So, a new year is upon us and we are back at it.
The first clinic of the year went well. The weather was relatively mild for this time of year, so the volunteers didn't freeze to death. We had a new escort who did well and whom everyone seems to like. Every single volunteer who was scheduled showed up, as did every patient! Neither of those things EVER happen, and to have them both happen on the same day is something of an anomaly, to say the least.
One of the protesters had a dog with her. I had never seen that before but at least on volunteer tells me that the dog has been with her in the past. It is a medium-sized, friendly-looking dog (I can't tell you the breed; I don't know anything about dogs). I think that despite its leash and calm demeanor, the presence of the dog is not positive. I think it's even more inconsiderate than usual of the protesters to have it there. Some people are afraid of dogs, and it has the potential to escalate an already scary situation for the women coming in. I think they should have thought it through a little.
One of our patients brought her children with her, which is not so unusual; many people who choose abortion are already mothers, and childcare can be expensive and hard to find. We have a little set-up in the basement in case people bring kids; toys and videos in sort of a living-room area. We bring the kids (and the patient's partner) in the back door, mostly because it is closer to the stairs but also partly so as not to parade them through the waiting room, which can be awkward for other patients.
When the patient arrived with her partner and kids, the escorts helpfully escorted them into the back door and got them set up downstairs. While they were walking in, the protesters just stood and stared. One of them exclaimed something about children, and what a shame that was. It raises all kinds of questions in my mind about what people who are opposed to abortion can possibly be thinking. One must be completely blind to the reality of the world, and/or exceptionally privileged, to even wonder why a mother of three children might choose abortion. I just want to shake them and say "think about it!".
Some days they really make me angry, and yesterday was like that. Thankfully, we also had a lovely expression of gratitude; a mother of one of the patients stopped to talk to me as she left with her daughter after recovery; she held my arm and said "Thank you. You guys are doing a good thing here. You need to know that."
I think an important part of working in a controversial field like reproductive health care is being able to take those words of gratitude and positivity and hold them closer to you than the (unfortunately much more plentiful) words of hate. That's something I'm working on.