Saturday, February 11 will be a day that many different forces in the anti-choice world will be standing in front of Planned Parenthood centers across the nation with their message to defund the organization. If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of the many who support Planned Parenthood and their services (many of which prevent unwanted pregnancy) and reproductive rights. You’re probably riled up by this and want to do something. And you want to show your support, which is wonderful.
Counter-protesting at a local clinic, however, is not an effective and practical means to support women seeking healthcare.
WACDTF’s goals (per its Goals and Guidelines which you can view here) include keeping the clinics open and functioning at the request of the providers. We assist patients and companions to obtain access to these clinics in as much of a calm, stress-free environment as possible. And we do this by adhering to our non-violence policy and our commitment to de-escalate any potential confrontation. There may be anti-choice protesters yelling at patients. Or holding up banners with inaccurate information or graphic images. As clinic escorts, we do not engage. We do not debate. Our role is to support the patients by ensuring access and not to counter-protest.
When even the best-intentioned pro-choice voices are added to the mix, it often escalates the situation. Conversations become louder and often more targeted at patients. The increased number of people makes it harder for patients to access the clinic. And in the very short amount of time when a patient is just trying to get to the front door, it’s hard to distinguish between different groups of people trying to make themselves heard. It’s not helpful to the patients or the clinic.
So — the big question: what can we do instead? How can supporters of reproductive choice show their support?
This Facebook Event has some ideas: Stand With Planned Parenthood (DC MD VA). It mentions that February 11 can be a day in which supporters can coordinate a donation drive to inform others in their communities about Planned Parenthood and how beneficial their services are. If you’re closer to Frederick, MD, there is a Stand With Planned Parenthood March which will take place in the center of town (not at the clinic). The march is not a counter-protest but rather a separate event meant to foster positive action and energy, supporting women’s rights & health, Roe v Wade, and empowering all individuals to make informed and responsible reproductive choices.
UPDATE: We are now at capacity for our March Clinic Escort training. However, we are still accepting RSVPs for the waitlist should space open up.
We’ve scheduled a new Clinic Escort Training for March. Please visit our Trainings page for further information.
We’re still receiving a very high volume of inquiries about wanting to help with clinic escorting from people like you who want to make a difference in today’s climate. And because of this — as well as the fact that clinic escorting is not a numbers game (meaning more escorts isn’t necessarily better or ideal), there may be a good amount of time before volunteers who have undergone our training are able to escort on a given Saturday or weekday morning. There are also plenty of other ways to get involved to protect gender and reproductive rights; please take a look at “What Can I Do Now?” for some suggestions of where to start.
Coming up soon — our WACDTF Annual Meeting! We’ll announce it here, on social media, and on WACDTF-News. Stay tuned…
As our training page indicates, we do have a need for volunteers willing to escort at the clinic in Hagerstown, MD. Hagerstown is a bit further away, about a 1 hour drive northwest from Rockville, MD and 90 minutes east of Baltimore. Thus — transportation would be needed. WACDTF escorts at the clinic most Saturday mornings and may also begin on some weekday mornings.
We’ll be holding our next training session on Saturday, January 28 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at the Washington County Free Library – Central Library Branch in Hagerstown. Please visit our training page or email [email protected] to RSVP or receive further information.
As mentioned on our home page — we’ll be scheduling a DC area training for March, and we will be sure to update our website, Twitter and Facebook when all has been finalized.
We’ll be holding our next WACDTF Clinic Escort Training on Saturday, July 25 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm — at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Northwest DC. This is right across from the Gallery Pl – Chinatown Metro, accessible from the Red, Yellow and Green lines.
As always, RSVPs are requested but not required — we’d like to know about how many will attend so we can provide the right amount of training materials. You can visit our Upcoming Trainings page for a form to RSVP or ask any further questions.
Many thanks to Emily Gillingham, blogger for Law Students for Reproductive Justice, who wrote a fascinating article about the origins of WACDTF and clinic defense in the Washington, DC area. She interviews Alicia, a WACDTF member who has been a leader in the organization for quite a while, about the differences in the way we see clinic escorting now as we did previously. Feel free to take a look:
We’re setting up our next training session — which will be on Saturday, May 30 at 1:00pm at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library in Northwest DC. You can visit our training page for more details.
As always, our training sessions are open to all — even if you’d like to find out more information and are not looking to volunteer at this time. It’s also available as a refresher to anyone who has been a WACDTF escort and gone through training before.
RSVPs are not necessary, but we appreciate them so we can plan accordingly for materials and numbers of trainers.
Feel free to spread the word! If you have any questions or would like to RSVP, you can contact us through the form on our training page.
WACDTF appreciates your support — whether through your dedication to the organization through clinic escorting, through other volunteer tasks, and through your financial support. (We’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit, charitable organization, and your donations are tax-deductible. Visit our “Donate” page for easy ways to give.)
There’s a new way to help support WACDTF — and it involves shopping at Amazon.com. Through Amazon’s “Smile” program, they are partnering with millions of charitable organizations to provide them with donations based on the purchase price of many of their items. Participating costs nothing extra for the buyer — all you have to do is select WACDTF as your charitable organization to receive donations. You can do so by clicking on the banner below:
You can find out more about the AmazonSmile program from their About page.
Every little bit counts. We appreciate your support!