Jordan Wyer, MSW 7/26/17
Anti-abortion protestors are nothing new to abortion providers. These zealots stand outside abortion clinics with graphic signs and use emotionally abusive language aimed at intimidating providers, staff, escorts, and patients passing by. Many clinics use security guards and escorts in order to monitor the activities outside the clinic while the staff provides care inside. Reclaim is proud to introduce our partner in holistic clinic escort care, the In This Together Project (ITTP). I sat down the founder of ITTP, Jessica Gird, to get some details about this new and amazing project.
The idea for ITTP came out of Gird’s own experience receiving substandard abortion care over 20 years ago, and the emotional confusion that followed. “I wasn’t sad that I had an abortion,” Gird recalls, “I had so many feelings that I didn’t know what to do with and I didn’t know where to look for the support I needed.” Since then, she has dedicated all her free time to the In This Together Project.
Gird recognizes that abortion is about much more than a simple medical procedure, because of the deeply emotional process some women also experience. ITTP creates a holistic, caring, and safe support space for patients and staff through their clinic escort volunteer program. ITTP visibly supports and affirms bodily autonomy and choice, raises the standard of care for independent abortion providers, and busts the stigma that surrounds abortion.
In regards to her own experience and experiences shared with her as an escort, Gird explains, “I think its safe to say that some providers in the area are giving women substandard care and I’m not okay with that. I want this project to show abortion providers are welcoming and approachable.” Through escorting, Gird has been able to make this idea a reality.
Jessica has taken traditional clinic escorting into her own hands by training new escorts to follow a strict, non-engagement style. Through these trainings, she hopes that volunteers see the significance of their work. Gird expects her escorts to analyze the real reasons why they are coming out to the clinics. “This is not a space for counter protests or to voice your thoughts and opinions. We are not there to exploit [the patient’s] experience and create chaos. Our job as escorts is to make sure that the patient’s path to the clinic doors is accessible and trauma-free.” She adds, “Counter protests are important, but this is not the space for that.”
The In This Together Project has used their small and mighty capacity to make big change! They currently provide “Power Packs” to patients as they enter the clinic. These bags contain items meant to comfort patients during every stage of their appointment. Coloring books and myth-busting zines help patients pass the time while waiting. After the procedure, sanitary pads with affirmations (“you are loved”) and packets of tea for anxiety and nausea provide small comforts. Even after leaving the office, ITTP continues to care for patients. “Power Packs” also contain a card with contact information for women seeking supportive services post abortion. Gird’s dream is to create a support network that does not try to sway women’s decisions, but provide an environment to safely and supportively discuss any choice.
Are you interested in becoming a clinic escort? Contact ITTP at InThisTogetherProject@gmail.com to get involved. They ask a simple minimum time requirement of ONE Saturday per month (for 2 hours); however, Gird’s aspires to create a strong base of escorts to increase support and reduce burnout. They especially need escorts for a clinic in the Saginaw/Flint area. Please indicate if you are willing to travel to this location in your inquiry!