Perspective frames our existence. When we look about, listen, taste, or make use of any of our senses alone or in tandem, the information received all runs through the filter of our perspective. Perspective drives our opinions, so too the things we believe and the things we do.
Due to tomorrow’s holiday, I worked a volunteer shift at Planned Parenthood this morning. After parking in the PP lot, one fenced in save for the entrance, a protester shouted to me from streetside as I walked to the door.
“Why the hell are you volunteering for them? And why do you do so on the day before Thanksgiving!” Perspective – theirs.
Mouth shut, nelle. I’m not there to go instigating brouhaha’s with the objecting. I am there so clients feel less threatened from the verbal barrage while making the exposed walk into the PP building. On my first day, not knowing my new role, the protesters shouted ‘Can we talk to you for a moment?” I ignored them, which triggered “You don’t have to do this; there is a family clinic right down the street.”
Aside from the fact they had no clue why anyone is there, they surely misfired on my presence. Over three weeks, I’ve watched them shout out how Planned Parenthood only desires their money, a curious claim given the reciprocity involved in delivery of PP services – clients seek their services because they desire the assistance. Those with no income can get reduced cost birth control, or even no cost birth control through PP. Everyone on staff is friendly and dedicated. Three percent of PP revenue comes from abortion services, which means 97% does not – but no one holding a sign cares to deal with this simple fact.
Another big whopper (not voiced by the on scene protesters, but you will see plenty of it online) concerns allegations PP does not follow reporting law for incidents involving minors. Funny, in my training, PP emphasised and reemphasised a no tolerance policy – follow the law, or gone. Of course, acknowledging this fact would be counter-productive to establishing an image of the reproductive services clinicians as villains, so… better to omit such details.
Yet, my intent today isn’t to defend PP here. They do a good job of it themselves, better than I do in fact. You see, I understand why people stand there in protest, even if I disagree with them. We all have things of interest, perspectives on every aspect of existence. Their perspective on reproductive rights funnels it through a filter depicting making the choice to abort as vile, wholly different from my perspective of choice as a range of possibilities. They and I would quibble over the basic composition of and fundamental tenet of choice – do not impose what I believe on another. Only one side in the cultural debate on reproductive rights does not impose. Legal right to abortion does not impose on another, because the other can opt not to abort. Banning abortion eliminates this freedom to choose – at least legally.
From my perspective, one could personally not believe abortion right for her, but could still be for choice because of supporting the right of other women to make their own choice. If I had my way, pro-life folks and pro-choice folks would find common ground by standing for universal health care, comprehensive sex education, and widely available and cheap contraception. Perspective of too many on the other side would have them opposing all three of the options, when these three things in place could reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and along with it, the number of abortions. PP tries to make this work now by delivering these services to those who seek them.
Standing up for what one believes matters, and these folks do this, credit to them. Theirs is not an easy day on the picket line, because people arriving, perhaps half, return rather unkind commentary to the protesters.
Every Thursday, I stand on one of the front lines in the confrontation over reproductive rights in America. Every Thursday I bear witness to the interaction and the clashing perspectives. And every Thursday I arrive on station, reaffirming my rock solid belief in the right of choice, no matter the misjudgements made of me.