Rage filled my heart as it beat like a large pair of dragon wings were flapping in my chest. My face, red with anger and fear. Tears stung my eyes and begged for them not to fall…they did anyway.
It was Monday evening and I had an early shift at Planned Parenthood as as escort Tuesday morning. I received a text message from our escort group used primarily to help cover shifts if someone is unable to make it, or if we need more people around to help patients get into the clinics because of the number of protestors.
I was ready for bed, since it takes me over an hour to drive to Planned Parenthood in Columbus, the closest abortion clinic to where I live in Southeast Ohio. I ran cried out, “No! No, no, no, no, no!” I read what was sent quickly.
“Shit. They’re really going to do it.” I said out loud to no one except for a 22 year old stuffed dog named Humphrey. “Shit!”
I don’t know why I was surprised. We, those of us who are abortion activists, knew even before the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Roe was going to be overturned. We knew that THIS JUNE it would be overturned. But this sudden leak, and the draft of Justice Alito’s opinion shining from my phone onto my face, it was now real.
I ran into the living room where my husband was having just a normal night of playing video games to wind down, when I came running out wound up. “Have you seen the news?” I asked. My ears feeling like an entire band was tap dancing in them. My chest could barely contain my heart, my breath came out in choked sobs.
“It’s over. They’re overturning Roe.”
“The decision isn’t supposed to come down until June!” He said, grabbing his own cellphone and reading the Politico article. I sobbed on the back of the couch as he read the article. I sobbed because I hurt. I hurt for so many people that I knew personally that had abortions for their own reasons, because it was none of my business. I had walked and spoke kind words to people going into the clinic. Preparing them for what they might hear from the protesters, to ignore them. Then tried to move the conversation to, “I’m a here to help you get into the clinic where they can check you in.” To almost every person I found something that I liked about them, or what they were wearing. Anything to drown out those “Christians” again. Those “Christians” who weaponized their religion, my religion to hurt people.
Oh yeah, I’m a minister. I went to Eden Theological Seminary and was Ordained into Christian Ministry in 2007. That’s where I got my start with escorting, or pulling protester’s attentions away from the people going into the building. In seminary, we held signs that shielded the patients, “Pro-Prayer, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice”. And another, “Prayerfully Pro-Choice.” And yet one more, “Seminarians for Choice!”
It really pulls the attention away from the patients when you carry signs such as those.
At the clinic in Columbus, we are not to engage with the protesters at all. I’m ok with this because neither of us is going to have our minds changed during a shift.
I learned while working with The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) to wear a clerical collar when I escorted or protested so others could see that people of faith stood with them, too. Not just those standing around any clinic.
My clerical collar is very much like that you would see a priest wear, with a little tab around your neck. I ordered a pink one because I was afraid that black would be jarring and practically speaking, collect a lot of pet hair. There were other colors too, but I felt that pink showed that I was friendly.
I have had many people thank me for being there because they though God hated them. I have had people give me small gifts, after they share their particular story with me. I have had people tell me their story to explain why they need an abortion, when we, the other escorts, affirm their choice to choose.
“We support you, and your choice.”
“We believe that you are doing what is best for you. No one knows what is going on inside your head.”
I think about my seminary days, when we were so careful not to say the word “abortion”. We would say, “Terminating a pregnancy” or “having a procedure.” Turns out, we were adding to the stigma of having an abortion because we were afraid of upsetting people.
In the last six months, I’ve made it a point to become comfortable with the word: abortion. Say it so many times and it’s just a normal word.
A normal word that means so much. There are already laws going into places like Texas, Idaho and Alabama that are now going after birth control. Because abortion is not about being pro-life, it’s about control. How much control can mostly, white men, have over not just people with a uterus, but also, people who are choosing to be careful with birth control.
They’re coming for all of us, because of the misogyny that runs rampant in this country. It was happening well before President Trump took office, and he has helped clear the decks to set non-white, cis-het men, to the side and make sure they are subjugated. That we are powerless.
I’m still angry. I will remain angry. A person’s right to choose is sacred. It is between that person and the relationships they have in their life.
I will remain angry and I will not be afraid or subjugated by this misogynistic, toxic masculinity that is whisking around us, pretending to protect the delicate sensibilities of the weaker sex.
Bring it on. I wasn’t ready for Monday, May 3rd. But I am getting mentally ready for protests myself, for when the Supreme Court overturns Roe.