Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Winning Is Easy

I’m in Seattle, now.

The other day I made the trip up to Everett, about 25 miles north of here. We got a call in the morning -- a group of protesters had taken up positions on the sidewalk next to the Everett health center, carrying graphic posters and shouting at our patients and staff.

We couldn’t find volunteer escorts on such short notice, so another staff person and I stepped in. We arrived mid-morning, and donned the bright yellow vests and the large logo-emblazoned umbrellas that identified us as Planned Parenthood escorts.

It was a day of many emotions.

First, trepidation at the thought of facing people who want to dismantle everything for which Planned Parenthood stands. For the most part, the protesters try to disrupt the services at our health centers with their words and their presence, but in some states they have also been known to turn violent.

Then, a sense of purpose. When a patient arrived in our parking lot, we identified ourselves as Planned Parenthood staff and asked her if she wanted us to walk her to the entrance. Most of the women were quite grateful, but also confused. This was not a day when abortions were performed at the center, so the patients were there to get birth control or test results or other forms of basic reproductive health care. Can you imagine going to get your annual Pap test, only to be confronted by protesters?

Then, finally, victory. As we escorted patients to the door, we held the umbrellas sideways between us and the protesters and engaged in casual conversation with the patients. This way the women could ignore the shouts of the protesters and not have to see their gory posters. Our actions accomplish two things at once: the patients feel protected, and the protesters get frustrated.

In other words, we win.

Protesters: 7

I am Emily X.

I am Planned Parenthood.

70 comments:

Susan said...

Keep up the good work Emily! I just passed the Olympia PP and there were 3 protesters. I slowed down and yelled out that this community supports PP. They proceeded to flip me off (good Christians that they are). I recently read on a blog about donating money to PP in honor of Sarah Palin and she will receive a thank you card for the donation in her honor. I have donated several times and 6 of my friends have donated too.I hope people across the nation will donate in protest of Sarah Palin and her ridiculous views. I am very proud of all of you at PP!

Katherine said...

Feeling like a dork, I was sitting here crying while reading this, (yes, crying) when my husband walked in and asked what I was reading. I told him, still crying...I think I am so emotional about it because I used Planned Parenthood all through my teens and twenties, and have been a supporter ever since. Wouldn't have had health care during those days without it, frankly. I can't imagine how I would have felt on the day I had my cryo-surgery (for example) had I encountered protesters. Keep up the good work Emily!

cat147 said...

keep up the great work. i can't imagine a country without planned parenthood and the work that you do. don't give up - we will continue to win.

VaLadyLaw said...

I am not an overly emotional person. Yet I found myself choking up while reading your post. That in this day and time we still must fight for our rights as women to make a choice to do what we must for our bodies, for our lives is enraging and heartbreaking. God Bless you for standing up for our right to choose!!

memeticist said...

You are a hero
thanks for this work

memeticist said...

You are a hero
thanks for this work

Andrew said...

Thank you for the work you do.

Mama Grouch said...

Thank you for what you are doing.

nobelle said...

Good work!

Michael Miller said...

Emily, bless you for the good work you are doing. It's really a shame when in the midst of an economic crisis and politically turbulent times, protesters make this their big issue.

My beloved and I have an appointment this weekend at our local Planned Parenthood to renew her birth control prescription. We will proudly ignore every word and every sign shoved in our faces, as we know we are doing the responsible thing for our future and the future of our children.

Alliesuz said...

Thanks for fighting so hard to protect both our rights and the women who need services.

I'd love to volunteer but the link on your blog is broken.

Keeping writing. Your words from the front are inspiring. I get tired of repeated requests for money (both from PP and political campaigns). I know we need to donate but your words are much more powerful.

::Otulp:: said...

seriously, do you guys need volunteers or help? im limited to only getting to centers accessible using the mbta but im 100% for helping out pplma any way i can

Leonie said...

Thanks for everything you're doing out there! Is there any way I can find out when the protesters will be at the Portland Oregon clinics and perhaps picket an opposite corner in a positive pro-choice show of support for all you're up to? Thanks again!

stacey said...

Welcome back, though I'm sorry you're needed again this year. And thank you for supporting the wonderful work done by Planned Parenthood. We're behind you all the way.

Larissa said...

