Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Abortion Wars

As I get out of my car, an elderly man in a yellow vest approaches.

“I’m here to volunteer,” I tell him.

“Then you’re my replacement,” he says with a smile, and starts taking off the vest.

“How long have you been doing this?” I ask.

“Oh, about a decade,” he replies.

“Why?” I press.

“Because it’s the right thing to do,” he says. He hands me the vest and I look at it, following the black lettering with my eyes.

“Planned Parenthood Escort”

I put it on.

“This is my first time,” I say.

“Don’t worry, Ashley over here will show you the ropes.”

And with that he leads me toward the doors of the imposing yellow brick building and gestures to a young woman about my age, also wearing a yellow vest. After quick introductions, Ashley gives me the run down.

The protesters aren’t allowed to come onto Planned Parenthood property, she explains, so they stand right on the edges of the parking lot. The Protestants stand on one side, holding signs, and the Catholics stand in the front, praying the rosary and reading from a prayer book perched on a music stand. Sometimes they try to exorcise the building of demons, or so I am told. Ashley points to a police car parked in the lot and tells me that there’s always a police officer stationed here, in case there is trouble.

I look around and take everything in. I survey each group of protesters, probably fifteen or twenty people in all. I wonder what they would think if they knew I was once one of them. I never picked an abortion clinic, no, but that is largely because there was no abortion clinic in the town where I grew up. The Catholics are praying quietly and the Protestants are standing mutely, holding signs. I know those signs. I held them at the annual Life Chain each year. Still, everything is quiet, and I start to wonder if Ashley and I are really needed.

A car pulls up and Ashley responds by walking toward the car and its occupants. A man and a woman step out, and Ashley greets them.

“Hi, I’m a volunteer with Planned Parenthood. Just so you know, there are some protesters here today, but you don’t have to listen them. I can walk you to the door if you like.”

As Ashley walks the couple toward the entrance, engaging them in small talk about their trip and the weather, the Catholics begin praying louder and with more intensity.

“Hail Mary full of grace, blessed are you among women.”

For their part, the Protestants begin yelling, calling out to the man and woman from their legally-mandated spots twenty feet away.

“You don’t have to do this!”

“Please don’t kill your baby!”

“Come to us, we will help you!”

“You can still turn around and leave!”

“They are leading you to slaughter!”

“Come to us, we have information for you!”

“You don’t have to do this!”

“Don’t kill your baby!”

“Please come to us!”

And then, finally, with Ashley at their side, the couple pass into the building. I now see why we are needed, and I’m glad I’ve come.

Ashley returns to my side a minute later and, waiting for other cars, we get to talking. She, too, was raised in an evangelical home, and she, too, is now the black sheep in her family. She tells me that one escort was raised Mennonite, and that another escort actually years before founded a Students for Life chapter in her high school. Our conversation reminds me of what my supervisor told me when I told her during training that I had grown up pro-life: “We get that a lot.” As we are conversing, the protesters begin yelling again.

“You think you’re helping women, but you’re not!”

“You’re leading them into a slaughterhouse!”

“The blood of those babies will be on your heads!”

I turn to Ashley. “Are they yelling at us?

“They do that when there’s a lull,” she tells me. “Don’t let it get to you. I just try to laugh it off, but it makes some of the other escorts really angry. Remember not to respond to them. Our policy is to not engage.”

I nod, and turn my back toward the protesters. I listen as I am compared to Hitler, and to Adam Lanza. After a few minutes, car pulls up, and I move toward it. Two young women get out, and the protesters start yelling again.

“Please don’t kill your baby!”

“You deserve better than this!”

“Come to us, we can help!”

I introduce myself quickly and tell the women that they don’t have to listen to the protesters. I walk them to the door, and learn that they’ve come from two hours away, because this was the nearest clinic.

In the process of taking them in, I learn something else. This place is set up as a fortress. There are double doors at the entrance, and the second one is locked. You have to buzz in. This confuses me because that second door was open when I was there earlier in the week for training. It’s only locked, it seems, during the one day each week when abortions are performed.

Back outside, I look around with newfound appreciation for the location’s setup. In addition to the locking double doors, the building is outfitted with numerous security cameras and there is a privacy fence around the side entrance. When I came for training I had gone to the front door, which opened onto the sidewalk, only to find it locked, and a sign asking visitors to use the side entrance. I now understand why that is: if patients used the front entrance, the protesters could stand all along the sidewalk, follow patients, and get right in their faces. Now, all the protesters can do is yell. I try to imagine what it must be like to escort at clinics that have no option but to open onto public sidewalks, or at clinics with public parking lots.

Another car pulls in, and then another. Some cars park closer to the protesters than others, and some of the cars have crosses hanging from their rear view mirrors. Ashley and I take turns walking women in, studiously ignoring the yells of the protesters. Sometimes women arrive alone, but more often they have someone with them: a significant other, a friend, a parent. Their reaction to the protesters varies.

“This is embarrassing,” says one.

“Don’t they realize that this is hard enough already?” asks another.

“They don’t know my situation,” says a woman with her face set.

“Oh my lord,” is all another can manage.

“For a moment I thought you one of them,” another says to me. I am once again glad that the protesters have to stay beyond the property line. At some clinics, I know, the protesters approach the cars wearing vests made intentionally to look like the vests worn by the escorts. Sometimes the vests are identical except that the protesters’ vests say “Parenthood” where the escorts’ vests say “Planned Parenthood.”

Yet most of the women are silent, engaging only in small talk about the weather or the drive, if they engage at all. Some are fierce and purposeful, others are withdrawn and nervous. While I avoid talking about what brings them here, I know that each one has a different situation and a different reason for being there. I also know that no amount of chit chat can fully drown out the protesters’ yells.

A man comes out of the clinic several minutes after I walked him in, a young woman at his side. He goes to his car, looking for a book or a pen. The protesters sense an opportunity.

“Sir, please don’t let them kill your baby!”

“Men are supposed to protect women and children, not hurt them!”

“Your child already exists! Don’t kill your son or daughter!”

The man turns to the protesters and responds, though I cannot hear his words. He is clearly agitated. After a short back-and-forth, he turns away from them, returning their calls with a terse “Don’t talk to me!” He turns to where I stand watching, ready to be on hand if I’m needed.

“How can you just stand there and listen to this?”

I think for a moment and then respond. “Someone has to,” I say.

“Look,” he says, “everyone is entitled to their own opinions. And even I don’t think it’s always right. It’s just, there are some situations…” he looks at me, his eyes pleading for understanding.

“I know,” I say.

The morning moves on. The protesters stay, I stay, and the patients keep coming.

As my shift draws to a close, a car pulls in. In it are four burly middle-aged men, and no women. Ashley and I look at each other apprehensively, and then we both look at the police car several spots away, as if to make sure that it is still there. My stomach knots in fear.

“There are no women,” Ashley says. “What are they doing here?”

And I know that she is thinking the same thoughts I am, about the times clinics have been bombed or employees and volunteers shot. In 1994 a clinic escort was shot and killed while doing his job. I know this, and I am sure Ashley knows this too. As the men get emerge from their car, I feel afraid as I have never felt before, and I wish the police officer would get out of his car and make his presence felt.

“Do you have business at Planned Parenthood?” Ashley asks. I can tell she is having to make an effort to keep her voice steady.

