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!

1 comment:

HB said...

From Peter Ryan on Oct. 6: "Not long after 10 I met a beaming Marti in the kitchen. “A baby was saved!” she said. She recounted how this mother and daughter (the baby’s grandmother and mother) passed by her going toward the abortion site. Marti was able to speak a few kind words about how they didn’t need to go in there, help was available next door etc. Marti said she felt an “unctioning of the Holy Spirit” as she spoke. The two women, however, continued on and entered the “clinic,” with escorts gathered around.

But 5 minutes later they re-emerged! The escorts seemed a little flustered to see them leaving. They passed by Marti’s way again. The older woman looked at Marti intently and said, “Thank you.” It was obvious something had happened! The Holy Spirit had gotten through! They proceeded into the nearby parking garage. When their car came out and passed by, the young woman looked Marti’s say and smiled. The power of prayer and love made manifest."

I helped escort that woman and her daughter into the clinic. Both women were very nervous and shied away from a fellow escort before realizing we were there to help protect them from the protestors. Crazy Legs talked to them while we escorted them in and was obviously bothering the women. When they left, we offered to escort them back to their car (which must have been hard for us since we were sooo disappointed this girl didn't have an abortion - headdesk!), but the older woman declined. Then Crazy Legs got in her face and asked if she needed help. The woman hugged the girl to her, GLARED at Crazy Legs, and FIRMLY said "Back off."

The Holy Spirit my ass.