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moving on

The vigil was lovely. Religious leaders, people very much involved in the local and national reproductive rights movement, and employees of Planned Parenthood spoke at in the large meeting room at Planned Parenthood. I ran into several friends that worked there, and we hugged and supported each other. Many asked how I was doing, since a good hunk of the staff there are facebook friends of mine and knew about my recent surgery.

The message of the day was Keep on Fighting the Good Fight, and put aside thoughts of anger.

At the end of the vigil, everyone tied black ribbons on the security bars on the windows of the clinic. The security bars are pretty, designed in such away to distract the viewer from their true purpose, but they're sturdy and strong, and should be relatively difficult to get through.

I asked if there had been any increased activity from our local protesters, but the staff at Planned Parenthood said those folk had been laying low.

A few months ago, I joined the Planned Parenthood team for Race for the Cure. The team met at Planned Parenthood, and we took the train downtown to the starting line. It was early on a Saturday morning, and the protesters were already lining up with their songs and their prayers and their signs. The local anti-choice movement was in the middle of their 40 Days of Harassment. This was shortly after Hurricane Ike had hit our city, and we were in the midst of recovery. There were hundreds of volunteer type things that needed to be done (like raising money for breast cancer), and yet these people chose to sit in front of a health care clinic and harass the people seeking services. In the Planned Parenthood parking lot, a tent had been set up, so the volunteer escorts could have a comfortable place to sit when clients didn't need escorting. By the time I returned, the protesting and escorting was going on in full force. It was weird to watch.

A few months later, I went to a late night meeting at Planned Parenthood for training for lobby day. When I left that night, the armed guard at the front of the building walked me to my car, making sure I was inside before he left my side. The protesters had decided to do another 40 days of Harassment, and the security was a bit tighter than usual as a result. Everyone who left the building after dark needed to be escorted. I wondered at the sort of person who would hurt me simply for walking out of a building.

I know a lot of people who work in that building. I've spent many, many hours side by side either raising awareness (like in the Pride Parade or Race for the Cure), raising money (like by chairing the Party Like a Rock Star fundraiser), lobbying, or celebrating (at the annual luncheon, at Cocktails for a Cause, and at PLARS) with them. Many of them have become close friends, and I've come to deeply care about the people who work there.

And every single one of them works in danger. They walk through that door every day knowing that they're being watched. They go to work at a place that is almost under constant siege. I'm certain that these smart, hard working women (almost all of the people I know who work there are women, though there are a few men) could go to work elsewhere, somewhere safer, somewhere where the religious right hasn't declared a holy war. But they believe in what they're doing, and they refuse, absolutely refuse to let that other side deter them from their calling. And, even better, they refuse to allow the other side to wear on them. Everyone is ridiculously nice, and friendly, and they love what they do.

I think I'm a better person for being around these great and courageous people. I think women in my city that seek health services at Planned Parenthood are in excellent hands. And I think that no matter what, we'll all keep on fighting the good fight. And I think despite the tragic casualties and the need for security, we will win.


( 3 comments — Say something )
Jun. 4th, 2009 05:02 am (UTC)
PP in Hayward used to be about 2 blocks from our house, and I remember K and A going down to do escort work during the protests in the 80s, and how sometimes the clinic had to call and cancel appts because of bomb threats.

I hate that the govt seemed to sort of both ignore and encourage the violence to escalate for so many years, as it went from yelling threats to real bombs to shootings.

*fierce hugs*
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting about the vigil. I had wanted to go, but the kids needed to be gotten into bed and all that.

Jun. 4th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting and for going. It is due to the people who support people like the shooter that I, in the midst of our grief at losing our first pregnancy, had to go to two different pharmacies to get the medication I needed to induce an abortion, and it's why I do everything I can to now avoid going to Albertson's, who doesn't carry the medication, and who employs the two male pharmacists who made it clear to me why, in their fake sympathetic and condescending way, they don't carry it. Bastards. Walgreen's and Kroger all the way, baby.
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