This happened to New Orleans resident Alexandra Scott. And she videotaped it. (Video: Alexandra Scott)
Last Thursday, musician Alexandra Scott remembered a post she had seen on social media about an anti-abortion rally occurring outside the construction site of the new Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans — and encouraging pro-choice friends to come and rally in support of the non-profit reproductive and sexual healthcare provider.
The post, she later realized, had actually asked if anyone wanted to help put together such a rally — not announcing that one was, in fact, taking place.
Which is how Alexandra Scott found herself to be the sole pro-choice person at an anti-choice ally.
“I cautiously walked up,” Scott tells Yahoo Health, describing her arrival at the scene. At that time, she still thought there was a pro-choice rally to join. Though there were several clusters of protesters, they gave off the impression of being one unified group.
“I asked one woman in a chair, Are you pro-choice? And she screamed, I hate abortion!” Scott recalls. She then asked a “hipster-guy with a video camera” she saw, “Where are the pro-choice people?” and he said, “There are none.”
“I started crying,” Scott says. “I said, I’m here by myself?”
She called her friend whose social media post had driven her to the site. He encouraged her to leave and assured her that they would come with a group next time, with many more people. Scott says she hung up knowing, though, “I can’t just leave.”
And so she quickly made the decision to stay — and to try not only to engage in some respectful, peaceful conversation with the anti-choice activists who greatly outnumbered her, but to also film her experience.
Using just her phone to capture her experience, Scott asked several members of one protest group whether they themselves had adopted any children, had any foster children, do any work with at-risk or foster youth, and how they think women ought to access affordable healthcare in the absence of Planned Parenthood.
“I was really, really frightened,” Scott said. “You can see in the video, my hand is shaking.”
None of the protesters she interviewed had any adopted children or any foster children; many explained to her that the Lord had not led them down that path. One explained that God would provide affordable healthcare.
“ I think we should do more talking to each other, even though we don’t like what the other one has to say,” Scott says of her take-away from her experience. “I have honestly never talked to people like this face-to-face before. I didn’t really like it and I doubt they liked talking to me. But I was polite to them and, by and large, they were polite to me. And maybe that was a positive thing – to see each other as human beings for that second. I doubt either of us changed each other’s mind – I know my mind is certainly not changed – but it seems like in this very divided state the country is in, we do a lot of yelling back and forth at each other and not a lot of listening.”
It is a particularly contentious time to be pro-choice, and pro-Planned Parenthood, in New Orleans. The Planned Parenthood clinic under construction there has already been subject to one arson attempt. Republican Governor and presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal has cut-off Medicaid funding in the state to the women’s healthcare provider, recently insisting that services provided by Planned Parenthood could be accessed by patients through such disparate providers as nursing homes and dentists.
“There is a billboard right now I saw last night driving home from a concert,” Scott shares, “You can’t miss it. And it has a picture of a fetus at the point where it looks like a baby. And it says, “Hey Planned Parenthood — My Value Is Greater Than You Think. DontSellMe.Org”
As for what she wishes she could explain to the anti-choice protesters she met the other day, Scott remarks that, “I think a woman is already a person — and has lived a whole life — and her rights matter first. The child’s rights matter too, of course, once the child gets here. I do believe every child should be a wanted child and a chosen child, but the idea of any woman being forced to have a baby versus having a baby she really wants — that’s really hard for me. So many children don’t have homes. And so the idea of imposing children on women really upsets me. I’m on the side of the women. And I always will be.”
Furthermore, Scott adds, “I think people forget that 97 percent of what [Planned Parenthood does] is healthcare for children and women who can’t get it elsewhere; due to state and federal budget cuts, there just aren’t alternatives. I think they also forget that the 3 percent of the work they do providing abortion is legal. If you disagree with it, I respect your right to disagree with it. But it’s legal.”
As for what’s next for Scott? “I am always going to donate and work with Planned Parenthood. I would like to keep being an ally.”
And for others who might want to follow in her footsteps and engage with anti-choice protesters, she suggests, “Go with a friend. I wouldn’t recommend going alone. But I would suggest going it. It is worthwhile if you can go and keep calm.”
Read This Next: What I Learned From Working the Front Desk at Planned Parenthood