Every Saturday for the past few months, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia activists and volunteers have been setting their alarms, waking up early, donning hats, coats, and gloves, and heading over to the Falls Church Women’s Health Clinic.
The Falls Church Women’s Health Clinic attracts anti-choice protesters determined to shame, stigmatize, and terrify women heading into the clinic to obtain an abortion. In an attempt to combat that message of hate and condemnation, we’ve set up a weekly “Positive Presence.” Volunteers hold up signs reading “Trust Women” and “You are not alone.” They smile, they provide visible support, and they refuse to contribute to hostilities by engaging with aggressive anti-choicers.
Here’s what some of our volunteers have to say about their experience:
“Participating in the Positive Presence is so meaningful to me because it allows me to magnify the voice of the majority- the majority who support access to abortion. For too long we have let a vocal minority dictate the conversation and policy around abortion and reproductive health and it is time for the majority to be loud and proud about supporting a woman’s right to safe and accessible abortion care.
And yes, the clinic escorts have always thanked us for our work and I am very happy to be able to make their job easier, which I believe makes for a better experience for the patient.”
“After feeling utter despair following the election, my Positive Presence experiences have restored my faith in humanity. Witnessing random strangers extend their support, both in their vehicles and in person, has been nothing short of miraculously uplifting.
Two hijab-clad women dropping off a case of water for us, a man and his little girl on their way to 7-Eleven asking us if we need anything, the nearby shop owner thanking us for countering the anti-choice protests, an elderly woman pumping her fist excitedly in the air from her truck upon recognizing our group’s positive message, the series of exuberant honks from the Metrobus driver, the mailman, the oil tanker, the garbage truck, the tractor-trailer, the leather-clad motorcycle driver – there is diverse support for the freedom of choice and it is absolutely wonderful to be a part of it.”
– Kate K.
“Going to the falls church healthcare center the past couple of weekends has been such a positive experience and I’m so happy to have met such strong women. It feels good to be apart of something bigger than yourself and I look forward to getting more involved.”
“Volunteering at Positive Presence has really opened my eyes to what women have to go through just to take ownership of their own health. It makes me frustrated and angry, but it also makes me feel encouraged to see the energy from my fellow volunteers and from people – neighbors, clinic escorts, passersby – who thank us for being there. Above all, it’s made me see how important it is just to be there and to show that there is another side to the debate.”
Want to get involved? You can donate to our Grassroots Leadership Program, which funds actions like these: bit.ly/GrassrootsMatch
Or, volunteer with us: https://act1.myngp.com/Forms/4037758540914360320