Earlier this month I insisted Creative Loafing give me access to its Facebook account for a day. For weeks, a friend updated me on a six-day-per-week protest in Charlotte and I wanted CL's audience to see first hand what was going on by way of Facebook Live.
What I didn't tell them, or anyone else, is that I was once one of the women who walked into a clinic, shielded by an umbrella and a friend while the loud speakers blared.
The day I visited a clinic was not a happy day. Neither were the days leading up to it or following it. But I know that I made the right decision for myself, and I am right with God and that's all that matters to me.
I do not need to tell you my story. In fact, my CL editors can attest, I almost didn't: I said I would, then changed my mind; I started to write, then wrote something else. The story was put on hold.
My reluctance to share my story comes not from a desire to hide anything but because it is none of your damn business.
But as I've pondered the idea it occurred to me that this may be the only way to reach the anti-abortion protesters, since I am the very woman they say they are so concerned about. I did, after all, stand right in front of them offering advice on how to reach me and women like me.
I suggested that they begin their argument with kindness instead of yelling, shaming or intimidating. I told them that, based on my religious upbringing and family history, Jesus represents love and compassion, not ... whatever we want to call what they do.
In response, they quoted the Old Testament to justify their contempt. Well, I'll tell them again, now: Your vitriol isn't helping your cause, not even a wee little bit.
On that other long-ago Saturday, as I sat in the clinic waiting for my turn, it occurred to me that the hullabaloo outside was insane. I mean, how can you possibly sway someone's view when you're trying to publicly humiliate and shame them? And, really, so many of the "facts" they share have already been debunked.
So, the guilt trip didn't sway me or anyone in the room with me. There we were, a group of adult women making a Constitutionally protected medical — and, for some, economic — decision. We did not need anyone's approval. We did not need to consult with anyone unless we wanted to do so.
And we were not going to abruptly change our decision, however painful, and walk out into an angry horde to say, "You know, when you were yelling all of those awful things and rushing my friend's car like an escapee from the nearest mental institution, I thought, I get your point, and based on the evidence you provided today, I think I will commit to a lifetime of motherhood. Damn my health. Damn my future."
But seriously, you could see on our faces that every one of us made a tough decision that day. However, at the same time, believe it or not, I support the protesters' right to assemble and their right to free speech, though I don't believe it's helping them reach their goal.
Reflecting on that horrible day many years ago, and the ongoing and recently escalating protests here in Charlotte, I want to offer the anti-abortion protesters some good advice: If you truly want to prevent abortions, you should be in the business of supporting the distribution of free and safe birth control. I admit, a program like that would have prevented my abortion.
In 2015, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment issued a report indicating that, after six years of offering free birth control, abortions in that state were down by 42 percent. Combined with a 40 percent drop in unintended pregnancies, they reported a savings in Medicaid expenses in the range of $49 million to $111 million.
Re-read that last paragraph, because that's what's up, y'all. I am here to testify: No one wants to have an abortion. No one. So help women avoid them if you want to be successful.
Also, get this crystal clear in your mind: it is no one's right but mine to make a moral, medical and financial decision for myself. And I am quite capable, thank you very much.
Now, I'd be glad to discuss this more with you, but I will only do so beneath a canopy of compassion. If you can't muster any of that then you will not be heard by me or any of your other targets.