The Anti-Abortion Activists Waging War on Vulnerable Women
I’m conscious that my fear is nothing compared to the women who have, in many cases, travelled great distances to attend the clinic and whose security and safety we have a duty to protect. When we go outside, we escorts - a mixture of women and men between 20 and 60 years old, from a variety of backgrounds and professions - are outnumbered by protesters. The clinic regularly faces over 40 protesters a day.
Until now, my only experience with anti-abortionists had been with the (relatively) quiet protesters outside the Marie Stopes clinic in London’s Bloomsbury, who mostly pray and hand out objectionable leaflets; here, it is very different. “You’re murdering children!” shout the (mostly male) protesters as we wait, silently. But it is when a woman walks towards the clinic that all hell breaks loose: she is immediately surrounded and screamed at.
Many times I saw patients crying as they were shouted at. I could only attempt to get close and offer soothing words, but that doesn’t protect them from the abuse and aggression.
Eliza tells me: “Someone was coming in for a follow-up, as she had had an abortion the week before, and she told a protester, ‘My baby didn’t have a heartbeat, so we had to abort,’ and the protester responded by saying: ‘Oh, they lied to you. Your baby did have a heartbeat. It was alive and you killed your baby.’ The level of hatred that is directed at these women - a lot of whom aren’t even getting abortions - is unconscionable. If you’ve not escorted, you don’t know how bad the intimidation can be.”