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Category Archives: Protesting

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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.

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!

Effective Immediately

Just before the hearing

Last night Portland Maine’s City Council met at 7pm to discuss passing a 39 foot patient safety zone around Planned Parenthood. After weeks of hostile protests that seemed to only get more hostile with time, the city and its people had had enough.

During the first public hearing about a month ago, dozens of men and women took the podium to ask the partial council to move forward with the safety zone. There wasn’t one voice of opposition. The four members who were present decided to listen to their town.

Last night, however, there were voices of opposition. The people claimed that the protests were “ministry” and that they were “peaceful.” One voice stated that walking through the protesters is merely “inconvenient” or “a little uncomfortable.”

However, men and women in support of the buffer zone recounted times of being screamed at, of needing police officers present to feel safe. One woman shared a story of having such intense anxiety that she no longer utilizes Planned Parenthood and travels 20 miles out of her way to seek reproductive healthcare. I spoke of protesters in Virginia screaming at me when I sought my abortion. There, I didn’t have to face people standing close enough to touch me. I was still terrified.

Religious advocates, military, workers and volunteers from Planned Parenthood, and ordinary citizens spoke in support of the patient safety zone.

After nearly three and a half hours, the motion was unanimously passed with an amendment to go into effect immediately.

It’s a small step, but it’s one that allows women seeking reproductive freedom safety from harassment. Yes, the protesters will still exist, but now, at least they will be across the street.

Many states are under fire right now with access to reproductive healthcare under attack. This post is a small, “Don’t lose heart.” There are still people fighting for women’s rights.

"Every Weekend, I Watch People’s Rights be Violated"

Last night, I attended the Patient Safety Zone meeting. For the next few days, I will be posting short snippets of what audience members had to say to the committee about trying to establish a 39-foot patient safety zone around Planned Parenthood. About 40 people spoke in support of the ordinance. Not a single voice of opposition was heard.

People spoke of threats, intimidation, fear. In the end we have to ask ourselves, why would humans treat other humans this poorly?

Forming an Opinion by Jeremy Allen

We got a lot of Honks for Choice

Until recently I’d intentionally veered clear of the abortion debate due to the extremeness of demonstrations on either side of the confrontational topic. What most caught my attention in the past were those infuriating images of dead fetus’ that so-called “ProLife” demonstrators held outside of Planned Parenthood clinics.

Between these and the Christian terrorists, I’d conceded that such a topic wasn’t worth fighting over. I hadn’t even considered the legitimacy of the arguments, and believed that as a man, it isn’t my place to get involved. This, and the highly discouraging language of my parents (they didn’t want to talk about abortion practices) prevented me from forming a solid opinion.

Today, my view point has changed. After attending one such demonstration and speaking with people close to me about their abortion experiences it seems simple and rational understanding that every situation is different, and in instances of rape, incest, or when a to-be mother is unfit or incapable of caring for a child, abortion should most definitely be allowed, without question.

If a woman can, with a clear conscience, abort her own fetus, perhaps she isn’t prepared to raise a child yet, anyway. Now I don’t suppose myself to be highly knowledgeable on the subject, but it seems that the person who understands their situation best is the individual choosing.

Under a few circumstances this line of reasoning could certainly be challenged, however nothing can justify the guilt inculcated by protesters screaming, “Child killer.”

Regardless of my viewpoint, change is thick in the air, and the war rages on.

Jeremy Allen is a graduate of Green Mountain College and a part time hippie. He studied business, and enjoys social activism, as well as making tea. He’s one of those people who thinks, long and hard, before he opens his mouth.

In his spare time, he can be found wandering around Maine, trying to start conversations with people.

Protesting, Part II

We got 100+ honks!

Two weeks ago, a group of people stood outside a Crisis Pregnancy Center holding signs that said, “Come Talk to Me!” “Your Body, Your Choice!” “We Support You” and “Honk if You Love Choice!”

