It’s An Emergency

I’m glad to say I’ve been settling into NYC life fairly easily and seamlessly. Things are starting to feel familiar. The hundreds of people packed into a narroHudsonw subway car reminds me of the C1 ride during a class change. Running along the Hudson make me feel like I’m running on path along the river at home. The screeching and bustling of 14th Street that my apartment overlooks is becoming background noise. I’ve learned I can only buy at the grocery store what I am able to carry back five blocks to my apartment (which means I need to make special trips for watermelon, but it’s worth it). I even cracked the code that is the laundry payment system.

Yesterday morning was a typical one: April and Raissa knocked on my and Sai’s door a few minutes before we were actually ready to leave, we rushed out the door and into the concrete jungle and were on our way to Union Square Station. On the walk to the station, I chatted with Raissa while April and Sai trailed a few feet behind. Our conversation was briefly interrupted by ear-piercing sirens as an ambulance zoomed by, weaving through the dense traffic on 14th Street. Raissa looked at me and said, “I find the sight of cars moving out of the way for an ambulance so beautiful.”

I paused for a few moments to think about what she had said to me. I responded with a question, asking if it was because she knew someone who was suffering was about to be helped. Raissa answered my question and the conversation switched to a different topic.

I had never thought about a loud, bustling ambulance as a beautiful sight, but I understand it now. An ambulance is sent to someone who immediately needs help. For the vehicle to get to where it has to go, it requires the compliance of hundreds, maybe even thousands of people to stop what they are doing for just a brief moment and to clear a path. These people are unaffected by the situation to which the ambulance is answering and have no personal connection to it. They may think to themselves “someone is hurt” or “someone may be dying” and move out of the way. Regardless, they create a route that potentially will give someone an opportunity to be helped.

As I volunteered as Choices this past Saturday, I witnessed the stark contrast between the situation described above and what occurs when the protestors come. Each Saturday, people who are anti-abortion, known as “antis,” arrive outside the clinic in Queens by about 6:40 a.m. in anticipation of the women who will be arriving when the doors open at 7 a.m. As a Choices escort, I threw on a white coat and joined the protestors in lining the streets, awaiting the patients. My responsibility as an escort was to ensure the safety of the women as they entered the building. It sounds like a simple task, but it took some self-control, courage and the willingness to be slightly physical with the antis who were forcefully trying to hand women pamphlets and restrain them from entering the clinic. My years of experience playing basketball and lacrosse came in handy as I was playing defense on the antis, inserting myself between them and the patients.

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Just as thousands of Americans create a path daily for an ambulance to reach a person in need, I helped create a path for women to have safe access to healthcare. However, no one is physically restraining the drivers from clearing the way for someone in need. While these women entering the clinic were not necessarily emergency cases, the oppressive conditions in which they are entering urgently needs to be addressed and changed.

Due to these circumstances worldwide, women are hurt. Women are dying.

Who is going to help clear a path for them?

1 thought on “It’s An Emergency

  1. Wow Julia. This was very powerful. I loved the analogy or should I say opposite analogy? haha between the cars clearing the road for the ambulance and protestors blocking the way for the women who need medical care. I had never thought about this before but there really is something beautiful about how cars and pedestrians clear the way for an ambulance, especially in NY when it seems like everyone is always focused on getting somewhere.

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