Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Letter to My Local Protesters

"There are five people you meet in heaven, each one of us was in your life for a reason. you may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth."
-the five people you meet in heaven

Sometimes I imagine that if heaven (if I really believed in one) included five people who affected your life (like in Mitch Albom’s novel), there might be five of the local “peaceful” protesters looking at me. There are things I’d want them to know. Things I’d want to tell them about how their protesting affected my life. This list is not exhaustive:

1. Your rosaries and hail marys don’t make you a nice person.

2. I see you and my blood pressure rises several points past boiling.

3. When I see you, my jaws clench, my fingers tense, my head pounds, my stomach turns in knots, and I get scared.

4. Despite your old age, I don’t trust you haven’t got a pistol behind your sign, ready to blow my doctor’s head off. Or mine.

5. When I have to walk past you or see you, I think of my child. Hope today isn’t the day someone decides to shoot me, leaving my child without a mother.

6. When you stare at my co-workers and write down their license plate numbers, I want to follow YOU home.

7. For years, you have hurt women, causing them pain and anguish. I see them. They cry. Are angry. Feel judged. Yet you have no place to judge her.

8. Because of you, when I leave the clinic, I look both ways exiting the door.

9. Because of you, when I leave or arrive at the clinic, I speedily get into the false safety of the building or my vehicle.

10. Because of you, when I drive home, I check my rear view window to see if I’m being followed.

11. Our doors are a little tighter. Our windows shut harder. Our curtains drawn darker.

12. Because of you, we can’t have normal glass. We have bullet proof glass.

13. Because of you, we have panic buttons.

14. Because of you, I may get a home security system. And I live in a very nice little neighborhood with no other need for a home security system.

15. I really think I hate you.

16. I want to spit on you when I see a woman weep (who was raped by her father; or found out her wanted pregnancy has anencephaly; or who just got her lights shut off because she can't pay any bills, let alone keep another baby; who can die for our country in battle, but is about to get court marshalled if her country finds out she's pregnant; or who slept with the wrong guy on the wrong day and realized she really wants to finish school and make something of herself; or who might even be your daughter or sister or niece or granddaughter) after listening to you scream at her, judge her, beg her not to have an abortion. FUCK you for hurting her.

17. I watch my colleagues and doctors and nurses get tense and nervous and scared because you exist outside our building.

18. You’ve stripped from us basic things: the ability to hire staff without questioning if they're anti spies; the ability to walk freely to and from our cars; the ability to do our jobs in safety free from fear.

19. You’re a terrorist.

20. I really think I hate you.

21. Your hail marys and rosaries don’t make you a nice person.

22. You are not a nice person.

23. You're quite awful, really.

24. Oh yeah. I hate you.


  1. At my clinic in Canada where I escort, I would be lying if I said it didn't run through my mind that I might get killed. Canada is far less violent than the US in general, and my city even less violent than the Canadian average, but it only takes one person. One anti to decide that taking my life makes up for all the "lost babies". So while our protesters merely have their rosaries and signs and hatred and judgmental attitudes, I worry and I wonder. It is even worse because our anti's bought the house next door to our clinic. I mean smack dab next door. And they come and go as they please. Who knows that they have inside their house. I can only imagine what it is like in the US.

  2. From the Allentown Women’s Center, I’d add:
    1. Filing frivolous lawsuits that claim your rights to hand out your literature should trump the rights of our clients to have some sense of protection with our escorts amounts to hubris and pure greed. You three claim that there is a conspiracy between the city, the police and the clinic, which is balderdash. The real conspiracy is with all the right-wing lawyers like the ACLA and others who have methodically filed claims against clinics across the nation. That’s the conspiracy—kinda like a RICO violation.

    2. The literature and care that we provide is based on standards of care drawn from scientific and medical evidence. These standards are lacking in your literature. In fact, your literature is full of conspiracy-mongering, lies, bad science, fear tactics and visual misinformation. And yet you apparently have no shame.

    3. This country was founded on the premise that religion was optional—freedom from and of religion. But you folks instead shove your religion down clients’s throat without their permission. You invade their privacy with your Jesus-evoking religious appeals. You even pat yourself on each other’s backs on how god-fearing you behave. Hubris anyone?

