The violence at clinics started in the late 1970’s. I was in my teens and I paid attention as in 1979, at 17 years old, I got pregnant. The journey that led me to my abortion choice is here:
Lizz Winstead performs at “A Night of Comedy with Judy Blume & Friends” from NCAC on Vimeo.
I went alone, I had no support, and the first time I could have real feelings about my choice in front of someone was at the clinic. I could speak freely, and without judgment.
I was professionally counseled; I was asked questions that did not have an agenda attached, it was only to evaluate my decision. It reaffirmed what I knew about myself, not as I had experienced days before at a Crisis Pregnancy center, what a stranger tried to impose upon me. I felt safe, I felt heard and – as I say almost every time I have written about this subject – I felt relief.
I made a promise to myself that I would always be there to advocate in anyway I could. And when the violence at abortion clinics started escalating in the 1980’s, I tried to help.
Doctors were being gunned down at their clinics and in their homes. Their children were followed to school, taunted by dangerous pied vipers shouting, “Your mommy (or daddy) is a murderer.”
There wasn’t organized clinic escorting yet so some activists would do things like stay overnight to protect clinic entrances before the most rabid of the protesters arrived. These people would do ANYTHING to gain access and even chain themselves to the clinic door, disrupting women’s access to health care for the day.
There often was swarming between camps and chaotic pushing and shouting. We were without training so we made up rules as we went along. First rule we learned quickly was always wear thick jeans. No matter how hot it is.
Because in order to protect access, we would link arms and make a human chain to block protestors from getting to the door. They would rush the chain and then either with an, “Oops! I didn’t realize the stick of my terrifying sign still had an old nail in it” or an “accidental” jab from a Swiss Army tool, someone in the chain would be stabbed and have to break the chain.
Then a scary land-grab would ensue, often times winding up with the anti-abortion foes gaining ground and shutting a clinic down for an entire day. They are smart: because they didn’t use “weapons” it was all just “an accident” so it wasn’t “assault.”
It was terrifying.
The scariest place to be in the chain was in the middle because if the middle broke, they could get access easier. I tried to be on the end so I could see better and somehow it felt safer. That is until I had a guy walk past me with a sharpened key, dragging it across my thighs.
I flinched and broke the chain. He looked into my eyes and said, “Just headed to my car” as he made a beeline for the clinic door.
Clinic buffer zones don’t violate speech; they preserve the rights of people not to get injured, followed home, shanked or murdered. And now the Supreme Court has decided getting close enough for any of those things to happen is constitutionally protected by “speech.”
So in light of this decision, I know that the Lady Parts Justice League will be gathering to fight for the rights of women in the new, constitutionally protected buffer free zones to be created in front of the Supreme Court and at every political convention.
Sign up and join us at Lady Parts Justice League.
The conspiring begins for real July 15th. Stay tuned.