I can't believe they are here in Houston, where the storm debris alone will fill 6 Astrodomes. In Galveston, schools are just barely open. People need help rebuilding their lives - when you are already stressed about being out of work because where you work has been destroyed, and you don't know how you will make ends meet - yet protesters, who you cross the street to avoid, come running down the sidewalk after you. They don't get the message - women can make our own health care choices - and they are informed choices!

irlmumof2 said...

I am the mother of a 12 year old girl. I want to thank you and Planned Parenthood for all you do.

You see, my family does not have health insurance. My poor little girl got her period in Nov. 2007, and had been bleeding almost non-stop. In July, I finally called planned parenthood. We did not have anywhere else to go. We looked into a hospital affiliated clinic, that works on a sliding scale, but they told me our visit would cost at least $300, possibly more. We simply do not have the money right now. Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses helped my little girl get her life back, and at almost no cost to us.

I have donated to Planned Parenthood in the past, and once I find a job, I plan on donating on a monthly basis.

Thank you so much for all of your hard work. My family really appreciates it.

xsamanthax said...

Wow, that's so brave of you and so thoughtful to do all you can to make patients feel safe and not be deterred by protesters. I'm sure it's much appreciated, as I have heard of protesters getting violent and have seen some of the cruelly graphic images the shove in people's faces. Keep up the good work! The right for a woman choose what's right for her life and her body is one of the things that makes America the land of the free, and not some dictatorship or place where women are seen as 2nd class citizens.

Lynne said...

Dear Emily,
Thank you from my heart for what you are doing--for me, for my daughter, for my granddaughter, for all of us who depend on you to keep women's bodies our own. I use my vote and my pocketbook to support you; I send letters to elected officials and I support your work every way I can. But you deserve to hear from us directly: THANK YOU for your courage and your commitment on our behalf.
Lynne Hugo
Oxford, OH

Southern Beale said...

Good work, keep it up!

angie bamji said...

Thank you for all the important and difficult work PP does. you provide vital services to women- not just access to safe legal abortions, but education, pre natal care, STD testing and info, support to women who have been sexually victimized, birth control and condoms, and dozens of other things i'm sure i'm forgetting. thanks for putting yourselves on the line every day, and keep fighting the good fight.

Katherine said...

You've been doing it for years, but it still has to be scary. Thank you for taking some of the fear away from the patients and promoting what is right. I am so amazed and appreciative of your dedication!

Mariabr88 said...

Emily,
Thank you for all you do. It is important that people realize all the services Planned Parenthood provides. When I did not have health insurance, I got my annual Pap smears and my birth control from Planned Parenthood. If it wasn't for Planned Parenthood; I would have not been able to get an annual gynecological exam. I wish everyone would take a minute and understand that Planned Parenthood offers many services. It frustrates me every year when I see these people lined up stopping women from getting an annual exam or an AIDS test!

Jessica said...

I love your blog! I too am a Planned Parenthood employee facing down protesters for 40 Days For Life. We haven't had anyone get violent, but we have had some nasty insults and harassment. However, I am proud to escort every day and it makes me so glad when women tell me how thankful they are that we are there. I understand what you mean about "winning", I feel the same way too.

You're in our thoughts!

Lara said...

Heros!

EastRiverRat said...

Don't lose faith. We support you.

Lara said...

Hurrah to the heros with the yellow umbrellas! A very clever way of distancing yourself and your patients from the hailstorm of ignorance, selfishness, and sexism.

EZ said...

Amazing idea! Here in Colorado, there's an upcoming amendment on the ballot that would define "person" to be an ovum at the point of fertilization. It's so important for us to communicate and work together against all the irrational anger.

Searching for the Sunny Side said...

WOW! Job well done!

Tyler S. Bass said...

Hi! Planned Parenthood is Great!

Monica said...

Dear Emily X, reading your blog makes me get choked up.....i can't tell you enough how much I admire what all of you do at PP. I used your services many times as an adolescent, and always told myself that when I was a millionaire, I would donate millions to you. Well, now I'm 30, I'm a social worker at a non-profit, and I give as much as I can when I get your emails. Please know that I support you, your staff, and what you stand for with my words, my energy, and my wallet as much as I can. Keep up the good work!!

