Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jeff Goldblum is My Co-Pilot

So October has maybe been the busiest month for me so far. I'm not really sure why, it just happened that everything converged at once. So of course I'm at my most stressed during 40 Days of Ridiculousness.

That said, they haven't really bothered me that much. I feel more concerned for them (it's quite cold out there!) than annoyed. It's been a pretty interesting few weeks.

Last week SL had some signs made that I put up in the windows. They are shaped like stop signs, and they say things like "stop shame" and "stop intimidation". I guess just to get the protesters thinking about what they're doing - not that I think it will have any effect, but one can always hope.

Really, a great way to deal with this sort of stuff is by taking the piss. Yesterday after all the patients were inside, three of the escorts and I went over to stand with the vigil, with signs of our own. They said ridiculous things like "Kittens are adorable", "Safety first", "Dinosaur justice second", "Jeff Goldblum is my co-pilot" (that one was mine), and "If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it". We just wanted to play up the absurdity of their message, get a little post-modern up in here. It was fun. It drew most of them out of the house to come and stand with us/around us, and to pray and sing loudly.

We only got one verbal reaction from the protesters; the Mad Chatter starting asking us about the signs (she wanted to know "whose safety" we were putting first - I don't think she understood the concept of random sayings), and then when we wouldn't take our bait, she asked if we had helped raise money for Henry Morgentaler. She said she couldn't figure out why university students would raise money for "a multi-millionaire". I think I strained my eyes from rolling them so hard.

I also just noticed that the Mad Chatter's sign (not "I regret my abortion", the other one) is really ambiguous. It says "stop abortion hurts women". So...stop! Abortion hurts women? Or, stopping abortion hurts women? I can haz clarity?

Clinics have been fine the last couple of weeks. Patients haven't been noticably more upset by the vigil. I know they think they are saving babies by being there, but everyone who has left so far has been either too far along or not pregant. There was a young woman who changed her mind a couple weeks ago, but she came back this week (to my surprise! I thought for sure she wanted to have a baby). And there was a woman who went to their place last week, but she found us this week and went ahead with the abortion. I'm always in awe of the bravery of some of these women. I think a lot of them don't even realize how fierce they are until they walk through those idiots outside to get the care they need. It's really cool.

Yesterday a stranger on Facebook was kind enough to message me and inform me of my evil ways:

"Peggy, you aid in killing unborn babies on a daily basis. Sadistically you seem to be proud of that as well. You work in a culture of death. Even though what you are doing is morally wrong and aborehent I am convinced that you have as much a chance at realizing that as David Letterman does zipping up.

Now it is one thing to start a group like that [I admin a Facebook group supporting Dr. Morgentaler]. But what makes it ten times worse is the fact that you physically partake in the exact atmosphere you promote.

I don't know your parents, but personally mine taught me a little better than that. I'd be ashamed if that was my daughter."

So, sorry Mum and Dad - you fucked up. I sent this guy a message back asking if this kind of hateful shaming message ever works (as in, does it ever succeed in changing an evil pro-abort's black, frosty heart), but haven't heard back yet. I'm on the edge of my seat.

Oh, friends. The end of the 40 days draws near...soon we can go back to just the normal level of harrassment. Can't wait!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rainy Days and New Faces

There hasn't been much to blog about in the last couple weeks, surprisingly. The protesters continue their 40-day vigil, as the weather gets continually colder, wetter and generally yuckier. There were a couple days when some school-aged children joined the protest; some from a Catholic school and some who were home-schooled. I feel pretty bad for them, but at least now they know where the clinic is if they ever need us later.

I have three new volunteers coming this week, so that's exciting! One benefit of the extra protester presence is that it galvanizes pro-choice people into action. We get people who just drop in and ask how they can volunteer, because they were so pissed off by the protesters walking by.

I am still reading their blog, and don't know whether to find it amusing or scary. Sometimes I just find that extreme earnestness really creepy. I mean, they really believe they are, quite literally, saving babies.

