AbortionChat A place to talk about abortion; why you're for it, why you're against it, firsthand, secondhand, or curiosity. All we ask is that you keep an open mind.

Category Archives: Abortion

Abortion Clinic

By: Stephanie Renae Johnson 

 

Pictures of curled fetuses line the Winnebago,

as do paintings of Jesus

holding out his arms like class war doesn’t exist.

 

Well-intentioned young men look like the carpenter

as they help their sisters, girlfriends, wives, women

into the clinic and away from the shame bus.

 

“Don’t go in there, we can help you!”

But the closer the woman steps to the building

the more the threats rhyme with blood.

 

These girls, they stare at the asphalt.

Those women, they focus on their running shoes with intent to put them to use.

One foot after the other leads them closer to sound proof walls.

 

The protesters pump their signs up and down, puncturing the sky.

I wonder if God himself might have pierced feet

from walking on the carpet of poster boards proclaiming abortion as a sin.

 

The double edged sword is a Bible run South

of no birth control and no abortions

and no freedom of peace to walk in a clinic

 

alone

unarmed

as a woman.

 

stephanie


Stephanie Renae Johnson
is a feminist, writer, and artist. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Writing at Lenior-Rhyne University and works as a freelance writer, editor, and personal artist’s assistant. Stephanie’s work has appeared in literary magazines such as Prick of the Spindle and Danse Macabre, as well as on her art blog, DaBlobBlog.

What I Wish I’d Said

October marks many anniversaries for me; the death of my best friend, the death of my sister’s brother-in-law, the death of the first boy who showed me around my new high school, and many others. Since 2011, it has also marked what I refer to as my own death; the time I figured out I was pregnant, the time I’d planned to kill myself on October 19th, and the time I pulled myself together as another person and lived. This month marks my anniversary of my abortion and learning to live afterward. For much of that time I spent holding the mentality, “You need to live your life because you just killed your baby.” While that mentality got me through the first year, I am not living my life because I deserve to. Because I have struggled. Because I have accomplished. Because I am here.

This last week, I spent some time at the Pennsylvania Women’s Conference to help network and share the work we do here at AbortionChat. While in line to get professional portraits done, I met a woman. She was beautiful, dark haired, and an enigma of energy. I mentioned I am a crisis counselor, and that I run AbortionChat. After making a joke about, “Well, I could certainly use your help,” we turned our backs to her friends and she told me a small part of her abortion story.

With the work we do here, it’s typical, and I find it encouraging that so many people come to us with their stories, verbally, written, tweeted. Yet, while many of those stories, like my own, continue to focus on healing and recovery, it is rare that I have to step back and realize that not everyone is recovering.

The woman in line with me confided that she had an abortion several years ago. Since that time, she gave birth to her first born who, hours later, died in her arms. She told me that she believes this is a direct result of the decision she had made so many years ago. She said her pastor or priest had also said a similar thing, and she believed it. She is a Catholic, and while she said God has forgiven her, she has yet to forgive herself.

So this post, this message is for you, the woman in line who shared her heartbreaking abortion story with me, if you come to the site. Here are all of the things I wish I could have told you:

As I told you, I also believe in God. I was also raised in the church, with a mixture of Catholicism and Pentecostal. The God I believe in, yes, can punish sinners as He sees fit. But I don’t focus on His punishment. I focus on the fact that the God I love, loves me. And He does not want me, or you, to suffer. You made a decision, a decision that is allowed by law, and allowed by the free will He granted us with when He created us. My God may not be your God, especially because as I’ve continued my journey, I’ve stepped away from organized churches that refuse to accept my decision, a decision that saved my life. But I truly believe that anyone or anything worth worshiping has a great capacity for love and forgiveness. Please, please, stop harboring the guilt and sadness inside yourself. You deserve to be happy. No matter what your pastor or priest has told you. Sometimes nature and God have other plans for our children and our lives. I am truly sorry for the loss of your child, but there is nothing in this world that you have done to cause the death.

Outside of how religion is involved. thank you for sharing your story with me. You’d mentioned that your story wasn’t one of the ones “with a good reason” I believe were your words. Here is what I took away from your story: You got pregnant. You did not want to be pregnant. You terminated the pregnancy. You don’t need to have a “good” reason, because after-all, what is a “good” reason to obtain an abortion? I’ll answer you: because you didn’t want to be pregnant, and that is OKAY. At that time, you made the decision you thought was best for you. It is okay that it might have been a wrong decision for you. It is okay that it might have been a right decision for you. There is nothing you can do to go back in time and change these things, a decision was made. Live right now. Be happy, right now. It is okay to make right and wrong decisions. You are human. We all make mistakes and choose options that sometimes are not the best for us.

