dealing with anti-abortion protesters

“The Beginning of the End of Abortion” yeah right.

40 Days for life is an anti-abortion campaign, twice a year they spend 40 days standing outside abortion clinics across the world. Last week I attended a counter presence against 40 Days, where they stood outside an abortion clinic harassing and shouting at women to try and stop them having abortions, pushing leaflets and unwanted advice to women and girls who are already having maybe the hardest day of their lives. I’m part of a counter presence group where we stand in front of this group with pro-choice and supportive messages, in general try to protect people using the clinic from the shit-bricks stood outside.

My first shift we were very fortunate as none of them turned up - they don’t seem to be able to wake up early to do “the Lord’s work.” This is something that has happened a number of days as they simply do not have the man power to have someone standing outside a clinic everyday for 40 Days. In contrast, on my 2nd shift too many of us turned up to counter their presence, we’re bursting at the seams to support choice and abortion.

During my 2nd shift 3 vigilers arrived with signs to litter in front of the clinic: the classic anti-abortion images over exaggerated fetus' mothers and babies, Jesus on the cross ect ect. During this time a man came out of the clinic to ask what the vigilers were doing by being there. Man number 1 (age around 80) replied “We’re here to stop the murder of innocent babies.” It takes an awful strong will to not reply to such a hate-filled comment from a man clinging onto his rosary beads. How they can believe shouting something like that is really going to help somebody is delusional.

From personal experience of turning up somewhere to have an abortion, once you’re at the clinic your mind is made up. If I had seen or had to deal with vigilers at my appointments it would have just made me go to another clinic, their idea of “saving lives” is a cover to hide their spite against women making their own decisions. How many of them have adopted the babies they’ve “saved”? how many of them foster children in care? Or even give money to charities that do?

My friend wished me luck as I left to go and said “I hope its not too difficult for you!” This hadn’t even crossed my mind, I didn’t feel upset or sad about myself when I was there - there was this sadness for the other girls dealing with this especially since they had these crusty old men judging them as they go in. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel going to an abortion clinic, seeing these women who are in the same position I was in a few years ago but I felt this immense sense of pride. I felt proud for the girls going in that they’d taken charge of their situation and made the choice that best suited them and proud of the group I’m involved with to counter the anti-abortion presence. I’ll keep shouting about my abortion as long as I can because of how proud I am of getting through it!

I refuse to call people pro-life, as I don’t see them as so. They’re not pro the life of the woman who’s pregnant, they don’t care about how being pregnant might effect her, they’re not interested in what she might want to do with her life or the fact that she just doesn’t want a child. Pro-life gives off this fake aura of positivity and after standing face to face with this group for a few hours I can say there was not an ounce of positivity between them.

I don’t know what got them so fucked up in life to think shouting at people or saying 10 hail Marys will make them change their minds but, their anti-abortion and anti women values are something I can’t wrap my head around. Their main belief is that you shouldn’t have sex unless you want to have a child or as to do so is a sin…Looking at this group of people I don’t believe for a second that in their 80 years of life they only ever had sex to procreate, or lets say they did, I’m supposed to believe that they have never committed another sin? A lot of religious groups have a great habit of picking and choosing which “sins” they focus their attentions on. Some examples from The Bible:

1 Corinthians 14:34 reads:

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.”

translation: women better stay quiet in Church

Leviticus 19:19 reads:

“You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.”

translation: don’t wear polyester (I can say for certain all of the vigilers were breaking this one)

Some other of my favourite sins:

  • no seafood Leviticus 10–11

  • no working on Saturdays Exodus 31:14–15

  • no round haircuts Leviticus 19:27

  • no beard trimming Leviticus 19:27

  • and definitely no eating cheeseburgers Leviticus 3:17 

All of these sins they could focus on, they could go picket outside McDonalds for the sinners of the big mac, but no. They focus their attention on the women choosing what to do for themselves, because that’s what they’re comfortable with - questioning a woman’s choice.

Trying to stop abortion won’t stop abortion. When it was illegal here people still had them, where it is still illegal women still get them. Trying to stop abortion will never stop abortion, it only stops safe ones.

an abortion, a boyfriend and me

I’d only been seeing the guy who got me pregnant 3 months before it happened. The night I got pregnant was the first time seeing him since we’d made things “official.” New Years Eve going into the new year literally with a bang - incidentally I spent the countdown to midnight crying into a random girls shoulder because once again he’d gotten too drunk and turned nightmarish, should have been a sign for how the rest of that year was going to turn out.

 

Mine and my ex-boyfriends relationship before finding out about the pregnancy was rocky, then knowingly being pregnant and having an abortion made it turmoil and I think that's the same for a lot of young couples who go through something similar. All our emotions got heightened, arguments became more regular and much more heated, there’s this new level of unknown stress pressing down on both of you that neither of us knew how to deal with. He had a lot of issues, drinking, drugs and mental health that he always seemed to brush under the carpet, not wanting to accept nor willing to work on.

