Last weekend I woke up at 6 am in order to gather with the Choice group at my campus and drive to the city to escort women safely up to the doors of a clinic so they can access their healthcare. Why do women need escorts, you may ask? Some do not agree with their decisions of what to do with their body and the way the rest of their lives will go. These people take up posts protesting outside of abortion clinics, either yelling at patients about killing their babies or encouraging them to reconsider and offering them resources that they will most likely never follow through with. Protesters absolutely have a right to voice their beliefs, and many of them are ingrained in religion and giving a voice to an "unborn baby." These protesters believe they are saving lives, and no one thinks abortion is an easy issue. However, many of the protesters do not know what is going on in many patients' lives. Women get abortions for diverse reasons, as I have outlined in my last blog post, and they will often offer to pay for rent, food, etc. just so women miss their appointments. Their goal is to postpone as long as possible and make it too late to abort. But the vast majority of the time, they do not follow through on their promises to help with financial problems or be a support network. They change the mind of the woman with the intent of saving lives but sometimes they actually ruin her life. Birthing an unwanted baby is an alienating experience in itself, and if the woman keeps the baby and does not give it up for adoption, she and her newborn child may suffer through economic problems and other societal problems that she feared beforehand--the problems that caused her to choose abortion in the first place.
For more info on specifics of all these different views and politics that go into the decision to abort, please read my last blog post, for I would like to review my personal experience as a clinic escort. I have to be honest -- it was not a dramatic or super influential experience for me, and I think this was because I didn't actually have any contact or conversation with any patients. We were randomly posted in various locations around the clinic/parking garage. I was at the entrance to the parking garage, so I simply waved the drivers into the garage, while the escorts at the other side of the garage went to greet the patients and walk them across the only crosswalk that was located on their side to the front door of the clinic. (They had to use that crosswalk for liability reasons.) I didn't feel like I individually was able to be much help because of my post. Next time I will try to be in a post where I do escort the women to the front door, because although I will never truly understand unless I am in that position, I would like to try to understand and empathize as much as possible because I believe not judging others' experiences is essential in living a conscious life.
We escort these women to the door because protesters yell things like "Please don't kill your baby, you don't want to do that! Think if your mother didn't have you!" However it was a pretty lowkey day last weekend - only 5 or so protesters, and they weren't collaborating. Two men were pacing back and forth praying, and 3 different women had signs and were yelling to the patients and to us, but only when the patients were present. They acted individually, which I am grateful for, because I think if they had collaborated it would have been a lot more scary. I think on a busier day there might be 10 protesters, and apparently one of them is a doctor who is quite tall and intimidating when he spits out gruesome scientific language about the abortion procedure. I'm glad he didn't show up.
I'm sure others have different experiences in my situation, or in the position of the patient. Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences. Post them or message them to our facebook page, and I will post them on here anonymously, or not if you prefer. Diverse experiences are what make this world, people. Get out there and act!