You have so much more to offer this world than to be caught on one decision that you made so many years ago. You deserve to forgive yourself so that you can be a better person for yourself, for your family, and for the world. You deserve to be happy, because no one in this world deserves to be unhappy. Time is not a gift that we can take for granted. Time is finite, and we are not here long. You, right now, at this very moment, deserve happiness without judgement. You deserve peace without guilt. We all made decisions that we regret later. Don’t let it continue to eat you alive. Find a way to make peace, find a way to push through because you, a living, breathing, flawed, beautiful person, deserves all the light and happiness in the world.

And I truly, truly hope you find these things. If you would like to talk more with me, or with the AbortionChat group, please, please send us an email.

Anyone else reading this who is struggling, this message is also for you. You are loved. You are beautiful.

Taco or Beer Challenge

In case you haven’t heard, a new challenge is in town. The Taco or Beer Challenge. What
do you do? You eat a taco. Or you drink a beer. Or  you do both. Or none. Then you donate to an abortion fund. Two members of the AbortionChat team joined in the fun. HERE is their video.

You can make your tacos spicy. You can make them mild. It can be a chicken, beef, turkey burger, or fish taco. You can drink a Sam Adams, or perhaps  a Root Beer. But the fact is, the important thing here is supporting CHOICE. Because not everyone’s taco and taco fixin’s decisions should be the same. Just like everyone’s reproductive health should be up to them, however there have been so many new laws and regulations in place that those decisions, and the safety of those decisions, is becoming compromised. Issues like travel, funding, the loss of the patient safety zones, and other barriers are coming in to play. Which is why it is so, so important to help fund organizations who help pregnant people who don’t want to be pregnant. Plus, who doesn’t like tacos?

Don’t know which abortion fund to donate to? Ask someone on twitter. Ask a reproductive justice advocate. Or, possibly even ask your local abortion provider.

 

 

An Interview with Emily Robinson

 A little over a week ago, I got to sit down with 15 year old, Emily Robinson, who may have a small addiction to whip cream, cinnamon, and music. Emily will be a sophomore in high school in the Fall, and never misses an opportunity to go on an adventure. Dressed in a To Write Love On Her Arms tank top, a Warped Tour hat, and skinny jeans, Emily sat down to answer some questions from AbortionChat.

How do you identify (ProChoice, ProLife, ProVoice, etc)? Why?

I’m ProChoice because I believe that women should have control over their own bodies and have the option to have an abortion. The option should be available to those that need/want it.

Are your friends sexually active? How do you feel about this?

Yes, my friends are sexually active. I’m okay with it I guess, but I hope they practice safe sex and have a general idea of what to do if they get pregnant (or, in the case that it’s one of my male friends, if they get a girl pregnant.)

You said, “I hope they practice safe sex and have a general idea of what to do if they get pregnant” have you ever had these types of conversations with them? Would you be willing to?

I have (kinda?) had these conversations with my friends. Really, only with one. But he wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. One time, he told me that he didn’t use a condom and that he had pulled out. After asking him what he would have done if the girl got pregnant, he brushed the conversation off and refused to believe that she could have gotten pregnant. Which, thankfully, she didn’t.
But I’m willing to have these conversations. My friends, however, seem to be hesitant and are not entirely willing.

Do you know what consent is (how to convey it, how to ask for it, etc)?

Yes. Well…I like to think that I do. The easiest way to ask for consent is to just throw the question out there, “Do you want it?”

Do you feel like there is a correlation to unhealthy relationships, body image, and mental health? If so, can you explain?

Yes. Based on my personal experiences, I believe there is. A few years ago (and even in the present day) I wasn’t exactly in the best place. Honestly, I wasn’t emotionally stable. I was far from it, actually. My body image was bad and my mental health was even worse. I had no self esteem. As one of those got worse, every one slowly did the same thing. At the same time, when things started getting better, they all got better at the same time; and they still are.

If you were to find out you were pregnant today, what would your reaction be?