When I was 4 weeks pregnant (although we didn’t know this) it was his 21st birthday, a group of us went to a club and he got too drunk and aggressive, nothing too different here. Something that was different was that he thought I’d lost his house key (he hadn’t actually taken it out with him) this lead to him drinking more, and getting angrier and angrier at me as he thought I had lost his keys. It all came to blow when he got cut off from the bar and he thought I’d asked for this. Having me backed up against a wall I got the full rage of a drunk 21 year old screaming inches away from my face about “ruining [his] fucking birthday”  at this point 3 random girls and the bouncer came over pulled him away and chucked him outside. After explaining to them that he wasn’t just a drunk cunt and was actually my boyfriend, I got advice I wish I’d listened to as they all told me almost simultaneously to dump him. I went and found him slumped outside and we went back to his (not before I’d stood crying to the bouncer begging to let him back him as I knew I would get the blame for him fucking up his own birthday.) He was drifting in and out of consciousness in the taxi and I was crying in the seat next to him, happy 21st babe x.

When we get to his, we both remembered we don’t have a key and we only left the club at about 1am so none of his housemates were in either. I try to suggest we should walk to mine but he is determined to argue about me losing his key which I know is on the other side of the front door. After around 30 minutes of screaming at each other and more tears from me, he punches through the window. This (of course) helps the situation in no way because theres 2 doors to get through to get into his house, so now his hand his bleeding and we’re still stuck outside.

“You made me do that..
if you hadn’t lost my fucking key and got me kicked out of my own birthday night this wouldn’t have happened! And it’s going to cost me £100s to fix that window that you made me break”

I’m really embarrassed by the fact that I stayed with him for another 6 months after that, this should have been a big enough wake up call to see the type of person he was and if my friends boyfriends had done this to them I’d be the first to tell them to fuck him off, but I think I’ll blame staying on the pregnancy hormones turning my judgements to mush and being 19 years old.

I’m sure you can imagine that somebody with those attributes didn’t take the news of me being pregnant too well. The very initial moment he was like any other boyfriend/friend would have been, arm around me and said things would be fine, this was the one of the only decent thing he did during the next 6 months (being pregnant & the messed up abortions.)  

Just to name a few things: he told a lot of people, some specific people I’d asked him not to tell, some people we both knew would tell more people. He turned up to the abortion appointment hungover and stinking of booze, complaining that this was the first St Patrick’s day he wouldn’t be able to go out drinking, asked me multiple times on the day how much longer I was going to be there and what was taking so long, suggested more than a few times that I should discharge myself against doctors advice when we’d been at the hospital over 7 hours. Then the big one, fucking someone else 3 days after my abortion.

There’s 2 major things that stuck with me that he did. A few days after my abortion I’d gone home to be looked after by my Mom, he suggested we didn’t talk for this time and had a bit of a break away from each other, pretty shitty but I agreed. I was sick to death of arguing with someone and really didn’t have anything left in me after the abortion, I just needed to cry and sleep. During this break, about 3 days after the abortion he slept with another girl, a girl I knew, someone our friend had previously slept with, someone I knew he spoke to sometimes but told me it was nothing, someone who after they slept together before I’d figured it out came up to me asking about him. He went round to her flat, slept with her then phoned me about an hour later saying the break was a bad idea and he missed me (I found out about the other girl about 3 months later). The other moment that’s stuck with me over 2 years since it happened was during one of our arguments about who knows what he said: “you killed my son.” I don’t think I need to explain the emotional turmoil this gives someone who has had an abortion, we also couldn’t know the sex but he knew the ways to upset me the most.

I don’t tend to regret a lot in my life, there’s usually a silver lining I can find from the most awful situations - actually being pregnant gave me my documentary for my degree, and writing this blog to help other people, having a real sense of pride about such an important subject. The anxiety I suffer from now due to the abortion has given me a whole new outlook on life, and I appreciate a lot more of what’s happening around me and I feel I have a greater understanding of people’s behaviour.

Yet something I cannot find a single positive about, something that when I see pictures or old mutual friends it makes my stomach feel hollow, is being with him. Being with him for so long, after so many friends told me I could do better and deserved better. Seeing him self sabotage almost every aspect of his life. I didn’t need him with me to have my abortion, I had friends and family offer to come with me, look after me but I felt I needed it to be done with him, I should have gone through it with somebody who really cared about me, and somebody I could still talk to about it now. Or I should have gone through it alone, I hate that he saw me in such a vulnerable state. When I bump into him now he has this look of self pity for fucking up his own life consistently along with a look of guilt that I finally realised I was above dealing with his toxic lifestyle.

 

I knew how manipulative he was and how he said the most hurtful things he could think of to really get to me. Me still not leaving is something I hate about my old self, yet as I’m writing this I have found a small positive, knowing I’m never going to stand for someone being so detrimental and full of shit again. Being around people now who happily point out and really appreciate my positive attributes has honestly changed my life, knowing how much I’m worth and that I’m not just here to pick up the pieces of someones bullshit.

A big factor to why I think I’ve never regretted the abortion is because of how bad my relationship was, how much me and my boyfriend didn’t suit each other. Even before the pregnancy I knew we weren’t going to be together very long, something I’d told my friends repeatedly. I do question why I stayed, after we hated each other, after he’d cheated on me, even after so many people told me to leave.

I can look at it now happy it’s in the past, he will be the worst relationship of my life, you date rock bottom you can only go up.