“We’re here to do some electrical work,” one of them responds nonchalantly.

I exhale, but I’m still worried. The men men have no uniforms and the car is not marked. Ashley turns to me.

“I’ll walk them in just to, to make sure,” she says under her breath. She takes the first man inside while the other three begin unloading equipment from the car. I watch, looking for anything that looks like a gun, and deliberating on the best direction to run, just in case. Still the police officer stays in his car. Ashley returns a minute later.

“I talked to the receptionist, they were expecting them,” she says to me, and we both finally relax.

As it becomes clear to the protesters that the men are there to do some work, they begin yelling.

“You don’t have to do work here just because they ask you to!”

“Don’t you realize there are babies being slaughtered inside?”

“You can say no! You’re being a collaborator in murder!”

Suddenly, the protesters’ yells feel reassuring. The tension is gone and things have returned to normal. We’re okay.

Ashley checks the time on her cell phone and tells me that our shift is over. There will be no more appointments for abortions today, so we are no longer needed. The protesters will leave when we do. As we walk inside to turn in our yellow escort vests, there is one thing I know for sure and for certain: I’ll be back again next week.

The Biased . . . and the Confused
When Abortion Restrictions Mean Jail Time
Sad but True
The Totally Unoriginal Atheist Case against Abortion
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    Good job!! I hope things get better in the US so that people can go get abortions without being harassed like in other places. It was a really powerful piece =)

  • ako

    I’m impressed by your courage, and sad that it’s necessary.

  • Nea

    We had one particularly crazed protestor who had a long and earnest discussion with one of her colleagues as to weather we escorts worshipped demons or were demons ourselves. It was amazing what that one would yell at us…

  • Nea

    *sigh* whether. Predictive text got away from me.

  • http://itsbetterthanyours.blogspot.com AndersH

    Clinic protests are completely foreign to me over here in secular Sweden and fills me with horror! But it warms my heart to read how people do their best to help others to get the healthcare they’re entitled to. Well done!

    • Judy L.

      The clinic in Canada where I had my abortion is in a nondescript retail/medical office building, there are no protesters harassers to have to deal with but there is still tight security and multiple security measures to ensure the safety and privacy of the patients and staff.

      From what I’ve heard and read, having abortion services offered in hospitals rather than clinics in the U.S. would go a long way to reducing the protester harasser presence and targeted violence, but clinics offer more personalized service than do hospitals.

      • Christine

        There are clinic protestors in Canada, but I believe that there is a radius (including the public sidewalk) which they have to stay outside of, which makes it less effective. Also if they’re not careful what they do they can get arrested for harassment, so I suspect that any of the yelling would get them cleared out in a hurry.

  • http://www.twitter.com/nicoleintrovert Nicole Introvert

    Yep! Definitely sounds like a typical day volunteering as a Clinic Escort for me as well! The day after the Sandy Hook school shooting was the worst. One of the protestors yelled the same things at us, comparing us to the shooter. That was a very difficult thing to experience, but I know what I am doing is much more important than words which I know for certain are not true. I’d rather them yell at me than the women seeking abortion options.

  • http://itsbetterthanyours.blogspot.com AndersH

    Also, did the Pope decide to resign (confirmed for Feb. 28) as a birthday present to me? Enquiring minds want to know!

  • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

    I’m curious about the Catholics and Protestants taking separate spots. Was this because each church gets assigned a their own plot of land , and they can’t go over to Catholic Territory (and vice versa)? Or was it just voluntary segregation on their part?

  • saramaimon

    Glad i live in new york

  • Christine

    And crazy behaviour like that is why I do not identify as pro-life. (My husband, who is also anti-abortion, once went up to a group of protestors and asked them just what the heck they were trying to accomplish, and how they thought they were making a difference. He’s a big believer in talking to people you disagree with, and even he feels that was a waste of his time.)

  • Saraquill

    Wow, that was tense just to read. How on earth do they think that stigmatizing volunteers, friends, family and patients is going to do any good?

    It must also be odd to hear all this when you’re going to PP for a pap smear or mammogram.

    • Christine

      Did you hear the outrage over the protestors who were singing “Happy Birthday Dead Baby” to the women who went in, including one who was there because she’d miscarried? (I personally would have gone into a rant about the celebrating the fact that I miscarried, and what did they do to cause it, and other completely bogus crazy stuff, which probably wouldn’t help, but descending to their level can feel oh so good temporarily)

      • saraquill

        I did, and I can not think well of those singers. Again, I fail to understand how this harassment and verbal abuse is supposed to be productive.

    • Rosa

      I got in a shouting match with a protester last time I went to a PP. She had no way to know what I was doing there, they provide a full range of services, but she seriously yelled at me “They’ll tell you to get an abortion for a hangnail!” and I just couldn’t not engage – it was only about a year after I nearly died of pregnancy complications having my son.

      I have so much respect for your ability to stay calm and helpful, Libby Anne.

  • picklefactory

    Is this something that it would be helpful for men to do? How did you get involved? This is something that I want to do.

    • Nea

      Google “abortion clinic escort [your city]” to wee what groups are working in your area. Men are welcome to be escorts. There will need to be training.

      If you already know of a clinic that has escorts, go up and ask them about their group. Sometimes we have flyers; we always can tell you the website to write down. And while you’re there… say thanks. It means a LOT when you’re cold/hot/tired/thirsty/have aching feet/have listened to “You stink of the blood of murdered babies” and/or “For the sake of his sorrowful passion” for two hours and someone comes up and says thanks.

      • Nea

        “See” I can’t type worth beans today!

  • http://republic-of-gilead.blogspot.com Ahab

    Kudos to you and your fellow clinic escorts! You make a world of difference for the people who have to walk through the gauntlet of protesters.

  • Sophie

    I think it is an amazing thing you are doing but I don’t really understand why abortions aren’t performed in hospitals. Surely that would be safer for the women, nurses and doctors? No one knows why you’re going into a hospital or what part of the hospital the doctor or nurse works in.

    • Nea

      A lot of hospitals in my area are run by Catholics, so no abortions.

      • Christine

        I’d still expect that the local non-Catholic hospital(s) would be a better place to go.

      • Rosa

        Most hospitals don’t want the liability, or to handle the scheduling conflicts of nurses & doctors & support staff that invoke “conscience clauses” to not do certain procedures. In some states, the only abortion providers fly in under heavy security at specific times because of anti-doctor terrorism.

        In addition, even with HIPAA, hospitals don’t have the same screening or security that abortion clinics do. I know I’ve told this story before, but a high school friend had an abortion at our local hospital and a staff member snooped in her file and called her parents. Since clinic staff work under constant threat of death or violence, and with the daily reality of social judgement of their work, there’s not likely to be that kind of security leak.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Sophie and Christine, if I remember correctly, you live in England and in Canada. So having abortions performed in independent clinics must seem strange to you, but let me explain how it is here. I absolutely agree that abortions would ideally take place in hospitals just like any other procedure, but I want to point out that that’s simply not how things work here, so it’s not like a woman has the option to go to a hospital rather than running the gauntlet at a clinic.

      Some states, such as Louisiana for example, have banned abortions from taking place in any hospitals. Many communities only have a Catholic hospital, and those will of course not perform abortions. In the end, out of a total 6,000 hospitals in the United States, only 600 actually perform abortions.