Surprised. If anything, afraid. I’m not sexually active, but in the case that I was and got pregnant, I would feel trapped. What would my friends think? Not that it matters, but what would my other peers and teachers think? What about my mother? Sister? Friends parents? Other people in my life? What would they say?
I’ve heard people my age talk about girls that get pregnant. The things they say are terrible. In high school, (not necessarily my high school, thank God), if a girl is pregnant she’s ridiculed and called a whore, slut, etc. and everyone talks about how she’s stupid for not practicing safe sex. Even if she did and something went wrong, people still ridicule her.
So, if I was pregnant, I would be afraid. I would go to an abortion clinic as soon as possible. If it started to show, I would stay home. Everyone is so judgmental, it’s sickening.

What do you think your family’s reaction would be?

My family would disown me and I would be sent to an abortion clinic, no ifs, ands, or buts.

What would you do if the state of Maine implemented a parental consent law? Would this affect your decision?

If Maine had a parental consent law, it wouldn’t affect my decision. My mother would make me go to a clinic, and I would probably choose to go to a clinic, too.

You said “I’d be sent to an abortion clinic, no ifs, ands, or buts,” but also eluded to the fact you’d willingly go. Do you think pressure would cause you to seek out an abortion? Would you consider carrying out the pregnancy at all? (Basically I’m curious to see if this is YOUR decision or how much influence those around you would have on this decision.)

I think I would seek an abortion either way. There is no way I could carry out a pregnancy. Mostly because I couldn’t afford a child and because I am unfit to be a mother. I refuse to bring a child into this world if it’s not going to have a good life with a good mother that’s fit to be one. Carrying out a pregnancy is not a possibility.

What about if you found out your best friend was pregnant?

I would be afraid for her. If my male best friend got a girl pregnant, I would be afraid for him, too. Neither of their parents would let a newborn into the house. Either way, I would be surprised and afraid but I would be there to support them no matter what.How would you support them?
To support my pregnant friend, I would be there emotionally and I would give them everything I could. And I would try to help them through every decision they made.

What is the sexual education program like at your school? How do you feel it could be improved?

I haven’t taken health at my high school yet, but my sister has. In the elementary and middle schools it wasn’t very good. It was vague and repetitive. For the four years I took the class (4th, 5th, 6th and 8th grade), it brushed over the same things: male arousal, condoms/preventative methods (only covered condoms), menstrual cycles, puberty, abstinence, and in 8th grade a very brief lesson on STDs. That’s it.
I found that most of the time the people teaching this stuff couldn’t answer my questions, so everything I know about this stuff I learned online. These classes never covered female arousal, pregnancy (and what happens), birth control, and other things. The world of sex is so much more than what they’re teaching.
But I hear the class is much better in high school. They apparently cover that stuff more; maybe because people are sexually active in high school. Who knows? But I hear you have to watch a birthing video?

Do you feel comfortable coming to your family with questions about sexuality? Why or why not?

No. Not with my mom, at least. She blows everything out of proportion and doesn’t take me seriously, anyway. My sister, however, is a different story. I can talk about sex and stuff with her…to a certain extent.

How do you feel about the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the buffer zone in Massachusetts?

I’m pretty pissed. Yes, it helps the picketers get their point across, but what about the women trying to enter the clinic? The people standing there yelling and holding up those awful signs make the decision that much harder.
Plus, there’s not enough room on the sidewalks to get in (as Lynne said about Portland) and to be completely honest I feel like it’s not safe.
Are they even thinking about both sides of the situation?

Do you have twitter? What was your response to the #YesAllWomen hashtag?

Personally, I thought it was great. A lot of women got their point across. It helped raise awareness. Along with that, it put the spotlight on people that were abusing the tag.
On Instagram @basically_juno posted a picture of her in jeans and a thick strapped tank top that said, “A woman’s place is in the house and the senate.” Under that, a 14 year old boy commented, “Maybe if you didn’t wear slutty clothes u wouldn’t get raped, dumb, fat feminist, #malemasterrace.” It’s disgusting. She’d never met this boy in her life. The #YesAllWomen hashtag exposes that kind of stuff. I love it.
Other tweets:
“@TrapHouseCj: ur upset bc u got raped??? people’s children get kidnapped & murdered everyday and ur crying bc u had sex???k”
“Funny, the thing men fear most about going to jail is the thing women fear most about walking down the sidewalk #YesAllWomen” ~No credit, a lot of people tweeted that.

