Friday, May 15, 2009

lest anyone misunderstand: here's to escorts and guards

I was once escorted
Through the doors of a clinic
By a man in a bulletproof vest
And no bombs went off that day

-"hello birmingham", ani difranco

Percentage of Clinics Reporting Increases in Violence by Type Since July 1994 Pensacola Murders

Here's to James Barrett, the volunteer escort in Pensacola, who doesn't even have his own wikipedia page. Here's to John Bayard Britton, the doctor who died with him. Here's to Barnett Slepian, the Buffalo doctor to whom Ani Difranco alludes in that song up there. Here's to Robert Sanderson, the security guard who died checking that Birmingham clinic for bombs, and Emily Lyons, the nurse who suffered disfigurement and disability and still works there 20 years later. Here's to the women at my workplaces who have been the designated mail-openers, trained to look out for suspicious packages and life-insured by the office just in case they miss one.

Here's to the New York Clinic Defense Task Force, Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force, the South Jersey Clinic Defense Coalition, Clinic Defense Richmond, the Louisville KY escorts and WENCH, whoever is starting this blog here, and all the other groups and individuals who don't have a presence on the web.

You do your best to get women through the columns of harassers that sometimes like to hang out at our clinics for fun. You absorb the blows and the screams so that hopefully, someone trying to get medical care can get on with her appointment. You try to keep dangerous people away from our clients and staff, knowing you are confronting each risk before the rest of us. Like a minesweeper. Thank you for spending your Saturday mornings (and other times) doing this work for the rest of us.


  1. We don't forget here in Birmingham that the bombing was only 13 years ago. Yes, Emily still works there. She's one of the most amazing women I know.

    If you get a chance, check out her book, "Life's Been a Blast". It's a really great read.

  2. I clicked on the link for the NY clinic defense and it says they are now closed...very sad...
    Do you know of any other NY defense groups?

  3. Ali, thanks for the update about NY. I wonder if the Haven Coalition would at least know who you could get in touch with. let me know if you hear back from them. And also I'm sure they're always looking to add more volunteers for housing/etc.


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