These men make me SO angry…

Some of you obviously know that Tamsin Flowers is not my real name, and for the rest of you it’s hardly likely to come as a shock that Tamsin is a pen name. Because I write erotica and both publish and post NSFW/18+ content, I keep my online identity completely separate from my real life one—most of my family remain unaware that I write erotica. And the flipside of this particular coin is that Tamsin usually only concerns herself with erotica and writing. I don’t use my writing persona ever to discuss matters concerning my private life—or for political activism.

Until now.

Why? Because there’s an issue that I feel particularly strongly about and there is, for once, a way in which I can use my online persona to hopefully make some small difference. If you read to the end of this post, you’ll find out how.

Close to my house there’s an abortion clinic. It’s not directly on my route to the tube or the shops but I walk past it often enough. And pretty much every time I do, I’m incensed. Not by the presence of an abortion clinic in my neighbourhood—being 100% pro-choice, I’m absolutely fine with that. No, what makes me really angry is to see regularly a gaggle of middle-aged men clustering at the gate to the clinic. And, yes, it is always middle-aged men, with the occasional exception of one desiccated elderly nun. These men come to the clinic for one purpose only. Clutching their rosaries and photos of aborted foetuses, they stand in line to intimidate and bully the women who are coming to the clinic to terminate a pregnancy.

Seeing them standing there quite literally leaves me speechless with anger. How dare they? No woman comes to the decision to terminate a pregnancy lightly, whatever her reasons might be for doing so. For many women it’s an agonisingly difficult decision that is hugely distressing. For others, they simply have no choice, but that doesn’t make it any less harrowing. However, one thing these women all have in common is that what they are doing is legal in this country. They have the legal right to terminate their pregnancy if that is what they wish to do.

So why do these fucking men feel it’s acceptable to stand outside the clinic with pictures of aborted foetuses and a row plastic models of dead babies on the pavement? It is nothing less than intimidation and I find it extraordinary that this behaviour is permissible. When I walk past, I shout at them. If I had more guts, I would take a run and kick their plastic foetuses over the fence into the neighbours’ gardens (apologies though would be due to the neighbours, who are no doubt fed up with the sight of them as well).

Please don’t think for one minute that I’m unsympathetic to people who hold pro-life views. I’m not. I can totally understand why some people find abortion to be abhorrent and wrong. You are entitled to those views and I would step up any day to defend your right to hold those views, even though I don’t share them. However, in this country we have a political process to decide upon and amend our laws—and if you feel that abortion is wrong, or that the current guidelines regarding dates and availability of abortion should be changed, then please be my guest and engage in the political process.

But do not for one minute think that it’s acceptable to hound and harass women who are in a distressed and vulnerable state as they make their way, perfectly legally, to an abortion clinic. These men, who will never personally face the dilemma of an unwanted pregnancy, use their religious beliefs as a tool to beat and slut shame women who have the temerity to exercise their legal right to decide what is appropriate for their bodies and their lives. These men disgust me.

Remember at the beginning, I said there was something I could do? This is it—I’m asking you to sign a petition on change.org. This particular petition is calling on Home Secretary Theresa May to create exclusion zones outside abortion clinics so women can access their right to an abortion without fear of intimidation or harassment. It’s not much to bloody ask, is it, that women should be able to come and go freely?

  • If you’re pro-choice, I’m going to assume that either you’ve already signed or that you’re about to click the link below and sign now.
  • If you’re pro-life, I will still make the assumption that you’ll sign this petition, because even if you believe abortion to be wrong, you surely don’t believe that intimidating vulnerable young women is acceptable, under any circumstances. Do you?

You can sign the petition here:

Change.org petition to create exclusion zones outside abortion clinics

Thank you to all of you who do go ahead and sign – and please feel free to share the post as the more people who see it, the more people will be likely to sign the petition.

  • NB I welcome comments on this post but it’s not about whether abortion is right or wrong—there are no doubt plenty of other forums in which that can be debated, so I won’t approve comments on that aspect of the topic. This post is about the intimidation of women who are doing something which is perfectly legal.

