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.
I am Emily X.
I am Planned Parenthood.