Do you have an experience you’d like to share?

A boy that had a crush on me for two years ran by and slapped my butt when I was reaching for something in my backpack one day during lunch. Apparently he thought he deserved it because he waited for so long. After that, he continued to hit on me for about two months. I’m pretty sure he hit on a few girls after that, too.

At another point in time, I was standing with my friend and a guy came up to us. He said, “You guys have tits buy yourself lunch,” and threw money at us and walked away.

Another time, at a concert I went to, a guy slowly creeped his hands around my waist. At the time, I went along with it. I craved affection. He started saying that he wanted to kiss me (after not even an hour). I had feelings for him for a little while after that. Looking back, it was actually creepy. He was a mutual friend of a girl I knew for four years, but until that day I had no idea he existed.
He just recently stopped flirting with me (on Wednesday), when I told him I wasn’t interested.At work, an older guy (like 40/50/60, he had gray hair) was reported for saying sexual things to girls and being creepy.

Once, I was standing in the back room and I was checking off a checklist of stuff I had to do. I was in his way, so I apologized and moved. His response? “You can stand in my way any time.” That is NOT okay. My coordinator took me off my register once this week to talk to me about it and she was horrified. She’s like a mother to me and she’s being so protective about this.

And then earlier in the school year, a kid (he’s gonna be a senior this year) started talking to me after jazz band rehearsal one day. He talked to me for awhile and at one point he said that he had had sex with another girl and the entire time he was picturing me. He asked me to hang out once or twice…And he also asked me if I masturbated. After awhile we stopped talking. Now, he pretends I don’t exist.

What is your reaction to the word(s), “slut” “whore” etc?

They make my stomach churn. They ALWAYS refer to a woman. If a female decides to engage in a lot of sexual activity with multiple partners, she is labeled as a slut, whereas if a man does that, he is congratulated and put on a pedestal for everyone to look up to. He’s seen as being “more of a man.” It’s sickening. Most derogatory terms like that, “slut, whore, pussy, cunt,” are all FEMALE BASED.
The male side of things, for the most part, is on the “better side of things.” Once again, females are the “weaker sex” and males are the “better” one. Which is why I love the “Like a Girl” campaign.

Any last minute thoughts/things you’d like to share?

a while ago a kid started messaging one of my friends. He started pressuring him and tried forcing him to masturbate over Skype and eventually it escalated to the point that the kid freaked out. He told me that he thought he had an anxiety attack, but I’m not sure. The kid had never talked to my friend before, but he tried using the “no one has to know” line.
I just thought that it was sick and disgusting. It’s probably not relevant though?

Portland, Maine Buffer Zone Repealed

IMAG1165This evening, Portland City Counsel met to discuss whether or not to repeal the 39ft “buffer zone” or patient safety zone around Planned Parenthood that was enacted only a few months ago. This area created a safe space for patients receiving care to enter the building without harassment or intimidation tactics.

A motion was passed to expedite the process (taking only one hearing, one week, rather than two). Men and women from the public spoke in support of the patient safety zone, asking the counsel members to not repeal the zone. However, after several people spoke, public comment was closed and the counsel members had a discussion. Many counsel members address that in November, when the zone was first put in place, it was passed unanimously. Since that time, they reported that they have been taken to court over the ordinance. With the recent SCOTUS decision, striking down the 35 ft zones in Massachusetts, many of the counsel members felt like at this point, taking away Portland, Maine’s was the only thing to do.

Each member that voted to repeal the zone reported that they did so “reluctantly.” The only member to vote in favor of keeping the zone intact was Counselor Jill Duson.

All of the counselors addressed the concerns of many of the people in the gallery, stating that by September they hope to have a new ordinance to help keep those entering the clinic safe and free of fear.

To Or To Not #ProtectTheZone?

It was sunny the day my friend drove me past the Planned Parenthood clinic in Virginia. It wasn’t even 9:00am yet, and there were protesters lining the sidewalk. They held signs, there were men and women, and worst of all, they were there to tell me I was making a huge mistake. My stomach turned just looking at them.

“Hey,” my friend said snapping me out of my inner turmoil. “Let’s go get something to drink.”

Because I was having a surgical abortion, I hadn’t had anything to eat (okay, let’s be honest, I snuck some candy on the drive up) in several hours, and I was only allowed to have clear liquids. We sat at a diner while she sipped coffee, and I drank iced water. No matter how warm it was outside, I couldn’t stop shaking.