River City Residents Association said...

The umbrella idea is brilliant. Well done.

Cobalt said...

Umbrellas! That is absolutely excellent.

You really make me want to work at a Planned Parenthood. Thank you for this blog.

Nel said...

I would love to contribute my time to being a volunteer escort. How does one go about getting a position like that? I am all for the freedom of speech and peaceful protest, but it seems so unfair that these people are allowed to interrupt Planned Parenthood business. It seems unconstitutional and unpatriotic. It hurts to think about how many women get scared away from getting the help they need by protests like this.

Julie said...

I think what you are doing is so great and I am glad you are there to help these women!! keep up the great work. If I was there I would probably yell at the protesters and make things worse so I think the way you are handling things is very admirable!

Madame Wrybrarian said...

Thank you for all you are doing for me and women everywhere.

Equal Rights for Everyone said...

I am a Health Care Assistant at Planned Parenthood and I am extremely thankful that you are blogging about this again!

Thank you for your posts. I read them last year and as a student and activist I have appreciated them.

Now as an employee, activist, and woman I appreciate them even more because I see protesters so many times when I'm trying to give women health care options and counseling.

You have also inspired me to create a blogging journal of my own soon.

thank you.

Butch said...

You rock.

Butch said...

You rock. Keep on truckin'!

Elaine said...

I am all for freedom of speech, but i really think that at times the picketers can really scare women away. These are women who are already psychology fragile and the last thing they need is a bunch of people screaming "baby killer" and other such nonsense at them. I really commend you for stepping in and providing safety, i really wish i could do that but i tend to get angry at the picketers so me being in the middle of it may prove to be bad, for both myself and the picketers

Jennifer said...

Thank you, Planned Parenthood, for all you do for women like me! I don't know what we would do without you. And I hope I never have to find out.

Jennifer said...

Thank you, Planned Parenthood, for all you do for women like me! I don't know what we would do without you. And I never want to find out.

Amber said...

I think what you are doing is great! The whole umbrella idea is amazingly creative and so thoughtful. I wish I could help. Is there a place I can look for volunteering near me?

Mary Beth said...

http://marybethbutler.typepad.com/terrapin_station/2008/10/planned-parenthood-sarah-palin-follow-up.html

THanks, Emily.

Daniela said...

Emily, Nice work sister. Keep it up!

justagirl2day said...

i am a mom, a partner, a student and therefore broke... so i cant give $$, BUT i will lend my voice! i will vote on election day, and i will NOT be voting for those who wish to invade my life. i know we vote on the pres, but how could ANY woman vote for someone who picks sarah p. as a running mate?!? i doubt her daughter got the choice she wants to take from us! i have more to say, but it is late and steam is comming from my ears thinkin of the election...

...out with the bad, in with the goood...Oohhhmmmm....

Liriodendron said...

Hi, I live in Mobile, AL and I saw some of the protesters just a couple of days ago on Airport Blvd. What struck me was that most of them...almost all of them...were teenage girls. They are ready to give up reproductive rights before they even truly understand what it is they are giving up. I just couldn't be angry with them...it was too sad.

Sheryl said...

I was a volunteer escort for a few years at my local PP. I cannot tell you how nasty these so-called "christian" people acted toward me and the clients trying to get in! I should start my own blog all about it. I had them chase me, chastise me, threaten me, throw things at me, film me, tell me I'm going to HELL!!! (?) What, really? Hell? Who can judge that but God himself? I am a christian woman myself, I believe in God and Christ, yet I am also pro-choice. Maybe I'm in the minority, but hate doesn't have room in my religion, so I chose to volunteer. What an experience! It made me more pro-choice than EVER! God bless you and those who strive to make women's basic rights accessible. We need you. What really gets to me is WHY do these people fight sooooo hard for the rights of the unborn, and then as soon as they are born, well, they're on their own! Do you see these protesters volunteering to feed babies born to drug addicted mothers? I don't think so.
I'm donating today. And yes, you can sign my full name,
Sheryl Schroeder, Santa Barbara, CA

Elaine said...

i am only one of millions of americans who in these tough economic times cannot afford health insurance, without the help of planned parenthood i would never be able to afford services like my yearly pap or my birth control, thank you guys for everything you do even if it means swimming upstream.

