For a few years now, I have been telling people that I want to work at a Planned Parenthood or another abortion facility. Many of them are confused. Since I am also a writer, receiving an English degree in a couple months, and have no nursing experience, why would I want to work in a clinic?
The more I learn about abortion clinics, the more I want to be involved. It started out as a desire to get CNA training after college and beg to be hired. Now that I have gained more knowledge, I realize that I can get involved in a different way.
Clinic escorting is a volunteer opportunity for those of us who may not be qualified to get a nursing job. And it is deeply important and much-needed across the country.
If you have ever been to an abortion clinic or passed by one, you most likely have seen anti-choice protesters. They litter the sidewalks outside clinics with offensive and graphic signs, megaphones, and posters. They shout misinformation about abortion. They beg incoming patients not to kill their babies.
When I was a patient at Planned Parenthood, one of the women standing on the sidewalk called out to me. She asked if I wanted to come pray with her. Men with disgusting signs held them up toward my friend’s car as we exited the parking lot.
The clinic I went to for my abortion did not have any escorts. While protesters were not allowed to enter the parking lot or be on clinic property, they were still permitted to stand on the sidewalk right beside the clinic. They guarded the entrance to the parking lot, standing for hours on end. One woman even brought her own lawn chair. Another woman cradled her pregnant stomach as she stood on the sidewalk.
The protesters I encountered were tame compared to others–some throw themselves at cars to block patients from being able to exit, some throw red-paint-covered baby doll parts. They are there to harass and torment anyone who is walking into the clinic.
Clinic escorts are human shields. They protect incoming patients from physical assault, and shield them from the verbal abuse being spewed at them.
Clinic escorts are heroes; they come ready to defend patients early in the morning, putting themselves at risk to defend someone’s right to choose.
Clinic escorts make someone’s choice to have an abortion a little less shameful, a little less traumatic.
Reading the accounts of escorts motivates me further to take action and to get involved. And you can get involved, too. Call your local abortion provider and ask if they need escorts. Next time you visit your Planned Parenthood for an appointment, ask a nurse about how you can volunteer.
In a country facing mounting restrictions to abortion access, it’s important that we get out and help however we can. We can make a difference.