    4. I believe you want to scare women, not help them. I say this based on evidence drawn from the macabre circus you create when you hang images of mangled bloody fetuses that have nothing to do whatsoever with the gestation of abortions we provide. Accuracy is not important to you. It’s fear and shaming. And the white coffins, the large white crosses reminiscent of the KKK, the teddy bears and the baby dolls in car seat or baby carrier make you look really foolish and frightening to clients. Shame on you all for scaring these women. Shame on you for deluding yourself that this is in any way helpful.

    5. Shoving pamphlets in clients faces amounts to harassment, pure and simple. And when the clients take your pamphlets and, in turn, hand them to our escorts, they do so because they do not want them. Imagine that! Women know what they want to read. A few of you street walkers falsely assume that we are afraid to let the women read your stuff. Quite the contrary. These women either freely give us your stuff or they throw it in the trash inside the clinic. So don’t assume, sweetheart. It only makes an ass out of you.

    6. Your claims of hope and help last only as long as it takes for you to realize that the client will ignore you. It happens somewhere in the middle of the cross walk. At that point is where some of your show your true colors when you revert from the thin veneer of sugary sweetness to the satanic acidity of your true nature. You begin with the usual greeting introducing yourself and, when ignored, you manifest the hate you feel toward this stranger. You yell “mommy, daddy, please don’t let them pull my arms and legs off” or “they’re going to make your baby look like baby road kill” or “your going to regret this for the rest of your life. It will haunt you at night” or “don’t go in there; it’s a slaughterhouse.” You’re a sick bunch of hate-filled, egotistical, selfish thugs.

  3. Greetings, AWC!

    When I see protesters, I wonder:

    1. It is really possible that this is the only/most important thing you have to do today?

    2. Is it possible that there are people out there who you could actually be helping? Women out there who took your anti-choice advice and are now struggling to raise children, perhaps?

    3. Is it actually satisfying to go to bed on a Friday evening thinking, "I'm so excited to stand on a sidewalk and scream at people tomorrow"?

    4. Does this count as your Catholic "good works", or do you perform any legitimate charity?

    Among others!

  4. Remember, and I have told you all this b-4, for the antis there is nothing about the fetus or women that means anything to them. . .it is about power. Power over your lives, power over your sex life, power over your economic and educational security, etc. . .Babies adn women are but false pretenses

  5. Not Guilty - I find that very scary indeed that antis purchased a home right next to the clinic. How sad for the women (patients), the staff, and for you escorts. Thank you for escorting women into the clinic. Thanks for the work you do.

    Moral Pilgrim - you may just be my new hero. Thank you. :) I love what you wrote.

    Anti-Anti - you're so right. So right!

    Bob - you, too, are correct! I agree. It really is all about power. And I get frustrated that I let them get to me sometimes, but the fact is, they do. Like Anti-Anti, I wish they had something better to do.

  6. They have nothing better to do because they are the penultimate, the iconic version of detritus, the worst of the worst in religious terrorism. Face it, the folks who frequent the sidewalks at the AWC are losers in the purest form. One of the sidewalk mongrels, KT, can't even keep her sons with her because they prefer their father. Another, Linebacker, has a son who is so much like her in temperament. He's been arrested 4 times for DUIs. She's a decibel-intensive, angry, Guadulupe-virgin- deluded dolt. Then there's J-dog who loves to show her compassion by identifying herself, offering help and, if ignored, yelling "your child will look like baby road kill" or "if you kill your child,it will haunt you at night"

    The really pathetic situation is if our moral pilgrims, aka antichoicers, are all about Rachel's Vineyard, all abou God's love to heal them, Why in the name of logic are they still yammering away about their abortions? Tell me, Joyce, Katie,Kathy and all of the rest of you mongrels who stalk women at AWC. Why?

  7. Hello!
    Thank you and please feel free to respond to me at

  8. But cheer up ladies, they cannot make us feel bad w/out our consent. My wife and I terminated a pregnancy, and we are so grateful for clinic staff such as yourselves who werer there for us.

  9. Bob, thanks for trying to cheer us up. Today, I guess I don't feel very cheered up. The only part of my job I hate is the protesters and by default, security/safety concerns.