Chris said...

After an uplifting rally for Michele Obama at UVA, I had to walk by a group of protester/nut jobs holding their fetus signs on my way out of grounds. With the next Supreme Court hanging in the balance, I believe it is smart women like you who can turn this tide. Stand proud Emily. Pregnant with nowhere to go in 1966, I'm lucky I was able to PLAN my family in 1979; my daughter is now a medical student.

Peg said...

Rock on, all supporters of safe health care! May PP have 90 X 90 more years of good work.

All the Best, Peg

Angela said...

Thank you for the work you do. All of you! You are making a difference and I support ALL of the work PP does.

Jasmine Jade said...

Give 'em hell emily!!

~Denise~ said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your efforts help make the walk so much more bearable for those that need it. It's so frustrating to me that women coming to PP, for any reason, have to be subjected to such awfulness.

Please keep up the great work.

Janis said...

I wanted to share one particular experience.
I worked at Planned Parenthood two years ago, and went in through the front door one day when we had protesters b/c somehow the backdoor was locked. As I was walking, I saw another lady walking the same way with me. I was one of two Spanish speaking staff at the clinic, so the lady instantly asked me (in spanish) why were these people here yelling and screaming at her, b/c she did not understand.
I said, they are protesting the services provided by the clinic. She was very surprised and said... why would they care that I'm coming to see my doctor? And I said, b/c the clinic also performs abortions and that topic is very controversial. (I had recognized her as a GYN patient)
She quickly said to me. "Wow, I had no idea that the clinic even did that. I've always just come to Planned Parenthood b/c it's affordable and b/ they provide me with the health care services I need, I've never even had an abortion... don't they know that?"
Even though that exchange was a very short exchange b/c we both ended up trying to run into the building and trying to avoid the mean nasty protesters who were in our faces screaming the two words they knew in Spanish "kill and baby"... I thought to myself..
There are LOTS of women that I saw come in everyday to the clinic that WE were their only doctors...
That is a testament as to why Planned Parenthood is a valuable asset to the health care system, and why it is important to keep our clinics open and service available to all.
Thanks for your blog!

vlw961 said...

I've gone to PP for years for all my GYN checkups, etc. I've never encountered any protesters, and that's probably a good thing because I'm sure I would get very angry and belligerent! I'm so glad you do what is needed to help women. Keep up the great work!!

Prosey said...

<3

Malexander said...

For years, I didn't have health insurance. I relied on PP for my exams and birth control. If it wasn't for PP, I wouldn't have been able to afford the visits or birth control.
Now working with teenagers, I've been able to recommend your services to students who need the same type of help.
Thanks to all the workers who put up with all the grief of the protesters. Your work is amazing. I finally have insurance, but I'm proud to be support PP and all their good works.

Donna said...

You might be onto something with the big yellow umbrellas. Why limit yourself to using them on rainy days if they shield your patients from the abuse of the protestors? Why not use them all the time? It is very reminscent of what was deployed duirng the funeral of Matthew Sheppard (the gay student brutally crucified & left to die in Laramie, WY 10 years ago) when the right wing "christian" protestors showed up to hurl epithets at his family & friends as they went into church. Supporters formed a line holding up giant homemade "angel wings" attached totheir shoulders which simultaneiously blocked the mourners view of the hate-filled protestors & frustrated the protestors. It worked then, umbrellas could be PP "angel wings".

Barbicide said...

It is with great pride I have called myself a friend and supporter of PP. Emily X... all Emily X's, we are your fan club. We love your work and we applaud your efforts. As for me, I take it personally when zealots and stolid misogynists attempt to use something as private and necessary as health care to promote their religious/political agendas.
I love that Magaret Sanger, when publishing her "Woman Rebel" in secret, used the tag line "No Gods, No Masters" To think up the umbrella trick you must have been channeling Maggie Sanger herself !
We ARE ALL Emily X and Planned Parenthood, we all Love You, Emily!

abby said...

thank you for the work you are doing!!

Sarah said...

