It used to be an annual Planned Parenthood fundraiser celebrating yet another anniversary of Roe/Wade. This year is different- for the first time, the defenders of reproductive rights gathered after Roe/Wade was gone.
Despite that, the event was very elevating, and I left the event inspired. Everybody is determined to fight relentlessly to defend women’s bodies and the right to choose.
Antis were blocking the way to the venue (anything new?!), although not that many. And escorts were protecting the guests :). I thought I would be alone (I didn’t share my plans with anybody), but I met two escorts who invited me to sit together, so it was even more enjoyable.
The only time I attended this event before was in 2016 when I got discounted tickets for my friend and me. This year I decided to give more to Planned Parenthood by buying a non-discounted ticket. And I also gave money during the event.
I already said it once, and I want to say it again: escorting has become even more emotionally exhausting than before. There are no more quiet shifts. I was looking through my journal, and I was shocked to see the entries where I talk about quiet shifts or just do not talk about shifts because there was nothing eventful happening.
Not anymore. Ever. There are two or three, or four groups of antis each time. They bring amplifiers, and patients have to make their way in between these groups, between come and talk to us on the left, to Jesus Christ told us on the right, right into do not murder your baby on the left of the clinic entrance.
There were several heated exchanges of patients with antis. Several heated exchanges of passers-by with antis, as well as the escorts.
And I do not think we have reached the peak of this hatred yet.
As I mentioned earlier, recently, I was re-certified to be a host for MAC (Midwest Access Coalition) and started to host clients. Now, this activity is quickly starting to dominate in all my voluntieeering. I am shocked by how many people come from different states and the number of challenges they face.
Even when MAC helps with hosting, driving to and from, bus tickets, you name it; there are still mounting challenges! Some can’t find a daycare for a child. The bus is late, broken, or canceled. Some people are hosting non-stop, back-to-back. It’s insane. And that’s just the beginning!
For the past several days, I was saying to myself that it’s a new underground railroad, and today I saw that Mayor Lori said something similar: “I’m really thinking a lot about the fugitive slave laws that were passed earlier in our country’s history. We can’t go back to those times”
Speaking about Mayor Lori, she signed an executive order protecting people coming out of state to have an abortion in Illinois and also protecting the abortion providers. Details are here.
I hope that it will always remain the case in Illinois
These days, similar to when Donald Trump was elected, many new volunteer applications are coming in. I know it won’t last long, and we will struggle to fill the shifts again in several months.
Most people who want to volunteer their time to protect abortion rights are people who want to give and who do not expect to be showered with praise for doing it.
However, I still come across volunteers who … I struggle to describe what bothers me; I observed similar behavior before and can’t really put a right world on it. For example, after hearing me talking about MAC hosting, one lady started asking me “whether I ever had any negative experience with clients.” I wanted to tell her that, at the moment, there is a six-month waiting list for MAC volunteers, so she should not bother, but I decided against it.
I met a couple of other new escorts (I do not want to profile them, though I desperately want :)) who also behaved like their presence there is the best gift; and now it’s OK to sit in a folding chair for most of the shift and talk on the phone and do nothing just when our shifts are becoming more and more stressful. I blogged about similar encounters in the youth shelter before, so that’s no news. It stinks that you can’t filter out such people before they start volunteering. Time is spent training and onboarding them, and other people are waiting, and such volunteers are of no use.
I also remember how once, when I was blogging in my Russian blog about the youth shelter, some people reacted to my stories as “these youth are ungrateful, demanding, make you feel guilty” and other nonsense of the same kind.
To summarize: people are right when they say that volunteering is rewarding. But it is rewarding not because others say “thank you,” but because you are giving whatever you can to other people or a good cause. Volunteering is a privilege. And even though you try your best to give, nobody is obligated to accept. Giving is rewarding, not hearing “thank you” in return (although it’s always nice to hear :)).
Today’s escorting was tiresome. It’s not that there were more antis than usual, and not that they were especially aggressive, but they behaved the way that demonstrated their confidence. One of them (I have a history with him and hate him with a burning passion) gave me an evil smile: how many states are left where abortion is still allowed? They act as if they are masters of the land. I, together with another escort, guarded the side entrance. There were two antis, but they left soon. Shortly before that, a van with contractors stopped by – they were looking for the manager of the next-door Japanese restaurant. They were shocked by the scene they saw and said that they thought it was some rally, and they didn’t want to believe me when I told them that we have it every Saturday!
Oh, and also these protesters announced that they “love Ukraine!” I am speechless!
There was a counter-protest against the March for Life, which was going to “celebrate” a Roe/Wade overturn. Our goal was to silence the speakers on the opposite side of the street. On the one hand, we dominated. I remember many marches with tons of antis and just a few of us. This time, there were more of us, way more! And we were indeed louder than them. But on the other hand, I almost cried all the time marching because we lost no matter how loud we were. We lost when Roe/Wade was overturned, and it will take years and years to fix it. Meanwhile, people need help right now.
This article was printed shortly after the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe/Wade. I sent it to one of my colleagues to illustrate how complicated the issue is and why many companies are careful about not explicitly condemning this decision. It is not so unanimous even in the Blue State of Illinois.
My Apple watch flashed on the news in the middle of the conference, and right in the middle of me trying to figure out all the flight changes. I didn’t blog about it yesterday, because of all the other things going on, but this was the worst news of the day.
I said before that I am sorry to miss these warm summer days in Chicago, but what I really miss now – is not being able to march with others, and not being at the Federal Plaza yesterday. I just saw Igor’s pictures, and I am glad that people turned in instantaneously, but OMG… I did not believe SCOTUS will do it for real! Igor’s pictures below:
When I returned from Europe at the beginning of May and looked around, I realized that the war dominated my life so much that I completely ignored pretty much everything. Not only did I put my life on hold and almost fail several important things, like conferences readiness, but I also ignored what was going on in my country.
Once again, I can’t change the development with Roe/Wade, but at least I can protest.
At first, it didn’t look like the potential SCOTUS ruling changed the situation around the clinics, but later, things started to get worse.
There were some very loud (at how to put it? Not so smart) antis who just repeated the exact text over and over and tried to harras the patients (and often – not even patients, doing horrible profiling).
This time, they brought an amplifier, and they first set it up at the corner of Washington and Des Plaines, but in about 30 min, they moved it to the bridge over the expressway, and then it could be heard at the waiting area of the clinic. We called the police, and they actually arrived, but then they did nothing! I still can’t believe it! They didn’t tell antis to turn the volume down! Honestly, they would rather not come at all!
The video below shows how loud they wee, and how police did absolutely nothing!
Also, I finally got contacted by MAC (Midwest Access), because they are getting ready to resume accommodating the out of state patients in private residencies. I told them that I moved, and I should have another home visit next week. I hope I will be able to helo that way, too!