This post is part of our week-long series on the personal impact of the current state of reproductive health, rights, and justice.
by Morgan Hyde
[Editor's Note: we originally ran this piece in November but it fits so well into this series and the editors like it a lot. So, here it is again. Also, for context, in Canada, there are no laws governing abortion. It is a medical decision between a patient and their doctor.]
Next time, I’ll make a brighter sign and bring some friends.
The thought ran circles through my brain as I paced the sidewalk across from the Kingston “Life Chain” and their “Abortion Kills Children” signs.
Next time, I won’t do this alone.
But I hadn’t been sure this would work, hadn’t been confident enough to recruit anyone else, and so on my side of the street there was just me, facing more than a hundred pro-lifers.
I was bundled up tight against the cold wind, but it turns out being stared at by crowds of strangers heats you up nicely. It wasn’t shame – just my fight or flight response kicking into gear. But I kept walking.
I was feeling pretty lonely until a passing woman gave me a thumbs-up and spoke softly: “Good job.”
Then a man walked by and said it was too bad I didn’t have a brighter sign. A teenager gave me a fist pump from inside a passing car. Suddenly, I felt warm for a whole new reason – a good one this time.
I estimate I had 20-40 such messages of support over the hour-long protest. Hospital workers on smoke break told me I was doing the right thing, a family stopped to congratulate me on my courage, and a cyclist gave me a high speed high five – and then came back to take my picture.
The support from so many strangers moved me near to tears. And while that hour of counter-protest was not what I would call a pleasant experience, it was an amazing learning experience, and I am glad that I did it, proving my mettle to myself, proving that I would not back down.
I know I didn’t change any of the protesters’ minds yesterday, but I wasn’t there for them. I was there for the drivers of passing cars and the pedestrians – any bystander who saw me. I was there to stand for everyone who disagrees with the “Life Chain” message, to remind people that there is dissent.
Next time, things will be different. I will bring friends, and we’ll make proper bright signs with various slogans. Maybe we’ll publicize the event and get some media attention, or spread out and cover the whole length of the chain.
But for this year, it was enough to say: I am here, I believe in abortion access, and I am not going away.
[Editor's Note: more people than just cis women need and want access to affordable reproductive health care, including abortion.]
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