[clipped for brevity - Bébinn]
Oh,God. This brings back memories. Painful ones. Once a month I used to volunteer to escort for the Feminist Women’s Health Center and the Atlanta SurgiCenter…
…BEFORE Janet Reno and the RICO lawsuit made it illegal to use force, threaten violence or physically obstruct someone from seeking an abortion.
When the overflow parking lot was across the street — and getting to the front door literally WAS like running the gauntlet.
People would block the sidewalks by linking arms (and we would dodge and weave and duck through like in some demented game of Red Rover).
…would brutally shove color photographs of late term fetuses and other non-related medical waste in the faces of women who were already terrified, just to up the gore factor.
…would scream and shout and curse the service seekers with everlasting damnation and torture in the bowels of hell as they quoted biblical passages like “For the Wages of Sin is Death” and “Thou Shalt Not Kill!” (but forgot all about the ones attributable to a Jesus that taught love and forgiveness) (and WOW they did not like it when you could quote back their own trespasses against them)(which was fun if there was no one needing an escort).
…would push the limits of assault statutes by holding hands and circling themselves around to a woman to HERD them away from/out of sight of the clinic (so they could be ganged up on with religious dogma and preached at until they gave up, in tears…or we could “rescue” them).
…would WRITE DOWN the license plate numbers of the women who needed services and then staple shame!posters in their neighborhoods announcing private personal healthcare business. I think this also happened to the employees of the clinic as well (I’m only guessing that they had a friend at the DMV, or maybe in the Police? I wouldn’t have put it past more than one of the deputies in the Fulton County Sheriff’s department - not back then).
The ones that risked arrest - hell, downright invited it - would actually vandalize cars…or put their hands on someone trying to get by, usually pushing them back from the entrance but sometimes even restraining them. My escort!buddy once regaled me with how this poor girl was physically carried all the way back to the nearest bus stop and preached at until MARTA arrived - shamed until she got on and there was nothing escort!buddy could do because he was alone at the time and the protestors were videotaping his actions. (Oh, and this girl actually came by car but her ride went for food after dropping her off.)
Oh, and yeah…I once had to call about half a dozen impound lots to find my FUCKING CAR because someone had an “in” with a towing company and had it removed from the premises while I was inside the clinic.
And this was in 1989, AFTER the DNC related anti-choice rallies that led to some 300+ arrests.
I can’t even imagine what hell it must have been in the Fall of 1988; how it went for the staff, or for those who volunteered more than once a month, prior to that. It makes me so mad that I can’t help but cry every time I think about it.
My name is Michaelle. I’m 44 years old and each January I make a solemn vow that, should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned or if limits on abortions become too restrictive (in the state I reside and all of the states bordering it), I WILL go back to school. I WILL find a program that teaches abortion care - even if I have to do it in another country. I would rather it be midwifery or even APRN but I’ll sacrifice myself to complete an OB program if necessary. And I will surround myself with other like-minded and/or sympathetic medical professionals…and perform the “illegal” abortions my-fucking-self. Because it’s THAT important.
Wow. WOW. Thank you SO much for writing this. I can’t even imagine clinic escorting before the FACE Act of 1994.