Bernal Neighbor Describes Intense Encounter Outside Planned Parenthood

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Neighbor Mary visited the Planned Parenthood clinic on Valencia last week, and the scene outside was very unpleasant. She tells Bernalwood:

I have been lucky to not encounter anti-abortion protesters since my college days in Boston. I never saw anything like what I saw today.

Planned Parenthood Valencia has served me, a native of Bernal SF, for years. I have Uterine Fibroids and have been taking oral contraceptives since I was nineteen.

I work in SOMA. Swing shift, so I missed refilling my prescription. Planned Parenthood’s online patient portal came to the rescue. On Thursday, I decided to head to work earlier and hit up the clinic to grab my three-month supply and jet to work. Outside Planned Parenthood I encountered the most hideous, aggressive, protester.

She was cloaked in a fake lab coat and wheelchair. As she approached, she seemed mentally-ill. I’m compassionate, because I have a mother with mental illness and I’ve worked with the disabled population. She immediately asked if I was there for an abortion. I politely told her my reasons for being at Planned Parenthood were none of her business.

She then continued to share a laundry list of ridiculous inaccuracies about Planned Parenthood and it’s services. I was floored by her lack of boundaries.

She may be anti-abortion, but I’m anti-aggression, and she’s just lucky I don’t enjoy engaging with law enforcement. She was ripe for concrete-to-middle-of-the-street counseling. I should be able to pick up my anti-baby pills in peace!

The incident left me nervous and freaked out. The staff at Planned Parenthood were so sweet, and they got me out of there ASAP. I was afraid to leave — so were many of us that morning. Would love to hear more about what can be done about the harassment. I would never be allowed to harass people like that outside of a church or even a bar!

As previously reported, protest activity outside the Valencia Planned Parenthood took a darker turn last year, after the US Supreme Court invalidated a Massachusetts law that created “buffer zones” around clinics that provide abortion services, on First Amendment grounds.

GRAPHIC IMAGE WARNING: The un-hidden version of the photo at the top of this post is displayed here:

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PHOTOS: Neighbor Mary

48 thoughts on “Bernal Neighbor Describes Intense Encounter Outside Planned Parenthood

  1. I know non-engagement is the way here, but could you go to jail for walking by with a big can of spray paint and fouling her foul signs?

    • Becca, for the record – and of course this is hypothetical 🙂 – if one were to knock their signs over or turn their tables over or take all of their pamphlets, all they would do is call the cops on you, and guess what? The cops haven’t responded once. Trust me, it’s been done many times when I walk by them 🙂

      • Hypothetically, if a person were to be out for a jog while the guy in the truck just happened to have his back turned, and were to run down the street, silently tipping each and every one face down, it’s unlikely that that person would get found out until they get to, say, the Burger King, at which time the most they would get is a condescending shout of “I’ll be praying for you, sweetie!!” it might not do a whole lot to solve this mess, but it might make the person (hypothetically) feel they had at least had a say in what’s appropriate for view in a public setting.

  2. I wonder if Dr. Crazypants would give chase if someone were to collect those posters and run quickly to a nearby incinerator?

  3. Todd, I appreciate this story, but I’d love for there to be a warning if you’re going to post photos of the signs.

  4. I have to drive by that crap every day. They come very early (7am) and just park their asses until around 2pm. They feed the one meter where their truck is parked.
    I had an appt there 4 weeks ago and it’s usually the older man or the dark haired woman. At my appt I walked in with another female. He blurted out some line about abortions etc., she responded with “Have you ever been pregnant sir?!” His response was, no but my wife has (like that’s the same damn thing).
    The f$cked up thing is that the women I went into the clinic with was pregnant and there for prenatal services. She was too early on to “show”. She was pissed and upset. We deserve better.
    When I say “we”, I mean women. I don’t see those individuals protesting in front of urologists offices, protesting men getting vasectomies! Same old double standard. Pro-lifers want to keep women oppressed, silent and chained to the home popping out babies.
    SMDH.

    • Tangentially: It’s illegal to keep feeding a parking meter. Once the max time indicated is up you’re supposed to move your car. SFPD certainly has better things to do, but DPT could and should be siting them. If you’re an immediate neighbor, might be worth calling 311 to see if that’s something they’re interested in doing. Every time.

    • Did you know it is illegal to feed meters? The time limit posted is the time a car is allowed to park. This may be a useful fact. Anyone else willing to spend some time each day going and calling Parking Control over this? We can be helpful to the neighborhood, and to these poor misguided lawbreakers.

  5. That group of protestors outside Planned Parenthood are just disgusting. I cross the street everytime i have to walk past their ridiculously graphic posters and crazy talk when I am alone or even with my toddler. Surely there are grounds for prohibiting them from posting such disturbing images in public in full view of kids? Happy to sign any petitions to stop these crazies.

    • Same experience as above! One thing is to have a sign as free speech, but the signs are more disturbing than pornography.

