1. The escorts
Hi, that’s me! Last Saturday 2 other Moxies and I went over to Queens to volunteer at Choices, the medical center for women run by Merle Hoffman (look her up, read her book, you NEED to know about this lady AKA watch the video at the bottom of the post) who we met on a toure our first week of this program. Choices offers women an insane variety of medical services, and regardless of how much money the women can come up with to pay for said services, NO ONE gets turned away. We’re talkin’ cancer screenings, birth control, pre-natal care, COLONOSCOPIES… but what really draws everyone’s attention to Choices is that it offers safe, legal abortions. And so, dun dun dun, there are obviously some people who cannot stand the thought of a woman, whether she be old, young, already-mother, virgin, slut, rape victim, or whatever, having the right to terminate her pregnancy. These people DO NOT like that Choices performs abortions, like they HATE abortions. Guess what? I ALSO HATE ABORTIONS. I 100% wish they were completely unnecessary. Not because of the procedure itself, it’s one of the safest, if not THE SAFEST surgical procedure that exists, but because, in this world, unplanned for, unwanted pregnancies happen and since I personally believe that the only thing worse than an unwanted pregnancy is an unwanted CHILD (ew & they cost a shit ton of money), I am SO SO SO grateful that medical centers like Choices can rid women of such undesirable situations. So last Saturday we went to the clinic and helped women get inside the door.
2. The protestors
Yes, exactly like the one you saw in Juno that told her “it has fingernails already.” In Juno, she was, in fact, discouraged from getting the abortion… and because it’s Hollywood and things always work out in love stories, it ended fine. Except I would have welcomed the presence of that protestor over any of the ones at Choices. They were not quiet, young females. They were older, many were male, and my gosh, their anti-choice protesting was much more aggressive. They really, really hate the escorts in a creepy-they-learn-your-name-and-smile-at-you-and-stand-really-close-to-you way. Skeevy, I had to shower for an hour that Saturday. A few stand holding massive posters of gory fetuses. Way more than you expect stand on the street. But I don’t just mean they stand on the street. I mean they make themselves a disruptive, aggravating presence to anyone (male, female, adult, 5 year old) who walks by. They hand out tiny pamphlets filled with misinformation (things like “death is a possible result of abortions” YAH IT WAS IN THE PRE ROE V WADE TIME WHEN ABORTION CENTERS WEREN’T AVAILABLE AND WOMEN WOULD DIE FROM ILLEGAL, BOCHED ABORTIONS PERFORMED BY SCAM ARTISTS OR THEIR STUPID BOYFRIENDS THAT LEFT THEM TO DIE AS SOON AS IT WENT WRONG) to absolutely everyone. One might even slip it into your seven-year-old daughters grip when you’re not looking.
3. The spectators
The protestors aren’t just handing out written, radical, religious jargon. They are verbally riling up any passersby to take a firm stance against Choices. Because talk about dead babies is quite alarming, they can sure gather a crowd. The spectators linger, peer, twist their heads in all sorts of directions to watch this propaganda war (and as I saw at the end of the day when Mary Lou, who the protestors call “Mary Lou The Marxist”, was trying to block a very large male protestor from taking pictures of a young woman while they were escorting her into the clinic- PHSYICAL war) between the creepy as fuck spectators and us, in the white coats, just tryna get women (and MEN and CHILDREN, cuz abortion clinics aren’t just places where 16 year old sluts go alone and ashamed) to the damn entrance.
Let me tell you about one spectator. Not only because he made me fear for my life, but mostly because he completely represented the evil tricks the protesters use. He was this guy… something was off… we think drunk cuz he was stumbling and his eyes were twitching and I don’t know, but BASICALLY, he was exactly the type of person the protesters feed anti-choice propaganda to. SO they fed him all these false facts and really graphic images and basically sent him over to me and another young, female volunteer. So for probably 5 minutes he stood like a foot from my face yelling and saying ALL THIS STUFF and I was just like SIR WE DON’T NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT PLEASE GET AWAY. Whatever, I don’t care, I realized he was pretty irrelevant in the whole political movement (Claire also mentions him in her recent blog post and gives some good details about how many kids he has and how he feels about child support). But what really pissed me off, AND SHOULD PISS YOU OFF, is that while he was doing this, one of the protesters stood about a yard away egging him on! Yes, she stood there repeating in a creepy monotone, “yes, isn’t that gross that they do that.” “Yeah, tell them how ungodly it is.” I hated her for abusing his vulnerability like that even more than him for spitting his ignorance all over me.
4. The patients
I don’t really want to talk about them too much, they get enough unwanted attention. Ugh, like don’t you just feel so bad for someone who wants safe medical treatments or maybe just wants to get a colonoscopy or maybe just wants like a pamphlet on how to plan their family/future??? I really hated standing on the sidewalk waiting from patients, but if the volunteers don’t go out there, the protestors could literally PHYSICALLY keep them from entering the clinic.
5. The people who will surprise you
I am not joking when I tell you that at the end of the day a very large man walked up to us and told us this beautifully logical explanation for why he has no anti-choice sentiments: He is a male and why should he have any say in what a woman does with her body and her health? We’re talkin’ an unprompted monologue that articulated exactly what I would ever want to hear from a man OR REALLY ANYONE regarding the logic of pro-choice. He had my heart. But then he said something surprising when one of the other volunteers asked him if he worked in the area: “No, I’m actually getting help from the methadone clinic around the corner. So yeah, obviously I’m not one to judge someone who falls upon a hard time. Like if a woman needs to have an abortion, GO FOR IT.” So here we were, starring into the eyes of one of the most reasonable men I have ever heard from. HE GETS IT. Maybe it’s so easy for these predominantly white, male, older politicians to think that if a woman is pregnant, it will allllll just work out. They really need to have a little more respect for the hard times.
Here is a video that shows the ins and outs of Choices… Listen to Merle, see the inside of the finished medical center, and stick around for the end for an unfortunately large showing of protesters.