      But even at those 600 hospitals that actually perform abortions, things are not quite that simple. Even though hospitals make up 34% of total abortion providers, they perform only 4% of all abortions. Back in 1973, in contrast, 80% of abortions were performed in hospitals.

      So why are so few abortions performed in hospitals? One reason has to do with the results of aggressive anti-abortion groups’ tactics. Most doctors do not perform abortions, some for moral reasons, some because they don’t want to become a target for (very literal) death threats, and some because they do not have the skills needed because medical schools are starting to make abortion training optional. In other words, even in states where abortions are allowed to take place in hospitals, there are often problems with finding doctors to perform them.

      This doctor shortage is a problem for clinics as well, and in many states clinics will bring in a doctor from out of state to perform abortions one day per week. My local clinic only does abortions one morning a week because of this. It’s not uncommon for these doctors to work to hide their identities out of fear for their lives. I’ve read stories of abortion doctors entering clinics wearing Halloween masks because of this.

      In other words, it’s not the sort of situation where a woman has an actual choice of going to the local hospital or a clinic.

      This New York Times article has some additional information.

      • Christine

        See, I knew that Catholic hospitals could still have maternity wards in the US, and I suspected that no one would stop them from being the only hospital in the area (due to the government being evil so it should never dictate anything, or something). I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that there are Catholic/other conservative religious medical schools. But aren’t there state boards for doctors’ credentials? A national society/college of Obstetricians/Gynecologists? (Apologies if I misspelt that, I don’t spell in American well, and Google doesn’t help with that)

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        I don’t know enough to answer all of that exactly, Christine, except to say that I think there’s a battle going on over all that right now. My understanding is that pro-life medical students don’t want to be have to be trained in how to perform abortions, and that they’re fighting those requirements. It may be a state to state thing, I really am not sure except to know that it’s an issue. The trouble with pro-life students saying they don’t want to be trained in abortion is the life of the mother thing—even if they opt not to perform abortions, if I show up pregnant and miscarrying and dying, I would like to be able to know that the doctors on duty at least know how to help me.

      • Niemand

        In New York, all obstetrics and gynecology residencies are required to provide mandatory training in abortion before any resident can complete the program. This makes sense to me. Even if an OB has no intention of ever including elective abortion in his or her practice, any OB should be able to perform an emergency abortion to save the life of the mother. Anyone not willing to do so should choose a different specialty. I wish family practice residencies had a similar requirement since it’s not unusual for an FP to be the only one around in a small town and they should also know how to save a life by providing an abortion, even if they’re unwilling to provide elective abortions.

      • Christine

        My friend wants to be a GP on on her OB rotation she refused to attend an abortion (elective I believe). While she wasn’t out-and-out told that she wouldn’t be able to be an OB because of that, the end result was that she was “strongly discouraged” from doing so, with an official recommendation to that effect. i.e. she wasn’t going to be able to do so. Just like it’s never been said that the reason the Catholic hospital doesn’t have a maternity ward is because they won’t do abortions, but they lost that ward just about when abortions were made legal. Polite fiction.

        I don’t know if my friend had to learn how to do a D&C, or abortion-specific procedures, but I think that comes under the extra, specialist, education she’d need if she wanted to be an OB.

      • Niemand

        Christine, in New York, it’s overt: you simply can’t pass a NY OB/GYN residency without obtaining competence in abortion techniques. I wish this were a national level rule, i.e. that ACOG would demand it. Because, realistically, a person not competent to perform at least emergent abortions is not competent to be an OB.

      • Sophie

        Thank you for the reply! I’m not 100% sure but I think that in the UK most early abortions are performed as outpatient procedures in hospitals, whereas a late term abortion would require inpatient care. We do have private clinics, which do get used because often you have to wait to get an abortion on the NHS. Like every procedure performed on the NHS, there is a waiting list.

        We don’t have a particularly active pro-life movement here, although recently I’ve started to notice some pro-life groups featuring in the news. There has been such a group lobbying hard against the changes in the law to allow for gay marriage. Their literature is both hilarious and terrifying. They seem to think allowing same sex couples to marry will cause more abortions!

        During my nursing training we were told that we could refuse to be part of the abortion procedure if it was an issue we didn’t agree with but we could not refuse to care for the patient pre or post the procedure. The same for IVF. Some of the Christian girls I trained with objected very strongly to this idea, saying that it would be offensive to them and that they would be unable to hide their judgement. Our lecturer told them that if they felt that way then they had no business becoming nurses! I think the same rules apply to doctors. As medical professionals we often come across things that we do not understand or don’t agree with but we always have to treat the patient with respect and provide them with the best care possible. I do not understand people who go into a caring profession who then refuse to care for a woman at one of the most vulnerable times of her life.

      • Judy L.

        Libby: Abortion services are offered in Canada in both hospitals and stand-alone clinics and are covered under provincial health insurance. When I needed an abortion, my GP recommended going to a clinic rather than a hospital because I would receive better care at a clinic (she cited a greater likelihood of receiving better pain management and more personal service than I would get in hospital). I’ve had a lot of medical intervention in my life and the level or care and service I received at the clinic was phenomenal. One of the benefits of no waiting periods and abortion-on-demand services is that women who choose to terminate their pregnancy can do so early, and early abortions can be performed manually (requiring no special electrical equipment) using techniques that are minimally invasive.

    • sara maimon

      Late term abortions must be performed in a hospital but early abortions are perfectly safe in a clinic setting. There are many many types of minor surgery that are performed in an outpatient setting, not just abortion.
      People choose between abortion facilities the same way as they choose any other medical care- who is covered by their insurance, if no insurance who is cheaper, reputation of the doctor, previously attending the same clinic, first available appointment and so forth

      • sara maimon

        i was in and out of the private clinic for my abortion in not much more than an hour. would have made no sense to go to a hospital.

      • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

        It may not be the same in the US, but here in Canada, hospitals do a ton of day surgeries and outpatient procedures (for example, the hernia-repair surgery my daughter had at Sick Kids when she was 5 months old; the chemotherapy treatments I had about 17 years ago) — having something done in/by a hospital doesn’t necessarily mean being admitted to an overnight bed. (In fact, because our hospitals are publicly funded, and because the research consensus seems to be that most people in most cases recover better in their home environment,* developing ways to treat more patients more effectively with fewer hospital admissions is a big thing in Canada right now.)

        Just to clarify that Canadians may not mean the same thing by “performed in a hospital” :)

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

    It’s really great that you’re doing this!

    I’m also intrigued by the separation of Catholics and Protestants, and their separate approaches to harassing people. Do they just self-segregate? I thought the most chilling moment was when they started yelling at the man who came out to his car. They were basically saying, “Exercise your manly control over your woman and stop her from making her own decisions!” Ugh.

  • Bez

    Escorting is a great use of volunteer time, and I think that every pro-choice person should do it for a little while. I used to do escorting for 2 clinics in Chicago. These were both ones that opened onto the sidewalk itself, so things were considerably more tense than what is described here. At one, the clinic was in a corner unit and the parking lot used was actually across a side-street. During heavy protest times, they would literally ring the sidewalk in front to prevent people from coming in. Our instructions were to get people through the ring, and to engage if they put their hands on any one (we were not allowed to carry any type of weapon at all, and most of us actually emptied our pockets into a drawer at the reception desk). Most of the escorts were big, male, biker types for exactly this reason. Most commonly, they would refuse to move when asked, forcing us to physically shove past them. More than once, patients or I (or both) were grabbed in an attempt to keep us out. I was also stabbed in the shoulder once as well.