Here are their reflections:



What was your objective today? Do you feel like you accomplished it?
Damien: I was there to support women’s rights and my girlfriend, so yes. I think I accomplished those goals.
Jennifer: My objective was to express my feelings about being ProChoice, and I feel like I did accomplish that.
Echo: My objective was to talk to people and give out more information about how crisis centers like the one we were at are giving out false information and lying by omniscient. I feel like we accomplished a lot, we talked to a couple people and got 100+ honks!
Nicholas: See a protest, not really

Was the protest what you expected?
Damien: ::Shrug:: Yes, except we didn’t get that many people to stop talk and talk
Jennifer: The protest was what I thought, except with less people
Echo: Not at all. I thought there were going to be other people there, but I’m glad it was just us. It was a very chill first experience, which was nice.
Nicholas: No there was no one else

When people came up to talk, what was your reaction?
Damien: No one came up to talk to me, I’m not going to lie. When they came up to Nick, I wanted to know what they wanted to find out. I’d go over and listen to everyone else’s opinion. I also wanted to make sure that the people approaching us weren’t going to start a confrontation.
Jennifer: I was surprised that they were all males.
Echo: Nobody directly came to talk to me, which is probably a good thing, but I was glad that people stopped to talk about what we were protesting for.
Nicholas: Hello.

What was your favorite part about the protest?
Damien: Supporting my girlfriend. And all the honks!
Jennifer: Hula hooping! And getting beeps!
Echo: My favorite part was hula hooping, and the woman coming out to talk to us.
Nicholas: Hula hooping


What was your least favorite part?
Damien: People flipping us off.
Jennifer: Standing, and the wind.
Echo: My least favorite thing was the people driving by and saying rude stuff to us.
Nicholas: I forgot deodorant

Do you think you’ll protest again?
Damien: Mmm hmm. (Yes)
Jennifer: Yes!
Echo: I totally want to protest again! Bringing the hula hoops every time!
Nicholas: Depends on the topic

Did anything that happened make you think differently about being ProChoice?
Damien: No.
Jennifer: No.
Echo: Nothing made me think differently about it. I was surprised at how many people honked for us! The ProChoice side isn’t really publicized very much, so I didn’t realize how many people were actually on our side.
Nicholas: No my natural choice is valid and accepted currently


How do you think you can improve the next protest?

Peaceful Protest


Damien: Try to get more people, both to protest and to approach us. I’d also like to give more of my opinion.
Jennifer: Better signs, and wind holes so it doesn’t feel like the signs are going to get ripped out of our hands.
Echo: I think making more signs would probably be a good idea, but overall I think we did awesome!
Nicholas: BBQ

What did you learn from today’s protest?
Damien: Not everyone supports our beliefs. I mean, I already knew it, but people flipping us off, shaking their heads no for holding a sign saying, “Your Body, Your Choice,” it’s kind of messed up.
Jennifer: I learned that people actually care. And that you should make wind holes in your signs so they don’t try to bubble up.
Echo: I learned that people are a lot more open minded than I thought.
Nicholas: Do what thou wilt

Do you think the protest made anyone think differently? Did you help make change today?
Damien: I don’t know, maybe not think differently but shed some light on people supporting women’s rights. Maybe it brightened the women’s days who drove by us. 
Jennifer: YES! I feel like we helped make change today.
Echo: There was one guy and his daughter that Lynne talked to for awhile. I hope she (Lynne) opened his mind to different options. I helped Jen hula hoop, so that was my contribution!
Nicholas: Yes i made a pretty funny video on the way, and got some great giggles out of it. Highlight of my trip.

Protesting Crisis Pregnancy Centers, an Interview

Men and women stand outside of Planned Parenthood establishments holding signs

of bloody fetuses, screaming at women as they walk in to the clinics. When I went in for my abortion, I was screamed at. The woman’s voice haunted me for months. 

So someone suggested, “Why doesn’t anyone protest Crisis Pregnancy Centers?” Thus our protest was born.

The reason we’re doing this is not to persuade women to have abortions. It is simply to persuade the workers at the Crisis Pregnancy Centers to offer valid information to women seeking their assistance, especially when it comes to abortion. 

For today’s article, I interviewed four protesters, Echo (yes, that is actually her name), Jennifer (you met her here), Nicholas, and Damien, before they went to protest. If all goes well, you’ll find out what happened at the protest tomorrow.

