Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Snowy Prophet

The protesters were out in full force yesterday. It started like a usual Tuesday, with a couple of them trickling out of next door with their signs, but then all of a sudden a whole bunch of them showed up. There were probably about 13 or 14 of them out there, which doesn't seem like a lot, but it looks it from down the street. It's quite intimidating.

Earpiece Charlie was out - he hasn't been around in a while. He even had his big "believe the lie and babies die" sign with him. Does he bring it himself from Saint John, or do they have it here but reserve it for him? I've never seen anyone else carrying it.

It wasn't too cold out there, but there has been some snow. The Holy Ghost perched herself on top of a snowbank and called out to patients, beseeching them to seek counselling next door, like some kind of bizarre prophet. All our usual favourites were out, including Crazy Legs, Pink Hat (except now it's a red hat), and that angry-looking young man with the sign that has fake flowers glued to it in the shape of a cross (I forget; did we ever come up with a name for that guy?).

One of our patients was accompanied by two women who wouldn't come in with her; they kept calling her from the parking garage across the street. Eventually they had to make their way over to the clinic, as they had the patient's clothes that she needed to change into, but they were not happy about it. On the one hand I sympathize - it can't be easy to walk through the protesters, especially if you don't absolutely have to; but on the other hand, I felt terrible for that young woman who only had their support up to the parking lot. I would want someone to be there for me.

I can't believe I haven't mentioned this yet: Canadians for Choice is putting on its second annual Choice 101 class. Best news: I'm one of the guest presenters! Check it out and apply here. (Just scroll down past the news alerts). The deadline to apply is Jan. 25th, so get in there!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crows in the Cold

Another doggy day at the clinic: this time there were two dogs wandering around, without leashes or apparent owners. They were very friendly, but I mean really - control your dogs, people! This is why we have leash laws.

The protesters were being quite aggressive this week, even though the Mad Chatter wasn't even there. The woman who carries poor old naked Jesus around on his cross ("The agonizing Jesus Christ", it says) was nosing around, calling out to patients and praying vociferously. Pink Hat was yelling her usual nonsense.

One of the patients, who was coming up the ramp with some volunteers, turned to the pleading protesters and said, simply, "Caw!". You know, like a crow. I guess everyone has a different way of dealing with them.

It was incredibly cold out there yesterday. AL was out for two shifts and didn't have a hat - I had to lend him mine. Which would be fine, except it's one of those animal ones (an owl!). It was ok, he looked quite adorable. (Shout out to AL - happy birthday, friend!).

There were actually some great hats on display among the escorts: TB had a cool elephant one, and HB had one apparently made out of socks. They are a fashionable bunch, those volunteers.

Hopefully this cold snap will pass soon.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Dog's Life

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.