This morning at the clinic was SNAFU, as always. There were actually more protesters than usual, including a busload from the Kentucky Mountain Bible College, and a Catholic procession (assuming from the rosaries) who came late on the sidewalk opposite the clinic.
Anyway today I hit a personal milestone. This was the first morning that I made first vocal contact with a client (actually I was speaking to the support person, but same idea.) It’s simple, but takes a bit of balance to be both assertive enough to get them to hear you, but docile enough not to intimidate a person who is probably already pretty scared. After all, when you first approach, they don’t know if you are there to help or to berate them. “Those of us in the orange vests are with the clinic. Would you like an escort to the clinic door?” The looks of tremendous relief and gratitude on the faces of the clients is enough to keep me coming back again and again.
When I first come to the clinic, about 6:50am, I’m a bit nervous about getting out of my car unless I see orange vests around. And I know the faces of a lot of the protestors, and know that they are generally peaceful and not going to attack me or anything like that. However, today I saw one of my fellow clinic escorts threatened by a protestor in his car. She was crossing the street to the parking lot, and he came around the corner in his big black truck and drove into the lane where she was, honked at her, and even sped up when she picked up her pace to get across the street. Then he pulled into the clinic parking lot and then we knew for sure he was one of the protestors. The intent to intimidate was clear.
So, considering my nervousness when there are not other escorts in the parking lot, I can only imagine the fear that the clients go though when trying to access the clinic. Unlike myself, they are probably not entirely sure what is going on, how the protestors will behave. They have already had to go though the KY state required counselling and 24 hour waiting period. If they are a minor, they have had to get the consent of a parent. At this point they just want their privacy and to be left alone, whether they are getting an abortion, a pregnancy test, or any other service that the clinic offers. No one has the right to take that from them.
That is why I keep getting up at 6am on Saturday morning and putting on the orange vest.