What and why are you protesting?
Echo: I am ProChoice because I believe a woman should be able to choose what happens in her own body.
Jennifer: I believe in women’s rights and don’t believe that other people have a say in what goes on in a woman’s body.
Nicholas: I’m mostly protesting because Jen wants to go, and because I’ve never been to a protest before.
Damien: The right to do what you want with your body. The right to be educated in ALL of your options.

Have you protested anything before?
 Echo: Never ever!
Jennifer: I have not, but I’m excited to see what the turn out is!
Nicholas: See previous answer.
Damien: No

What are your expectations?
 Echo: I hope I convert somebody~I’d like to convince people to be ProChoice. It’s better to support a woman if she has a baby, or if she seeks an abortion.
Jennifer: I’m not sure. I don’t know if people will violent, or if they’ll be open to other opinions, etc.
Nicholas: I expect McDonald’s on the way, other than that, I’m not sure what to expect.
Damien: I have no idea…

Do you have any fears?
 Echo: None whatsoever!
Jennifer: I’m afraid I’m going to get shot in the face…seriously…
Nicholas: No
Damien: No

What are you looking forward to?
 Echo: I’d like to know what the other side is like. Will they yell at us?
Jennifer: Other people who feel the same way as me!
Nicholas: I feel like it’ll be fun, like I said, I’ve never been to a protest before.
Damien: Protesting and supporting my girlfriend.

What are your feelings on abortion?
 Echo: I don’t think anything is wrong with it. The woman is mostly affected. It’s her body. Her significant other may be affected, too, but he should be supportive.
Jennifer: I feel like I’m not in to, “Killing the baby.” But if the person isn’t under the right circumstances (there are a lot of situations children shouldn’t be living in)….I think it’s up for the woman to know what is best for her and her fetus.
Nicholas: People should be able to obtain an abortion until it becomes a breathing infant.
Damien: I’m squeamish with late term abortions, but I understand that they’re sometimes necessary.

Honk For Choice
Your Body Your Choice

What does your sign say?
 Echo: I wanted my sign to say, “If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d fuck a senator,” but they won’t let me make it. So my sign simply says, “TRUTH”
Jennifer: “Come talk to me!”
Nicholas: I’m not sure I’ll have a sign, but I’ll stand and be supportive with everyone else.
Damien: “Your body, your choice!”

How do you feel about people who protest at Planned Parenthood clinics?
 Echo: I think it’s awful that they judge women based on one decision. Especially when they don’t know the circumstances of the woman walking in.
Jennifer: I think it’s inappropriate. The protesters don’t know what’s going on in that woman’s life.
Nicholas: There area always two sides to things. There will always be extremists, whether they’re right or wrong.
Damien: I think it’s bullsh*t because of the things they say and the disgusting signs of dead babies when women walk in to the clinic. An abortion is a big decision, it’s not like she says, “I can’t wait to get knocked up and have another!”

Do you think you’ll protest anything again?
 Echo: Yes! I want to go to a bunch of them! People need to be more educated about what’s happening in the world!
Jennifer: It depends. I really am afraid of getting hurt. If it’s not as intense as I think it’s going to be, probably.
Nicholas: Maybe, if there is a protest to help legalize marijuana in the state of Maine. Medicinal marijuana is already legal, I feel like there won’t be much more of a step.
Damien: Yes!

Do you think what you’re doing will make it into the paper?
 Echo: I hope so, that’d be cool! There’s a lot of coverage for ProLife in the media, where is the representation for the other side?
Jennifer: No, I think people will just look past what we’re doing.
Nicholas: Probably not, but I don’t know how big these things get.
Damien: If more people join, maybe.

A lot of people refer to abortion as, “Baby killing.” Where do you believe life begins?
 Echo: I think it begins when a woman is 6-7 months pregnant. Though if the life of the woman or child comes in to play, I may still support an abortion IF THAT’S WHAT THE WOMAN WANTS.
Jennifer: I think life begins after birth.
Nicholas: I think life starts when you start breathing. When you’re breathing, you’re alive. When you stop breathing, you’re dead.
Damien: Sometime during the third trimester because the fetus can move and kick. Though in circumstances, I would still support the right to terminate the pregnancy.