When we returned to the clinic, the protesters had gathered in numbers. “Are you ready?” my friend asked. I couldn’t talk anymore, so I just nodded my head and stepped out of the car. We approached the doors that had signs saying, “Please don’t interact with the protesters,” and I pushed a button. Somewhere, I registered the fact someone was shouting. I assumed it was to traffic, telling the cars passing by of the atrocities that happen inside the building.

Instead, my friend put her arm around me, protectively and said, “Don’t listen to them, Sweetie.”

And then it hit me like a baseball bat to the face. They were screaming at me. Finally I could hear their words, “We know you’re scared, but you don’t have to do this!”

(A bit later)

After the procedure, I was groggy from sedation, and sitting in the recovery room. I can’t remember if it was me, or one of the women beside me, but someone asked the nurse taking care of us if she was ever afraid to go to work.

Her face went very still and she answered, “Yes, sometimes the protesters can be very mean.” I was still too sedated to remember what else was said. I do remember feeling upset because here was a woman helping me, who is afraid to come to her job, to help people like me, and yet was still there on that day.

Some time later, my friend had to pick me up from the back door and we left the clinic. As we drove away, I could see that even more protesters had gathered, and they still held signs. It was the first time I’d ever felt real hatred toward people I didn’t know. Yes, I was afraid. I’d never been pregnant before. I’d never had an abortion before. I’d also never been left by the guy who got me pregnant, was awaiting being evicted from my house, a knee surgery, and a plethora of other complications. I was scared out of my mind, that the protesters were right about. But I did need to have my abortion because for me, my abortion meant life, or my pregnancy meant death by my own hand.

Since my abortion, I’ve become an activist attempting to spread some grey area into the world of the black and white abortion debate. I’ve been to ProLife and ProChoice rallys. I’ve been to writing conferences talking about my abortion. And I’ve also been to counter protests outside of Planned Parenthood in Portland, Maine holding signs that say, “We support you!” and “I had an abortion.”

My friends and I were met with hostility. A man forcing pamphlets into our hands about “willful ignorance” insulted us. There was a sickening, almost tangible element of fear in the air, not only for the women entering the clinic, but the workers, the clinic escorts, and my friends…it felt like any second the world would explode. People drove by screaming at the protesters, “You’re fucking disgusting!” A man on a bicycle rode by chastising them. It was oppressive, and yet they still yelled at my friends and I, asking why we were “scared” of them. When we left, we were followed to our car.

Now, the Supreme Court has voted against the buffer zone in Massachusetts, which may or may not set the precedent for the remaining states in America. Earlier this year, Portland, Maine enacted a patient safety zone of 39 ft. We’ve heard many positive stories since the buffer zone had been enacted. Planned Parenthood of New England (PPNE) stated in a press release, “What is different since the buffer zone has been enacted is that we no longer see the sort of harassment and intimidation we saw previously. The atmosphere outside of our health center is one of peaceful coexistence – which balances the right to privacy with free speech rights.”

In light of the recent decision to strike down the Massachusetts buffer zone, PPNE stated, “The U.S. Supreme Court Justices’ decision today to strike down the buffer zone law shows a disregard for the safety of patients and staff entering reproductive health centers and we are disappointed by their decision to strike down the Massachusetts law.”

The Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center in Bangor, Maine, Abbie Strout, said, “I am dissapointed in the Supreme Court for ruling against a buffer zone. We all deserve the right to make a decision about our lives and should be able to access necessary health care services without facing fear and intimidation.”

In regards to a potential added level of danger to the decision, Abbie stated, “I think it is important to acknowledge that we all face a certain level of danger doing this work.  It was only 5 years ago when Dr. George Tiller was murdered at his church, he was a well-known abortion provider and hero.  Everyday people across the country face fear and intimidation going to work or while accessing medical care.  This is unacceptable. At the same time, we are all incredibly lucky that there are women and men who understand how important access to abortion care is and will risk their lives for it.”

The fact of the matter is, when people are allowed to be hostile, to add tension, it becomes an unsafe environment. Not just physically, but emotionally as well. As someone who is a mental health profession, and who has struggled with my own mental health, these “protests” or “clinic counselors” are a danger to any person walking into those clinics.

What Does AbortionChat Do?

Almost a year ago, I took up the idea of protesting Crisis Pregnancy Centers because, well, they scare me. I’ve heard stories of women being shamed as they come to utilize their “Free Pregnancy Tests” and stories about women who at the abortion clinic, didn’t want one, so a good doctor reached out to a near CPC who stated, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?”

So last year I gathered friends and we car pooled to a Crisis Pregnancy Center. We held signs saying, “We support choice!” and “Come talk to us!” among others. We talked about abortion, -my- abortion. We talked about laws, and old men shaming women at clinics. But we talked in an environment which made us comfortable, and we used the time to spread awareness with each other.

This week, a friend confided in me that she had an abortion this summer. One of the very friends who’d protested Crisis Pregnancy Centers with me. This was her message:

Hey Lynne! I just wanted to say thank you. I had an abortion this summer and the whole time I was terrified, there were men shaming me on the way in but I remembered all the things we had talked about. You had a bigger impact than you can imagine

If you find yourself coming to AbortionChat and wondering what we do, THIS is your answer. We’re not here to cause more confrontation, hatred or fear. We’re here to offer support, no matter the decision. We’re here to spread information, clarify mis-information, and allow you, whoever you are, to make your own decisions about your body, your health, your relationship, and your family.

 

In other news, we will be taking a small hiatus this month to focus on panel proposals, conferences, and things of the like. Our chats will continue, and we’ll be open to submissions, but the blog will restart in May. Thank you for your patience.

Men and Abortion

I have a lot of conversations with people on their feelings of abortion. Even at the ProLife rally we’d attended, there was a pamphlet asking about men and abortion. Yet, many people don’t go back and ask, “How did YOU feel when your significant other had an abortion?”

I think this is an important piece of the story. Where was your partner? How did he react to the pregnancy? For many men, they become just as shaken up as their partner who is pregnant.

I’ve met men who called their girlfriend a murderer after she’d had an abortion. I’ve met men who held their girlfriend’s hand in the waiting room and escorted them out. I’ve known men who’ve bailed on their partner. I’ve known men who supported the pregnancy and are now proud fathers. I’ve also known men who find out in the aftermath that their significant other was pregnant and sought an abortion. His response? “I wasn’t mad or upset that she’d had an abortion. I was upset by the fact that I wasn’t involved. I wasn’t allowed to support her. I wasn’t involved in the decision. I would have wanted to be.” This happened to this man not once, but twice.

Here at AbortionChat, we encourage healthy conversations. We encourage having a Pregnancy Plan and being prepared for if your test turns positive. We also encourage you to sit down with your partner and ask, “What are WE doing to do if WE get pregnant?”

After you do that, let us know. We want to share your story here.

AWP, WGS, SEWSA, and Grant Opportunity

It has been an incredible last couple of weeks. As many of you know, Alex and I (Lynne) adventured to Seattle for AWP 2014 with our AbortionChat table. We met TONS of men and women of varying shapes, sizes, colors, etc. It was amazing. We asked incredibly personal questions (what kind of birth control do you use? What would you and your partner do if you got pregnant? And plenty more). We gave out brochures and cards. We took pictures which you can see on our Twitter account or our Facebook account. It was a great four days. We met people who shared stories about having three abortions, and not regretting a single one. We met people who didn’t know if they were prochoice or prolife. We met men whose partner’s had an abortion without telling them. It. Was. Great. And we can’t wait for more submissions. (Thank you for those of you who have submitted. I promise we’re going through them!)

Alex at our table!

After we returned home, him to Florida, and me to Maine, we recovered from Jet Lag (yes, capital letters) and I was invited by a member of the ACLU to participate in a Reproductive Justice Panel for the WGS Conference in Maine! There I got to talk about abortion, crisis pregnancy centers, the lovely people who send us death threats, etc. I met some incredible people there. I also met some very brave men and women there.

I was clearly very involved in what I was saying :)

Next up on our list is heading to Wilmington,  North Carolina for SEWSA which just announced their panel line up. Allie and I will be hosting one, discussing writing my memoir, The Right to Live: A Christian Girl’s Struggle through Abortion, Losing Her Home, Job, and Mind, and Recovery as well as how AbortionChat got started. We would love to see you there.

In the meantime, in case you haven’t heard, The Abortion Conversation Project is now open to submissions for grant opportunities. They are the ones who granted us the ability to go to New Jersey for the Sex Ed Conference, as well as host our table at AWP. They are a wonderful organization, and if you know a project or other organization, please submit a proposal to them. The deadline is April 1, 2014 so move fast!

