Shimer College

June 08, 2013

What it Means to Be a Clinic Escort

Netiya Shiner and Maria Gomez are Shimer students participating in the Shimer Internship/Mentorship (SIM) Program. They regularly post updates about their internship experiences.

This post is from Netiya, who is interning with the Illinois Choice Action Team.

Hello again, Shimer community! Now that I’ve officially been an intern for more than a day, I figure it’s time for an update on what I’ve been doing with the ICAT.

The first task delegated to me by my ICAT mentor was to start posting on the ICAT twitter page. As a young college student who is fairly savvy with various social media sites, I’m going to be in charge of the ICAT twitter, tumblr, and pinterest pages (which, as many Shimerians know, is an important job in order to get an organization’s name out there).

In addition to updating various social media websites, something I’ll be doing on a weekly basis this summer is Clinic Escorting. What does that entail, one might ask? As a brief explanation, clinic escorts stand ouside clinics on days when abortions are performed in order to protect women from protesters. The protesters positioned outside clinics are, on a good day, quiet. If you catch these protesters on a bad day, however, they will do anything from yelling racial slurs at women to shoving pamplets in the faces of distressed mothers (who are often at the clinic for general health issues, including mammograms and STD tests). I and many other escorts witness this craziness on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, these dangerous “pro-life” protestors mean that clinic escorts are necessary in many cities for safety reasons, and Chicago is no exception. For a better summary of the job of clinic escorts, a fellow ICAT escort wrote this awesome article.

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For this reason, I now get to spend two mornings a week outside of Chicago clinics helping escort women past unhappy protesters. The picture above is from last weekend, when a school/church in Arlington Heights Illinois bussed in 30+ protesters, including a number of children. This now happens on a monthly basis. Ironically enough, these groups bring posters with giant photos of white babies even though most of the women headed to the clinic are women of color (because of the location of the site). This is only one of many tactics which illustrates the general lack of understanding of the issue on the side of the protesters. 

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I also took this picture last weekend, which not only utilizes a big picture of a white baby’s face to try and scare women, but also includes another example of a scare tactic commonly used by protesters: fake statistics. The nice thing about made up statistics is that you don’t have to source them, since they’re totally made up!

Finally, I took this picture today - it shows one of my favourite aspects of ICAT, which is the diversity among the escorts. Both of these women are friends of mine, and have both been escorting for years. Both of them are proud supporters of women’s rights, and are outside every week helping women of Chicago get the medical care they need.

Stay tuned for more news from my internship, including info about an ICAT event being held at Shimer in July!


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