clinic defense

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Today, some lovely ladies and I from William and Mary’s chapter of VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood volunteered as clinic defenders at a women’s clinic in Richmond, VA.

It was my fifth time volunteering and every time I walk away encouraged and a little disheartened.

As we stand on the sidewalk between the clinic in our bright vests (that, yes, say “Pro-Choice Clinic Escort” and are awesome), I feel an enormous amount of love and support coming from the other volunteers, the grateful patients, and people in the neighborhood that go out of their way to say how appreciative they are that we are doing what we do.

However, it’s hard to not confront the protestors. To not get angry. To not tell them that they are hateful, ignorant assholes. To not grab their face and scream “do you not understand what you are doing to these women?!” It is hard. 

When the last patient enters the clinic safely at 11:45pm and we take off our vests, I know that we stood tall as strong symbols of solidarity, support, and love for women and reproductive justice. And, unlike the revolting protestors, we will be never be acting from a place of hate.



Reproductive Justice Defense Action, organized by Boston Feminists for Liberation. July 26th 2014, Planned Parenthood, Boston MA.

Clinic defense actions are controversial, but this action succeeded in blocking anti-choice protesters from speaking to patients, blocking the signs of anti-choicers, and taking the focus off of patients and onto us. We were filmed and photographed by anti-choicers the entire time we were there, and in that time I saw 3 women walk into Planned Parenthood without any cameras on them and without anything being screamed at them. The majority of us are/were PP patients in the past, and this was our chance to stand up to these people, who were not as willing to speak down to us when we had 20+ other women standing by our side. In other words, this was a success.

–photos taken by event participants–

I need a break from reading about MARC encoding so I'm going tell you all about the clinic defense I recently helped organize

 Some of you may or may not be aware of the pro-life campaign called “40 Days for Life” which this year ran from September 26th to November 4th.  Its a national event, where people hold vigils and demonstrations outside of clinics across the country.  There are two locations in my state that provide abortion services, but one seems particularly targeted.  Being right down the street from a large Catholic church, there are always people outside saying the rosary, singing hymns, holding signs, and harassing those that come in and out.  

That last bit is what really, truly, bothers the fuck out of me.  There’s a man who sets up enormous, incredibly graphic and bloody signs up and down the sidewalks in front of the clinic.  He takes down the license plate numbers of those who drive in.  He doesn’t do anything with them apparently, which is why no legal action can be done to stop him (so we were told).  He puts toys and baby clothes out on the sidewalk and shrubs. Along with him, people yell at those coming up to the doors, pleading with them to reconsider.  Essentially, they guilt these women and try to make them feel as shitty as possible. 

And that’s on any other day.  This day, the last Saturday of the 40 Days for Life campaign, it was intensified.  People carried crosses and a virgin mary statue, they yelled and sang hymns through the windows.  Quite frankly, it was fucking obnoxious.  Women going in there could be getting a pap smear for fuck sake, never mind anything else. 

We had bright signs with purple letters all saying similar things: Pro-Choice, Proud to be Pro-Choice, Support Choice.  This was mainly to distinguish ourselves, and show passerby that we weren’t part of the anti-choice contingent.  And I think it worked.  We received lots of waves and honks from people driving by, and with those going in we made a lot of them smile.  

Our purpose was not to try and convince anyone, necessarily, but simply to support those women coming into the clinic and dispel the overwhelming negative bullshit of the anti-choicers on the sidewalk.  It was invigorating and awesome when some got off the bus at the nearby stop, came over, and picked up a sign.  It was awesome when some actually pulled over and shook our hands.  The community is sick and tired of the routine harassment that they endure from these people. 

We had a strict no engagement policy to avoid nasty screaming matches, as this would essentially negate our entire purpose there.  But it became increasingly difficult to keep my opinionated mouth shut, so I came up with an alternative.  Two women holding “I regret my abortion” signs attempted to admonish us saying, “how can you laugh and joke when lives are being taken?  When murders are being committed?" 

Instead of turning and responding directly, I looked to my fellow compatriots and responded, in as jubilant a tone as possible, "Hey friends, I’m feeling so great, you know why?”  

“Why?” they asked curiously. “Well!” I said, “Because we live in a place where laws aren’t dictated by religious extremists who expect everyone to live by their rules alone!”

They tried to interrupt me, but I didn’t let them. “I am laughing with joy, because I am free to make my own choices as to when and how I have a baby!  And it is amazingly beautiful and good that women can make these choices for themselves without fear of jail time, fines, or infection and death!  Isn’t that fucking great?!" 

My friends nodded and grinned.  Cause that’s really what its about.  I don’t give a shit whether or not you personally believe that abortion is wrong, or if your morals or religion discourage it.  Don’t expect others to agree, and don’t try to legislate that agreement.  At some point, pro-life activists need to understand that outlawing abortion won’t solve anything, but would only privilege the life of the unborn over the life of the living.  That’s the real murder that would be inevitable if they got what they wanted. 

anonymous asked:

Best advice I can give any woman or companion: you do not need to justify your abortion. Don't try. Prolifers don't care. Go directly to the door and ignore the assholes. I have been prochoice since before I could physically get pregnant. I used to feel that I should be ashamed of my second abortion because it was due to stupid unprotected sex and not rape like the first. I don't feel that way anymore and it is extremely freeing.

Yes, ignore. 

But also fight back, if you want.  Write your paper or start a blog or get with an escort/clinic defense group. 

There is no reason patients being harassed by anti’s should take it lying down.