I have been attempting to start a piece for Socialist Worker about my experiences with 40 Days for Life as an abortion provider, and have been hitting some writers block. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, I have a multitude of reflections, thoughts, and feelings about my experience during 40 Days for Life. I think it’s the vast diversity in my feelings about the experience that is making it difficult to write about.
40 Days for Life ended right after Easter, as did the constant picketing of the clinics that I worked in, and the harassment both my staff and I faced every day just trying to go to work.
Some days I laughed at their ridiculous signs and posters, feeling like I was witnessing an anachranism and completely dismissed their presence.
Some days I felt my safety threatened, and felt so much gratitude for the brave providers who are personally targeted every single day they do their jobs.
Some days I laughed with patients about how silly they looked and moved on with whatever type of visit we were having that day
Some days I cried with patients when they asked me if I thought they were right, that she would pay the price for having an abortion
Some days I was boiling with anger when the protesters wouldn’t stop asking me to take their literature
Some days I drove in to the clinic, and I could see them taking pictures of my license plate.
Some days I felt smug when I walked right past them, thinking to myself, “You are irrelevant”
Some days I felt defeated, sad, and overwhelmed that these people are allowed to do what they do
Some days I wanted to break all my workplace’s “No Contact” policies and flip them all off in a blaze of glory and yelling and swearing.
Some days community members brought us flowers to thank us for the work we did, and remind us that everyone else thinks those people are assholes too
Some days, I took photos of them, just to let them know what it feels like to have your privacy threatened.
Some days I thought about George Tiller, and the Montana clinic that had recently been destroyed by the son of a Crisis Pregnancy Center manager and wondered what kind of world we live in
Some days I couldn’t believe how disconnected the women’s organizations are, that they think hosting events like Chocolate for Choice, or Pro-Choice Bingo is actually going to make a difference, when clinic staff face real threats every days we go to work
In the end, it’s difficult to have reflections of finality, because its not as if I don’t have to face protesters any more, or at least until their next bout of 40 Days for Life. They are still there, at one of my clinics every Wednesday, and at another every Saturday. They bring their signs, their vans, their fake fetuses, and their fire, brimstone, and judgement.
And every day I walk right past them. I pretend they don’t exist, but feel my blood pressure sky rocket at the mere thought of them. And I know the depths of what kind of fight it will take to really make them a relic of the past.