Thursday, November 8, 2007

Trust Oklahoma Women

We received this email from the son of a former employee today and wanted to post it for others to read.

"I want to share a story with you from this past Saturday.

My mother worked for Planned Parenthood of Oklahoma as a health educator when I was in grade school. She used to take me along to events, but I was too young to understand the broader issues she and her colleagues represented. She was very proud when I told her that I had begun volunteering as an escort for Planned Parenthood in Houston. That Christmas, she sent me a set of Planned Parenthood thank-you cards along with a glass which had the Planned Parenthood logo and the words “Trust Oklahoma Women” etched onto the surface. I placed the glass on my shelf along with a few other trinkets and never gave it much thought.

This Saturday, during the height of Houston Coalition for Life’s presence, a young couple arrived. I and another escort greeted them at the car and began walking them towards the clinic. It was clear to us that this couple was there for an abortion - the woman was nervous and seemed emotionally frail. As they approached the east gate, Christine began her standard speech. The girl burst into tears and three other escorts ran to her aid as we walked through the gate. We began comforting her in an effort to drown out Christine's words. I don't remember all that was said, but they were words of love and support. By the time we approached the clinic, she was smiling through her tears even laughing a bit, having never heard the rest of the crowd's tirade.

In two years of escorting for Planned Parenthood, no instance has upset me like this one. I thought about it for the rest of the weekend and it wasn't until I talked it out to a friend over coffee that I finally understood why it was so upsetting. Abortion is not a pleasant idea - I hope never to meet the person who disagrees. That l like less telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body does not make me pro-abortion, it makes me pro-choice. We have all seen the emotional bond a woman experiences once she learns she is pregnant and we all know of the controversy surrounding the choice afforded to women should they choose not to continue a pregnancy. This in mind, I doubt any woman coming to Planned Parenthood for an abortion has not considered and even agonized over what must be a terrifically difficult decision. But it is her decision, it is a legal decision and it is to be respected.

This in mind, I would have no problem with protestors who approached clients to say "may I tell you about other options" or "may I help ensure you know all the details of what you are about to do" provided they backed off in response to a negative response. Given the principles at hand, I could appreciate someone saying "I believe life begins at conception and although this is certain only by biological definitions which apply to every cell in my body, my belief system tells me that conception yields a soul." Although I disagree with the conclusion from which these statements spring, they would at least show a level of respect to the client. Instead, what I hear are emotionally driven sound bites. Telling a woman that she has "a beautiful baby boy or girl" or that "[her] baby already has a beating heart" is not an effort of reason but one of emotion. It is equivalent to saying "I don't trust your judgment, so I am going to get to you using your emotions." In short - it shows a complete lack of trust.

Women who approach our clinic having decided to terminate their pregnancies have come to that decision through whatever thought process they deemed appropriate. To assume that thought process is flawed simply because it doesn't match up with yours represents the height of condescent. I was never prouder to be a Planned Parenthood escort than I was that day. "Trust Oklahoma Women" - today I finally understand what my mother meant."

We appreciate your efforts too...

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