  6. I have been having blood drawn at quest lately and the last time I went, he man was harassing someone going into Planned Parenthood and I engaged with him and then he starting harassing me and following me to my car. I find it so offensive and have noticed that although he takes up a good two parking places , there is never any money placed in the meter.

  7. Every year in March is the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. This clinic does our community a great service, and they’ve had these intense protestors outside for as long as I can remember. If you’d like to join me in offering them flowers, balloons and thank you cards next year or any other gift you can thinking of (could we organize massages or other extra special gifts?) email me at adelante@riseup.net
    Amanda

  8. I bike by there 2 days a week with my 4yr old son… and I’ve been wondering for a while how it is legal to show those images on the street in public. Isn’t there some sort of public decency law that can be applied to, at least, prevent them from showing gory fetus photos?

  9. When I drive past there the signs displayed and actions are so disgusting it is simply unspeakable. What the hell is WRONG with these people? I really wish something could be done to get them out of there, but what?

  10. I had to walk past their signs on my way to work every day for a few years, and they made me ill. I think those signs constitute obscenity, and that they are harmful to children, let alone adults. If someone put huge gory looking posters of male reproductive organs I’m sure they would be stopped. What can we do to stop them?

  11. That woman is CRAZY my friend, i threw my burger king meal at her. I had been there all day I wasn’t feel good my mom and sister where running late to pick me up and i went to get food as i walked out thjs woman was in my face calling me a MURDERER and i walked away got my food and was walking back to meet my mom and again DR. Wacko, got in my face and and kept screaming inwas a murderer a I was going to jail I LOST IT and threw my food at her my mom saw the whole thing and called police and they did nothing they protected her and just told her to please sit quietly. I was really upset and returned to her and told her do you think its okay to keep a baby that wasn’t planned because you where RAPED! She looked at me with a blank look and i said yes I was RAPED and i found out was pregnant i know i would hate the child and make it suffer because of the reminder of that HORRIBLE NIGHT and now you made my day a nightmare and opened up my wound of that night, she tried to tell me that it was gods gift. She probably has no kids or family but i hope they put a restraining order against her.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you, Jessica. I had to walk by these people and their disturbing posters after I found out I miscarried. I was already upset and in physical pain as well. Seeing them made it worse. Planned Parenthood offers other services besides abortion. There must be some kind of city ordinance about sign size or occupying public space that can be used to get these ignorant people ousted.

  12. Never encountered the woman but that old guy is nuts. Like AM Coast-to-Coast nuts.

    At the very least I’d like to see Planned Parenthood be able to coordinate with DPT and make the entire front of their office loading/unloading only.

    • He’s also a condescending, sexist fuckwit. (Pardon my french.) Back when the buffer was in play, he was standing intentionally with one foot over the line. I asked him to please move back and he busted out his best, julep-sipping, condescending southern drawl, “Whatcha gonna do about it, sweetie? God’s on my side, honey. Who’s laws do you think I’m going to obey?”

  13. I’m sure we can find ways of traumatizing them in return, without breaking the law.

    I have plenty of ideas but even describing them in vague terms would be NSFL.

    However it’s wisest to take energy out of the system rather than add more.

  14. Thanks for the reminder. Sending them a donation tomorrow!

    Thanks PP for your work in the face of ideological insanity.

  15. The best way to mitigate this atrocious behavior is for women to pretend they are going to the clinic in order to engage the activists in a prolonged conversation. While they are in such conversations they can’t bother legitimate visitors. If one or two or three women an hour distract the activists by posing as patients, the activists time will be wasted. As a bonus, the conversation might inform the activists about the error in their ways.

    • When I go by there I have to hold myself back from kicking the signs and those two guys.
      I’m glad to join a group that wants to stand and show support for the people that enter. But those two men, and now a woman, are so twisted, perhaps there is no push back that could really do any good.

      • My understanding is that PP has requested people not do this… it clutters the sidewalk and makes the entrance even more emotionally charged and difficult to pass for patients.

    • @byrd- I like your posts and this idea but would like to suggest that men, too, could engage these clowns along with their female partners. Two to tango etc etc

    • I used to be a member of a group called BACCOR back in the 90s and we physically blocked jerks like this from stopping women from going into clinics. Maybe it is time to reincarnate this group.

  16. Last time I walked by PP on Valencia, I couldn’t help but engage in a little discussion. I was asked a question, I forget what was asked but I believe it was about religious beliefs. I paused and stated that what they are doing is not Christian. That completely got their goat. THE FUCKING TRUTH HURTS.

  17. Dear Bernalwood
    Thank you for publishing this account for many reasons. The story demonstrates the many problems with the tolerance for the ongoing protesters outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic. The vulgar and distorted disrespect for women is an offense to the grand majority of people who encounter them. The aggression and intrusion of privacy is beyond the issue of a woman’s right to make her own health and intimate choices. The constitutional shield is a strange rational for accepting harassment and in extreme cases murdering doctors who provide abortions. It has been suggested that in our neighborhood we should be able to recruit enough powerful men and women to form a protection line and ridicule the protestors away in shame. Recently a large billboard a few hundred yards away displays a smiling young mother saying “you can change your mind after taking the anti abortion pill. I did.” Waiting for a bus near Iglesia del Mundo it is easy to watch the protestors who occasionally leave their posts and walk to the other corner of the Valencia-Mission fork that homes another neighborhood pariah – the gun store.