67 comments

  1. Being pro-choice, I stand with you, sister, and I will gladly sign the petition. Interesting that it is mosly men making the protest. My armchair psychiatrist finds this extremely fascinating, and have many theories about the dynamics behind that, but I will save those for another time.

    Thanks for posting this!!

  2. Thank you, Ms P! It is interesting that it’s mostly men – and as you say, there are probably multiple reasons for that. Thanks for signing! 🙂

  3. You summed it up very well in the second bullet point. No matter what your view of abortion is, I would hope that people stand against the bullying and shaming that some people do at abortion clinics. They have a right to say their views, but intimidation is taking it too far — especially against someone in a vulnerable state in making such an emotional decision as getting an abortion. I also dislike the term “pro-life” — as it makes me think: does that mean other people are pro-death? But, I suppose, the term “anti-choice” might not be very popular.

  4. Thanks for reading and commenting, August. Although I’ve not seen it at the clinic near me, apparently some protesters actually film women as they go into clinics – which I find really outrageous. And as you say, the term ‘pro-life’ is hugely emotive. Perhaps I should have just referred to the anti-abortion lobby…

  5. There used to be an old couple in Dublin who would stand around the main bridge with signs of pictures of aborted foetuses, collecting money for anti-abortion campaigning for … more signs? I don’t know. They were out there a lot. My grandmother, when she was in her … 70s? it must have been? said she’d walked by one day and the old guy and mutely shaken his bucket at her. She looked at him in contempt, and said, ‘Honestly – what would you know about it?’ and walked on. Not your average Irish granny, my granny.

    It amazes me that these people cause such anguish in their insistence on protest – without stirring themselves to address the awfulness of what else is going on in the world. Save the foetus only – we don’t care what else happens.

  6. Thanks for stopping and commenting – I honestly don’t think these protesters have any idea what it’s like for a woman to go through the decision to terminate.

  7. It is astounding to me that this continues—we’re all free to our own beliefs, and yet, there are those who insist on harping on (and abusing) those who have different ones. I’ve signed the petition. Thank you for putting this out there, Tamsin.

  8. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.

    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

  9. It amazes me that this sort of intimidation is legal! Anyway, thanks for your comment and for signing the petition! Every signature counts!

  10. Oh, good for them! But I don’t think I could be so good humoured with the assholes at my local clinic!

  11. Oh, sorry to here about your first comment – it didn’t show up at this end. And thanks for reading! 🙂

  12. Fantastic, powerful post, Tamsin. The fact that this sort of aggressive, shaming tactic continues to be used is a signal that things aren’t changing fast enough. For these protestors to think that visually punishing women for making a difficult, private choice is an acceptable way of making their views known is morally bankrupt. Well said, and here, here! xx

  13. Thank you, darlin’! I do so hope this petition can make a difference because these protesters are utter shits!

  14. I worked at Planned Parenthood for a summer as a volunteer on the one morning a week they performed abortions, and most of my job involved just being a friendly face for the women who came in. I would sit with them in the waiting room, hold their hands, etc. Because I wasn’t providing a medical service I came to work dressed in plain clothes, and it took almost six weeks for the protestors outside the building to realize I was a volunteer and not a patient. In those six weeks, every morning they would try to convince me what a mistake I was making and how there was a little baby inside of me, promising to help me if I did the “right thing” and changed my mind. Quite often they would get right in my way and make me walk around them—stepping off the sidewalk and onto the busy street. It was so, so hard to say nothing (not engaging with protestors was a job requirement).

    When they finally *did* realize I was a volunteer and not a patient, they got nasty real fast. Lots of accusations that I was a baby killer and a murderer.

    Signing the petition now.

