I woke up today as on so many other days. Face washed. Teeth brushed. Cats fed. Rain forecast. Sun still hidden. Winter wear secured. House left behind in a haze of hot exhaust mixed with the crisp morning air. I drove past the exit for my office; and headed downtown toward the abortion clinic. I am a clinic escort.
As a clinic escort, I absorb the evangelical vitriol of anti-choice harassment so that women who have made the difficult decision to abort are not obliged to absorb that for which they have no more capacity to harbor. It is my purpose for waking before the sun, the reason I am built of inert bone and catalytic flesh – to transform hate into compassion. I am rarely surprised by the fountain of hate that flows so freely from the mouths of those who purport to worship a god who asks nothing but love.
Misogynistic exhortation is the status quo for the clinic escort. But when the misogyny flows even more freely from the people I aim to shield, I am readily turned about. He told me he didn’t “give a shit about that bitch.” I first thought he spoke of the skulking protester. He didn’t care if she died. He didn’t care if she and that baby died either. He would do it himself.
I could not walk with him.
To feel the hatred flow from the escorted, as I did today, is a stark reminder of why the fight for safe, legal, accessible abortion can never waiver, must not fail. Rather than stigmatize women, society should respect a woman’s sense of autonomy and self-preservation. Women deserve safety, opportunity, love, and respect – not violence, subservience, hatred, and contempt.
Open your eyes. Before you judge, stop and feel the hate. It flows from both directions.