  18. Perhaps we could have a team of volunteers who would accompany people who request it. I’d like to speak with anyone interested in discussing this.

  19. Just doing a little research on limits of free speech. From my layman’s understanding, it seems that if something “either intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly inflicts severe emotional distress” that the offending act can be prevented by law. From the comments above, I’d bet there are several people who would claim that the posters cause severe emotional distress. But also sounds like something that has to be brought to court… which is probably something the poster-holders would relish.

  20. I’m glad I contacted Todd @Bernalwood with this story. I don’t live in Bernal any longer but this PP has been my favorite for years. It’s an easy ride from the Inner Sunset and I only visit every three months to pick up contraceptives. I’m down to protect the women outside and blow my American Spirit tobacco in their (Protestors) faces while I do it! I’m returning Thursday morning to have a chat with these folks. There is zero effectiveness to their demonstration and clearly drawing no sympathy. I actually told the woman last week, “While I appreciate what you’re attempting to do, you’re very aggressive and obtrusive. Find another means to present your platform.” Then I was just walked inside. It way too early to deal with all of that. This Thursday, I’ll be prepared. : )

    But honestly, the most effective thing I’d love to see happen: A large group of men (only men) blocking them and standing silent as women safely cross into the clinic. Silence is golden. We don’t receive many opportunities to see a silent wall of men protecting women. In Ashland, Oregon, a series of sexual assaults occurred and the men of Ashland stood up and formed a group to discuss, take action and fight. When it comes to the rights of any population, it is the group with the most rights that can make a difference. Do it men of Bernal/Mission. Just do it! : )

  21. I also had a run in with this woman on Saturday morning. I had a chiropractor appointment next door and arrived with my three year old. The woman was exceedingly aggressive and tried to engage my toddler saying “she needed the learning experience”. It was simply horrific. I can’t believe targeting and harassing young children with this kind of visual and verbal assault is protected speech. Needless to say, I’ll be getting a babysitter for my chiropractor appointments.

    To the woman who suggested volunteer escorts for PP patrons. I’d be happy to help.

  22. I’ll be back at 8:30am (oy! Early for this swing worker) but to any interested: I planned on speaking with the folks for their perspective. No fights, no drama, just sincere dialogue and providing support for the ladies entering. : ) If u would like to provide a barracade to the entrance (all welcome), meet me at 8:30am, Thursday Valencia Planned Parenthood. : )

  23. I would be more than happy to escort or pick up and drop off anyone who needs help and is alone its not easy and this woman makes it worth since my encounter I have had extreme sadness emotion I had to leave my job because I would cry because I felt like I had done something wrong when in reality I did what any person would do in a situation like mine I’m happy and thankful I have places like Planned Parenthood and I was able to safely terminate my pregnancy and move forward with my life from a very traumatic situation I hope this woman in these people never go through what I went through with many of us stay quiet about but I’m not I was raped and I got pregnant I did not want to live with the resentment and hate towards the fetus. I did the right thing but the images they put up are so inappropriate i hope they get a restraining order against them.

  24. I CANNOT F’IN BELIEVE our politicians/attorneys/police are unwilling to support women in crisis! This is intolerable.

  25. They were not there yesterday but they are today. He was setting up when I drove by at 7:15am. The parking spot directly in front of PP is loading only but the one behind it is not. That’s where they park the hate truck.

  26. One thing I’ve often thought would be quite effective, and in keeping with Planned Parenthood’s stated request that there NOT be any kind of counter-demonstration, even a silent one (it just makes the approach to the clinic more imposing for patients and increases the emotional powderkeg), is if we found a way to always have cars parked in those 4 or 5 key spots right in front of the clinic on the mornings he’s there (used to be Tuesdays and Saturdays). With Pay By Phone parking, we could conceivably even find a way to keep the meters loaded from 9-11. Most surgical procedures are done early-morning, so that dude really only cares about being there with that horrible truck very early in the morning. At least if we made it so he had to park a block away, or across the street, it would keep the clinic entrance open to view to the street– part of the fearmongering here is that you have to enter the clinic hidden from view behind that truck. It’s a very imposing approach. (Well, that and those assholes actually stand IN the vestibule within inches of the doorknob now, which I just really don’t see how is legal.

    • I was thinking the SAME thing about the parking. He can’t park in BK’s lot and there seems to always be those three spots open every morning. If we could get some people who don’t work mornings to volunteer to park there until say 10am that will present a problem for him. I’m willing to donate to said meters if I’m given the code for the meter. So whomever parks there won’t get a ticket or have to use their own money. Also I’m available to take over for someone if they need to leave at 9:10. I’m willing to park there for 2-3 hours.

  27. If anyone is interested in organizing or is currently organizing in a way that complies with PP’s requests, please respond to this and we can coordinate.

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