each harsh word is like getting nailed up right next to Jesus, for the unrighteous hating on you is supposed to be a sign of being a good child of God and doing something right, or something.
What CAN you do? Volunteer. Escort (it’s really not very difficult. I do not have Job’s patience, but I manage it at least once a week). Donate money to abortion funds. Bother your Congresscritters for better harassment laws that don’t put the entire onus on the harassed to make a complaint.
It’s not very sexy, but a lot more effective.
So, today is Saturday and that means I get up early, gather my wits and my cane and stand out in front of a reproductive health clinic, watching for and assisting patients getting inside. We have protesters and so-called “sidewalk counselors” who try their damnest to harass each and every person they think is going in for an abortion.
Why do I call it harassment, you may wonder? Because they can’t take “no”, “no thank you”, “leave me alone”, “get out of my face”, and/or “fuck off” as an answer, and when you continue to pester someone after they have refused your attention, that’s harassment in my book and in the books of most reasonable people.
You may also be wondering now, “why doesn’t anyone get the police involved?”. Because that means the harassed has to make the call, come out of the clinic to make a statement, and potentially miss their appointment. Given that abortions are rather time-sensitive deals (they cost more and become more complicated procedures the greater the gestation period), it’s not good for the patient to have to wait and deal with this nonsense.
And nothing pleases an anti like someone unable to make that appointment.
Here in the Twin CIties, we haven’t heard much from the far off the deep end anti organization Abolish Human Abortion, or as I will be referring to them, AHAssholes. This is a Protestant movement who thinks if they bleat for Jesus loud and long enough, abortion will just vanish and no one would even dream of doing such a sinful thing.
Yeah, not exactly in touch with reality, these guys.
Starting a few month ago, I noticed a few AHAssholes at my clinic, standing there, holding their signature signs.
One is Black and when I commented to my fellow escort that the signs were large and gross, started calling me “sister” and trying to get me to explain why I found them gross.
Strike one: Never call me sister if we’re on opposite sides of what I can do with my body
Strike two: I don’t have to speak to you
Strike three; You’re AHA. Fuck offf.
Frankly, if you’re Black and find it okay to hang with a bunch of ‘abolitionists’ for fetuses, given the history our people have had with abolition of not only our bodies but what we chose to do with them, then you were fuck out of strikes to begin with.
Anyway, their numbers and their fucking signs grew, and now we have a dedicated little mob.
Given what I have seen from reports from other escorts who have this infestation, I was expecting more irrational and obnoxious behavior out of them.
And I was right. Calling patients murderers, standing by cars until patients get out (a move that our usual Catholics are ace at), fucking around with the property line even after being warned, and just being all around squirrely.
Today, they held up a poor patient who didn’t know she didn’t have to talk to them for minutes, filling her head will all kinds of lies. I assured her once we were inside, that there were actual counselors upstairs (not 25 year olds with no training in actual counseling), who will listen and honor her choice, minus the obvious agenda.
As I came out, one of the AHAssoles fired off at me. “Don’t pretend like you don’t have an agenda yourself.” Since “no interaction” is a rule for escorting here, I merely turned to my fellow escort and keep talking.
Since I couldn’t respond on the sidewalk, I will here. And as usual, don’t expect me to be nice.
You bet I have an agenda. I don’t hide it for a second.
My agenda is to get patients inside of the clinic with dignity and safety.
My agenda is to support.
My agenda is to protect.
My agenda is to make your shitshow difficult to perform.
While you lie, I make a patient laugh.
While you fill them with fear, I give them compassion.
While you talk over them, I listen.
When they give me reasons, it’s because they want to, not because I’m demanding it from them.
And I honor those reasons.
My agenda is access to a safe, legal procedure that 99% percent of those having it will feel relief.
My agenda is choice and honoring that choice.
On the other hand, your agenda is fucked. Your agenda swarms around people and harasses them. Your agenda makes you act as if basic social niceties don’t apply to you. Your agenda is full of lies and deliberate shock plays. Your agenda devalues the role the one with the pregnancy, all in the name of a non sentient fetus. And I’m not just pulling this out of my ass: I’ve seen your work:
With your ridiculous sounding offers to adopt someone’s baby right then and there and your sanctimonious wishes that patients don’t put themselves into hell. It would be completely ridiculous, if it didn’t cause our patients distress.
It would be ridiculous if you didn’t picket high schools that have on site clinic for their students, like your recent one here at Southwest High? I’m sure the kids were so moved by this shit:
I mean, these pamphlets start off like conspiracy theorist boilerplate:
…and then devolve into the same spit-flecked babble you’d get from those guys who show up at festivals with those big “God Hates” signs that are just a list of things that I’ve either done or know someone who has (really next time, read one of those signs and just see how many “sins” you’ve done or are, like Homosexuality or Rebellious Women or Drunkard):
Look at that. If you’re going to wank on about god, at least be as ironically amusing as the label on a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap.
So yeah, dear AHAsshole. I do have an agenda. My agenda is to stop you. From escorting to teaching about escorting, to writing these posts, to spreading information about what an abortion really is minus your scare tactics, I will use true compassion and education to combat your bullshit.
So stick that, and your signs right up your ass.
And stay off the property,
When I share my tales of being on the sidewalk, I tend to get one out of two reactions (sometimes both):
1. Thank you!
2. No way I can do that.
My response is usually:
1. You’re welcome
2. Well, it’s not for everyone.
Well, I think starting now my response for Number 2 is going to start being.
2. Yeah, you probably can.
No. Really. I’m serious.
Yes, it’s not easy at first. Yes, it’s not a cake walk if you get a clinic with a lot of unpleasant antis. But it’s not impossible for most people who say “No way”. You know how I know?
Because the skills required to do this thing are exactly the same skills you use to live in our world.
Can you go without popping off at the slightest inconvenience? Can you exist around people who disagree with you…and not constantly argue with them? Do you know when to shut up? Are you able to focus on someone in need? Do you know when is a good time to engage and when not engaging is a waste of your time?
Yes you can. You do it already. At work, online, at home, among friends. Seriously.
These same skills are used to escort. You don’t engage with the antis, you try to make patients feel safe, you talk shit about the antis to your other escorts, you listen for ridiculous arguments and post them on Twitter to laugh it up with your other pro-choice buddies, then your shift ends, you take off your vest and you flip off the group on your way out. Ta-da, done, see you next week!
(Insert disclaimer here about there being exceptions and that’s okay, and you’re not who I’m talking to. )
But the rest of you? You can do it. Why not try it?
We’ll save a vest for you.