I wrote a letter to the paper - I don't know if it will make it in or not, but I felt that it might be good to occasionally counter Mad Thad's lunacy. I'm not sure if the paper even wants to print my letters any more; I got really fired up about marriage equality a couple years ago, and wrote a whole bunch. But they publish crazier people than me, so maybe it'll work out.

Only two more clinic days until 40 Days for Life is over, which is a relief. Even though they are not more aggressive than usual, it will be great to not have them standing there with their stupid signs and their creepy stares any more.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Matters of Death and Life


I have a legitimate excuse for the hiatus this time. My grandmother passed away on Friday. Thus, I spent most of my weekend moping/grieving/doing family stuff, and didn't do anything on my general "to do" list, and am now totally behind in life. Not to get too personal, and maybe it's super tacky to eulogize people on the internet, but my grandmother was a fierce lady. She was strong and independent and stubborn and awesome, and she taught me a lot about simplicity and kindness. Rest in peace Nanny.

I know you're all dying to know how 40 Days for Life is going, right? Well, they are still out there, every day. It has been raining a lot, which pleases me. I have seen a couple people stop and talk to them; sometimes it's hostile but most of the time it seems pretty pleasant.

Clinic was pretty ridiculous. I think the combination of the normal protesters hanging around the clinic and the vigil types standing across the street creates a pretty intimidating environment for some of the patients. They are getting in, though, thanks to the volunteers, and most of them are in pretty good spirits. Crazy Legs was out yesterday in a jaunty newsboy cap paired with a trenchcoat - the whole look was very old-timey journalist. Tres chic. Glare-y Mary was getting all up in everyone's grill, as usual.

The police were called (by the protesters) twice. The first time was because one of our clinic staff had parked her car right next to the clinic, which makes it hard for the protesters to bother people (such a shame). However, as JB (whose car it was) explained to the police, that area is not city property; it belongs to George Street School, who are quite happy to let us park there.

The second time they came was because SL was supposedly "harrassing" Glare-y Mary by walking alongside her. You know, getting in her personal space, much like what they do to patients. I'd be careful what you call "harrassment", friends - it might come back to bite you. Regardless, Suzie Ryan had her cell phone camera out across the street to record this supposed "harrassment", and continued to record after a teacher from George Street went over to ask her to stop. And this is my problem with them: I understand their notion that they care about life and want to protect it, but I don't understand how people who care so much about human life seem so unconcerned with common decency and kindness towards human beings.

But hey, if you find my record of their vigil incomplete, feel free to read their account! (h/t to one of our awesome volunteers, KM, for finding this!).

Also, one thing I want to set straight - you guys are not saving babies. I have worked here for over two years and I've never seen one woman change her mind because of the protesters. Some of them change their minds, of course, but for their own reasons. The closest the protesters come to changing minds is when women drive by and are too intimidated or scared by the protesters to come in. If that's how you want to "save" "babies", by bullying women into continuing pregnancies, then congratulations. You are absolute scum.

I know sometimes it seems like women have changed their minds, but this rarely happens; I would say 90% (if not more) of the women who actually show up, go through with the abortion. If you see someone leave shortly after they come in, it is probably because either they aren't pregnant (a false positive on a pregnancy test or, more likely, they miscarried) or they are too far along and we've had to refer them somewhere else (like Montreal or Toronto). Cases like last week when the young woman left immediately after coming in are rare. I wasn't too surprised about her - she was reluctant when she confirmed her appointment, and her father called afterwards to express his concerns. She was already incredibly conflicted about the decision, and I believe she had already decided before she walked in the door that she didn't want an abortion. I hope that in the end, she made the right decision for herself; she is at least blessed with supportive and understanding parents, which is something a lot of young women don't have (especially young women who get pregnant at seventeen).

Last week the clinic hosted an excellent workshop on pre- and post-abortion counselling. We had a counsellor from the Toronto Morgentaler Clinic come and put it on, and there were a lot of people in attendance - more than I would have guessed. There is, it is clear, a huge need for this kind of counselling. An important part of access to reproductive health care is ensuring that women get the support they need when making difficult decisions (and in dealing with the decisions afterwards).

In other news, gumbooting is back in my life. Hooray!