Wednesday 10 April 2013

The impact of anti-abortion protestors on our clinic staff

The first thing anyone at bpas will say if asked how protestors make them feel is ‘Oh I’m OK – it’s the women I worry about.’ Our staff are passionate about their work and hate to see the impact of groups like ‘40 Days for Life’ or ‘Abort67’ when a woman is already feeling vulnerable. Helping women and their escorts deal with protestors will always be our top priority so the impact on the doctors, nurses and support staff who work in clinics is usually at the back of our minds, but it is worth taking a moment to explain what it is like for us during that time.

The general feeling among staff in the clinics affected by major protests (primarily Central London, Brighton and increasingly Milton Keynes) is that while it is unpleasant it is manageable. Support of the local police goes a long way to reassure staff that they are protected from any extreme behaviour by, increasingly entirely male, groups that stand outside clinics. The outpouring of support from our neighbours and local people has also been a comforting reminder that the protestors are a tiny minority.

Imagine every day when you get to work there is a strange man standing by the front door either glaring at you or trying to ‘befriend’ you depending on his mood. When you step outside the door during the course of the day, depending on what you look like, you may be hassled by protestors asking if you’re pregnant, face a dozen people who start praying loudly when they see you or have leaflets aggressively thrust at you. At the end of the day when the clinic is closed you lock up the building there is a large man is standing by the door, this time with no pretence about ‘helping women’ – he is just there to intimidate you as you leave alone at night.

That is an average day – manageable but unpleasant. The occasions where staff are followed on their lunch breaks, filmed coming in and out of the clinic or called ‘murderer’ while on a fire drill are thankfully infrequent.

Ultimately everyone at bpas feels this is unimportant when compared to the distress protestors cause women and their escorts, but that’s not to say the deliberation creation of a hostile environment outside clinics is meaningless to staff. Our staff should not suffer a form of daily harassment that the protestors would find reprehensible should the women in their own lives were subjected to it.

1 comment:

  1. I really feel for the clinic staff who have to put up with this nonsense. Rest assured most right-thinking people are behind you and value the vital services you provide. No-one should have to put up with this kind of intimidation, at work or anywhere else. Why have these "vigils" not been banned? I can't imagine society putting up with similar protests outside any other kind of medical facility.