Clinic Escorting, Week Two

Today was my second time escorting at the clinic. The first time, I was surprised at how calm I was. It reminded me of the state I’d felt after meditation. It wasn’t quite the same this morning, though I’m still finding it difficult to describe and express, which is why there wasn’t a post about my first time.

I stood at the property line at the edge of the sidewalk, part of a human wall blocking the antis. If there’s not a client around to chase and harass, the antis get bored and try to engage us. Any sort of boundaries or civility do not apply.

Blocking them was like a dance. Shaming, cajoling, lecturing, and preaching wasn’t enough. They wanted to be in the client’s face, in their personal space, with eye contact. The antis would shift sideways to try to look over my shoulder, or tiptoe to look over my head, and I’d match their movements. We’d dance for a while, until they either gave up and went elsewhere, or decided to address me.

I discovered two weeks ago that the best facial expression to use with the antis is the thousand yard stare, combined with a sort of pleasant expression, and a slight, arrogant smirk. It’s a trifecta of contradictions. Open, closed off, and you’re full of shit all at the same time. It grabs their attention, and frustrates them, because they want me to engage, but I don’t. I’ve not spoken a word to the antis, and they want me to–because I’m new, and they know it.

My smirk prompted my frustrated dance partner to say, “you’re too young to be so cold. I can see it in your face. You’re cold-hearted.” I had to suppress the urge to laugh, and burst out singing that Jet song. My lips twitched, and she gave up and walked away.

The antis throw out a lot of names. Murderer, coward, wuss. They particularly like to holler at the male companions of the clients, telling them to “be a man” and “don’t be a wuss.”

At some point, the same anti told another escort that WE were violating the FACE Act (by blocking them from crossing the property line). I had to laugh at that one. I’m guessing the only thing she knows about that legislation is the title. Freedom of Access to Clnic Entrances Act. It’s freedom of access for clients, not protestors. Whoops.

So far, what I’ve seen is only in front of the clinic–I haven’t shadowed any escorts yet. So I haven’t had anyone try to trip me, or elbow me in the ribs. “Just” people getting in my face.

Just? Just.

One of the reasons it’s taken me so long to go down there is I just wasn’t sure how I would react to all of this. I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t lose my temper when say, an anti got in my face. Because honestly, who wouldn’t go off on someone running their mouth about you, four inches from your face?

But the sidewalk in front of the women’s clinic is a different world. Like I said, basic rules of boundaries and civility do not apply. The antis have an entitlement complex. The antis want everyone to do exactly what they want, and if you do anything but comply, it is totally okay to them, for them, to get in people’s faces, to insult, push, intimidate, harass, and tell personal stories about other people to everyone on the street.

The sidewalk, for me, is the only place where I allow such bullshit to go unanswered. It’s the only place where someone getting in my face and insulting me is more amusing than rage-inducing.

On the sidewalk, I am a human wall. If they’re insulting me, they’re not harassing a client. With my body, I’m denying them access to clients who have no wish to engage with them. With my body, I’m blocking their snooping eyes and cameras from clients. I’m there for the clients, not for the antis. I’m there because of the antis.

As a client and her companion were nearing the line, one of the antis shouted “you don’t have to be here!” The companion shot back “you don’t have to be here, either.”

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A Glimpse into the Future?

Amanda Ching has written a brillant short story that you need to read. It’s speculative fiction, imagining what the U.S. might look like if we keep incrementally rolling back reproductive rights.

This story answers the question that the naive citizens of a free democracy always ask: how do totalitarian regimes happen?

Go read it. Now.

As a writer, I can tell you that this is one of the best short stories I have ever read. Let me tell you, speaking from experience, writing a short story is hard. Amanda makes it look easy. I am extremely jealous of her talent.

As a feminist, this story scared the ever-loving shit out of me. It provides a hell of a lot of motivation to fight every single rollback of human rights, because this story highlights how, though human rights violations may start in one area, they always spread into other areas, until everyone’s rights are gone.

Doctors Against Anti-Abortion Laws: the Beginning of a Movement?

Last week, in the midst of a heartbreaking story about a woman who fell victim to Texas’ mandatory ultrasound law, we heard about the unwilling doctor forced to do the procedure:

“I’m so sorry that I have to do this,” the doctor told us, “but if I don’t, I can lose my license.”

“When you come back in 24 hours, the legal side is over. Then we’ll care for you and give you the information you need in the way we think is right.”

Then on Saturday, PalmD at WhiteCoatUnderground posted this:

“Doctors are notoriously poor organizers.  We generally operate independently.  The AMA represents less than thirty percent of American doctors.  When it comes to protecting ourselves and our patients, we are often on our own.  When it comes to the latest abortion bills we cannot afford to remain apart.  We must all speak out against this violation of our ethics and our patients’ rights.  How this might work isn’t clear, but perhaps we need target certain states, one at a time.  When one provider is shut down for honoring their patients’ rights, another must be willing to step up, and another.  There is a nationwide shortage of abortion providers so this probably isn’t realistic, but even so, we must try, we must advocate for our patients, we must defend them from the depravities of those who would violate their basic right to ethical, respectful care.”