In the meantime, we are still accepting submissions and we’d love to share your stories. Keep up the good work. Remember to use contraceptives, communicate with your partner, and change the world.

 

 

 

 

Dispatches From the Sidewalk: Clinic Defense by Katie Klabusich

Cross­posted with edits for length from Katie Speak — Dispatches from the Sidewalk
Trigger warning: sexism, racism, verbal abuse, NSFW, DV, sexual assault in the Vine posts
Note! I’m hosting Abortion Chat on Twitter TUESDAY, February 18 at 9:15pmEST. We’re talking picketers/escorting/clinic access. Just follow the #AbortionChat hashtag and my handle to join in! Everyone is welcome and I want to hear LOTS of voices from all over North America.

Today I was back in New Jersey. We had a handful of the Abolish Human Abortion picketers. A large number of them were at a conference in Philly, so we got a bit of a volume break. However, with the snowfall, the sidewalks were rather dangerous. Because only so much of that belongs to the clinic, it wasn’t completely cleared Thursday and Friday. By today, there was a significant amount of ice under the snow. This created obstacles and made further shoveling actually dangerous.

The picketers were more hostile to the escorts than they have been. If you’ve seen other videos, you’ll wonder how that’s possible. They did some shouting still and calling a few of us by name. They want to intimidate us by saying they know who we are (which would be more believable if they could get my website right when they’re shouting it at me). The escalation was quieter; very direct, distinct, personal threats made in a voice that wasn’t recordable said over our shoulders. One of our male escorts listen to them plan to have him arrested, attempt to provoke contact while walking with patients and then ­­ after he wouldn’t engage ­­ hit him themselves. He’s a hero for standing calmly remembering that we aren’t there for the picketers. We’re there for the patients.

To give you an idea what’s in the Storify and why I do it, THIS VIDEO is the worst of the day. In it, I’m standing about 50 yards from a patient (behind me) who is standing paralyzed in the street. The picketers on camera are at the door screaming at her while she cries. It was so loud on the sidewalk, it took two of our most physically unassuming escorts to explain that we were with the clinic and would protect them all the way to the door. I rarely get emotional on the sidewalk. Almost 12 hours later, I’m crying just picturing her face.
And so, I give you my round up of video, pictures, tweets, audio and contributions from escorts around the country. It is long; it is hard to watch; it is its volume that makes it powerful. All of this footage was from one, three­hour shift.

This week’s Storify (which WordPress won’t let me embed ­­ apologies for the new page open):
Clinic Defense: Saturday 02/15/14 (NJ)

See you in TWO WEEKS! I’ll be in Oklahoma at the Red State Conference talking access and activism. But! There will be plenty of action on the #ProtectTheZone hashtag. So, if you’re an escort or a supporter of what we do, be sure to participate in the conversation and use the hashtag. We need as much material as we can get ahead of the SCOTUS decision on the MA Buffer Zone. xo

Recap of why I’m posting the videos, comments, tweets, and anything else I can get my hands on:

To aid in sidelining them, I will continue to post from in front of the clinics where I escort. My Vine feed is exclusively (with the exception of the occasional dog video because CUTENESS) devoted to documenting the reality of accessing clinics. You don’t need to subscribe or sign up; it’s a public website with a series of captioned 4­second videos. I mainly use the captions to include quotes and rants that don’t fit in the Vines. I also post through Twitter; if you don’t use that medium, you can read my feed right here, on this website over to the right side of this post.

I’m doing some website construction so I can have a tab with all the clinic defense posts, storifys, and other content. I want to link to other escorts who are doing similar documentation, so it won’t be up immediately. I’ll be including background on clinic escort programs ­­ i.e. why they’re needed, how they were created and what makes them an important component of reproductive justice in the current hostile climate. Thanks for your patience while I work out the details of formatting and in the mean time, follow the #ProtectTheZone hashtag that NARAL helped kick off the day SCOTUS heard MA’s Buffer Zone challenge. I thank them for reaching out to those of us who spend time on the sidewalks and using our quotes/pictures.

If you found this post informative, entertaining, helpful, etc. you can subscribe to the Katie Speak Weekly Mailing which has all my posts, radio segments and activism info. You can also click SUPPORT to keep me speaking and follow me on Facebook and twitter. Thanks!