I am a volunteer patient escort at planned parenthood
This is something I just shared on FB about my experiences as a patient escort. Just thought I’d put it on here too.
Alright y'all. Prepare for a long post, but one you should read.
Some of you know, but some of you don’t, that I volunteer at Planned Parenthood about twice a month. My official title is Volunteer Clinic Escort. My role is to safely get patients and family into the clinic safely, with privacy, and with a friendly face. Not all Planned Parenthoods (PP) have these, but the clinic where I volunteer does because we have loud, abrasive, volatile, threatening, verbally abusive and dishonest anti-choice protesters who harass people in the clinic. I would like to tell you about my experiences with them and with patients who talk to me as I stand outside with my umbrella and vest.
(I would like to note that this is not the place to tell me that abortion is wrong, that I should not support PP, that I need to stop what I’m doing. I’ve heard every argument before. In fact, I’ve had every arguement screamed in my face. You’re welcome to your opinion, but I will not be acknowledging it on here, and I ask that others ignore dissenters too. This post isn’t about me and why you think I’m wrong. It’s about what I see every time I volunteer.)
When I am volunteering, I am outside and often have patients and family members talk with me. I’m obviously not there to counsel or to offer advice medically one way or another, but I am a friendly ear and people just need to talk sometimes. Also, when volunteering, patients entering the clinic are verbally harassed by the anti choice protesters almost immediately and, while we don’t encourage it, they often yell back. The protesters don’t listen.
On my very first day, I had a person head into the clinic. As I smiled to her and went to get the door, an anti-choice protester (ACP) yelled “Mama! Don’t kill your baby!” The patient immediately responded tearfully “my baby is dead. My baby is falling out of me right now. I didn’t do anything.” The ACP, without missing a beat, screamed back through her child-sized megaphone “No he isn’t! Your doctor lied to you! These murderers just want your money!” I ushered in the patient as gently as I could while my co-volunteer told her kindly that those people didn’t matter and that in a week they wouldn’t even remember what they heard here.
In the year and a half I’ve been doing this, we have had a ACP sneak into the clinic and threaten to burn the place down. The police did nothing. We had two other ACPs try and enter the clinic to tell patients they would adopt their babies. We told them to get off the property and when they didn’t, we called the police. Eventually the ACP returned to the narrow strip of lawn they stand on at the edge of the parking lot, and luckily so, because the police never showed again.
My clinic, luckily, has never faced extreme violence while I was there. But other PP and health care clinics are not so lucky. They are burned down, have bombs planted, have clinic escorts and workers physically harmed.
They are shot at and three people die.
I have had patients tell me that they will be killed by their partner if they have an abortion. I have been told that their partner will kill them if they DON’T have one. I’ve been told how people with physical disabilities cannot carry a child without side effects so severe they may not survive. I’ve had patients explain that their mental health is at risk if they go through with the pregnancy. I’ve had patients come in with a wanted pregnancy that ended in miscarriage and they needed PPs help to safely remove the tissue. I’ve seen people come in who admit to being addicted to drugs and know they cannot go through this pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood helped all these people, not just with medical care, but with helping abused patients find help to escape violent partners. Helping those who want to conceive find fertility doctors. Helping drug addicts find resources to become healthy.
All the while, the ACP stand outside, screaming and hollering, telling women that they are murderers and whores and that they will burn for murdering their babies. But it’s ok, they do it out of love. They scream at these people and tell them awful things and then beg to have the patient come talk with them.
They don’t see the hypocrisy.
It is a rule to not engage with the ACP at all. In the year and a half I’ve been doing this, I’ve said maybe a total of 50 words to the group, all of which are some form of “you are on our property, step back right now.” I may not engage them, but we can make eye contact and make them believe we are listening. We do this so the ACP begins shouting at me, and not a patient getting air outside. I would much rather be shouted at than have them scream at a patient.
When I am being yelled at, I have been called: a murderer, a nazi, a slavery supporter, a bad mother, a bad wife (they do not know if I am married or if I have children), a witch, a lesbian, a liberal, a member of satan’s army, a Muslim lover, a bitch, a slut, and evil. Some of these things are true and some are perfectly fine things to be, but to the ACP they are all bad.
Sometimes we have patient partners come talk to the protesters. They try and explain to the ACP why they are there with their partner. I’ve heard them tell the ACP every single reason, and every single time, the protesters still tell them they are wrong and a bad father and a supporter of Satan. Every. Time. And they call this love.
Since Trump took office, one of his first orders signed was a Global Gag Rule. People thought that this rule meant that no US money would go to pay for abortions overseas, but in fact, US funds have never paid for abortions and haven’t since 1973. Even in the US, because of the Hyde Amendment, no federal funding goes to pay for abortions.
What this gag rule now does, however, is prevent money from going to clinics that even mention abortion as a method of family planning. They don’t have to perform them. If they are mentioned at all in pamphlets or classes, they lose foreign aid money. This means that now they can’t provide birth control, wellness checks, prenatal care, or classes.
This will cause unwanted pregnancies. This will cause people to seek out abortions, often in unsafe condition.
This will cause people to die.
Roughly 1/3 people with a uterus will have an abortion in their life. I haven’t spoken to everyone who has had one, but I’ve spoken to more than most. No one gets an abortion out of malice. No one gets an abortion just to end the life of a fetus, just for kicks. No. One.
Planned Parenthood provides important health services, including abortion. They do this despite the risk of physical bodily harm, every day. People like myself stand outside PP to protect patients because it is important.
We. Will. Not. Stand. Down.
I will continue to volunteer, even though since Trump was elected, the ACP have gotten more and more aggressive in their tactics, since they believe Trump supports their actions. I will continue to walk these patients inside, to get help, because it is important and right. I will continue to fight Trump the slew of anti choice people supporting him. I will continue to support choice even though I know I will lose friends and will face hatred from people I know.
Planned Parenthood is important, and we will not stand down.