In the United States, abortion clinics are beset by anti-abortion protesters. The reply: squads of clinic escorts, groups of volunteers serving patients.
It is a well-honed scene that is repeated every Saturday morning. Stereo cacophony awaits patients at Choices Women’s Medical Center in the heart of Queens, a mixed-race community east of Manhattan. On the one hand, the exhortations of anti-abortion protesters as a welcoming committee, opposite committed pro-choice volunteers that surround and protect the women. These clinic escorts are privileged witnesses to the outposts of the merciless war delivered to the Americans. A battle for access to abortion that is also played out in the street and on the sidewalk. At the sight of the loud crowd that frames the front door, some patients turn away or hide their faces. Others debate or even insult the protesters. During our visit, very few turned their heels.
The activist Merle Hoffman, founder of the clinic, sees an explosive situation: “Patients are upset and escorts face often violent interactions. We work in a war zone. An alternative reality.”