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Escorting

Last week, 250 people showed up at Planned Parenthood's Fannin clinic to protest. This is an account of one of the people who were there:
I knew they were coming, but I didn’t expect to see this many people.

On Saturday, 250 protesters showed up at the Fannin Health Center in Houston, Texas, to harass Planned Parenthood clients. They called the day’s protest the “March of the Surviving Youth,” and circled around the health center seven times in a “Jericho March” intended to collapse the walls of the health center, like the story of Joshua in the Old Testament. No such luck.

I and my fellow escorts were vigilant as we guided clients safely from the parking lot to the health center, despite the efforts of protesters.

At one point, a group of them circled around me screaming, “I’m praying for you, ma’am!” and “You are not God’s child; you speak death!” and “You have no idea who you’re messing with!”

This is not a so-called “peaceful protest.”

This is harassment.

But we will continue to stand together in support of comprehensive reproductive health care — including access to safe abortion care.

We will make sure that despite a few harassing voices, we will be here for the millions of women, men, and teens that need access to basic health care.

We will continue to be here for our patients throughout the “40 Days for Life,” just like we have every day since 1936.

Protesters: 250

I am Emily X.

I am Planned Parenthood.
As soon as I read that, I sent an e-mail to my friend over there who coordinates volunteers. "Do you guys need more people on Saturday for escort/protection? I don't have experience, but I've been involved with PPHSET and PPYL for years and would love to help if I can." I'm now scheduled to escort on Saturday from 1-2. If I can get there a little earlier, I will. I've also volunteered for the rest of the 40 days of harrassment.

I'm a little nervous. I haven't escorted since the 1992 Republican National Convention when Operation Rescue was first starting out and they wanted to show the Republican Party how powerful they were. I have been over at Planned Parenthood a lot since then, even at times when it was under protest, but never with the possibility of so many people there at once.

I'm not particularly nervous for my own safety or for my belief structure. But I am concerned that they'll get to me, that I'll snap and say something stupid in retaliation. I know that my job will be to safely get clients to the clinic from their cars and back again, but I fear that I'll get distracted by something that someone says to me and react.

As I've said before, my inclination is to give a running diatribe on my own sex life since these people seem so sex obsessed. Maybe make a counter protest sign with figures of people fucking, maybe even doggie style. I want to ask them about their own sex lives: When did they lose their virginities? How many sex partners have they had? How do they handle birth control? Do they masturbate? What's their favorite sex toy? I'm no hypocrite, I'll tell them (at length) that it was the day before I turned 21, and it was a one-night-stand using condoms, beer, and bad, bad lines from Fatal Attraction. I'm on the pill, but I've generally used condoms when not in a monogomous relationship, and that I had to take the morning after pill once. And my sex partners are in the low double digits, though there's only one now. And I masturbate sometimes, but not as often since I have a regular sex partner about six inches from me on the bed. And my favorite sex toy is this nice pink vibrator by a company named Dr. Johnson that I got at Cindies, and I like to read erotica.

I'd want to tell them all this stuff so they leave the clients who are seeking services alone.

But instead, I'll do my job and seem like I don't care at all about the protesters other than making sure that the Planned Parenthood clients can get in and get services.

And I'll write my anger here later.

Comments

( 9 comments — Say something )
samtosha
Oct. 16th, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC)
YOU are amazing; thank you!
jasheffe
Oct. 16th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
Seriously, sorry to put it this way but just keep your mouth shut. Don't engage them in dialogue. If you feel the need to say something to them while they're screaming at you, tell em you'll pray for them and smile.
samtosha
Oct. 16th, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC)
"tell em you'll pray for them and smile"
THIS is brilliant!
cz_unit
Oct. 16th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
I always find it odd that Christians are the ones with the highest divorce rates, highest teen pregnancy, and highest abortion rate (by far).

Almost as if being a Fundie means being pro abortion. Go figure.

CZ
charlayne
Oct. 17th, 2009 02:08 am (UTC)
I would so be wanting to bring my camera to take pictures of them and if they tried to bum rush me, run over them with my cart. Assault a grandmother on a cart, will ya? Some good Christian you are...

But, sadly, I'm not much help on this. I'll send energy though. Thank you for going.
djmermaid
Oct. 17th, 2009 10:33 am (UTC)
thank you for doing this.

when I was in college in Iowa City, it was such a liberal town that they had to bus in protesters from Dubuque. the clinic (the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women) came up with a brilliant scheme: Pledge A Protester! you could either pledge per picketer per day, or choose a favorite picketer and pledge for how many rounds they made. of course they got a big Pledge A Protester banner and hung it up on the building, so the picketers would be reminded that their activities were bringing donations to the clinic. it was AWESOME.
pete_vh
Oct. 17th, 2009 12:15 pm (UTC)
What Beautiful Monsters said. They'll probably reitertate it when you get there, but to them, getting you to respond means they've won.

It's hard. I escorted for a couple years at Fannin, and like you, I was rarely worried about my physical safety. But I'm sorry to say I lost my cool a few times.

One thing I didn't anticipate - but probably should have - was how many times I'd have to talk a boyfriend/husband/brother/father from going back outside and beating the shit out of somebody. You always try to get people coming in for procedures to drop off inside the gate, but sometimes they walk from the parking lot, and the mouthbreathers have a special brand of Christian love and tolerance for women in a vulnerable state.

Good luck.
samtosha
Oct. 19th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
What happened on Saturday afternoon?
datawhorevoyeur
Oct. 19th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
circled around the health center seven times in a “Jericho March” intended to collapse the walls of the health center, like the story of Joshua in the Old Testament.

Why don't they interpret this as proof that God is not on their side???
:-D
( 9 comments — Say something )

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'stina is, surprisingly enough, a lawyer from Houston, Texas who rambles about quite a number of things.

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