Monday, April 23, 2012

Hey! Don't I Recognize You? Oh! You're One of Our Protesters!

In my last blog post, I discussed how I outted myself as an abortioneer to a friend. I also mentioned that one of my hints to her that I do abortion work was that I had asked her to find out if guests at a recent dinner party we both attended could be uber pro-life…

…That dinner party was loads of fun, but there was an older couple who looked an awful lot like infrequent Catholic protesters at our clinic. During the dinner, I just couldn’t figure out if they were protesters or not. I searched for hints on whether they were politically conservative. No one mentioned politics. I heard a whisper of “Planned Parenthood” once, but didn’t catch what was said and this only heightened my paranoia. I kept wondering if they thought I, too, looked familiar and whether they would out me to the host of the party (whom I hadn’t told about my abortion clinic work). Conflicted, the only things I could surmise were that they were educated, well travelled, soft spoken, unassuming, and very, very, very nice. I kept playing out in my head a scenario where I would see them the following week outside the building, not knowing whether to quickly duck into the clinic, hoping they wouldn’t see me, or wave and say, “Hey! Hi! How are you? What a great dinner party that was last week, huh? It was lovely to meet you.” In this scenario, I could actually imagine this couple shaking my hand and have a friendly little chat about the dinner, how things are getting on, etc. Part of me wondered: is it possible to be friendly and admire to some extent people who would actually protest at the clinic? Could I really be enjoying these people, liking them, and wanting to continue to hear their stories…even if they protested my clinic?

It was a mind fuck, let me tell you. It would be a better story if my friend confirmed to me that they were, yes, in fact quite conservative and frequently attended pro-life gatherings. The story doesn’t end that way: I was told they were super liberal and would never protest a clinic. I apologize if my story is now a bit anti-climatic, but still, I think it’s a good story. I think it tells a few things (aside from that I have a warped brain): we want to reach out and connect with others; we want to find common ground (even though I don’t think there’s common ground on abortion); there’s this desire to see past differences, beyond values, even, if there are many other things you agree on (maybe that’s the common ground thing); and mostly, I think it shows how by doing the work we do, we can get very worried and concerned about how others in our community view us/see us. It can cause us to be guarded. Not completely open. And we might lose out on relationships with others as a result. I was not as candid with this couple as I could’ve been - or even wanted to be – because I wasn’t sure who they were!

Do you guys have experiences where you feel not quite as open to others, especially strangers, in social situations, because of your work?

1 comment:

  1. I understand the desire to reach out, to find common ground...

    It can be a dangerous game. Oh sure, we can, and SHOULD, discuss abortion with people who may perhaps not see things the way militant pro-choice see them, but who agree, for instance, that abortions will always occur and are necessary, at least in some cases. Those sort of people, yes, I can deal with (and have).

    Those who protest clinics, though, promote terror. They give a sense of legitimacy to even more radical anti-choice groups posing bombs at clinics. They are also responsible for the government refusing to take action against those terrorists, and to put in place adequate protection measures to ensure the safety of workers in abortion clinics. Those protesters shame and guilt-trip women who may then end up making really, really bad decisions for themselves, their future and their family. They may be responsible for directly putting women's lives at risk, for trapping women in tragic situations, for putting pregnant women who need help behind bars (I'm thinking here of Bei Bei, and others). I see them as terrorists of sorts: at least the ultra anti-choice ones (like those, for instance, who would protest at clinics). Morally, it's a very dangerous game to even start a conversation with them.


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