I’m 16 and I’m a Clinic Defender

By Sarah Roberts

I’m Sarah, I’m 16 and I am a escort/clinic defender at Jackson Women’s Health Organization. I first started escorting after my mom, Laurie, told me about how women were harassed while trying to come in and out of the clinic. At first, I just wanted to see if it was really true and how bad it was. When I saw it for myself, I knew I had to stay and help.

My mom actually didn’t want me to escort because of the possibility of violence and the aggressiveness of protesters. My sister and I said if you go, WE GO. We also reminded her that she had always taught us about the role of children in the civil rights movement. If children could march, get beaten and sprayed with hoses for our rights why can’t we help women and defend our rights now? My sister and I are also the young feminist committee co-chairs for Mississippi NOW. So I guess if my mother didn’t want us to have opinions and strong voices, she raised us wrong.sarah at clinic

Most people don’t realize how ugly most protesters treat patients. I have heard antis yell things at women like “you’ve partied, now party time is over and you have to pay for your sins”. I didn’t know being pregnant was a punishment. One women got sick and vomited coming out of the clinic, they yelled at her husband “see this is your wife’s punishment for coming to this horrible place”. They didn’t know her story or if she even had a procedure.

 

Most of the pro-birthers-because they aren’t “pro-life”-don’t care about the women’s stories. They just want to shove their religion in their face, slut shame them, and tell them they are going to hell. If you let them tell it, they are helping. Regardless, women have a right to access the clinic without being harassed.

They aren’t just cruel to patients. They harass the escorts as well. On my first day, a older white female protester walked up to my sister Kayla and I and said:

“You should wonder everyday which one of you that your mother wanted to abort. You know that article where your mother talked about the 6 of you? (Um, there’s 7 of us) You should put it on your mirror so you can look at it everyday and wonder which one of you your mother wanted to abort.”

The spokeswoman of Pro-Life Mississippi called my sister and I “little Jezebels” who had “demons” in us. She also asked me if I had “5 or 6 abortions” and if that’s the reason I “hate women so much”. Roy McMillan has told my sister and I to “do the honorable thing and commit suicide”. I’ve also heard I should be scared my mom is going to rip me from limb from limb any minute–they are really sick people. I think they need therapy. There are the times protesters push me http://or stand in my personal space. I am harassed and questioned about whether or not I am really home-schooled. The head of Pro-Life Mississippi also said I’m abused because my mother lets me escort and threatened to call child protection on her.

My all time favs are that I am helping “kill black babies”, “committing black genocide” or that I’m “helping white people kill babies”. This all comes from old white people, by the way, and I’m black! They haven’t gotten the memo that the days when white people get to tell black women what to do about having babies ended a long time ago. Doesn’t that sound like Christian love?

What the protesters don’t understand is their insults don’t make me want to leave-they make me want to stay. Young women my age-who look like me-access this clinic. As long as we are needed, I will be there. Rain or shine. I’ll still be young, gifted and black. So I guess they will have to figure out insults around that!

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*Photo credit to Jackson Free Press published with the article “Amazing Teens” on 4/24/13 (L-SarahRoberts  R-Kayla Roberts)

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19 thoughts on “I’m 16 and I’m a Clinic Defender

  1. Good for you, Sarah. To be 16 and have such strong opinions and convictions is truly an inspiration. Everyone’s story is different, and people make their own choices. Keep working to help other young women make the difficult choices that they need. Stay strong!

  2. Sarah,
    Your blog is circulating among clinic escorts in Milwaukee. Please know that your work is appreciated. I’ve been escorting for many years, and am always touched by the courage of my fellow escorts and our patients and clinic staff. Stay strong.
    Leslie

  3. What a wonderful post! Those of us who escort at the clinic in Louisville, Ky are sharing your blog too. It’s encouraging to know you’re out there and I’m so glad to have found this blog. Looking forward to reading more! If you’re ever in Louisville, we’d love to have you come visit us.

  4. Reblogged this on Joanne Tosti-Vasey Blogging for Equality and commented:
    Sarah Roberts is one of Laurie Robert’s daughters in Jackson, MS. Laurie serves with me on the National NOW Board of Directors. Sarah’s blog about the bullying and harassment of women seeking services at the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi. Sarah, here sister, and her mother are serve as clinic escorts at this clinic. The story she is empowering. Thanks for the work all three of you (and all other clinic escorts across the country) for women’s reproductive justice.

    • Thank you Joanne. I am so proud of my girls they are brave, indeed. They also serve as sources of support and ACCURATE information for young women and men in our community. It has been comforting for young women coming to the clinic to know they are not alone and have a young woman walk with them without judgement.-Laurie

  5. Be proud. Be brave. Care for others as you want to be cared for. You both are wonderful examples of living a life of honor and courage.

  6. WoW! Good for you! we need more commited and intelligent young people like you who fight for women’s right to choose,

  7. Many, probably most, people in the UK find the situation faced by women in the US trying to access essential medical services barbaric. We don’t see the behaviour of the protesters as ‘Christian’, just threatening. Jesus stood up for the vulnerable and stood up to the powerful. The anti-choice protesters seem to be doing exactly the opposite.
    You’re clearly having to endure a lot of abuse for trying to shield the vulnerable from abuse. I’m sure there are days when it must seem very hard. But when I saw a version of your post on The Independent newspaper’s website this morning I wanted to find out more because whenever I come across people like you who see the difference between right and wrong with a clarity way beyond their years I want to express my admiration and solidarity.
    In many many years time you’ll be able to look back on your life and tell yourselves ‘I made a difference, for good.’ You’re an inspiration.

  8. You’re a hero! These people are simply disgusting, good for you for not letting them get to you and for helping others. Stay strong!
    Ruth, England

  9. I’m thousands of miles away from Mississippi, in SW England from whence the slave ships sailed. Of that I am utterly and for ever shamed. But of you two extraordinary teens, I am immensely proud. Your exemplary response to evil intent is inspirational.

  10. Thank you so much your support is appreciated<3 Those in the UK, please send Jammie Dodgers for my tea time outside the clinic (just kidding) :). Seriously my sister and I are thankful for all the kind words and support from so far away it is overwhelming! Thank you a million times Peace Out- Sarah Roberts

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