  15. Tasmin, I very happily signed the petition, shared it with Facebook friends and encourage everyone who cares about the psychological toll these women suffer via the harassment and abuse from the “protesters” to do the same. I applaud your efforts on behalf of these women. However, sadly, if anything, it seems the tide is turning increasingly in favor of these thugs- I’m sorry, I mean “protesters.” Just last July, I believe it was, the Supreme Court voted to eliminate the 35 foot buffer zone outside three clinics in my home state of Massachusetts. It was deemed “a free speech issue.” Of course, in reality, it had no more to do with “free speech” as it did “religion.” It’s the pathological misogyny that still exists and operates freely, out in the open, in our society and our government. I don’t mean to be the wet blanket, or certainty – certainty- don’t mean to imply it’s a lost battle, so we should stop fighting. What you’re doing is legitimately the only way to change the momentum of the issue. Rulings like they one just really deflate me, I suppose. And the very existence of the ugly, arrogant drive in some men (& women, truth be told) to flock to these clinics and pile more trauma on vulnerable women in what I would imagine is already if not a traumatic situation, at least an emotionally fraught one really bums me out, too, to say the least. Yikes, I’m sorry, I had no intention of writing such a long-winded comment. Anyway, keep up the fight. And should you one day find yourself unable to keep from kicking a plastic fetus into a neighbor’s yard, well, don’t beat yourself up too much about it! You’re still morally above those you deplore. -Eric

  16. They really are the worst, these people – and I applaud you for volunteering. Thanks for signing!

  17. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such an eloquent comment. Any reverses must make all of us that much more determined to bring an end to this if we can. So thanks for sharing and signing.

  18. There is a clinic near my office. While it is lucky enough to usually only have one or two (or no) protestors at a time, that I’ve seen, there is always an employee waiting outside who escorts patients in with a kind smile. It always warms my heart.

  19. I quite often see a security guard at the clinic near me – and it’s a bit scary to think that that’s necessary.

  20. Signed. You’re right. It’s infuriating. I was hypothetically pro-life right up until the day I lost my virginity at 17, which was when I realised that I would want that choice and therefore that everyone should have it too. It drives me crazy that men who’ve never had that moment of realisation think it’s ok to inflict this kind of behaviour on strangers.

  21. Thanks for signing, Charlie – it really is repugnant behaviour that needs to be brought to an end. xxx

  22. When I worked at the motorcycle store, I would have to drive past the Planned Parenthood clinic twice a day with my truck, and I wanted to pelt the protesters with something to make them go away. The clinic is about fifteen minutes from my house and I’ve been going there for my lady exams and troubles for years. A conversation with my second husband came about some time ago, and he said it was his church that was picketing out in front. I was super pissed! That was a huge argument in itself, and it would pop back up when I had an appointment there. One good thing is that I’m not married to him anymore, so hooray for that.

  23. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading – and also for sharing on Twitter. It’s sad that these people just don’t seem to comprehend how objectionable their behaviour is. 🙁

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  25. Petition signed. I have to say I didn’t know this was going on. I really can’t believe this is allowed to happen, or that these people remain so small minded and unpleasant. It feels so un christian. Good luck xx

  26. Thanks for reading it and for signing the petition, Julie. It is amazing that this is allowed to continue… 🙁

  27. Pingback: E Lust # 67
  28. Tamsin, wonderful, wonderful post. I’m so pleased you wrote it.

    Interestingly, when I voted in my country’s elections this year, I gave a lot of weight to the abortion issue. It’s not talked about very often in the media here but, in New Zealand, abortion laws have not changed since 1977 and, though many people believe otherwise, it is still illegal to have one unless a doctor pronounces the woman in question to be medically or psychologically unfit/in danger. Of course, this just adds petrol to the fire in situations such as the one you describe above as those who protest, I can only assume, feel they have some sort of legal justification on a basic, statutory level. Reform is desperately needed (currently, women are having to declare themselves ‘mentally unfit’ in order to access terminations) but there are very few politicians willing to address the disparity between law and practice. I can only cross my fingers and hope that one day we will draw a clear legal line, one that is acknowledged and respected by all, whether they be pro-life or pro-choice.

    Jane xxx

  29. Pingback: e[lust] #67
  30. Hi Jane – thanks for your kind words about the post! And I’m interested to hear what’s happening in New Zealand. It’s unbelievable in this day and age that a woman should be made to declare herself mentally unfit for motherhood if she wants an abortion. FFS. It seems like we’re practically in reverse on this issue in so many countries – so infuriating. xoxox

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