I Got All Protested On At Planned Parenthood

"It's the anniversary of Roe v. Wade," the tiny girl swallowed by orange informed me. "Don't worry we'll be with you the whole time. I find it's best not to look at them and you don't have to talk to anybody."
Publish date:
January 24, 2012
protest, planned parenthood, street harassment, roe v. wade

As many of you know I'm a passionate supporter of a woman's right to choose. So, I get my birth control pills from Planned Parenthood because 1) I like walking into that building every month with my head held high as a woman who's taking control of what's going on inside her womb and 2) I'm a "broke" writer with no health insurance.

Last Saturday morning I woke up pretty early for me -- around 9 A.M. -- because I wanted to get to "the P Squared" early enough to not have to pretend read fake important emails in the clinic's waiting room.

At the metro station, a couple of dudes in cassocks got off at the same stop as me. I remember thinking something like, "Oh, wow, you guys get out?"

I am not Catholic. Or religious in any way. So I'm always stopped in my tracks when I see people in garb, raiment or vesture of any other worldly quality. It's like seeing an alien for the first time or maybe what it was like for Native people to see white people.

Funny thing is I'd find out later that these guys were just as dangerous as conquistadors.

If I were a kid, protected as they are in involuntary wonder, I would've reached out and touched one of the robes just to see if it was real. But since I'm a somewhat sane adult I said something like, "On your left!" as I barrelled up the escalator.

It was freezing cold out on Saturday, so I spent the three block walk from the train station cursing the fact that I don't have health insurance and can't just get my name brand prescription B pills from the fancy pants CVS around the corner like every other fat rich American. Oh wait. No. That's not real life.

(Side note: I learned a great word on Twitter the other day from @MerriamWebster: "weltschmerz." It means, "mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state.")

Anyways, just as I finished mentally berating myself for choosing self employed as a career and just as I was about to turn the corner to make my way into Planned Parenthood: BAW!

There's a massive crowd of about 50 or maybe 50,000 (I don't know) protestors singing hymns and praying for my imaginary child's soul on the sidewalk.

I immediately scanned the mass of bowed heads for orange life jackets. You know, the ones worn by the true angels, volunteers who act as ideological and physical crossing guards for women exercising their rights?

"What the fuck is going on?" I screamed over the incongrously loud praying. "Is this like a protest or something?" Stupid questions get asked in situations like these.

"Yeah, it's the anniversary of Roe v. Wade," the tiny girl swallowed by orange informed me. "Don't worry we'll be with you the whole time. I find it's best not to look at them and you don't have to talk to anybody."

She closed in with a gang of three other women smaller than me but larger than life.

The praying got louder. There were harmonized references to god, his son Jesus and other allusions that flew over my head as I tried not to look up. These strangers had someone shamed me into not looking them in the eye, when all I was doing was getting my damn birth control. The medical advancement that will hopefully prevent me from having to make a more difficult choice down the road, but nonetheless it'd be my choice. That's the god damned LAW.

A man shot out of the protesting choir with a pamphlet in his hand. He stabbed my puffy coat like a sword on armor.

"Don't do this to your baby," he pleaded.

The leader of my girl gang told him to back off. Someone else told me Jesus didn't want me to murder my child and that I'd probably make a great mother. I was too stunned to laugh.

Inside the security guard asked me what I was in for. Did I have an appointment?

"No no, I'm just here to pick up my prescription," I said with a slight giggle. The nervous tick of someone who just survived something dangerous and maybe a little bit stupid.

"You went through all that for a prescription?" She looked at me sideways and buzzed me in.

It took less than 10 minutes for me to get my tiny box of magical pills. I thought about staying, riding out the storm of protestors outside in the comfort of the waiting room. But no fucking way. I'm a 31-year-old woman. I'm semi-responsible. I'm a warrior! I'm calling my boyfriend.

"What are they doing?"

"I don't know singing, praying."

"Did anyone touch you? Nobody touched you right?"

"No no, they're just like... there."

When I got to the exit doors another volunteer in orange asked if I needed an escort and I told him no. The crowd had died down considerably. This time instead of focusing on the women walking in, they'd turned their handmade signs to the streets like cheerleaders to a crowd. Sis boom bahing about baby murder to cars passing by.

With a pocket full of pills I made my way home. Annoyed and angry that there was a lump in my throat that hadn't been there before.