Finally, yesterday, Anonymous Doctor at John Scalzi’s blog called for doctors across the country to engage in civil disobedience and refuse to perform mandatory ultrasounds:

“It is our responsibility, as always, to protect our patients from things that would harm them. Therefore, as physicians, it is our duty to refuse to perform a medical procedure that is not medically indicated. Any medical procedure. Whatever the pseudo-justification.

It’s time for a little old-fashioned civil disobedience.

When the community has failed a patient by voting an ideologue into office…When the ideologue has failed the patient by writing legislation in his own interest instead of in the patient’s…When the legislative system has failed the patient by allowing the legislation to be considered… When the government has failed the patient by allowing something like this to be signed into law… We as physicians cannot and must not fail our patients by ducking our heads and meekly doing as we’re told.

Because we are their last line of defense.”

We need more doctors to take a stand–to speak out, to share their stories, to call for and organize action. While the most important voices in this struggle remain the women who are affected by this anti-choice, anti-autonomy, anti-woman legislation, we need our doctors to speak up as well. We’re in this together.

If you’re a doctor, and would like to share your story, or your own call for action, I am glad to offer this space for you to speak. Contact me at brittanyannwick AT yahoo DOT com, if you would like to share your story, or if you already have on another website, send me the link–I’d like to share it.

OB/GYN on Forced Ultrasounds: Fuck That Shit

An anonymous doc calls for his fellow OB/GYNs to engage in some good ole’ fashioned civil disobedience.

From Whatever:

“Fellow physicians, once again we are being used as tools to screw people over. This time, it’s the politicians who want to use us to implement their morally reprehensible legislation. They want to use our ultrasound machines to invade women’s bodies, and they want our hands to be at the controls. Coerced and invaded women, you have a problem with that? Blame us evil doctors. We are such deliciously silent scapegoats.

It is our responsibility, as always, to protect our patients from things that would harm them. Therefore, as physicians, it is our duty to refuse to perform a medical procedure that is not medically indicated. Any medical procedure. Whatever the pseudo-justification.

It’s time for a little old-fashioned civil disobedience.”

Check out the whole piece here.

I hope every OB/GYN across the country reads this piece.

A Brilliant Observation on Anti-Choicers

A commenter named GWPDA made a very good point on this post:

“It’s about eliminating women from their positions as free citizens – emancipated and fully legitimate. If I am not trusted to make a decision on my own about my own body, then I am most certainly not trusted to exercise the franchise, sign a contract, or hold property in my own name. I have been eliminated as a citizen of the United States.”

Indeed.

We are too stupid to realize that it is a fetus we want to expel from our uteri when we seek an abortion, so we have to be told it’s a “life” and a “separate human being.”

We are too stupid to have made our decision before we make an appointment, shove our way through screeching, aggressive protesters, and enter a clinic, so we must wait twenty-four hours.

We are too stupid to know what a fetus or an embryo looks like, so we must have probes shoved inside us, so that we may be enlightened.

We’re too stupid to make decisions about our bodies, so why should we have any rights at all?

Perhaps anyone marginally on the pro-life side, or on the fence, should investigate what the leaders of the pro-life movement really believe before you listen to their raving about abortion.

Point of Information Re: Transvaginal Ultrasounds and Abortion

Until the clusterfuck recently in Virginia, most people probably assumed that mandatory ultrasound laws simply required women to get an abdominal ultrasound before an abortion.

Except that abdominal ultrasounds aren’t very useful until a woman is much further along in a pregnancy than the vast majority of women seeking abortions.

Transvaginal ultrasounds are used in early pregnancy.

Virginia’s law was only the first to be blatantly forcing transvaginal ultrasounds on women. All the other states just kept it quiet, hoping people wouldn’t figure it out.

These states require an ultrasound before a woman may have an abortion:

Alabama

Arizona

Florida

Kansas

Louisiana

Mississippi

North Carolina

Oklahoma

Texas

These states are just as bad as Virginia.

Well, now you know.

Abortion: Not a Granted Right

I had an epiphany while reading Cunt this weekend. In Cunt, the author, Inga Muscio, talks about her abortions–all three of them. The first two were at a clinic, the third she induced herself.

My epiphany is this:

The Supreme Court did not grant women the right to an abortion. Nor did any of the other men in various parliaments and legislatures around the world.

Abortion is. It always has been, and always will be.

It is as much a fact of life as menstruation, masturbation, and sex.

This is so much more than “abortion will continue, whether or not it’s legal.” It will, it’s true, but more than that.

Abortion is not simply a medical procedure that doctors perform on women’s bodies. Only recently in human history have men been involved in abortion at all. Its had many names throughout history, in different cultures. But it was always the domain of women.

Women “kept their period regular.”

Women “brought on the courses.”

If you read carefully in literature, in myths, and in memoirs and histories, you will find it.

Men have not “given” it to us, nor can they take it away.

We will fight you in legislatures, and outside clinics, to keep abortion legal and accessible, absolutely. But abortion is ours. It is a part of our history. It is a fact of our lives. Abortion won’t go away. No more than you can take our monthly flow away. No more than you can keep us from masturbating.

Our uterus’, our ovaries, our vaginas, our cunts, cannot be taken away. Can’t have them. Our periods, our reproductive capability, our miscarriages and our abortions. Can’t take ’em.