I hadn’t been in a couple of months, but yesterday I decided to get up early to escort at the clinic. Thursday was the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, so the issue of choice and personal freedom was on my mind. After not being there for a while the scene was especially eery, or maybe that was the fog from the river. It’s easy to forget about the gauntlet these women are forced to run in order to go to the doctor. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
This morning at the the local abortion clinic was a bit different from the usual. The Kentucky Right to Life Association is having their convention in Louisville this weekend, so we were expecting a lot more protesters than usual. What we got were a lot more escorts and about the usual number of protesters. Continue reading
As anyone who has seen my tweets or Facebook page yesterday knows, I have added a new role to my personal resume. Yesterday, I got up at 6am and went down to the local abortion clinic and volunteered as a clinic escort.
I didn’t even know this opportunity existed until last Tuesday, when a lady at my Atheists and Freethinkers meetup spoke up about the situation at the clinic in Louisville. I sought her out after the meetup and talked about what was going on. I found out that every morning that the clinic is open, there are protesters standing outside the door harassing women who need the services provided within. And that there are a handful of people who regularly volunteer as escorts to help these women get though the gantlet and exercise their autonomy. So, I decided to get up early on Saturday and see for myself what was going on. The lady I meet at the meetup keeps a blog about the goings-on at the clinic, so if you want a good general idea of what I saw yesterday morning Every Saturday Morning is a good place to start.
It was not until May 31 this year that I really got galvanized on the abortion rights issue. That was the day that Dr. Tiller, at the time one of only three doctors who perform late-term abortions in America, was murdered right in his church on Sunday morning. To be perfectly honest, I’d never even heard of the man before, nor had I known just how rare were doctors who provided late-term abortions. I was actually very ambivalent about late-term abortion and whether it should be legal or not, until I read the stories of the women and the men who love them who went to Dr. Tiller for help. He knew the danger that he was constantly in, as previous attempts had been made on his life. I could not help but admire the man and the risk we was willing to take for women’s health and lives.
What I found particularly hateful and repugnant about this murder was the reactions and words of some of the leaders of the “pro-life” movement. I wrote a bit about that in this previous post, and the way I felt about it when I wrote that post has not changed.
So after all this, when I saw that I had this sort of opportunity to stand up for the rights of women, I had to stand up and take it. I’ve never felt so galvanized about anything in my whole life. It’s the bit I can do and I’m doing it!
It’s getting longer than I like between posts so I think I should write an update.
First of all I was totally saddened and PISSED at the murder of Dr. Tiller. Anyone who has seen my Facebook page knows this well. What upsets me the most is the cavalier and even sometimes gleeful attitude of some pro-lifers. As if they are saying “well, we don’t condone murder, but he had it coming.” In response, I have pledged $10 a month to Planned Parenthood for the next year–probably longer. I am utterly convinced that it was the hateful rhetoric of groups like Operation Rescue that killed him–not just some loner with a gun. It take everything in me to remind myself that most pro-life people are good people concerned with protecting babies, even if they have been badly misinformed about the facts around abortion and filled with the fore-mentioned hateful rhetoric.
And that brings me to my next thought. One of the teachers at Yoga East has been talking about a yama each week, and recently she brought up Satya. This is usually translated as truthfulness. Here is what a quick Google search brought up on the topic.
Satya means “to speak the truth,” yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict with our efforts to behave with ahimsa. The Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, says: “Speak the truth which is pleasant. Do not speak unpleasant truths. Do not lie, even if the lies are pleasing to the ear. That is the eternal law, the dharma.” Please note that this does not mean speak lie. Keeping quiet and saying lies are two different things.
[I should note here that I don't believe in holy scripture, and do not give special pleading to yoga philosophy. But just sometimes these old writings have some great concepts and this is one of those cases where I think they really got it right.]
I couldn’t help but think of Satya in the context of the debate over abortion and the murder of Dr. Tiller. I’ll give the Operation Rescue folks the benefit of the doubt, in that they really think they are speaking the truth when they call abortion murder and Dr. Tiller a murderer. I used to be on their side in the issue, too. Abortion is a hard issue to deal with and is not something than anyone considers a good thing. Necessary sometimes, but not good. I cannot believe that they are really speaking the truth. Words that inspire people to murder and violence are not truth. Words that smear and vilify women who have found themselves confronting this horrible and painful decision do not express truth. Words that call a doctor who saves women’s lives a murderer are not truth.
Truth, whether it is pleasant or unpleasast, bring light and understanding to the subject at hand, not rage and violence. When the “truth” we speak creates more heat than light, we should reconsider our words and our attitudes.