Keep up the good work, Emily! I really don't understand why some feel they have the right to judge others, especially Christians! As an adopted child, I have always supported a woman's right to choose. My birth mother chose to carry me nine months and then give me away to a couple she never met (only a closed adoption is allowed under my state's laws). Before she died, I never got the chance to meet her. She never knew my name, never knew if I loved her, never knew that I was happy. How could anyone want to take away her right to that choice? I'm sure it was the hardest choice she ever made. But it was still a CHOICE. Had she chosen otherwise or had better access to birth control, I know I wouldn't be blogging today, but it would be worth it because it would have been her choice.

moderngirl said...

I like the idea of pledge-a picketer. But what about stopping if you see picketers, walking by them and handing over over a check to Planned Parenthood, however small—even a dollar... and showing picketers that many people support Planned Parenthood even if they use their clinics or not. The picketers can say whatever they want, but I'll do my best to just smile. Emily—good or bad idea? Thank you for all you do.

Rich's wife said...

This crap is unbelievable! I moved right across the street from the Planned Parenthood in Aurora,IL just last month and I had no idea how ridiculous the protesters are! They are out there EVERY DAY yelling at the poor women pulling into the clinic and they have also been doing the "40 days for life" which I didn't know was going on at every PP across the country! My dog almost attacked one of them...HAHAHA! I should have let her!! They have little old ladies out there some days and very young children as well...it sickens me! It's the protesters that are a hazzard to our community, blocking traffic,causing distractions,blocking the sidewalk...when my son and I go for walks we have no choice but to walk by them and he almost got burned by all their freaking candles! I told my husband I want to protest the protesters but he's afraid for my safety...he said it would be NO problem if we didn't live so very close, he just doesn't know that I give them hell when I see them every day ;)

Keep up the great work...we NEED Planned Parenthood in every community!!!

Emily said...

Wow! You are a shero! Thanks for all that you do!

DL said...

I worked for PP for six years about 30 years ago. I will always remember one of the protesters who showed up at our clinic. The only clinic happening that day was our fertility clinic. One of our volunteers was coming in to work at the clinic when she was verbally attacked by the protester. The protester stayed literally 2" from her face and stayed there screaming at her as she walked towards our clinic. When the volunteer put up her hand to shield herself, she accidently lightly touched the protester who then shouted that she had been battered. That day really changed my feelings about the so-called "right to life" movement. I knew how much our staff and volunteers cared about our patients and how their work was an act of love. And I saw how filled with hate the protester was. I had never before and have never since seen so much hate in anyone's face. There is no way one could care about other people and behave that way.

DeAnn G. Rossetti said...

Go EMILY X! You rock for helping women have access to health care at PP!
My mother was a PP volunteer in the 60s when I was just a kid, and she used to take me with her when she was making home visits to drop off birth contol pills to women who were in real need of them. After working as a nurse for 43 years, she retired but continued to volunteer for PP in Arizona and was always willing to tell the protesters where to go!
Keep up the good work in the Seattle area, where I live...we need PP and all the services it offers.

Allison said...

And so it continues. I used to work for PP in Orlando. We didn't even perform terminations at that clinic but were picketed CONSTANTLY. It's an experience one never forgets and oh how I've tried. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do. It ABSOLUTELY makes a difference. Be safe.

ANDON said...

I just finished reading the entire blog up until today, watching all the videos, etc. I just wanted to say it is incredibly moving and something that I will keep checking on in the future.

Bridget said...

We have protestors every Wednesday when our clinic actually performs abortions. I was in the unfortunate situation of being a patient one of those Wednesdays and I have to say, it took all my strength not to go scream in their faces. Just seeing them standing there, so naive and closed minded made me feel that much more confident in my decision and proud that I was even able to make that decision, instead of someone making it for me. Keep up the good work. We have a long and difficult fight ahead of us.

Deb~Mama said...

I am always so shocked that 'good Christin people' will sit in front of a planned parenthood clinic and yell things at the patients in the name of all that they see as good. I am fairly sure that this is not a good Christian attitude. It is dis-heartening on the one hand but empowering on the other. As you say, it gives you a boost. It does to me as well. I used the services of planned parenthood in my youth and was forever grateful that they were available. I will never forget that it was there for me and it needs to be here now for women, teens and families. When I see these protesters it makes me want to work harder to make sure that these clinics do stay open. Thank you for all the great work that you do and I will try to help out as I can here in my state. You are an inspiration.