One of my favorite parts of feminism is the emphasis that is put on being an ally. ShoutOut has seen many bloggers and editors come and go, but they have all remained a part of our little community as some of our biggest supporters.
Recently, former editor Shannon Garner paid a visit to our newsroom to give our bloggers a unique opportunity. Following graduation last May, Shannon got a job at Planned Parenthood and has been working hard with them since. Much of her work involves traveling around the country and sharing a special virtual reality experience made by Planned Parenthood with others, such as politicians, who have (too) much say in the healthcare of Americans. The purpose of Shannon’s visit was to share this virtual reality experience with us.
The experience walks the viewer through three scenes that show what it is like to go into a Planned Parenthood facility and use its services. The first shows a patient in the doctor’s office who becomes emotional when the doctor asks her how she is feeling about the whole process.
The second scene flashes back to the patient in a car with her friend, driving up to the Planned Parenthood facility. There are protesters outside, many of them religious, shouting chants in opposition of abortion. The car is stopped by a man who’s uniform would lead many to believe that he directs traffic for the facility. The patient rolls down her window to ask where to park, and it turns out that the man is a religious protester. He pleads with the patient to not go through with the abortion, and says that there is a Christian relief group down the street. The interaction is both uncomfortable and intruding for the patient and her friend.
The last scene was so powerful that it was made with computer-generated graphics, so as to not trigger those watching. The scene makes the viewer the patient, as they must navigate through a group of protesters shouting obscenities directed at them as they enter a woman’s health facility. What’s interesting about this scene is that the footage is actual voice recordings captured from protesters across the country. That means that everything that was said came out of a human’s mouth and was a reality for someone. None of this was made up.
Shannon explained that she often shares this video with those who are pro-life, not necessarily with the intention to change their beliefs to pro-choice (although that would be ideal), but to show them what this experience is like for many. While most have kept their stance, they have agreed that no one should have to go through an experience like this where people are shouting such hurtful words at them. It’s just not right.
I am a strong believer in a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body, but this
took my belief to a whole new level. It was a very powerful experience for me, and one that I never even thought would be a reality for those who use Planned Parenthood and other
women’s health facilities. This makes me want to continue fighting for Planned Parenthood funding, but also pushes me to fight for the safety of these patients.
Politics aside, I think we can all agree that respect is a human right that everyone deserves, regardless of their health-related decisions.
Featured Image Source: Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University of Texas at Austin, Flickr