I was in high school when Roe v. Wade opened up a world of choice for women. I remember how relieved we all were as young women, knowing that we finally had some agency over what was happening to our bodies.
My family was also friends with a large Catholic family (the one we used to play football with!) who immediately joined the anti-choice movement. I remember my dismay when I heard the father talking about what they planned to do to fight against abortion. They were an otherwise liberal family, at least as far as I knew, so it shocked me that in this one aspect, they were so radically different in their beliefs. It was my first experience with vehement angry older white males taking opposition to an issue that was so important to women, that gave women freedom and agency over their own bodies.
Over the years, I’ve learned that the opposition, the anti-choice people, play dirty. In years of volunteering as a clinic escort, I’ve been called every nasty name that you could imagine. I have observed women (and often their partners) walking up the block and stopping dead when they saw the protestors standing outside the clinic. We could always tell the incoming patients by the shock and horror on their faces. On my very first day volunteering, that first woman stopped dead in panic, and told us it was too scary to walk past that, was there a different door she could use?
Our response was to comfort, to tell them that we would walk them to the door. To listen to us, not them, and look at us, not them. That we would make sure they reached the door safely. And we clinic escorts, in our fluorescent pink vests, walking in pairs, would shepherd them into the building safely, supportively.
I’m horrified that we are back here facing a world we hoped would never reappear.
Yesterday, a colleague who is visiting DC with youth called me to ask about safety for his youth group, who want to go to the DC #BansOffOurBodies rally. He already had tools to talk to them about abortion access, but wanted to know what they could expect. I’m sure the anti-choice people will be out in force, counter-protesting, so I described what they could expect to see and hear as they rallied. I suggested that the group try to stay in the middle of the crowd to limit the nastiness. That they could expect to be called murderers, nazis, and worse. That they would see horrific photos.
I will be headed to Baltimore this weekend for the rally there. The MD Abortion Care Access Act passed by override of Hogan’s veto, and it includes funds for additional training. We know that Maryland will experience an influx of out-of-state visitors, and I’m glad we will be able to help them. But Hogan is refusing to release the training funds early. So I’m going to Baltimore to make my voice heard, in addition to writing to Hogan. Click here to learn more!
In my perfect world, women have agency over their bodies and cannot be prevented from making decisions that should be between their doctors and themselves. Would you join me in fighting for that world?