    The other clinic was better off because they had a private lot in the back and gave patients the option of coming in through the door there. They still had their fair share of incidents. Most commonly there, protesters would force an escort to shove past them and then try to get them arrested for assault.

    • sara maimon

      isn’t it illegal to block an entrance?

      • http://itsbetterthanyours.blogspot.com AndersH

        I suppose it is, but the problem is enforcement: unless a police officer is there all the time, it would be easy enough to stop a lot of procedures over the course of a day by making the clinic repeatedly call the police.

      • Bez

        Thing is, they weren’t blocking the entrance per se. They would line up along the public sidewalk whenever they saw someone coming. As long as they weren’t touching the building, they were within the law. We also rarely had police presence. Normally, it would be part of the local beat route, so the cop would drive past every couple of hours or so. We did get priority if we called (or so we were told). Any time there was a major incident, they would step it up for a few days or weeks. When I had my incident, they actually posted an officer in a car right outside for about 2 weeks. I was told that he was there both because these loonies tend to get bold after an incident, and to make sure that the escorts didn’t decide to get a little more revenge (that was one of the times that we definitely engaged, to defuse any threat and to hold while the police arrived with a bit of revenge thrown in. I was doing a good service and some crazy jerk went and stabbed me…)

  • http://ramblingsofsheldon.blogspot.com Sheldon

    I admire your courage in doing this, Libby Anne.

    I remember growing up fundamentalist, my parents never wanted me to protest at clinics, even they were scared of some of the extremists that used to show up the clinics. Some even thought is was a great idea to not loony picket the abortion clinic (it drew lunatics from all over the St Louis area to protests), but my town’s annual Christmas parades too, with bloody signs that allegedly depicted aborted fetuses.

    Most of the protestors are gone now, the Christmas parade protests were the final straw for most residents, the reaction from residents became so hostile that it eventually scared them off.

  • http://ramblingsofsheldon.blogspot.com Sheldon

    Grrr.. my last comment had some spelling errors, I shouldn’t have tried to type in a hurry….

    • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

      I dunno: typing “loony” for “only” kinda works ;-). I mean, the Christmas Parade FFS? That’s Phelps-grade crazy.

  • HelenaTheGrey

    In high school, when I was still part of the pro-life movement, I remember my pro-life Christian history government teacher telling us a story about a gal he knew who was going into a clinic (this was in the 90s). Her baby had died and she needed to go for a DNC (I believe) and on her way into the clinic, the protestors not only threw insults at her, but they also started throwing blood at her. Here she was, grieving over the loss of her pregnancy, and having the insult of baby killer lobbed at her, being told she was going to hell, and then being covered in blood by these people. My teacher used it as an example of where people who have good intentions actually become worse than the people they are condemning. And in my mind, I never looked at the movement the same way from there on out. While I still held to my beliefs that abortion was wrong for a long time, I could no longer identify with a movement that would do such vile and horrible things to get their point across. Lately, my conservative friends have been posting this meme that says, “If you have an abortion ti doesn’t make you not a mother, it just makes you the mom of a dead baby.” It enrages me every time I see it.

    • PetraLorre

      That meme is so vile. How do they suppose women who’ve had miscarriages are reacting to that? How about women whose children have died? Vicious.

      • Kiki

        Since I honestly believe that many of them hate all women I don’t think it gives them pause at all.

    • Rosa

      iirc, these people sued Operation Rescue for emotional distress (it may have been another couple, this was unfortunately a common Operation Rescue tactic in the ’90s. I don’t know how many Iowa cases there were – the time frame & place on this one fit my memory)


      WHEN SHE AWOKE THE MORNING OF Aug. 28, Karen Thomas Stewart thought she couldn’t feel much worse. Just six days earlier, the 30-year-old Des Moines clothing store clerk had suffered a miscarriage. Now more than anything, she wanted to forget the agony. “I was hurting. I needed to heal,” she says, sobbing. “I was terrified. I thought I could have died. I was bleeding so much I felt I might.”

      Then the mail came. In among the bills and circulars Stewart found a two-page letter from Operation Rescue, the controversial antiabortion group best known for blockading clinics. The letter informed her, among other things, that “the guilt of having killed one’s own child may only be relieved by God’s grace…” and that “God’s curses for the shedding of innocent blood include barrenness and disease, as well as economic and family hardships and even death.” As she read the letter, Stewart was both repelled and enraged. “It brought my miscarriage up all over again,” says Karen, who shares a two-bedroom cottage with husband Forest, 32, a high school music teacher. “It made me sick.”

      Stewart received the letter because when she began to cramp and bleed, she had sought the advice and treatment of gynecologist Herbert Remer at his Windsor Heights, Iowa, office.

    • Lizzy

      I recently testified to my state legislature in opposition of a fetal heartbeat bill. A woman on the newspaper article about it gave me the crap about not having ended a pregnancy but rather becoming the mother of a dead baby. She also added that she’s sad that my baby didn’t have the chance to be loved and cherished. She probably revels in the idea that it hurts me or makes me feel guilty, but all I can feel is rage at somebody who presumes to know a goddamned thing about my life other then the fact that I had an abortion.

    • Niemand

      they also started throwing blood at her.

      How is that not assault?

  • rizarosette

    This made me want to volunteer. I’m moving soon, and when I get settled in I want to help. I’ve bookmarked the Planned Parenthood link.
    You’ve inspired me.

  • http://www.quicksilverqueen.com Anne — Quicksilver Queen

    I’m so glad you wrote about this! I’ve only ever read the pro-”life” propaganda that said all escorts were fat, bitter middle-aged chicks who forced young women into the clinic. Ugh. (Oh that was coming from a “peaceful protester”.) Even my father in law has been arrested for protesting (peacefully, I’m told) a clinic. I would totally volunteer except for the lack of car and that none of the PP’s in my area do abortions.

    • Nea

      For “forced young women into the clinic” read “open the clinic door and say “You don’t have to talk to the protesters if you don’t want to.” I’ve been told that I’m “forcing” and “intimidating” the women just by opening that door.

      For what it’s worth, I am fat and middle aged, though! :)

  • machintelligence

    I can see why the work crew didn’t arrive in a company truck. They were obviously trying to limit splash damage. It would have been nice to inform the escorts that they were coming, though.

    • http://Patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I hadn’t thought of that! As for not informing the escorts ahead of time, the guys arrived five minutes before our shift was over, and ours was the last shift. So they were probably not supposed to come till we were gone.

  • Katerina

    Libby Anne this doesn’t have anything to do with clinic escorts and but it is about abortion and I’d like to get your perspective.

    When you were pro life, what would your viewpoint have been for parasitic twins? Parasitic twins are “alive” in that they grow and are the product of human sperm and egg. In some cases they’ve had mild brain activity. It seems to me that you hold that life begins at conception it would only be fair to view the seperation(and inevitable death of the parasitic twin) as murder and that the rights of the parasitic twin to live trump the rights of the host twin to own its own body.

