I avoid being political on my blog but it’s not because I don’t care or can’t be bothered with politics. It’s because this isn’t the idea of my blog. But I’m breaking my own rule just this once.
Last week I had my annual exam at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Fort Collins. I was too lazy to figure out time off and make the drive into Denver to see my doctor of almost 25 years. The clinic is down the road from my house and I got an appointment at my convenience. The clinic is on one of the busiest thoroughfares in town and it’s adjacent to the university campus. It’s not easily seen from the road and if it weren’t for the protestors I stood to miss the turn. There were five people standing near the clinic, four were clustered in a group of their own and one lone woman marched up and down sandwiched in a sign asking the right to choose never be taken away.
The other four standing on the sidewalk were brandishing misleading messages: an elderly white man and woman, a perky blonde teenaged girl, and a middle aged white guy. They were holding signs that read:
“Abortion is murder”
“The Pill Kills”
And something wrongheaded about Jesus hating murderers but I can’t clearly remember what it said because I was blind with fury.
I swung into the parking lot boiling mad. I wanted to march up to the privileged white men and scream in their faces a litany of statistics of how Planned Parenthood does so much more than offer early pregnancy termination. I wanted to deliver this sermon:
“Did you know that SIDS kills? That’s ‘sudden infant death syndrome’. One of the factors linked to SIDS is absent, poor, or late prenatal care. If your moral zeal closes this clinic you could—in essence—perpetrate what you think is happening behind those doors: kill a baby. So who’s the ‘baby killer’ now asswipe?
“And you know what else kills? Cervical, uterine, and breast cancer. Women of all ages are screened in this clinic and the screenings stand to save their lives through the early detection of treatable cancers. Do I look like I’m here for an abortion? No I’m here for a physical exam! Dumbass, go home.”
“Because you believe in life beginning at conception, you could also kill “babies” [zygotes] stuck in a scarred fallopian tube. Women who think ‘just this once I don’t need a condom, I’m sure it will be fine’ become infected with STD’s that spread, sometimes silently, to their reproductive organs and render them unable to reproduce. By intimidation you may be preventing a man or a woman from walking into that clinic and getting an STD screen.”
“And heaven help us, you know what else kills? Desperation. Death due to pregnancy almost vanished in this country in 1973. Women no longer sought out back street charlatans to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Do you want women to die? I doubt it.”
“ Would Jesus want you to perpetuate disease, sudden infant death, cancer, death? Not my hippie, helper of the downtrodden version of Jesus. So do this for me, go home, or better yet, go to your church and pray for the health and welfare of all the men, women, and unborn children who enter into the doors of that clinic. Pray for the clinical expertise of the dedicated and grossly underpaid nurse practitioners called to advocate on the behalf of women and women’s health concerns. This is not an abortion clinic: this is a health clinic. Would you want someone protesting in front of your doctor’s office with signs extoling the dangers of flu shots and stress tests? I think not. Go home. Go to church. But just get the fuck away from this clinic.”
I was incredibly angry with these four people and their misleading signs. I sat in my overwarm car deep breathing so I could calm the fuck down before I went into the clinic. After breath four I remembered something very important: Those protestors are just as flawed as the men and women who think it’s ok to “just this once” forego using barrier methods and then must deal with the uncomfortable and embarrassing reality of an STD or God forbid an unwanted pregnancy. They are just as flawed as me with an almost unbridled urge to confront them with an angry tirade of profanity and statistics.
Then I was grateful. I was grateful for the freedom of speech enjoyed by both sides of the argument. No one was silenced and anyone can in this country can stand in front of a woman’s health clinic pronouncing what he or she believe to be the truth. So I decided to forego an ugly confrontation and possible arrest. Instead, I prayed for the people who were advocating against healthcare and choice for women. I asked if these clinics ever close no one they love would suffer from the disappearance of the important healthcare services provided like pap smears for middle-aged women too lazy to drive into the city.