What a jarring wake up call. I usually take the bus down 16th street every morning without a care in the world, my music playing…life is all good. But, today as we stopped in front of the Planned Parenthood offices at L and 16th street, I saw the most horrifying sight.
A young, African American girl probably no older than 17 was standing outside of the building without a coat, crying. Next to her, an older white man with a heavy beard and large cross stood hovering over her shaking a bible at her. The girl sobbed heavily and tried to move away from the man as she approached the center’s front doors. He kept pressuring her backwards using his chest as a battering ram. I kept thinking, Don’t push her. What the hell does he think he’s doing?
Suddenly, from inside the center, two volunteers rocketed outside wearing neon Planned Parenthood penny jerseys over their coats. The male volunteer walked over to the old man and used his body as a physical barrier between the man and the young girl. The other volunteer covered the girl with a blanket and ushered her inside as the older man screamed expletives at her calling her a dirty whore. If I could hear that language through the bus windows in traffic, you can only imagine how loud and violent it must have been for that poor girl.
Once the girl got inside, the older man pressed his face against the glass door and kept screaming. Our bus pulled away, leaving me with a last glimpse of the man angrily throwing his arms in the air, accidentally dropping the Bible he had shoved in the face of the girl.
This kind of incident I’m sure happens all the time at PPMW. But is it right? Is it legal to harass a young girl for wanting to get help, to get answers?
These images and sounds resonate more strongly with me now that John Boehner was sworn in as the Speaker of the House. Despite his tendency to cry at anything that requires composure, he’s the most powerful anti-choice politician in the country and in his 20 years of political service, he has never voted pro-choice, not even for sexual education or birth control. Taking away the basic right to access care, whether it’s abortion, contraceptives, or even just counseling, will deeply affect many young people–girls very similar to the one I saw this morning.
We’re entering a scary era in the history of reproductive choice and rights… Should I move to Sweden?