    I get that some of the older women who protest at our clinic don't intend to inflict physical violence or kill one of our staff/doctors; the fact is, though, I can't be certain my assumption is true. What people don't seem to get - unless they've had to deal first hand with protesters - is that they are intrinsically violent. The act of them simply being present, simply being THERE, at our clinic, implies extremism. So they can't be trusted.

    You live through doctors being murdered. Nurses being murdered. Receptionists being shot. Staff being followed. Your video cameras getting dismantled. The doors to your building getting glued. We talk about "compassion fatigue" in this work. Well it's more than that. It's also third-party terrorist fatigue or something. I don't know what term some clever psychologist would come up with. What I'm trying to say is that we are terrorized even when those who share the work we do (even if 3,000 miles away) is terrorized. It's so personal. It's personal. It's very personal.

    I do think there are probably some protesters out there that truly don't understand the impact of their presence on us. How the mere fact they show up causes many/most staff to be more on guard, more on edge, more concerned. Yet we have to manage the feelings and impact it has on our own clients. And I rarely get to speak out truthfully about the impact I personally feel as a result of years of having to deal with their sorry asses.

    Usually I try to talk about - and focus on - the positive in our work. There's so much that's good. And I love what I do. But I hate the protesting and I hate how I feel and I hate the impact it has on our clients and our staff and our doctors and nurses...and on myself. It's not fair. It's not right.

  10. I'm also - believe it or not - a bit of an optimist and want to think that there are SOME protesters out there who are just so ill informed and ignorant that they don't have a clue how the mere fact they exist causes a whole group of people to, somewhere in them, fear for their own safety. For those who don't KNOW that, who don't understand that very truth, then I hope they'll hear this: you are HARMING people. And if you truly have some sort of religious belief (which is hard for me to even understand in the first place), then surely you would not be intentionally HARMING and HURTING and causing deep FEAR (of ones safety). Surely, that's not what your Jesus would do.

    Anyway. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of having to worry about these things just to do my job. And I'm sick of having to watch how much harm and stress it causes in others that I care about.

    It won't stop me from going to work. Ever. But I just wish they'd leave us alone.

  11. "Because of you, we can’t have normal glass. We have bullet proof glass."

    I volunteered at a Planned Parenthood in an extremely liberal town when I was in college. There were no windows in the building - the only natural light came from strategically placed skylights. I found this sad but also enraging - that a window was considered a security threat.

    I'm sick of the antis, too, and whatever twisted, misguided thought process that leads to "screaming outside a medical office is the way to change minds!" The legal barriers to access are high enough - for people to get harassed simply for taking care of themselves is outrageous and shouldn't be tolerated by anyone, regardless of their position on abortion.

  12. I <3 you for saying what I want to. I'm afraid to say it sometimes because I'm afraid I won't be able to stop. I love you, my co-blogger.

  13. I said this on Twitter too---but I don't know which of you read Twitter and I wanted to make sure the author would see---this entry right here sums up why I love this blog so much. Especially 15, 20, 24, and ESPECIALLY especially 16.

    Please keep doing what you're doing---that is, speaking up both for the provider community and for the women you serve. It is a sin, as much as anything is a sin, that both groups are so shamed and shunned. The antichoice version of the Bible, with all the pages about loving and forgiving and not-judging ripped out, is terribly, tragically thin.


  14. Moral Pilgrim, about a girl, and all, thank you for your comments. I escort at the Allentown Womens Center in PA, and Moralpilgrim has drawn a really accurate picture of the antis who crawl out from under their rocks to harass, threaten, bully and demean women and their supports. The potential for violence is always present. Linebacker reaches cross the paths of escorts and patients, trying to shove unwanted literature into their hands. She is tall and heavy, and her arms are right over my head, waving wildly. It is upsetting to see patients, who deserve privacy and nonjudgmental support, crying as they are assailed by the "religious" protesters. Because abortion is such a hot-button topic, local authorities deep-six any complaint associated with the center, to the frustration of police on the street, who are well able to see the potential for harm. In the meanwhile, the antis are getting more bold and threatening. I am quite concerned about how the coming holiday will play out; last year it was a circus with more than three rings and a really big freak show. It is great to have this forum, thank you.


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