Clinic defense: it's getting up very early on Friday and Saturday mornings and driving to a clinic which performs abortions in order to help the women who are coming to them from medical care get into the clinic without having to deal with the harassment of anti-abortion protesters.
It's challenging work. It requires you learn to focus on the clients and not react personally to *anything* the protesters say to you (gay-baiting, race-baiting, threats on your person, etc.).
When you do clinic defense, you don't even refer to one another by name where it can be overheard because if they have your name, they make the attacks much more personal.
It was difficult work, but it was well worth it. It taught me a lot about myself, about responding to personal attacks, and it taught me a bit about courage, too.
The job itself was simple: when someone pulls into the parking lot, do your best to help them into the clinic and distract them from the protesters to ease their way in.
Sometimes, the protesters would play games, like having one of their people pull up and then drive away as they convince the person not to have an abortion. Like we don't recognize their cars that are parked along the road every week and don't recognize the drivers in them as well? But, I digress...
I'm talking about this because despite my occasional differences with NARAL (I'm not fond of groups which endorse incumbents over challengers just because the incumbents have acceptable voting records, even if the incumbent can do a lot better, so I've clashed with NARAL a few times over this), I think they're a good organization that does good work.
So, if you're angry about their endorsement, please be sure to let them know what your preference would have been, and if you're happy about it, let them know that, too.
But whatever you may think about their decision, NARAL is no traitor and if it weren't for them, some of these clinics I volunteered at wouldn't even exist today. They've been a major force supporting abortion rights for decades and they deserve some respect for that.
I'm going to close this with two quick stories:
The women who owned the clinic I volunteered at developed a brain tumor which eventually killed her. While she was still alive, one of the protesters found out about the illness and they started mocking her for it.
They would shout to her, telling her that this was God's punishment for her sins.
These are the people who should be our common enemy here.
Once, one of the protesters herself came to the clinic to get an abortion. She asked for special permission to come around through the back entrance so her friends protesting outside wouldn't see her.
The clinic complied.
We didn't challenge her on this. That would have been unacceptable. She had every right to get an abortion and she had every right to protest. The contradiction between the two was her issue to deal with, and it wasn't our place to make her feel terrible for it.
The next week, she was out there protesting again.
We never said a thing.