I am a pro-choice clinic escort at the last remaining abortion clinic in the city of Toledo, the fourth most populous city in Ohio. It is unfathomable that there should even be a need for women to need to be escorted into a clinic to have an abortion. An abortion is a medical decision that is made between the woman and her doctor.
Over the several months that I have been escorting, I have seen and heard these women’s stories. Often times, these women come in with their significant other and you can see it clearly on their faces that this was not an easy choice. What makes it even worse is that there are complete strangers yelling at them telling them they are going to hell for killing their baby and showing them horrible pictures. They already are facing an extremely hard decision they do not need others telling them about what a horrible decision they are making.
For example, a couple came in and you could clearly see that the husband was upset and so was the wife. A protestor yelled to the husband to “man up and take care of his baby,” and this set of the husband and the police that we on site stepped between the two. The protester did this to upset the husband. When the husband got to the door he stopped and told me his story. He was in tears along with his wife. They had 4 small children under the age of 5 already at home, he is a construction worker and she stays home with the children. They cannot afford any more children and she is on the pill. She is only 5 weeks pregnant and knows that if she carries this to term she will never be able to give it up for adoption. I explained that they didn’t have to explain anything to me but they needed me to know.
The protestors often ask me, “Do know how it feels to sleep next to a child? “Have you ever heard a child’s heartbeat?” “Have you ever carried a child or held a child after it has been born?” The answer to all of those questions is that yes, I have. I am a mother of three and I am pro-choice. I have also looked into the eyes of these women I am escorting into the clinic and seen their hurt and I have also escorted them from cars that already have car seats in them.
I often think that people forget that these women and couples are human beings with their own circumstances. You cannot judge someone until you know their story. Having an abortion is not always an easy decision. I have seen the heartbreak on their faces and heard the stories of how much they would love to have this baby but what kind of life could they possible give that beautiful baby. I have also seen the young teenagers come in with their moms who look heartbroken and ashamed.
The fact of the matter is this: women have the choice to do with their body what they feel is right. They should never feel ashamed because someone is standing on the corner yelling at them. And if the work I do makes it easier for them to make those choices, that’s enough.