    I wish more pro choicers would use this in their debate against pro lifers who claim that life begins at conception and that the rights of the concieved embryo trumps the rights of the woman. It would be interesting to see pro life justification(if there is any).

    Now that I have that out of they way; Thank you for volunteering! I hope more clinic escorts, workers and women who have had abortions tell their story. I think pro choicers have been silent or on the defensive for to long. I live in Louisiana and when abortion comes up at school(I’m 16) only the pro life kids speak up and even though people tell my privately they agree, they don’t want to say it and have people think of them as a “baby killer”. You are my hero!

  • adam.b

    Wow, I don’t have anything to say really other then I admire your bravery and resolve, I’m a pretty big guy who most people see as being calm and put together but I could easily see myself breaking down over abuse like this.

  • jose

    Americans are nuts.

  • BabyRaptor

    I had to deal with a group of protesters when I went for my abortion. And I went alone, because my fiance lives across the country.

    There’s really no tuning out what they’re yelling at you, at least if you’re the target. I knew they were wrong, and I was still in tears by the time I made it to the door.

    The things they were yelling got even more offensive as I was walking out, and I went over and had words with a couple of them. My situation was complicated, but this is the short version of it: One test would come up positive, the next would be negative. Two weeks later, the same thing would happen. After a month and a half of this, I finally went to Planned Parenthood. In an ultrasound, we discovered that the fetus had no heartbeat and had stopped developing sometime ago, and for some reason I hadn’t miscarried. An emergency abortion was scheduled, as we had no idea how long things had been the way they were and infection was an imminent risk.

    Upon my exit from the building, they started yelling at me about how I’d just murdered my poor, sweet innocent child, and I was a whore, and God was going to judge me. I sort of lost it. I went over and started talking at the protesters, telling them that the procedure they were condemning me for had likely saved my life, and that the fetus was already dead before I even knew for sure I was pregnant, and did they know how much they were torturing me? Could they at least be assed to make sure they’re not further provoking a woman whose already convinced she did something horrible (I suffered guilt for awhile that somehow I had been the cause of the “death” of the fetus), ETC? Lots of not happy words.

    The response I got floored me. A woman looked me in the eye and said that if their yelling saved even one “innocent angel,” all the pain and suffering they caused by spewing their hate and lies was “nothing compared to the good they’d done.”

    I had to walk away to avoid beating the woman and landing myself in jail.

    • Nea

      I’m so sorry you went through that.

      But for the yellers, it’s completely stimulus=response. See a woman, start yelling at her. I’ve seen them call at women who are so far pregnant that they’re obviously there for prenatal care demanding that she not kill her baby. They yell at women going in for aftercare. They usually scream at me to not kill my innocent baby until I pull my orange vest on… and this is from protesters who’ve seen me on shift for months. Women, quite literally, are not people – they are things to be yelled at.

    • Eve

      I’m so, so sorry. Going through that and then still having the strength to be the bigger person and walk away is incredible. That said, I would have bailed you out of jail and given you a hug.

  • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

    There are a couple of problems with this fictional (or at least semi-fictional) account.

    Planned Parenthood expected the electrical workers but didn’t bother telling the escorts until after the electrical workers arrived? That seems like something Planned Parenthood would have told the escorts, doesn’t it? Seems rather cruel to me to have electricians due in (4 of them, really?) and not tell the escorts.

    A cop sits there the whole time? At a location where the patients are separated from the protesters? I don’t believe that for a second. Speaking of, why are there escorts at a location with a private parking lot?

    Libby Anne memorized 2o+ separate quotes from the prolifers? Along with numerous quotes from patients and the others? Amazing.

    You all are being catfished so bad.

    • Rachel

      Actually, there’s a very good reason to have an escort even when there’s a private parking lot: you can still see and hear the protesters when you’re walking in. The whole point of having an escort is so that someone can be there supporting you when the protesters are there.

      Also, as someone who has been on the administrative end of things, I totally believe that there could have been a miscommunication — that electrical workers were expected, the receptionist should have told them, but it slipped their mind because of a busy day.

      Honestly, that was the part of Libby’s entry that rang the most true to me — the Planned Parenthood I went to shared a building with a college, so there weren’t protesters allowed outside (they protested by the nearest subway stop instead), so I wasn’t escorted in. I remember the utter panic I felt when I was in the elevator going up, having already pushed the button for my door, and a man entered, a big guy, and he could see I was going to the PP floor and _he didn’t push a separate button_. I had thirty seconds of desperately trying not to have a panic attack, wondering if this guy was going to attack me (verbally or physically) for going to PP…and I was going for my pap smear because I didn’t have insurance.

      In the end, he got off on the same floor as me and went to some other room, not at all concerned with me, and I went to be buzzed in past the security door, still panicked. This is real. The fear of a stranger when you’re there is so real.

    • Niemand

      Not so amazing that Libby Anne was able to memorize or at least paraphrase 20+ anti-woman quotes:
      1. They’re pretty simple and repetitive statements. The “pro-life” crowd has nothing complex or thoughtful to say. It’s not hard to memorize their simplistic chants.
      2. The ironically self-named pro-life movement is made up of people who proudly proclaim their willingness to murder anyone involved in abortion care. It’s easy to remember what people who threaten to kill you say.
      3. Libby Anne used to be one of the brainwashed women who participate in their own enslavement. She has a background knowledge of what is likely to be said. Perhaps she paraphrased a little: maybe the wording was a little different, but I doubt that the content is wrong.

      • phantomreader42

        You have to realize, LyinJ is a compulsive pathological liar. This renders him incapable of recognizing that other people are capable of telling the truth, because he could not tell the truth if his life depended on it. The fact that he claims to be “pro-life” while supporting terrorism is just another of the lies he has built his life around because he is utterly incapable of honesty.

    • BabyRaptor

      You DO realize that abortion clinics are often the target of terroristic actions, right? You know, with how many doctors/nurses are injured or killed, how often the places are bombed, ETC? It would make sense for a cop to be onhand, especially if there was a history of previous violence at the clinic.

      Also, did it occur to you that maybe Libby took notes in the downtime? Carrying a small notepad and a pen isn’t that hard or uncommon.

      Being separated by space doesn’t stop things from happening. It doesn’t stop what the protesters are saying from harming the women, and it certainly wouldn’t stop someone who got so irrational as to decide to ignore the space law and confront a patient or try and access the building. The pro-forced birther crowd already shows a blatant disregard for the law anyway, as well as a complete lack of desire to be a decent person, so why would you just assume the space rule will be followed?

      I wish the PP where I had my abortion hadn’t lacked volunteers. It would have made the process much easier on me.

      • Rosa

        Babyraptor, I didn’t say anything yesterday because I couldn’t make it not sound awkward, since I don’t know you, but I wish there had been a volunteer there for you too, or some other support person. Your having to go the gauntlet alone makes me really sad.

    • phantomreader42

      What a surprise, LyinJ keeps falsely accusing others of lying so he can keep spewing moronic lies for the glory of his monstrous fetus-fetishizing cult of hatred and death. How very christian of him!

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        When you use the term “fetus-fetish” you remind me of the people who used the terminology “n*****-lover” to describe people who favored civil rights for African-Americans.

        You also don’t seem to understand the definition of lying. Lying is not me saying something Phantomreader disagrees with or doesn’t believe is true. Lying is not saying something which is factually incorrect. Lying is saying something you know to be incorrect. So I would only be “lying” about Libby Anne if I actually knew or believed she was telling the truth.

