Today is Roe v Wade day, and I have hope. Yesterday, I woke up at 6:30am to go downtown to my local clinic to walk women past pro-life protesters who are usually invigorated by terrible weather and excited by the anniversary. I got my bagel, truly the real thing which gets me out of bed when it’s still dark out, I wrestled my headphones into my ears and yanked my hood up–I wanted to postpone the moment when I would have to listen to the protesters rarely varying tunes. I walked around the corner to the clinic. Before I left the warmth of the bagel shop where a vision of the future confronted me:
There was no one there. Usually there are half-a-dozen older men and women wandering around with hand-written or mass-market signs. My shoulders settled down, I pull my head out of my massive hood and looked around. No one in the alley. No one on the corner. No one to dodge or skirt or avoid as I walked into the clinic.
I waited inside the clinic while our fantastic security guard shoveled the inches of snow and salted around our part of the sidewalk. The other escorts showed up, fortified with multiple layers and coffee, but no protesters came. We waited over an hour, but only clients came to the doors.
I don’t think abortions in the future will be stress-free for all women. Any physical exam, any minor surgery, for me any visit to any doctor, is a little stressful. Stress keeps me awake, keeps me aware of my surroundings, keeps me tuned-in.
But for the first time in 5 years of escorting, none of the clients were terrified, or crying, or crouching, trying to hide their ears from the cries of “Mama, Mama, don’t kill me!” and “You’ll regret this.” and “Don’t kill your baby.” and “We see women come out of there, they hurt women in there!” and their faces from the cellphone and video cameras the protesters use to document who goes into the clinic.
The patients just had to hide their ears from the 20 degree weather and their eyes from the snow. Once inside, they don’t have to avoid the glares coming through the glass and can focus on our security guard’s instructions as they walked through the metal detector. They could focus on what they came here for, had external quiet to do their own internal thinking, were permitted to feel only what they were feeling and not react to screaming and crying and bloody signs and shoving.
It was perfect.
“The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control.”–Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg