(Amherst, MA. photo by me.)
Today feels like it has been three days. I’m going to be writing this up more thoroughly for the Forward, but in the meantime, here’s an overview.
At 730 am, I was on the train, listening to a Tablet podcast episode and trying to not spill my coffee. I was at Planned Parenthood by 830, wearing a blue smock and opening the door.
The protestors showed up by 9, which apparently they do on the first Saturday of every month. There were probably 45 of them, with crosses and rosaries and a bullhorn and even a violin, chanting Hail Marys over and over. (I can probably recite it now. Thanks?) Also, there were some dudes from Bikers for Life, walking around with flyers. The whole point of an escort is to get people who need to get into the clinic into the clinic. Sometimes, that means going over to the person telling a woman she’s about to murder her baby and helping her extract herself from the lecture. Other times, it just means making eye contact and opening the door.
People who live in the neighborhood stopped to chat with us, we petted their dogs, answered their questions about the protestors. A guy in baggy shorts with a camera told us we were rad. Women and men went into the clinic and came out. Sometimes, men went in with women and came out alone, asking us where to get food or coffee. One of the Bikers for Life kept saying, ‘It’s such a nice day. Isn’t it a nice day?’
When I left at 10.15, the protestors were kneeling on the ground, their hands clasped in prayer. For a second, I remembered being eight years old and seeing my mother light Shabbat candles for the first time, ever. I put my hands together, fingers pointed up to the sky. “Don’t do that,” my mother said. “That’s not what we do.”