      • phantomreader42

        So, LyinJ, you think that if you falsely compare me to your racist ancestors, I’ll stop calling you out on your sick worship of fetuses (until they’re born, after which you couldn’t possibly care less and will actively fight to deny them food, shelter, and healthcare) and your utter contempt for actual living breathing women? You think this feeble, moronic attempt to libel your critics will somehow magically erase the fact that you have not ever had even the slightest speck of evidence to support your lies? You really are getting desperate!

        Your fetus-fetishizing death cult was started to promote segregation, so your laughable attempt to project your cult’s own racism on me only makes it more obvious that you’re a dishonest idiot.

      • Anat

        False analogy, JivinJ. You are comparing those who sought equality for people of all races to those who wish to grant to the unborn the special right to use bodies of the born without consent.

      • Niemand

        When you use the term “fetus-fetish” you remind me of the people who used the terminology “n*****-lover” to describe people who favored civil rights for African-Americans.

        Interesting that that’s where your mind goes. Do you see African-Americans as completely passive beings who have no ability to speak, live independently, or even think? Because that’s the only way your analogy makes any sense.

      • phantomreader42

        So, let’s recap:

        LyinJ accuses Libby Anne of lying, without the slightest speck of evidence, an accusation he has made repeatedly in the past and has never so much as attempted to back up.

        I point out that LyinJ is lying, as usual, as his cult demands.

        LyinJ makes a feeble attempt to call me a racist, while himself supporting a racist death cult. He still does not even attempt to back up his accusations against Libby Anne, myself, or anyone else with any evidence at all.

        LyinJ whines that I’m not allowed to call him a liar unless I can prove to his arbitrary satisfaction that he knew what he said was false, in a desperate and futile attempt to hide from the fact that he has offered not a speck of evidence in support of his lies and is acting with reckless disregard for the truth. Note that his whining that I need to meet an impossible burden of proof to call him a liar stands in stark contrast to his refusal to meet any burden of proof at all when leveling the same accusation against others. But of course that’s to be expected from a hypocritical pathological liar like LyinJ.

        I again point out how full of shit LyinJ is, and laugh at him.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ


        Interesting that that’s where your mind goes. Do you see African-Americans as completely passive beings who have no ability to speak, live independently, or even think? Because that’s the only way your analogy makes any sense.

        No. That argument would only work if you think every part of an analogy has to be completely the same. But that would mean it isn’t really an analogy.

        I think of that situation because the type of people who would call someone else a “n******-lover” think that accusing someone of loving African-American is a big insult. In the same way PhantomReader believes I am somehow insulted because he/she notes that I love the unborn. It takes a certain type of individual (typically a bully unable to provide reasoned arguments) to call someone a name and try to insult them for loving and attempting to protect a group of human beings.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        I don’t think you’re a racist and I never accused you of being one. I was trying to point out how pointless/illogical your attempt to insult me by using the term “fetus-fetish” was. I don’t worship the unborn. I don’t have an altar to them in my house and I don’t pray to them. I think they deserve legal protection. Believing some human beings deserve civil rights doesn’t mean you worship them.

        Despite my efforts, you still don’t seem understand the meaning of the term “lie.” Oh well.

        It’s interesting you use Dudley’s writing as a source. I think his work is rather pedestrian. I don’t think anything he writes would be published if he wasn’t raised evangelical. Kind of the same thing with Dick Morris. People only listen to him because he used to work for Clinton.

        Dudley’s idea that the prolife movement launched in the late 70′s/early 80′s is absurd. In Michigan, prolife groups worked to stopped a ballot referendum to legalize abortion in 1972. I find it odd that you’re willing to believe the prolife movement was completely founded on racist goals based on one uncited quote by Paul Weyrich.

      • phantomreader42

        LyinJ, don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. You know damn well what you said, and why, and your desperate attempt to hide from it once you were called out on how laughable is was isn’t going to help your utterly failed cause.

        You don’t really support civil rights for the unborn. You only use that as an excuse to DENY civil rights to WOMEN. Your fetish for fetuses is, in the end, only an excuse for vile, oppressive, inhuman policies that deny the basic humanity of women. You don’t really see fetuses as human, except in the sense of a human shield that you and your misogynistic terrorist death cult can hide behind.

        I understand perfectly well what lying is. Your constant repetition of falsehoods without even pretending to care that they are falsehoods qualifies, under the “reckless disregard for the truth” standard for libel. Beyond that, you claimed to know things that you could not have known, which means that not only were the things you falsely claimed to know false, but you knew perfectly well that your claim to know them was also false. By any sane definition, you have been lying for months. And if we use your arbitrary INsane definition (by which only a telepath is allowed to accuse anyone else of lying), then (since you are not a telepath) your OWN accusations against Libby Anne fall apart, and that makes those accusations YET AGAIN A PACK OF LIES!

        Your whining about my sources is laughable, considering that the only source you’ve offered for YOUR claims in all these months is the testimony of the voices in your head.

        I see Libby Anne has tired of your false accusations, and will no longer allow you to post libel with impunity. That means there is no further need to call you out on your dishonesty, as you will no longer be able to post dishonest garbage. Goodbye, and good riddance.

    • Bez

      Well, JivinJ, Libby Anne and others that do this work (including myself in the past) are there precisely to protect innocent women who may or may not be there for an abortion (only 3% on average) or one of the other myriad women’s health services that PP provides (97% of their actual business, on average) from people exactly like YOU. They have to be protected because these people think nothing of shouting insults and physically attacking people. People like ME, who was there to protect women (sisters, mothers, daughters, wives) from people like YOU. People like YOU who thought it was acceptable to STAB me.

      In short, shut the face.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        I don’t think it’s acceptable to stab people. Why would you think I do?

        Abortion is 3% of Planned Parenthood unbundled services, not customers. The customer number is more like 10%. Abortion revenues are much higher than 3% of their business.

        I’m quite doubtful of the veracity of Libby Anne’s story. Typically, escorts are used at facilities where there isn’t a private parking lot.

      • Niemand

        Abortion revenues are much higher than 3% of their business.

        Hmm…that couldn’t possibly be because abortion is a relatively expensive procedure and so the charges for one abortion are higher than for 10 appointments for birth control counseling and administration, could it? Nah…

    • Christine

      JivinJ, if you would have a hard time memorizing the number and type of statements that Libby reported, you should know that it’s not normal. If it makes your life difficult, it might be worth seeing a specialist. It’s not you being unreasonable, it’s you having a handicap.

      Everyone else, stop acting like it’s reasonable to think that the statements Libby reported couldn’t be remembered. We’re talking about a grown woman here, not a little kid. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect her to be able to remember something like that (especially when they’ve been repeated), and trying to “justify” it implies that you doubt that Libby could do it.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        You can keep telling yourself that Christine. The problem is you’re reading and believing the blog of someone who is writing a fictional account. Libby Anne was never the president of the Students for Life group (she knows about the prolife movement as a sheltered pro-choicer would), she didn’t magically completely change her worldview on abortion in one day after reading a pro-choice study (which she likely never actually read), and in all likelihood she’s not escorting at a clinic.

