Yesterday, having the time to choose not to drive, I walked to a doctor’s appointment. I put in my headphones, enjoyed a mix of tunes, and then had to pass our local Planned Parenthood. Outside, just over the sidewalk, stood three men holding Rosary Beads and Bibles. I couldn’t hear what they were saying over my music. I passed them by and walked the remaining few steps to my doctor’s appointment.
Except that I was nervous about the possible encounter, I was unnerved having to pass them.
I’m forty-six, a man, and in good enough shape that I didn’t have to fear being assaulted by any of these three men. I’m an atheist and so I didn’t feel any guilt because of their faith. I wasn’t even going to Planned Parenthood, though I proudly would escort my wife, daughters, or anyone else who needed to go there.
All that taken into account and I was still uncomfortable with their presence.
It had me imagining what it would be like for one of my daughters to need the services of Planned Parenthood — and let’s remember that there is much more to the place than abortions. My daughters are strong, intelligent young women, but I shudder to think of them having to pass through a gauntlet of men who disapprove of them.
There is a balance between freedom of expression and security. This was a very small protest by three men who seemed more odd than frightening but were nonetheless threatening.
Far be it from me to suggest the solution to this problem. I wish I had a good solution. I don’t. But the harassment of women should stop and those of us who believe such things should stand up and say so. This is me doing that.