What antis say about their time spent harassing women outside clinics

I’m no fan of the obsession in journalism with approaching every issue as if there are always binary positions that deserve equal attention. But following my post on stories from clinic escorts I just had to share a couple takes on the same topic from antis. Because their perspectives are just too rich.

I try to trust that people want to honestly present their perspective when they speak. It would be easy to assume antis who say they are helping women are outright lying, but I think it’s more disturbing and revealing to assume they actually mean it.

The anti in the video from my post on the Louisville, KY clinic sent the Feministing crew an email to inform us, “I am saddened to see myself, my friends, and our God so misrepresented.” Misrepresented? In an unedited video and transcript of your words? I’m sorry, but if those words and actions misrepresented you, your friends, and your God, I’m pretty sure I’m not the one responsible.

This particular anti has decided to do us a favor by exposing the, “true character and behavior of the escorts you have put on a pedestal.” Yeah, this is gonna be good:

While these escorts may seem to you as brave, enduring, heroes, and more..to me they are individuals who use Saturday mornings as a way to justify being as angry and mean as possible. Who yell insults, profane language, and dance in the streets while women go into the abortion clinic. These insults come after attempts to simply say good morning or hello. We do not hate the escorts, nor believe they are deemed our “enemies” as they do. We are divided on this issue of great importance, yet I do not believe that it means we must hate one another.

These same people who “shelter” the woman going into the clinic barely speak a word to her, and instead focus on telling myself and my friends how stupid we are. In fact, the woman is often ignored. Is that emotional support?

Um, it’s the escorts who use Saturday mornings as an excuse to be mean? Are you for serious? Escorts are there outside the clinic because the antis are there. No one wants to be up at an ungodly hour on a Saturday having to listen to extreme, ignorant anti-choice rhetoric. The escorts are there because they have to be, because someone has to help the women trying to access medical care. I agree that someone is out there to be “as angry and mean as possible,” but I think the finger’s pointing in the wrong direction.

I’ll repeat something I’ve said multiple times now: antis harass women. That’s what this is, harassment. The escorts I’ve worked with are very civil, but let’s be clear, this was never a civil situation.

Escorts aren’t counselors, either. There’s someone inside the clinic who fills that role. Escorts are responsible for getting people who want to enter the building inside the door, and making the situation as low stress as possible. We will often speak softly with the patient or those accompanying her, try to distract them from the anti’s cruel rhetoric, but these women don’t need someone else outside the clinic lecturing at them (yeah, I read “emotional support” as “lecturing”).

The email goes on to invite me to come down to the Louisville, KY clinic to see the good work the antis are doing. Sure, if I’m in Louisville I’d love to come down, though I think the antis might be disappointed when I show up with cookies for the real escorts and ask if they need some help.

A recent article about antis outside a Florida clinic includes a similarly deluded take from an anti on what they are doing. The story is about antis following a clinic that changed location. My favorite part of this story, though it’s understated in the article, is that the clinic moved in October, the antis didn’t notice till December, and it took them until early January to show up at the new building. Yeah, not exactly the most observant of people (how could they be if they think it’s doing good work to harass women in the ways they do?).

Anyway, here’s the quote from one of the antis (it’s worth noting the group is made up mostly of men but chose a woman to speak to the press):

Maureen Kubasky, 68, a retired bookkeeper, said the focus of the protests is mostly on the women coming to the clinic, not motorists passing by.

“We’re trying to have them take the time to think about what they are doing,” she said.

This irks me to no end. These antis have such a low opinion of patients entering the clinic they think these women haven’t thought about their abortions, an expensive and unfortunately controversial medical procedure, before showing up for their appointments? And they think dishonest, cruel, and sensationalist posters and rhetoric will help?

These are just two examples of the people patients, their supporters, clinic workers, and clinic escorts are up against. But their views reflect something I’ve heard from a lot of antis: they think they’re helping. A message to antis: you’re not.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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