        I know you want to believe it’s true but it’s not. When prolifers protest at clinics, the protestants and the catholics don’t separate themselves. A cop doesn’t sit in a private Planned Parenthood parking lot for a whole morning every week. In places where clinics don’t have private parking lots, the cops don’t monitor the protests for a whole morning. And people don’t memorize 20+ quotes word for word over the course of a morning.

      • Anat

        JivinJ, do you know for a fact that any of your accusations is true? IANAL but this sounds very close to libel.

      • Christine

        JivinJ, all I commented on was the fact that your memory problems are a problem, not anything else that was said. If you are still in school, you should get evaluated for a learning disability, as then you will stop being penalized for not being able to memorize things as well as other students. Even if you have graduated by now, a learning specialist can help you with coping skills. My husband was diagnosed as a child, and he is only functional because of the tricks he was taught. If he persisted in believing that everyone else’s memory worked the same way that his did, and that he was lazy/stupid/cheating to use the tricks that he does he would probably suffer from depression and anxiety.

        Remember, Libby is in the humanities. And, based on what I’ve read on her blog, her early education involved a lot of memorization as well. I would be very worried if she wasn’t able to remember 20 or significantly more phrases that were repeated over and over. Especially as this was over a significant amount of time, and none of them were very complex. I’d be horrified if my 12-year-olds couldn’t memorize what Libby has repeated here under similar (although hopefully less emotionally fraught) circumstances.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Dude, the question of whether or not it’s possible to memorize 20 quotes is irrelevant, even though that seems to me to be not at all a particularly impressive feat when you hear the same ones repeated for hours! Have you never heard of the concept of “paraphrasing?” It’s allowed. Just sayin.’

        And I am sure the level of police surveillance heavily depends on the likelihood of threat. This is going to vary wildly from place to place. You don’t know the area in which Libby is escorting so, seriously, just shut up.

      • Christine

        PP – I’m trying to avoid another cultural miscommunication here, so I’ll ask: are police-less protests common in the US? I think I’ve been to one without the police, but it was tiny – 50-100 people at the most. Or would this be different because it’s a “standing” protest, rather than a one-time thing?

      • Rachel

        JivinJ, the thing is, you can’t actually make a blanket assertion about any of those things. Libby Anne’s personal life and her history is her own to reveal as she chooses, but your other assertions are ridiculous blanket statements.

        “When prolifers protest at clinics, the protestants and the catholics don’t separate themselves.”

        How do you know this? It makes perfect sense that people would protest along with their group. I’ve been at many interfaith religious functions where people stay in a group with their denominations. It may not happen at every protest, but it is certainly feasible that it could.

        “A cop doesn’t sit in a private Planned Parenthood parking lot for a whole morning every week.”

        Again, how do you know this? If a place has been under threat, and if it is known abortions are occurring then, then yes, they do. This may vary from location to location, but just because you have not personally experienced it does not mean that it doesn’t happen. I have personally seen cops monitor buildings that are being protested.

        “In places where clinics don’t have private parking lots, the cops don’t monitor the protests for a whole morning.”

        Again, how do you know this? In my experience, police do generally monitor protests of any kind, whether it’s anti-abortion or Occupy. It may not be the experience you have protesting at your local health clinic, but this is true of my experience.

        “And people don’t memorize 20+ quotes word for word over the course of a morning.”

        Most people are capable of remembering what people shout at them, or of recalling specific conversations well after the fact. This is how human beings manage to do things like testimony. Or, in fact, remember conversations they had with their spouses the previous morning.

        Also, may I just say, I love this line: “I know you want to believe it’s true but it’s not.” This is, like Debi Pearl, a classic case of psychological projection. S/he wants to believe Libby is not telling the truth, so s/he’s focusing in on tiny details that don’t seem logical — but these details only seem illogical to JivinJ, a person who is predisposed to believe everything Libby Anne says is false. Guess who would be most validated by Libby Anne lying? JivinJ, of course. But Libby Anne tells the truth, and JivinJ’s bran can’t handle it. Possibly because JivinJ lacks the capacity to remember conversations from the previous morning.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Also, JivinJ, sorry to disappoint but I know Libby in real life and she listed me as one of her references when she decided to escort. I was personally contacted by her PP branch and provided a written reference for her. I can vouch for the truth of everything she has said.

        And anyway, your arguments are illogical. Why is it hard for you to believe that Catholics and Protestants would separate? They clearly have different methods of protest that are specific to their denominations. Did you not read the part where the Catholics are saying the rosary and reciting “Hail Mary?” Does that sound like something Protestants would join in on to you?

        Christine, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I don’t know the answer to your question. I am guessing that police-less protests are NOT common. But I was simply allowing for the fact that different communities might make different decisions about how much police presence to have at such things based on what they perceive the level of threat to be so JivinJ’s and Libby’s experiences could theoretically be different. But, honestly, I’ve seen police cars at protests that are far less contentious and less likely to result in violence than an abortion clinic protest so a police car parked outside PP for a morning? Really not hard to believe at all.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        I’ve been going to prolife events for years. I’ve never seen protestants and catholics separate themselves into two separate, distinct groups. My guess is that if Libby Anne actually went a clinic where there was a group of prolifers, most of them would be with 40 Days for Life and most of them wouldn’t be shouting.

        Again, I’ve been at, heard about, seen video of, various abortion clinic protests. It is highly unusual for a regular daily or weekly protest at a clinic to have a non-stop police presence. The police typically only show up if called up for some reason. The police aren’t going to keep showing up in a private parking lot for a regular protest which has never led to violence. The only way you think otherwise is if you have ignorant beliefs about such protests (something which Libby Anne stokes). Across the U.S. right now there are probably more than 100 abortion clinics where prolifers are present 24 hours a day and no violence is happening. Local cops typically don’t have the resources to provide a cop to sit in a private parking lot for a whole morning or day at a small continuous protest where no violence has occurred.

        The people who think otherwise are sheltered pro-choice individuals who have come to think of prolifers as violent.

        It also makes no sense that the protestors would all leave with the escorts. Sidewalk counselors often stay until after the abortions are performed and try to provide literature to post-abortion women.

        I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Libby Anne was an escort or escorted at some time in her life. I just don’t believe this story. It fits too perfectly with how a sheltered pro-choicer would see the prolife movement and reads very much like a fictitious account (in the same way her pro-choice conversion story and her claims about being a SFL president did).

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        JivinJ—I generally don’t get involved in my comment section, but I’m going to take a moment to address you and your comments. It’s strange that you think you can just waltz onto my blog and accuse me of lying and besmirch my character without so much as a la di da. Well, you’ve had your fun but that picnic is over.

        First, let me address what you’ve been saying in this thread. Look, I’m sorry you found my account of volunteering as an escort so unbelievable, but you’re simply going to have to broaden your understanding of what goes on at clinic protests, because it’s all true. Believe it or not, the fact that you have been to many clinic protests does not mean you have been to all. The simple reality is that different areas have different setups, and different areas have different populations of anti-abortion individuals, so there’s going to be variation. Feel free to disbelieve the story I tell in this post, but your objections here are silly.

        But there’s something more to be said. You appear to have made discrediting my story your mission, and while that’s totally fine, I don’t have to let you do that here on my blog. And in fact, what you are doing is violating my comment policy, which clearly states that you are to attack arguments, not people. Believe it or not, I don’t have to allow you to use my blog’s comment sections as a platform to call me a liar and a fraud, and I’m not going to.

