A break from our regularly scheduled writer chat today.
Last night, I left my handstands class early to meet four strangers outside a hospital. We had with us cable ties and a ladder. And also, several posters expressing love and support for all patients, staff and visitors driving into the hospital.
I'm not interested in discussing the right to chose (as far as I'm concerned, bodily autonomy isn't up for debate in any case), nor is this about free speech one way or another. Everyone has a right to make whatever choices they deem fit for their body and everyone has a right to express their personal opinions freely, and to protest laws they disagree with. I would personally love it if folk could stop protesting my rights over my own body, but living alongside mad and abhorrent opinions is a price we pay for a free and democratic society.
What I have no patience with, is people who think they have the right to bother patients, staff and visitors going in to hospitals.
As I've discussed here, I volunteer at my local hospital. I know first hand the stress levels that everyone is contending with right now. Pretty much every single person entering a hospital is frightened, stressed, worried, exhausted or in pain -- and that's just the staff. What nobody needs is the distress and intimidation caused by people who think it's an appropriate place to have a wee political protest.
And I would feel exactly the same way if they were demonstrating for a cause I believe in. Demonstrate all you want -- but leave healthcare in peace.
If you don't believe in bodily autonomy, then go and campaign outside parliament where laws regarding abortion access are made. Vote for politicians who share your views, canvas and hold rallies -- all of that is your democratic right. By standing outside hospitals, waving signs at people on the worst day of their lives, you achieve nothing but harm.
We all know that the vast, vast majority of people believe in bodily autonomy and would never judge anyone for choosing healthcare. But most of us don't stand outside hospitals shouting our beliefs. So when you drive past the anti-choice protestors, it's hard not to feel isolated in the face of such cruelty and lack of compassion.
We wanted to do something to combat that, to try to undo a tiny bit of the pain and upset caused by the presence of protestors. We spent the weekend making posters expressing love and support for patients and staff. I painted loads of hearts and rainbows -- my one regret is that I didn't have enough glitter. I will definitely get more glitter for next time. Then last night we met up to fix them to the fence where the protestors stand.
We knew they might not last the day -- the "free speech warriors" have previously torn down several signs disagreeing with them. We hoped that they would be seen by staff and patients in the morning at least -- and at 4pm they seem to be going strong! I've heard from several staff members who were touched by the sight, and really hope they made a few patients smile too.