        In the future, any comments you make here will go into moderation. If you are actually addressing arguments and following my comment policy, I will approve those comments. If not, I will delete them.



      • Bob Seidensticker

        Libby: Wow–you’re a lot more understanding with abusive commenters than I think I would’ve had the patience for. But good for you.

        Best wishes for a civil conversation that discusses issues, not people.

  • http://blogallthethingsblog.com Ann

    I enjoyed reading this. I often find your blog inspiring, Libby, and this one definitely stood out to me. Thanks for writing.

  • Niemand

    Please excuse the slightly off topic comment, but I’ve been thinking about what the world the “pro-life” movement says it wants would really be like.

    Start with taking it as a given that a fertilized egg is a person. Yeah, I know, but let’s not even argue about it for now: a one celled organism should have the same rights as a baby or an adult. But that’s not enough. If the rights of the zygote are the same as the rights of an adult, it doesn’t have the right to use another person’s body to live. Bodily autonomy is, for lack of a better term, sacred in current medical ethics. So, per the “pro-life” movement, that has to change. Bodily autonomy will no longer be first priority. People will now have the right to use other people’s organs or tissue if they need it to live or for improved quality of life/health.

    People won’t be forced to give a tissue sample to evaluate their blood type or HLA type. However, if they need blood and agree to a type and cross for transfusion or if they’ve ever donated blood in the past and therefore have a blood type on file, they have lost the right to refuse to donate, if their blood type is needed. Their own health doesn’t matter-if they’re anemic, dehydrated, in the middle of having a heart attack (which can be made worse by anemia and dehydration from blood loss)-too bad. The life of the recipient outweighs the risk to the life of the donor. There will be deaths, of course, but Halappanavar’s death didn’t deter the “pro-life” movement, so why should deaths of a few donors matter?

    Then there’s tissue donation. Again, no requirement to let yourself be HLA typed. But if you were typed because you wanted to give tissue or an organ to a friend or relative in need or even are just in the general marrow registry out of desire to help humanity at large, you can’t withdraw your consent, no matter what changes in your life or health may have occurred since the original consent was given. And if someone jumps you in an alley and forcibly takes a cheek swab-too bad. We all agree that that was a Bad Thing, but why penalize the innocent sick person just because someone else behaved badly? Also, if you’ve “accidentally” given tissue in another context-say, getting a liposuction-it can be typed. Didn’t consent to typing? Don’t be silly! You practically demanded that they take your tissue. Don’t like the consequences? Shouldn’t have been so vain!

    Again, tissue or organs could be taken without regard to the wishes or health of the donor. Got only one kidney? Too bad-someone else needs it! Had a bad reaction to anesthesia? Don’t be such a wimp! Think of the poor anephric person you’ll be helping! More deaths will result, but as before, leaders in the “pro-life” movement have said in so many words that they’re ok with that, that the chance of saving another person?

    Of course, more transplant and blood recipients will suffer too. Because the “pro-life” movement doesn’t believe in abortion for fatal fetal anomalies and so that also means that hospice and comfort care are right out the window. No one has the right to refuse treatment. Concerned about your surgical risk and feeling that you’d be better off on dialysis than trying for a transplant? Too bad: we’re shoving a kidney in whether you want it or not. Not up for another round of high dose chemo and bone marrow transplant when your leukemia comes back a third time? Tough. Stop whining-we’re helping you!

    In summary, if the “pro-life” rules were applied consistently to all people, the result would be a dystopian nightmare in which neither sick nor healthy people had a right to control their bodies. Where the government or other authorities had the right to force people to give up parts of their bodies and to take aggressive treatment whether they want it or not.

    Is this what they really want? I doubt it. But it’s the world they are trying to force on women. I’m sure a lot of people in the “pro-life” movement are sincerely concerned about fetuses, which they picture as cute, 3 month old babies, possibly with an ability to talk that they mysteriously lose at birth. But they’re advocating slavery and murder, intentionally or not. I don’t think anyone except maybe Fred Phelps would really LIKE the world that would result from their principles being applied consistently. We need to make people aware of the reality of what they are advocating is and at least allow them the opportunity to rethink their positions.

    • Rosie

      That’s extremely well-said. Thank you.

    • phantomreader42

      This is why I keep asking fetus-fetishists for their location and blood type and remarking that I know someone who needs a kidney. If they truly believed what they pretend to believe, they’d have no moral grounds to object to their organs being harvested without their consent. And yet, not ONE of them has ever even acknowledged the issue, because they don’t really believe their own bullshit, and everyone knows it.

      • Anat

        You need more than blood type match to donate a kidney safely, but that information is a start.

      • Niemand

        You can even sometimes transplant non-ABO blood typed matched organs, thought that’s not recommended. HLA (tissue) typing needs to be as close as possible, though. Sorry if my comment was confusing with respect to HLA versus ABO typing.

    • Anat

      Also, if an embryo is the same as a born human then every woman whose period arrives later or heavier than usual should be arrested and investigated as a murder suspect. (And if it was not caused by induced abortion but a miscarriage she might still be suspect of manslaughter – she may have done something that increased the chance of miscarriage.)

      And every sexually active woman from puberty to menopause whose lifestyle isn’t 100% ‘healthy’ is guilty of child endangerment. Arrest them all!

      • phantomreader42

        And every sexually active woman from puberty to menopause whose lifestyle isn’t 100% ‘healthy’ is guilty of child endangerment. Arrest them all!

        Even worse than that. Since women can be impregnated by rape (and patriarchical religion like that promoted by the fetus-fetishists encourages rape), even women who AREN’T sexually active would need to be kept imprisoned like livestock to prevent them from doing anything to endanger (non-existent) babies. Sadly, it’s not the least bit difficult to imagine fetus-fetishists jumping for joy at the prospect of all women stripped of human rights and reduced to brood mares. The only way that would differ from their usual rhetoric is that it would involve admitting that women actually exist. Not that they’re human, just that they’re THERE.

    • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

      Ah, you mean something like this then?

  • wren7

    Libby Anne, thank you, sincerely, for what you’re doing. I live in Texas, where, as many of you probably know, our extreme right-wing legislature and idiot governor Perry have gutted our state’s women’s health program just so they can de-fund Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas simply because some clinics perform abortions. Forget that PP provided a large portion of care for low income women in Texas, including cancer screenings and basic gynecological care and birth control (which of course prevents abortions). Now many women are without care or contraceptives.

    Texas Monthly magazine ran a cover story on this last year, and I read it, completely appalled. Experts have predicted the number of additional Medicaid births that will result due to the decreased availability of birth control, and the corresponding millions of dollars that it will cost Texas, but the politicians don’t care — they’re saving BABIES! I was so angry after reading the article that I called my local PP clinic and asked if I could donate monthly to a fund specifically to help pay for abortions for low income women, and the worker I talked to said yes, they actually have such a fund. I’ve been donating to it monthly ever since.

  • Desiree

    I couldn’t be an escort. I would probably want to punch out a few of the protestors. The thing that makes me the most angry is the protestors involving themselves in stranger’s private lives. They do not know the patients getting services at the clinc or what their appointment entails. The invasion of privacy is disgusting and why I have no respect for these type of “pro-lifers.”